Wednesday, May 28, 2014

supernatural insect woman series

Not a great name but it is an accurate way to pin down my elusive thoughts for now.
I saw the Mirka Mora exhibition recently at Heide gallery and it reminded me that flights of fancy are more than acceptable in my field. Also I've been playing with some new paints that I recently bought and that is always inspiring.

Mum and I were also discussing the real life constraint of whether or not the customer feels that they can live with a piece of art. It's all well and good buying art as investment - though clearly this ain't my style. I've actually been discussing this with friends recently but that will be another post.

I can appreciate that certain works were ground breaking in style, technique or ideas as the time but again this doesn't mean that I ultimately want to continue to view it in my house whether that be my intimate bedroom space, a more public living space or even walk past it often in a hallway. Please note that I'm not saying that I don't like the work. I'm just saying that I don't want to live with it.[The above commentary more refers to the 'angry penguins' group such as John Perceval, Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester and Albert Tucker (on display at the art gallery) than Mirka Mora's work which was on display in Heide II]

This is all relevant just now as my first solo exhibition opens in the Long Gallery at Montsalvat, in Eltham.

Monday, May 19, 2014

What feeds me

How do I feel? Actually I feel very calm. Possibly it’s just asking a deeply hidden anxiety but I don’t think so. I’ve done the work so really there’s nothing more to do right now but cruise into it all.

I’ve been asked to sift through and find some items to place into a cabinet in order to add to my story

-          Things that inspire me
-          Things that I need
-          Things that I write
-          Things that I read
-          Things I draw
-          Things that I play with
-          Things I think about

Clearly my blog is all part of this too but I can’t exactly put that inside a glass cabinet. This evening I’ve fished out some old sketch books and marked some pages that I think will work.

I did enjoy the process of hanging and found it all relatively painless. I can see that the miniscule changes could become irritating after awhile but for me the novelty of my first hang was all good.

It’s a gorgeous space in and of itself which doesn’t hurt my euphoria (plus a stunning autumn day). In fact, I did wonder if it being such a classic beauty of a space might overwhelm my work but I felt right in the space.

This afternoon since I got home, I’ve just been taking it easy. I’m in a very relaxed positive mood and one thing I love to take my time doing is to cook. There’s quite a satisfaction to be had in preparing food. My mother had given me home-grown Jerusalem artichokes straight from the garden. Into the sink they went to help ease the dirt from their skin. As I began to peel them with what may have been the world’s sharpest peeler (most fingernails are intact...) I delighted at how fresh they were. Thanks mum! An entire Paul Kelly cd’s worth of songs later and they were peeled, clean, sliced and caramelising nicely in my new copper pan with lashings of organic butter and sprigs of thyme from my front garden. Adding half a litre of vegetable stock and before you know it, a batch of delicious homemade soup for my fridge and a batch for my freezer.

So the link here is that good seasonal produce, mindful preparation and satisfaction of the senses all feed my art and fortunately at the same time – my belly

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

solo exhibition - Montsalvat

Pieces of me - exhibition

Why paint nudes?

The glib answer is that it is easier than painting clothing. I guess by stripping things back to their base parts I’m attempting to pare back the image. Recently I’ve definitely been attempting to paint less . By that, I mean look more and apply the pigment only where it is required. Self- control has never been my strong point so I do find this challenging.

 I started out attending life drawing classes as a teenager, these then became my images from which I began to paint and basically the well has yet to run dry. Recently I’ve been embracing my version of self-portraits. Obviously self-portraits are a well established subject matter throughout history. Selfies are just the modern incarnation. I understand that I'm following in a long held tradition of artists painting self-portraits. I've benefited from the more tech savvy youth to recently embrace the selfie and this has helped launch my new direction. When I blog, I’m exposing other slices of myself through words. These paintings are yet another side of me.

Some of these works expose literal pieces of me, others more metaphorical pieces of me. I certainly feel there is a bit of me in every work – whether it be a portrait of a friend or an abstract play of a brush along the canvas. They convey my love of strong colour, bold strokes of the knife, brush or my fingers. I enjoy the sensuality (and the downright mess) of the physical application of paint.  The curves are the place I like to get into. I like to flow with them, using my imagination to let my fingers  dance along the skin.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Solo exhibition

Please join me for my first ever solo exhibition.

Opening night Thursday May 22nd 6.30pm - 8.30pm. Show runs until Sunday June 22nd and is open daily 9am - 5pm. It will be held in the Long Gallery at Montsalvat, 7 Hillcrest Avenue, Eltham.

Have a glass of wine, enjoy some local art and soak up the surrounds.

