All posts by Adrienne Williams

When doves cry

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“Where did that dove come from?”

That was one of my fellow thought-terrainer’s first questions as the lights came up in the Moncrieff cinema last night in Bundaberg, and the impacts of one of the final scenes in Bladerunner sat freshly planted in our non-replicant memory.

Not so much Purple Rain as acid rain washed over almost every scene of this cracker 1982 sci-fi classic, and as per WD’s blog today, yep, it was I who saw it in ’82—under the guise of study—in our Science Fiction in Literature and Film subject in first year at art college. Woot? I did not make that up! Who wouldn’t choose that subject? Quite honestly the best 6 months of the 3 years there.

Which is why I so keenly wanted to see this film last night, and 5 minutes in I was so, so thrilled to be sitting there. It was going to be a flashback, a trip down memory lane, a reliving of part of a misspent youth. Conceptually it was all of those things but in reality it’s like I’d been beamed up to one of the off-world colonies and had my memory completely erased, and I was almost seeing the film for the first time.

And hey, that still works, because every scene is so beautifully designed and shot in all it’s smoky, grey, rainy, grainy, strobe-lit darkness, that left WD and I so hilariously animated in the seats when the house lights shone bright, that a friend approaching us thought we were signing to each other!

And half way through it was so clear as to why it had blown me away as an 18 year old. (Irrelevant fact: Prince was 24). Then add to that some gorgeous operatic twists on the terrifying high fashion of that year that had us increasing our shoulder pad proportions with popcorn and cigarette butts before we’d even left the cinema. We were dagging around in torn and knotted op-shop clothes in a confused mash of Bowie’s Thin White Duke and Madonna the million dollar vagabond. But hey, we were still aspirational!

rachels shoulder pads
Rachel does shoulder pads, cue the replicant owl background, right.
darrel hannah
Daryl Hannah does dollies and dark eyes.
rachel in coat
Rachel does assymetrics

And like Wendy, I was so transfixed by the images and colours on screen, by the warm greys and blacks pushed up against beautiful blue backgrounds. Our largest screen at home is a 23″ monitor but mostly we watch on line on a 17″ laptop, and it had been tooooo long since I’d sat in the dark of the cinema with a big screen filling my vision.

Maybe it makes sense to keep watching at home on a small screen. It makes the wonder of the big screen so very fun!

I had to consult Wiki to confirm which version of the film I’d seen, as such the International Cut, as opposed to the Directors Cut (1992) we saw last night – which by all reports is substantially better and truer to Ridly Scott’s intentions.

Let’s just pretend I knew that, yar, yar, of course, but it makes me want to see that first released ’82 version again. To be honest, I’d watch any version again at this point.

One of two comic moments came via Harrison Ford’s shirt design which you never really saw well until he was back in his grim apartment disrobing to wash. Everything else had been grey, brown, black, dark, wet, and this Mondrian-meets-The Models shirt was way too jaunty to resist a chortle, and I heard WD chortle up the row too.

HF in shirt
HF as Deckard, 5 years after Star Wars. More olives and greys against blue, teamed with swarthy.

And the second comic moment was the terrifically cliched appearance of the dove of peace, and it’s corny, slow-mo, film-clip style exit shortly after. But it was outweighed by the scene design and delivery as we watched the final replicant die… or did we. Oh how I’d even forgotten the ‘Deckard is also replicant’ debate explained here for Bladerunner nerds.

Oooooh what will they tell us in Bladerunner 2049, coming to the Moncrieff, not soon enough!

No spoilers please 😀

And it has literally taken me 24 hours to remember the other movie we studied which cemented a love of classic sci-fi: Metropolis by Fritz Lang in 1927. Did I study the script? It seems a Giorgio Moroder restoration came out in 1984. Maybe I am a replicant, making up new memories, but it could be time to pester our local cinema for a Sci Fi classics series?

