Friday, December 26, 2014

Wham bam thank you Mambo

Hey pal, thanks for stopping by, I'll start this off with a quick hello just to let you know I wrote another article for the website Three Thousand. Click anywhere on this sentence to read it.

Did you read it yet? What's that, you're trying to read it right now but I keep on talking? Oh ok sorry, I'll be quiet for a moment. Here's the link again, I won't interrupt this time.

... You done now? No? Still?! Boy, you are a slow reader. Well ok, how bout I just tell you the gist of it?

So basically the article is about my Mum recently giving me a brand new pair of Mambo board shorts that she'd found at the Salvos and me not liking them because for me Mambo was the brand I only really associated being worn by my daggy year eight sports teacher. 

Of course that's probably being a bit too harsh on my year eight sports teacher, I mean back when I was in high school not everyone could be a dope fashionista like I was.
(Ha, who'd have thought that the guy in that photo would grow up to one day write an article for Vogue Living?)

Anyway so I chucked away the Mambo shorts and took out the bins, but the next morning when I saw that the National Gallery of Victoria was having a retrospective exhibition to celebrate Mambo's 30th birthday I knew that I needed to wear the shorts to opening. Luckily I was up so early that the bins hadn't yet been collected and so I ran out to the street and rescued the shorts.

Next thing you know here's a photo of me at the opening preview standing amongst a pack of reporters. I should've worn a 1950's hat, ideally with a badge on it that said PRESS. I'm sure all my fellow actual writers there with me would've found that very im-press-ive. Instead I just wore the shorts. 

The exhibition is great and completely changed my mind about Mambo, there was so much I didn't know, but I talk about that a little in the article so I won't go on about it here. What I will just show you here though is this photo of me doing a particularly dorky cool-guy stance, wearing the Mambo shorts while standing in front of a whole cabinet full of Mambo shorts. 
I actually like my shorts a lot more than any of the ones in the cabinet, mostly because my ones feature a really odd kind of cross promotion with the soft drink brand KIRKS.
An extra thing that I did just for fun and not for the Three Thousand article is before going to the Mambo opening I made a sculpture of the other great Mambo in our life; the CD single to Lou Bega's Mambo No. 5.

I took the sculpture along to the show hoping it might get signed by Mambo artist Reg Mombassa. I've been a huge fan of Reg for years, both for his paintings and for his music with the band Mental As Anything. In fact I think Mental As Anything's hit "If you leave me can I come too?" might be my favourite song title ever, (back on January 4th, 2012 I even named this treemendous blog post after it).

So yeah, I was as excited as anything. Here I am nervously waiting for a chance to speak to Reg while he does an interview with the ABC.
And here I am talking with Reg Mombassa about Mambo No.5, (which as I'm sure you don't need reminding was number one in the 1999 Australian charts for eight weeks in a row). 

Reg was real funny and sweet and very happily signed the sculpture. What an absolute Regend.

I asked Reg he would mind drawing one of his classic musical notes coming out of Lou Bega's trumpet, the kind of note he usually draws coming out the back end of a dog, and as you can see he certainly delivered; here I am very proudly holding my new and noteworthy sculpture.
And after signing my sculpture Reg then even signed the Mambo shorts that I was wearing. 
So there you go, amazing, and now there's no way I'll throw out the shorts. Thanks so much again to Three Thousand for another wonderful opportunity to have a bit of fun, (also thanks to Reg Mombassa and the NGV), it almost makes me feel like a real writer. 
On a separate story, speaking of writing, last week I listed an iPhone onto eBay which meant I had to write a brief product description to go along with it. 

Here's the photo I took of the phone to go with the ad.
(In case you're wondering why I had a spare iPhone it's cause my phone company sent it to me. I've been on a plan with Optus for a thousand years and so that's just the kind of friendly thing they do to encourage me to forget looking into how much I'm overpaying.) 

Throughout the eBay auction the phone received way more attention than I ever expected it to get, ha, and certainly way more attention than the phone that I actually use ever gets. The phone received something like 45 bids and all week long I received messages from bidders. Mostly people were just asking usual stuff, often regarding specific details about the warranty, but then Friday night I received this question;
I was a little blown away someone would take the time to write that, I even showed it to my Mum. And so of course I wrote back to anau211 saying thanks. At the end of my thanks I figured what the hell and I threw in a sentence saying how if they were interested in seeing some of my less iPhone related writing then I have this blog they could look at... 

