Glorious Descent

Glorious Descent
Acrylic on canvas 60 x 40cm

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Feast for the Future

New years eve brings an ache of nostalgia that grows between sips of champagne, until at midnight you shatter your glass with a torrent of tears. Amidst showers of confetti, fireworks and cheers I feel the least excited. Rather my mind is flooded with unwelcome images of the past, present and future and I fall victim to a destructive onslaught of self reflection.

It is now one minute past Midnight on the 31st of December 2010 and I am putting fingers to keys. Whilst I am determined to not particularly mark the occasion there is a piece of writing that I must begin this New Years Eve. It is a story that weaves the time and places, heart ache and joy of 2010 together with food. It is a story that begins in May at a dinner party, when I realised I hadn't entertained my friends around a table since returning from Canada. A story that climaxed at my closing studio dinner. And a story that closes tonight, over a freshly brewed tea with my first ever tea pot. But most importantly it is a story punctuated in no succinct order with luscious moments of cheese (Amie), Bubbling pots of home made fig Jam (hiliary and naomi), and the torn leaves of an artichoke heart (Claire and the Jacarada tree). The stories will undoubtedly continue to accumulate throughout the years, but as I bow down to the trap of nostalgic reflection I notice that this year's key signifier of experience is food and I am compelled to try and give it some written justice.

1. Dinner in the Music Room. 26 Station St Newtown.

We are a small group of four, gathered around a turn of the century gas iron stove, that cooks our dinner proudly in Claire's beautiful kitchen. Though robust, the oven balances on four skinny legs that anchor to the black and white stone floor of the kitchen. Suspended above the oven is an old ladder that precariously exhibits various dried fruits and vegetables, the odd ladle and plenty of saucepans.
'Help yourself', invites claire, as she draws a large roasting pan from the oven and places it on the bench. Scooping a helping of roasted vegies from the pan I am dazzled by the purple skins of the potatoes and how they complement the orange of the pumpkin. Sweet too, are the whole baby lemons and bay leaves as their scent greets me on my dinner plate.

Guided into the next room we are met with the quaintest of spaces.
'This is the music room' claire proudly declares. 'It seemed only fitting that when I was given this immaculate piano I should dedicate a room to it'. And claire had industriously done so. The timber floors were polished, the walls and ornate architraves freshly painted, even the emerald green velvet couch had been told to steal less of the interior limelight so that the piano could have its rightful place. Spotted around the room were other instruments too, a guitar on a stand, a bongo drum. As we sat down to dinner at the circular timber table, the soft tea lights on their respective doilies illuminated the red wine in our glasses and claire told us the story of the piano.

'I had been wanting a piano for such a long time, asking around, speaking to friends, I was having no luck, but I thought if I just kept positive, put my energy out into the world that eventually the piano would find me. Then one day at work when I was life modelling, I was as usual taking my break in the stairwell -( where the acoustics are so amazing) and singing to myself. When one of the students approached me and said she had been listening to me sing and thought I would really appreciate her piano that she no longer needed. She was planning on delivering it to the tip but would happily bring it around to my house. And so by a lucky singing chance I inherited a piano ! It had had quite the voyage, transported from Berlin to London then to Australia and now a simple terrace in Newtown'.

As we continued to eat, claire refilling our glasses, we talked and muttered, hysterically laughed - it had been months since we had been together. Then, unceremoniously, claire got up and sat before the piano and performed a simple piece that she had been teaching herself. Slow and steady on the pedals a beautiful tune wafted throughout the now practised music and dining room.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Madeleine is now taking commissions

I took up a commission earlier in the year, to complete a landscape oil painting of an English sea port town in Winter. It was to be a nostalgic memento of the client's home town, with the expectation that it would be a realitic 'impression' of the Snow capped location. Some what begrudgingly I agreed, it was not that I was adverse to the money, or actually being paid for my 'trade' but rather i was fiercely protective of my precious studio time and the priority I wished to maintain of my own practice. I did not want to focus my energy on a project that wasn't my own.

In addition to this, already being a landscape painter of sorts, I had reservations as to the extent to which I could adequately render a place that I had not visited and had no personal affinity with. The client had given me a photograph, which again, I had never used as a tool for my painting practice. Even when I was producing a lot of portraiture years ago, my painting was informed by multiple sketches completed during sittings with my subject. When I tried to use photography it often failed, for the drawings in their primary rawness were synonymous with the energy I gained from the person and thus translated more effectively to brush.

With these reservations at the fore front of my mind I wondered how I could honestly approach this task and gain anything from it. My morale drained from odious employment, where I felt like the monkey with a drum, I resented the prospect that I would simply be churning out a painting - 'whipping something up', as my mother likes to tease.

A heated discussion was had on the subject one night at the family dinner table, when I mistakenly expressed my reservations and concerns. The likes of money, integrity, sensibleness and being 'reasonable' were all tossed about the table. For some, including my parents, the issues I had with the commission may seem over the top and ludicrous, but they represented core principles that I felt were being raised about the practice of an artist, and I needed to address how I felt about them. Of course, it wasn't received like that at dinner. I remember a high pitched exasperated screech from my father: 'If some one asks you to do something madeleine, just do it !' - Not the most empathetic response for some one contemplating integrity. Or my mother's comment : 'People love your landscapes madeleine, unlike this ( pointing to a large abstract painting from my honours year )which people just don't get ! you need to consider what people will buy '. My final comment went along the lines of something like this: Art is a bitch, you should never expect to make any money out of it, all you have is the love of it and your integrity to the practice to keep going, you can't compromise this and your time by doing something you don't believe in.

I didn't touch the commission for months.
I hadn't arrived at a decision where I thought completing it was a compromise of my ideals but rather the whole debate that had ensued that night meant I didn't particularly want to revisit the tranquil landscape photo that harboured such conflict. If anything though, it remained a compromise of time and I was too engaged in my own paintings to want to pursue some one else's ideas.

However, I did complete the commission. It features on the top of this blog. And I have a confession to make: I enjoyed the process.
From a technical perspective I found the commission a welcome return to the application of colour theory and draughtsmanship skills that I possess. I appreciated that the parameters of the commission encouraged me to interrogate systems of landscape space, perspective and compostition. I was initially intimidated by the prospect of rendering snow, but once I embarked on the challenge I enjoyed discovering its subtle complexities in colour and realised the cliche - that less is more.

Secondly, a different level of engagement with art making was called upon that I have not used in some time, but certainly have the skills for. In my practice I have become expressive and increasingly abstract in my rendition of the world around me. This is often perceived as the easier alternative to picture making, but as I have learnt, incredibly exhausting too. Its incredibly subjective nature means I am constantly in fits of self criticism and I often don't even know why. It was a welcome relief to focus my brain in a far more mathematical rendition of the world, it was meditative to 'look and put' and satisfying to see obvious success. As I often feel lost in my own reality, by completing this painting I began to relate to the satisfaction gained by workers who apply themselves to regimented tasks. How nice it is to know you have completed the brown under coat and can now put brushes down and walk away with a sense of accomplishment. Much like how I imagine a gardener may feel having dug a flower bed and sowed the seeds or a baker letting his dough rest. Measured levels of accomplishment that exist in a grand plan.

