Thursday, July 30, 2009

Taking a Break and Feeding the Creative Soul

Just came back from the Hunter Valley from a family celebration there. Had a great time re-bonding with my brothers and sisters, playing cards, singing to Song star (a karaoke, playstation game) and finding out where everyone is at in their lives.

More than that, though, I enjoyed being in the great Australian Countryside – all hills, valleys, sheep, cows (especially!) and kangaroos, galahs, kangaroos and even a wallaroo. Just seeing them gave me such delight! I spotted fabulous gum trees that made me want to draw again, walked in silence across the property (and a few adjoining ones) and developed a rhythm with the steps I took, happy with my own company.

The vines had been hand-pruned ready after the harvest and everything was in waiting, renewing itself for the next growth spurt.

I returned last night, after only four days there, feeling optimistic and energetic.

As you may know, I have been trying to paint more works at the standard and style of what I had achieved before moving studios six months ago, trying to recapture the “X” factor that I discovered and was happy about. Frankly, I’ve been “flogging a dead horse”, either because the series had run its course, the move had interrupted the flow, or because the sizes of the canvas were not at hand (and finances made me reticent to buy any more).

I realised last night, that perhaps nature gives us a great example…we need to shut down for a while, wait and nurture ourselves before the next growth spurt.

Anyway, that’s what I’m taking from this…relax, rest, enjoy what I am doing, nurture the “soil” by continuing in the studio whatever feels right (drawing, sculpture, dreaming, thinking); and don’t try to get more fruit from the vine than is happily available in the blossoming season, lest I risk totally depleting the “seed” I depend on.

Do you take a break from the studio during the year? How long does it last? When do you know it’s time to break or time to get back to it? Do you do anything creative during the break? Post your comments here.

Image: Gabrielle Jones Tree Study IV, 2009 Oil on Canvas 30x30cm

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Alan Jones "Crime and Punishment" Legge Gallery

Went to the opening of this really good show by my friend Alan, in the salubrious (not) suburb of Redfern ....(even better that the parking fairy was with me coz I parked virtually outside the gallery!) I haven't been to an opening at Legge before and was pleasantly surprised by the space and lighting (I seem to remember that it was smaller at my last visit??)
Anyway, I enjoyed Alan's work immensely, and admire that he is brave enough to think of a concept and go for it, adjusting the execution according to the needs of the subject rather than his "known" style. This show extends his previous exploration of the immediate family (memorable painting of his brother etc having first brought him to my attention, before meeting him some 5 years later) to that of his convict ancestor, Robert, who was tried and on death row for the murder of a local aborigine. He received a reprieve at the last minute, and we're glad he did (otherwise the gorgeous Alan wouldn't be here!)
The portraits of Robert, the aborigine (complete with scratches-he was apparently dragged through a fire and then killed) and sundry other main characters in this saga were sculpted in charicature, made of material and placed on backing boards, rather like hunting trophies, lined with representations of wallpaper (either available in the time of the incident or reminiscent of those in the family home Alan Grew up in).
A large, ripper of a painting shows Robert the convict flattened against a realistically depicted River scape, which refers to the land that he later settled at Windsor. I love the way Alan has let go with the paint - thick, luscious white strokes, probably placed in part by fingers, with dobs of blue representing convict attire, and exploding with grey lines of tubed paint in a halo around him. These lines carry through to the other paintings in the show, which are a departure for Alan, being rather geometric, executed in line only and, consequently, apparently abstract.
At first I couldn't see the connection to the Exhibition title and other work, until I stood back and realised the pattern made the words "I hate today" and "Death Tomorrow" (obviously projecting Robert's thoughts). These thoughts are also written in chalk on large blackboards, framed identically forming panels which include the Union Jack and a number of intriguingly repeated muscats (the murder weapon?). Again, it was great to see an artist so obviuosly enjoying paint, communicating well with his audience, and having heaps of fun (and I don't mean with the wine, which he rarely touches!)
If you haven't ventured to Redfern, take the trip - this show is really worth seeing. On until August 15

Monday, July 27, 2009

Artists Support Team

Just realised that my entry for Mosman Prize needs to be delivered today (Monday). Although I am usually on to these things, due to a visit to the Hunter, the arrangements leading up to it and studio commitments last week -I forgot to arrange a courier to deliver it (OK… the more I let myself be an artist full time, the flakier I seem to be getting!). So I will need to strap it on to the top of my car…

