Friday, November 26, 2010

Rock gods can be a literal description

I decided not to post my gushy fangirl ravings about seeing U2 live to this blog, but if you are really keen you can check out my photos and commentary on Facebook.

OK, just one photo here, because you begged me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shelf- An exhibtion of small objects

Looking through the window of Katherine Pigott's cardboard house three stories tall and each interior perfectly and delicately drawn and painted.

I'm honoured to be included in the roll call of well respected artists in this group show at The Framing Workshop in Silverdale, Hamilton until 19 January 2011. We were given the brief to make an object to fit on a shelf 165x165mm and the diversity of responses is satisfying. All so different and every piece a small gem.

The piece on the left is a resin water balloon

Left is a found deer sculpture that has been dressed, centre is Ann Bell's shishiro vessel, and right is a fascinating assemblage.

The Framing Workshop is one of the classiest galleries in Hamilton (and one of the smallest). This exhibiton, curated by owner Sarah Marston and artist Gaye Jurisich, is one of the most satisfying exhibitons I've seen locally this year (am I allowed to say that if I am included?).

I toyed with idea of making an iceberg with the tip on top of the shelf and the 80% underwater hanging below the shelf. This artist was the only one of us to actually use the underside of the shelf, and so wonderfully.

Unfortunately there wasn't a take home catalogue and I didn't document the artist's names as I was taking these photos. Sorry- if you see your work let me know names and links so I can acknowledge.

I submitted four icebergs and there are a pair displayed in each window

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Punctuated Equilibrium in Store

As the end of the year approaches, I am reviewing my achievements of 2010. One of my proudest was the installation 'Punctuated Equilibrium' at the Waikato Museum earlier this year. Almost all of the elements of the installation were actually created (or at least begun) during my 2009 residency at Hamilton Girls High School but I'm counting it as a 2010 achievement as that's when the project was completed.

It felt quite poignant to un-install 'Punctuated Equilibrium' earlier this month, but I am thrilled to be sharing all the individual elements again in another form. As a 'site specific' installation, this combination of works won't be shown again outside of the Vitrine. Instead I have added each of the pieces to my Etsy shop. If you liked my embroidered fossils or the microfossil sketchbook, you can buy these now, just as they were exhibited.

Deep Time, the 570 metres of paper scrolls representing 570 million years of multi cellular life on earth is also for sale, as individual scrolls. You can pick and choose among your favourite colours (not all the scrolls have been added to the shop quite yet, so if the colour you want isn't there, just ask). I love the idea that someone will draw or write on the painted paper, or collage on it or with it, creating a new other life for these unusual books. Of course if you just want to have a pretty cylinder of colour sitting on your shelf, or unroll the paper to make your own installation, that's going to look rather fine too.

The 500 or so woodcut blind embossed fossils in brown kraft paper are also for sale. I'm suggesting them as sets of 10 paper ornaments or gift tags (and have attached hemp twine for ease of attachment. Of course these woodcuts are still available (on luxuriously creamy paper) in the Five Fossils artist's book as well.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

AJ Seely Gully

The sign says 'second biggest kauri 37 years old'

The other day I heard a radio programme about ecological restoration happening in the Hamilton area, and one of the sites discussed was the AJ Seely Gully which is in my neighbourhood. I have noted the entrance before but not yet explored it as the path appeared steep narrow, muddy and generally unformed. But the weather this month is all hot and dry so a scramble down the track doesn't seem so intimidating as in the middle of a rainy winter. I suggested to Robin that we go check it out last weekend. So we did and this is what we saw.

Not exactly a bridge, but a board walk over what would often be mud. The sign says 'careful'

It's not a big area, and its a nice easy walk when the ground is dry. The land is private and the tree planting the 50 year project of a local man who decided to restore bush long before it became fashionable. There are some impressively big trees only a few years older than me, that he planted. Best of all were the wonderfully quirky hand written signs. Worst of all was the rubbish, though Robin and I picked up most of what we could and carried it out of the gully.

'Miro, note clematis above'. We looked and looked but couldn't spot any clematis.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Deconstructionist Delight

Beads salvaged from Soul of the Sea. Even the most of the snippets of thread go in my scrapjar as future stuffing.

Bulky old unsold works of art, no matter how beloved, are a millstone. I don't want to keep putting them out to galleries because there's always new works I want to show. Keeping them in storage is inconvenient and expensive.

Thus one of the most effective cures for the persistant existential angst plaguing me this spring has been deconstructing pieces that for whatever reason have passed their used by dates. It is extremely satisfying to be actively engaged with the materials, solving logistical problems and clearing the decks for new creativity. I am determined to salvage as much as possible for reuse.

Being gentle to the planet is a central concern in everything I do, not least in my art practice. Deconstructing my work is giving me fresh insights into how I can improve my art footprint in the next pieces I make. I am most pleased with my latest dismantlement which resulted in only a handful of gluey threads and some sticky tape from the packaging going to landfill. Every thing else from the work itself, the hanging hardware, and the packaging will be reused.