So much of my modivation and art practice is built purely on trust. That instinct will locate ideas, that highs will follow lows, that inspiration will prevail. There are few text books to sewing plushies and making extravagant edible food events. People often don't get it, sometimes I don't either. Therefore it was a welcome reminder that I do understand the building blocks of what I do and where I come from in this great mess they call ART.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A cocktail of love

Sitting up on bar stools we hovered over bright green astro turf, swizzling our gin and tonics un necessarily with a decorative plastic sea horse. Wearing a black suit dress and court shoes amongst hibiscus flowers and bamboo, I appear the stow away on the deck of a tropical ship. It re minds me of when I drank in Seinukville, on the south coast of Cambodia. Make shift beach huts were adorned with everything and anything that could enhance the tropical vibe of the location. The poor cousin of Thailand in the tourist industry, Seinukville had a rustic holiday charm. Whilst there were no 5 star resorts to provide buffets of seafood on the beach and elaborate fire work displays, there were locals who paraded baskets of shrimp on their heads. I remember my love affair with margaritas began in a bar in Seinukville. AT $1.50 a pop I would be washed up from the surf into the shanty of a bar so as to wash one down before inverting and repeating the process.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A day, today

5pm till 7pm is a beautiful time to sit in my bedroom. The sun is at exactly the right position to stream in through my coloured glass windows and reflect pastel colours on my salmon walls. It is even better when there is a sun shower, does anything really beat listening to rain fall when in bed ? Then seeing it glisten on the leaves outside ?

Today I am exhausted, flat on my back recalling my day, I realise I am not so overcome with physical exhaustion but the saturation of information. Imagine how a dog behaves in the park, having spent the day in an apartment or small backyard. They chase their tail in a neurotic frenzy and run around in celebration with the other dogs, panting, digging, chasing a ball for a minute then doing an about turn an following a scent. Their acute sense of smell on over drive as they breathe in all activities of the day in that park. This is my mind sometimes. Some one once complained to me that I couldn't give a concise account of a day, and they were right, on days like today, my minds ability to process all that I have tasted, heard, set eyes upon and imagined is simply not up to an ordered standard.

Right now I am remembering the shimmering breast of quite a unique pigeon that I laid eyes on this morning. It was unusually beautiful, chestnut in colour and it wore a collar of turquoise feathers that glistened like scales on a fish - I think it may have been a royal pigeon. I recall the citrus salad, with sweet potato and crab cakes that I ate for lunch with that un identifiable dipping sauce that added such zing ! And how funny it was when Connie asked for some parmessan for her pasta and the chef defended his dish, arguing how the composition of rich flavours didn't call for added cheese. I think now, How little control we have as creators, with the work we present to the world. As individuals we each bring a different interpretation and a desire to engage with or simply reject what is before us. Our audience is not always open minded. But then neither is the artist, as I learnt during a lively conversation with a friend today. He was convinced that social and political criticism, should it wish to bring about change, should be pursued within the language and parameters of its relevant field. Rather than within the practice of art which was too poetic. If you want o pursue politics become a politician, he exclaimed. My opinion was that the freedom of art was its power which allowed more opportunity to instigate change - that the confines of bureaucracy within politics often limits voices and oppresses individuals that wish to speak. I understand people to be so conditioned now that we don't consider alternatives, be it in communication, opinions or behaviour. As children we would happily climb up the slide of the slippery dip, whilst our parents instructed us to use the stairs. What has happened to this mentality ? It seems detrimental to have lost it. I understood my friends stance though, having witnessed so much bad art for the sake of trying to 'say' and 'do' something, this power that I speak of is actually compromised. The issue we resolved was the junction of language and concept - not whether politics or other could enter art, this was too heirachical and limiting, but to consolidate the overlap. It became apparent that our concerns really lay in the nature of contemporary art and the polarisation of technique and thought. It wasn't that the criticism we spoke of couldn't be done, but that so far it had predominantly failed.

I had to train a new employee today, 'Madeleine will advise you of procedures' said my boss as she left me with Carol, who had just lost her secure secretarial job of 24 years. Mousy and timid carol looked at me - 'I will now instruct you in the art of doing absolutely nothing and everything simultaneously, in no particular order, observe closely carol' as I opened the door for a customer and lead carol to the coffee shop.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Concrete lawns

I have become a sweeper of leaves ! I can't believe it. After all these years of holding a strong stance against these individuals, I have unwittingly become one. Standing this afternoon in the garden, broom in hand, dressed to the nines in blundstones, a skimpy house dress (that really should not have even escaped the walls of my house - not even to the walled confines of my front garden) and mismatched socks. My hair: a frizzy 'up do' that was tumbling with every sweep, the only vague indication that I had actually set foot outside my front door, just hours ago, styled for the likes of Mr David Jones. Looking up from the accumulated leaves, in a moment of time travel, I found myself remembering my bewilderment, years ago, as to why people would sweep. There is a thing called wind - it blows and it will continue to blow leaves onto your garden, months, weeks, days, MINUTES ! After you sweep them away. For heavens sake, do something worthwhile: Put your feet up, hold a beer, watch leaves blow onto your lawn, and then... watch them blow off again. Yes, I sense it too, this blog is shedding light on the suppressed angst and frustration of a suburban childhood. And yet, there I was this afternoon sweeping. Worse still, I must confess, I didn't put all the leaves in the bin or mulch them. No, with guilty glances to my left and right, I hastily swept them onto the footpath and onto the beds around the trees of the street. Stop ! I heard my inner voice tell me. You are turning into that senile neighbour from when you were ten, that glared at you from her porch when you rode past on your bike. She would sweep every morning, not a hair, not a roach, not a grass clipping would tarnish the smooth mission brown concrete off her front path. The path lead to her palace, a red brick one at that and nothing would tarnish her vision of manicured suburban splendour. But where did all the debry go, you may ask ? Who cares, is the correct response, out of sight out of mind, right ? WRONG. And this is what drives me crazy about domestic suburban bliss, its disregard for anything outside the white picket fence - and leaves are just the tip of the ice burg.

Sure enough, I promptly re gathered my leaves and disposed of them into the compost bin out the back. Book in hand, I reclined on my couch, and gave a welcoming smile to the ferns and weeds that were shooting up between the cracks of my concrete lawn.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Top Drawer Jewellery at the Kaleidoscope Gallery Art Market

Made from the finest of recycled materials Top Drawer Jewellery transforms the mundane utensils and miscelaneous debry of your grandma's top drawer into beautiful neck pieces. From the delicately inscibed handle of a butter knife, to the worn copper surface of a penny, each artifact is unique and carries a story all of its own. As metals softly 'chink' against your chest, wonder at the understated beauty of the everyday and reminisce of a time gone by.

Top Drawer Jewellery will be showcased at the Kaleidoscope Gallery Art Market this Christmas. Together with other local artisan products, including photography, print and paper, Top Drawer Jewllery will provide stunning hand made gifts for christmas. To celebrate and shop, join sponsors, Little Creatures, for the event launch on Monday the 13th of December from 6pm or pop into the market any day up untill Christmas eve.

