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!

12 comments:

  1. Brilliant. And I lust after the Tjanpi Desert Weavers. Such a wonderful cover -encapsulating rich creative lives.

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    1. EC, I almost bought myself a copy as well but realised (sensibly) that I can peruse Suzy's copy when I'm in Bundeena, grandpup sitting. Those women are just wonderful, out there in the desert and making joyous art.

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  2. ooo string theory! (when I first read your words I thought you meant the OTHER string theory.... this one is ten billion times more interesting to me!)

    ps I share your sentiments about the ferries..... I think they are just fabbo ---- they are sydney's answer to melbourne's trams I reckon...... there is something a little bit romantic and practical about both modes of transport......

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    1. Ronnie, yes, that's my kind of string theory, too. I found the ferries far more satisfying than the war & tall ships, and as for the black helicopters swarming over the harbour, I can really get by if I never see another. Fat chance, I suppose...

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  3. Wish I was near Sydney to see this. I did a workshop with the tjanpi weavers a few years ago, fascinating stuff.I bought wonderful baskets and weavings and cloth when we were up north last year, so glad to get out to oenpelli (gunbalunga) and see how it was all done.

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    1. Oh, Penny, I can't imagine how wonderful it would be to work with the tjanpi weavers! And I'd love to go to Oenpelli! Maybe I should be giving serious thought to this...

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  4. I once worked in string theory, well, sort of, (I am a mathematician, not a physicist, so I just was concerned with the mathematics for one implication of string theory). Reading the introduction I was a bit disappointed, learning that what will follow has nothing to do with the science, - only to be even more impressed by the flood of beautiful images. Thanks for sharing the photos, they are wonderful! The tree sculpture by Vickie West looks marvelous. I wish I could stand there in person!

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    1. Hi Hilke, lovely to hear from you. I'd forgotten about your mathematical ties! Glad you weren't disappointed at this version of string theory; I think you'd really love this exhibition, I certainly did.

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  5. what a wonderful post! love the museum walk and seeing the lovely, and loving, work of many hands.

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    1. Hello Sandra, thank you! Yes, the work is very lovingly done, which I think is wonderful to see. I've never yet been disappointed by this art gallery and always feel privileged to see art from the centre of Australia, somewhere I hope to visit but just in case I don't make it, I will at least have seen and appreciated the work of these amazing people.

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  6. Thanks for sharing all the lovely images & your feathered string is magic! I'm going back for another look at the String Theory show tomorrow, Artisans in the Gardens starts on Saturday & then Sculpture by the Sea next week, love this time of year!

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    1. Gosh, Mo, so much to see and do. I wonder if I can get to the Gardens next weekend? In all the years I lived by the beach at Coogee I never made it to Sculpture by the Sea! Can't imagine why...

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