Archive for June, 2008

The first real job I had was as a Radio Technician at the Post Office (later Telecom). In my training I learned a lot about resonance in a technical sense mainly to do with LC tuned circuits. What fascinated me though was the resonant properties of quartz crystals as in the old crystal radio sets (if you’ve never made one, I’d recommend trying it). If you’ve seen resonance physically in action, in a crystal oscillating for example, I think it makes so much more sense of the phrase “that resonates for me” when speaking of art or writing etc.

So when an artwork or grouping of words resonates, it is a physical response for me. Like the sensation when you stand very close to a concert speaker system. This week (and this year) has been one of resonances. I am constantly finding writing and art that truly resonates. And extending this further, people that I resonate with, brought fully home when chatting to an old friend from radio days this week. Ah yes the old resonance is still there too.

So what art resonates for me? Well read this blog long enough and it becomes pretty clear. But as an example, photography often goes straight to my heart. This photo for many, many reasons.

Trinity– Peter Peryer

To end another quote sent to me from Lis (thanks again) from Drusilla Modjeska’s ‘Stravinsky’s Lunch’. In it Modjeska quotes the artist, Grace Cossington Smith. 

‘ “A continual try”, she [Cossington Smith] said. It’s true of painting, it’s true of writing and it’s true of life. The process of staying with that continual try can produce long low loops and sudden illuminations, which we see in retrospect as springing open and banging closed. But in the tug and pull of time it is another day lived, another piece of board on the easel, another squeeze from the tube.’

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Quotable Quotes

I’ve come across (or been sent) some great quotes recently so I thought I’d share.

Today at Opposable ThumbThe future presses upon us. What we imagine to be the consequences of a past event may equally be the ripple back from an event in the future. There is a reverse echo there that we can’t quite hear.” Its worth reading the rest!!

From Modern Art Notes recently “Updike is proof that many who try to come into art from outside it often read like assertive dilettantes. Still, I think the Drezner/Gewen discussion points to an obvious underdiscussed issue: Visual arts types are more comfortable not engaging with the ‘outside’ world, so we don’t.”

Which I just find telling – and it might explain a few things. Although in New Zealand its simply too small to get away with total isolation I would think.

Sent to me from Lis and from Sue Woolfe’s ‘Painted Woman’ . “You can put it off for years, the need to speak, to paint, whispering to yourself: my time will come. No one expects it of you, it’s enough that you hang the tea towels out to dry. We live this dreadful lie, pretending all that concerns us is that the tea towels dry thoroughly in the sun. We postpone that other voice, the voice from inside that orders: now.

Which has made me hark back to the issue of women artists and writers. Do you think women’s writing or art should be considered separately in a kind of “reverse discrimination” sense? Should there be a 50/50 share in the artistic professions? I am fairly certain men get more opportunities in these areas when it comes to practical craft but there seem to be many many women in arts administration. To be honest I am wary of such segregation. (Can of worms – opened)

On the other hand I’ve always been rather taken by the imprint (is that the right word?) “The Women’s Press” and their logo.

Oh and the answer to yesterday’s quiz will be revealed on Friday.

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Really we must…

Anyway, I haven’t exactly been tagged, but cool-person Deborah of In a Strange Land posted her meme of fives yesterday and I thought I may be able to adapt it to an art theme – here goes.

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Well I would have been in Wellington and I would have been hanging about The Dowse in Lower Hutt. Unfortunately they don’t have an exhibitions archive on their website, so who knows what I was looking at.

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Buy art…So what 5 things would I buy?
Well to be boring a Clairmont, a Fomison and a Maddox, because I like trinities and I like Clairmont and Fomison a great deal and it would be weird to have only 2 out of three of the Militant Artists Union.
A McCahon – an I AM one or a landscape of the Otago Hills type.
The 5th is HARD. Keeping NZ…??? Ah – a miniature by Ronnie Van Hout.
Of course all that wouldn’t put much of a dent in the billions but its what I’d like.

