Friday, February 27, 2015

Catch me if you Canberra

Hey cool guy, welcome, yesterdays blog post was about me flying to Sydney on Friday to deliver some work for an exhibition, and so I guess the second part of the story is that when I left Sydney on Saturday night I took a bus to Canberra. 

I hadn't been to Canberra since 2011 when I saw the Paris exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, this time I was there to see a different show at the NGA; a retrospective of Californian artist James Turrell. I was pretty excited about the show; every bus stop in Sydney is lit up with posters advertising it using the quote 'ONE OF THE GREATEST ARTISTS OF OUR TIME'.
What I like most about the quote on the poster is that it doesn't actually tell you who it's quoting. So who said that Turrell is 'ONE OF THE GREATEST ARTISTS OF OUR TIME'? Was it the curator? His mum? It could be anyone!

Anyone except for the BBC that is, or the National Gallery of Victoria, who when sharing a link on their facebook page about the greatest artist of our time have ignored James Turrell entirely and instead suggested it's a pufferfish.
At first I thought they were referring to the rapper Sean Pufferfish Diddy Combs. That would've made sense to me, I've always said that Combs is the greatest artist of our time, but they weren't talking about Combs at all, it turns out they mean an actual fish.

And the BBC does present a convincing argument. I mean, I could never make an artwork like this pufferfish, there's just absolutely no way I could hold my breath that long.
When I got to Canberra, about 10pm on Saturday night, I went straight to Parliament House. I sat on the front lawn and started drawing the building, but I only got as far as the flag on the top before police cars began circling me and the sprinklers turned on.
At first I thought I was in the one lucky spot where none of the sprinklers could reach, but after 20 seconds of feeling invincible all the sprinklers began to rotate towards me and I knew that the time had come for me to resign from my post at Parliament House.
So I walked across the field to Old Parliament House, which although was equally as dark, it's a much drier building to draw.
It was getting late. My very best pal had just arrived in Canberra too so we went halves in a mystery room. A mystery room is this thing you do through a website where you book last minute accommodation for dirt cheap but they don't tell you anything about the place until you've paid, and luckily we scored the jackpot. As much as I loved sleeping on the floor the night before, this room was pretty great.
It didn't have a view of a bay but it did have a second door that opened into an enchanted forest courtyard. 
Here's a photo of me Sunday morning. (How come I'm always so lonely, who wouldn't wanna wake up next to this?)
The thing I was most excited about with this hotel was the pool, here I am at 7am Sunday morning crushing a little boy in a 50 meter freestyle race. 

Pufferfish aren't the only artists who can swim.
Checking out of the hotel I went to the supermarket for breakfast, where I discovered the only flavour of Chupa Chup you can get in Canberra is caramel. 

Do you think it's because people really love caramel so they buy it in bulk or do you think it's the only flavour left cause everyone thinks it sucks?
One things for sure though; the James Turrell exhibition doesn't suck. I loved it. 
I started to do a drawing in my favourite room, although there wasn't much to draw. I got a fair bit into it before a security guard told me that I was not allowed to use a marker in the gallery.
So I put away the marker and got out some whiteout. I was hoping if I used it to colour in the bright light bit that maybe it might make my drawing glow, but it didn't really work.
Taking the drawing out of the gallery it instantly looked a lot less vibrant.
So I've since gotten a bit of paint and tickled the drawing pink, and now when I look at it I feel like I'm right back there in the room.
I love the National Gallery of Australia, and I thought that I was having the best time possible in the NGA until I spotted Brett and Wendy clearly having an even better time than me.
Now that the day had climaxed, we began the drive home from Canberra to Melbourne, stopping only at a McDonalds for a couple of very affordable large waters when the heat made us thirsty.

