geeking it up and swanning around

is it possible to be quite as geeky as me and still get away with fooling that world that you’re actually quite cool? sometimes i don’t know how i do it! ha!

to start with the geek fest – i’ve fallen in love with blogs all over again. i mean, i’ve loved them for a while now, but through following a comment from one blog, to another blog, i found the new love of my life – LED Throwies! Interactive Architecture.Org is my new best friend after introducing me to these things! So many possibilities for fun and games…

LED Throwie, courtesy interactivearchitecture.org

So on thursday night on the way home from work, i decided to head to the old DSE and see if i could purchase the bits and pieces needed to make one. And then if i made it work, i could go nuts. The guy behind the counter – whose name for the sake of this blog is James, and i, spent a good half an hour, poring over the LED pages of the supply catalogue, testing out batteries that would suit – trying to find the right luminescence to weight ratio and trying to recall basic electronic theory, which states the the current in a series decreases.. or something, i can’t remember exactly. but boy it was hot – while everyone else was out doing late-night shopping, seeing bands at the youth centre, or having cheap drinks at the pub, i’m in an electronics store geeking it up for the sake of art!
woo hoo! and i’ve got friends? wow!

so to offset that ultimate nerd flavour, yesterday i went to paddington and emersed myself in the über style that is the inner eastern suburb of chic du jour. well, actually, i really went so that i could check out a couple of galleries, but hey – i’m sure the chic rubbed off a little at least.

firstly i popped into Sherman Galleries, largely ‘cos it was on the way to where i was originally headed, secondly, i wanted to check to see what they had on and thirdly i thought i might bump into Lisa who works there and could say hey. the show they had on was surprisingly beautiful. with the first work i saw of philip wolfhagen, i kind of groaned – it had lots of paint, it was landscape and an image of a fire. ugh. however, i persisted and actually went into the gallery and found some incredibly beautiful works. almost the painting equivalent of Bill Henson’ landscape photographs. Huge canvases with, low and wide perspectives of, yes, landscapes, but they were of things like 5 minutes before the storm, or just after dusk across a vacant lot. really quite beautiful and i could have actually looked at them for ages. his choice of light ‘moments’ was great and i was equally pleased to see that these huge, sometimes ominous works were selling well. it’s good for my artist-as-crap-career-choice cynicism to see a bunch of red stickers on work that is worth $15,000+ (in every sense of the word worth). and not only did i get to check out this surprisingly beautiful work, but i got to catch up with a bunch of sherminator gals! tanya and lisa were both there and chayni henry (Primavera, SafARI, etc) had popped in to visit, so it was great to meet her too! see i do have friends!

Philip Wolfhagen, IdyllXXCourtesy Sherman Galleries website

Rose Nolan, See Anything SuspiciousCourtesy Sarah Cottier website

then i dragged my friend down to the new Sarah Cottier. i was excited about seeing this show – i only became aware of Sarah Cottier towards the end of my degree, when they were in Redfern and i have a vague memory of the first show i saw there containing a huge car just sitting in the middle of the gallery floor(?). Maybe i’ve got my wires crossed, but anyway, it was amazing to me at the time and i was looking forward to seeing what the new gallery had installed. After reading artswipe‘s review of it, i knew that i had to make the effort to see the show before it closed and i’m glad i did.

as a complete show, it was nothing to really rave about. as a taste test for things to come, it was delicious.
i totally dig Rose Nolan, and although her See Anything Suspicious work was a slight anti-climax after her huge 32.Banal Ideas Cannot be Rescued by Beautiful Execution. in the Biennale (which i loved), i’m excited about the prospect of seeing more Nolan works. Other works i dug as a taste-test were Koji Ryui‘s Fantasy Drawing, made out of straws (or plastic & nylon monofilament according to the room sheet!), Stephen Bram‘s Untitled (Two Point Perspective) and John Nixon‘s Silver Monochrome. Other works were OK, but not necessarily rave-worth. I am looking forward to seeing the forthcoming shows at Sarah Cottier though.


And then to top the whole experience off, i returned to my geekness by getting deliriously excited about the Neild Maze, next to the gallery. It was so rad! this little slice of childish delight in the middle of oh-so-adult paddington and throwback to european taste. my friend and i took turns in getting to the middle of the maze (which is about waist-high hedge) and taking photos of each other.

how sophisticated!

