Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wham, Bam, Artbank you ma'am

Hey pal, hope you're well, here's two things I'm really excited to talk about. 

The first is that my car now has antlers and a red nose. Here's two goofy photos of me installing them.
Attaching the nose was pretty tricky, it's a good thing I had these instructions.
And so if you hear of any reports of reindeer sightings on the roads of Melbourne, although there's a good chance it's the real Rudolph, there's also a chance it might just be me.

The second thing I'm really excited to talk about is that a 1000-word writing / image art work type of thing I was commissioned to do has officially been published in the very first issue of Sturgeon

Sturgeon is a new publication that's being put out by Artbank Australia. (Artbank is a government support program that helps contemporary Australian art by buying artists work and allowing companies and individuals that might not be able to actually buy art the opportunity to rent it.)

Here's my name on the Sturgeon list of contributors page, just below the great Patricia Piccinini. Sadly I can't help but feeling that her bio is just slightly more impressive than my bio.

Also appearing on Sturgeon's list of contributors is Tim Flannery, an "internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist" who in 2007 won Australian of the year, ha, so nobody's bio can compete with his.

Anyway so basically for my piece I was invited to look through Artbank's collection and pick out a handful of works to respond to, in a similar way to when I've done things like putting my painting of a newspaper into a newspaper stand
or taking my sculpture of a Macbook Pro to the Apple Store.
The piece is titled 5 hours, 10 Artworks, and the title is pretty much the entire concept for the work; I documented the process of giving myself exactly 5 hours to photograph 10 artworks. 
I'll write more about the project later but for now I just kind of wanted to mention it so that if you want to you can get your hands on a copy and hopefully it can just speak for itself. (Click on this sentence for a link to see all the places you can find it.)

But so yeah, a huge thanks to Daniel, Maria, and the entire amazing team at Artbank, as well as Mark from Chapman and Bailey. I'm really lucky and proud to have had the opportunity to work with these guys, it was so much fun, and also I'm really grateful for being given so much freedom, trust and encouragement to do what I do.

I also really want to thank the artists whose art I had the privilege of working with. (Howard Arkley, Jon Cattapan, Marcel Cousins, Greg Creek, Anastasia Klose, Colin Parker, Adam Pyett, Lisa Radford, Victoria Reichelt, Darren Sylvester and Ben Taylor.)

Oh and I also wanna say thanks to the team that designed the layout of Sturgeon for doing an awesome job in presenting my piece in such a unique and effective way.

And so yeah, that's about it, I'm really happy with the thing and hope you get a chance to check it out.

Oh and so lastly, the publication's called Sturgeon because it's named after the founding director of Artbank; Graeme Sturgeon, however it's also called Sturgeon because sturgeon is a type of fish that produces caviar. I've never tried caviar before so I figured what might be a fancy way to wrap up this blog post would be to go out and eat some. 

The cheapest restaurant I could find that has caviar charges $170 for a serving of 30 grams. Ha, obviously that's out of my price range, but alternatively I discovered you can buy caviar in a jar for $5.50 from Woolworths.

I didn't really know what to do with the caviar once I got it home, but it looks a lot like Vegemite so I just treated it the same; butter some toast and spread it on top.

It tasted pretty yuck, but not as yuck I was expecting. It was just an overwhelming fish taste, and I don't really like fish too much. It's no peanut butter that's for sure.

Even though I gagged and teared up on the first bite I got used to the strong flavour pretty quick and, partly due to the fact that I was really hungry, I ate every last bite of the toast.

But ok that's all I wanted to say, thanks so much for reading, I Ho Ho Hope you have a very merry Christmas and I'll see you soon.
On a side note, while driving home from buying the caviar one of the antlers fell off my car, so if you happen to see a red nosed reindeer going in circles around and around a roundabout this holiday season, either the real Rudolph has lost an antler as well, or it's probably just me in my lopsided car.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Duck in the middle with you

Hey grown up how's it going? I'm a little bit closer to being a grown up myself now that school's out for ever. No longer am I an art student, now I'm just an art ist. 

Here's a photo taken of me just before I deinstalled the VCA Honours Grad Show, using a Nikon d90 DSLR to document my sculpture of a Nikon d90 DSLR.
And here I am using an iPhone 4s to document my sculpture of an iPhone 4s.
And after that, here I am eating Vegemite toast in front of my sculpture of a toaster, as well as drinking tea in front of my sculpture of a Mug, out of the mug that the sculpture was based on.
Yesterday I finally paid the overdue fine I had at the uni library which meant that I could access my results, and I'm very pleased to say that my marks weren't terrible. 

