Glorious Descent

Glorious Descent
Acrylic on canvas 60 x 40cm

Monday, January 29, 2018


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ex Voto

Ex Voto.
An offering made in fulfillment of a vow.

We are pulled out of our homes to travel once in a while, drawn by people, places, lovers and circumstance into other countries and cultures. One of the places that we come across the most difference from our homebound lives is in the visual manifestation of faith in architecture, visual iconography and ceremony in religious and cultural events in countries outside of our own. Ex Voto expresses the echo and aftershock that these moments leave on our lives when we return home.
This exhibition is also about the role of ritual and habit in everyday life and the way these practices contribute to personal identity and purpose. Cruise’s conceptual starting point is her experience of religious and cultural festivities abroad, however the works really begin in the contrast between a sacred practice and a very secular one. Through painting, Cruise raises the value of domestic chores and daily habits to the status of important cultural rituals.
In the development of these works Cruise explores the role of decorative systems in attributing value to objects, the role of the artist in assigning meaning via the decision of subject matter, as well of the role of space and how it can be a means for people to connect with their environment.
Ex Voto is about giving holiness to routine, to community engagement, aesthetic orderliness and ornamentation. Carefully ordered interiors are sanctums, leisurely gardens are retreats.
Still life is a devotional practice and landscapes are holy sites.
Oliver Hensel Brown
August 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

New Studio

In May 2017 I moved into a new studio space on Hunter Street, Newcastle. Formerly a cold dark concrete garage, it required some renovations, so Dad and I installed walls, warm lighting and a coat of paint to bring it up to scratch. Having worked out of my home studio for 4 years, the move made me a little apprehensive. But as I was in need of more painting space and the opportunity to hang and work on multiple works at the same time, the time had come to try something new.

before and after renovations 

The space I have relocated to is beneath a contemporary dance studio and next to a former glass factory come vintage store/cafe/dread lock bar. It also backs onto the railway line which is currently receiving a make over with the construction of a new city Terminus. Probably my favourite element though, is the car park / urban garden, that is filled with stacked shipping containers that support hundreds of potted plants. Chickens and cats and now my dog Louis, free range across the asphalt picking up scraps. Resident container king: Rolo presides over the former dump zone car park. constantly organising the chaos into tidy stacks of train sleepers and barrels of glass, all the while keeping a close eye on his fermenting soup of cafe coffee and compost, that he feeds the plants. 

An unexpected bonus of setting up this studio has been little community I have joined at the cafe. There are few cafes that are so conversational amongst strangers as well as regulars, which i think has to do with the influence of  Naoko, the former Japanese fashion designer and very warm and charismatic lady who runs the space. Everyday, while sitting on wobbly stools and balancing coffees on ironing boards, meet an interesting combo of train station construction workers, musicians, artists and business folk. Less a business and more like a lounge room decorated with exquisite designer vintage, this place is my creative space just as much as my studio.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Vietnam: Visiting Tickets

In November 2016 a series of disappointments had left me feeling fed up with my life in Australia. Having tried and failed to live the pragmatic life I threw caution to the wind and bought a last minute ticket to Ho Chi Minh City and within a week was on a plane bound for the land of pho. 

Nine years earlier, Vietnam had been my maiden voyage overseas, one of my first holidays alone and by far a coming of age trip. Returning nearly a decade later,  I hadn't anticipated the changes I would appreciate in myself against the backdrop of the busy Vietnamese streets. When I first arrived at the tender age of 20, the swarm of traffic, hectic pace of life and gritty street culture had me stepping cautiously and with a great sense of 'otherness'. This time round, I felt like Hanoi, my first destination, swept me up in its street current and I swam with it. With a greater understanding of who I was and what I could achieve, my steps were confidant.

My 2016 trip reminded me of the value of the present, simply because it is nearly impossible to escape the vibrant activity that is everyday Vietnamese life. Every sense is activated when walking down a city street, there is little time to contemplate but just enough to jump out of the way of  a speeding motorbike. The eye doesn't rest, but jumps between the patterned surfaces of roadside vendors and bicycles. Aesthetics are jarring and odd, roadsigns confuse and the dissident bellow and cry of competing karaoke bars keep you up at night. Yet, somehow its enlivening, its fun ! Unapologetic and not self conscious. 

I travelled between Sapa in the Mountains of far North Vietnam and the region surrounding the city of Ninh Binh, about 400km south east. Between these areas I experienced the mountains and small ethnic minority villages surrounding Sapa, the 1600 limestone pillar islands of the UNESCO world heritage Ha Long Bay, the capital city of Hanoi and the farmland, cavernous mountain systems of the Red River Delta. When visiting Tam Coc I was fortunate to befriend a local hotel owner who commissioned a mural in her tropical garden courtyard. This work stay arrangement allowed me to make the small village and surrounding karst landscape home for a week. This lucky opportunity engaged me in local life and landscapes and was an empowering activity to do as a travelling artist so as to exchange with the people.

Farms of the Red River Delta 2017 - ink and acrylic on board

Detail of Tam Coc Mural

 Visiting Tickets is a series of mixed media works on paper that I made from materials and sketches gathered during my trip. I have adopted the palette, colloquial charm, landscape views and reoccurring motifs that I encountered on my journey. Stitched together, glued on, quickly made or painstakingly assembled, each work presents a different reality in Vietnamese life and my time in the country.  There is a Homage to a duck farm (where I don't know how or why the ducks don't fly away) my rendition of street food signs, as well as works that adopt prayer flag imagery. The works are tickets to other lands and my sense of discovery within them, as an artist and a growing human. 

Zipper Shop 2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

Tam Coc duck farm 2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

Votive 2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

Roasted street dog & yam 2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

Dancing Karsts 2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

Karst Reflections 2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

Offering 2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

Jungle Pagoda 2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

In search of Phat Diem 2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

Roadside Prayers 2017 Mixed media on paper 100x70cm

Street Dog 4 Ways 2017 Mixed media on paper 100x70cm

Cave Temple 2017 Mixed media on paper 100x70cm

Try Horse Wins 2017 Mixed media on paper 100x70cm

Hot Pot Cat  2017 Mixed media on paper 29x21cm

I'll Tweet If I Want To 2017 Mixed media on paper 100x70cm

Flying Prayer Call 2017 Mixed media on paper 100x70cm

Duck Homage 2017 Mixed media on paper 100x70cm

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Art Club October / November 2016

For the past month or so I have been facilitating the very exclusive 'Art Club' for a local Newcastle Primary School. Every Wednesday morning before school a group of very wide eyed and bushy tailed  students aged 6-12 gather to release their inner artistic genius, with of course a few squeals, jokes and tumbles in between.

I was excited to lead 'The Royalty Project' which involved researching different cultural leaders and their traditional dress throughout the world. We looked at Indian Princesses, medieval Queens, Sultans, Indian Chiefs and Ancient Egyptian kings, paying particular attention to the kind of head dress they would wear. We then designed our own head piece and thought about what represented our identity and what we valued. Using collage material we built our own crowns and hats before choosing a friend and painting their portrait as an 'Art Club Royal'. The process was very amusing and messy and it was interesting to see how the children combined different cultural symbols into their design (including of course pikachu).

On our final day we held an Art Club photo shoot, which involved building a throne from the donations of trash n treasure in the classroom. I was very impressed to witness one girl lay out the crown jewels that were to be dressed on the king or Queen upon ascent to the throne. One by one each student was robed in a dressing gown and dressed in jewels before assuming their rightful place on the doona covered thrown. With their hand made creations atop their head they all made very stylish and entertaining rulers.