 (Hume highway? More like Humid Highway. Am I right?!... Yes, good one Kenny.)
The other place we stopped at was the iconic place of 'Dog on the Tuckerbox', sculpted by stonemason Frank Rosconi in 1932. According to wikipedia, the work was inspired by a drovers poem that celebrates a drovers dog who loyally guards it's owners tuckerbox by sitting on top of it. I used my very last piece of paper to do a drawing of it.
While exiting the area via the 'Dog on the Tuckerbox' gift shop I spent a few minutes looking at this sign. Do you think it's intentional that there's no space between the words 'more' and 'space'? Surely it has to be. I also like how OUTSIDE is in capitals to really drive home the joke.
I didn't buy the sign but I did buy an icy pole, and as I did the woman at the register said "I noticed you were sketching out there, you have very good line control". I thanked the woman, (Tess, her name was), and I told her she was very kind and more than welcome to keep the little drawing. 

She very happily asked me to sign the back, I very happily did, and then we had this picture taken.
And the rest is history, here I am eating cheese and crackers at 110 k's an hour for the next 6 hours.
And so yeah, I'm back in Melbourne now, very happily so, and when I walked into my kitchen I was very surprised to have a puppy run towards me. Ha, and so little did I know, but we've got a puppy.

Meet Chloe. She's about the size of my foot. Which is perfect because I like my dogs how I like my subs; footlong.
Here I am holding Chloe in one arm, and holding my best pals bag in the other. They both look so similar I can't remember which one's which.
I've never had a girl dog before, I keep calling her boy. I thought that all cats were girls and all dogs were boys. This changes everything. Weird right, just thinking about it I can feel my mind expanding outwards like some kind of puffed up fish.
But ok that's enough out of me, the last thing I'll say is a quick reminder that there's only two days left to see the show I'm in at Anna Pappas, and also that on this Sunday is the opening of the show I'm in at the Cowwarr Art Space in Gippsland, Victoria, and also that on March 6th is the opening of a show I'm in at the Wollongong Art Gallery, in Wollongong, (obviously), in Regional NSW. 

And even though my work couldn't possibly compete with that of James Turrell or a sand manipulating fish I'd still love for you to come by to one or all of these shows, join me for a drink and check out some of the stuff I've been up to. 

But even if you can't make it to the shows thanks heaps for reading this, I hope everything with you is going swimmingly, and remember to keep your eye out for Chloe Pittock, she's my tip for the next greatest artist of our time.

And so yeah, that's pretty much it, Chloe's picking this whole art thing up pretty quickly for a two month old, today while trying to learn from the masters she had a go at replicating Dog on the Tuckerbox, here's Chloe's version, Dog in the Tuckerbox.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting there is half the fon-zies


Often when you're transporting smallish art interstate it works out a lot cheaper to just fly to the place yourself and bring the work with you than it is to use a courier. It's often a lot funner too, and so last Friday night I flew to Sydney to deliver my work for a show at the Wollongong City Art Gallery that opens at the start of next month.

Held in conjunction with Illawarra Italian week, the show's called Che Cosa! (which is Italian for "What?") and features mostly artists who are Italian, or in cases like me, (to quote the curator), artists whose work plays with "the allure of national and cultural identification" and "examines ways in which traditions are maintained and communicated".

Che Cosa! is curated by the fantastic Sydney based artist David Capra. Here's an image for the show with a list of the exhibiting artists;
Because I only had carry-on luggage, and because clay is heavy, to keep my bags under 10kg I had to stuff as much as I could of what I was taking into the pockets of my shorts. One of my pieces that went to Sydney in my pocket was a ceramic sculpture of the Nintendo 64 game Mario Kart. Even though technically Mario is Japanese I still think he's probably the worlds most famous Italian.