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Epic fail. Wild success. And then this happened…

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Meme-speak meets click-bait: cue picture of naked birds.

The Epic Fail: I failed at blogging this year. It’s been six months since I last blogged, and another 3 months to the previous. And I’ve quite missed doing it. The pause is a perfectly illustrated example of one of my blogging themes (oh do tell. snore). That is, talking about making art, and how to do that around the stuff of life. Stuff such as making a living (mostly separate to making art), keeping the tumbleweeds of dog hair from forming armies with the spider webs and completely consuming humans and house. Staying well. Keeping a sense of humour.

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So nine months ago I went into the usual pre-exhibition hibernation cave. Friends and family a little neglected, spiders so very happy. But I turned up to ‘work work’ in a state mostly fit for the public, carried out duties, and turned down the dial on over-commitment. And I was so grateful for the ‘work work’ as this was the first exhibition I’d proposed where nothing was for sale. And it had been six exhibitions since I had simultaneously ‘work worked’ alongside preparing for a show.

So, yes, less important things lay broken, pushed to the side, occasional carrots limped their way around their own juices in the bottom of the fridge, and every single day for 9 months I was at least 3 weeks behind on my self-written, pretty generous, exhibition schedule. There was a tension around that, but I don’t think it was stressful. And every month I’d reassess, and change the exhibition content wish-list to suit the dwindling time. Let stuff go.

And I made it. To install. Without a meltdown and yelling at the studio walls. And it looks different to what I imagined, more realism crept in, but instead of yelling at that too, I just let it.

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Now it’s time to ‘fess up – I did have a secret weapon. His name was Andy Wilson, an old friend, a musician, sound designer and composer.

I knew that the soundscape Andy was making was going to be superb. Heck, I possibly could have stuck an inkjet photo of a penguin on the wall and it would still be amazing. I visited him in Sydney months earlier, and we sat and talked about what it could be, what I had experienced on the beaches of Macquarie Island.

He played one long note on a keyboard in his studio, and it’s all I needed to hear. And it’s all I did hear, until close to installation. And I loved that process. He’s an artist, let him do his thang. And we’d never worked together before. But I just knew it would be superb and sublime.

057 Me and Andy at Install 2007

Andy flew up for installation—of player, amplifier, 6 speakers—and ‘boom’ I flew instantly back to those beaches in the middle of the Southern Ocean with his mix of penguin sounds and haunting tones, watery trickles and stormy surges. It IS a wild success when the only tears I leak on exhibition prep are when you’re overwhelmed with something so beautiful… made by someone else (though Nearest may well have been weeping each time he reached into the vegetable crisper across this year).

It is surround-sound in a tiny space, and without it the show is just drawings on a wall. With it, it is transporting. The kicker is, it’s not just me riding the teleporter. ‘Work work’ is also the gallery where the show hangs, and almost daily I get to see people hanging out in the space, laying on the bean bags with tail flippers, sitting on the gallery bench, spending time. It’s a really accessible show, it’s easy.

What I know now, that I didn’t now before, is that even small woodcuts take many hours to carve but it is one of the few things I can do at night under lights. I know that I can no longer get recycled bean bag fill, and that filling a bean bag on your own is a slapstick affair worthy of an animated feature film.

I know that working on the 2.7m long pieces of arches paper was the most art fun I’d had in a long time. I would dance around the big flat sheets for a few hours—tidying studio, sketching elsewhere—and then put down a double act of carefully placed water and wildly dropped ink. Then wait for it to dry – sometimes hours or overnight if there were large pools.

And I know that not being the solo act in an exhibition is a really valuable experience. You can be immeasurably raised up by the work of others.

I’m excited by it.

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Megaherbalicious Woodblock print and ink wash on Arches paper book, 38cm x 110cm 

(All exhibition photos by David Graham. Thanks Dave 😀 )

Birdbrained

Time flies. It is a three full months since my last blog. And I have much to say about birds —in particular finches and penguins—so this could take a while. And I posit that you won’t really learn anything about either bird by the end.

