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.

Redden or not, here we come. (Part two of two)

Helllooooo again sports fans,

In the last post I talked about my interview with Brisbane Lions AFL player Jack Redden to be used as a floor sheet in an exhibition. The interview was printed onto fluro orange paper, to match the work on the walls, and stacked on the gallery window sill.

Next to the stack of interviews I hung four football cards of Jack Redden, which I'd spent a whole morning in the trading card section of the market tracking down.

Football cards, (and football stickers, football badges, and football tazos) were a big part of my childhood, and so after a morning of hunting through football cards just like old times, I knew I had to paint one. 

I decided that, continuing on from my Jack Redden interview project, it should be Redden whose card I paint, (even though I'm a very passionate Collingwood supporter and it felt a bit wrong focusing on a different team).

Now any football card enthusiast knows that what you really want is to get your card signed. For instance here's a card my Dad got signed for me in 1993 by my then favourite AFL player Saverio Rocca, (who has since switched leagues and now plays for the NFL), at some Collingwood "meet the players" day when I was 5.
But so yeah, in the very early stages of the painting my buddy Alex and I, who'd been planning to go on a road trip anyway, instead flew to Brisbane to get some sun and meet Jack Redden. 

To give you a little idea of how strange the trip was here's a photo I took when, while Al and I were waiting to catch a bus from our backpackers hostel to Jack's house, we noticed there was actually a photo of Jack on the side of the bus stop.
It was a pretty insane day. I'd never spoken to an AFL player before, let alone been invited to ones house, and as much of an awesome bloke as Jack is, it was pretty intimidating. The guy's 22 years old and had just bought what I think is his second house.
Here we are are together while I was getting the card signed.
Here's a photo of a sculpture of his favourite ice-cream, Bubble'O Bill, on his living room wall. I made it specifically for him to say thanks for having us over.
And, back in Melbourne, here's the finished painting. It's acrylic on board. 9 x 6.5cm. 2013.
Unfortunately the photo doesn't really show you the details I strained my poor eyes to achieve so I'll take a better photo really soon. But so there you go, thanks to Jack Redden, it's a painting of football card signed by the actual player. 

Thanks heaps for reading, Carn the Pies, and please join me for a drink and come see this painting, and many, many more, at the VCA Grad Show this week.

Actually the last thing I'll quickly mention, just to show you what an awesome guy Jack is, is that as I was leaving and telling him that I was about to go buy some shoes because I'd only brought a pair of thongs with me on the trip and we were hoping to get into some bars that night, he insisted on giving me an old pair of his shoes.

Here they are now next to my dog Perri, who has a chicken carcass in his mouth.
So now I officially wear shoes that were previously worn to kick goals by an AFL player. Amazing

But so ok, Perri has since buried the carcass and is now tugging at his leash, so I guess it's time for me to take him around the block. 

I'm actually planning on writing a second blog post today about the thongs I wore to Brisbane, so stay tuned for that a little later today, but first I'm gonna go walk a mile in a footballers shoes.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Redden or not, here we come. (Part one of two)

Hellloooooo sports fans,

My Honours VCA Grad Show kicks off this Monday, November 25, and starting Tuesday is open 11am to 5pm everyday for a week. You are officially invited!

I thought I might take the opportunity to talk about one of my new paintings, so that you'll have a bit of context when hopefully you come see it.

Before I get to the painting though, for this 'part one' of the blog post I figure I'll get the ball rolling by just giving you a bit of backstory.

So basically the painting I'm talking about began from the collaborative show I had in December last year at Rearview Gallery with Jock Walker and Andy Treloar. 

The show was about having fun with trying to find an intersection between art and sport. 

One of the things the three of us did for the show was get into morph suits and drag a massive painting that we'd done on a rickshaw we'd built from Jock's Brunswick studio to the AFL Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. 

From the MCG we then took the painting to Federation Square where the game was being broadcast live on the big screen, before finally taking it back to the Brunswick studio after security insisted we leave.

It was a pretty ridiculous day. The whole experience is a nice long story so I should really talk about it more another time, but for now here's a photo from the day. That's Andy pulling the rickshaw, Jock is covering his face with the smiley face bat and I'm the one riding the ginormous bike.

