Word Con 2, graphic novels and me


First up at Word Con 2 last week, was Robyn Doreian in conversation with Simon McKeown. Writing for illustrative text has been a subject of ups and downs for me. I don’t read graphic novels or comics so I really had to work hard at finding aspects that I could relate to and work with.

Simon’s comics have a strong Victorian thread as they centre on the grand old hotels of Bendigo. The second in his projected series of ten, ‘The True History of the Whipstick Sound’, obviously features many musical references. One double page spread shows album covers of fictional bands. It is this sort of extra layer of information that I really enjoy and thanks to Simon’s prompting I went back to scour a reference book I own – “1000 Record Covers” by Michael Ochs (see links hereand here).

It made me consider my own relationship with music, which I will admit is not overly deep. I do remember a second hand record store that was on Burke Road in Camberwell. Records were displayed in liberated milk crates alphabetically but not by style. Personally I thought this was a genius approach as I became exposed to things I made never have previously come across. There was a turntable with a pair of headphones controlled by the grumpy staff – just like in the movies. For a middle suburban teenage girl, it was all very exotic. I uncovered The Damned there.

And for those who are curious, below is a mock up of the front cover and one internal page of the comic I’ve been working on. 
The story centres on a woman with taste synaethesia and her journey in life. You can read the prologue here

What is my art practice about?

What is my art practice about? This is a question which I’m occasionally forced to address, usually when filling out those dreaded exhibition proposals.

I’ll start from the points I easily know and perhaps by pegging those down a shape may emerge.

I’m obsessed with the human female form. Yes I am one so that helps but also I strongly feel that there is too much public representation of a very narrow set of female figures. I’m adding my voice to the story. I can’t single-handedly readjust this direction but through using my family and friends, though generally myself primarily, as model for a lot of my work, but I am widening the canon.

All artworks my original
I am a sex positive person. I do not believe sex is a dirty, secretive thing. It is a pleasure that we humans can and should enjoy. I am conscious of being a strong role model for my two daughters. A large part of sex for women is how they feel about their bodies. Extrapolate this idea further -if they don’t see their bodies represented as an idea of beauty, they may easily not innately know that they are beautiful and furthermore acceptable.

I am sure that I also paint myself as a larger body for my own well being. Putting my form on the canvas separates the end product from me as a person so I never truly feel that it is exactly me. It’s not me. It’s a view of me but it’s not me. I don’t know if it’s narcissistic. I feel quite divorced when I’m applying the pigment. Lines and curves, tone and colour are all I see. Posting images on social media doesn’t even feel like exposure.

I say all this and yet to some degree I occasionally get self-conscious when someone in a public gallery asks if I was the model for a particular piece.
No doubt to a degree part of my way of working involves arrogance. I have to show some bravado that I know what I’m doing. My lack of formal art school training rears its ugly head every now and then but I’m not really interested in spending multiple thousands of dollars for something which may or may not benefit me. A friend started studying art formally a few years ago and she learnt a slew of practice how to information which I think could be very useful. The next section of her education was more cerebral and that’s where it lost me. A lot of conceptual art passes me right by.

When I start a piece I don’t always know where it is going. I have an idea that may or may not pan out. It’s generally more interesting when things don’t go to plan. In fact, I like it when things go ‘wrong’ either from a technical point of view, compositionally or due to other factors. It forces me to come at it from a different angle. 

I know that I’m talking around the thing that is my art practice. I find it very difficult to easily answer the question. In fact, I’m not sure I even really know the question. Perhaps that is part of where I get lost. My art practice is mostly exploration – what it is like being a woman in this time, with my unique set of experiences yet drawing on some universal themes that others, not only those who identify as female, can relate to.

unique-ness

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the threads that pull seemingly disparate pieces of my work together. Whilst I may have an idea going into something the sheer nature of arting/playing means that the result isn’t always an intended one. I see value in and enjoy the process of exploring an idea, a theme, a medium. a technique. It just doesn’t always got to plan.

