Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An event

Bergs in foreground and Blizzard in background

Sunday afternoon's artist's talk and poetry reading event at ArtsPost for the Imagining Antarctica exhibition went very well. There were about 15 people in the audience, who seemed very attentive and asked good questions. I talked quite a lot about Antarctica and why it is meaningful for me, and how particular pieces in the show relate to my particular concerns. It was great to have the big My Antarctica relief map to demonstrate distances and identify places. Much of what I talked about is covered, more or less, in this interview with me published last week on Books in the Trees.

Part of my audience.
I've been unable to get a good photo yet of work on the wall behind them, the glass reflects the window light in the mornings so I need to go of an afternoon to document that part of the show.

I brought along a couple of props as well. My well-thumbed and much beloved copy of Kim Stanley Robinson's novel, Antarctica, which launched me on this creative path. I also did a small demonstration of how I needle felt the blanket layers to create colours and build height (and depth) in my 3D works.

Demonstrating preparing the wool for felting (this and photo above taken by Janice Meadows)

It was a treat to read lots of poems instead of the two or three max required in the group readings I participate in occasionally. I read my Antarctic hero poems, and some with evolutionary themes relating to the Deep Time work I showed last year along with others from the extraction series relating to my mining pieces seen in Melbourne earlier this month. And various unrelated poems of a science fiction bent. All 15 poems were written within the past two years, so even though I don't feel like a very productive poet (and certainly this year has been a bit dry on that front) I could see I'm not doing too badly, when they are all gathered together as on Sunday.

Me and My Antarctica (photo by Marion Manson)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Poems and Interviews etc

I'm very honoured to have my poem 'Ponting's Genius' featured as the Tuesday Poem on Tim Jones' blog Books in the Trees. It's one of the Antarctic poems I will be reading on Sunday 28 August 3pm at ArtsPost, surrounded by my Imagining Antarctica exhibtion. As well as the Antarctic series I will be reading other recent poetry, mostly relating to same environmental themes that inform my visual arts plus plenty of science fiction poems like Cake (coming out in Enamel 3 next month).

And in the special bonus artist's talk portion of the event I will be discussing my visual art- the thinking behind this exhibtion, and my technique. Questions welcome (though you may find many of your questions answered in the interview that will be appearing in Books in the Trees later this week).

* * *

Here's some of the print media attention I've received this month.

In the Waikato Times Arts Page on 19 August. The lovely photo is by Jody Saturday, a photographer friend with an extraordinary talent for taking flattering portraits. Despite my wan, worn-out countenance lately she managed to make me look good, along with Melt. (The Waikato Times link takes you through to the full story)

In Riff Raff 3, Hamilton's 'edgy' arts magazine I got a full page of photos of my stitching.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Opening Antarctica

Imagining Antarctica is at last successfully installed and opened. Its wonderful to see all the pieces I've made over the past 18 months finally all unpacked and hung together, filling the space beautifully.

There is more to say of course, but truthfully I feel a little shell shocked and completely inarticulate. The lead up to last night's preview was intensely exhausting and stressful. Right now all I want to do is sit in the sun and reread favourite novels.

If I had been up for making a speech at the preview it would have included a lengthy list of thank yous, worthy of an Oscar winner. My deep gratitude goes to so many people who have provided all kinds of support, but most especially to those whose help has been practical and/or saved me from crisis. Stuart Briden, Grace, Emily Rumney and Stephanie Chalmers each contributed with invaluable advice, materials, curation and/or installation and without these professionals my work would not look nearly so fine. Chris Fairly and Robin McIntyre have been tireless transporters and interested problem solvers. Lynda Johnston saved me from being buried under boxes of finished work by offering secure storage. Anna Littler, Sarah Oliver and Eleanor Lefever Taschen have all saved my sanity on more than one occasion in the past months. But most especially I must thank my parents, Norman and Martha Simms, for their ongoing generous assistance is what makes my life as an artist sustainable. Also they make really excellent opening food.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Box o' Bergy Bits

The technical term for small icebergs is bergy bits. I kid you not. I am finishing off the last iceberg for next week's Imagining Antarctica exhibition. Already I have a box of seven completed icebergs, which I think of as my Box o' Bergy Bits. All the finished ones got measured, priced and labelled today. Whew. Another job ticked off my list.

Last iceberg, to be finished in the next five days.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

F*** Your Donation

Opening night

I've just returned from a whirlwind four days, three nights in Melbourne. I installed Spoil at the First Site Gallery at RMIT, attended the opening and then flew home. To cram all of Spoil into the checked baggage requirements of Air New Zealand, some assembly was required in Melbourne, so I spent several hours in the gallery stitching the stacks of gold coins to the acrylic mount.

Levelling the hanging gold

This was definitely the loveable problem child of my three pieces. Lovely assistant curator Kellie Barnes (who also let me stay at her house), patiently spent hours up a ladder with her arms above her head measuring and tying, while I stood at the base of the ladder, supported the work and complained about my own sore arms.

Kellie hanging gold

It was totally worth it, as the hanging piece looked exactly as I had intended and attracted a lot of attention at the opening. I was really delighted with how Kellie and Andrei Davidoff curated my installation with me, so that as visitors approach the main gallery down a long low corridor, they see all three pieces lined up. The gold hovering in the distance looks every bit as ethereal, science fiction-y and enticing as I hoped it would. The contrast between it and the low leaden weight of the grey spoil heap is balanced by the opencast Australia piece in the middle, which does not reveal much from a distance and required visitors to come close and lean in to see inside.

Spoil viewed from the gallery entrance

I enjoyed watching people engage with the installation at the opening. It seems to invite physical responses... not just your standard gallery looking pose. One guy couldn't resist touching all the pieces, but mostly people peered, bent, leaned, crouched and circled most satisfactorily. I tried to get people to tell me what they thought it was about before I answered their questions about my own intentions. Most people picked up the mining references pretty effortlessly, but there were also some food interpretations (cakes, kumara mash)- no surprise there!