Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Allowing myself to be distracted

The Clifford Still with another admirer

Me and Gerhard (I'm Fickle!)

St Paul's Cathedral (with the new camera - pretty happy!)

Tower Bridge from the Northside - or is it the South Side??? Same coming as going, and I'm upside down over here anyway

Tower of London - East Side walk

I started Day 2 of the London sojourn expecting to take advantage of the Red Rover pass on the City Cruises (a London Pass inclusion), allowing hop on hop off all day, and do the Thames loop, returning at evening to do it again with a "London light show" before making my way to Tate Britain. I managed the two changes on the DLR/Rail/Tube like a Londoner and boarded the boat with a prime viewing spot in the middle, next to the side of the boat. A short trip later and the enthusiastic singing, clapping and chanting of the Spanish High School students who had jostled me when boarding, drowning out the commentary, made the decision to see the Tower of London and Bridge (which, for some unknown reason, had escaped my careful planning) for me.
A quicker version of the day follows: Decided to bypass the mounting crowd, waiting for the Yeoman Guide at the front gates and take advantage of the audio included "free" with the London Pass and go it alone. It's truly a wonderful building with real "Tudor Manors" which escaped the great fire in mid 17th century that devastated much of London, and fabulous Gothic and Georgian Architecture. And a moat! (The Thames) And a beautiful bridge! And Armour! And Torture chambers! And the history we grew up on until they decided that Australian History wasn't boring! (it was).
I saw a raven - big and blue and menacing like you'd think, which is why I recognised it before the audio told me that the name of the lawn was "The Raven lawn"; and I learnt way more about regal England than I ever wanted to know until .... I lost my map and couldn't work out what was next on the audio and how to marry up the words in my ears with what I was seeing. And since you can't stop or rewind or, more importantly fast forward those bloody things, I decided that my tour was over (after more than two hours!) and headed for the bridge.
I walked the Tower Bridge, a truly magnificent structure which pictures cannot do justice to and so I took about a thousand of them. I re-walked the bridge (now two of them fully under my belt:)) and continued across the other side on the Queens Walk. After a stop for lunch and hunting a tube station on the wrong side of the river - I seem to be backwards on the other side of the world - I stumbled upon an interesting installation and bad sculpture referring to the past of this now shopping mall, when it had been the slipways for the Cutty Sarks which plied the Thames some couple of centuries ago.
More walking the Queens walk until I hit another Bridge - The London Bridge, so, since I could see St Pauls ever so close, I walked over, and followed some school kids who seemed to be heading in the direction of St Paul's, as well, Some 20 minutes later, I came upon the building and, although weary and footsore and in need of some care and attention, presed on in the way of many a time poor traveller and saw the Cathedral. This time the Audio was great, so I learned a lot while looking at beautiful architecture, wood carvings, and even a Turner painted on the floor. Down to the crypt to sek out the dead - and was delighted to literally stumble across the graves of Turner, Millais, Singer-Sergeant, Hogarth and Blake. Oh...and Lord Nelson and a whole lot of other soldiers/sailors/ field marshalss etc - here we go again!- as well as scientists that hose of you more knowledgable in the subject than me might recognise. Anyway, I saw them all!! and decided that, whilst my purchase of tickets from the other side of the world may not be great, my travel timing was.
Emerged somewhat dazed into the late afternoon. Just over an hour to spare? Well, the Tate Modern is close.
So I slepped back over the London Bridge (that's three bridges now) and found the tate and entered the gallery I most wanted to see - that on materiality. I had forgotten that they had six Richters in a room, and beautiful ones at that. I sat for some long tome, taking in the lemon yellows against the grey, and, over there, the Alizarin against purple. and All of the paintings basically white! Clifford Still impressed, with an "Yves Kline Blue" of surging dark and lights that rendered the surface lively file:///private/var/tmp/folders.501/TemporaryItems/com.apple.mail.drag-T0x210a970.tmp.lmbl2i/IMG_0461.jpgand hard to pin down as cool or warm; offset by a rough stripe of searing orange and a "tear" in the top revealing blank canvas. And the Miro - I have never seen a more beautiful one, so he's moved up on my opinion poll. There were Kandinsky's in a style I never knew he had - I need to study up on him more - and Philip Guston and numerous wonderful pieces.
But the best part of the day, the defining moment, was that I stumbled into a darkened room and - yes folks - there were the Rothkos, the last of his life. And yes, they are more than you would expect in terms of colour, depth, brushstrokes, spatial confusion - coming forward/going back; in front/behind - strange and definitely spiritual. Especially as I had the room to myself for about 8 of the last 10 minutes before the curators threw me out.
So, walking on air, I returned over the Millenium Bridge (that's four) to find Monument station, where I caught the Tube to Tower Hill to catch the boat. I lined up on the wharf, allowing the Commuter Thames Clippers to fill and leave, wondering where the City Cruises boat was. Then I asked someone, who old me they stopped at 5pm, despite what the girl selling tickets told me yesterday. So no night cruise...
Returned to Tower Hill Station, caught the underground to Embankment, and headed for the boat I had the Merlot on last night. They make equally good Thai Chicken and, yes, the Merlot was just as good the second time round, so I headed home a happy chappy and literally fell into bed.
It's now 11pm, and I haven't even mention what I did today, Day 3. May write about it in the morning....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy as a pig in....

