Discovering the Joys of Baklava…

This morning was one of the best Studio experiences to date imho. We were asked to critique the Level 7 Studio students work, and I had some great students in my group.

I saw a very cool video about the absurdity of everyday life, which I totally get, it was cool to see someone create a film that is a reflection of exactly how I see daily life myself. One big splash of fast moving colours, shapes, light and shadow.

The movie that followed was the antithesis of the previous one. We were treated to a journey across a mellow sea, followed by the most gorgeous filming of baklava being made. Layer after layer of filo, butter and honey poured and brushed over and over. The green of the pistachio’s crumbled on. It was like watching a bed being made in some ways with the billowing of the sheets. But best of all, we got to sit on a rug of mixed origins and eat the most incredible baklava. I have tasted this very sweet dish before, in several countries in Europe, and have never liked it, but the baklava that Jesse made… oh my it was perfect and not too sweet at all.

Sadly I had to forego the rest of the critique for a lecture, but what a treat it was to spend time with the year 7 guys n gals. It was very inspiring and also comforting to know that they too struggle with theory etc. But I loved their confidence, their faith in themselves and their work. We can all have that, we are all human, and we are artists.

The critique session was very valuable for me. It was purely student led without tutor input, and I feel this was the best critique I have had so far. Critique is about the students and what they need from it, and today that worked very well. Timing was great, everyone  who wanted got to have their say and best of all we got to hear the artist speak about their work which there is often not time for. I just love being with other artists or writers, more than anything I think!

Now I need to get Jesse’s baklava recipe! Apparently there are 40 sheets of filo in some recipes… can’t see me making one of those, I am not much of a baker, but this well, it is a form of meditation.

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Image retrieved on 25/8/14 from:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michael-symon/baklava-recipe.html

 

Twists and turns on the forest path…

As I read and continue to make art my project is taking on a life of its own.

I have recently been influenced by the study of feminism in our visual culture classes. I find this difficult, because much of what has been written is dated, and although very relevant at the time I cannot help but find some of it as crazy sounding as the fifties housewife ads that we laugh at today. The Bitch calendars that subvert those advertisements say it all. Another reason I find it difficult is because I believe in the power of women goes far deeper than politics or any of the ism’s, and it always has. I believe that men as a race are fully aware of this although it may be in an unconscious way. This is what drives them to try and subvert women, although few men I know have ever tried to do this. I have had far more experience of women subverting men, treating men as objects of ridicule. I do like that Simone de Beauvoir was not a feminist, but wanted equality, as tis is what I believe in. Equality for all genders, and it is not so simple as male and female.

I have never seen women as the innocent scapegoat, more the Goddess, the one who holds the secrets and the wisdom. Angela Carter’s books are very refreshing because they accept that women too is bestial and it is by admitting this side of her that she claims her power. Paula Rego has something to say about this too, notably in her large and powerful drawing of Dog Woman. To quote the Saatchi gallery:

Inspired by a story a friend had written for her, Paula Rego draws her Dog Woman in pastels, referencing the raw physicality of Degas’ drawings. “To be a dog woman is not necessarily to be downtrodden; that has very little to do with it,” She explained, “In these pictures every woman’s a dog woman, not downtrodden, but powerful. To be bestial is good. It’s physical. Eating, snarling, all activities to do with sensation are positive. To picture a woman as a dog is utterly believable.

Dog Woman by Paula Rego 1994, Pastel on canvas. 120 x 160cm

Paula Rego DW

I love this work, and I want my project to have a similar nature. I want to show the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood for example, as the wild inner desire within all of us. I feel the biggest problem with life today is that we may have come too far from the cave. I love Rego’s Dog Woman as it says this so perfectly. I doubt pre-paleolithic women were sensitive about hiding their animal desires, and they probably gave as good as they got.

If you want to be a wolf, be one, if you want to be  model 50’s housewife, do that too, just be happy in your skin. As for me, for all my wolf talk I will probably end up as the cat lady…or the goat lady… I have been the witch for a few years now…

Image sourced from: http://culturoid.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/paula-rego-dog-woman.jpg

Multi Story houses

I like houses that tell stories.

This three dimensional fairy tale scene is a follow on from my last installation project, based on the effect of shadows and light, and how you can transform a room to a place that is a doorway to another world. That too was influenced by fairy tales.

The house has its own story, it is constructed from recycled book pages which I rescued from a tip. There is no glue or tape holding the house together it is just paper folding. I like that it is held together by the words and pages that make up the stories, houses should be held together by stories. Everything in this scene is recycled, including a few tatters from my dreams, little wisps that caught on the branches as I was waking…

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Art that’s lived in…

Warning… this post rambles. It is thinking about art, out loud, and dripping paint all over the place.

When I think about making art, and selling art, I often get all maudlin about the whole thing… whats the point? Whats it for? I have no BIG statement to make, it won’t change the world. But then I look around my home and it is full of art, in all different forms, and it all gives me a warm wintery afternoon when it’s snowing outside feeling, (which for me is the very best kind of feeling in the world). A lot of well known contemporary art is controversial, it has a statement to make, often a statement that subverts the world it exists in.  Some of the Turner Prize winners for example… some I love and I get, Simon Starling’s Shedboatshed, now that is my kind of art. But the work of say, Jake and Dinos Chapmandoesn’t do it for me. I don’t want what I find ugly or miserable, neither in my home or in an exhibition in some gallery.

My kind of art is of course very personal, just like your kind of art. I like art that you can live with and be joyful about, or art that you can live in, and be happy living in. Joyful doesn’t have to be all bright and cheery, I get a lot of joy from dark, bleak landscapes.  I could happily live with Starling’s In Speculum which I was lucky enough to see in Wellington earlier this year. It has a story, to me it has meaning. Just like my artists books, limited edition prints, original paintings and screen-printed tea-towels. Whether it cost £2000 or $10 matters not, whether it was done by a Royal Academy artist or a postman in his spare time, matters not. All that matters is that  for one reason or another it speaks to me loud enough that I want it in my world.

