Some people have a knack of pulling objects together to create interesting scenes that surprise but also possess a degree of coherence. I love Bella Cooke’s home for this reason. It’s vibrant, crazy fun and restful at the same time. I am not sure how she achieves it except to say she has a great feel for textiles (she has quals in this area), plenty of natural weather-worn furniture, the colour white, fresh cut flowers, and a love of vernacular expression. Magazines often describe it as Industrial but that brings to mind over-sized objects and distressed surfaces. That’s not quite it. Bella loves the local, commercial and small time operators of this world (and celebrates place through her own line of posters). She collects objects d art on the road and fosters the same spirit in her community through a market she runs once a month Seaford Handmade and Homemade Market . Over lunch yesterday with her usual modesty she described herself as a Penninsula bogan. I don't think so.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I was visiting sweet polka Marion last week and noticed an embroidery (Don't Stop Cheering) on her wall. It was that good, I felt like cheering.
Then, mooching around in the digital world, I found these lovely textile hangings, recently displayed in Sydney as part of an exhibition titled Maps. Seems they are by the same talented hand, or hands, of Marico and Maricar Manalo.
I like the flag-like nature of these hangings, the eighties vibe, that's a little bit nautical and a little bit vertigo. If I didn't know how to sew I would be tempted to drop five hunjies on one of these. And even though I rarely sew (sewing machine chord, where are you?) that rarely used skill makes me cautious.
I can't make cosmetics as yet, which is why was not cautious when I visited Mecca this week. But that's another story...
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Disorder Disorder, Installation View, Penrith Regional Gallery, Sydney (2010)
This year I turn forty. You might be wondering where I am at with my mid-life crisis. Right on track, so it seems. A small Cockney accented man has taken residence in my head. He asks me one question “What’s it all for then, eh?” Sharing the space is the world’s most boring forensic accountant who is doing an inventory of my achievements and financial affairs. I am getting a D.
What happened with the expansivness of thinking that characeterised the last decade of my life? Gone. I pen imaginary Letters to My Teenage Self. In them I discourage myself from Following My Dreams.
I am as bored as you are by my status anxiety. Where’s my sense of gratitude right? The thing is I feel it and even express it everyday. It only works half the time. The other half of the time I am wondering whether I should take up pottery. The many faces of Brendan Hunltley speak to me.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
In these days of severe and extreme weather events we are not doing much other than throwing major tantrums and panicking over persistent high temperatures day and night. I try and contain my hysteria two ways; eating a truck load of icy poles and then turning the leftover sticks into artwork. It's somewhere between self soothing and a sheltered workshop activity.
Monday, January 13, 2014
We rolled back into town yesterday afternoon after a week on the New South Wales coast. What is there to say about holidays, other than they are delicious. Even travelling single-mum style 1500 km was no bother – actually that is a slight exaggeration – I'm getting a few flashbacks as I type. The secret to my success? Spend a small fortune on bad snacks and stock up on kids magazines. In many respects it was like an old fashioned meet, with family members travelling to the seaside town of Tathra from interstate and overseas. We rented two places, a flash house overlooking the Ocean and a unit in the flatlands to accommodate the large numbers. Between breakfast cook-ups and sit down dinners we played cards, checkers, passed around Fifty Shades of Grey and splashed around in the pool nursing cold drinks of the G&T variety. Possibly because we arrived here as refugees, my parents always emphasized the importance of family. But we were also raised in an atmosphere of crisis. If we had a story it was this: we could come together in times of crisis. Given this template it was a wholly new experience to, you know, gather and have a regular good time. I loved every minute of it except the ten minute breakdown on the last night when I lost patience with the monkeys and locked myself in the bathroom yelling through tears Go To Sleep. (Sleep was hard to come by in the flash house; the owners were too cool for curtains).
It's hard to know sometimes whether literature shapes the world or the other way around. Every now and again I had a sense of de-ja-vu like I was in a play, a Hannie Rayson or Joanna Murray Smith play and I was on the MTC stage. I mean, there was copious alcohol, a family meeting where words like power of attorney were uttered and on the last day a car accident involving a kangaroo. Real aussie drama.
Illustration: Two-headed monster by Otto.
Friday, January 3, 2014
Is it 2014 already? I am typing this with a living room in chaos as the monkeys pack for holidays. We are going on a road trip (regular readers will understand, this is a cause for concern). But I am being optimistic. There's no time to write at length so I'm doing this telegram style. Plans for the next week?Relax. Stop. Read. Stop. Gin and tonic. Stop. Actually that starts now.
Have a great year!
Friday, December 20, 2013
Mr Tambourine Man
colour screenprint on foil mounted on cardboard
Gift of Dick Richards 1999
Art Gallery of South Australia
Martin Sharp was a unique figure in Australian art. A pop artist, provocateur and connoisseur of popular and folk culture, he carved out a significant Australian and international career outside the gallery system. He was born in Sydney in 1942 and studied at the National Art School (Sydney). In 1963, with students Richard Neville and Richard Walsh, he established OZ magazine, which quickly challenged the conservative establishment and led to court cases over charges of obscenity. Sharp moved to London in 1966, where he continued to work on OZ magazine as art director and a designer, and on art exhibitions. While in London he created some of his most memorable images, designing record covers and posters for Eric Clapton (with whom he shared a studio) and other musicians. His distinctive aesthetic of collaged elements from art history, nineteenth-century engravings and popular imagery conveyed the hallucinogenic effects of marijuana.
Sharp returned to Australia in 1970 and opened the Yellow House in Sydney’s King’s Cross, which was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s dream of a communal house for artists. Sharp worked with artists to decorate the house, which was open to the public twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and hosted concerts and happenings. Sharp was invited to repaint Luna Park’s famous façade in Sydney in 1973, becoming a vocal activist for its preservation. In his later years he worked as a theatre and set designer for Nimrod Theatre, Sydney, and continued to work on a film about musician Tiny Tim, which had preoccupied him for many years.
Throughout his career Sharp celebrated the potency of juxtaposing popular culture with ‘high’ art. He was an avid collector of comics, American and Australian cartoon characters, and fairground objects, which he bought together in unexpected combinations in his art and in his home, which he called his ‘Dreamuseum’. His idiosyncratic art was prescient of many developments now at the centre of contemporary practice: the elevation of ‘low’ art forms, folk and popular culture.
– Maria Zagala