Where: Kaleidoscope Gallery
84 William Street
Paddington, Australia 2021

When: 13th - 24th December 2010
Wed - Fri 11am - 6pm
Sat 10am - 5pm
Sun 12noon - 4pm



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bird of paradise roast - a tasty distraction

The chicken is in the pan browning and I have just thrown on some sliced tomatoes to sweetly complete the roast - as the aroma of freshly picked rosemary fills the kitchen I am remembering the gratification that used to come from cooking a meal of ones own. But those days are gone. Tonight I am experiencing little of the contentment and pride of the self sufficiently prepared meal - ( oh shit, the browning thighs are, I suspect charing, hang on...... heat turned down, I'll continue) I recognise an un welcome melancholy that simmers beneath the surface of independence and time alone. Is it me or society that encourages such discontentment in the quiet un noticed pursuit of cooking for oneself ? Often I recognise the certain taboo that exits in eating out alone, not so much breakfast or lunch, but there is a certain pity that dwells in the lone dinner diner. When I enter a restaurant at night I am always asked 'table for two ?' and I have to reply with the negative: 'No, just for one please'. Less people dine out alone at dinner, maybe because it is harder to lumber the lap top or the paper or the study notes onto the more formally set dinner table. Or that night is more associated with rest, and so eating with one's head in a text book is a little less convincing. Honestly though, I think I have quite happily conquered this eating out in the evening scenario, I actually quite enjoy a dinner date with Madeleine. Fellow customers are often consumed in quiet intimate conversations which makes the space more contemplative and I can comfortably sink into my booth or couch, un noticed and appreciating the communal environment. Just the other day, as I endured a lunch in a god awful food court, I imagined how much nicer it would be if the environmet was silent. It was actually quite a great food court as far as communal free for all buffet style eating goes. With a trendy lay out and gourmet style food bars, as opposed to mountains of fried noodles sitting in a bay marie. There was however the ever persistant rotating kebab roll, will this phenomena ever die ? - it's grose ! And quite frankly who is enticed by this spit ?

Anyway, As I refill my glass I will continue and express how I never used to feel like this. But it seems my receptiveness to the experience of eating and the context of eating is gaining prominence. Feeling a weighted self pity about cooking and eating dinner alone tonight I am resorting to telling the inter webs about my browning thighs ! Living in a share house usually works, as I hover over the stove, tongs in one hand, wine in the other, I can usually chat to some one who is veging out on the couch or preparing their instant noodles. But this even is a rarity now.

I value the concept of sharing so much, be it with the shared act of cutting the vegies, smelling the garlic or the act of sitting down with another. When eating out alone, whilst you mightn't chat so much, the effort and artistry of preparing food is appreciated, you can see others enjoying their food and one can select off a menu of carefully listed meals. At the very least one can say thankyou when a meal is purchased.

But who wants to tenderly brown thighs and eat in a silent salmon coloured living room. No ! Eating is for far more than nourishment. And I crave a dinner date tonight.

....... David ! My saviour.
T.v on, Bird of Paradise special.
Did you know that the 'bird of paradise' is both a plant and bird ? Oh, and of course, a John Farnhan song.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Left with but a bag of plushies I had my last day in the studio today. I leave a colourful floor, which has seen some passionate times, a masterpiece greater than the paintings I take away.

Friday, November 19, 2010

To live with oneself

These past weeks I have experienced the true extent to which mind, body and heart are inextricably linked. As I battle with living through certain events and changes I realise I am not one of those people who can be distracted by tasks, exist behind hard edges or turn over new leaves. I live through every minute and enormous detail and when not accepted, can, as I have realised these last few days, destroy you.

I have now spiralled so far down that my body mirrors my mind and I am not able to seek assurance from the belief of my heart. Contained to my room, I am sick. The toxicity of my mind is in my fever, in my skin, in my sleeplessness, in the arrows of pain down my neck. I need a friend to spoon feed me soup and play music for my ears.

I think about what Yoga teaches me, that it is a practice of the fluctuations of the mind. You can't 'do' yoga, you must learn it and practice it. It is about acknowledging thoughts and letting them go, so as not to become a slave to the mind but rather an inhabitant of the present and to lead with the heart.

I have not allowed myself to acknowledge a grievous reality so as to let it go. Too consumed with being reasonable and empathetic I have negated how utterly bereft, guilty, angry, inadequate and heart broken I feel. I am now but a slave to my mind, punishing myself with self denigrating thoughts. This miss trust that I inspire in the one I love surrounds my heart like thorns. It doesn't matter that I am trustworthy and that I have shown my admiration and devotion, when I look in the mirror I see but a failure. I feel but worthless. Amidst the distance and space from her, resentment and pain grows. I knowingly sailed close to the shore, there were rocks but beautiful blue water too and I put trust in humility, reconciled differences and love, only to hear again, that I will never be what she needs or desires me to be. It is not a bruised ego or a rejection that hurts but a helplessness. There is an ugly miss trust and distaste in myself. As my mind dangerously circles it agonises over why and how I can not fulfil the needs of the one I care most about.

It is not my intention that these words restrict emotions or exasperate events but encourage a fluidity. I hope they will lift from the page.

Returning to the practice of Yoga: If there is one one thing I have lived this year it has been to increasingly reside in the present and lead with the heart - Even now, when I find myself tormented by my mind - much more a slave than I would desire to be. I trust that my certainty will return and that I will appreciate the full extent of a whole hearted life, is to experience in equal measure that of sadness with joy, of being lost and found. This is why I appreciate the direction of so many of the postures in yoga, when the teacher encourages you to extend from the heart, the bodies centre, rather than strain other limbs, it is designed so that you can appreciate the stretch in its full potential.

The swan dive: As i extend my arms out like wings in a graceful swoop, I will gather the energy of life, contain it to the heart in prayer stance and lead to the earth triumphantly in a dive.

This seems unattainable and unworthy of me right now but I need to believe it will come true.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The first rule of fight club... well I broke it

'Don't worry' he says to me, as he straps on his gloves, 'I won't hit hard'. His arms have fought in French boxing circles, but not for many years. I feel my shoulders pull back, mouth twitch, as if I had my ego bruised, jumping around like a silly red robin, puffing out my chest, a hear thoughts 'oh yeah, well, well...' I falter and laugh, well what ? This man is 10 times my strength. I persevere, I feel like the fool. But he is the show off.

We start punching, he is so measured, so controlled, his body is beautiful. 'don't you dare try and show off madeleine, you idiot, he'll see straight through you'. We talk about why we are here, what we 'do', how funny we look together. He shows me how to angle my arms, twist with my body to hit harder. I practice. This feels better. 'So.. an artist' He ponders 'You do have a troubled mind then ?'
Lips sealed. I hit him harder.

It is time for routines: Left Jab, left, left right, upper cut, throw, duck, follow through. Now inverted. His eyes search the room, a little frantic, needing an example. He try's to perform the set, but stops after the first few hits. Faltering, his eyes quiver a little. The instructor repeats the set, 'I cannot hear him', he mumbles. He try's again, forgetting the routine and getting flustered, not looking at me 'I cannot do this.. I cannot even remember the pattern. 'Yes you can,' I tell him. I start reciting the set as he throws, accentuating the presence of my pads, hitting back harder to build a rhythm. Slowly, he completes a whole routine.