Can you believe I actually got dux?

Ha, no, I didn't really get dux, I'm sure plenty of people would've gotten higher marks than me. I don't even know if they award dux in Australia or if it's just something I learnt about from American TV. Coincidentally though I did actually get ducks. 

Two of them. 

Donald and Daffy. 

Here they are hiding in the ferns next to the duck garden ornament.
I was a bit annoyed when I first heard we got ducks, because we've had them before and gave them away because of the mess they make; ducks poo so much, way more than chooks, but then I actually saw the ducks and I didn't care about that at all.

Just looking at these guys makes me so happy.Wait, what was I trying to say before I started going on about ducks? Something about being a grown up. It doesn't matter. These ducks are cute, with their big beaky grins, quacking away as they waddle around never further than a meter apart. 

Best of all is that since we've got the ducks walking about my backyard now makes everything else in my head feel as humble, heartbreaking and hopeful as being in a Leunig drawing.
Thanks heaps for reading, hope you enjoy the nest of your day and I'll let you get quack to whatever it was you were doing.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Twist endings

Hey I know it hasn't stopped raining all day, but even still, it's finally summer! 

Here's a drawing to celebrate.
Acrylic on A4 225gsm paper. 2013.

Speaking of twists, here's a photo of me blowin' in the wind a couple of months ago when I bought the movie Twister on Blu-ray DVD.
So one little twist I've been meaning to talk about just quickly, it was pretty awful at the time but I think I'm becoming ok with it now, is that in the lead up to the install of the Honours Grad Show one of my sculptures went missing from my uni studio. 

It was an acrylic on clay sculpture of the Blu-ray DVD of Twister. 

The sculpture was a necessary element to a larger work and so as devastating as it was, after turning my whole world upside down and not finding it, I had to remake it. I'm proud of the result, but it meant I went without sleep for a while.

Here's a low quality photo of it. (I'll upload a better one soon).
Acrylic on ceramic. 17 x 13 x 1.2cm. 2013.

My fingers are still crossed, (or twisted), that the original sculpture will turn up, but yeah, I've looked everywhere. 

Hopefully someone took it by accident and hasn't noticed yet, but I'm pretty sure no-one would just take it. It reminds me of a poem by the American writer Bukowski that he wrote to a woman who stole a box full of all his best poems. "Take my money" he writes, "My left arm even, but don't take my poetry".

Here's something pretty awesome though; when I asked my buddy Ieuan, (he's an artist who works in the VCA office), if anyone had handed the sculpture in, later that day he took it upon himself to make this Lost poster and put it up around the campus.
I can't thank Ieuan enough for making the Twister posters, when I first saw one I was completely blown away.

Sadly though the only thing that resulted from the posters was my friend Alex asking me "Hey so those posters, is that some kind of joke about the Typhoon that's happening in the Phillipines? You know, about how there's so many people over there right now that are lost? Because if that's what it is then that's pretty dark".

Yikes. Ha, so that was a twist I never saw coming.
Obviously the loss associated with the Typhoon puts my little loss into perspective, and I guess all I really want to say about it is that if you see the Twister DVD sculpture please let me know. 

But so ok, I don't want this blog post to just be about me dealing with the loss of an artwork, maybe I should lighten the mood a little by talking about dealing with death.

So aside from the horrendous tragedy of Typhoon Haiyan there was a few other people who died last week as well; the actor from the Fast and The Furious movies, my angry neighbour from directly across the street, and Nelson Mandela. All sad cases, but the person I want to mention in particular though, who passed away last Tuesday at age 71, is the great Australian artist Martin Sharp.

Aside from co-writing the gnarly Cream song Tales of Brave Ulysses, I think what I always loved Sharp for most was his poster of Bob Dylan.
Dylan ends the first verse of his 1964 song To Ramona with the words;
And there's no use in trying to deal with the dying, though I cannot explain that in lines.
Despite there being no use in trying, the way I tried to deal with the death of Martin Sharp was to buy a Sharpie and paint the word Martin in front of the logo.

A Martin Sharpie.
It was pretty similar to when Australian painter Jeffery Smart passed away earlier this year at age 91. The sad news came during the Kenneth Biennale and so on that day I offered everyone who came into TCB Gallery a Jeffery Smartie. 
What's also worth pointing out about the Martin Sharpie is that buying a Sharpie was a big deal for me. First, because they're actually really hard to find, I went to several art stores and newsagents before I found one, but second, because I'm a very loyal lover of Posca.