And so, the big challenge I have with my own art, is to make sure that it has a place in my world, or one of my worlds. My art and writing is very much about making other worlds, twisting reality to fit my concept of joy. I need to have a reason for it to exist, for it to be created, and  if it brings a good feeling when I look back at it, well that is reason enough. If I like it, then maybe someone else will too. I have in the past, made controversial art: giant tea pots lined with photos of the poverty that tea workers live in, child sized coffins made out of Nestle Smartie boxes, etc. I have my corners to fight, but right now I don’t want to do it with art. It doesn’t mean my art will have no message, just that the message may be ambiguous, foggy or for some, silent.

The photos below are not mine, but they kind of say something about how I like my art, kind of lived in...

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I am not sure what it is about this guy, I have a phobia of the *F* – word, but I love this…, and I love how its is sitting there, not hung on the wall, just part of the furniture. The room below is a bit orange for me, but that chair looks so comfortable, and I like how the art is just nestled in there.

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Images sourced on 8/8/2014 from:

http://tinyurl.com/ocoj6d8

http://tinyurl.com/266zhym

 

The Cups

I keep thinking about making my own Tarot deck, but it is such a huge project. I think I want to explore my own art more first, because I am discovering new things about me, such as a love pf playing with watercolour and gouache, even low quality ones… but as a belated birthday present to myself I have ordered a tin box of watercolours made with honey as a binder…. mwaaaaaaah!!

But while playing I did make these two cards, I like to use recycled boxes, book pages etc, and just see what happens.

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Personal Mythologies

Looking at what I want to achieve within the field of my own art this semester, I have decided to work within a concept of personal mythologies. In my last post I talked about wanting to answer the question of why I make art, why I love the things I do. This is what my mythology or my story is about. I plan to explore my own myths and symbols that I have gathered throughout my life. I will do this using different media, including drawing, painting, mixed media, photography, stitch, the use of recycled materials and poetry.In her book Art is a Way of Knowing, Pat B. Allen says:

Our personal myth is so deeply embedded in us that it is difficult to see, yet we live out of it everyday. Our myth is what generates the patterns of our behaviour, how we respond to others, our expectations of life.

Sometimes, creating art can seem pointless, I want to find some answers within my art that I can look to when I get those ‘Why bother…’ days.

The images below are part of a series of Artist Trading Cards, that I did a couple of years ago called Dark Gardens.

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Quote sourced from:

Allen, Pat B. Art is a Way of Knowing. Boston and London: Shambhala. 1995

All Light on the Night…

Well I am glad I got some pics last night because it looks like Light Nelson may be cancelled this evening. These are some of my favourite installations. There were a lot of quite technical things this year, but I like the simple effects of light and shadow much more. I also like the recycled aspect. I thought this was a recycled event actually.

I think it is important to reeducate people though art, and recycling what would otherwise end up as landfill, into something beautiful, is a great way to do that.

So, without further ado, here are some of the best according to yours truly:

The Wormhole

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Purple Haze

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A bit of battiness

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The Beatles meet Bach, or – While sheep may safely graze in lilac fields and last forever…

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Goldfish and Pinkfish

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A rose by any other name

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Nature is hard to beat …

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The Suter Cafe as Fairy Grotto

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Underwater wedding dress

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The unbreakable lightness of leaves – A light bulb garden…

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Stopping by woods…

We set up for Light Nelson today… the real thing. I added new branches, and adjusted some old ones. Rebuilt the polystyrene bases and fixed them together with very clever ‘staples’ made from naturally forked twigs.

It looks great… all of the installations at NMIT look fabulous, an awful lot of work went into them. I waited until well after 8.00 pm , but no one came from the opening committee or the press, which was a shame. Anyway Phoebe and I sneaked a look around Queens gardens as the weekend is supposed to be wet, and to be honest, it is much more fun when you can see stuff, and breathe without being squished in the crowds. Sneaky, but necessary imho.

There is some very cool stuff out there… lots of bells and whistles. I will post pics tomorrow, but to be honest I would still rate my forest as one of my favourites, and am not usually one for self applause. I like its simplicity, that few resources and materials were used and the fact that it was all recycled except the bulb. I especially like that it looks beautiful in the daytime too.

So here it is, sadly as facilities did not get the sound fixed in the gallery, so my creepy sounds were only there when I was hiding in the cupboard with my iPad!! It is such a busy time for the staff that I am not sure if it is a great idea to have it as an actual part of the course, but I loved doing it, so maybe it is! It was a slog getting this effect just right, I wish the sound had been working, I could have maybe bought a cheap CD player or something had I thought it wouldn’t get fixed. Still, I will know next time.

Phoebe and her shadow walking in the wintery woods…

Phoebe Forest

It is difficult to photograph the halogen light with my iPhone, the pics look better desaturated!

Forest Room

I was so happy how the shadows filled the whole room, including the ceilings!

Forest Ceiling

I love images of things that are not really there… holes in the light…

Forest Wall

More book bed joy…

Oh wow… I am on a roll here, and I think I may have caught a wave…

Check out this collaboration between RCA students and a hotel chain!!

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Images sourced on 24/6/2014 from:

http://votreart.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/project-sleepless-readable-book-of.html

Looking Ahead!

I am very excited about next semester in Studio, where we get to choose our own brief and project. I have been thinking  about all the things that inspire me, and bring me joy, and all the media I love to use. I have been thinking about all this a lot… even when my mind should be elsewhere, like the local Pool team commitee…

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I came up with quite a list…

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