Which brings me to the point of my blog…

Had I not had a completely supportive partner, I’d be in trouble right now. My usual courier has already picked up in the area of my studio and can’t fit me in; I tried an alternative courier who wasn’t answering his phone; and I can’t load the painting (large) onto my car – myself ( I need two sets of hands for that, and a better knowledge than mine of how to tie it safely onto the roof.) So he’s going to stop his work and help me do it at his lunch break. And my gratitude to him got me thinking…

I want to now publicly thank those ”artists’ supporters” who cheer us on in the good times, and listen to us complain about how hard it is in the bad; who understand our need to have an artistic expression and outlet in order to fully realise who we are and who we can be; who provide financial support (often by NOT asking how the sales are going or questioning our Credit cards after a trip to the art suppliers); those who buy our art not because it goes with the furniture but because they love it; and most of all, those who just believe in us.

I know I couldn’t do it in a professional capacity on my own…frankly, it’s too hard and my ego is not so sturdy as to believe in myself ALL the time. I would always do something creative - paint for sure, but the difference between a private hobby and giving my painting full energy –giving my dream life a go – is the support of those around me. How lucky am I?

A Sincere thank you to all the supporters I have had in my Artist’s life, especially my partner; and to all of you out there who support the artist(s) in your life.

How important are supporters in your life? Can you survive without them? What constitutes the greatest support to your artistic practice? Post your comments here.

Image: Tree- Plateau” 2009, Oil on Canvas; 152 x 122cm (Probable entrant Mosman Art Prize)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Inspiring Quotes: Knowing I am not alone

I have collected some quotes which closely relate to what it is that I am doing instinctively - the why and the how and the where.

"It was always a kind of escape to make these paintings in the studio, because what was outside the door was so different, really. The work became a different world...that was the excitement in a way-trying to find this other place in my studio, in my head". Peter Doig, British Painter, painting landscapes in urban London.

"Distance is required to enable a relationship...between found and recollected image and imaginitively transformed image.....the search for a distance to approach a subject that would otherwise be too close...Equally, the slippage between what is real, remembered or imagined creates fertile territory for the artist". Judith Nesbitt, A Suitable Distance, (about Peter Doig)

I try to eliminate other influences also for example and just focus on my way of working. We all start out with influences but the idea is to discover yourself, and find one’s own expression and in doing so it becomes a process of elimination to some extent, not obliterating the influences but discovering your own voice...Looking at the big yellow sculpture in the park there (Rock Forms Synthesis), it appears to be derived from the landscape and yet it is its own hybrid thing. It has all the sculptural elements implying the landscape without it being representational. Paul Selwood, Sculptor

[Art] is about the act of painting. Sometimes it is hard to see what you are doing while you are doing it. While you are involved in the process... it tends to be more subjective, active and subjective, but of course when you get some distance from it, you tend to be more objective, not absolutely, but more objective and reflective. Sometimes you feel like you are seeing it in a new way, so there is always the possibility of seeing something afresh. John Peart, Painter

There is no easy road to authenticity. It is a matter of slogging away in the studio, producing and reworking ideas until that sublime epiphany arrives.

Harvey Shields, Serious

Sound Familiar? Do you relate to these quotes? Post your comments here

Friday, July 24, 2009

How to Beat the GFC Sales Blues -Part Two

Here’s some more ideas to help sales in these lean times.

Offer payment terms

Offering layby terms which suit the client’s budget but still sets a final purchase date is a great way to get someone who loves your work to buy it. Just make sure you don’t give the work to the client until it is fully paid for, unless you are able to secure access to their bank account on a regular basis; and the date should be no longer than 6 months away (they lose interest).

You should also specify that, in return for the layby agreement and removing the item from availability for sale, the client agrees (and signs) that no refunds will be given in the event of default. This usually ensures the client completes the sale and you have no problems collecting the money owed to you.

The client hardly notices the payments, and you can regularly contact them as an advisor/friend, with updates of new work, information, exhibitions etc reinforcing the value of the sale, and your professional standing, so that hopefully they become an advocate for your work.

Show how good it looks

Offer to bring the painting to the client to see if she/he likes it in the proposed space.

Offer free delivery

Make sure you check out what this will cost, if you can’t do it yourself.

Offer to host a party

You could make a day of the delivery and offer to host an art party, where you explain the artwork and techniques you used, to the client and any of her friends, over tea and cakes – and you bring the wine!