Just like now with this post, I’m already off on a tangent diverting from my initial thrust.  (I’m actually thinking of getting someone to interview me about my art and recording the session to see where my brain takes me that usually my fingers are too slow to capture. This, I see, is a parallel idea to the Hemingway “Write Drunk. Edit Sober” quote/misquote,)

Anyways…

I’m thinking about the ideas of uniqueness. Fingerprints, how they relate to contours, landscapes, landscapes of the female body. Also our eyes, doorway to our soul(?) their unique colours and patterns. Surely we don’t refer to them as eyescapes. Looking at leaves, they all have a ‘scape’. 


There’s actually not too much to write about this cause mostly it’s still trapped inside my head, tangled, arse over tit.

Just so you know, I really like it when people comment here rather than just a FB like. To me, it feels like you’ve actually read it.
I’m guilty of this behaviour also. I’m trying to change. Unless, I’m stalking you – then I read but not comment.

Next big thing

This last weekend I was fortunate to share in a delightful reunion of our mothers group that was first formed over 16 years ago. What follows below is my response to a conversation that inspired after a vino or three. We were discussing how supported we all felt when we had our wee ones and would bring any issues to our mothers’ group. Our eldest kids are now 16 years of age but that kind of supportive environment is never redundant. 

Most of us are blessed to be in a position to explore new directions right now. It transpired though that being somewhat accountable could help push us along to reach new goals.


So we have given ourselves six months to achieve our personal, self-set goals.


Below is what I have submitted. 

What?


to explore mediums other than painting acrylics on canvas
to explore ‘vessel’ – the term, what it looks like, feels like etc

How?

I know it’s vague but, for me, that’s how I roll artistically/creatively. When I start I only have an indistinct idea. I’ve tried starting with clearer thoughts of the end product but it only constricts me, doesn’t allow me free reign and I pretty much always end up dispirited and disappointed. 
I need freedom to play, to explore… to be wrong.

Practical steps
I’m planning to partake in open pottery sessions at my local Living and Learning centre 
I’m re-visiting my love of crochet – some pieces will be stiffened with the use of a simple sugar syrup (combining my foodie bent?)
I’m planning to play with paper-mache and see where that takes me.

Why?

I had a dream that I created milky porcelain vessels, held in both hands they were supped from.
They were almost breast shaped (doesn’t take a genius to see connection there) though slightly almond, tear-drop shaped also. 


Anyway – that’s my two-cents worth.

I’m planning on collating everyone’s ideas/plans and sharing them amongst us all as I don’t wish to be the keeper of information but rather a co-facilitator. We shall all hold each others’ ideas amongst us as a group.Many years ago we nurtured each others’ children. Now we can nurture each others’ ideas. What beautiful symmetry!


supernatural insect woman series

Not a great name but it is an accurate way to pin down my elusive thoughts for now.
I saw the Mirka Mora exhibition recently at Heide gallery and it reminded me that flights of fancy are more than acceptable in my field. Also I’ve been playing with some new paints that I recently bought and that is always inspiring.

Mum and I were also discussing the real life constraint of whether or not the customer feels that they can live with a piece of art. It’s all well and good buying art as investment – though clearly this ain’t my style. I’ve actually been discussing this with friends recently but that will be another post.

I can appreciate that certain works were ground breaking in style, technique or ideas as the time but again this doesn’t mean that I ultimately want to continue to view it in my house whether that be my intimate bedroom space, a more public living space or even walk past it often in a hallway. Please note that I’m not saying that I don’t like the work. I’m just saying that I don’t want to live with it.[The above commentary more refers to the ‘angry penguins’ group such as John Perceval, Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester and Albert Tucker (on display at the art gallery) than Mirka Mora’s work which was on display in Heide II]

This is all relevant just now as my first solo exhibition opens in the Long Gallery at Montsalvat, in Eltham.