In 1995, while living in Darwin with Nearest, I met the most wonderful young scientist. He was studying the decreasing population of the Gouldian Finch – one of the most colourful, teeny tiny squeezable (but not too hard because it’s a finch) birds in Australia. As a commercial illustrator I was not amazing, okay, no need to guild that lily – no counter comments of support required. I had friends in the business who were, and still are, amazing at it. So I don’t put this up as finery, but really as example of how past lives always inform the present in our work. And how surprising and fun it can be, to be asked to dip back into a past life, and the birds themselves made this illustration the sweetest of things.

049_Finches 1Let’s call him Peter, as that’s his name: Peter commissioned me to paint some Gouldian Finches for a poster asking the public to report sightings. This is pre-photoshop. (I know kids, what even is that?) And some of the finches had to be vanishing. Cue the hand made ‘opacity slider’.

So with poster produced, birds and scientist and illustrator continue doing what they do. Twenty years later the poster artwork boards a plane and wings its way to me for some alterations. Peter and Robin (that’s a human, not a bird) have had the work framed and on the wall. We’d always talked about a minor addition to the area that had been left vacant for the poster text. And it was time. As time had flown. *continues with tragic bird wirds*

050_Finches 2I quickly realised I was even less of an illustrator now, but it was lovely to ‘revisit’ the dry season grass plains of northern Australia. And, fortunately, I could add in some soft washy grass that wouldn’t compete with the little birds as I don’t think I’m actually capable of realism any more! Hah! Here’s a musical interlude: Elbow ‘Starlings’

A week later I stood in an installation at QAGOMA, shallow breathing while Gouldian Finches fluttered around my head and whizzed past en route to coat hanger perches and stuffed stocking hidey-holes.

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I was initially conflicted by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s musical installation of live finches, From here to ear (v.13) 2010. These lovely alive little creatures flitting about inside a gallery space for 3 months? But I overheard a member of the Queensland Finch Society speaking so lovingly about the birds to a visitor that I ‘calmed the flock down’ (thanks Karen) and rested into the soundscape and the experience. And it was magical. AND the birds had begun breeding in the installation and laying eggs! GET OUT! (which is what the invigilator said nicely to me as it became obvious I was never going to leave that gallery)

Here Céleste Boursier-Mougenot talks about the sound. And just re-watching that video reminds me of why I love to write on a blog. The writing itself now feels part of the art making. And so today, when I didn’t really have time to write *so insanely slow at it* I realised it might be what I needed to shift me back to my own upcoming installation work and to be able to talk with the sound composer about what it is I’m doing.

Just as soon as I know what I’m doing.

When you’re not an installation artist, to say you’re working on an installation sounds preposterous. A celebration of drawing, and a sharing of an experience is my intention. The drawings will be installed along with a soundscape. QAGOMA printed material quotes Celeste that the piece was created ‘for listening and experiencing’ and that his aim is to ‘amplify our feeling of the present moment’.

54_me on MacQ 2013It’s really rare to see wildlife en masse in a wilderness environment. It’s rare for them to exist that way on our planet now, and subsequently rare to see it. It’s an absurd goal to attempt to convey this experience: 40,000 penguins on a beach, 20,000 in a rookery, hundreds coming in and out of the sea all day long. I sat on that Macquarie Island beach while one waddled up and sniffed my rain jacket. It. Was. Unforgettable.

So, colour is back in the cupboard for now, and I’m drawing. For me too, this is the resumption of blogging as it is plaited together with thinking about the working day now.  And I’ll record some penguin progress here as ‘Calling Home’ moves towards installation in late August in The Vault at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery.

