Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

The Blog Life

I was so busy for a while focussing on a project that when I finished it felt like my brain had turned to mush and I really didn’t have much to share to here. Then today I read this wonderful post by one of the Helens and it was very familiar territory for me.

What I have been doing though, has culminated in a catalogue essay for a Jeffrey Harris exhibition which opens this Friday.

 Jeffrey Harris Untitled #5, 1980-1981

The artist has described these scenes as actors in a series of dramas, their players are often trapped, often provided release. It has been noted that Harris, in these works, has the power “to communicate through a literal meaning, the opaqueness of the non-literal. The three paintings on exhibition at the Brett McDowell gallery are from a series of seven completed in 1981, two have never been exhibited before.”

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The experiment

Well, I almost blogged every day for the month of May. It turned out to be all about quantity not quality of course. Maybe I should stick to a more realistic regime like Giovanni.

One observation has been that social media like Twitter and Facebook detract from my blogging and when I am doing frequent blogging any of my more serious writing suffers. So I’m thinking about doing something a little different with this blog in future. Wait and see….

I will do a separate post about the Sèraphine Pick show that opened here last night at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, but I do want to note that indeed there were women wearing Doc Martens and, although just a bit of fun, the horse was the escape route.

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Rules of Engagement

This last week I have been thinking a lot about engagement of public institutions with their audience. This partially stems from some research that I’ve been doing, where I have looked at the relationship between a curator and the perceived viewer of an exhibition – specifically the distance between the two.

I have had cause to talk to a variety of curators of late and their views on my research topic and curatorship in general covered a broad spectrum. It also became very apparent that their engagement with an audience varied hugely as well. This led me to the bigger idea of how institutions regard their audience. For a start do they really know their demographic? Are they interested in widening it? Publically funded institutions are generally measured by numbers of real people coming through the doors and only just now in some places is the virtual visitor becoming important.

Museum2.0is a wonderful blog by Nina Simon on the topic of interactive institutions. She writes “I believe that every museum can grow its audience as long as it is willing to grow with that audience by taking risks, trying new things, and communicating openly.

I see evidence of this with several New Zealand art institutions successfully blogging and twittering including Te Papa, and the  Auckland and Christchurch Art Galleries. I guess I am most impressed with CAG, but that might be because I won a competition :-). A summary of what they are doing with their Brought To Light blog can be found here. I agree , its a smart move. Engagement on many fronts seems to be the key though.

There are also some wonderful initiatives about such as Digital NZ, and NZMuseums who are encouraging digitisation of collections. The National Digital Forum Conferencein November is doing more to spread the digital word and even has a subsidies available for small community organisations who would otherwise not be able to attend. Digitisation goes part way to help with the issue of collections of works and artifacts that don’t ‘get out much’, so I think its important. It also transcends geographical barriers.

New Zealand is a small country and it seems to me that there could be more happening in the form of collaboration between public art institutions. In many ways we have a distributed national collection through all the public galleries rather than the ‘official’ one centred in Wellington. The recent Rita Angus exhibition is an example of how this could work and also showed up a few pitfalls. Although Rita was free to other galleries, the (rising) fees normally charged between galleries sometimes prevent works from getting about and also smaller galleries can have trouble meeting stringent requirements that are often required. Obviously works need to be protected but a more liberal, generous attitude could have us – the audience – seeing more of our visual art treasures. Digitisation is all very well (ok more than that) but seeing art ‘in person’ can’t be beat.

Personally I’d like to see more of this getting around so people can see it rather than it being sold off to private hands.

Queensbury Rules – perhaps not the best set for the art world

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Time and attention

About time I put some attention into this blog. I have been frantic with assignment deadlines and forced writing which is no fun at all. Anyway I’ve got a week’s break (or so) to relax a little.

Some fun things have been happening in the mix. For example I was watching bad American TV on Tuesday night (only redeemed by Hugh Laurie) when I got a text from an unknown number saying “Can u get Maori TV? There’s a Frida Kahlo doco on atm.” I immediately changed channels to watch “Between Ecstasy and Pain” which was excellent. I did find out who sent the message, but for a while I liked to imagine the universe sending out random text messages (makings of a short story there maybe).

The Wounded Deer 
(1946) Frida Khalo

Which reminds me, I noted during my weeks research that there is a tendency to refer to female artists by first name “Frida”, “Rita” but not so much male artists. Go figure.

I have also been annoying on twitter by perhaps over-frequent tweets. When you are a shut in and can go a whole day with an adult conversation, the temptation to blurt in the 140 character format can be too much. On the plus side people sometimes reply!!! I noticed the frequency on my tweets increased with the desperation with my writing. In the end I did get an essay finished that a friend suggested might be ‘Miss Jean Brodie meets Russell Crowe’, which is ok I guess (although Rita and Colin might not think so). Oddly, in other forums I simply ran out of words.