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a visit to agnes

While waiting for the Helen lempriere opening to open, I trotted up the steps to ANSW to check out the Giacometti exhibition and the Adventures with Form in Space – The Fourth Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project (which everyone has reviewed, but hey – i’m gonna jump on the band wagon too)

Two vastly different shows, but equally as captivating.

With my NAVA discount, I got a concession price into the Giacometti and after paying almost $20 for the Picasso at NGV last month, $7 to get in was a treat!! It was a lot smaller than the afformentioned blockbuster, but the difference with this one, there was no filler. The byline for the show was ‘drawings, prints and sculptures from the Maeght Collection’ and the only thing that didn’t come under that heading was a print from Margaret Olley’s collection. But I forgive the slight deviation.

I’m exposing my absolute geekness, but the works were all amazing! The pencil drawings and mostly lithographic prints of his analytical drawings were largely that which I had studied most of my degree and used his technique in a lot of my drawings. It was amazing to see the sculptural quality to them plotting out the figure in space, or the object in space. He is the master of making an incomplete drawing look so complete that it was done before it was started.

His drawings and paintings were all about structure. Provide the structure and the form will appear. What a dream boat. Well, actually, I’m not that much of a formalist, but I good smattering of structure and form will really float my boat

I wished that his paintings were on display. I would love to see his amazing plots of figure in space in brush stroke upon brush stroke that eventually a figure appears. Similar to the way a Frank Auerbach figure emerges from the material, a Giacometti figure emerges from the structure.

The show was clean, concise and succinct. Exactly what I needed. no fucking bullshit. Not too much wall text and NO audio guides! yess!!! exactly what a show like that should be. It’s not rocket science kids – if you want to know more about the artist, check him out on the net, go buy the book in the bookstore, or borrow a book from the library, don’t expect a spoon-feeding – you gotta think for yourself sometime!

After the joy of the Giacometti show, I popped down to the café and treated myself to a chai latté and lemon tart. And boy were they good. But about 2 minutes after getting my treat, fire alarms started going off in the gallery! It was all quite bizarre because I wasn’t sure if they were alarms to start with.. they were quite musical compared to the blare that my work building has to put up with every now and again. So they battened down the hatches and we were kind of stuck in the café. The fire doors were shut off at the start of the downstairs gallery, so I couldn’t check out the Balnaves show, and the other door was at the top of the escalators, so there really was no way out, except to wait.
Or bitch and moan if you were the spoilt teenage princess that was flouncing her way around nearby.

Once all the drama was over and we were informed that it was a false alarm from the kitchen on level 1 (Barry, you burnt the toast again!), I was able to check out Adventures and it was fantastic! Another who’s who of top Australian emerging artists.

Jonathan Jones’ wall of fluorescent lights was actually quite comforting and mesmerizing, John Meade‘s work might have been OK to someone, but didn’t really kick start my heart, Nick Mangan’s work was not nearly as interesting as the one in Uncanny Nature at ACCA and same goes for Hany Armanious’ work: the ‘machine’ looked as though it might have worked, and I liked the allusion to possibility and suggestion of machinery/industry, but the rest of it was kinda.. eh. I did try and make it exciting for myself and blow the candle out on the CC work, but being made mostly of wax and a strong wick, didn’t work. But ultimately, I was kinda bored with his work. And given than I’ve mentioned work by Hany 3 times in the last month, I think I need to see other people.

My favourite works from the show were Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro’s Self Storage. I’ve liked their work for a long time, despite having serious professional jealousy of them, and was stoked to be able to see the work in the flesh. Their garage of stuff was awesome and invoked all kinds of experiences for me, which I think is a fairly mainstream experience, but you can’t get away from it. I loved checking out the detail, the little clues into their life. I noticed the Will Self book and the big can of Polyester Resin and the milk crates of spray cans. I couldn’t help thinking of Matthew Barney when I saw the Centaur mannequin. (Is is still a mannequin if it’s half mann, half horse?).

I did read in the catalogue how the work was devoid of museological reference – no official catalogue, label, numbering system, but was more like a game of tetris and I liked that idea, although I did feel like being facetious and pointing out the labeling system on the frame: Front End, Bott, Top Right, Top Left.