Typical English Gastro Pub, passed on my walks

Section of a Fra Angelico Painting in Courtauld Gallery

Jawlensky Up close

Kees Van Dongen even closer

Me and Cezanne having an intimate moment
Well I made it through the flight, thanks to "Animal Kingdom" (4 stars) "The Hereafter" (3 stars), "Black Swan" (3.5 stars, but probably reduced due to the fact that I was seeing it on a small, reflective screen on a plane) and "Social Network" (also 3.5 stars). A passenger with anger management issues who happened to be placed, conveniently, behind my seat, made for a rather stressful second leg (the stewards told me that one more incident and they would have her arrested at the airport!!!) and fears of stalking since she seemed to catch every train afterwards that I did. I took the rather circuitous "scenic" route to my lodgings and was glad to drop the 20kg + bag and 8kg hand luggage that I had managed to squeeze art materials and enough clothes into for the threee seasons and 9 weeks travelling (just under 10 if you count the days on and off flights and ask my husband).
But London - Wow! What a city. Managed the first expedition to Picadilly circus and emerged from the Underground to my first sight of a tourist spot, and all plans flew from my head. I wandered Picadilly St, entranced by the old bookshops and the window display at Fortnum and Masons, then realised I was walking in the wrong direction to pick up some pre-booked tickets (a mistake to buy the London Pass, I think now). Backtracked and was blown over by a cake display in a shop opposite, got the ticket sorted, and intended to get a ticket to the "Original Hop on Hop off" tour, but realised there was something interesting down the hill at Regent St which I thought was Trafalgar square (it wasn't). Anyway, landed on some steps with a magnificent statue of a general of the army (there are many in London - never seen a place with so much war history and lionising of its officers - a bit disconcerting, really).
Then I lost myself - wide, beautiful boulevards, every street offering classical architecture on a grand scale. Found my way to the Household Cavalry Museum, at the end of a wonderful piazza, walked through magnificent arches, to stumble on a "cavalier"(??) staring manfully at a bunch of tourists with cameras - so I joined them and took a picture of myself. Then proceeded to the next inviting vista of another wide boulevarde with yet more General/Admiral/Field Marshal Statues to find another Cavalier on horse (and I took another photo).
The river drew me, and I walked towards it, passing Banqueting House without realising it and spying "The Eye" for the first time. What a fantastic walk is the boulevards beside the Thames (Victoria Walk), The Houses of Parliament drawing you inexorably as Big Ben Chimes and the typical London Haze makes the light bounce off the water brightly but stay very low, so the eyes are soothed rather than assaulted. Walked the bridges (which were they?) holding off the excitement of seeing Westminster at close range, until I did - and a few photos later, I wandered the bridge (Waterloo? - I need a good map, but I'm traveling light and fast, so only have my iPhone - need glasses!- and a dud one from London Pass to refer to - I'll fix the details at home), just so I could approach the Parliament from another angle. Serenaded by a Bag Piper, I then took the road behind the Houses and returned via a small, flowered park behind the main boulevarde.