Yes, well I probably shouldn't talk about fight club - but I need to exercise the power of my memory, if it is to be my asset in fighting circles.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I look good in leather

I am like a painting... I realised today, as finally some sentiment and energy started to emerge from a painting that I had been labouring over for some time.

When I paint I rarely paint with a plan or desired image in mind - it starts normally with an idea, a vague impression of a place or sensation that I want to give physicality to. It begins with purely colour and gesture - like sparks from a magic wand I like to paint impulsively. I trust my instinct, I have to, it is my unique asset, but painting purely subjectively all the time can also be an enemy.

The mind has the ability to return to safe areas of knowledge - you can repeat things, make the same mistakes, or labour over a work for the sake of using a brush. One can, as I have realised mistake instinct for complacency and therefore never arrive anywhere new. This is why I have begun to strategise a little in my approach - and I have never done anything that feels more uncomfortable.
I need to trick my brain, just like many an artist turns a painting upside down to see it fresh, for what it is not. I need to challenge my practice and see what can be discovered in parameters.

The reason I liken my personality and behaviours to a painting, is that I know how I work, sometimes I feel like a laboured painting - but a messy surface of paint that doesn't come together. I can spiral downhill and my mind resembles a disgusting palette of orange and violet with jagged yellow stripes - a composition that I just want to abandon, so I can start anew. I can't abandon Madeleine though, I can't rip off her canvas and re stretch a fresh skin, I have to labour with her. Most often she will emerge from the deluge - like my painting started to do in the studio today. But as reality sets in I ponder as to how sustainable it is to let a body become toxic and a mind into dangerous deep waters too often. Perhaps I need strategies too.

In retrospect, I began these strategies a month or so ago, when I took myself for some retail therapy with the strict instruction that I wasn't to buy what I gravitated to in the shop. I wanted to see what would happen if I wore leather, or one of those strappy sexy tops with sequins - who am I in other clothes ? Yes, I know, this sounds superficial, but we all do it - be it in fashion or something else, we do what is comfortable. I am not trying to re invent madeleine, just see her in a different light.

{I'm sorry to report that I couldn't leave the shop with the leather mini skirt - But I did invest in an ironing board and 2 shirts. I think I'll give the crisp pressed look a go.}

Sunday, October 10, 2010

dive with me

The absence of her brings despair. The potency of my dreams has all but left and the imaginary is all but a monotonous black.
But last night I dreamt.

The ocean has returned and I dreamt about the structures within it.
I ran into the surf, down the sandy beach and into the water.
I joined a group of women, treading water at waist height, supporting with their hands a jetty.
With them I bared my part of the weight, balancing the structure, waiting for boats to come and moor. The sun was setting and illuminating the surf as it crashed around us.
A boat appeared on the horizon and needed a jetty. Despite the turbulent ocean we swam our way out to meet the boat. Over the waves we struggled, carrying the wooden structure on our shoulders.
Soon, it was only I left with the jetty, I was weighted by it and there was no boat to be found.
I let the jetty go, it sunk beneath the surface and disappeared.
Alone, way out at sea I decided to dive down below and follow the falling structure.
Inside it I swam, and within its structure I found a reef. Speckled light illuminated life, shadows cast beautiful shapes and there were fish, tiny schools swimming amongst the rafters. I twisted my body and explored the environment with open hungry eyes, looking toward a distant exit of light.

Instructions to view slide shows

In case any potential viewers of my blog would like to see my recently uploaded photo albums, make sure you double click the small slide show images at the bottom of the blog page. This will transfer you to picassa albums and then click full screen view on the left side of the screen to see my work in full screen beauty.
Obviously many won't need to follow these instructions as they will be smart enough to work it out, but I wanted to make sure you all knew that you could view my work on a larger scale.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sculpting Explosions

Why do we only write home when there is happy news ? Why can't we write postcards of woe and misfortune or post facebook pictures of gloominess ? Why don't we give in to the expression of being human ? Instead of putting on a brave face or burying oneself until the storm passes ?

I think about two comments that two different people in my life have made to me about happiness. One being that it is fleeting, so enjoy it while it lasts. Whilst this does inspire one to live for the moment it doesn't necessarily offer any hope for fulfilment or the promise of its return in times of darkness.

The second comment was about happiness as a sustained state of being, it is not something that just arrives one does have to work toward it - but is not fleeting.

I wonder about which state I feel most comfortable with, or which I think is true.
As things in my life continue to combust in more ways than one in front of me I wonder how exactly I can sustain happiness. When I reflect upon the way my mind and spirit responds to my work, art and relationships I wonder exactly how I am to sustain anything. Perhaps capturing a fleeting moment is more realistic.

Whilst I haven't been writing letters home about my struggle with life and worse still haven't even been able to admit it on my blog, I have been sharing words with a few friendly ears. I regret to feel like the melancholic defeatist and will probably put a stop to this soon. But not before I consider the suggestion that a young acquaintance from art school, made to me today: Perhaps I am not an artist.
'If it is not making you happy, if it is a struggle then why push it ? Are you pushing something that doesn't exist ?'A traditional National Art School Education teaches you to dedicated yourself to the studio, a practice that you maintain, through good and bad. I wonder though if this has made me blind ? Are the parts of the world that I consume, the colour, the tastes the paint that I want to mix, the sensations I want to write about just a dangerous addiction, that, like cigarettes create a great head spin but lead to destruction. Is art for me sustainable ? And will it sustain happiness ?

But now that I am so intoxicated, the question begs to be asked: What else ?
I can't for the life of me answer this. I shed more tears imagining a life without paint and plush than I do struggling with the mind games and day to day reality of trying to 'do it'. But if I don't pertain the courage and the dream to live it whole heartedly then I don't believe it is really worth doing.

I return to this state of sustained happiness and thus reflect upon my perception of what happiness is exactly. Perhaps happiness is hardship, woe, laughter and love. It is all beautiful. I think then, about my perception of the explosion in my love, home and art life that is taking place before me and try and imagine it as the explosion of sound that I heard at a Symphony concert tonight. My seat in the audience was an absolute gift, I sat directly opposite the conductor in the choir stalls and watched as he shaped the air in front of us like it was clouds of brightly coloured smoke. A great powerful sea of music that was overwhelming at times was rolled, elevated, softened and propelled by the bare hands of the conductor. Great Jazz classics were being performed in all their splendour and I imagined the engines of the city, the fabulous art movements and the exultation of life in the Cities of the 1920's. This was not pretty music, it stabbed at you and the conductor punched his players with insistent fists to burn their horns and pull their strings tighter and sharper. His eyes were mesmerising, seducing the violins to play languidly between moments. It was raw yet tight, sexy and cold. The orchestra could easily have exploded to the point of destruction but it was mediated with care and vivacious spirit.

Can I colour the smoke of my own explosions ?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Live to eat or eat to live ?

I take my heart to the market and it selects so as to savour.