An interesting thing I’ve found on Twitter is following galleries, museums and libraries. For example, a little gem from the Christchurch Art Gallery this week was a Doris Lusk I hadn’t seen before. Things like this brighten the day no end.

When I’ve been tearing my hair out at home, battling deadlines, illness and domestica, the ‘net in its many forms has also been an amazing source of support, generosity and kindness – thanks guys!!!!

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Its been an overwhelming week domestically here and try as I might notice things, there wasn’t much art in my life. The closest I got to ‘high culture’  was overhearing some high school students practising Shakespeare in the library on Wednesday night.

I have been heavily involved in my study, avoiding housework, musing about fashion and my lack sense in that regard and adding to my 1960s pyrex collection. I tried to extrapolate some art from that but even for me its stretching it, although maybe this could slip in, as a similar one with 4(!) Fridas has just been made for me.

Made by beautifulnz from Trademe

I have also been playing with Twitter and been more active on Facebook. To be honest its part of the procrastination but my thoughts on these are:

Twitter: I am trying to keep my tweets art based and not talk about daily innanities. Best thing – following Stephen Fry.
Facebook: This IS where some of the details of my daily boring life gets noted. If you have friended me there expecting artspeak – its not so likely. You will probably hear about my cold and my ‘new’ ironing board. Best thing – keeping up with distant friends.

The whole social networking/twitter/blogging thing reminds me of the song “Beautiful Cosmos” by Kathryn Williams (which I couldn’t find on Youtube – but listen to a snippet here)

“You are the centre of your little world and I am of mine.
Now and again we meet for tea, we’re two of a kind.
This is our universe, cups of tea.
We have a beautiful cosmos, you and me.
We have a beautiful cosmos.”

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Well I finally got to a an event that I’d planned to. The drive from Mosgiel to Gore (yes I know, I know..) was fun. It was an incredibly worthwhile evening at the Eastern Southland Gallery, seeing work by Peter Peryer and Helen Badcock and meeting some e-friends in person.


I’ve been tardy writing about it today because the evening provided blog material that could last a week and just how to phrase it all? There were small points that I was taken with, the building of course is gorgeous and it was nice to have a small crowd in a small venue where the director hands around the refreshments (would you see that happening at the City Gallery?)

Let me start with Helen Badcock’s “Works on Paper”. These were a selection of wonderfully intimate life studies, ‘ first solo showing. Although Helen said she normally preferred the female form, it was her charcoal on paper drawings of Daniel that drew me in. Maybe it was the beard – very ‘late Baxter’ or as I’d been listening to Scroobius Pip on the drive to Gore and “…Pip has got a great beard. It’s the kind of beard that mice peep out of in Quentin Blake illustrations, that Edward Lear nests larks in. ” I digress – it was great work and I look forward to seeing more lithographs when she resumes working in that medium.

The evening was also the closing of Peter Peryer’s “Studio Show” with works from his time in based in southern New Zealand in 2007  and 2008. ‘The gallery space in this instance has become his temporary studio, and the photographer has utilised the walls to randomly pin up ‘digital proofs’ or images for further consideration’ .  Although I’d seen many of the photos before on his blog, as usual it was great to see them in person and on the wall. I was very pleased to see a personal favourite of mine, the whitebait, on the wall too.

One thing that struck me is how different Peryer’s newer photos are from his older work. These pictures are mostly fun, quirky and light, vastly different from the dark, intense pictures you can see here. Obviously artists and their art change over time and actually I would presume that maintaining that kind of initial intensity would be…tiring?

It was a pleasure meeting Peryer and chatting about his art and time in Central Otago particularly (having lived there myself for some time). Also great to meet fellow blogger the Paradoxical Cat (a generous and ‘knowing’ guide to the Money Collection).

And the theme for the drive home – the great Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – what a wonderful world indeed.

* One of the Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac songs I been listening to heavily “This is the beat that my heart skipped when we first met” absolutely wonderful lyrics from start to finish here, or the video here. Read into this what you will, but it’s all good when art makes your heart skip.

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I was thinking may be I could turn over a new leaf in 2009 and not blog anonymously. There was some debate on this subject in the art blogging world in 2008 – nicely summed up here today. To be honest though and as I said to Mr Hurrell, I am just too lazy to change all my accounts and anyone that wants to can email me and get a reply from my ‘real’ name. I am a nobody anyway.

I have been writing a few pieces not art related and am thinking of submitting for publication and while trying to write a little bio I got to wondering about pseudonyms and characters.  If a author of fiction was playing with characters , maybe writing a completely fictitious blog in that character’s voice would be an interesting way to ‘explore’ them. What would that mean though? Would it be a deception? Because to have/give full effect, you wouldn’t want to declare the intention. If you consider the ‘net “publication” could it be an Ern Malley type situation? I wonder if any of the blogs I read are “made up”?

Portrait of Ern Malley by Sidney Nolan

Also there are many instances of writers with pseudonyms, but not so many artists – I wonder why?

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