Five jobs that I have had:
None to do with art unfortunately. Radio engineer, PA, cidermaker, IT geek, midwife.

Three of my habits:
Coffee, coffee, coffee

Five places I have lived:
Invercargill, Roxburgh, Christchurch, Wellington, Palmerston North – not very cosmopolitan.

Five people I want to get to know better:
Hmm – For a start I am going to name bloggers because well this blog has introduced me to some very interesting and cool people. None of which I’ve me in person and I’ll try and keep it arts focussed. Also some bloggers I already know reasonably well as e-friends so I’ve left them off. I hate this actually – its like ‘playing favourites’.

Jacky at Passages
Poet Helen a Stripy Sock Studio
Dave from Pointless and Absurd
Ali Bramwell

I am still working on updating my blog roll. You can take it that anyone there has met with my approval (haha).

And to finish – a small quiz. Where is this and how is this site (and its former occupants) relevant to NZ art? (excuse the bad photo – I took it)

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I have had the most odd day. All sorts of random (good) things have been happening. So to carry on the theme, here are some (more) random art bits

From one of Over the net’s Basel reports:

Buyer: Can I sit on it?
Dealer: That’s a $1 million euro Roni Horn glass work that weighs three tonnes
Buyer: Sure, but can I sit on it?
Dealer: If you wanted to.

Which brings me to THIS (but can you sit on it?) and the knitted part leads to:

Guerilla Knitting –  The ultimate “Tank Top”

Some Wellington style street knitting can be found here.

Tonight I am even random reading. I have just counted the books in various piles that are “to read” or “partly read” around the house (37) so I need to make a start – random choice has started me on Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” which was sitting in a pile of poetry books so there you go. This book makes a huge amount of sense (even to us in here in New Zealand).

Which reminds me – 2 MUST READ books I can always reccommend are “Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver and “Kalimantann” by CS Godshalk and of course (sneaking in a 3rd) “I Heard the Owl Call my Name” by Margaret Craven. And I’ve just noticed a disturbing theme here….

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Art in Reverse

I’ve been slack on the blogging front. Basically I’ve been tired and things sometimes catch up on you when you have three little kids. Today for instance our baby has croup.

I have also had a bit of a revelation. I visited some friends last week who are living off the grid and off the land. I won’t go into detail out of respect for their privacy but it is sure a lesson in perspective to spend some time with them and I am in awe. Then I watched the documentary “What Would Jesus Buy?” which was amusing and really depressing all at once. So I was thinking “what I am doing be interested in this art game? At its worst its just another aspect of consumerism.” But I saw some things when visiting my simple living friends (who aren’t “arty” people) that brought me back to some ‘art truths’ .

Even though they are focussed on the absolute necessities of life i.e. food, shelter, water, warmth they had decorated their environs with illustrations, small carvings and other meaningful items. It made me think of that urge to record by way of art and to simply decorate. There is that debate about rock drawings as to which of these purposes they served – and I think quite probably both.

So Its interesting that art has significance even when we are ‘back to basics’.

Something else I learnt about this week was Reverse Grafitti. A good example here at Wooster Collective. Reverse Graffiti can be created by using many different methods, the most well known and probably the most common form would be words or simple drawing written into the dirt of cars that have not been kept clean. A more advanced and difficult method is done by cleaning the graffiti onto dirt in the street, this dirt is difficult to clean off and the graffiti is often created by scrubbing [or waterblasting] aided with the help of a detergent . There have been several instances of authorities attempting to prosecute those performing reverse graffiti. No authority has found legal ground to prosecute those who perform reverse graffiti.”  I think the Mt Victoria tunnel in Wellington would lend itself to this (some great examples have been done in tunnels) and it would be interesting to test the ‘legal’ status here in NZ.