Luscious flesh of a fish and tantalising salty seeds of a caper berry
I feed my soul so as understand my heart
What flavours can I roll over my tongue for desert ?
What thick syrup will wash down my throat ?
To taste so as to ignite, so as to enquire, so as to feel

I cook to transform emotion, to make tangible
To melt, to BEAT, to slowly procure a flavour
To have magic at one's fingertips

With food as ritual I love to gather - to be nurtured by a laden shelf
But as the groceries accumulate and grow dusty the pantry laughs knowingly at me.

Weighted with other thoughts, I reach for a can of baked beans.

Sometimes I eat very little and food will not satisfy
But I eat for sustenance. I eat for tomorrow.

And most of all..

I eat so as to share

Eat with me my friends

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Aspirations of a Door Bitch

To live an artful life is not an easy one, though it certainly is full. Full of other people's condescension and ignorance, as I unfortunately learnt, yet again today, in the work place.

My shiny new black brogues with their sexy toes are really the only reason I get up on my work day mornings. I slip into them and I feel a million dollars, it doesn't matter that I will be opening doors and directing people to the toilet whilst wearing them - they almost make it worth it, and dare I say, make me feel a million dollars. However, as a customer revealed to be today, I really am not worth a million dollars, nor is the 5 star service that I provide for her whilst she shops. For the purposes of this entry, let's dignify the customer with a name.. bitch face.

Ironically today, I embarked on a new approach to my job, diligence and enthusiasm. My rationale was that perhaps time would fly by, with the more eye contact I made, the more doors I opened and the more excitedly I talked about the pansies in the flower show. All was going surprisingly well when I smiled at an approaching customer who was exiting the store. I made my way ahead of her to the heavy doors (which in retrospect I should have done her a favour and made open for herself, her tuck shop arms needed it). Standing with the door open she looked at me with a narrowed brow and shaking head,
"You certainly have THE most boring job" she exclaimed.
Exhausted by this comment yet again, I responded with a disconcerting smile:
"Yes madam, but I really don't need you to tell me that".
To which bitch face responded:
"You really ought to aspire for something better than standing at the front of a shop and opening doors, i mean really ! "
(Yes, I thought to myself, I should busy myself with consumerism and buy myself success and happiness, just like you, you certainly behave the better for it - judging everyone else whilst sporting a hideous shade of beige lipstick).
But instead I responded: ' What makes you think you know anything about my aspirations outside of working here at this store ?'
'Yes.. I guess I don't', she replied with a sigh, ' but the look of you is awfully sad', she said, as she flounced out of the store.

I stood perplexed. I was just trying to perform the David Jones 5 star service. The 6th star is obviously that the customer must out perform you and not only make you do your job but pity you for it too.

If only she knew the beauty and wonder, trials and passionate tribulations, ideas and unquantifiable fortune that comes from my artful life and those I share it with. I need not aspire for it, because with my heart open, it comes to me. Unfortunately for bitch face she will never know this.

As I completed my final lap in the pool tonight, having watched the water turn from aqua to turquoise to an iridescent green in the changing light of dusk and nightfall. I felt like I had perfected a certain stroke, I knew too that I had surrendered something. Just As I must diligently push through the water and consciously mind my style, I must surrender my body and thoughts and let the water take me. A simultaneous giving and receiving, a grace.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Succinct (sheep) Sabotage
Madeleine Cruise David Peddle Huw Lewis

Painting Sculpture Installation Video

Horus & Deloris Contemporary Art Space

102 Pyrmont St Pyrmont Sydney
1st - 15th September 2010

Players unite!!!

In Succint Sheep Sabotage.

With colour and thread we brush and stitch, rework and invent the musings of your macabre and magical dreams.
It is an uber game of ultimate fantasy, seen and whispered, yet never before holding the stage.
Together we bring the smelliest of rodents and sweetest of dreams from your imagination and discover the crunch of cockroaches between soft layers of sponge cake.
It is a dance of the deadliest kind, where you can chase down dancing deli demons in the park of priceless pleasure and stroke that fury reptile that lays in your lap.
As no stone is left unturned no thought is left unsketched, ye must lick lick lick that unearthly delight that drips before you!
We: Cruise, Peddle and Lewis are your amateurs of all time, imminent stars of the tuckshop, - we see all and dare to share.
As whimsical train robbers we have jumped aboard your worst nightmare and sweetest of thoughts and sabotaged the deplorable truth.
The succinct world is over.
This Spring,
Make way for the sheep.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oxfam Charity Art Auction

Want to sip champagne and nibble at canapés with the high flyers at Martin Place and know that your heart is still in the right place ? Then saunter on down to a charity art auction this coming Tuesday night from 6 till 8, at Middletons, level 26, 52 Martin Place and bid on painting created by some of Sydney's best emerging artists. Proceeds will go to Oxfam and a glorious new work could be yours (perhaps even mine).

Monday, July 19, 2010

One Hectic Day !

Four Paintings have been delivered to Kaleidoscope Galley for Thursdays Show, One to the Mosman Art Galley - for the inaugural art prize I'm yet to claim - and one to FirstDraft Depot for its launch and art exhibition on Saturday.

In between all of this suburb hopping and heavy lifting I: Battled Centrelink - why must I feel like an invalid and gutter clinging member of society on such a regular basis ? Held a conversation with a lovely Prada sun glasses wearing cabbie - who stole my heart with talk of the colours of India; Purchased THE most disgustingly amazing snot green, pom pom covered velvet - a new plushie will be born soon ! Hunted down a loaf of bread that was less than five dollars - it's harder than you think; Was cheered up by Michael Jackson's tunes; Watched an amazing artist at work, threading silky lengths of blonde artificial hair onto a body suit of fishnets; Drank tea and ate stolen scones with jam and cream on a picnic blanket with a friend; Sewed a plush mask into existence - to be worn in some shenanigan tomorrow; Felt like a tourist navigating my way over the Harbour Bridge to THE OTHER SIDE; Was stamped the 750th entrant in the Mosman art prize and Sculled a schooner of beer.

Pleas come and enjoy 'calamity cake' and wine on Thursday at Kaleidoscope Gallery or a sausage and some art with Clover Moore on Saturday at the Depot. It should be a hoot !

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Review

Dangerous Domestic Delights
Paint The Town Red, Group Exhibition
Fraser Studios, Chippendale
July 4 - 10 2010

Paint The Town Red was a group art show featuring the work of Maggie Aydin, Willurei Kirkbright, Jacqueline Larcombe, Susie Nelson, Rachel J. Park, Bec Sheedy, Jenna Tapai and Madeleine Cruise. The show was curated loosely around the core ideas and artistic methodologies that were celebrated during the rise of feminism in the visual arts in the late 1960's and 70's.

The diversity of works in the show ranged from text to edible sculpture and exemplified in material terms the complexity of the movement and its continuing resonance with female artists today. With the exception of an unfortunate video showing yet more slime in a recreated birth scene, the show was a considered yet playful re engagement with the sentiment of being a female art maker. There was a consistent sensitivity showed to materials and and honest portrayal of life's bindings and constraints, tests and turmoil's that women find themselves experiencing. One needed only to read Maggie's work to laugh out loud at the pitiful state of conformity and measured systems of worth that people are encouraged to perform and succeed within. Yet ironically, though this work was autobiographical one inevitably found them self laughing or gasping at a mere reflection.

