Thursday, August 16, 2012

Exploration 6: Maquette Making.

Hard to know where to start with this one. It's a beginning - but of what I don't know. There's a wardrobe with a coffin type feel to it (nice), the clothes metaphor - which I'm insisting is a metaphor because I don't want to come out of this looking shallow - and a bit of a figurative quality using those legs for the wardrobe. Or rather some Ostranenie as Paul corrected me defined it. I like the Ostranenie idea because I think a lot of what I'm trying to say is about the inner world of the self in opposition to it's outer world. And how we consider our inner world - and who we are - as taking place within us which is ironically the flesh, blood, bones - the physical rather than the metaphysical. Getting confused? These ideas keep tangling up in my head. I had a great chat with Paul about anatomy and all his work on this topic and how the problematic physicality of the body - how it gets ill, ages and decays back into the earth - is what in fact brings us most into contact with who we are or our humanity. Which is kind of ironic. But true I think. For example I recently heard from a psychologist friend about a 95 year old man who had come to her for help, the first time in his life he had ever sought psychological help. My reaction was, wow, imagine, he's probably had some trauma in his young life and it has taken him this long to find the courage to deal with it and how inspiring that it is never too late to heal and evolve. Amazing......Unfortunately it was nothing that inspiring. The 95 year old man was seeking help because he was starting to lose some mobility (!!!) and the thought of surrendering some independence was giving him anxiety attacks. I know that the idea of a 95 year old still in great health and rarely having had a day sick should be celebrated but I found this man's story (surprisingly) sad. When our body lets us down it brings up a lot of feelings - anxiety for one - and to not have to work through some anxiety and reap the growth and awareness that brings until 95 just seems sad. And contrary to the human experience. 
Well, enough now for the analysing. Time to move on with photoshop and x-rays and see what comes of that...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Exploration 5: In Case Of Emergency.

I love shadow boxes. I painted this one red and white then aged it a bit with oil paint. It reminds me of  one of those fire extinguishers housed behind glass that you can break in case of an emergency. The red and white stripe works in two different directions - the colours of first aid but also the colours of a circus. I aged it because I really like vintage circuses. They have the air of tired, dark sorrow - a life lived on the edges of society - but with an accompanying sense of absurdity. It puts me in the mind of existentialism. Maybe some existentialism or absurdist philosophy as first aid?????

Exploration 4: Text.

I'm really inspired by text based art. It offers a whole new dimension of lyricism and decoding with font being as important as syntax. And again the materials communicate. This idea comes from the discovery that written expression like prose and poetry can be a useful (if not superior) substitute for medication when it comes to pain and discomfort (caveat: excepting childbirth. Any one reading me a poem during child birth risks their life). I like the idea of of that classic cry of emergency "Is there a Doctor in the house????" becoming "Is there a poet in the house???" - reflecting the healing power of language in the darkest of circumstances.
For this exploration I cut out some felt letters, still going with my textile theme, but I quickly realised that wouldn't work. There is nothing about felt that screams. Instead you want a distressed urgent font in screaming capitals. Maybe this?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Exploration lot 3: Textiles/Ornamentation.

This textile ornamental pattern, which uses various circles of raw silk in a 'bruised' palette, is intended as a stylised representation of an inflammatory skin condition called Erythema Nodosum - a condition considered a flag for various underlying disease process. I owe my inspiration also to Gustave Klimt whose decorative style and ornamentation (see below) have been long time inspirations. Interestingly I have since discovered in my research that these highly visible skin lesions signal, among other conditions, Syphillis - a disease said to be rife in Klimt's turn of the century Vienna and one that terrified Klimt so much he  include representations of it in his work. Some sources seem to suggest that Klimt contracted Syphilis early on in his life and that the illness was a contributor to his death though this seems difficult to verify. Nonetheless for myself I love that the association I made between Erythema Nodosum and Klimt's ornamental style portends some extra depth...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Exploration lot 2: X-ray and Photoshop.

