Exhibiting three Detroit pieces from study trip in 2015 from 3 to 28 February at MetroWest Gallery , at 138 Nicholson St, Footscray.
MJ, talked about his work, his love of his craft and his passion for the work he produces . He was successful in getting into Monash University, completed a Fine Art Degree in just two years, and is now a working artist with plans to open his own gallery shortly.
What i took away from the talk were, “just have fun , try lots of different things and keep working”.
Interesting artist, inspirational talk and valuable skill share.
I went along to RMIT”s open day, with some trepidation. It was thirty five years, since I’d walked these hallowed halls. The place was jammed, roads closed, and an army of helpers wearing red tshirts, had descended on the usually austere end of Swanston St. Upon locating the building housing the Fine Art Degree talk I quickly darted up the stairs, only to be pursued by a youngster, wanting to know if she could help. The talk was found, it had started fifteen minutes early, and the man giving it was enthusiastic, jocular and verbose, but it put me in mind of a real estate salesman, hoping to clinch the deal. A dizzying array of facts and figures were reeled off and we were left in no doubt that RMIT, is the best Art and Design Faculty in Australia, and also boasts a stellar reputation internationally.
A whirlwind tour proceeded of the cramped sculpture studios, minuscule painting studios, and shabby printmaking facilities. Perhaps the scales have fallen from my eyes and I have recovered from the stigma of failing third year painting, back in 1979, but I just found the facilities sadly lacking, particularly compared to other Fine Art schools I have recently visited. Conversely the lecturers seemed mightily enthusiatic, the students inspired and the vibe a creative one. I gazed disconsolately at the Painting Studios and realised they weren’t for me. A cubicle the size of a wardrobe in a vast shared space with no natural light is not conducive to my art making. I can barely contain myself now in my VU studio,and my tired eyes seek daylight.
I went to the Opening Night of VU Connect 14, in Footscray Mall, 138 Nicholson st , Footscray, last night. Its a new gallery space, offices, co op bookshop, shopfront and coffee shop for Victoria University. The award is a biennial, and last night was its inaugural one.
Graduating, studying, and past and present students, were asked to submit works to exhibit and compete for two prizes. Six honourable mentions were made to other exhibitors. The prizes, were for $1000 and $500 respectively and were won by students, in the Creative industries Course, at Victoria University. The major prize winner was an impassioned painting, of outback Australia, a mountain range, executed in thick impasto paint, and even included the artists paint brushes. The other prizewinner was a more delicate watercolour, with a photo image transposed over the top. Both were worthy prize winners as were the honourable mentions.
The indefatigable curator was Peter Burke, who did an excellent job of hanging works with the assistance of local, emerging artist, Sarah Hayes. Megan Culhane, graduating VU student is exhibiting two lino cut prints, as am I.
Go along and have a look, see what others are doing, and what VU are up to in the West.
My time at Victoria University, studying the Visual Arts Diploma 2014, is drawing to a close. The studios are swept, work is displayed, and final submissions are being pulled together. Tomorrow is the Final Assessment Day, other assessments having already taken place last week. Relief washes over most, as the door is closed on a years work. A period of nervousness will ensue, indecision being the lot of most visual artists
Hope is writ large as we scramble to secure one of the Fiona Myer Travel, or folio awards. It is with some sadness I will bid farewell to my fellow classmates. Much of their work is exemplary, and I expect their imagery will stay with me through the years. I hope to see their trajectory rise, all of these “bright stars”. I will retain my fond memories of them as VU collaborators, and thank them all, they have taught me much.
It has finally arrived. Our final folio submission. Months of hard work, dedication, studio toil , self doubt and creative output are drawing to a close.
Gruelling final hours, are being put in at the studios, as final touches are added to works, tweaking of folios, and stretching ourselves to the limit is occurring, in a final, vain, effort to get our work just right. Its a long, difficult, and laborious process and one that doesn’t come easily. Mountains of work has to be sifted through, pieces selected and finals displayed in our cramped, newly cleaned studio spaces. I spent the better part of my Saturday cleaning, choosing, tweaking and self doubting. Pinning countless pieces to the walls, I marvel at my huge output but obsessively question the value of the work and the validity of my artistic statement. An inveterate collector, recycler and re-houser, my work tends to overwhelm even me and I find my creative output massive and un-harnessable. Its excruciatingly difficult putting your life on the line, figuratively not actually. Always questioning, seeking solution and completion, whilst perpetually searching and depicting, is the artists lot. No arrogance or bravado for this mature age student, just hard graft, my resilient work ethic pushed to the limit. Whilst I envy the exuberance and arrogance of the young practitioners on my course, I value my experience, my compulsion for my work, and my questioning, and restless mind. I am impatient now, want the assessment to be over, and want to house my work and establish a working space over the long summer break. I have enrolled in a framing course at the CAE, over the next month as I wind down, and share my burgeoning mound of prints, drawings and paintings, with friends and family.
Mawkish sentimentality aside, goodbye VU, 17th Floor Studio Space, its been a bumpy ride, you’ve taught me a lot, and witnessed many upheavals in my daily life, and whilst I’ll miss you, I am lucky enough to be re-visiting you in 2015.