I assumed that was the end of it, especially since anau211 didn't win the auction, but only moments ago I just saw that my last blog post received this comment;
So that was a nice thing that happened. Maybe it's a sign I should call it quits on the art game and instead focus my efforts on becoming an active member of the eBay community. Too bad I don't have any more phones to sell, it could've been my true calling...

The last thing I'll quickly report on today, something that's even less about art than that eBay story was, is that on Christmas Eve I woke up at 3.30am and my Dad, my brother and I went fishing. 

I've been trying to tell myself for ages that there's plenty more fish in the sea and now was my chance to find out.

Here I am driving the boat into the early stages of the golden sunset, while eating the middle stages of a golden McDonalds hash brown. It was hard to decide which looked better.
Another conflicting sight was this seal who splashed around by our side all day. Under most circumstances seeing this incredible animal would be most ex-seal-ent however in this case the seal was basically just a big hulking seagull set out to make catching my dinner even harder by circling about the boat and try snatch any fish off my line as I was pulling it out of the water.

I guess it really is the seally season.
Here I am holding a whiting that I only just snuck past the seal. (Also pictured is my brother and a smidgen of my Dads thumb.)
And here's a snap of me hours later having just returned back on dry land and about to fillet the days hunting. That beautiful snapper I'm holding is definitely my favourite of the fish I snapped up.
Snapper back to reality.
(Also, did you spot the subtle product placement in the previous two photos? The can of creamy soda I was drinking was none other than Kirks, that's right, the very lemonade company who according to my shorts are worthy of partnership with Mambo.)

I feel very sorry for the poor fish but they did come back to a good home, we crumbed them up and made chips and a salad and here was tonight's dinner. The fish was delish, which is a good thing too as I'll probably have to cook it again for the next three nights as well.
And after looking at that photo my tummy is reminding me that it's time to go cook dinner again now so I guess that's enough out of me for today. Merry Fishmas dear reader. This is a really tricky time of the year, particularly this year, to say the least, but I hope you're hanging in there and looking after others and looking after yourself and having fun and staying safe and happy and bla, bla, bla and you know, all that junk that sounds real cheese ball but I do mean it very sincerely. Thank you so much for reading, lots of love, and season's greetings from all of us here at double you double you double you dot kenny pittock dot com.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A shrig day out

Hey internet friend, sorry I've neglected you for a couple of weeks; my laptop fell into a coma. I'm happy to report though that this afternoon I picked him up from computer hospital and he's much better now, unfortunately he's suffered a mild case of amnesia but other than that he's doing good and back where he belongs; sitting atop my lap. 

So alright, what should I write about first? Well ok, the other day someone named Billy bought a couple of my sculptures and just for fun I decided that as well as send Billy the sculptures I would also send him a drawing of someone else named Billy, I went with the actor Billy Zane.
A zany drawing for Billy of Billy Zane. 21 x 29cm. Acrylic on 225gsm paper. 2014.

The drawing makes Zane's bow-tie kind of look like mistletoe, I should've coloured it in green. Ha, actually maybe that could be a hot new festive fashion item; the mistletoe. Perfect for getting one of those Spiderman upside down kisses.

But anyway as you can see the drawing didn't turn out too crash hot, in fact the drawing was such an icy shipwreck that normally I would never show it to anyone; the reason I have shown it to you though is that making this drawing just happened to be what I was doing at the exact moment I was invited by the website Three Thousand to interview the artist David Shrigley, (to promote the lead up to Shrigley simultaneously releasing a new book and opening a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria)Amazing. 

I can't remember when I first got into David Shrigley, I don't think I knew about him when I was in high school so it must've been when I was in TAFE, maybe second year, probably first year, (which very scarily was seven years ago). I'm pretty sure the first time I heard of him was when one of my tutors described a drawing I'd done as Shrigley-esque. I didn't like that one bit; I didn't want to be anyone-esque. So much so that there was a time where for ages I went out of my way to deliberately not look at Shrigley's work because I didn't want any chance of being influenced by it, which in hind site is pretty silly but that's the kind of numbskull I was seven years ago. 

