Sunday, 13 October 2013

String theory, Primavera, and other wonderful things

Last week saw the celebrations for Navy Fleet Week. The Review is being held to commemorate the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet into Sydney. On 4 October 1913 the flagship, HMAS Australia, led the new Australian Fleet Unit comprising HMA Ships Melbourne, Sydney, Encounter, Warrego, Parramatta and Yarra into Sydney Harbour for the first time to be greeted by thousands of cheering citizens lining the foreshore. This was a moment of great national pride and importance, one recognised as a key indicator of Australia's progress towards national maturity. One hundred years later a huge visiting fleet of warships and tall ships (oh, and Prince Harry) came to mark the occasion with much pomp and ceremony, and of course with a whopping display of the famed Sydney fireworks. Although I'm a bit fireworked out after many years of watching us shooting pretty pollution into the sky, I must say even I was impressed.

So, with my friend GB, I went down to the Harbour's edge to sit in the cafe of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), ostensibly to eat food and drink wine, but also to take in Sydney Harbour in the midst of all the comings and goings of big ships, small ships and tall ships. I actually enjoyed the small ships best, the Sydney Harbour Ferries, varied in style and size, but all buzzing importantly in and out from Circular Quay. The view from the front doors of the MCA is wonderful.
The MCA is probably my favourite art gallery  in Sydney, though I'm a bit fickle and easily swayed. However, I don't think I've ever been disappointed by a visit to the MCA and on this occasion we were planning to take in the exhibition string theory. This link has many bios of the artists.
["‘string theory’ is a scientific term that speculates on the theory of everything. In this exhibition, we take it to mean the open-ended expansion and connections of ideas, stories and techniques." and "string theory, showing at the MCA 16 August – 27 October 2013 presents a wide range of artworks by over 30 of Aboriginal artists working with expanded notions of textile and craft traditions. Source: MCA websites]

Here are some of the works I particularly liked/loved/was impressed by. The first is a rush matt by Steven Russell. Rainbow Serpent 2013. I've always wanted one of these on my wall. Small chance.
More handmade string, absolutely beautiful and incorporating bird feathers, strung out around the gallery or on wooden reels. So tactile and desirable. Actually Mo Crow bought some, as she tells here on her blog post. I couldn't find any to buy but I do have some Pacific Island string from Funafuti so I can be happy with that. Raki by Lipaki Marlaypa [1932-]. Yirrakala, Northeastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

Jimmy Pike/Desert Designs : Founded 1985/relaunched 2012. Jimmy Pike [c1940-2002] of the Walmajarri people. (This above is not a great link but at least gives a resume of his life.) Digitally printed silk crepe de chine. I've loved Jimmy Pike's Desert Designs since the 80s and still have a Jimmy Pike shirt from that era. This fabric hung from the ceiling and was just magnificent.
 This next is a wonderful figure from a much larger group of figures, trees, and their shadows. These were constructed by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers. Established 1995 by the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women's Council; NPY Lands, Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. NPY language groups.
I was so impressed with the art works of these women that I bought (for Suzy) the very beautiful book that tells the stories of the women in their own words, sometimes in their languages as well as English, and is most generously illustrated. I knew Suzy would love the book - especially as work is taking all her time and visits to art galleries will be something to look forward to way in the future. This is the cover of the book. It warms my heart each time I look at it.
I very much liked the work of Laurie Nilsen [1953-] Manadandanji people. This is We used to catch fish 2013, mixed media.
A most stunning art work was the sculpture by Vicki West [1960-], an Aboriginal artist of the Trawlwoolway people from the North-East region of Tasmania. plamtenner/gathering 2013. Bull kelp, kangaroo skin, wallaby skin, tea tree, string. This absolutely glowed!
Also at the MCA was Primavera 2013 Young Australian Artists. This is an annual exhibition showcasing the work of young Australian artist aged 35 and under. This year eight artists were featured and here is just one of them, the cascading porcelain forms of Juz Kitzon [1987-] Sydney. Changing skin 2013.Beautiful and creepy at one and the same time...
This has taken me forever to compose, mainly because I've watched a performance of Carmen at the same time. I was fortunate to be taken to the theatre from a very young age and Carmen was my first opera. I was about 7, my dad took me, and we sat in a very ornate box looking down on the stage. I had seen quite a few plays, ballets and pantomimes, and I knew the music of Carmen, but this performance left a lasting impression on me. So, I've had a pleasant afternoon, writing to you, listening to marvellous music (and sneaking peeks), and, possibly best of all, staying cool in my darkened house while the temperature soared to an unreasonable 34C - in spring! Our crazy, wonderful planet!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A little rust and a lot of art

