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.
Yesterday I visited an exhilarating exhibition called Traces by Louise Rippert whom I knew from Monash University days. She was already then doing brilliant work with a highly spiritual aspect and connection. Deakin University Art Gallery in the city of Melbourne hosted a retrospective collection, which is her (?!) first solo show. It is a fluttering of delicate paperish treasures, time capsules of fragmented debris and other sensuous yet serious frivolities.
I realized I dare not purchase her catalogue…as I might be unduly influenced by her discoveries to the detriment of my own art. I want to remember them as the mist of argument – nothing more. I know my outcomes would be dissimilar because I am, after all, a different person. Yet in the presence of true creativity, I can not be certain.
Rippert’s work seems pure and unsullied by the life they honour and document…. as traces remaining in a hallowed framed silence. My art offerings are troubled by their unsettled beginnings and traumatic births. By comparison, I think mine are noisy and demanding like the relentless children I rear, offering tireless challenge rather than peace.
Strangely, I have felt the same attraction yet resistance to the art of Gosia Wlodarcsak and formerly, to the art of Louise Nevelson and Ben Nicholson and Mary Kelly – drawn to them mutually by respect and apprehension.
I’m an artist. Not a teacher who does art in my spare time, nor a person who discovered they were good at drawing and decided to pursue a lifetime of Art. No, I have sweated and strained for many many years to investigate life’s journeys and struggles through art.
Many times I wonder, with little or no money nor recognition of success whether anybody cares what I, or indeed, other artists have to offer to a world that is more interested in covering it’s backside then considering life and the meanings contained within it.
Still, I realise that it is not success that drives me to do what I do. Rather it is the realisation of how important what I have discovered is, and how little others can realise and grasp the impact of the questions artists raise about life and living -about our place and space.
Still, I continue forward -not for myself but for all those who i am yet to meet or talk to about the incredible ideas I’ve discovered.