Celebrate Good Taste

Offer a bottle of nice, mid ranged sparkling white chardonnay (or other choice) with the purchase of the painting - to celebrate their good taste! (especially if you have an arrangement with a wine supplier for your exhibitions etc)

Image: Gabrielle Jones Mid Day Walk, 2009; Oil on Ply; 120 x 90cm

Have you any other tips to value add to your paintings, rather than just discount for a sale? Post your comment here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Danks St Depot exhibitions

Nicholas Jones "Boo" Depot Gallery; Joesph Sabadash, Depot II Gallery

Ok, so I know Nicholas - a bit. However, this is the first time I have seen any of his work, and I loved it! I walked around the gallery, a smile growing on my face as the obvious joy of paint worked its wonders on me after a long day in the studio. Nicholas' work is both playful and serious, referencing high and low art, pop icons -there's even a perfectly painted Opera House- geometry, strange conglomerate creatures and whatever-the-hell comes into his mind! His processes use techniques both old and new, in an exploration of paint and its possible applications and characteristics - for example, glazing gives way to thick impasto and hard edge colour field in the one painting, "Fiori and the Joker". This could look like a mess, but it is a testament to the talents of this young (27??) British artist's talent that he not only manages to pull off individual paintings, but somehow they can be read as a cohesive exhibition with an identifiable style emerging. There are a few hanging problems here, though - so be sure not to miss the paintings around the corner, behind the storage walls (he has underhung the show in the main gallery area, so there looks like not enough works here, but inexplicably mounted at least another 15 in the storage area).
Opposite Nicholas in The Depot II Gallery are the sculptures and drawings of Joseph Sabadash. These are truly beautiful and playful works, the sculptures in a both highly polished and lightly serrated finish, and drawings in pencil???, all in/on carrara marble. Organic, almost animal-like forms slowly reach through space, standing on impossible chairs or stools and relate to the slow movement of growth and eliciting a playfulness that nicely compliments that of Nicholas' work. I wanted to grab a few and give them a good home - I certainly wanted to caress them, at the very least.
Both shows are on at The Depot Gallery (I and II), 2 Danks St, Alexandria until 26th July only, under the umbrella of a new "Dealer" called Sydney Metropolitan Art Gallery ( -don't you just love the name!) who organise spaces and exhibit a small, selected group of artists. Part owned by a practicing, exhibiting artist, SMART have a website, but no property, which means they charge a reasonable commission to their artists and know what it feels like to be on the other end of the game. .I wish them all a lot of luck.
Go see the shows if you want to be revived in your art practice
Do you agree with this review? Post your comments here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How to beat the “GFC” Sales Blues

As a member of one of the hardest hit sectors (the arts) in this recently more bleak and changing world, I have been canvassing friends, colleagues and, not sparingly, the internet to see if there was any light shining ways to make myself immune to the affects of the GFC.

Here is PART One of some of the things I have found to be useful:

Stand by the Value of your work

Paint smaller sizes. It seems that there is still some money to go around, just that it’s limited. Rather than drop the price, paint something that comes in around the $2000 dollar mark, according to your usual price scale. Note also that there has always been buyer resistance above $5000, so keep anything above that mark for later – when the GFC subsides.

Negotiate a deal

Never drop your prices without getting something in return. If you stick by your prices, then people see that you are confident of the value of your work. However, the reality is that potential clients are asking for discounts more regularly than before – just because they can! So rather than folding straight away (even though you are expecting to do so and happy enough to do it) see what you can get them to give you that has some value to you…like a referral to a friend that’s also interested in art; a written testimonial about how much joy your art piece gives them; inclusion of an article about your artwork in their company newsletter (if purchased art will be company property or owned by a super fund) or a free ad about your website; or, if client has the appropriate services (such as a wine/liquor connection, printing or design services, Hospitality staff hire etc) sponsorship to the value of the discount allowed, in kind, for your next exhibition. Or you could just ask them to distribute your next invitation amongst their friends and colleagues.

Even if they don’t actually do it, you have stood by the value of your work and they will feel justified in spending the money – you’ll have a sale where there might not have been one, before. And meanwhile, they have an agreement which means they should feel obliged to fulfil it and you’ll have more avenues for getting your work out there!

