The Island bird

Kids day out at the NGV…

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By Celeste Hawkins

Yesterday I took my son and his friend along to the NGV International which has kind of transformed into a Children’s Wonderland with interactive art abound.  Climbing, pasting, drawing, crawling and swinging were just a few of the ‘ing’ related verbs occurring in this giant hive of activity. The activities also stretched outside and there were still eager partcipants despite the heat!

But back in the cool of the NGV the boys were very impressed with the Ernesto Neto’s, ‘The Island Bird’ and David Shrigley’s, ‘Lady taking a poop’.

Of course.

Golden mirror carousel

 

Below: Works by David Shrigley-Life and Life Drawing until March 15

Lady taking a poop

David Shrigley, Lady taking a poop, 2013

David Shrigley 3 David Shrigley 4

Workshop David Shrigley

The boys looking at animation

 

 

 

Feltmakers Art. 2013 Convergence

Play-Pose-Post…The art of Sarah Louise Ricketts

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Sarah in her studio

Sarah in her studio

By Celeste Hawkins

At the rear of a majestic inner city terrace is the highly organized working studio of mixed media and fibre artist Sarah Louise Ricketts. A table displays the varied sculptural works created from felt, silicone and Monster clay, (as I am soon to discover). With many years in computing prior to launching herself solely as a practicing artist and teacher, the 3D printer present in the space seems a logical addition to her practice. “I wouldn’t say I have a mathematical brain, but it’s definitely a logical one. I can do things step by step rather well”,she says.

Sarah talks me through the process of how she came to make the moulds for the ‘Tetrapods’ that set the tone for her up-coming exhibition; “Play-Pose-Post”. She explains that Tetrapods are an engineering marvel used to create breakwaters and even new land, such as The Palm Hotel in Dubai.

How did you form the shape?

A model was made of the single Tetrapod ‘foot’, from wire and aluminum foil, covered with plasticine. The form was then cast using silicone to produce the mould.

What is it exactly that inspired you to make them? Is it because it is a functional object (as used in Dubai) or more about the elements of shape and form?

The pieces were made as part of an exhibition called ‘Feltportation’. Whilst reflecting on the concept of transportation, I tried to recall times when I had been delighted by the sight of something (a transportation of delight). Seeing Tetrapods being cast and used whilst we were living in Dubai was such an instant. The work flowed from that point.

Sculptures

Tetrapods. The small red ones created by the 3D printer.

Another thought came from the same source: that for children, the transportation of delight is often a toy. The idea of an “art toy for adults” was born. The two ideas seem to mesh together rather well.

Your background is in computing, how has that influenced your work? Is the 3D printer a large part of that influence?

3D printer

The 3D Printer!

I have always wanted to include my digital skillset in my art. This proved rather difficult when working with the oldest method of making textile, i.e. felt! However, with the advent of 3D printing, I will be able to produce a greater range of shapes and moulds to use as bases for soft sculpture.

When did you start working with felt and why? Is nunofelt your predominate material? What other textiles have you worked with and do you mix with the felt’?

I became entranced with the colour-blending painterly qualities of felt in the last year of art training. When the wool fleece is combined with a woven matrix, a beautiful, drape able fabric is produced, called ‘nunofelt’. For much of the past 12 years, I have worked with nunofelt, although a few years ago I began to go over to what I call the ‘dark side’: working in freestanding 3D forms, using hand-made felt, largely without the fabric matrix.

Woman sculpture

A work using Monster Clay influenced by a prehistoric sculpture

You said that you suppressed the art making side of yourself for a long time. Did you make things as a young person?

I stopped trying to make art in my twenties. Nonetheless, I have never not made things, but sublimated the impulse into various forms of craft and handiwork, renovating houses and so on, for a large part of my adult life. I began drawing so young that I cannot remember starting. My father, an architectural draughtsman at that stage, brought home plans and I would paint them with watercolours for him. I would have been about seven.

You use a variety of materials to create your sculptural works. How did that evolve?