Evidence of self enquiry, a consideration for 'who' the artist is and an assessment of the identity of the female artist resounded in the show. This was done with a pragmatic antagonism, which made for an 'un quietness' to encompass the exhibition space. Fraser Studios made for an ideal setting to support the proportions of the show: With Susie Nelson's impressive paint scaffolding work towering high into the loft of the warehouse, her slow tenuous drips of red paint tearing through through the paper construction. Whilst behind this a maze of suspended toilet paper drapery caught the inevitable undertow of a winter draft that whirled around the expansive floor space.

Undeniably though, it was Cruise's work that took the cake (sorry couldn't resist) for best at show. Proving that a woman in an apron is formidable in the kitchen and out ! Predominately known for her painting, Cruise transformed her sensuous use of shape, colour and texture onto a plate so as to create Dangerous Domestic Delights. Like any dutiful 1960's house wife Cruise prepared the evening feast in style, her red and white gingham apron splendidly matching her red lipstick. However as her performance progressed, spectators of the exhibition realised that all was not quite well in domestic bliss - the cake was blue the pasta was green, the eggs filled with jelly and worst of all: A sickly smell of pickled onions paired with sugar syrup wafted from the dining table. The work was designed by the artist to be a culinary feast that both seduced and repelled the guest so as to test the parameters of good taste and visual appeal, sensuous desire and rational recognition. What was initially meant to be a fixed installation work, similar to her earlier piece edible art evening 2009 evolved into a performance. The artist became protagonist for the role of women in the culinary history and as dutiful house wives. Cruise inverted every social expectation of the respectable evening meal in Dangerous domestic Delights and humorously empowered all women in the past and present that cook up storms in their kitchens.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lesson of Survivial

I like to think I am good at giving advice, I can be a convincing person, but I never seem to be able to implement it in my own life. I out manoeuvre my own thought processes and undercut my opinions. When commiserating with a good friend as to the problem of getting up every morning, how to live life more comfortably, how to get through, I found myself suggesting that each small event we encounter should be embraced and done well. I know too well that it is easy to lose one's appetite, let your bedroom fall in chaos and alienate yourself. I scoffed in frustration at a work colleague who suggested that the very fact that you eat and drink means you're surviving and you will be ok, bull shit ! - anyone can operate on auto pilot if they wish to, but it does not mean you are doing ok. Look at the figures in Brack's paintings for example, this is not the way to live. One needs the 'will' to put food in your mouth, the 'desire' to decorate your room the ability to 'bask' in the sun, otherwise it is meaningless and we become the pawns on a chess board.

To embrace the immediate tasks at hand means eliminating the potential negativity your brain can manifest and blocking any thought of what next. It is not about wearing a false coat of optimism, it is simply about focusing your thought. I took this advice today. I awoke in bed and knew I needed to eat, there were precious hours before I had to go to work, time in which I had to be productive, make decisions and 'cope'. I tried my hardest and rose with the thought of the ingredients in the fridge. No bread, hmmm, no traditional eggs on toast then. I improvised with the pantry... a can of beans, half a tomato, a little feta, the stove stood waiting and my tummy was rumbling. Head into gear, armed with a fry pan and knife I set about creating.

I am in love with pancetta, how you throw it onto a fry pan for a few seconds and it spits and hisses as it folds into fantastic crispy shapes. mmmm and so salty. I fried up the beans with a litltle balsamic and chopped tomatoes, they went a bit mushy, which was great to mould into a shape on my plate. Then I crumbled some fetta on top and ripped off a handful of watercress leaves to press into the cheese. Then finally put the crispy pancetta on top. It looked like an erupting volcanoe and if I were to have painted it I probably would have made dabs of paint that looked like beans and chosen an equally iridescent green like the watercress (even though it is not true to life) I probably shouldn't have used any vinegar, the flavour was a bit too much and slab of sour dough on the side would have gone down a treat, but the act of making was enough.

I guess I found something in the act of carrying out a mundane activity like eating breakfast to make it more interesting. I didn't think ' I am eating this because I need sustenance so that I can push trolleys of butter around with great strength and stamina when I get to work'. I took the moment and ran with it.

I hope that this new tactic works, at least for little while. Until I don't feel like I need tactics, when things happen naturally.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Yesterday I pushed a trolley of butter. Today I supervised bowls of chips. Tomorrow....

Nothing makes me so different from the commuters in this painting. Maybe I push the trolley for something greater, maybe not. I too am just one of the ants, with a giant piece of bread on my back, shuffling back and forth. I make things, troublesome things, that take up space, cost money and argue with me - Ha ! they sound like naughty children. And this is why I push trolleys of butter ?

But then, I watch my fellow ants, their eyes hovering centimetres from their lunch plates and never wavering, pulling dry chicken off the bone and shovelling it in their mouth. My eyes wander to the dispenser of condiments, maybe I'll have jam with my cheese today ?
At the end of the day the trolley pushers, the chip supervisors, the chicken eaters, go to the pub together - but I don't. Yet I push the trolleys and I supervise the chips and I make a dam good tea cup pyramid ! Maybe that's just it, I like tea cup pyramids

Should one, should anyone, aspire to not be in this painting ? They look unhappy, they look like victims, but do they know this ? Is ignorance bliss ? Is John Brack a bourgeois snob or just another type of victim ? Is there anything wrong with being an ant and can anyone ever really escape from the cogs that grind the society we live in ?

Within the cogs though there is beauty, not seen in this painting, but I see it sometimes. If I see it tomorrow I'll tell you.
You need to live with eyes open to see it I guess.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

An Artist's Lunch

Art is the heart and soul of Ben Quilty's life. It's beauty extending like a vine into the gorgeous friends and family that surround him, the lush paintings that bejewel the walls of his studio, the bubbling hot soup on the stove and the notes of music that chase sticks of charcoal that scribble on a page.

Welcomed by Ben into his Robertson studio I enjoyed a delicious day of drawing, eating, conversation and camaraderie. In the fickle world of the arts in Australia it was heartening to share such a stimulating day amongst accomplished artists, who had made their art the drive of their life. A drive which was not not self indulgent, or insular or unsuccessful, but welcomed the love and appreciation of many a great thing in life.

As Renee posed for a session of life drawing, Luka, Marcel's son, crawled playfully between her legs before returning to his fathers side to help him draw. Later that day, Marcel took me to his studio, a giant warehouse filled with the faces of his family, painted all over his canvases. The people that inform every part of his life and art practice. A beautiful celebration of love and life.

As a young artist, I reluctantly admit to feeling intimidated by the life before me, one I fear to be lonely and exclusive. I struggle with the dichotomy of living for ones art and living with others, why do I feel there is an inevitable choice to be made between the two. I seek solace, and love and understanding just as much as any other, but it is hard to find when it seems an artist's life, an artists identity has many a pre conceived impression in the eyes of others, one that is impossible to shake.

But this day warmed my heart. Artists have a lot to give, not just to a painting. The light that they shine also attracts other stars. The artists on this day, with their friends and family, their creations, their food, their ideas, made a glistening constellation.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Van Gogh

There is pleasure sure
In being mad, which none but madmen know.

