Wednesday, December 17, 2008


This is a selection of textile works that I had images of on my computer, and which were webready. After I've finished posting these images, I'll start with some more in-depth looks at various series of work.

The first 3 works here are more of the artistic dead ends that I've written about in the past. The first is a plain weave mainly of linen, but with a supplementary weft of human hair.

This is one of about 3 or 4 works that I've made with GladWrap (actually a generic cling film). I twisted the film into a rope-like yarn, then wove a plain-weave textile. I like the white shininess that results, but I couldn't find enough conceptual concerns to make it artistic enough!

This work is probably one of the most "traditional" textile pieces that I've made. I made it when I first studied double weave techniques (so the reverse side is a black grid on a white field), and it's made from wool. I've almost never used just wool, or any other standard yarns (silk, cotton, even acrylic, etc). It feels too crafty for me and not arty enough. Not that there's anything wrong with making craft, it's just not what I want to do with my practice.

This is one of a series of 8 works collectively called Some People. When I started using socks for weaving at the beginning of my Master's degree, I was making a large and time-consuming installation, and needed to work on something a little different to keep me fresh! The series was included in the Dislocation show at Kudos Gallery in 2005. All the works in this series (I'll present the rest at some point in the future) are made from black and white socks. This was partly in response to the number of socks of those colours that I had collected, and knew I wouldn't be able to incorporate into the I Am Because We Are installation, but also because of the stark contrast betwen the 2 colours that would make bold patterns. This work is a plain weave, but half of the works in this series were also double-weave textiles. The title is from the title of a song from the musical Gypsy. I had been incorporating the names of the donors into the sock weavings, but not with this series, so the meaning is that these are just "some people" rather than named individuals (as well as including the meaning from the song, that some people are made for a boring, conventional life, but not everyone, and not me!). (See also this post for more info)

The following works, also made from socks, are from the aforementioned I Am Because We Are series. They were the first works that I made in that series, and were photographed by Julia Charles for an article by Amanda King, ‘For the Love of… Socks?’ in COFA Magazine, Issue 12, Summer 2004. Unfortunately the article was accompanied by a photo of me that was the least flattering photo of me ever to make it to print!

These white panels eventually were sewn together to become the kimono part of the installation (also seen in this post).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

MARS Gallery exhibition

These are shots from a show I had in 2005 at [MARS] Gallery (Melbourne Art Rooms) in Port Melbourne. I mainly want to show the hand-made paper work that is on the right-hand wall in the first photo. As with almost all the images I've posted to the blog so far, they're images that I was planning to put on my website a few years ago. They never made it to the website, and I closed it down, but still had the images ready to put on the net.

The kimono and black panels on the left are the early part of the I Am Because We Are installation. (See this post for more details) In the middle of the image, in the corner, is a work called Let Down Your Hair. It's a Rapunzel-themed work. There's a plait of hair hanging from the ceiling and pooling on the floor.On the wall are hand-made sheets of paper with hair and various Rapunzel-related texts printed on them.

To the right on the wall is a different series of hair paper works. This was part of a work called Memento Vivere (remember that you (must) live, rather than the usual reminder that you must die). For this show I took sheets of the paper (which for the original work just featured the hair of the donors) and added the names of those who had donated the hair that was in each sheet of paper.

This is a close-up of the sock works:

The rest of the images are all of a work which is collectively called Long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, knotted, polka-dotted, twisted, beaded, braided, powdered, flowered and confettied, bangled, tangled, spangled and spaghettied. (The title comes from the title song of the musical Hair.) Each sheet is approximately 16x16cm so it's difficult to get details of individual sheets in an overall shot. The images are spirit prints where the image from a photocopy is treated with turpentine and run through a printing press. All the text and images are related to aspects of hair - sociological, religious, fictional, scientific, cultural, linguistic, etc.

This final image is a slightly distorted shot of a different configuration of the same series. This was the version in my Honour's grad. show in 2002 and is a 14x7 grid (the [MARS] show had a 15x6 grid.

Violence, Abjection and Ecstasy

I've already shown some works from the Violence, Abjection and Ecstasy series here but I had some images of earlier works in the series that I thought I'd add. The original idea was to join the individual pieces of paper and sew large patterns over the lot, but the largest I made was a 4x4 grid - the size became too large to work with. The number of sheets that I had was also finite, and I wanted to try different patterns, so ended up making each sheet a separate work. All the paper is hand made, some has hair in it, some parts are made with grass, as well as other miscellaneous fibrous materials. They were all buried in compost with rusted metal objects, spices, pigments, etc., to allow them to randomly stain. Pieces were collaged together, coated with a layer of clear acrylic medium, then sewn with cotton and polyester thread. I stuck to a palette of earth tones for the thread to fit with the colours of the paper. Each individual sheet is approximately 16x16cm.