053_Penguin charcoal

 

Withandwithoutspace

I had the opportunity to see my old studio after Christmas. When I say studio, I mean the partially open garage under our old house. I worked part time there for 9 years, winter and summer. I stumbled through 6 solo shows, made some gems, made some rubbish, hosted friends there with their easels, blasted the neighbours and their pets with everything from Bjork to the Bee Gees, and made some more rubbish.

I would trundle down the back stairs with car keys, reverse the bubble car out onto the street, and shazam I had a studio! Anyone who works in a tight space totally understands the need for room to move. Sure, sure, I would occasionally shuffle backwards into another car, or over a saw horse (who left that there?), and even the agitation of the washing machine did not (sigh) agitate me. I had space.

I had space. And concrete. And ventilation.

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Version 2016
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Version 2007

There are many things I’m laughing about in this Version 2007 photo. Let’s start with the choice of safety boots whilst using a compressor powered staple gun. In other photos in this collection Nearest is assisting – in steel caps and safety glasses!

045_2007-starting-comm-at-42And there’s my beautiful easel and the home made, heavy as all get out, stretcher frames: working any way we could to make things a little cheaper. Behind the stretched canvas is a little cupboard which actually held auto parts to accompany the line of oil and grease containers under the bench. For days I worked alongside a friends car as it lay disembowelled, engine suspended by block and tackle, awaiting closing surgery. It was a productive place.

So you’re currently on—hopefully still on—my little nostalgia trip. Places we live and work have such a huge impact on our happiness, our processing, our peace, our chaos. I left this studio in mourning. For my mother. I had spent the final 10 months hanging in there, committed to an exhibition, using an energy to paint that was flagged. And it bore some soggy fruit, that’s for sure. The 2009 GFC had just kicked in and nothing sold. I shipped the pieces out to friends walls, packed up and headed to the next life.

The next three years or so was spent working in a space half the size. It was pretty dysfunctional and unproductive. Or, rather, I was IN it. And the downsizing did seem to have a tightening effect on the work, and I often used the lack of space as a tired excuse to not work. When not castigating self on that period, I also reflect that the Spotted Gum series came from that tiny space and planted me firmly into my new surrounds.

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Study for Frogs, 2003, Oil on Canvas (diptych), 25cm x 30cm x 2

After visiting the old studio I stayed at a friends house the night to help break up the road trip home. And walked smack bang into a little study painting from 2003 on her wall from my first solo exhibition. With room to grow, this 60cm study led to a 2m wide piece. The opportunity to paint so large back then was an exciting experience.

In late 2012 we built a studio. It’s a rare thing to custom order your own space. I suspect it may only happen once in a lifetime.  If I got the chance to do it again, I really wouldn’t change anything about it. It has the 3 main ingredients: space, concrete and ventilation. And the luxury of a giant storage cupboard and painting racks and an extraordinary view.

This new studio totally transformed my life. I step into it and don’t want to step out – so much so I forgot to go sketching out bush for a couple of years! Now when I’m away from it I pine for it, and I thank it every single time I step into it. It’s solidified my art practice in terms of routine and process. And if I ever have to leave it there will be tears, but it’s just a big room in the end, and I would take with me some valuable experiences.

I learned a lot about myself in that garage in Brisbane. And I gave myself permission to let the studio space have priority over the living space (with gentle consideration to partner and his living space). I think we can box our practice into a make-do area when we should actually let it leak out into our life… because it is our life. The more room there is, the more you can do, the more you can make, the more people you can invite to share the space, and so your art life, thoughts and practice are more activated. And buzzing.
Buzzing is good.

Footnote: cool concrete is essential for your studio assistants.

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Cloud 999

This is quite a bit higher than Cloud 9 and I spent some time up there a few weeks back when I had the chance to re-meet an artist whose work is so extraordinary to me it quite often makes me hold my breath, or hum out loud in a weird dreamy way.

So, for his privacy, I have no photos and I won’t share his name here and I preposterously suggest you cue an image of your own hero/superstar/genius/icon (yes these words are ridiculous, and he would think them so, but how else to emphasise the specialness of it all?). Cue some tea too, this blog goes on and on!