Anyway it just so happens that Jock's cousin; Jack Redden, plays AFL football for the Brisbane Lions, and so for the show we asked him if he would write something for us to be used as a kind of floor sheet.

Jack was happy to, but when with only a few days before the opening he still wasn't quite sure what to write, Jock and I decided that what might be better would be for me to write a list of questions for Jack to answer.

I loved coming up with the questions. After I'd spent the afternoon writing them I then ran them by Jock to make sure he was ok with me asking them. Most were, but for instance the question "What's the most money you've ever spent on a sandwich?", which when I wrote it I figured was a pretty harmless thing about how expensive sandwiches can be, was rejected because Jock rightfully pointed out to me that it could be seen as having a go at the amount of money footballers earn.

Another question, "Are you a stereotypical football player?", was also abandoned, because what the hell does that mean?

Ha, having said that though when Jock saw I was brainstorming puns he was all for me to include a Jack / Jacking off question, which I ultimately decided wasn't the tone we were going for. 

Anyway, so I sent the questions off and here's the result;


1. Who’s better, Jack Nicholson or Jack from Titanic? 
This could be very vain but I don't know who Jack Nicholson is so I'm gonna have to say Jack from Titanic. 

2. What’s a better song, Jumping Jack Flash or Hit the Road Jack? 
Hit the road jack!!!! <3

3. Besides oranges cut up into quarters, what do you eat on game day? 
Frog legs and on the odd occasion that we're up at half time we'll have oysters killpatrick. 

4. How did you spend your September 29, 2012 (Grand Final Day)? 
Up in Airlie Beach QLD, for an annual catch up with mates from Sacred Heart College. You’re testing my memory stick there. 

5. How good are you at whistling?  
Ha ha. I would rate my whistling skills above par. I can whistle like a bird, not exactly sure what kinda bird but I'm claiming it. 

6. How good are you at skateboarding?  
I'm horrendous, to say the least. I’ve always wanted to be a guru skateboarder because my older cousin Henry Jock was always good at it and he was my idol. But yeah, very average!!

7. You’re a cool guy, you got any tattoos?  
I have a tattoo on my bum, as does my housemate. Long story short we were a tad intoxicated & not one of my proudest moments. But I'm not a tattoo man & it's only minor. 

8. Sure you’re great at kicking goals, but do you have any bad habits you need to kick?
Agreeing to answer these epic art questions!

9. Would you consider yourself to be a Jack of all trades? 
Absolutely...........NOT. I'm as handy as tits on a bull!

10. If you went to the milk bar today to get an ice-cream, which one would you get? 
Bubble O bill!!

11. When’s the last time you were caught Lion? 
Not sure on what this question means? 

12. Are there any good books you’ve been Redden lately? 
Ha ha ha. I've read an auto bio about Andre Agassi which was a great read & also White Powder about a bloke who gets put away in one of the jails in South America for drug trafficking. So been Redden quite a bit lately. 

13. You’re driving along in your car at one in the morning, a cat runs out from nowhere and you accidentally run it over. Nobody’s around. You get out of the car and see that the cat is dead and has no collar. What do you do now? 
Ummm, I suppose I'd have to burry the poor thing. I love cats. What would you do? 

14. When you’re really hungry Jack what do you order from Hungry Jacks? 
Large Whopper meal hands down. Cheap, healthy, great service. Clean. Perfect !! 

15. Can you think of any similarities between art and sport? 
No, not really to be honest.

Jack couldn't have been more generous with his answers, even now I'm still amazed, what a great guy. 

My favourite answer is the one he gave to question 15.

But so yeah, that's probably enough of a backstory, hope you like the Jack Redden interview as much as I do, and tomorrow on this blog I'll show you the painting I made as a result of it.

Thanks heaps for reading, see you tomorrow!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Art Babble

Hey! So last Saturday I was in an Art Battle. That's a pretty fun sentence to say.

I covered the lead up to it pretty well in the last post but just to quickly go over it again; it was Third Drawer Down's 10th Birthday and to celebrate they had a big party. One of the main events of the party was a series of Art Battles. 

The Art Battles consisted of pairing five local artists with five Arts Project Australia artists, (an organisation that mentors and provides exhibiting opportunities for artists with mental disability).