Package your art

Find a range of things which might be of value to your potential client. For example, you could arrange a discount with your framer which you pass on to the clients (and you could advise, organise and oversee the framing for them, or even the hanging on their home/office, which adds even more value); add preliminary sketches or photographs as a sale bundle to the work; add your CV (if a good one) plus a Certificate of Authenticity to the work or any testimonials/reviews of your work from people who matter (critics, well known artists etc).

Image: Gabrielle Jones, Chasm II, 2009;110 x82, Oil on Canvas

Part two of this blog follows in a few days. Do you have any ideas to help beat the blues? Post your comment here

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Inspiring Quotes-From non visual artists

I love collecting these ...I need to collect these to keep me going and to tell me I'm on the right track. Most of the author's quotes come from a book I am reading called "How I write: the secret lives of Authors" Dan Crow, ed.
So I thought I'd share what I have come across in my reading...

"Remembering I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart". Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple (diagnosed with a terminal illness)

"We mostly yearn for the same things: a bit of stillness, a reminder of whatever it is that goes through kid's heads when they beam at you for no reason and a chance to tentatively step off the conveyor belt...just to see what happens next". Sarah Wilson, TV Personality.

"The poetry is the not quite calculable thing that has to grow and bind and transform the picture once it's done". Alan Hollinghurst, Author.

"Any writer who knows what he's doing isn't doing very much". Nelson Algren, US, Author.

"The furthermost out you can go is the best place to be". Stanley Elkin, Author.

"Go out as far as you can go, and start from there". Albert Einstein, Physicist

"Armed with all the imagination and wit and heart you can muster, you follow the "charmer's" pipes into the dark forest, naively confident that, sooner or later, should you survive, you'll be led to those places where treasure is buried. To do it differently, to begin with a carefully calculated outline, for example, is to become little more than a manufacturer". Tom Robbins, Author.

"When you're inside writer's block it's horrible because you're not you anymore. You're this person who used to be you. Now you're this person who's going to have to get a day job". (GJ: Sound Familiar?) Douglas, Copeland, Author.

"For me, to write anything worth reading I can't be in control. My conscious mind, the part that cares what critics might hate or readers might like, has to get out of the way for me to get anything done. My subconscious does all the heavy lifting..." Melissa Bank, Author.

"You have to concede that when a novel clicks...some alchemy has been achieved of which you are not entirely master". Lionel Shriver, Author.

"Believe you can, believe you can't. Either way, you're right" Rob Palmer, British explorer.

And last but not least, note to self: Stop trying... it's exhausting. Just keep doing.

Image: Gabrielle Jones Rockface 2008, 110 x 83cm
Do you have anymore inspiring Quotes? Add them here in the comments section

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Exhibition: John Bokor King St Gallery on William

I admit I have been a fan of this artist since his first exhibition with King St in 2005. In this exhibition, his third with King St and first since moving to the small south coast town of Bulli in NSW, the artist has combined his signature still lifes with vistas seen from his new abode. These landscapes crash in on the interiors, are painted as if meeting the objects in the room, creating shifts of space and perspective across the picture plane that lift the subject matter - the every day clatter of domesticity in a busy family - to a far more intriguing level. Bokor can really paint. He uses wet on wet techniques, scratching, rag removal, thin on thick passages and vice versa, among others. His style is obviously influenced by Elisabeth Cummings, a teacher of his, but he has managed to extract a darker, claustrophobic atmosphere in his work, whereas Elisabeth's are always so full of light and expansive space. He achieves this partly through his choice of colours - usually dark and broody - browns, greys, blues, purples, greens - and partly through the irregular edges of items butting and pushing against each other. His mapping or patterning of the picture plane with variously sized rectangles across the surface adds another dimension - an almost second surface to the painting.
My only criticisms of the work relate to colour (being a colourist myself) and the close association of a student's work with his teacher's (ie I question the individual voice - but he's young (37) and there's time to further develop). I am not sure that Bokor is in control of his colour - some of the paintings juxtapose hues which truly clash - and not as a method to enhance the atmosphere (at least as far as I can see). However, when his colour choices work (and that is in at least two thirds of the paintings) these paintings are very satisfying and show a deft hand.

What I most love about this exhibition is that it shows the hands and the thoughts of a true painter. I am getting so sick of seeing slick, finished-within-an-inch-of-its-life, paintings which follow photographs closely (and add nothing: no atmosphere, no thought etc) or are fully thought out on a computer first and then "copied" into paint. The "I don't have to look at the painting to wonder about it, it's just furniture" type of work.
So - go look at the show - it's well worth the visit. Till June 25
Image: John Bokor, Coffee Table, 2009 , Oil on Board.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stirring the Cauldron – How to remain creative.