Suffice to say, I think I saw the Jewel Tower, passed the Churchill War Rooms, numerous churched including Westminster Abbey - closed for Sunday services-took a few left turns, arrived at Covent Garden in time for the Markets, saw and listened to a wonderful busker and returned via the Jubilee Markets and finally found Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery. Decided I would save these for proper visits, and returned to Somerset House to enter the Courtauld Gallery (cafe first for lunch).
I then spent the next three hours looking at the private collection of a wealthy industrialist (Courtauld) containing iconic paintings by the German Expressionists, the Blue Rider group, the Fauves, later English Painters such as Francis Bacon, Ben Nicholson, Paul Nash, Ivor Hutchins and many others whom I knew and who impressed me, but whose names escape me when writing at this time of night. The paintings of Matisse and Van Dongen, and Oscar Kokoshka that I refer to when teaching my students about the expressive use of colour, brush strokes etc, I was seeing for the first time in the flesh. A beautiful Matisse Sculpture and a set of Cezanne paintings (including the Still Life with Plaster Bust"), and Van Gogh's Self Portrait" with the Bandage were there. And there was hardly a soul in the gallery, so I got to get up close a very personal, taking silly photos of myself in the presence of great art and cropping areas of the paintings with my lens so I could remember how loosely painted and abstract sections of the work was.
And that doesn't even cover the major Impressionist paintings - "A Bar at the Folies-Bergère" and "Le déjeuner sur l'herbe", both by Manet, Renoir's La Loge,, landscapes by Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, a ballet scene by Edgar Degas, Gauguin's Nevermore and Te Rerioa; important works by Seurat,Henri "Douanier" Rousseau, Toulouse-Lautrec and Modigliani.
And then there were the Renaissance and Medieval paintings - Cranach's Adam and Eve, a sketch in oils by Peter Paul Rubens for what is arguably his masterpiece, theDeposition altarpiece in Antwerp Cathedral, as well as paintings by Bruegel, Quentin Matsys, Van Dyck and Tiepolo. Too Much and yet delicious!
I returned via the Thames to have a "sol" on the boat moored there next to the Hispaniola, whilst I drew my first sketch of London Impressions. I then headed back to Covent Garden for dinner, got lost, walked the Chancery and saw St Pauls, found My way and had a wonderful Spanish Merlot listening to yet another great busker. I managed to get to Charring Cross Station in the dark for a safe but interesting return trip. Did you know they had a toilet on the trains in Britain, and One suited man could enter them, and another street weary man could exit the single cubicle about 15 minutes later? Amazing magician's trick....
Now for the Tate Britain

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Only two more sleeps to go

Clint Eastwood, Film Still, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" shot around Mojacar.

