Tag Archives: art


‘OUT FOR LUNCH’ This is me saying I have a lot of material from DINNER to add to this Blog but currently, I am having trouble seeing the point of being so diligent as an artist! I feel myself tipping toward the slippery slope of ‘whothehellcaresaboutwhatIdoinart’. I have been back from Darwin for two weeks where I presented this fine exhibition – in many formats – with NOT ONE PERSON inquiring about what art happened there. Maybe this isn’t enough for me anymore. I am certain that I do not want to burden anyone with my art rantings and raves. But my art is not about me doing my ‘thing’ in secret because I am driven to do so. It needs an audience. It needs some sort of external validation to continue to develop. I do not know what that would be but it is not happening…after almost forty years of hard labor on my part and, apparently, on the part of everyone who has come into my clutches. Maybe I should cut the losses and leave this vocation now. I do not know

who I would be if I did so..but maybe it is time to find out.

This image is one in a series showing the artist trying to make her way in the vast unknown called life. Don’t worry, she makes her way safely down the slope but hesitates to go back up on the podium again.

‘Use it, Baby’

When faced with the seemingly insurmountable odds against becoming ‘an artist of note’, I frequently find myself at the point of despair. This happened again recently with my visit to Paddington where ‘real artists’ are presented daily to a buying public in the best spaces by the best galleries at the best five digit prices. When with immense bravery I inquired about whether I could send in a CV and some images for the Director’s perusal, I was met with a nonplussed stare. The cool receptionist tried her best not to be patronizing but what she said settled that. ‘Our Director only exhibits those who she herself has noticed on the art scene. Perhaps you could try the artist’s run initiatives and work at coming up through the ranks.’ This was actually good advice – for someone just starting out and in their mid-twenties. For me, on the other hand, it was immensely degrading. I am aware that I am not known in any capacity in NSW, but the presumption is that I am, therefore, not a quality artist. Should I believe this? No!

‘Use everything in your life to create art’ is what the playwright, Sidda, in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood was told by her colleagues when her mother cruelly upstaged her once again.

Yet, in the still, wee hours of the night……..and I am awake, thinking…I could do without this eternal struggle.

Playtime by Alasdair Macintyre

What fun to see an artist take a jab at the art scene and then be bought by those very same people! Playtime is a satirical dip into the world of art with all its crass trashiness and its discriminating commodification. Here the artist is portrayed as both the sign and the signifier and as such, is easy pickings for each cynical diorama. I like it!

Using toys for art is not new. Consider Destiny Deacon and her dolls of social consciousness. Also, Emily Floyd’s ominous rabbits caught in art intrigue.

It’s all fun and games until someone….gets collected. For big money. I wonder if Macintyre’s art can maintain the edge of sincerity now that he is clearly endorsed and widely consumed? In fact, isn’t he himself now completely objectified instead of flippantly objecting? Still, I wish him well and applaud his droll yet refreshing sense of ‘joie de vivre’. Anyway, what’s not to like?

Are you 55 and nearing retirement?

This Investment Services ad caught my attention. There I was flipping through the local news, minding my own business when I read ‘Are you 55 and nearing retirement?’ Yes, I am 55 but my life in the working world is just beginning not ending…or so it seems. I have no superannuation tidily waiting for me to mature. I even have no job ‘to leave’ as such. Art never stops being work without ever being real employment. I applied for a real job this week thinking a little cash in hand for all my wit and wonderful creativity wouldn’t hurt at ‘this stage of life’. My CV is burgeoning with accomplishment, experience, resourcefulness and resilience in the workplace but unless you look laterally, it does not add up to your average 30 years as a CEO. Should this be a problem for me? No and Yes. I am aware that my life choices have brought me to this point at this time. It has never been ‘about the money’ for me. On the other hand, yesterday I met a nice woman, an immigrant teacher who arrived here just 17 days after me some 30+ years ago. We are the same age. However, as a full time teacher for all those years, she retired last year on a very comfortable package while I am just now looking to start a monetarily profitable career. I sure hope I got what I wanted over that long time……

Banff 25th March

Me in 4D
Me in 4D

I am relaxing today…an easy walk into Banff to pick up wine for gifts for the composer and the work/study helpers and souvenirs for those at home. So much tacky stuff to choose from! I will punish my kids for their comments about ‘Mum’s useless presents’ and this time I will only send them a photo of the useless presents! Ha! That should stir the pot! Also I did a portrait session for one of the other artists – Bruce Gottlieb – who is creating 4D portraits as part of his residency here. It was surprisingly tricky to turn slowly on the spot yet be animated and interesting. I wish I had left on my signature rabbit fur coat to give a bit of texture to the ensemble. As my sister Erla said that coat (once her daughter’s) is travelling more than she.

What this exhibition is about.

(Edited and I do mean edited excerpt from Google Chat late on the 14th….listed in Australian time frame.)

3:28 PM me: hiya its meeeeee!

Tom: Heloo.

3:29 PM I am not letting Patience talk to you right now.

So how was your day?

3:30 PM me: Great! I finished and exhibition!