I had 2 other favourites. Damiano Bertoli’s Continuous Moment sublime appropriation of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Wreck of Hope. There may be a whole bunch of theory behind it, as indicated by the catalogue, and I appreciate the 3-dimensionality that Bertoli added to the idea, but I just liked the work ‘cos it’s a beautiful appropriation.
Simplistic? maybe, but the first time I saw it at the National Sculpture Award (RIP) at the NGA last year, it actually put the idea of ‘sublime’ into context for me. It made it a contemporary idea (which I guess it is in the current political and social climate) and something I could appreciate the beauty of and come to appreciate the original. That in itself is a worthy pursuit (in moderation).

Damiano Bertoli Continuous Moment

Nike Savvas Atomic, Full of love, Full of wonder

And lastly Nike Savvas’ amazing installation of coloured balls Atomic, full of love, full of wonder was rad as well. The gallery guide kept telling everyone it was ‘the highlight’ which I would dispute, but it was pretty cool. While I was there, the fans were on and the back section of the piece went mad with agitation. It was OK, but it just made me want the whole piece to do that and I actually preferred the stasis of the piece. The chasm of possibility, like the whole piece could move at any moment. poised. Similar to the Ranjani Shettar piece from the Biennale, I could have stood in wonder for ages. And I love a piece that does that for me. When I can, for a brief moment forget about the context of a piece and have some fun with it, see it as a child sees it and drink it in.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

we built this city on rock and roll

I’ve just come back from the pub, hanging out with Jaki Middleton, David Lawrey and Kathy Gray after the opening at the Wollongong City Gallery. Jaki and David’s work The Sound Before You Make It is showing in the Mercury Gallery at the moment and it’s so refreshing to have some cool shit to see in town at the moment. I feel like going into the space every 20 mins, just to get my groove on. In fact i feel like going in there every 20 minutes with a stack of friends and dancing to it with all the Thriller moves so it really feels like a party! I can see why a kid nicked one of the figures when the work was at Campbelltown.
It was also pretty cool to have the sydney kids in town – introducing them to sushi train, exposing them to the dive and comfort of the oxford tavern and giving them suggestions of cool things to do in Wollongong, and I realised that I’m a terrible tour guide. They’re going to check out Project tomorrow, which is cool. Hope they like it – I’m becoming more proud of the space the more I find out about other spaces, especially the other ARIs in Sydney.
At the opening at MOP last night I was talking to a friend about sitting spaces and having people come to see work there and he was saying how few people the artist run spaces get through the door in the big smoke. I was proud to say that liminal had 640 checking out the show over the 2.5 weeks it was open. That’s a pretty good turn out! I think it’s the 2nd or 3rd largest show we’ve had since the gallery opened and it actually measures up to the what the ‘big kids’ are doing elsewhere. OK, so the rest of the shows they may put on are kick-ass all the time, but hey, we’re getting there.


Speaking of the show – it was so awesome to see a show that was genuinely entertaining. I’ve known Christopher Hanrahan a while, so I knew it would be fun, but it was a ripper. His performance video was so cooln – He spelled out in human letters (YMCA style) ‘the old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be’, while singing it, a la the Simpsons. You couldn’t hear it when the opening was in full swing, but being a girly swat, i got there early and experienced the joy of it as a whole – it was ace! And the other highlight for me was the smell of the packing crate work – Falling Down (?). The smell? Yeah, i know it’s weird, but the warmer the piece got, with the lamps inside it, it emitted this wonderfully nostalgic smell of warm wood, reminiscent of cosy places and open fires or saunas, or something comforting. It was probably so far from the experience Chris intended from the piece, but hey. His coffee mug tree was choice – so precise, yet so precarious, which I think is Christopher’s artwork in a nutshell.

I’ve got an appointment with the tax gal in the morning before an artists’ lunch for the liminal personae kids tomorrow, so I’ll do a wrap up blog about the show and a guide to finding a good artists’ tax agent over the weekend sometime.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

trials and tribulations of an installation artist

Yesterday I went to Campbelltown Art Centre and saw the fantastic pieces from the Sydney Biennale there. Two pieces really got me – the Dream House by Šejla Kameric was beautiful, so soft yet dark – the way the house seemed to rise up, was evocative of old 80s cult horror films. The other work I liked was the Liisa Roberts photographic work. I’m not exactly sure who the people were, but in my mind, they were Russians in their homes and at their places of work and it seemed a lot of them were working in creative industries – museums, architects, designers, etc. One element of the works that i kept noticing was the presence of oil heaters! In almost every image, there was an oil heater installed in the room and the more i looked, the more heaters i saw! it’s amazing how the oil heater is an object that you just don’t really see all that often in images of Australian houses or workplaces and i’m sure the Russians just take them for granted!