In fact I love Posca so much that I very recently made this sculpture of one.
Acrylic on ceramic. 2013. 16.5 x 1.5 x 1.5cm.

One last thing to finish off this morbid blog post is that the day after Martin Sharp's death I still had the marker in my pocket on a visit to the Melbourne Now exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, and so I decided that just before I left the gallery I would use the Martin Sharpie to make this little drawing of Melbourne artist Michelle Hamer's amazing woolen tapestry. 
Martin Sharpie on A4 225gsm paper, (Photographed in front of We're All Gonna Die, by Michelle Hamer).

Thanks heaps for reading. As a special thank you for making it all the way to the end of this blog post here's a photo I took on the weekend of two ladybugs having the time of their life while on the back of my hand.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chup, Chup and away!

Hey there squawky, hope you're feathers are unruffled and you're feelin' nice and chirpy.

This morning while sitting the VCA Grad Show a little birdy told my buddy Christina that someone had bought one of her painting's, and so as a congratulatory something to remember her piece by, now that it's flown the coop, I made her this little drawing of the bird in her painting.
Acrylic on A4 225gsm paper. (Detail study of a painting by Christina Hayes).

And after handing Christina the drawing, here she is herself infront of her painting that the drawing was drawn from.
Ha, so as you can see we're very busy down here at the VCA Grad Show today.

Drawing aside though, and in the spirit of killing two birds with one blog post, the other thing I'll mention real quick is that I'm very happy to have been invited to put several of my Chupa Chup sculptures into a group show that opens tonight at the new artist run commercial type space, Fort Delta.

So yeah, the gallery is shop 59 in the Capitol Arcade, which is at 113 Swanston Street, and so if you're around the city please come join me and the eleven other artists in the show for a drink or two to help wrap up another busy week.

The Chupa Chup sculptures are all acrylic on clay, (with a plastic stick). Here's a photo from when I very briefly installed them on the counter of my local 7-11.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I've Grad it up to here with you

Hey so a big thanks to everyone that made it to the opening of the VCA Graduate Exhibition, (or Melbourne Uni Now), on Monday night. I'm really Grad you could be there, and I hope you had a radically, or Gradically, good time.

It felt like there was hundreds and thousands of people there, and so if you weren't able to make it, to help you visualise the amount of people, here's a photo of 100's and 1000's
Well, maybe what would be more useful at helping you visualise the amount of people at the opening would be to show you this image I found on instagram.
The reason I'm resorting to sourcing images from instagram is that I was having so much fun talking with friends and having a good time that I didn't even think of taking any photos. Well, that's not completely true, I took four. 

Here's two photos of people looking at my work.
And here's two photos of people taking photos of my work. 
It's so strange watching people photograph your work, particularly when they're people you don't know. One guy even set up the biggest tripod I've ever seen just to take a photo of my sculpture of a camera. 

Another thing that really made me smile was seeing a really fancy looking elderly lady pushing out her chest as far as she possibly could, giggling while her husband photographed her next to my calculator sculpture. 
That was something I hadn't counted on. (Excellent calculator pun).

I'm also really grateful and excited to say I was lucky enough to have been awarded one of the prizes that was going around; the Myers Place Mick Pettifer Memorial Award. 
But so yeah, I'll be sitting the show all weekend, come say hi! It's open everyday until Sunday from 11 to 4. Also, if you only saw the show at the opening then come back again if you can, it'll be much easier to see the art without all the hotties blocking your view.

Here's a photo of me sitting the show the morning after the Grad Show after party.
You can't see it too well in the photo but I was holding a chocolate honeycomb cup cake that my studio buddy Christina brought me and my pal Dan.
It's probably the yummiest and schmanciest cup cake I've ever held, and even though I only had two bites before I couldn't eat anymore and threw it out the second storey window to the chubby bird in the garden below, the morning was definitely still a lot classier than the last time I sat the Grad Show

Anyway I'll be sure to put up lots more photos of my work in the next week or so but for now I've Grad just about enough of this. Ha, thanks heaps for reading and hope to see you soon.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The thong and the short of it

Hey flippers, how you flopping?

So this is probably the last blog post I'll be able to do before you'll hopefully come see my work in the Honours V.C.A Grad Show. The opening is tomorrow night from 6-8, and then the show's open every day for a week from 11am to 5pm. Please come!