Tom: WOW! Photos???

me: yesseresiree

3:31 PM Tom: So tell me about it.

3:33 PM me: I have just sent you photos!

I have just sent you photos!

well they are beeing sent…I might have sent too many…

3:34 PM Tom: I will await their arrival.

While we wait…so tell me.

Pics have arrived.

3:35 PM me: wellll….I invited a collegue into my studio (Sandra Hawkins) and she said…looks like your work here is finished your exhibition is complete!

call it ‘Potential’

So I said ok. I like it too

3:36 PM That is it. Now Week 1 is complete and I have the first exhibition of three…and nothing more to do unless I want too! How’s that!

Tom: Great work!

3:37 PM me: Isn’t it! Are you looking at the photos?

Tom: I am…would appreciate some commentary.

3:40 PM me: okay…I gathered the bits from the dumpsters and other local sources. Then sorted the bits as data. Now, anything I do with them reduces their potential because they become only one of the many possibilities they offer and not any of the others.

3:41 PM Tom: Very clever and insightful…

this could be a new genre…

bag-lady art.

3:42 PM me: So, the work can only become less creative than it is now when it is unused and waiting for its next role….does this make sense?

Tom: Yes, it does…

which is frightening…

but then I lived with your twisted and creative mind for over 34 years now.

Will you be bringing the artwork home?

3:43 PM me: …funny you should ask…but no…except for the beeeautiful materials…which I love and can reuse and reconfigure

3:44 PM Tom: I know how your mind works…and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a container arrive on our doorstep full of this stuff.

3:45 PM me: believe me ..it won’t happen…I have gone a new direction and I know that I can make art out of anything

Tom: Great because we have so much material here for you to work with… 3:46

3:47 PM me: And you have to hear the next best thing…..

Tom: You’re coming home early?

3:48 PM Some one is going to buy the work?

You have been offered a job as artist in residence at an obscene salary?

me: I approached the head of programs in music today to outline the fact that I wish to collaborate with a composer for a final exhibition…tonight I was introduced to Darren (twenty something).

Tom: You won the lottery in Canada?

3:49 PM me: explained my request that music/sound be made out of the dumpster bits that I will make visual art from..in the studio..and he agreed….

3:50 PM Tom: PDQ Bach…Fugue for a bicycle pump.

3:51 PM me: and is very excited about the project and he himself makes notational music out of old Playschool instruments and player pianos, etc and finds The Centre can be a little restricting so…..looks forward to working with me and I with him’

We meet on Monday to record bits

Tom: This place sounds better and better.

3:52 PM me: AND the concert I went to tonight had a celletto – a mechanical version of a cello – it looks like a extendable lamp stand – who plays improve – performer which is a synthesized cello and he said he would do it tooo if wanted. My VA department said this was a very unusual request….hooray! Some Music officials thought – even without asking anyone – they might not be able to help me out. Isn’t that strange on a campus with these arts literally next door to each other?
3:53 PM Tom: Creativity and vision have always been your strength.

The difficulty comes in that you are usually out there pushing boundaries before anyone else gets there.

Banff is once more proof of your ability as an artist and visionary.

3:54 PM Go for it!

me: Thanks!!!

I am really happy with this! Its fun!

3:55 PM And the other thing is today I regained ground spiritually

Tom: How so?

3:56 PM me: I know that you have been praying for me….

Well I took along this Thomas Merton Book of Hours and today it made an impact…

3:57 PM Tom: Yes….in what way?

3:58 PM me: I read..

3:59 PM Why should want to be rich when You were poor?

4:00 PM Why should I desire to be famous and powerful?

4:01 PM Why should I cherish in my heart a hope that devours me- when such a hope, doomed to frustration, is nothing but despair?

4:02 PM My hope is in the eye that never has seen. Therefore let me not trust in visible rewards.

4:03 PM My hope is in what the heart cannot feel. Therefore let me not trust in the feelings of my heart.

My hope is in what the hand has never touched. Do not let me trust what I can grasp between my fingers.

4:04 PM Death will loosen my grasp and my vain hope will be gone.

Tom: These are Merton’s words…now your insights…

4:05 PM me: That describes me.

4:06 PM I want, I need, I wish, I desire…and it is not in my power but makes me miserable……….so I need to give up the fight and just love and be and allow God the control he has anyway

4:07 PM I think that is it…I am crying as I realize this but it is a load off my mind

4:08 PM Tom: Good insight.

4:10 PM me: I plan a new performance…I will stand in front of the people coming in to eat with a scarf over my head wearing a sign that says ‘Failed Artist’

4:11 PM then another day I will wear a sign…’Great Artist’ then another day ‘Okay Artist’ I feel I need to accept that this is who I am – all of these- by someone’s definition and it is still ok

Tom: Should be an intriguing performance piece.

4:12 PM me: yes….still I am crying over my loss of a dream, a plan for myself…

4:14 PM Tom: Recognition that you are not in control is a big thing.

Tears are to be expected.

As is sense of loss…

as well as sense of relief…

4:15 PM and self-acceptance.