The sculptural work, as with a lot of what I do, has a habit of evolving and moving into directions I am not anticipating. The desire to create reliably duplicated forms as a base for being covered with felt began with learning rudimentary sculpting techniques, which then led to learning casting and moulding with resin. Soon followed the desire to scale up and down on my computer rather than having to make a whole new thing; which led to 3D printing. I can now do nearly all of the above using that method! Along the way, I have investigated and tried out many different materials such as; Monster clay for modeling, various silicones for casting and two-part foams for creating forms. One of the joys of working creatively with materials is investigating them creatively.

 Would you say that the wall hangings you have made are a way of story telling or a ‘journey’ as each section is carefully hand stitched over time?

The wall pieces investigate stitching as a mark-making and a textural possibility. The daily stitching that you saw were essentially a documentary exercise, not so much of story, rather something more akin to the pens and paper that record inner tension or brain waves.

Wall hanging

One of Sarah’s wall-hangings in her hallway

What are the main motivations for people wanting to learn the art of felt making? What have been the experiences of some of your students?

Most people who become felt makers fall in love with the materiality of hand-made felt. Sometimes it is a general adoration, sometimes a specific desire to make certain something. Once the path is started the only way to learn is to periodically do a workshop or participate in a supportive group, such as the ‘Felting Frenzies’ run by the Victorian Felt makers Inc. Although I taught in the Diploma of Textile Arts program at TAFE (and staring this year, a similar private course at ‘Opendrawer’), students worked in whatever textile/fibre medium/method they wished. Sometimes this might be felt, sometimes not.

Sarah's cat

Sarah’s cat

What can people expect to experience at your exhibition?

Well, it will be a great way to experience some hand-made felt, especially for those who have not encountered it before. Many people think felt is just the machine-made squares of fibre kids cut up and make into finger puppets. It is actually a very sensitive medium, capable of transmitting the artist’s touch to the hand of the person holding the work.

Play – Pose – Post is an installation which carefully responds to the gallery space within which it sits: the Tetrapods upon their table, poised and ready, the whole environment supported by a soundscape created from the various ways in which people and children play. Within this supportive space, the viewer is invited to do that which is usually prohibited in the gallery setting: to touch and actively engage with the work. Arrange them and photograph the result. Post the image on the social media platform of choice. Identify the source for the image as #giantsjacks. Liberating. Play as the antidote to fear and restriction.

The digital side of this installation will then aggregate the image into the stack of images on display in the gallery, through seamless use of technology. This, in turn, becomes a new collaborative piece of work.

Feltmakers Art. 2013 Convergence

Feltmakers Art. 2013 Convergence

See Sarah’s website here at : www.sarahlouisericketts.com

PLAY-POSE-POST is running from the 14-31st of January at the Rubicon ARI

Level 1/309 Queensberry Street

North Melbourne, Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

Mia 2

Melbourne Artists and their spaces

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By Celeste Hawkins 

Unwinding (or at least trying to) for the Christmas season is here!

Below are glimpses in time captured in just a few of the spaces I have visited over the last few years.

Enjoy :) I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

I am endeavouring to update my pinterest page too!

Pinning slowly but progressively!

 

Mia 2

Mia Salsjo-Work in Progress

tools

Installation artist Georgie Seccull’s various tools

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A slice of Paul Borg’s studio

Penelope Aitken

Artist Penelope Aitken at work

basket full of feathers

Installation artist -Georgie Seccull

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 By Celeste Hawkins

Top image

Georgie in her Studio

Melbourne based installation artist Georgie Seccull inhabits a lovely little creative space in the leafy suburb of Canterbury, Melbourne. Other sharing artists include recent Archibald finalist Eliza Cameron, Tarek Barrage aka ‘Dem 189’ and her partner Artist Andrew Bourke aka ‘Sirum 1’.

Recently Georgie and her partner have returned from the far outpost of the Gove Peninsula, in the northeastern corner of Arnhem Land. It’s so remote, you actually need to permission to visit there. She loves road adventures and wanted to learn more about the Aboriginal culture. Georgie explains:

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The road into Arnhem Land

“There are a amazing areas throughout Arnhem Land that you’re able to get a permit from the traditional owners to go visit and camp at. These are places that you would never know existed with pristine beaches and waterfalls. There wasn’t a lot of information on the road out there, all we knew was that it was a 2 day drive on an uncharted road and there was only one fuel stop, (which may or may not be open) so we definitely felt like we were heading into the unknown and that was exciting. We had a 4WD, four jerry cans and four river crossings to get the town of Nhulunbuy and there were crocs everywhere.”