Following from my “Day in the Life” blog, I thought I’d list some of the methods which help me and artists that I know (of all methods of expression) remain creative.

Note: I find that, for most of these methods to help the creative process, you need to state the problem clearly to your mind or, having just wrestled with it, leave it alone and just enjoy the activity.

Be active -Take a long walk, take a long drive, take a shower or a bath, take a swim. If walking or driving, deliberately try to notice your surroundings. Such activities which require repetitive action (walking, swimming) or subconscious action (driving) either activate the Right Side of the Brain or allow it time to breathe and are a staple of most artist’s repertoire -especially writers when blocked.

Doodle – it gets the mind and hand working in co-ordination on a much simpler problem and the right brain engaged. When working at its best, doodling creates an outlet for the brain’s workings, so the solution ,may present itself (it worked for the Google founders who created the concept on a napkin!)

Be Passive- Watch a favourite movie, read a magazine (especially one on art or otherwise visually exciting), read a novel (I find fiction best) or a coffee table book. Exciting visual stimulus and activating the imaginative juices while reading, when directed in an alternative way to your painting problem at hand, can often get the solution – alternative methods of expression, original ideas, a starting point to tease out - front and centre of your conscious mind.

Meditate – clearing the mind and focusing on the present allows the demands of the gallery, the possible thoughts of what critics might say or the rejection by judges in an art competition, or the inability to sell your paintings and the consequent fear of failure to reduce its influence on your work and fade away.

Develop a ritual – notice or remember how you went about a successful painting and try to reinvent the situation that occurred, if possible. Or start a routine that you think may work and follow it daily so you can provide the safety net which allows creativity to happen. Easier said than done, but give it a go. For around 20 days (that’s how long it takes for new behaviour to become habit).

Alternatively, if your life has become so routine that you always take the same route and see the same people and do the same things – change the routine. Follow a lane way to see where it ends up, meet new people, put yourself out of your comfort zone (I took the parachute ride at Wonderland to conquer heights and to see what it was like), browse in a shop you’ve never set foot in, find an alternative route for that walk or to work/the studio (or reverse it – it’s never the same both ways).

What methods have you come up with to get the creative juices flowing? Post your comment here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Day in the Life -How I face the blank Canvas.

Most artists of all walks have some means by which they are able to trick their creative sub-conscious into “putting out” -a ritual that ensures they start working; a routine that affords the security to “let go”; a talisman whose presence allays the superstition; or a method to break the writer’s block or to get back in front of the easel.I'm no different (even if more boring than some!) and here's what I do...

I have somehow developed a routine which seems to prevent me from painting before 11 am – I do all the chores in the morning, which may include a long walk, checking the emails, doing the washing, writing, business items. The walks are great for fitness and focusing my mind on what needs to be done in the day, but I find it hard to just allow what I am seeing to wash over me and incite a visual reverie or excite creativity. To do this, a walk must be done later in the day.

I try to get to my studio by 11 am most days, including weekends -though sometimes this feels too hard and draining and counter productive. On those days, I just give myself time out. However, I would make the studio at least 5 days a week, most weeks of the year. As the fantastic Australian author, Tim Winton, put it at an author’s talk for “Dirt Music” that I attended – “The best way to get inspiration is in front of my typewriter.”

Usually the first thing I do when I am in the studio is turn on my music –it lets me know I have started the day. This music is a terrific cross section of soft Jazz, Blues, Classical and the best of current music loaded into my ipod and updated regularly by my music-obsessed partner (for which I am ever grateful– there is often new stuff I would never have the time to search out, let alone download). Bjork, Santana and Radiohead may be used to get the creative juices going and a bit of energy; while Beck, Miles Davis, Van Morrison, (as well as anything with “Café” attached to the title) plays when I am in the Zone.

This is when I spend time looking at the previous day’s work- with new eyes, it seems I can judge the work better than when tired and leaving at 7pm the night before. I find if I spend long enough looking, the pictures talk to me. I can’t wait to get the paints out of their take away containers (see my June blog on Cleaning 101). Next thing I know, I am just adjusting that colour here, that stroke there – and painting before I know it.