Over the last 10 years there are two letters I wanted to write and didn’t. They were ‘thank you’ letters. One was to Paul Keating (it’s not too late) the other was to Dr Andrew Jenkins (it’s too late) though I did thank the latter many times in person. Perhaps I’m reaching the perfect age for crashing into my own nostalgia. This year of losing music icons has flooded our heads and screens with memory via musical connections that resonated way back when.

042_us-iconAbout 18 months ago I was preparing to go to the US to work in the desert for a few months, meet new people, meet artists I already knew. I was so excited and energised about ‘tomorrow’ and drawing deep on nostalgia. I thought about the artist I’d met 15 years prior whose words, vision, work, tutelage, and humour—unknowingly to both of us at the time—helped set my direction.

And I’d always wanted to thank him.
“Simple” said a friend in the States,
“Make contact”. So I did.

Okay, I may have pondered it for a year.

And the artist accepted what must have been the oddest call, from someone he would not be able to remember, about something 999,000+ experiences ago, who was then asking something of him (gulps, hoping it was with grace). Which was to meet.

Through 2017 I’ll be working on a drawing/installation/soundscape project about the penguin colonies of Macquarie Island. This too has involved making calls wildly outside of my comfort zone. Subantarctic biologists, super-skilled sound designer and composer. Penguin sound clips arrive in my inbox, and conversations begin. A superbrained friend (he warrants made up words) refers to ‘icon species‘ when we start yarning about wildlife science in his shady backyard. I query the label. “Big fuzzy eyes” he says. So it’s that simple.

I’ve always been focussed on the landscapes that resonate with me (me, me me), and I’ve been hiking and camping in most Australian habitats and watched friends adore rainforest where I couldn’t wait to ‘get out’ and other friends look mildly daunted after days in the desert while I twirled around like I was in a red earth version of The Sound of Music. The diversity of connecting experiences, of small or large obsessions, the repetitive exploring of whatever it is we’re mad for, whatever it is that’s our own ‘icon species’: this is what makes being an artist so normal. And to look into what resonates for someone else is such a great way to see my own connection more clearly, and it’s what excites me about evoking responses to the big fuzzy eyed penguins via my drawing and someone else’s soundscape.

And so after a few exchanges including sending the artist some samples of my work (yes, I may have spent 999 hours choosing just the right ones) we arranged a catch up. I attempt to make that sound casual, just an everyday thing, but there was a happy-dance going on.

It was a glorious day, the journey to the studio, cups of tea shared, viewing his extraordinary works in progress for an exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia (yes, he is an icon species, and no this was not an everyday thing). Then we sat and talked about my penguin show, and he questioned my approach, and I questioned his questioning. And it felt like two artists talking about stuff, when really he was giving knowledge and I was taking. Even though I’d manufactured the visit, it was still a real and relaxed time of soaking up a great artists company and his working space.

It was so meaningful and I feel so grateful.
You’ll be glad to know I did not twirl around or hum out loud.


Image above:
Cue the Icon, Monument Valley Arizona USA 2015

‘There’s lichen everywhere today’ 2003
Watercolour, graphite, charcoal on Arches paper

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Cross Roads

by Jenny Gilbertson, our guest blogger.

It was dark. Not too late, but well into the night. Driving home along a country road, thoughts wandering, alert for kangaroos crossing, or lurking in the verges. It’s not uncommon to come across roadkill; far too common in fact. Stopping to remove a dead animal from the road is a regular occurrence if you live in the country, or at least, it is for me.

For as long as I can remember, well, ever since I first got my drivers licence, I’ve almost always stopped; even when that means turning around further along the road and going back. Especially for macropods.

