Thursday, December 23, 2010

‘Tis the season

Whatever your tradition, all over the world people regard this time of year (roughly) as the time to stop and celebrate a little, each with their own different “take” on the season.

Unlike in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice often passes down here without much attention being paid. It is severely overshadowed by the hoo-hah of Christmas.

This week on the night of the 21st, in a rare coincidence, there was a lunar eclipse and the summer solstice occurring together. There were clouds covering the show here at the appointed time, although at 8:30pm I did notice a big beautiful full moon, so the sky must have cleared by then!

Nevertheless, I thought I’d share these photos, which I found on  the Daily Telegraph picture gallery. They were taken at Bondi in Sydney and in Canberra, respectively. You can see more photos of the eclipse all over the world by following the Daily Telegraph link.



Noel Kessel

Above: Noel Kessell


gary ramage

Above: Gary Ramage

To all who pass by this blog, whether this is your first visit or you are a regular blogging buddy, I wish you the very best for the season, however you choose to celebrate. May you have joy, peace and good health. Keep safe and I look forward to re-connecting in the New Year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December Rain & the Dobell Drawing Prize



Well the Hunters & Collectors song is about January rain, but this is December rain. Last Thursday at around 2pm, to be precise. This is the view from our patio looking across the road. Notice how dark it is?


Fortunately the post man arrived before the rain, as he was carrying these goodies that I purchased from Lisa Engelbrecht’s site. They are a 6.0mm Pilot Parallel Pen and an ink pencil. By the way, Lisa has the parallel pens available for US$10 + $4 shipping, and with the Aussie dollar so strong, that’s quite a saving on the retail price here. I thought it was a great opportunity to try something new cheaply.


With Christmas so close, I haven’t had the time or energy to create lately, but I did want to mention some of the artists I discovered while I was at the Art Gallery of NSW. The Dobell Drawing Prize is currently on show (and will be till the end of January) and with my current obsession with drawing it was great timing for me.

Suzanne Archer was the winner, and you can the winning work here, but I wanted to share the works that really said something to me. I’ve tried to find images of the actual work, but if I couldn’t then I’ve chosen something with the same flavour. You can see more of each artists work by following the link attached to their name.


It was great to see an artists book included. The work is a beautiful collection of sea shells and creatures, very sensitively drawn.

Dobell prizeDeborah Angus Book of the sea, pencil, pastel © the artist*

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any more about Angus online.


The work below by Anne Edmonds doesn’t show up well on a screen, but was a gorgeous study of light.


Anne Edmonds Climate Change: Beacons of Hope (graphite) Sydney*




Fiona Fenech Scapegoat (thread, graphite, polychrome pencil on mulberry paper)*



Michael Peck The land stood empty (india ink on archival paper)*



Catherine O’Donnell Number 19 (charcoal)*

This work was like a photo, and the idea that you could achieve such a degree of realism just with charcoal really bowled me over.

Another artist whose work really struck me was Annette Russell. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any images of recent work by her, although the link will take you to some beautiful ethereal installation works and photographs.

Finally here is a link to a review in Australian. I note that the author and I only selected two works in common. Having not seen the previous exhibition to which he refers, I can’t comment on that comparison. However, I would say that I agree that in a prize specifically for drawing, it is good to see some examples of what is particular about the medium e.g. Michael Peck’s work. That said, I also find it impossible to disregard the technical virtuosity displayed for example by Catherine O’Donnell.



*All images of other artists works were borrowed with no mal-intent, and will be removed immediately if requested by the artist or their agent.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Terracotta Warriors – feats of clay

As I mentioned, last week I was away briefly. We had another short holiday in Sydney, this time with some very specific aims. We had tickets to see Uncle Vanya at the Sydney Theatre Company. The major drawcard of this play was the star-studded cast, which included Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh. In Brisbane it is extremely rare to see a cast like this, so we decided it would be worth the trip.
Secondly, as soon as I heard that China’s Entombed Warriors were coming to Sydney, I was desperate to see them. Believe it or not, they actually did visit Brisbane (back in 1988 for Expo) but I somehow missed them. Of course, that was before I had studied ceramics so I would not have appreciated the technical achievement they represent, at least not in the same way that I can now.
Clay can be a wonderful, adaptable material, but constructing life-sized sculptures is no easy task. The exhibition is well constructed, introducing the viewer to the types of works the crafts people were making before they began work on the Terracotta Army. The potters made roof tiles and vessels, which were lovely but can hardly have prepared them for this project.
Parts of the warriors are solid (the feet, lower legs and hands) while the rest of the bodies were constructed using a combination of sections formed in moulds, slabs and coil-building. It was an honour to realize I have a small part of this heritage, representing all the potters who work using the same techniques, down through not only the centuries, but the millennia. While the solid feet and legs would have been necessary to provide the strength required to support the life-size statues, they would also have presented one of the most challenging technical aspects. Solid clay areas need to be handled very skilfully when it comes to firing.

Art Gallery of NSW advertising for the exhibition of the Terracotta Army

My only disappointment was the small number of warriors on show. There are only about 8 warriors plus two chariots with horses (these are half-size). This isn’t disappointing as a display, they are still very impressive. It’s just when I looked at photos of the 1000s of warriors that were found, it seemed a bit meagre. I can’t imagine how it would feel to be confronted by the army as excavated in China, but this photosynth by Robert Sprout is amazing.

Help! Where has the year gone???

We went away for 5 nights last week and all of a sudden everything seems too busy and I feel tired and stressed. I have a list of posts with news and other stuff that I wanted to share with you, but it hasn’t happened. The list just keeps getting longer some how. On top of that, I haven’t had the chance to do anything creative since the etching workshop, and that just makes me cranky!

It’s the time of year when there’s loads of social events, preparations for Christmas and with the intermittent rain, it just keeps getting more and more humid – sucking away the energy and making a late afternoon nap a necessity. Even though I talk about the horrors of summer in Brisbane, by the time it comes around I always seem to have forgotten how debilitating it really feels.

But that is more than enough whinging – especially when everybody has their own version at this time of year. And I actually have lots of good stuff to write here.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Day 3: Moment

Just a short photo essay to accompany my Day 3 post for #reverb10, which you can see on my #reverb10 page.

It was such a pleasure to write this post that I just had to draw your attention to it!






malevich 15





























warhol 67








To see more about these wonderful works, you can search the NGA website.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

#reverb 10

Susannah Conway who came up with "The August Break", has alerted her readers to an online "event" called #reverb 10.

The idea is that the end of the year is a time to review and set your direction for the new year. And some 1400+ bloggers have joined together to conduct their personal reviews via their blogs, under the (hopefully) helpful guidance of the team at #reverb10.

I feel rather as if I've been reviewing all year long, trying to find the right direction and balance for me. Since I became ill, I spent many years studying, and then caring for my widowed mother until she died last year. So there is a huge space in my life, together with some very real limitations due to CFS, and I've been struggling somewhat to get a clear sightline on my life.

I'm very much a Big Picture Person, and I can't settle to the small detail without first having a clear view of the whole. And it feels quite unclear in certain patches. It's not that I'm seeking certainty or total control. I know that nobody has that. It's more a matter of seeing all the jig-saw pieces, even if some pieces are wildcards. There! how d'you like that mixed metaphor?

Anyway, I'm hoping that a month of review and thoughtful consideration of 2011 will provide some much needed direction. Having said that, I may not be able (or even want) to respond to every prompt. I have no idea what is in store, but I liked the first one, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I'll be posting my responses under a new page, #reverb10.