Shroud for King Tutankhamun/Soul of the Sea

My latest act of deconstruction is a piece with an illustrious history. It started its life as New Shroud for King Tutankhamun and was selected as a finalist in the NZ Art Guild Art Award in January 2008. It went from that exhibition straight into storage while I set off on my Australian adventure. Later that year when I set up my Etsy shop I renamed the piece Soul of the Sea and it continues to be my Etsy item most frequently selected for Treasuries. So often has it appeared in various mermaid-themed collections that I became quite blase. Last year I touted the piece around a couple of local galleries and Soul of the Sea enjoyed a few months in a prominent postition in the Thornton Gallery, then went back into storage.

Watercoloured die cut circles straight from the Sea

It is always the handwork that I love most about my art. Taking apart the Soul of the Sea brought back the happy memories I had of every stage of its original making: hand painting offcuts of water colour paper, diecutting them with my daughter on the Chandler Price press, pricking the holes, stitching the circles together with beads and finally building the elaborate packaging that has kept this fragile piece perfectly intact through its travels.

Inside the packaging I made out of cardboard from windscreen boxes, masses of bubble wrap and duct tape

As a finished object I was pleased that it was so well liked: as a finalist, as a Treasury frequent flyer, inviting much attention in the gallery. But I also was mostly frustrated that it never sold and so had to continue to be stored. If I had a big enough house I would have happily hung it in my living space. If I was close to anyone with enough wallspace I might have given it away. But now instead I am all afire with new enthusiasm to be beginning again with stitching the circles.

Post Sea circles, tidied up and ready to be stitched again.

This time I will make an edition of smaller Soul of the Seas, that are mounted on a rigid backboard and can be easily and affordably posted overseas. It will be so much easier to spread the love of the original piece in affordable and postable packages. And I get to do a whole lot more pleasurable making without having to buy any new materials!

The small pile in the foreground is going to landfill. The cardboard will be repurposed (for the third time in its life) to make a solar oven. The bubble wrap will come in handy, though these days I prefer to give it away rather than use it to package art.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Out into the world

Icebergs for Shelf - An exhibition of small objects opening 19 Nov at The Framing Workshop in Hamilton

It's an ambivalent moment sending work out from my studio to a gallery and I'm doing it twice this week. Ambivalent because exhibiting is the point of my making and yet it feels so risky. I'm never completely happy with what I've made, the minor imperfections glare out at me almost obscuring the bigger picture. By the time I've finished making something I've learned how much better I could make it next time, and its hard to believe that not every viewer will have as critical an eye as my own.

But out my pieces go, with the gallery fee I can ill afford, with the artist's statement I've sweated over, with my hopes and wishes that it will provoke thought, conversation and affection in many people; and (please God) an overwhelming acquisitive desire in at least one person with the means to satisfy themselves. Sending away my work marks the end of what has inevitably been many hours of pleasurable production, into an environment where those hours of effort are not necessarily valued. It's risky, so I'm ambivalent.

Coral Threnody for the Textile Show opening 13 November at The Depot Artspace in Devonport

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Spring programme

Poor neglected blog! I've been navigating a delicate recovery from existential angst, not a process I wanted to expose to the harsh light of the internet. I'm not angsting over 'what's the point of trying to be an artist?' anymore. Now I'm just getting on with it; which is much more fun.

But I'm too busy to try and craft a narrative about anything, instead here's a partial list of what I've been up to:
  • reading Ranulph Fiennes' biography of Scott and thinking about the Scott poem I want to write
  • un-installing 'Punctuated Equilibrium' from the Vitrine at Waikato Museum
  • finishing preparing two years' worth of tax records for the accountant
  • watching with despair as my 'money-put-aside-for-taxes' goes for yet another dental bill
  • eating rice bubbles
  • avoiding Twitter which I find oppressive and confusing
  • experimenting with kefir milk grains
  • enjoying bicycling in fine weather for a change, the air smells so sweet
  • cleaning dirty old letterpress type
  • cuddling alpacas at the A&P Show, also viewing bunnies, horses, sheep, goats and cows
  • finishing the icebergs for the Shelf exhibition later this month
  • finishing a present to take to Melbourne at the end of the month
  • reading Pie#02
  • reworking 'You are an Agent of Change' into two 'new' pieces
  • reworking 'Breathe' into costume jewellery
  • growing a small vegetable garden in pots (dwarf beans, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, lettuce, parsley, coriander and calvo nero)
  • hanging out with my parents
  • sewing with Anna
  • my day job which is really an evening job ie the non-arty stuff that pays the bills, or would if the bills would stay under control
  • starting a commission for an edition of two handmade artist's books
  • watching the Beatles Anthology series and listening to a lot of Beatles music
  • wearing skirts most days, and getting sandal tan marks on my feet
  • moving 'My Antarctica' into storage
  • planning an 'Open Studio' day on 12 December, everyone is invited to my place to come and see new work (including 'My Antarctica' which I will bring out of storage for the event), enjoy birthday cake and hopefully buy some handmade books and stitched pieces