Barn Owl profile
Barn Owl  |  Photograph used with permission, copyright Kim Wormald  |  lirralirra.com

First up, check if it is a female and check the pouch for surviving young. Same holds true for echidnas. Well, really, first up is to try to help the animal, if it is still alive. They rarely are. Most often just a partially mangled heap. And some hit with such force, smashed up so badly, their bodies, or parts of them, are spread right across the road. But I digress. Picking up the pieces of another death and gently placing them away from the road – out of the way of further destruction by oblivious drivers and enabling scavengers a safer meal – is, as I said, an all too regular occurrence.

For the past few years I have contributed to an international community arts project Not With Us Anymore, initiated by Monika Thomas and Tea Makipaa, documenting, ‘witnessing’ they would say, the devastating numbers of road deaths that go unrecorded. The literally millions of animals and birds who lose their lives on our roads each year. Perhaps each week. So, for a few years now, I have stopped to remove the animal, but also to photograph it. If there are no other vehicles and the road has good visibility, I take a shot exactly where it lies. If the spot is too dangerous, I take it off the road first and photograph it there. Sometimes while driving I ponder the roadside crosses, erected by family or friends for lost loved ones, and envisage a forest of crosses for all who lose their lives on the roads. Because it really would be a forest. So many deaths. Mammals, birds and reptiles, but mostly kangaroos. It’s always a sad job, but one I do regardless – surely someone has to do it?

Anyway, this night, last night, was much the same. But a little different. I spotted the small crumpled heap as I approached and slowed down, turning around a few hundred metres up the road. Pulling up with the headlights shining on the little body I muttered to myself, oh, it’s a bird. Yes, a bird. A beautiful speckled barn owl, still warm, but beyond help. I gently cradled it in my hands, unsure of what to do. I should photograph it. But I couldn’t. I just wandered back and forth in indecision, cradling this small bundle of oh-so-soft feathers.

Eventually I decided I would not take a photograph. It just felt too inappropriate. Enough trauma had already been suffered, with the shock of impact, a badly broken leg, my headlights shining into those (now dead) eyes, adapted for darkness … a ‘snapshot’ seemed like a final indignity. So there was no record of this death. Laid gently into a hollow beside the road.

But I wept. I wondered, for the umpteenth time, why people can’t even be bothered to stop and take these creatures off the road, let alone see if they can help the individual they have hit. They don’t of course. That job is left to others. So I continued my journey home, completed my evening and headed off to bed. With that owl firmly lodged in my thoughts. All night. No record. No photograph to bear witness to its’ passing. Nothing. Until now.

With thanks again to Kim Wormald from lirralirra.com for use of her beautiful image.
Guest blogging is new, and random, like our own blogs.

 

Nature vs inertia

I’m at an art hideaway – housesitting, pet minding, chicken whispering, plant watering, painting and refuelling.

I’ve brought some pieces to finish for delivery to the gallery in Brisbane late next week and naturally, because there’s a sense of ‘deadline’, I’m goofing off! I’m spending the days moving between the pillowed chairs on the spectacular verandah, the pool lounges, the meandering mown tracks in the paddocks, and the glass palette and paints on the table out back.

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Eggsistential angst: local critic passes between me and the easel.

Yesterday I spent 6 hours at the easel, today 4. A decline towards the weekend? Definitely.

Some of what I’m painting right now is a bit of a mystery. It is challenging, and rewarding: using some elements/marks/motifs that have been developing throughout this year and using them in ways that I’m not sure are working. And trying to make them work, when they’re not working. And then going and sitting in a comfy chair when they stop working, and wondering ‘WTF’?

Author of beautiful fiction and National Treasure, Tim Winton, has just released a new book—a memoir called ‘The Boy Behind the Curtain‘—which I’m yet to read. As always, there are some stated gems in this nearly hour-long interview on ABC radio. Australian friends, have a listen.

He refers to his first childhood trip to a major art gallery with his family, barefoot, as “an introduction to what people were capable of, beyond the world that I lived in“. What a beautiful way to describe something new and mysterious.

