Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas to all

Just got the best present ever- and it's a day early! A friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer last week, in for a mastectomy last Tuesday, and has just texted to say that she has the "all clear" - no more treatment needed! So happy.
I had a creative day, enjoying the fresh breeze blowing in to cool our "morning sun-warmed" house... made a pistachio and raspberry semi freddo; some star-shaped biscuits dipped in chocolate; the short crust base for a strawberry and custard tart for Christmas lunch desert (to accompany the semi freddo); a fruit compote...yes, there IS a pattern here. I actually do cook things other than desert and sweets...but I let my hair down at Christmas, forget about the waistline and enjoy the nurturing part of me that doesn't get a run during the year when the creative streak is fully occupied by the to and fro, struggle and progress of painting. So sue me (but wait until I'm famous!)
The creative bug extended to engineering some Christmas angels on my tree, after my daughter complained it looked too subdued to be a real Christmas tree. I settled on the non Christmassy colours of orange, black and gold... because that's what tissue paper I had. Actually, brought back memories of when my kids were small and we had "making days"... and that I actually used to make Christmas decorations with them using Fimo, dough and food colouring. Do people still do that??? Time flies...
Hope you and yours make the memories you will reflect on in years to come,
Thanks for sticking with me in 2009 and look forward to blogging with you next year -
Peace, Love, and much laughter...
press on title to go to workshops page or use the link here
Image taken on my phone - where IS my camera???

Sunday, December 13, 2009

NEW! Art Workshops

Due to popular demand (I always wanted to say that!) I will be running some painting workshops in the first three months of the New Year. ...(and may be later on, too!)
Why not invest in yourself, have fun, learn something new and even find your creative side? Rest the logic and the "gotta do/be"s and go AWOL for a short while!
There's something for beginners, intermediate and the more advanced, and class sizes are STRICTLY limited to a maximum of SIX students, so you're assured of personal attention.
Image: Gabrielle Jones, Cherry Blossom, 2009 30x 30cm Oil on Ply (framed)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mirre van Dalen - the interview

I had the pleasure of watching and experiencing the work of this artist at the Multiple Personalities Exhibition at Rozelle Hospital (see previous post). Mostly, I stayed quiet and let the performance speak to me
- to my surprise, it stirred an emotional core emanating from ...where I don't know - a very unusual thing for one so often out and about in the art community and a little steeled against performance and installation art, having been bored stupid on one too many an occasion.

So I spoke with Mirre (Title link), but not much, as I did not want to disturb the ritualistic performance which she was obviously engrossed in. It seemed a bit sacreligious, somehow. So mostly I read her artist's statement, and questioned the bits I was unsure about (her preferred method of communication is, obviously, visual and performance art).
Her background in Art Therapy extends Mirre's art practice (which provides a source of healing to both her and the viewer) to the patient. When asked what needed healing, her answer was simply, "childhood stuff".
As Mirre sees it, both the artist and the wounded bring order to chaos. Therapy and art practice allow "unspoken feelings to arise", they involve a struggle to resolve, and energy to work through until completion and a realised "wholeness". She finds freedom and growth in the balance of having an objective, in doing something towards it and relinquishing control of the material.
For this artist, the materials chosen and "Chance" itself play an incredibly important part in her creative process - a playful and child-like, instinctive collection of objects, often pre- loved (and thus containing a history of their own), is experimented with and explored to learn its qualities and the part it may have in telling her "story".
"I recognise beauty in things other people have given up on (and) give them a second chance".
There is no deep planning involved, but rather, a conversation occurs between herself and the materials, allowing the object to take on its own life and form the art.
"I am amazed at how I seemingly stumble across materials and ideas to use, that hold significance for the things in my heart....Often it isn't until much later in the creation of the piece that I realise how strongly they are helping me to voice my story....the end product is unplanned and surprising as a result".
Mirre sees that this process also welcomes spirituality into her art, abundantly evident in the "black flowers" performance at Callan Park.

It was striking to me, yet again, to realise how artists with completely different methods of creative expression seem to talk the same talk - of dialogue with materials, of letting an idea blossom over time, of realising only later why they chose THAT object, or THAT subject device, THAT storyline, THAT symbol etc. Allowing chance to occur, tapping into the subconscious etc also seems to be universally important.
And how, regardless of religious background or atheistic stance, we find an "otherness" or spirituality in the best of the work we do.
So...Take the time, Take the chances, (Note to self) Take the hint, to let things bubble and well over time so that the doing of the art is the end product, and becomes an act of joy rather than a burden, adding to the tapestry which is our lives, the surprise result.

Images; Mirre van Dalen in performance at exhibition, "Multiple Personalities", Rozelle Hospital 6th December, 2009. Photo by Gabrielle Jones.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Art Outside, Multiple Personalities

This exhibition was the inaugural showcase of works from over 80 artists exhibiting within the vacant rooms of Wards 17 and 18 in the Rozelle Hospital (aka Callan Park) on the shores of Sydney Harbour, once the home to the criminally insane. A diverse group of Australian and international artists engaged with the spaces, spirits, history and memories, and used imagination and personal experiences to explore the sometimes fragile boundaries that exist between creation, reality and sanity, and between the artistic experience and that of the inmates.