And of course I'm no Shrigley; he's good and I suck. 

Ha, also Shrigley's humour is mostly much darker, more absurdist and more detached than the kind of thing I do, and also I hate the way he writes the letter G. But still, there's obviously a little bit of him in me. There's a little bit of a lot of people in me. I think that's just how it works. I always remember hearing Bruce Springsteen say that he wanted to write like Dylan, sound like Orbison and move like Elvis. And obviously he could never do any of those things as well as those people, but in that pursuit he found his own voice and became his own thing. He became The Boss. But wait, hold on, I'm not sure what I'm even trying to say here; I'm Bruce Springsteen? Yeah I think that's it, I'm Bruce Springsteen. But also, I love Shrigley, for ages I even wanted to go to Glasgow just to meet him, and now here I was about to interview him.

I'd actually already met Shrigley once before, earlier this year back in March. It was the day of the preview opening to the NEW14 exhibition at ACCA. I'd just finished doing an interview thing on the excellent Triple R radio show Smart Arts and as I raced back into the gallery to do the final touches of my install I saw a sight that to me seemed as surreal as a melting clock; there was David Shrigley looking at my work and smiling. 

We only spoke for a few minutes, he told me about how he'd just won a 2016 commission to make a ten meter tall sculpture of a thumbs up on the Trafalgar Square plinth in London. I said "A ten meter tall thumbs up?! You wouldn't want to get in a thumb war with that!" After that we talked about my work for a bit, he said some nice things and finally as he was leaving he said "break a leg". I pretended to misstep and fell onto the ground and he sighed "I didn't mean literally." And that was it, I was nervous and dorkishly enthusastic and Shrigley was cool and perfectly deadpan. It was great. 

Here's a photo of us that was taken in front of my drawings by NEW14 curator Kyla McFarlane, as you can see he's larger than life both in his work and in his height.
The day I heard I was doing the interview was the same day Shrigley's new book came out, so I bought it and read it cover to cover. I was hoping to get Shrigley to sign the book but then I decided what might be even better is if I made a sculpture of it and asked him to sign that. 

I had a week to prepare for the interview and in that time I did write down a few questions I wanted to ask but mostly I spent my free time making the sculpture. It was the tightest of schedules though; sculpting it, drying it, getting it fired, glazing and painting it, if I'd had one day less I don't think it would've been possible. What I really need is my own TV show, that way I could just get a props department to make all my art for me.

As well as the book I decided I also wanted to make Shrigley a gift. I knew that he collects rulers so I made a sculpture of one of them. I figured he'd have lots of rulers that are 30cm so I made mine 31cm.
31cm ruler (A gift to David Shrigley). Acrylic on kiln fired ceramic. 2014.

And naturally on the back of the ruler I wrote the words "You rule".

And he did rule; like a boss, like a Bruce Springsteen. We talked for 35 minutes or so and it flew by. Amazingly he remembered me and my work and said nice things like "I don't usually tell journalists this but you're an artist and I think you get it..." He probably says that to everyone but I was still pretty chuffed about it.

Here's a couple of photos from the interview taken by my best bud Cherie.

And hooray, here he is signing my sculpture of his book.
He seemed to really like it and after signing it he was really funny and said "I feel really bad now, I think I've just ruined your sculpture". Shrigley's signature is just his name in capital letters, (for all you forgers out there), and so he wrote his name directly underneath where I'd already painted it. 
After that I offered Shrigley the ruler sculpture. He was probably just being nice but he was so generous with praise and said "Wow, this is definitely my favourite ruler in my collection!". Here he is posing with it.

And a couple of days later he even posted it on instagram. 

The other thing I showed Shrigley that he seemed to respond really well to was my alternate title for his new book. 

Sure his WEAK MESSAGES CREATE BAD SITUATIONS is a good title, but I think my suggestion better implies that his book might have a happy ending;
The next amazing thing that happened was that after my interview for Three Thousand I was asked if the next day I could do another interview with Shrigley for Vogue Living online. How incredible is that?! Ha, when you think of Vogue you think of me, right? 

Versace, Gucci, Prada, Pittock.