He weaves a link between his beloved surfing and being a writer – long hours of contemplation, waiting for that wave to come over the horizon and carry you in. In commenting that the point of surfing is that “well, there is no point” he also says:
“Art doesn’t need a point. It is. There’s something liberating in it’s lack of utility. It doesn’t have to do a job, and even if it’s there to celebrate beauty and to provoke and promote contemplation and introspection – that’s use enough in my view.”

And while I’m hearing what I want to hear in this interview, and grappling with abstracted elements alongside representation, I’m listening harder to his comments about writing non-fiction and fiction:
(With non-fiction) I feel like I have to get it right. In short story and novel writing I only have to get it right in itself, i have to get it organically right and i have to make it true to itself and coherent. It doesn’t have any other responsibility.”
Surely this is similar when a visual artist steps away from realism?
So, yes the artwork needs to be true to itself, to have reached some point of resolution.  But it probably only needs to be coherent to me – to be coherent to others is a bonus.
Mystery. It is.

Sitting in a room outside

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Storms along the Sierra Vista Trail, NM
2016 | 100cm x 20cm | Ink, gouache, graphite rubbing, woodblock print on Arches paper

Last night I was overwhelmed to receive an award at the 41st Rio Tinto Martin Hanson Memorial Art Awards for this piece – started in New Mexico last year and finished in Mt Perry last month. Sitting in a room, knowing your name is going to be called out (because you got the call encouraging you to come to the opening), is a dreamy kind of experience.

Detail: ink, woodcut print, white gouache and graphite rock rubbing040_detail-of-storms-along-svt

And last year sitting in the deserts outside Las Cruces was a dreamy kind of experience. (Thanks to DS for the image: sitting with my back to the Dona Anas, New Mexico 2015)

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And meeting the sponsors of the John Anderson Memorial Acquisitive from a 60+ year old Gladstone business was a delight. Hopefully the family got the sense of my thrilled and grateful state. What a great thing it is they do.

And now I’m going to draw some eyes on paper and blutac them onto my eyelids and head off to work. With a little skip and a hop for the last day at Indo Pop!

Rock rubbing in the out of doors, on 300gsm arches leperello. New Mexico 2015:

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lookout | outlook

In early August I posted a photo of the view from the MtP lookout on Faffbook. It was a hopeless (old) iPhone photo with ridiculous light and yet a lovely Australian FB friend living in England—who is a real-deal photographer—commented “I hope you painted that“.

Well of course not! I mean, it’s a place I go all the time. Sunrises and sunsets and changing light. I sit with hound, with Nearest, with refreshing beverages to toast whichever direction the sun is going (best to clarify, it’s tea at sunrise). And it’s a big vista. I don’t paint big vistas.

Then a couple of weeks after that I came in from the studio and could smell smoke. Standing in my kitchen I could HEAR the crackling of fire. There was absolutely no wind, thank goodness, and it was 1km away and the local Rural Fire Service was onto it. But, a long ridge-top across from us was burning. This was the closest I’d seen fire to my home. I stood on the verandah in the dark, for some hours, watching.

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Detail from ‘Old Fire and New Rain Near Town’

Thanks to a planted idea from across the miles and years, I took a sketch book to the lookout with me on my next visit. And some tea. I was struck by the strong scar in landscape from that very small fire near town. How jarring it was.

I’m also struck by the first scribble I made and actually wrote ‘town‘ on it. Really? Did I need reminding that’s where my town was? Perhaps not enough tea has been consumed.

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And then a more constrained and designed scribble followed which I think really set the tone for what came next.

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And this has flowed into the recent oil paintings and their lines and dashes alongside a touch of wild abandon and possibly some fiery colourings.