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So like many bloggers when in a writing funk I can again only offer tidbits. I have been musing on how art develops as an artist ages and matures but I don’t know enough about it to write yet and I’m still working on items about street art gentrification and madness and art but no one piece is coming together. I’d like to write about the weirdest email I got today acknowledging receipt of a job application which caused me to wonder if I’d actually want to work in that place.

Anyhow The Montana book award shortlists were announced yesterday and many have commented on the amount of visual arts books. Of course there is the spat about only 4 fiction titles being shortlisted and other items and the anti-Wellington sentiment creeping in again. The best comment I’ve read read on that topic so far is on Beattie’s Book blog where an anonymous commenter replies to “what’s Wellington got to do with it?” with “Wellington shot bambi’s mother”. And while there is talk of some Wellington cabal I really don’t think regionalism is the problem here. On a brighter note one of the better books I’ve read lately, Waimarino County, was shortlisted in biography section. Author Martin Edmond muses on this here.

Speaking of books, the illustrated version of Denis Glover’s Magpies has been reprinted. Illustrator Dick Frizzell says “It sank a bit when it was released actually. I threatened to reprint it myself and eventually the publishers came to the party so it was reprinted and it just kind of hung around by the skin of its teeth until it reached some sort of tipping point in the public consciousness…Although I have never called it a children’s book, a lot of parents have told me their kids wanted it read again and again until the book fell to bits. I just don’t know what the kids would be actually hearing.” Its now on MY shopping list.

I also read this interesting interview with John Updike, which begins. 

NEH Chairman Bruce Cole: I think I may have told you that in my former life I was an art historian. While there are many Ph.D. art historians, the people I most enjoyed reading were the poets and the critics who brought great language to their description of art and were able to express the meaning of the art.

John Updike: I think it’s a field where to be an amateur is not necessarily a disgrace. Some of the best have been, in a sense, amateurs-Baudelaire and Henry James, to name two.

I guess this spiked my interest because I read recently how Rita Angus hated non-artists (Fairburn and Fred Page were the examples) acting as art critics and felt they were out of their ‘zone’. She said, in turn she would not think of critiquing their music or poetry. This is something that is very common in New Zealand but there are a fair amount of people who are critics, artists and writers. It would make a good debate I think.


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Where I am at

Sometimes blogging is the last thing you want to do with your time (or the first, depending on how big that pile of washing to be folded is) but some things lately have conspired to make me question what I am doing here and in real life. For a start I like reading and “e-meeting” people on the ‘net and in the blogosphere and learning who/where I dont’ want to spend time. Some sites are a bit like watching a car crash – you want to turn away but….Its also very easy to stuff up. Even so, when you live in relative isolation its mostly good, and like they said when TV first began, the internet potentially is a huge learning tool.

In the real world I always have plenty to do in a mind-numbing housework sort of way but this week that also includes sending out CVs and job applications. There is also the spectre of the compost bin project which I just can’t seem to get stuck into. Maybe if I envisioned it as some type of eco-sculpture? Maybe I could get Ronnie van Hout in to do it :-) And on that note and more to the (art) point an interesting exhibition on at Te Papa

Moving Towards a Balanced Earth: Kick the Carbon Habit. “In this exhibition, we ask the artists to help us find new visions and new choices for a balanced Earth. What does it mean to be in balance as individuals and communities? How do we get the Earth in balance? What does balance look and feel like?”

Also I have been trying to find art that would illustrate how I am feeling about life. Dan Witz was sort of there but a little too depressing. Then today, I read an interesting post at Over the netwe came across a suite of recent Richard Serra prints. And…we both immediately read them as landscapes, thanks to McCahon. This effect is not something that probably affects anyone under the age of 30.”and looking at those prints they had the same impression on me. McCahon hits many people (me included) in a “grab your heart and squeeze” kind of way and I recalled my most recent McCahon viewing, in real life, at the Reboot exhibition and Jim Barr describing his similar reaction. This is me today:

I am scared, I stand up(1976) Colin McCahon

Also – I am annoyed at the ingrate who put sugar in my long back this morning (urrrghhhhk!)

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