It'd be lovely to see you there!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Final Tokyo chapter

Walking up a side street we spied a coolroom of hanging meat on the second floor of a restaurant. Naturally we were drawn to investigate. Gonpachi hadn't exactly satisfied. Up we wandered and soon we found ourselves sitting down with some jamon, terrine, cheese and baguette, a rose wine for me and a red wine for Steve = Happy days! 

This place was a delicious, delightful respite. Le Petit Marche in a back street of Roppongi was just what the doctor(chef?) ordered. Fortunately it was mostly patronised by Asian customers with only one other Western couple (American, I think).

 It was from here that we walked up to Kento's - a 50s/60s pop club which although was a bar, looked more like an american diner. The band does 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off throughout the evening of american 50s/60s pop - with the occasional Abba song thrown in for good measure. The band is appropriately attired and coiffed wooing the audience who really seem to get into the swing of things even if they have little to no sense of musical timing. I drank some sweet garishly coloured cocktails; Steve had some 12 year old Yamazaki whiskey. All was somehow right with the world.

Coming home along the main street where lots of restaurants and clubs are situated was a different experience altogether. So many noisy westerners that I became quite resentful. It's an odd feeling because I am a westerner but I was almost offended by the presence of so many westerners. I'm still processing that bit.

One guy deliberately tried to bump into me either to pickpocket(of which I had nothing on me) or to 'cop a feel'. Either intentions aren't pleasing but that's honestly the only unpleasant experience like that on the whole trip.
All in all, despite many instances of language barrier, we have fared very well. Japanese people, as a culture, are very honest. They also, on the whole, have very good english language skills. Way better than our ridiculously small grasp of Japanese.
Note to self - learn more basic language skills of the country I'm travelling to.

art darts

I'd like to tell you a story....

I felt that I was stalling a few weeks ago. Was it some metaphysical block that I wasn't even aware of? I phoned a friend..we talked and she ran me through a few scenarios..trying to lead me to what she felt was super obvious. It's time I took the next step art-wise and get serious about earning income from my work. She suggested to me that I ask the universe for a very clear sign as to what my next move should be that would help me financially. So I did as she posited and that evening when I went online and typed in 'art awards melbourne' the first item in the search result was 'Kennedy Art Prize'. OMG! If that was not an incredibly clear sign, then I'm a monkey's uncle...

That was a few weeks ago and I'm furiously submitting here, there and everywhere. I call it throwing art darts. It feels like throwing a dart out there into the big bad art world. Who knows what it might hit...

I'm excited, exhausted and at times over-whelmed.
I'm in the process of submitting my work for all sorts of gallery exhibitions and art awards. I'm learning a lot I.T. wise and getting all professional about myself as an artist. I'm not looking to make myself rich but it would be nice to earn more than I spend on materials. 

I'll post any developments here as well as on my Facebook art page. Please support these galleries/institutions as that's how the circle of art/life survives.

I do have a spot in a group show entitled 'Nude' 17th October -8th November 2014 at the Beth Hulme Gallery in Fitzroy North.

I'll remind you all closer to the time. In the meanwhile, keep up the good work, peeps!

next installment...

Saturday April 5th 5pmish

We are all checked in to our swish accommodation - Hotel S - on one of Roppongi. It's very modern with tight, efficient design = very japanese and one thing that I'm actually quite attracted to. I didn't quite prepare for what I might buy here. A knife was a possibility but to be honest I don't really need one. The ceramics and fabrics are highly covetable but again it's all want not need.

This morning we commuted by train from Asakusa to Roppongi - that was after a hearty breakfast of cream cakes and coffee from Angelus, a store we'd been drooling at the glass of in Asakusa. Pretty much most of the way Steve was strongly advocating a taxi ride instead. That might, of course, be related to the many stairs Tokyo Metro seem to have as well as the need to transfer trains with our luggage.

After arriving in Roppongi and dropping our bags off at our hotel we went for a wander. Luckily, it turned out to essentially to be a dry day. I get to visit the art supply store (which is incredibly well stocked - far greater than anything I've previously seen and well presented in a tiny space). Again fabulous use of a small space.

A short promenade around the Mori Art museum area and we just happened to find ourselves at the Brew Dogs bar. Brew Dogs are a couple of the scottish guys who brew incredibly interesting craft beers. Beer in Japan can be a no-brainer - like in many parts of the world - but there is a growing market for craft beers - well made and tasty little numbers.