I've been out into the country briefly and come home laden with wonderfully rusty old tools and implements, and a couple of nice old (very old) boxes. On the right is a wonderful old two-man saw with very interesting teeth. It really is very easy to make me happy!
I'm spending about five days a fortnight at Suzy Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher, mostly helping in the kitchen where the hot orders are cooked, or in the preparation kitchen where the sausages, burger patties and schnitzels are made. Long days, but very enjoyable. I'm not tied to the kitchen sink (whew!) so I'm free to wander around Newtown, one of the most interesting shopping areas in Sydney. Very alternative and I love it.

On one of my excursions I took myself to Carriageworks, within walking distance of Suzy's shop. This was the venue for Sydney Contemporary 13, Sydney's new international art fair. Carriageworks (once part of the railyards of Sydney) is massive and in the four hours I was at the fair I think I probably saw about one third of the exhibition. I have way too many photos, many I can't identify, but I'll show you some of my favourites that I have found names for. I have long been very interested in New Zealand art and was pleased to find a range of favourite NZ artists. This is a detail from Bill Hammond's Midnight in the Mountains series.
This is one of Max Gimblett's quatrefoil series, a lush and luminous work. Max is one of my art heroes, from way back. A lovely man.
Not a Kiwi but at this exhibition presented by Auckland's Gow Langford Gallery, Damien Hirst's butterflies were stunning and unsettling. One painting is made up of real butterflies - wings and bodies - and as with much of Hirst's work, has caused distress to animal lovers. I think this is a painting, one of four on display and they were glorious but I couldn't help making sure I got as much reflection from the factory-like windows as possible. Perhaps a Damien Hirst butterfly making a gettaway?
This hanging installation by Lyndi Sales is titled Vesica Piscus, huge radiant perspex discs catching the light. This was just one of many works by Lindi Sales and I loved her precision, particularly in cut paper works.
Difficult to photograph, and one of a group of architectural forms by Daniel Agdag, these beautifully intricate girders are made of cardboard, cut with a scalpel and placed in hand blown glass domes. This one is titled The Decline, 2013, and measures 58.5 x 30.5 cm.
Chang'An Avenue detail 2013. One of 12 street lights by Liu Zhuoquan, which replicate streetlamps found along Beijing's Avenue of Eternal Peace. The crows are painted inside each glass shade of the lamps, painted with meticulous detail. The 12 lamps, dimly lit, were extremely beautiful.
For sheer sumptuousness, the contemporary folded screens of Maio Motoko could not be bettered. Using the traditional double hinge, and an amazing array of surface materials, these screens are completely stunning. I spent so long just looking, and still looking, that it's not surprising I didn't get right around the rest of the exhibition. There was so much to see here for a book binder, just getting my head around the hinging was a delight. Definitely one of my favourites.
Another favourite, and another that I spent a long time examining. Almost impossible to get a decent photograph as they were badly displayed on a desk full of gallery bits and pieces. This is a set of metal forms by Peter Zappa. If I could have afforded them I would have bought them in a heartbeat. However, sadly, they were way out of my price range...
Last, but certainly not least, is one of the few traditional Aboriginal artworks on display, though those that were there were wonderful. This painting is attributed to Jack Karedada, untitled (Wandjina) c. 1971. Earth pigments on Eucalyptus bark, 145.5 x 67 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
Mo Crow has a lovely post about this same exhibition here. Do have a look. Mo has links to many other interesting artists I haven't mentioned here.

Sorry I'm only managing one post a month. I have plenty I want to say but actually getting to sit at my desktop is becoming more and more difficult. Thanks for sticking with me, I do love to get your comments.