The offer of $8,000 to travel anywhere overseas to paint, draw, and more, was an irresistible offer. As VU training artists we were all eligible to apply. Much decision making ensued. Where to go, what to do and what to see. Easy right ? That decision was easy, but the writing of the grant application proved more problematic. Initially it involved detailed research, followed by a complex series of emails, to establish connections with a city to which you had never been, relying on the goodwill of people you had never met. Many questions were asked, solutions sought, and networking via cyber space was attempted. Favourable responses, were elicited from most parties, and with a swathe of references, a detailed series of proposals, and several further training prospects, the dreaded application was now to be written. Much procrastination, on my part resulted. I thrashed around ideas in my head,ad nauseam, and I became more than a little obsessive about the whole process. I slept ,thought,ate and workshopped travel grant, before I actually sat down to commence the writing process. My long suffering friends and family adopted pained looks when I started to gabble those three taboo words, travel grant application. Their eyes glazed over at the mention of the “D” word, and I’m not talking Denise
here, but that other “D” word, Detroit the place of my obsession, the holy grail of discarded and found objects, city of abandonment, my nirvana, and where I so desperately want to go, with $8,000 in my purse.
Several false starts were attempted before I got the nuance of writing clearly and concisely.It was a lengthy and difficult process. A lot of help from Robert, our VU teacher was invaluable, as he made me think about the themes I would be exploring, and how to articulate my reasoning. The dedication to the cause just had to be applied. It was too valuable an opportunity to let slip through my fingers. A harried Robert was seen darting in and out of the photo copy room and classrooms of the 16th floor, 300 Flinders St, VU HQ, all that long week as the deadline for the application grew steadily nearer.
It was a great struggle but I managed to pull it all together, and the last day saw me typing up my final draft, after multiple scrapped attempts. My piece was finally ready for submission, and I gratefully emailed it off with several hours to spare. I learnt a lot from the whole process, specifically how to articulate, who I am, what I do, what are the principles of my artistic practice, and how much I really wanted to win the grant.
But don’t we all?
Glen Eira Gallery, in the base of Glen Eira Town Hall ,has had a face lift . Supposedly . It was closed for two weeks ” for renovation ” . Walls have been whitened , floors polished and new art work hung .
Tonight was the re-opening of the gallery . It is exhibiting Loretta Quinn and Annette Cook . The former a sculptor, the latter a printmaker .
The gallery space appeared deserted, particularly compared to my last outing here, for the prestigious Silk Cut Award . The self opening swung open and I saw a group of people clutching wine and cheese, and staring at the expanse of a striking print pinned to the wall . The work was Annette Cook’s . It was a combination of stencil, and collage, comprising seven uniform sized panels, pinned to the wall with thin dressmakers pins, along the wall in a sequential, horizontal format, all prints abutting each other as an assembled piece .
The monochromatic black and white colour palette was lifted by the use of a striking olive green . Subject matter appeared to be horticultural representations of native seed pods .
On an adjacent wall was a distinctive, green tinted etching ,aquatint, stencil , and linocut . It again seemed to depict botanical matter with black and white magpies perched randomly at its edges . A large piece took up most of another section of wall . It was made from earthy tones, depicting leaves, made by lino cut and stencil . Printed on thick paper, pinned to the wall, it extended onto the floor of polished boards .
Other pieces by Cook included torn digital prints of native birds, and animals collaged onto a background of delicately carved lino prints.
The other half of the gallery space was devoted to the work of Loretta Quinn, a sculptor . Her pieces included whimsical child like figures made from resin, paint, sealants and plaster . With the cherubic faces of angels, they were dressed in rust coloured, fabric outfits dating from the victorian era with a proliferation of frills, flounces and ruching . The feet were rusted into place and some of the outfits were adorned with bird feathers, providing a disturbing contrast to the perfect faces of the cherub child .
These figures were grouped in a semicircle in the thoroughfare of the gallery and were confronting and demanding of your attention . Metal sculptures of layers of leaves, also formed part of her body of work . Several resembled large Faberge eggs, a pedestal arrangement with a gold metal egg on top constructed of many layered leaves . Continuing the child theme Quinn placed a turn of the century child’s gown or christening robe in a clear oval resin block, with stalks of wheat assembled around it .
Both exhibitions worked well in the space . The clean white walls and subtle lighting in the sculpture exhibition enhanced the spooky , mystifying atmosphere surrounding the strange , miniature humans of Quinn’s work . Their placement was pivotal to the exhibition and commanded attention . The sculptures placed around them were more brilliantly lit, and were strategically placed to stand alone, in their own right but also complemented the figures .
Cooks work was innovatively hung, with the majority of the work being directly pinned to the wall . Only two prints were framed in the traditional way. A nice touch was a vertical line of “Remnants”, several pieces of discarded prints, lined up at the edge of the exhibition which worked most effectively .
Cataloguing was simple, instructive and clear . Wine, cheese, fruit, and beer was on offer, as a pleasant accompaniment, to the gallery viewing . A small crowd where in, but as the exhibition progresses, it will almost certainly draw a greater crowd as the work is definitely worth a look .
The finishing VU students could benefit from a look at the hanging and display techniques, deployed by the artists .