Dryden, The spanish Friar.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Where the road took me

I wanted a car that would match my emotions - that would accelerate and send me racing through time. But I had a cautious metallic diahatsu, that was neither silver nor gold and took its time. I found a narrow winding road, that I clung to the edges of, in ensured a steady pace and let my eyes wander through the landscape. Lush green hills unfolded over every rise, like a bed sheet being shook. Cows barely lifted their munching heads to acknowledge me, safe in their fenced homes.

The coastal vegetation contains dramatic contrast, it shifts with your mood - at one moment green and consistently smooth, then open and harshly brittle. Down the pass birds emerge from the density of the foliage, playing tag with the traffic. In the valley, grand cliffs impose on your thoughts - there, you succumb to the sublime. But at the end, all roads lead to the ocean. It absorbs the space, it entices you in, it quenches your thirst. The sea is made up of many oceans, there are different currents, waves that break and some that don't. Today, the sea rolls like a giant body, it is travelling somewhere, it is itself.

I had a dream: The sea had a silicone skin, every dive beneath the surface was a failure. My face masked in a plastic glue so that I couldn't breath.

Standing before the sea pool, my legs cowering inward against the salt spay of the crashing waves, I am exposed. I Plunge in, enveloped, I am numb ! My hands find themselves gliding over the carpeted floor of the pool. I have made it. The sea lichen is warm and feels like velvet. It has trapped the sunlight in its emerald fronds and gives heat to hands and feet that dare touch it. What is often a mysterious unknown that harbors fears, is the life of the pool.

Floating up from the floor, I welcome my glazed vision of the layers of sea, salt and colour. A saturation of emerald to jade, from cobalt to aqua, to white bubbles - To air, to sky.

I have shed a skin. My body cleansed. I welcome the hands of my sister that wrap me in towels. Nurturing the heat of experience.

'Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'
The White Queen - Alice through the looking Glass

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Figure in the Landscape

I love epiphany's. Particularly in this business of art where one can stumble around for weeks like a mad woman, trying to justify collecting scraps or 'arranging' things as some sort of legitamite art process. I have been sewing pieces of odd fabric shapes together for weeks. My sewing machine and I have been making a second skin, perhaps I'm subconsciously preparing for winter. I have no desire to stuff this 'thing' that I am making, unlike my other textile pieces. I'm rather liking the formlessness of it, and how it droops and sags. Whilst I'm not helping it grow, it sits on the floor like a curled up creature, a pile of folds, a snake skin. Then I reach down and pinch a section of it and pull it into the air, it is a languid body. I hold it from multiple points and it reminds me of a rugged landscape. I think about how I have been patch working it together, an accumulative process, gathering found materials and using instinct and desire to let it grow. To me, the colours, texture and pattern connotate memory of landscapes visited. I wonder if the piece is trying to become a landscape. When I hold it up, I realise there are sleeves, it can be worn like a cloak, draping the body. When Brian Tried it on I saw a figure in the landscape. My memory of a landscape represented through suede and silk textures, being felt by another. What is the effect of wearable art when the body is physicaally entanged with the work, is the experience immediete. But who's experience is it ? What happens when there is a potential protagonist in the work ?

Questions to ponder at least. Things to clarify. But never the less, interesting progress.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crying over Creme Brulee

Crème brûlée French for "burnt cream".A dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. Although often served cold in North America, traditionally it is to be served warm. The custard base is traditionally flavoured with vanilla, but is also sometimes flavored with lemon or orange (zest), rosemary, chocolate, coffee, liqueurs, fruits, and even spices such as ginger. The exact origins of this dish are unknown, though the earliest known reference to it is in François Massialot's 1691 cookbook.

Today in the work place, I was ordered to perform any artists worst nightmare (or should I add the gourmet, hungry artist). Crack the tops of millions of individual creme brulee deserts then shovel the contents into the bin ! Blasphemy ! It was purely torturous ! The experience of a creme brulee is supposed to be a deliciously sweet, acoustic and textured ritual, going something like this:
One takes the spoon and smashes the toffee ever so poignantly, so that the smooth hard surface cracks and teases one with the promise of something beneath.
Then, the spoon is inverted and in one strategic insertion and rotation of the wrist, a perfect proportion of custard and toffee is drawn. When in the mouth the toffee chatters on one's teeth yet is soothed by the melting of the cold custard.
It ultimately does go down a sweet treat.
But alas, here I stood, before the mouth of a giant otto bin, nearly in tears as I shovelled out the desert as if it were were yellow mucous. Utterly horrified by the waste, and carnage and the predicament of being 'paid' to do such a thing, the creme brulee became exactly that: nothing more than mucous, a substance, my experience of food irrefutably tarnished forever.

But, just when you think it can't get any worse, it does. When Creme Brulee basically consists of eggs and sugar, there can be some consolation in the loss of only basic ingredients. But when handed a platter of smoked salmon sandwiches, I simply could not be consoled by anything ! My pay packet can't even factor in one piece of salmon on the weekly grocery budget, yet here I was throwing it out ! With one ravenous swoop I took a sandwich in my bear hands and sunk my teeth in.... Heaven......
Unfortunately I had my eyes closed at this point, savouring the mouthful, and didn't observe the floor manager march right up to me and glare down at me disapprovingly.
"The food goes in the bin" I heard bellowed at me.
''This sandwich is too delicious not to see the walls of my mouth'' I replied.

Not sure why I still have a job.

Creme Brulee:

8 egg yolks
50g sugar
600ml cream
1 vanilla pod
caster sugar

Mix yolks and sugar together.

Bring cream and vanilla pod to the boil. Remove the pod and scrapes its insides into the cream. Now mix the cream into the yolks and sugar.

Transfer back into the saucepan and cook until the moisture coats the back of the spoon. Be careful not to curdle the mixture.

Divide the mixture into 6 (7.5cm) ramekins or moulds. Sit these in a roasting tin and add warm water until it comes three-quarters up the sides of the ramekins. Cook in a pre-heated oven (180C) for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Refrigerate until ready.

To finish the brulees, sprinkle them liberally with caster sugar. If you have a blow torch, use that to brown the sugar. If not, brown the sugar under a pre-heated grill, having the ramekins as close as possible to the heat. The top should be hard and when cracked with the spoon will give a wonderful contrast to the creamy bottom.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Soundtrack to Blog

An after thought to tonight's blog was the inclusion of my music soundtrack whilst typing:
Phil Slater Quartet. The Thousands. (wonderful contemplative Jazz, slow and steady. I love the track titles too 'Burden of Corners' is one)

A different instrument of choice

Today, I was feeling so disillusioned by my own set of moral and instinctive codes. No amount of face book stalking, drinking or house mate banter could relieve my anguish. I could not even let myself loose with a paint brush with the ominous thought of the repair I would have to perform later. So I decided to let an instrument do the talking, perhaps, I thought, it would offer some solace. I strapped my violin onto my bicycle and set of to the studio, my anticipation growing for the wonderful acoustic space that awaited.
The vaulted ceilings of the warehouse welcomed the long moans that the bow pulled from the violin, lifting them high so that they vibrated off the walls. The concrete floor repelled each harsh dig that the bow ripped from the strings, as if the chords were deliberately jumping and smacking theme selves onto the ground. The space offered the sound of the instrument a heightened intensity. But interestingly, I recognised that the state of being, from which I was producing such sounds was unusual. I was both present and absent, performing yet listening. There was an intuitive sense of control. If you were to ask me what I played now, I couldn't tell you, and I can't quite reconcile how something that struck me so much can not be remembered, nor attributed from a state of knowing.
I value a number of things from this experience with music today. One: A voice was given to my building state of incommunicable angst. It simply took an expression, was released yet not contained to a form or permanency.
Secondly: The experience was my own. Unlike my art, which as I pursue a career with, increasingly becomes about others; viewed by others, judged by others, propelled or stalled by others. This is not to place publicly viewed art in a negative light, I do believe that art can be like happiness, not known until shared. However, it does raise a challenge, working between private and public spaces. Challenges of trust, control and intimacy with one's practice. There was a trust with the violin today, a fleeting moment, where I wasn't performing. I was living. And whilst this does not always happen when painting, it's what makes me do it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kaleidoscope Opening Night

Thanks to those who came along to the opening at Kaleidoscope Gallery on Thursday, was great to see the support.