I mean after all, I did just invent the mistle-tie.

The Vogue Living interview was on the morning of the NGV opening. It's funny how it worked out; I'd first seen Shrigley on the morning of my ACCA opening and now I was seeing him again on the morning of his NGV one. I told him to break a leg, he didn't fall on the ground like I had. He did show me a secret little hand signal thing though and said "If you see me do this to you at the opening tonight it means I need rescuing", and later that night he actually did do the thing which was pretty great.

I've got dozens of high quality photos from the Vogue Living interview but I don't think I can legally put them on this blog, I think Vogue owns them, however here's some photos that my studio pal Alanna took for me on the day.

If you've read the interviews I should also point out that I did ask Shrigley slightly less frivolous questions that went into more detail about his practise and influences, (and also how he feels upon hearing other artists being referred to as Shrigley-esque), but the art questions were more for me and for the articles I used the more fun stuff that I hoped would better interest readers of Three Thousand or Vogue Living. If you're reading this though then you'd probably be interested in the other stuff too, so maybe sometime next year I'll post the unused David Shrigley interview questions and answers on this blog just for you.  

But yeah, interviewing David Shrigley, what a dream, let me take a second to say thanks so much to everyone who helped make it happen; Sarah Werkmeister, Annemarie Kiely, Abi Crompton, Sarah Hook, Cherie Peele, Alanna Lorenzon, Elizabeth Alexander, Three Thousand, Vogue Living, the NGV, and of course my new BFF David Shrigley. 

I could probably end todays blog post there but I haven't written here in a little while so I might mention a couple more things real quick. In non-Shrigley related news, a day or two after the Shrigley interviews my mate Alex and I ran the City2sea race. 

Here's a photo from 6.30am as we were on our way to the race, eating bacon and egg mcmuffin meals.
Despite the freezing winds and relentless rain here we are 15km's later running a muck and running across the finish line. 

Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.
You're probably thinking "So you ran 15km? Shrig deal, what do you want, a medal?" 

And if you are thinking that then thanks so much for your concern but please you really don't need to get me a medal; the race people already gave me one.

In addition to a medal the race people also gave me this big box of bananas.

And also the worlds tiniest jar of mustard, which when I got home from the race I realised was the perfect sized condiment for my sculptures of cocktail franks, (the worlds tiniest hot dogs), as seen here in this photo in which I felt a little too tired to be having my picture taken.
But this all getting a little too saucy so I'll move along to the last thing I wanted to talk about today which is a text message I got yesterday from my buddy Georgina. 

The message said "Dude! Did you do this or did someone steal your work?!" and it had this photo attached.
Ha, so yeah, obviously I very much appreciate my gal G looking out for me but thankfully the answer to her question is yes, I did do that. 

The day after I won the running race I was invited to paint onto the front window of one of my very favourite shops in the world; Third Drawer Down. The image they specifically asked for was this painting I did last year at a time when I was feeling particularly like a sook.

Acrylic on 225gsm paper. 21 x 29cm. 2013.

Painting a window is fun, it's a bigger scale than I'm used to; you get to use your whole arm and shoulder instead of just your wrist and elbow. Also, I painted it from the inside which meant I had to paint everything backwards, which is why when I did the backwards painting I made sure to wear my cap backwards, (as seen here in this photo of me about to tongue kiss a giant duck).
Even my little signature was painted backwards.

Afterwards I turned the cap around and here I am in front of the finished window, eating delicious cantaloupe with a tiny plastic fork.

And here I am with the wonderful Abi, who made the whole thing possible!

The window (and the brilliant shop attached to it) can be found at 155 Greville Street in Prahran, so if you're in the area please visit Third Drawer Down for some Christmas shopping and while you're there maybe take a moment to reflect in my window.

And so yeah, it was a pretty action packed week, in the space of like five days I was introduced to people as a "freelance reporter", an "athlete" and a "window painter". I laughed when I heard each of them but now that I think about it they're all much cooler titles than "artist".

Anyway I think I've bored you long enough for today, thank you so much for reading, I really appreciate it. See you soon and in the meantime and I ho-ho-hope your December is full of family, friends, happiness, kindness, Bruce Springsteen and bow-ties that look mistletoe.