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Nhulunbuy

How did this compare to your last trip up North?

 “The last time my boyfriend and I went out on a road trip was to Darwin and then across the centre up to The Daintree – but that was just an introduction. This time we were able to gain such a better understanding of the aboriginal culture being totally immersed in it. The local Yolngu people are always happy to tell you their story. They have a totally different way of living and relationship with the land. There’s a lot we could learn from them. “

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Georgie and Andrew

 What are some notable differences about the way they care for the land?

“They live by the law of the land, they have a great understanding and respect for it – when they take something from the land, they always give something back which is very special. The land also holds all the stories of their Dreamtime in it and their dreaming is there way of life, so the land is very sacred to them. For a lot of people in the area the saltwater crocodile is their totem animal-it was incredible to see how respected and loved the crocodile is out there.”

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Plucking magpie goose for lunch

Was it a shock at all to see that contrast?

“Their connection to the land, the animals and their family is confronting when you look at it in contrast to the way we in modern society live. Even in places like Tennant Creek and Katherine where there are alcohol problems, you can sit with any of the locals and learn from them. They are all so willing to share with you their stories, all you have to do is ask.”

Having spent six weeks in Arnhem Land, four weeks in Kakadu and then back to the centre of Australia, Georgie was awestruck by the amount of road kill and rawness of what the land could provide. An avid collector of all found objects both natural and man-made, it proved to be a collectors dream.

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One of Georgie’s found skulls’

 “You can find all kinds of incredible things on the road. I collected trees branches, driftwood, emu and wedge tail eagle feathers and bones. I’m now learning how to preserve and clean the bones through maceration and burial so I’ll be able to incorporate them into my sculptures. We also found crystals, which I would like to incorporate more into my work.”

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One of the many carcases

basket full of feathers

Georgie’s large collection of feathers

Georgie is a former copywriter and freelances when she needs to make some extra income.

How did you branch out of copywriting into the area of installation art?

“My background is copywriting for advertising. Since I’ve always liked making things out of things, I went around shops asking if I could create something for their window display. I started making art as a way to sell products by putting together installations for bookstores and gallery exhibitions. I then got an opportunity to create an installation for Penthouse Mouse where I was able to build a huge mechanical girl and that started the ball rolling for paid jobs.”

Flower and pipes

Flower sculpture in Georgie’s studio

So you’re mostly self-taught, has that been challenging?

“Learning by doing can sometimes be painful. For example, with mechanical girl-when it came time to bolt it to the wall I realised that I should have taken the insides of all the parts out as it ended up weighing about 200kgs! It’s also really fun though, I play around with many different materials and it’s through this process that I discovered corflute (plastic cardboard) to be the most malleable and I liked that idea that all the offcuts get melted down and made into new sheets. The way I work with it has developed from project to project, I’ve found ways to thread, wire and band it together-I’ve learnt new things along the way. One of my favourite things to do is buy a new tool and figure out how to use it.”

Mechanical Interference

Mechanical Interference

When it comes to setting up her large-scale grandiose installations-it becomes a family affair with her mum and brother and boyfriend all chipping in to help.

“For the Collingwood football club installation, my brother helped me work out all the Maths for the paper pyramids . As for the crystal palace installation-I didn’t have a studio back then so I was making the entire thing in my mums lounge room. It was 26 metres of fabric, paper and foamcore and I had no idea how it was going to look until my boyfriend and I installed it. I tend to work these things out as I go!”

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

Georgie definitely has a keen visual eye, as her studio seems as if it’s an installation in itself. Apart from the many bones, shapely tree branches and feathers there are all sorts of consumer recyclables such as tubes and computer parts neatly categorized and organized in her studio.

Recyclables

Studio Shelf of recyclables

Why the fascination with collecting reusing and up cycling materials? Is this something you have done since a child?

“I’ve always collected and made stuff. Every weekend as a child I would stay on Grandmas Farm in Ceres just out of Geelong. We were always going on adventures finding snakes and collecting twigs and other bits along the way. There were always Mountains to climb, especially in the You Yangs and my grandma was very conscious of caring for the land. She convinced us that picking up rubbish was an adventure-it was so exciting we would beg her to take us out on the road with garbage bags!”