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‘Magenta Zone Hot Harvest’ 2016  Oil on Canvas  91.5cm x 71cm | 36in x 28in

And the loveliest part of this tale is that ‘Old Fire and New Rain Near Town‘ has gone to a new home. The surprise and joy of a piece moving on never goes away. Well, it doesn’t seem to for me. And so I imagine that someone has had the same astonishing pull that I’ve had myself and that Wendy describes in her recent blog. And this all happened at a wonderful regional event – Woodgate Arts in Spring – over the long weekend as we celebrated the birthday of our Queen. Well, we had a long weekend.

And from an iView interview (alas, for the Oz viewers only) with our late, great Queen of paint, Margaret Olley, when describing those inevitable pauses in the creating of artworks: ‘It may sound trite, but it’s like gardening. You can’t keep on using the same soil to have the same plants. It takes all the nutrition. You’ve got to lie fallow’.

So, thank you NB for the SocMed prompt.
It took me to somewhere known with a new outlook.

A little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n roll [tour]

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Night Falling on Magenta Islands  2016  |  Oil on Canvas  |  91cm x 91cm/36in x 36in

Friday afternoon I got a call ‘Hi Adrienne, it’s (DelightfulPerson) from Flying Arts Inc‘.

Hi Delightful Person’, says I, in the reverie of Friday afternoon* when everyone should be, could be happy and delightful.

Adrienne, I’m phoning with good news.

Oh, I think, that’s nice – still dreaming of being home soon (thanks Crowded House) to Friday afternoon celebratory beverages and, let’s face it, at this point I’m somewhat gormless.

‘Yes, Adrienne, your piece ‘Night Falling on Magenta Islands’ (she really did say the whole name) will be included in the 2017 Queensland tour’.

Okay, so at this point The Coin Fell!

A friend from Europe once said this to me and I realised it was their interpretation of the idiom ‘The Penny Dropped‘. Gorgeous hey? I digress… imagine… moi digress?

Naturally I rallied and replied with sensible, mature responses such as ‘oh my gosh, oh, oh my, oh I’m so thrilled, oh my gosh, thank you‘. Actually, instead of being appalled, Delightful Person laughed and enjoyed my happy time. I asked if she’d had a great day making the phone calls, and she had and we laughed some more and I stopped short of say she was Awesome (I know, who says that?) and that I loved her (I really did stop short of that!).

I met a delightful soul and an extraordinary artist recently – just the meeting reminded me that I am isolated at times. He probably has no idea the impact of the short conversations we had: his openness about his practice, his openness about his aspirations for his practice. If I’m totally honest, being in this touring show has been an aspiration on gentle simmer for about 5 years.

It reminds me that it’s okay to have a strong desire to do something. It also reminds me that I still haven’t finished Karen’s copy of ‘Stravinsky’s Lunch’. Really? Has it taken me 17 years to get to this exploration of women in art practices? I see a time later next month when this book will get my full attention – in-between sourcing episodes of Gilmore Girls (seriously, read Wendy’s blog from today), and watching Justin Trudeau’s political speeches in au Francais as a counterpoint to the US fracas, and lying on the grass outside the studio with the canine assistant just looking at the birds in the trees.

And on trees, these wooden words were submitted with my entry, hug at your will…


Night Falls on Magenta Islands’ is a continued exploration of a patch of grass trees and dry rainforest 100km west of my home. For the last few years my palette has referenced the colours from the biodiversity maps and ecosystem maps of my region.

The maps describe divided land use areas through colour coding. Magenta, orange, purple, green, and white create divided tensions between wild places and the altered landscapes that surround and contain them.

Magenta is the colour of ‘rare and endangered’, often appearing as little islands dotted across the terrain. Ironically, these grass trees thrive outside the magenta zoning, and regular grazing has created a safer environment from bushfire. This is an unlikely and long term symbiosis and a hopeful display of nature’s adaptation to change. Colour and landscape are essential to my practice and my regional backyard is a library of subjects


 

*Be assured Friday afternoon reverie does not go away – even when you’re not in a formal work structure.