Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Portrait of a Studio

On Sunday I went to see “Self Portrait”, the Studio West End group show that I mentioned a couple of posts ago.

In 1998 artists Adele Outteridge and Wim de Vos established Studio West End, from where they offer various workshops ranging through book arts, printmaking, painting and mixed media.

Wim has developed extensive skills working with perspex and the material has become somewhat of a signature material for both him and the studio. Adele and Wim create such a welcoming environment and have so much to offer, that many of those who come to study choose to stay and develop a lengthy relationship with the studio, and with Adele and Wim.

The works in the show demonstrated the wide and varied range of skills and talent nurtured at the studio. There were 25 artists represented and the photos posted here are simply the ones that appealed to me personally.

Studio West End recently launched a website, which you can find here. Wim told me that they will be documenting the show in full on the site soon. In the mean time, the gallery on the site has works by Adele and Wim, plus a number of photos of cute cats!!

Adele Outteridge

Above: Adele Outteridge


Bronwyn Estaban

Above: Bronwyn Estaban

Fiona Medhurst

Above: Fiona Medhurst

Graham Bligh double

Above: Graham Bligh

Philomena Drake

Above: Philomena Drake

Sharon Smith

Above: Sharon Smith

Sheryl Whimp

Above: Sheryl Whimp

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

6 degrees=5 artists=1 great show

On Sunday I headed off to White Canvas Gallery in the Valley to see the show 6 degrees. On display was the work of five female Brisbane artists, connected by their common mentor Majena Mafe. I was so glad that I made the effort, as this was really one of the strongest shows I’ve seen in a long time.

All the work had a powerful and positive feminine energy, supported by layers of conceptual rigour. It felt as if the artists had delved deeply within themselves to create works that were soulful, emotional, complex and yet spoke with clarity about their individual concerns.

Kate Cooke’s sewn mesh sculpture and evocative shadows spoke of the constraints placed on women, and strongly referenced drawing with its use of line and tone.


Above: Kate Cooke


Mela Fitzgibbon embroidered pointed feminist commentary on gorgeous pink silk, which cascaded luxuriously from the wall.


Natasha’s brightly coloured and multi-layered paintings were rich with detail and time spent devoted to the recording of personal narrative.

Above: Natasha Narain


Sandra’s feminine basket forms were wrapped in fleece like a mother’s arms. At first glance they speak of holding in a way that is sublimely gentle and nurturing, but on closer inspection questions are raised. Is that tendril penetrating the basket form? Is this a loving or menacing embrace?

Above: Sandra Pearce


Ann Russell created amazing bricolage, exploring mythical worlds and characters, like the one above, Ariadne'’s Orb. You can see Ariadne, the spider if you click on the photo to enlarge it. I’m not often a fan of bricolage, but these pieces were constructed so sensitively while still with a definite nod to outsider art, that they managed to be both fun and beautiful as well as having a story to tell.

The artists have also put together an extensive catalogue of their work, 6 degrees, available on Blurb, which is a great idea I think.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Openings: a confession

There were two openings on last night that I had hoped to attend.

I actually don’t really enjoy openings that much. For starters, it’s a terrible way to see the art because everyone is so crammed in. Secondly, there’s the speeches (yawn) and finally there’s the small talk. Even worse, if you don’t actually know anyone, you stand around, nursing your drink and trying to look comfortable, thoughtful, approachable or whatever!

I know this makes me sound like a terrible grouch, but hey! I’m an artist, and I spend long stretches of time on my own. We can’t all be so adaptable! (I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this, am I???)

But it’s not just a matter of preference and avoiding situations that are a bit challenging. If it was, I would be firmer with myself and do the professional thing. The fact is that by evening I am usually pretty tired and the last thing I feel like doing is dressing up and going out. Preparing and eating dinner and then getting ready for bed is often challenging enough!

I’m gradually accepting that this is just the way I am, but I do try to make it to openings of friends, because I do understand how important these occasions are, and how much that type of support is appreciated.