As many of my long time followers know, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a residency at the end of 2010 to go to Mojacar, Spain. Much work and saving later, I am finally leaving for that trip - with other added travel - this Friday evening (Sydney time) 25th March.
First stop is London for nine whole days. I've never been there, and have already mapped out a punishing schedule of gallery hopping. Everything from the National Gallery, The Courtauld Institute, Tate Modern (of course), Haunch of Venison etc etc. And I hope to do a few touristy things too.
After London, I fly to Spain for the month long residency, which I will share with seven other international artists. All I have to do is turn up for dinner (pre dinner drinks and wine included) but otherwise I'm free. Free to work in the studio supplied, walk the Olive groves, take a trip to Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western Country, sketch the desert or hop on the local bus and take in the beach and the colours of Andalucia.Only problem is, th epostage of Materials was prohibitive, and the baggage allowance small (I fly Easyjet between countries) so I am restricted in what I can attempt whilst there.
I hope to muse - a lot! - and get my head together about my work, life and loves and come back renewed for some wonderful creative work.
And because Morocco is so close, I'm taking a tour there (single female travelling) for about 16 days, doing the loop from Casablanca to Marrakech, riding camels in the Sahara, viewing the land from the heights of the Atlas Mountains and, no doubt, getting lost in the markets. I'll be taking just a photo or two along the way, with my newly purchased and newly arrived Canon Powershot G12.
I then fly to Madrid, to see what I haven't seen during the residency, spend days in the Prado and other great museums, and then drive in a long, slow route via Seville, Cordoba and Granada to Barcelona, via as many small medieval towns as I can get to and enjoy. Once in Barcelona, I'll be visiting another Museum or two over the next few days, trying also to get the measure of the local commercial gallery scene and be inspired by what's available there. I then fly to Paris for three nights, to see what I missed thew first time (including the Pompidou Centre) and straight to Heathrow and home.
I might also be a bit naive, but I am taking my sketch book with me, with visions of sitting in front of Goya's "May 13th" Painting and going for it - with tears in my eyes, no doubt. Well - if not Goya, then Picasso's "Guernica" or anywhere and everywhere I can get a decent view to see with new eyes the great paintings of old.
So...my friends, here's the place to check out every so often as I hope to post my travels and findings on Art to this blog, as regularly as internet access will allow. Be prepared for a few postings at once - I have been told that at the residency, I need to upload my emails on to a CD for Batch mailing on the computer at night time! Don't like the chances of WiiFii here.... but there must be some in town.
I've never taken a trip this long before, let alone been away from painting for more than a few weeks - I figure it's my long service leave.

I promise plenty of stories, photos and maybe even a sketch or two....
Any last minute suggestions of "must see" places in any of the above would be gladly appreciated (I've included all the major ones, but any little treasures would be great)
Take care and keep safe.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eat Paint Love Bali

Postcard images for the Art Supplies shops

Facebook Ad Campaign Image

The new logo

Finally launched a new venture, Bali Art Retreats, week-long painting and drawing courses in three locations in Bali. I think this island is one of the most beautiful and authentically artistic countries in the world - land of temples, frangipani, hand-made offerings, painting, pottery, stone and woodcarving, sun, surf, mystic mountains, fabulous food and contagious smiles - and I wanted to spend more time in it. So I have designed three Art Retreats to (I hope) ignite the attendees' passion for art, provide unique encounters with a two thousand year old culture, and help them see the world through new eyes, as well as combine my passion for Art, enjoyment of teaching and love of travel

The workshops in the retreats aim to stimulate creativity and show new ways to approach work, as well as reinvigorate or introduce fundamental techniques, support and encourage artistic expression and growth, and make the whole thing fun. They are Suitable for beginners to advanced painters, and are strictly limited to twelve participants (non-participating friends, partners and children welcome).

We cover Still Life, Landscape and Figurative subjects during the course of the week, and visits to important local architectural and landscape sites, and cultural displays are included. More guided optional excursions are available –to local villages, to other cultural sites, for adventure experiences - to deepen your understanding and artistic affair with this island.

But one of the great things is that participants share this adventure with a select group who also hold their passion, learning from each other as they learn from me and from Bali herself.

The new logo is attached, and I'm about to deliver some postcards to the art Supplies stores around Sydney. There's a facebook campaign running and I will be advertising in some Bali mags and retreat sites, and, maybe, a US retreat site. Any other suggestions to get this up and happening?

What do you think of the logo? And if you click to the link above, what do you think of the website?


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