My work is on the second level of the main painting building. Depending on how well you know the VCA you might know the space called "The Cage", but if not it's just directly to the left when you walk out of the lift.

Anyway so because this might be my last chance to talk to you before you see the show I wanna try and quickly explain a little about some of my work that's in it, so that when hopefully you see it you'll have a little bit of an understanding as to what's going on.

One piece in the show is a sculpture of a Nikon d90 DSLR camera, it's the same camera that for at least 12 months never left my side as I lugged it around and completed taking a photo of my petrol station every day for a year.

Another piece is my sculpture of a calculator. 

It's titled Magic, which is how I felt when my friend Tom, or Mot, as he called himself then, showed our class that turning a calculator upside could reveal an important secret message.
Magic. Acrylic on ceramic. 8 x 12 x 1.5cm. 2013

For weeks I've been undecided about whether the numbers on the calculator should read 5318008 or 55378008. Boo be or not Boo be, that was the question. In the end I decided that 5318008 is a much more joyous number, and if Matisse can be joyful then so can I. Plus personally it's the number I remember typing in when I was in primary school. 

Anyway, Magic is part of series of works that are trying to be text pieces without explicitly being text pieces.

Another piece in the show involves a taxidermied rat. I taxidermied it myself using tutorials from the internet. 

I'd always wanted to try taxidermy and yes, it was really tricky and really yucky. 
I never realised how large rats genitals are, ha, and I think I was happier not knowing about it.
Also in the Grad Show is my 182 People Blinking at a Blink 182 concert, in which earlier this year, as the title suggests, I went to a Blink 182 concert and asked 182 people to blink on camera. It was exhausting. 

And another piece on show is a sculpture of a Shape, (the biscuit).

Originally the Shape was a companion piece to the painting below, but I decided the painting below wasn't right for this show and that I think maybe in this context the sculpture is stronger by itself.
Get in Shape. Acrylic on canvas. 2013. 

I'll write more about all those works, plus all the other works I haven't mentioned yet, another time, but for now the main piece I wanna talk about in this blog post is titled Thongs

They're acrylic on ceramic, and the exact dimensions of a size 10 mens thong.
Here they are next to my feet.
And here they are next to my feet wearing the pair of thongs they were based on.
With works like this, one of the questions that comes up a lot is whether my intention is to criticise or celebrate the subject matter.

I guess my answer to this is neither; I'm not intending to criticise nor celebrate the Australian flag thongs, instead I was simply drawn to them as an object because they are a symbol that is so easily both criticised and celebrated.

There’s a tension in the casualness of wearing a flag like a logo or a football team, but at the same time though my brother owns a pair of these thongs and he doesn’t even think they’re funny; he just bought them because he was at K-Mart and needed some thongs to wear to the beach. 

So on one persons feet the thongs are patriotic, and on someone else's they might be racist. But there's a third option, as in the case of my brother; on some peoples feet they're just thongs. The kind of thing your Dad would wear because they're practical and who cares.

I guess what I like about the Australian flag thongs is that I can think about them all day long and still not make up my mind about them. It's the same reason why I've made work about the Bill Henson controversy, and more recently the Paul Yore controversy.

A similar example I've been thinking about is the Richard Bell artist talk I went to earlier this year. It’s almost hilarious the way Bell can spend forty minutes telling a room full of white Australians how bad white Australians are and at the end of the talk all the white Australians stand and applaud. 

It makes sense obviously and I get it completely, but there’s something about the guilt and the shame that I don't know what to do with and it's hard to get your head around. 

After the talk I asked Richard Bell if he wouldn't mind autographing a "PAINT YOUR OWN BOOMERANG" that I'd bought from a souvenir store, (click here to read my post about it)

I really don't know what I was trying to say with that gesture, but when Bell laughed loudly and called his models over for a photo with us, I think he understood.
Ultimately the Richard Bell PAINT YOUR OWN BOOMERANG work didn't resolve any of the questions that it raised. Of course not, how could it?

The great Italian contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan says that Deconstructing a work doesn’t make you understand it. It probably makes you more confused.” 

I agree with Cattelan when he explains that an idea only works when he can continue to think about it but “doesn’t get tired of it”. And for me I think that's my aim for what's going on with my sculpture of these Australian flag thongs.

I don't know though, maybe I'm just making a big thong and dance about nothing.