This is also why I, like a number of artists I know, like to start at least three paintings at a time – there is, therefore, always at least one painting that requires attention the next day, some problem needing a solution. After this process has started, another painting may suddenly scream at me about what needs to be done, or I can commence (knowing it doesn’t have to work straight away) another painting which will join the earlier ones in the “unfinished category”, allowing the next day’s start.

I usually take lunch with me - an economic necessity – and eat it while working, especially if I am feeling a rhythm going. However, if the work is a consistent struggle, I am better to get out of the studio so I can see what I have done with fresh eyes when re-entering (I often find this hard to do but am trying to discipline myself to do it, anyway).

It is usually hunger or extreme physical tiredness (such that that I truly cannot see the painting in front of me) that tells me when I need to finish up…. Or, on really bad days, a total frustration with what’s on the canvas that I know I am not going to improve by anything I do tonight.

What I have come to realise is that it doesn't matter what you do, only that you notice what you do when you have a successful day, and foster those activities that allow your work to proceed.

Image Above: Between the trees, Oil on ply 120 x 90 cm by Gabrielle Jones

What works for you? What do you do to make the magic happen? Post your comment here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jan Riske's method - Intensely Dutch AGNSW

I had an email from Robert Ypes, a Dutch artist who thought I was being disrespectful to Jan Riske's painting prowess in my previous blog regarding the Intensely Dutch Show, still running at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He thought I was dismissive of a great artist's process when I said that it had been squeezed from the tube on to the canvas. I think anything goes in an artist's process, so I do not consider it a slur if someone does squeeze paint out of a tube directly onto canvas. It still takes a great knowledge of paint, drying time, patience etc and use of the wrist to create effects such as those apparent in (and wrongly attributed to) the Riske painting.
For the record, according to Ypes, Riske lays the oil paint on with a sturdy brush (such as pig's hair), and then paints over it when it's dry,time and time again. It is a long painstaking process that few artists can do or have the patience to do. And that's why it was so intiguing to the visitors to the show on the night I went - a small crowd surrounded the work.
Go seethe work for yourself - and thanks to Robert for informing me of the process.
Note: The painting above is by Jan Riske "Shifting Facade" and is similar to, but not the actual one in the intensely Dutch exhibition.
Post your comment here

Monday, July 6, 2009

Beware the Galleries who hang ALL work submitted!

Some galleries play on the desperation of artists to have their work seen. Whilst its a good idea to get your work out to the public as often as you can, we need to be careful (and sometimes skeptical) about what it is that the gallery is offering.

I recently entered a widely publicised competition that promised that all works would be hung in return for a small (ish) entry fee (about $60 for three works, more per work for less). I only entered because I could tell my Melbourne mailing list where to find my work, keep a presence in a newly formed relationship with that state, and therefore, have an excuse to keep in contact with them as I only recently collected their names.

Artists were to pay the fee, pay for delivery and pick up, apply a commission to sales (so far, normal), the gallery would advertise and a prize would be awarded. However, once entered, a call came from the gallery to provide my mailing list, so they could include my database in their mail-out advertising the show (not supplied - but how many artists did?). They then asked for volunteers to hang the show (so no labour cost to the gallery). They got thousands of entries, so Lord knows what it looked like when hung, especially using untrained volunteers. The show was duly won by a worthy artist and works continued on the wall for just two weeks. Yep - that's right, only two weeks. The next art prize starts after that - so far, another three have been advertised.

I figure the gallery made a minimum of $44,000 plus commissions on sales in that two weeks.

In the meant time, I received emails asking for my return address if the paintings were unsold (already supplied, but supplied again); emails advising the winners (only their work was put up on the website) and emails asking me to forward an invitation to my database, emails advising up coming competitions and shows. The exhibition ended.

Then I got an email saying they "thought" they had never received my entry!!! The time lapse between sending the entries (much earlier than the cut off date) and the time I was advised was approximately 6 weeks.

I had emailed them the day before mailing the paintings to say I would enter and the cheque was with the work, so that they might keep an eye out for the parcel. They obviuosly got that email, evidenced by the flood of emails following. Why didn't they follow up about receipt? Beacuse they said, they received thousands of entries within the space of days...but my work was sent early.
If they couldn't process the works and entry forms and cheques properly, how come they could process one email telling them my work would arrive and use it for all subsequent email contact (including asking for my database)?

My work (three of them) was valued at $1800 but it seems I have no recourse or way to check their story, as the post was unregistered and the cheque has indeed not been presented.