The 5 pairings made for five separate Art Battles, in which two artists worked on back to back easel's with twenty minutes to paint a picture of the same object. The works were then put into a silent auction with all money going to Arts Project Australia.

The artist I was paired with, Eden Menta, chose a red inflatable pool ring designed by American artist Kenny Scharf as our object to paint. 
Kenny Scharf's been a big deal in New York since the 80's. He does colourful paintings and sculptures in a graffiti kind of scale and style, inspired by cartoon characters.
Another fun fact I like about Kenny Scharf is that he used to be roommates with Keith Haring. Here's a photo I found on google of the two of them with Andy Warhol. 
I hadn't heard of Kenny Scharf until I had to paint his inflatable but since then I've done some basic research and I've decided that I love him. (If I had've known about Scharf earlier I would've included him in my list of Twenny Kenny's).

But so ok, the Art Battle.

The crowd was surprisingly really big and it all started very quickly. Someone in a later battle was caught in traffic and suddenly Eden and I's battle was moved forward an hour. Having no time to get ready was probably a good thing, it meant that I also had no time to go to a public toilet and vomit up Mum's spaghetti on my sweater already, you know, like how Eminem prepares for battles.
I was nervous, but on the surface I looked calm and ready. 

Here I am mid battle.
And here's Eden and I at the end of the battle with our finished works.
Third Drawer Down put the above photo onto their instagram and Kenny Scharf himself actually liked it, how cool is that?! 

So I guess Scharf and I are pretty much BFF's now.

As well as the Art Battles though, the other awesome thing at the Third Drawer Down 10th birthday party was that if you spent ten or more dollars on the day your name went into a hat and if it was pulled out then you got a turn in the Art Grabber.
The Art Grabber is one of those things like you used to see in old tv game shows. It's a small room you go in and high pressure fans blow pieces of paper all around you and you've got ten seconds to grab as much as you can. 

As soon as I saw it I decided it was on my bucket list. Amazingly, at the very moment I was talking with someone about the idea of asking if I could have a turn in it just for fun, my name was actually picked out of the hat!

Here I am in it. 
Desperately trying to catch the prizes in the Art Grabber was a lot like the time in year 12 when I hadn't yet stapled my english essay together and after putting it on top of my car to get my keys out of my pocket a big gust of wind blew the 8 loose pages onto the freeway. 

A side note, I later realised that the little boy watching me in the foreground of the above photo is wearing the exact same clothes that I do. Look!!!
So it's official; I'm exactly as stylish as a seven year old.

But so alright, what's almost as amazing as that little boy's very fashionable outfit is that here's the five things I won in the Art Grabber...

Here I am with the stuff.
And here I am again with Eden, and also another Arts Project artist, Aiden Sevo, who later battled Oslo Davis.
Oslo killed it, that guy is so damn good. Aiden's piece was great too. Their theme was banana. 

Here's me eating a banana, while Oslo and Aiden draw somebody dressed as one.
It would've been good to have taken a few more photo's but after a week of pouring rain and barely leaving the studio I was just enjoying myself too much being out in the sun. 

If you are interested in more photo's from the day though click here to see 32 more photo's taken by The Thousands.

Anyway, I just want to say congrats to Third Drawer Down for putting together a day that was not only heaps of fun, but also raised over $1500 for the very worthy cause of Arts Projects Australia. Incredible. All of the Art Battlers were great artists and great people and I feel really lucky to have been a part of it. 

One final thing to end this post is that when I got out of the Art Grabber and read aloud the list of the things I'd won I didn't know how to pronounce the Rose Nolan ruok candle. 

The three people around me all had a go at it too and we decided that Oslo was probably the closest with 'roo-ock'. 

Later that night I went out for dinner and asked my friend to google 'ruok'. "How's it spelt?" they asked, and it was only when I pronounced the individual letters that I finally understood it and felt really silly.

And so, in the Ferntree Gully Hotel with a pot resting in my new Jon Campbell stubby holder and my new David Shrigley tea towel as a bib, if you were to ask me 'ruok?' I think my answer would have to be 'yeah, everything is good'.  
Anyway I hope urok2, and everything's good for you as well.
 Thanks so much for reading.
And yes, of course, please feel free to use that last photo as the background image on your phone.