Here is some exploration using Photoshop and an X-ray. This draws on my 'anatomy' inspiration file, looking at  ideas of illness (from a personal perspective) plus just a more objective fascination with human insides  - physical and the inferred metaphysical - and general other X-Ray related metaphorical  dichotomy such as revelation/denial; inner world/outer world; private/public; protection/exposure...
Experimenting with filters and the eraser tool at about 50% opacity (done quickly, so no Wacom tablet used unfortunately) here some x-ray type shadowy mark making which felt like a really useful discovery. 
Treading then into textile territory, which feels very much where I'm heading and in line with themes I'm playing with, I sketched a shadowy dress onto the x-ray - something outer now on the inner - so getting into my theme of fashion as symbol and metaphor. Metaphor for what? Not really sure, probably serving as hope/future affirming when juxtaposed with illness?
Third a photo of a heart I cast in plaster last year superimposed on the X- ray now looking more solid and earthly against the ghostly X-ray.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Material Exploration: Blister Packs.

First bit of material exploration off the ranks: painkiller blister packs. These seem to me to have some potential though not sure what yet. But seeings as I have stored approx one half million of them in the garage over the last two years with a view to upcycling them one day I thought now might be a good time. Also as I have consumed their contents over that same time frame I feel there may be some thematic possibility there too. Gathered together they look to have a bit of a silvery, glittery bling quality so I'm thinking bling, fashion, party, pain, denial and working with personal themes to begin with. I still haven't played with these as much as I need to but here's what I came up with last Thursday. As I'm feeling really drawn to a textile challenge this semester I cut the little blisters out, leaving in as much foil as possible to turn them into sequins. Then, some machine stitching, experimenting with leaving thread uncut and otherwise uncut. Different arrangements etc etc. Feel like there's more to be done here, but a start at any rate.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Word Of Mouth: Encounters with Abstract Art.

Ruth Waller Op Phase (Visitation).

Wednesday's studio class was an absolute treat. A trip to CMAG (Canberra Museum and Gallery) to take in some abstract art - the engagingly curated exhibition Word Of Mouth: Encounters With Abstract Art  showing the works of Nineteen emerging and established artists, working in a variety of mediums, and who are all connected in some way to Canberra through the Australian National University's School of Art - either through teaching or studying. I have always been fascinated with abstract art, in the way I have been with classical music - that is to say felt that there was a whole secret world out there I was unable to access, able to enjoy only for an initial asthetic appeal, and therefore missing something special. The beauty of this exhibition however is an accessibility, something it's curator Mark Bayly had intentioned with the curation, looking to appeal to a broad audience. We were lucky enough in fact to have Mark as a personal tour guide and in the half hour he guided us through the exhibition I felt the mysteries of abstract art both fall away and deepen - a door open into this exciting world of communicating with abstracted form (a particular work by Christopher Carmody, referencing faded book covers, was unexpectedly moving) leaving me not only eager to seek out more abstract work in the future but maybe even try some myself. Though I can only speak for myself I'm pretty sure the whole class left the exhibition feeling inspired.

Greg Hodge (detail from Magazine Mystics). 

Julie Brook (I Can Connect Nothing With Nothing).

CMAG Curator, and our personal tour guide, Mark Bayly, with works by Marie Hagerty. (Photo Source)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Inspiration: The Great Gatsby and Jack White.

The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite books. It left me with such a feeling of haunting emptiness for the newly rich Jay Gatsby, the title character, who had given his entire life over for the love of someone ultimately unworthy. Baz Luhrmann has just remade the movie of the novel with Leo Dicaprio as The Great Gatsby and if the trailer is anything to go by I have hopes this will be more Romeo + Juliet and less Moulin Rouge ( a sad disappointment of a film, not to mention a colossal waste of sequins). 
Most inspiring of all though is Jack White's cover of U2's Love Is Blindness which Luhrmann has included in the soundtrack and you can catch in part on the trailer. This song seems like the ideal choice for the empty hedonism and hollowed out alienation Gatsby's pursuit of Daisy symbolises. I have to admit I've become a little obsessed with this song. It's one of those which has the power to rip through any number of thick muscled layers of defence, uncovering in the process the heart of pure, raw emotion. 
I've posted in from You Tube the whole song below so you can hear it without any visual cues. See what you think!