All that being said, I did hope to get to these two openings last night. But I didn’t. It wasn’t completely slackness though. On Thursday I had to have a filling and although it all went smoothly, I was rather nervous because the dentist was new to me, plus having suffered TMJ syndrome, my neck was complaining about having to bear tipping back and holding my mouth open for half an hour. I had a vague headache and I was pretty tired – and I have promised myself that I would be a lot kinder to myself.

So, I didn’t go. But I will be going along to the shows in the next week and I’ll tell you all about them. Until then, in case you’re nearby, here’s the details.

Both shows are group shows and will include a variety of works. First off is 6 Degrees, with artist Sandra Pearce, friend and fellow Impress Printmakers member.

6 degrees

6 degrees back

The second show is the Studio West End group show entitled Self Portrait. This will showcase the work of 24 artists, led by Adele Outteridge and Wim de Vos.

selfport back

And despite what I’ve said about openings in general, I am really looking forward to seeing the shows.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Learning New Bindings

This is my latest book. The paper on the cover is handmade mulberry that I bought in Sydney at Shop Kraft. Inside the cover I used paper from Amazing Paper, which I think is hairy abaca paper, but I’m not 100% on that. Amanda Watson-Will


The binding is waxed linen thread over leather tapes. I taught myself how it is done, and as such take full responsibility for any mistakes or misinterpretations of the  instructions. I used two books to guide me, reading Keith Smith’s first volume as an initial introduction, but following the lovely diagrams and instructions in Cover to Cover, by Shereen LaPlantz.

It’s not too bad for a first attempt, although the stitches aren’t as even as I would like them to be. I found the signatures needed a bit more juggling and manoeuvring than with a coptic, which probably implies I was doing it all wrong!

I’m trying out a few different bindings at the moment as I have some books with clay covers planned. These will be heavier than usual covers, and so I need to be sure the binding will support the extra weight.

During the week, as part of the process of getting ready to make the clay covers, I recycled some old porcelain clay that had dried out. It’s nearly two years since I finished my masters and I haven’t done any work with clay since then.

The dried clay had to be broken up into small pieces and soaked in water (slaking) until a thick, wet, sticky mass is created. Then it is set out on plaster to have the moisture sucked back out, till it reaches just the right level of hydration and plasticity for handling.

This whole process takes a number of days and wow! was that physically-demanding! I was rather amazed to think how much of this sort of thing I used to be able to do. It’s a bit scary to think about. In future, I think I might just go right ahead and buy a lovely new workable bag of clay and forget about recycling. My energy is too precious!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Hannah Bertram in Melbourne

If you’re in Melbourne before October 16th, be sure to get along and see Hannah’s latest works at Dianne Tanzer Gallery. The show is the culmination of her project for 2010, The Silence of Becoming and Disappearing. 

Hannah Bertram 

Work by Hannah Bertram

If you can’t make it to the gallery, you can see the photos of the sublime works Hannah made in private homes throughout the year on her website.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The ruling pen



I’ve been trying to work out how to use a ruling pen. In case it’s new to you too, this is actually a drafting tool, and I learned about it in the calligraphy book I mentioned a few posts back.

It took me a while to work out how to use it at all. Eventually I did find a blog post explaining that it should be viewed as two nibs and that ink or gouache can be loaded into the curved nib from a small brush. The screw is used to adjust the width between the nibs. Close together will give a thin line, while further apart gives a wider line. (Unlike the way I used it right back at the beginning of the month, wide apart to achieve double lines. Altho’ I guess this is ok too – maybe I’ve invented a new use!)

In the book, Denise Lach talks about varying the speed of writing, the tilt of the pen and the smoothness/roughness of the surface in order to create varied effects. I bought a small pad of canvas paper, thinking this surface might help me to get the gorgeous splattering effect shown in the book. As you can see from my page of attempts below, it’s not straightforward!


Above:No splatters!


Next I tried writing on some rough watercolour paper and towards the end of my efforts, by holding the pen quite loosely, I managed one little splatter, but not much!

So if anyone can offer any more specific advice on how the splatter effect is achieved, I’d really love to hear from you!