On the way back from Campelltown, we detoured to Mt Kembla to check out the possible site of a guerilla installation that i wanted to do. There’s a copse of tall, thin gums that have regenerated from bushfires that sit beautifully surrounded by greenery, while appearing majestically metropolitan. I wanted to create a horizontal line drawing with red paper with them and was hoping to sus out the possibility of doing that. The closer i got to the area, the more signs i saw saying Entry Prohibited, Catchment Area, max fine $11,000! Now, I’m not averse to skipping a fence and being a little naughty with creating an artwork, but i had to say goodbye to that idea yesterday. I don’t really want to pollute the catchment for the area with run-off from red paper and roughhousing from climbing up and down ladders. I also really can’t afford an $11,000 fine. This is a huge bummer and i guess it’s part and parcel of wanting to create environmental work. I have to consider the environment and sometimes accept that it’s more important than art’s sake. I’m now on a mission to find a similar space that i can get away with intervening, minus such a costly repercussion.

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ketchup and inspiration

it’s been ages since i’ve written a blog here and i’ve had so much to catch up on! last wednesday was a day of inspiration for me: went to the preview of the Sydney Biennale and saw some great stuff, but the Antony Gormley Field was fucking amazing. It’s been a really long time since I’ve stood in front of a piece of artwork and had goosebumps, and this piece gave me a serious case of them. It was sublime. Standing in front of it, i almost cried with the expanse of it all as well as, for me, a sense of history about the work. I felt like i was looking at a historical movement of a population for a greater cause.. may not have been the intention of the work, but it sent shivers down my spine nonetheless. the other highlight from biennale stuff is blatantly egotistical, but hey. when Fiona Tan came into town last year, i lent her some of my photo albums with which to do her vox populi work. When i rocked up to AGNSW, i had forgotten about the work and when i stumbled upon it, i found 2 images from my albums in there, neither taken by me. the first one is a hilarious photo of my stepfather with deep red lipstick on in a gaudy stylised smile shape.. it is both hilarious and awful at the same time! and then an image of me, taken by my ex-boyfriend, with my huge blue mohawk in the back alleys of Stanmore. it was a nice little treat for the day.

there were heaps of works throughout the other 2 venues i saw (MCA and AGNSW), but the truth of the matter is, i can’t remember a whole bunch of them. that, i think, is the reason that the biennale is on for 2 months. time to revisit and absorb so much. i’m really looking forward to going back to some of the venues i’ve already seen, and to venture to some of the smaller venues as well.

other major highlight for the day was the talk by Mike Parr. As part of the SafARI fringe contemporary art festival, Mike was speaking about the beginning of inhibodress, one of the first ARIs in Sydney as well as his own early practice of that time. In the SafARI zine, I’m quoted as saying Mike is ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ and i stick by that. He’s managed to continue creating thought-provoking, inciteful and insightful works for the last 35 years and when he spoke, i was captivated. Now, when some people contradict themselves, i’m the first one to tune out, but hearing Parr talk, i didn’t care that he did that. I didn’t care that I’d heard some of it before, like a mantra about not getting sucked into the lottery of government funding. I really needed to hear what he was saying. I loved hearing how important it is for ARIs to push the boundaries, despite it being impossible to do so these days, but that at the same time, it’s important for us to show works that will never get shown in a commercial gallery because its, well, not really gonna ever get there. I had also been driving myself nuts with the fear that i have all these ideas, not enough money and not enough time to get my artistic career where i want to go, and I heard the word ‘longevity’ that night. It was like a bright light in a dodgy park and seems to have been the salve for what was ailing me. It’s about continuing to keep plugging away, do what you do with as much integrity as you can muster in this cut-throat world. Perhaps a little dramatic, but hey.

I was so fucking inspired that within 24 hours, i had come up with 3 new ideas for projects about rhythm and time that i thought i was going to burst! This is, in and of itself, not a new phenomenon, but it felt different this time. I felt like i had been given a huge kick up the ass, with a lunchbox and swag with which to move forward. So watch out world, here i come. Even if i only arrive in 30 years’ time, it will have been worth it.

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