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.
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.
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.
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.
Megaherbalicious Woodblock print and ink wash on Arches paper book, 38cm x 110cm
(All exhibition photos by David Graham. Thanks Dave 😀 )