Domestic Graveyards

This series is collectively called Domestic Graveyards. This is another example of liking a phrase and applying it to a work that probably has no connection to the phrase at all. It comes from a Dead Can Dance song, The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove. This series of drawings is another artistic dead-end. I had a great fountain pen for awhile and I really liked the ink, and the mark that the nib made, so I did this series of geometric abstractions with small strokes to fill in the space. Each drawing is on a standard business card-sized card, and they were framed in groups of 5. I think I'd've preferred to frame a larger number together as one large grid work, but this was all I produced, and it's often easier to sell a smaller work than one large work. These were in a Christmas show at PCL Exhibitionists one year in the early 90s. I still have the works, but have since re-used the frames for other work, a standard emerging artists practice!

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Look at Some Previous Work - Artistic Dead Ends

By artistic dead ends I mean that I tried some technique or style, but never went further and made it a part of my regular art practice. Most of the works in this post were made when I lived in Japan, back in the late 80s and early 90s, when I was still playing around with styles and materials. I guess I still do that, but the types of media have changed. At this time I was taking a lot of photographs, and using these photos in my work. Unfortunately a lot of the work from this period was documented very poorly. A lot of artists destroy their early work, but I feel that even though some of the efforts may have been amateurish, or even badly made, they make up a history of my art practice.

This first series of photographs were I think inspired by an advertisement I saw in a magazine at the time. They have no title. Very few of my works did before I started exhibiting. The person in the photos is an American friend from the time, Kevin Kennair. Kevin was an English-teaching colleague, but had studied art at university, and was one of a number of factors that inspired me to become an artist. He later went on to complete an MFA in the charmingly-named Bowling Green, Ohio. I still like the idea for these photos, but the objects juxtaposed with the photos have no relation to Kevin, except the 4th one with the art supplies. A better idea would be to match the objects with portraits of different people. These were items I had around my house that I thought looked interesting! And the lighting is terrible! So basically I think they're quite flawed, but I still like them.

This set of photographs became known as The Japorn Series. They were a series of still photos that had been placed on a video. I then photographed them from the video. They had originally been in colour. I've cropped images, and printed them in black and white. I think this was the only work were I re-photographed existing images. I have made a number of collage works, and paintings with appropriated images, but this Sherrie Levine-esque method never took off.

This is a work that I made for a Japanese English teacher I taught with at a junior high school in Funabashi. The photos are those I took of students at the school (both the teacher's name and the school escape me now! It was 17-or-so years ago. No, the school was Takane JHS.), plus some of other teachers. She was a Christian so I added a crucifixion over the photos (drawn by the aforementioned Kevin Kennair). I made a number of works at this time that involved photos I had taken combined with paint, or collage, or fabric, or assemblage.

This work is a photographic sculptural installation piece. I made it as a birthday present for another English-teaching colleague, Traci Stull. I cut up photos of her and stuck them to foam cubes. I can't imagine it has survived. Even if she didn't throw them out, I doubt the adhesive would have lasted this long. Concern with longevity and archival quality was not a concern back then. Here they're hanging from the ceiling of my apartment during a party I had for 5 or 6 colleagues. I guess this could technically be considered my first exhibition as I had works for each person installed around the apartment.

This very-badly documented work shows a number of elements that have recurred in my work - the interest in shoes (particularly court shoes, aka pumps); the use of perspex; and the use of text, particularly Letraset letters which I was really into for awhile. I made this for Frances Brignell (later Frances Fraser), probably for a birthday. I'm not sure why one shoe is gold and one is black. Maybe that was just the amount of glitter I had! The text probably was also not really well thought out. What does 'genitalia' have to do with shoes?

These are some of the very few prints that I have made. These were much later, probably late 90s. I did a printmaking class at the Waverley Woollahra Arts Centre with Robert Ives. The woodblock printing did not work out well, but I quite liked this effort, Salmon Grid. It's an etching with aquatint. It's quite small, about 10x10cm? There are 3 copies of this in existence (I wouldn't go so far as to call it an edition of 3 - I think they're all Artist's Proofs). I gave one to Robert Ives, a friend bought one, and I have one in my collection.

This print is a photoetching. It came from a photo in a newspaper which I photocopied and tried to make a bit more abstract. I think the title is, imaginatively, Crash. I have a framed diptych of this print with the same image in blue ink.