I was so intrigued by the hanging of my work "Bull Dust" next to the stuffed toy web artwork (apologies can't remember the title) by artist Carla Gee Schneider. For it is from found objects, particularly plush toys and hand made plush objects, that I source imagery, composition and colour for my paintings. It was like a fateful meeting of our two practices and was wonderful to have a conversation with the artist about her connection to the faux fur material. Whilst I have been moving away from the recognisable 'toy' and animal identity of the material, making my own plushies from new textiles, this artist has embraced the childhood connotations. Schneider admits to maintaining a connection with the playful identity of the toy as she is intrigued by the reaction from the audience to her brutal dismembering of the toys. This key element of responsiveness intrigues me as it highlights an exploitation of process. Schneider's work it is not so much about creating a 'new' object but engaging in the act of transformation.

What intrigued me conceptually about this work was the extent to which an audience could accept transformation if it interrupts the sentimental material. Even when transformed a toy remains a toy, an object strictly linked to childhood, therefore nostalgia and an innocence. It is interesting to think of how an artist's practice has the ability to disrupt sweet nothings of childhood, and how as adults we guard the sentiments and memory of how childhood.

I found this work provocative and revelled in the discomfort that it created. Like a lot of my sculptural work it too appealed on a superficial level to people, its bright colours and tactility. But the proof was in the pudding, because on closer inspection it also repelled, and I think this is a powerful and compelling dichotomy to prevail in an artwork.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Geospatial teacup pyramid

I began a new job this week, a glorified waitress at the Sydney Convention Centre.
In the initial hours of my first shift I was herded like a sheep around the centre, which was large enough to have its own post code. I found myself questioning the desire to be part of such a flock, even if it meant I could effortlessly leave it behind at the end of the working day. For whilst it would certainly leave plenty of mental space and energy for better things in life, it was proving positively soul destroying.

The experience was like the first day of school, the uniform drowned me, I didn't have the correct stationary, nobody spoke to me and worst of all, at lunch time I found myself standing in the middle of the canteen, tray in hand, with no table to sit at. Being the crazy girl with no make up on or straightened slick hair I found myself stumbling into a chair and imitating Drew Barrymore from the film Never been kissed, spilling my green cordial onto the table.

However, after such an uninspiring introduction to the centre, I did find the afternoon more intriguing. Simply because of the fact that I opened my eyes to the convention that I was working with. Even now, after a number of days at the convention , I can't tell you precisely what it is on, but that is half the appeal. Something to do with geography, digital mapping, engineering and data, I think. Purely alien yet wonderful to me.
Though what remains disheartening is that in one instance, as I was standing before a water station reading a banner on one of the pavilions, I asked my waiter buddy what she thought a geospatial solution might be. She looked at me as If I had spoken in another language, glassy eyed, she shrugged her shoulders and went back to inspecting her acrylic nails. How does one reconcile themself with this situation ? True, the work is tiresome and ordinary, but within the environment there is something to think about and better still talk about with your colleague. But there was simply no connection.
In a similar instance I found myself serving double smoked ham with Camembert and seeded mustard baguettes, when a delegate asked my colleague what the food was. She bluntly responded "Pork" and turned away, leaving the man looking half heatedly at his sandwich. I guess I should have been impressed that she didn't say "Pig". But where I ask you, is the care ? The slightest interest in the cheese, if not in the act of serving it. How can you not be excited about cheese ? Whilst heartened that I could at least be stimulated by the elusiveness of a geospatial device and care about the cheese even though I couldn't eat it, I found myself very lonely in the experience. And so as I diligently performed my waiting tasks, scurrying around like an ant, trying to care about the arrangement of napkins. I feared that perhaps this job could in fact reduce my mental capacity for art rather than leave space for it, simply beacuase no one else seemed to care. If people aren't open to the changing environment of their work, the food they serve or the people they interact with, then where is the shared experience ? And where does that leave art ? If it comes down to the nature of the work itself then what sort of work should an artist do ?

But, there was light at the end of the tunnel as the final task of the day was building a teacup and saucer pyramid. The meadative power of its construction was wonderful, oh the intricacy ! oh the repetition, oh the pristine whiteness of the china ! What a practical and artistic feat in which to conclude the day. It was then that I considered the geospatial solution that I had recognised in the fulfilling practice of building such a hospitable artwork.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Exhibition Opening This Thursday

Black Line Collection

Thursday, April 15, 2010
6:00pm - 9:00pm
Kaleidoscope Gallery

84 William Street Padington



Tim Andrew
Susie Fraser
Carla Gee Schneider
Madeleine Cruise
Simon Currie
Jess Lawson
Miriam Montgomery
Ember (melb)
Natalia Zajaz
Steven Nuttall

Sunday, April 11, 2010

...Yet still the solitary humble-bee
Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure,
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there,
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty! and sometimes
'Tis well to be bereft of promis'd good,
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
With lively joy the joys we cannot share.

This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Friday, April 9, 2010

Karel and I in the Botanic gardens

You know the satisfactory feeling of tiredness after a day well spent ? When all you want to do is go home alone, eat some pasta and nurse your tired feet.
Over the past few weeks I have been reading Karal Appel's memoirs and interviews. When asked where he finds his inspiration for such imaginative subject matter in his paintings, his response is, that he sees everyday as brand new. His eyes are always fresh. Be it a walk to the store to buy milk, he does everything with the eyes of a first timer, and everything is amazing. Funnily, he also confesses to imaginaning the world through the eyes of an animal. I also really like this, for as humans, we must look pretty ridiculous most of the time, our routines and antics, what we wear, how we show affection, choosing to get pissed so we can purposely stumble home.
I went to the botanic gardens today and I felt like eve in the garden of eden,awe struck and in admiration of the exotic plants and peculiar bats. Today the plants were nolonger familier, they were fury, prickly, wonderous specimens, portals into another world. And as I eat my gnochi, now in bed, I realise that Karel is quite a good companion on my adventures.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

WOW Watch out Mad's about Artist superhero, protector and persecutor of all things pretty and plush. Painter and sculpter of sweet and slippery delights. Salivating yet ? Stay tuned for the telling of many tales, this is just the beginning.