So now I have a situation in which my (new) database was told about paintings in an exhibition that I didn't show (and I exposed them to other people's work), I was never up for the prize, could never expect a sale, and the delay in notifying me means I will probably not retrieve the lost paintings. The gallery admitted to inadequate process, but does that help me? They pocket $44, 000 plus commission on sales, gain the extended database of the participants, have no extra costs (delivery, staffing etc) and hang work to look like a "bad fete" and get paid handsomely for it.Do they have an incentive to get their processes in order?? I think not.

So if you care how your work looks when exhibited, and more importantly, that you can trust that work will be exhibited when sent (or that you will be told that it wasn't received), catalogued for the price list, sold and paid for, and not "lost" (possibly to volunteers because slack security was exercised) don't bother entering these shows.
Have you got a horror story? Post yours here

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Intensely Dutch AGNSW

Attended a corporate function and viewing of this exhibition (thanks to Paul of 10 group and who kindly asks me to these things from time to time) at Sydney's Art Gallery extraordinaire. Henrik Kolenberg introduced the largely non-arty crowd to the rationale behind the exhibition - post war modern Dutch paintings, displaying both the huge influence of a short-lived art movement, COBRA (stands for COpenhagen, BRussels, Amsterdam the place of origin of the artists forming the group). It is an attempt to show that Dutch art consists of more than Rembrandt and Vermeer and was actively engaged in the freedom of expression that swept the world post WWII. It's an interesting exhibition, and well hung (according to artist, not time line) considering the variety of styles on show. However, it's not an easy exhibition...most people respond to the bright colours of COBRA but don't like the darker works. Typical German/Dutch concerns about order are most obvious in Riske work - an artist who was recently located by the curators in an apartment in Riverwood in the South Western Suburbs of Sydney. His thickly applied paint, seemingly squeezed from the tube directly onto the surface was intriguing and attracted a crowd of people discussing how it was done. The same happened with a large, Cadmium Yellow and white painting that was more like a sculpture, apparently made using resin with the paint, but appearing more like cement and requiring a metal brace to hold it upright against the wall. For my money, de Kooning wins hands down, with Karel Appel's Expressionistic swathes of colour a standout, especially the painting at the entrance to the exhibition. How did he get that red????. I liked not knowing what it was and seeing all the possibilities in the painting, but the title - something like Tuscan Hills Afternoon- made me see it for what it was - a hillside drawn with a quick line at the top third of the painting, with three trees which slashed across most of the length at almost regular intervals. I admit to being a little disappointed. Anyway, the exhibition is really worth seeing as an education and to pick which work reminds you of which Australian Artists - John Olsen gets the most comparisons, either because we know his work better than most artists or because he was in Spain around the time (or just after) a lot of this work was painted, and so may have been influenced by similar work seen in Europe. Until August 23. The work above is by Benner.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ken Unsworth at Cockatoo Island

Went to see this exhibition which is a tribute by the sculptor to his late wife of over half a century, Elisabeth, a woman who was an accomplished pianist in her own right. Cockatoo Island is a fantastic setting for art and my friend, artist Ros Atkins and I, managed to score the one sunny(ish) day in the deluge that is Sydney this last week, so we were very happy attending this exhibition, indeed.
There are moments of incredible beauty here and I love the way the artist has managed the transitions from one room to another - a peak through a doorway to a coloured room, produces a rather surreal vision which excites expectations and adds to the whole experience. The Piano Room and the instruments room are stand outs, with others being a little predictable (the bed and video installation). I also think that more thought could have been given to the permanency of the formal room (where a banquet was held for invited guests at the memorial) so that those not lucky enough to score an invitation could have a better experience of the event, rather than viewing videos recording on the night (perhaps a hologram?). However, Mr Unsworth did sell an expensive car to afford this wonderful tribute, so who am I to quibble? Thank you for the experience, and I urge you all to get on a ferry and see it while it lasts -extended for another month through July
What did you think of this exhibition? Post your comment here

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Always a Silver Lining-Waverley Art prize

Hi- after being rejected from the Mt Eyre Vineyards Final 25, I have now been selected via digital image (painting left, "Two O'clock in the shade") as a finalist for the Waverley Art Prize. Judges of the actual works will be Tim Olsen, (of Tim Olsen Gallery); Sally Hardy (Art Dealer) and Max Lieberman (Artist). The prizes will be announced on Opening Night on 15th July. Just goes to show that one door closes, and another opens. Keep your fingers crossed for me, won't you!


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