Georgie and feathers

Some of Georgie’s collection

Georgie explains that she loves pulling things apart and putting them back together to see how they work. She also points out that she made her own work bench in the studio and loves the idea of challenging herself to create more complex pieces.

 What’s coming up for you in the future?

“The installation I’m working on at the moment for Rainbow Serpent Festival is really exciting for me because it’s the first time I’ll be working on a project with a great group of friends. I have a few other things I’m working on concepts for which will be utilizing more natural materials and recycled found objects and I want to learn how to weld too. I’d like to one day have an exhibition and create a series of sculptural works out of discarded wood, bones and mechanical parts.”

Studio other room

The room Georgie shares with fellow artists

Georgie and bird

A sample from Andrew Bourke’s journal about his mural painting experience in Nhulunbuy:

Baru

Baru-Mural by Andrew Bourke

Having spent the last two months travelling via 4×4 with my partner Georgie Seccull and great friend Charlotte through Australia’s Top End, we found ourselves taking a leap of faith and trekking deep into one of the worlds most remote patches of wilderness. After 3 days travel along the Arnhem Hwy we finally arrived in Nhulunbuy. Originally set up as a mining town, this place is now the central hub for supplies, medical and practical needs that filter out to all the surrounding homelands of the Yolngu people. Here we set up and organised our general permits that would allow us to go bush and discover some of the most amazing and relatively untouched places we have ever experienced. Beaches that would pan out into the distance with crystal clear waters as far as your eyes could see (that you can’t swim in – they’re full of crocodiles) and the 3 of us being the only people around for days on end..

I decided to bring my paints with me and see if I could find a space to produce another mural and given my chosen subject matter, an opportunity came about soon after.

The main hotel / restaurant – bar in town named the Walkabout commissioned me to produce my painting across the front entrance wall of the building. Very quickly the word spread that a large saltwater croc was being painted in town and every morning I painted I had a number of spectators dropping past to keep an eye on the progress and I guess to make sure I was doing the image justice (no pressure). You see the saltwater crocodile, particularly to the major clans of that part of NE Arnhem Land to them, is their absolute world. Being one of their major totems of the surrounding clans BARU is their Mother dreaming.

As the Yolngu people “come from the Earth” they identify themselves being one with their surroundings and so to these amazing people the saltwater crocodile is respected and loved equally to that of anyone from family circles. The Yolngu people’s connectivity to nature is something that we in modern society have lacked for far to long now leading us to constantly be fixated on the future instead of living for the now. In short, I felt the importance of producing a great piece for these people as I quickly realised how much bigger this painting was then just me tackling another crazy art project!

The Yolngu people still to this day live their traditional ways, continuing their dreaming through song lines via ceremonies and living off the land. Their culture is still as strong as it ever was way, way back then. The oldest civilization on Earth to us that’s some 40 – 60,000 years old, and these amazing people were more then happy to share their stories and culture with us for the 35 days we lived in their country and on their land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Slow Art Collective

Pinning on Pinterest

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By Celeste Hawkins

I have finally joined Pinterest! Having expressed myself in this space for almost three years now I have realised that consistency is key, however slow. I almost always regularly post in this space once a week. I have to say that the longer the time goes by, how (mostly quietly) proud I am that I can keep the momentum going! I feel this is very much a ‘side project’ that sits alongside all my other ‘side projects’. However, I am wondering if there can ever be ‘only one’ as they all seem to complement eachother and contribute to the whole.

The Slow Art Collective

Dylan and helper-The Slow Art Collective

I am not completely sure of what the outcome of this space might be, I’ve let go of thinking about that. I have also made a descision not to endorse any paid advertising on the site (at least for now) as I would like to support businesses or artists who just need a bit of a plug or recognition for their efforts.

I do however, endeavour to utlise my camera a lot more to capture all sorts of interesting images for you to enjoy. So please bare with me while my pinterest board slowly evolves and be sure to check in every now and again :)

Be sure to check this space next week as I run an interview on a Melbourne Installation artist who has recently returned from a very interesting holiday…