4:16 PM me: yes

4:17 PM Tom: Now…like the time in Banff…just let things unfold and see where it takes you.

me: ok

4:19 PM Tom: It will be interesting to see how this continues to unfold while you are there…

and what you will bring back with you.

4:20 PM me: Well I expect it will be digital only at least….apart from the material scraps….TEEHEE

4:21 PM Tom: The transient nature of your art there is a physical reinforcement of what Merton is saying.

Ultimately the art is not something that can be held on to.

4:23 PM me: That is correct…I am making a statement to myself by leaving it all behind.

4:24 PM Tom: OK.

Getting enough to eat?

All this thinking and creativity will make you hungry.

4:25 PM me: tooo much to eat

4:26 PM I am eating all the things that I don’t get at home and are really bad for me I collect my dessert first – like Aunt Nora did

4:27 PM Tom: That could explain the burst of creativity and insight and the sense of joy and fulfillment…food…glorious food.

me: then I have bacon everyday. Then I eat shrimp stir fry and chicken schnitzel and fesh bread…we are treated like royalty for 6-7 $ a meal

4:28 PM Tom: Good for you.

What is that line of the Jewish mama…

Eat…eat! Is good for you!

I take it you are enjoying the opportunity of being a community of artist as well.

4:35 PM me: Well…I have been accepted by the embroidery group and the Liminal Screen Residency group…word is out that I am a PhD in Sculpture so I can sneak into their sessions at times and they think I make good comments…

4:39 PM me: yes it is fun being like minded instead of tolerated

4:40 PM Tom: So your days are full…your evenings pleasurable.

The company is inspiring.

The food is delicious and very filling and plenty of it.

The scenery great.

Your exhibition #1 is complete.

4:41 PM You have gained significant spiritual insights.

You have organized some collaborative work that will be ground-breaking there.

It all sounds just perfect.

4:43 PM Tom: OK……I will hand you over to Patchie now…as I have to go out and fulfill the somewhat prosaic task of bringing in the laundry before it gets wet from the rain.

Love you much…

glad to hear it all going well.

4:44 PM me: thanks I love you…thanks for everything

Chris Chafe

Briefly wrapping up.

Hunting and Gathering…isn’t this a woman’s job?? But David, work/study artist helped me with the trolley, the lift and up the winding staircases. The studio is full of hand picked stuff….I especially like the dozens of discarded brass lamps, rescued from the snow bank.

I want to tell about David…He will be tying his art – his canoe – to his car roof as he does not have another place to store it; plus it is a conversation starter he found. I admire his candor and sense of fun!

Met ReBecca Paterson from the Maritimes, too.

The Plan.

So here I now have internet and my computer working. The techies did not have the correct plug either so they clipped off my Aussie plug and replaced it with one for Canada. It works fine though the plugectomy seemed a little drastic! No charge at least and they even tossed in a 6 volt trani for the speaker system. Resourceful, eh?

I was wakeful last night. I got a bit chilled returning from the hot tub in the -12C temps. Then I kept waking up to see if it was time to get up. I went over for breakfast after talking myself out of going swimming which was a close call, too.

Then found my wonderful ladies from the artist group ‘Articulation’ again and chatted through breakfast. They are working in the Leighton Studio where today I was invited to visit and see their work! A privilege for sure! It turns out that two of the other artists are blogging too. I will have to compare. These ladies heard that I am looking out for things to make art out of these few weeks. They had been given a huge bag of fantastic bits and pieces by a quilters group. After taking what they could use, they gave me the rest….lace, glittery cloth, feathers, rabbit fur, angel wings, velvet, iridescent fabric, and much more. I am so taken with these treasures; I may not be able to leave it here after all.

I had a great day! I have been finding out where the dumpsters so tomorrow I can gather the bits I saw to work with as recycled raw materials. I saw a mound of discarded brass lamps, an old venetian blind, lots of wood off-cuts, office paper, ceramic bases, buckets and more. I will retrace my steps to collect and then it will be picked up with the site’s van and tugged up to the third floor.

Tomorrow should be the day I start working in my studio then. I can’t wait!

I had been quite discouraged about not being accepted into the Centre’s program when I first applied but I discovered that many others have been disappointed for years. The selection process is a little undecipherable it seems. At least we are here now!

In an effort to reapproach life in a fully spiritual manner, I have been doing some reading in Thomas Merton’s Book of Hours. I found a thought that stopped me short….I realized that I don’t think I completely trust God with my life at this point in time. I think that I am suspicious that I will get hurt again and somehow by looking out for myself, I can do a better job of it. Don’t anyone carelessly coax me out of this thought – as absurd as it may seem. I am wrestling here.

My overall plan here is to not plan my art. This is difficult for me as I am usually too purposeful in my art. Leaving with a completed product would be my usual expectation. Instead, I want to play with the process of creating and maybe regain my first love of art in this way. I do not want to load myself down with ‘things’ to cart and store! ‘All made in Banff, stays in Banff’…. Says this sticker was found in the drawer in my studio here…how appropriate. I have enough stored art! The title I have in mind is ‘All Things Temporary’. The open studio will be my continuing exhibition. No more thinking it through….