Archive for October, 2008

Creativity is me

I am no artist, or crafter and only really manage to sew in a straight line if I concentrate so today’s big challenge was homemade Halloween costumes for the kidlets. Luckily bat wings are easily made from a $2 shop umbrella (even if you have to paint out the tartan pattern on the nylon) and an old sheet = a happy 3-year-old ghost.

However this got me thinking how cool Halloween costumes might be made from some of our ‘darker artists’ – actually take your pick of any artist. Although this sprang to mind pretty instantly. Ronnie van Hout I hear you say? Well some things are just too disturbing for children.

I am not big on the whole Halloween event really though because its so American and at completely the wrong time of the year for us in the Southern Hemisphere. I mean really its Beltane here and dancing around a ‘may’ pole seems more seasonal. Also isn’t Guy Fawkes so much cooler?

The Magic Circle(1886) by John William Waterhouse

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It occurred to me today, while a dealer was going through my vinyl collection that maybe my partner thinks I am silly to be so attached to it because he is of the CD age. For example when I bought my first CD (which I still own), he had not long started school. As it turns out I could not part with the few items the dealer would have liked except for the one he’d already bought and I was quite happy to let that one go because I’d never liked it.

I was saying to the guy that I like albums because they were big and tangible and although I’ve got used to CDs, I missed the artwork. My partner’s music these days is almost solely relegated to MP3s and so the art is completely lost (and you just can’t hold on to it).  I mean who wouldn’t miss such artistic gems as this (a chocolate fish if you can tell me the artist):

I guess one advantage of digital music is you can have an e-conversation about a song (eg Marianne Faithful’s version of Madame George) and immediately find it on the ‘net to share.

I have now instigated a policy that I will not get rid of any vinyl that is NOT available on CD, because its about the music and really I can live without the cover-art, especially when I don’t even own a turntable right now.

 This week has been a total voyage of discovery though – who knew that obscure Chris Knox LPs are worth more than 150+ year old funereal ceramics? And Knox himself did some pretty cool cover art – see “Song for Cleaning Guppies” and did he do the Tall Dwarfs EP with “Nothings going to happen” on it?

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Gothic NZ

My dear friend Helen came around today to help me separate emotion from inanimate objects. It was very ‘cleansing’ and we managed to get rid of heaps of stuff*. However at one point, looking out my front window onto the 1970s beige neighbourhood, she said something like “you really are deep in suburbia here…”

I have just re-read Janet Frames “The Carpathians” and have decided it captures suburban gothic very well. This is also funny because of Helen’s recent birthday trip to Levin where the book is unmistakeably set. Frame’s snapshot of Kowhai Street is so real that the unusual events don’t seem so unusual, and knowing Levin well myself, quite believable.

So it was serendipitous that the book Gothic NZ arrived from the library today. A great essay by Mischa Kavka “Out of the Kitchen Sink”  completely encapsulated the feeling of darkness hidden behind closed doors. The book as a whole is pretty good but certain parts really capture the curious suburban gothic that I keep running into and also how gothic tendrils extend out into the countryside. There were also various examples of NZ art with a similar tone including Yvonne Todd’s photos, working “a fine tension between the conventional and the creepy“. Maybe I am reading it wrong, but I’d put a great deal of Ronnie van Hout’s work in this category as well.

Of course our film-makers do a good line in gothic too. A funny moment this morning was when going through my old my tramping gear, Helen and I both exclaimed “Vigil!” as I pulled out a large green woolen balaclava.

Still from Vincent Ward’s film “Vigil

*However it has left me very tired and probably not making a lot of sense

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More from the randomiser

I have very little to say about art right now. However when clearing out old baby clothes I found 2 items that resembled Hirst dot paintings. You’d think clothing would lend its self more to random polka dots rather than rows al la Hirst – but there you go. I would have taken a photo but they are so faded that only the pink dots really stand out now.

Banksy takes on Hirst

I am feeling a bit over-whelmed at all the stuff I need to get rid of and I made the observation to a friend that I seem to imbue inanimate objects with emotional qualities. He wryly suggested that, that is what art is about. Ok – I concede that point, but you have draw the line somewhere at what particular objects you become emotionally attached to.

How can you resist a book that begins with this quote from Katherine Mansfield? “Dear Princess Bibesco, I am afraid you must stop writing these little love letters to my husband while he and I live together. It is one of the things that is not done in our world“. Having once had cause to make a similar comment about text messages, I think I know where she was coming from on that one. The book is of course “Uncommon Arrangements” and very good reading.

Finally I’ve been discussing via the comments the issue of blogger psuedonyms with John Hurrell. Having this kind of debate via comments is always tricky and I never seem to be able to convey my meaning very well. I am just hoping some more bloggers become involved. Good to see the comments from others already there.

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