A few hours were easily lost there before we strolled/straggled back to our hotel via a very fancy, high end shopping outlet complete with an american high end food store - Dean and Deluca (WANKERS!)
There is quite a strong attraction to french and italian (more so than other european nations) food and drink here in Tokyo, and more so in Roppongi. Obviously a fair proportion of that is expat demand. Fabian. our Shinjuku guide from Monday night, did point out that it is most favourable and advantageous to be french in Japan. There's clearly an attraction there.
So now at our hotel it's time for a soak in the bath ( a little down time - aaaahhhh!)

After a most appreciated soak, we hit the town. We started at Gonpachi which is a restaurant that inspired a set in director Quentin Tarantino's film Kill Bill. It is a replica of older Tokyo (Edo) style places. Food was hit and miss, probably because it straddles too many styles (sushi, yakitori sticks, soba noodles as well as other odd items which felt western to me). Most other eating establishments we have visited usually had a tighter, more limited but more focussed menu.

Gonpachi was clearly playing to a more western audience, of which there are many in the area of Roppongi. We had heard there was a large ex-pat community in this area. Last night as we chose to walk up a quieter backstreet , avoiding the touts, we found an array of embassies. Pieces fall into place.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Day 5

Friday April 4 2014     

It's my brother's birthday today - happy birthday Al!

Today has been an odd day. We had such a full on day yesterday with the super early start and some sake or five that I really didn't want to get up this morning. Mind you, the tatami mats that we are sleeping on aren't exactly comfort central.

After the Tsukiji fish market tour we came home and slept for 5 hours (well I did) before attempting the second half of the day. We had a yummy lunch next door at the Sobateria. I had the spring special of cold soba, tempura vegetables (not all of which I recognise) with a dipping sauce. Afterwards hot soba water is brought out to mix with the dipping sauce which then becomes a light soup. This was very much the experience of soba I had been seeking. In my mind, it is traditional and I felt vindicated by the four older, immaculately attired japanese women sitting at the table next to us who all ordered the same dish as I. Steve had soba in a hot broth (possibly dashi) with crispy fried chicken. He was satiated also.

After lunch we wandered around some more exploring different parts of Asakusa. The sake bar, which is also a liscened bottle shop,  was our first stop in the evening. Hoppy St, also locally known as 'stew st' was our final dining destination. Wow- what a place!

It was one of the few areas where I'd seen restaurants tout for your business. The restaurants are tiny places that extend directly onto the street and when it rains, as it did last night, heavy plastic curtains are lowered and secured with any weighty object to hand.

So there we were under some type of ad hoc cover on a table next to 2 very rambunctious fellows having a great time. Offal soup, horse sashimi, grilled chicken gizzard and pigs feet terrine - OMG! I felt very Anthony Bourdain. And in true Anthony Bourdain style things did go a good way. Some more beer and sake and shochu and sleep came very easily.

Unsurprisingly, today was much more low-key. We started slowly with some tea and coffee at a cafe/gallery a few streets away. Tea here is served cold and black or hot, milky and sweet - I chose the latter. Gallery ef is situated in a building that was built in 1868 and has survived fires, earthquakes and war. It's very serene, dark, shoes off, minimalist, calm, shiny lacquered floors kind of place. It was a very moving experience.

One thing that I've learnt is that I should have brought more business cards with me. Good thing to know for next time. After the gallery visit, we strolled down to an incredible stationery store. Again, it was a sanctuary. The Japanese people as a culture value stationery, ceramics and fabrics far more so than western societies. It's delightful. I share these passions also.
Luckily Steve is happy to indulge this apart of me. I've learnt a lot about being with Steve this trip. He's very good for me. He understands the many sides of me and sometimes knows what I need even if I have yet to perceive it myself.

Upon leaving the stationery store - Kakimori - we had a trashy lunch of snacks from Lawson (the convenience store with more) whilst sitting overlooking the Sumida river. some major queuing was then necessary to purchase tickets for a cruise down said river to Hama Rikyu gardens which is just past Tsukiji fish market by the top of the Tokyo bay. after a brief walk around the muddy paths viewing the 300 year old pine tree we cruised back to Asakusa just in time for a freak, short but sharp hail storm to dampen our clothes but not our spirits.

A wander around the Sakura beer garden (after hours in an amusement park) was essentially  waste of effort but you don't know til you go. It could have been a really cool, hip place to eat and drink but the lack of patronage made it all appear just a little sad and dull.

Oops - I forgot our trip to a bizarre store called Don Quijote. Think cheap nasty meets nice department store - food hall included. We bought a range of things - trashy snack foods including shelf stable' camembert' cheese, multi pack of groovy socks for Steve, USB connection heated pillows, Hello Kitty pez for the girls. Odd and lots of fun. Our dinner by comparison  was pretty low key. Kamamishi - rice and other bits cooked in a pot served with a strong miso. Again, just what I needed.