The event was run not for profit, created solely for the purpose of bringing together the artistic community, particularly of Sydney's Inner West. It was organised with a short time span (approximately three months) and Rogerio Blanco-Ramos must be congratulated for a show that presented some amazing and moving works, a tribute to the quality and continuous practices of the contributing artists who could react in such a short time frame.

Sherna Teperson's sculptural work is always poetic and here she presented delicately carved trees (twigs?) encased in a clear, moulded bubble of "ice" which challenges the viewer's sensory memory (rather like the challenges faced by the insane). It was beautifully sited to catch a soft play of light. Also memorable were the works of Muzu Li , photographs which featured ephemeral, fuzzy focused single object plinths with focused origami birds in watercolour primaries (exploring objects in different contexts); the strange and somewhat fenetic/tortured portraits of self taught artist Kirsten T Smith of small girls (the child/artist); Brendan Gaule's weird/scary imaginings of people/clowns/ children with despicable fork lift trucks (man's idiosynchrasies, trials and tribulations over control of his environment); and Tanya Chaitow's strange, quirky "Moose paintings", small and varied in size and straight from left field- both evidence of a wild imagination and deep exploration of very unique sub-consciouses.

I also particularly liked the concept behind Vanessa Anderson's excellent installation of a rather domestic scene, overlaid with drawings and symbols, conveying the stories and personal mythology that the institution's spaces contain and expressing the tension in the personal lives that play out in such places.

However, the stand out for me was the work of Mirre van Dalen, whose performance piece was incredibly moving as well as beautiful, involving artificial flowers, painted using her hands dipped in a large tin of acrylic paint, and placed carefully in rows of jars half filled with sand across the other side of the room. But this description only begins to tell half the experience: her attention to detail from the dress she wore to the music playing, the web of steel fishing weights suspended from the ceiling, the still life display on an ornate dresser, the mannequin in the background and the baby/doll's pram in front of canvas, was amazing. No "reading of artists statements" necessary, no confusion - just straight, amazing, visual and sensory communication of heartfelt empathy with previous inmates, enough to stir the imagination and empathy of any visitor. But more about her work, based on a fuller interview, in the next post.

This exhibition was really a delightful experience, one I found inspirational, not least because it is a wonder to me that, in Sydney at least, most of these artists would not get a chance to exhibit very often what was very high standard work (where are the venues?). How do they support themselves? How dedicated must they be?

Despite some video installations not being available on the Saturday (they were working on Sunday), and a little confusion in Ward 17 (I started viewing the exhibition here but was not sure if I should have started in Ward 18 or what was happening, given some empty rooms and videos/installations seemingly dismantled) this was an outstanding experience, and one I urge you to make the time to attend. There were not many punters on the weekend, and it would be a shame if this wonderful idea was not repeated next year due to a perceived lack of interest.

Exhibition closed Mon/Tues 7th and 8th Dec, on till 13th December, 10am -5pm, Callan Park, Rozelle Wards 17 and 18 (Enter at the Cecily St entrance, take the left towards the Writer's Centre" and follow the road to the sign/banner)
Images: Mirre van Dalen in performance, Rozelle Hospital, Sydney 7/12/09 Taken by Gabrielle Jones

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Self Portrait Calendar

Just sent my entry to the Art Calendar competition (Title Link). I actually painted this (and 8 more portraits) about 7 years ago, as an experiment in how to do the same things a lot of different ways. So I ended up with nine portraits, all 40 cm x 30 cm (16in x 12in) in a variety of poses, made from a mirror held underneath my chin, to one above my head, straight faced, smiling, perplexed (this one), non-plussed, skeptical, with mirror held also RHS and LHS side of face. The colours all go together but range from blue/green, Magenta/green. Magenta orange etc.
It was a great exercise and one that taught me a lot about intuitive colour (that's making it up, folks!) The group looks good together, but who wants a collection of self portraits hanging around the house? Maybe, when I'm famous.....
I think I might do one a year from now on - pretend I'm Rembrandt! The competition is free to enter and has some reasonable prizes, but mostly it's a bit of fun. Have a go.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Back on line

Thanks to all those people who let me know (privately) that they were missing the blog - I'm so glad you noticed! Nothing sinister, although I have been re-grouping after the solo show and assessing my next moves. I had a hunch that I needed to just take the proverbial step back, and practice "acceptance", to create the void and see what flows in to fill it. A bit "New Agey", I know, but worth a try.
I've also been closing some post exhibition sales (Yay!) and investigating leads to galleries not painting nor blogging, but still involved in the artworld.
Mostly, I didn't write because I've been on a lovely holiday -although not long enough- and plowed back into the teaching today. I really enjoy it, but I am buggered after it!
So...I'll be posting info about some classes I am dreaming up, soon. Found that my exhibition was good for drumming up prospective students, as a number of visitors asked about classes, workshops and the like. Gotta make some hay while the sun shines (and the money's short!)
Image: Gabrielle Jones, "River (Night Tree)" 2009, 100 x 75cm Oil on canvas (apologies if I've used this one before!)


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