Here's a picture of the sculpture when the painting was still in it's early stages, photographed on an especially dusty table. You'd have to blow pretty hard into the cartridge if you were hoping to get it to work.
I was glad I had the sculpture in my pocket on the flight as coincidentally the guy sitting next to me had a tattoo of Bullet Bill, one of the baddies from the game. 
The guy I sat next to's name was Andy, he was a soldier who drives army trucks in regional Victoria and was flying to Sydney to party in Kings Cross on his one weekend off. At the start of the flight Andy had tried to order two cans of Jim Beam but the flight attendant would only allow him one, so I jumped in and said that one of the cans was for me, and then after I handed it to Andy we ended up talking for the entire flight.

I asked Andy if his job had ever taken him overseas, he said no but that he'd soon be going to Iraq. I asked him how long he'd be there for, he said three months. I asked him if he was scared. He told me "It's just like any other job. You do your art yeah? Don't you get scared of people not liking your stuff?" I said "Well yeah sure but my worst case scenario doesn't result in me killing someone or someone killing me... you know, so long as I don't draw Muhammad."

Andy was a big tough man but also just a really nice guy, I think my favourite thing I heard him say was how addicted he is to playing the game Sim City. "It's like crack" he said. "I wish I could live in that game, just be a character in it." 

I said "But isn't that literally what life is?" He laughed and said "Oh yeah, you're right... except it's a lot easier in the game if you decide you want to start again".
Last time I stayed in Sydney, (only a few weeks ago), I stayed in a 12 bed dorm, this time I accepted my friends Marilyn and J.D's generous offer and crashed on the floor of their new furniture-less apartment. Their place is pretty friggin awesome, (thanks again Marilyn and J.D!), here's the floor I slept on.
 And if you look out that balcony window, here's the view of the bay.
Saturday morning I went around to an open studio with my buddy Heath, who's another artist in Che Cosa!, after that we delivered our work to David. We didn't take the work to Davids place though, instead we went to his Nonnas, who had invited us and the other artists in the show to her house for a traditional Italian feast. 

Before I get to that though, in related news, you may or probably may not remember that in a blog post I wrote back in October last year I talked about selling some Twisties sculptures to my friend the artist Tracey Lamb, I then talked about how in Italy Twisties are called Fonzies. Here's the drawing I did of Fonzie eating Fonzies.
Well it turns out Tracey's brother happens to live in Italy and after reading how much I'd love to try Fonzies Tracey asked him to send a pack over for me! And so, fantastically, here I am with Tracey and my very own multipack of Fonzies! (Thanks again Tracey!)
We opened one of the packets straight away in celebration. 
Just as wikipedia mentioned, Fonzies are much lighter in colour than Twisties. They actually look a lot like Chicken Twisties. To compare the colours, here's a Cheese Fonzie next to a Cheese Twistie.
After meeting up with Tracey and scoring the Fonzies we both then participated in a pretty special 'art therapy' performance piece at Blindside gallery by my friend Inez de Vega. Here's a photo from that.
And then a couple of hours later on the other side of that we got back to finishing off the bag of Fonzies. (Also pictured eating Fonzies are Georgie and Laura.)

I've still got like 6 bags of the Fonzies left, I'll put a bowl of them out at the opening of Che Cosa! so you can try them. I still can't decide what they taste like, I think I'll have to eat a few more before I will. One thing they don't taste like though is Tacos, unlike these new Taco flavoured Twisties, available for a limited time only, exclusively at 7-11.
Ha, that kinda sounded like I'm getting paid by 7-11 to say that. I wish. I love 7-11. My studio's right next door to one so I go there all the time. If you're reading this 7-11 give me a call, I'm not asking for much, maybe just a couple of $1 coffees. But what was I talking about? Oh right, Taco Twisties.
They really do taste like tacos.

But ok, getting back to lunch at David's Nonna's house. I ate sooo much food. Three full courses and then two courses of dessert, every bite was amazing. I didn't take any photos of the food because I was too busy eating it. All that delicious stuff, and being around so much Italian speaking, it took me back to the feeling of being in Italy. I love Italy.

Here's a photo David took of us at his Nonna's after we'd all eaten enough food to last us a week. (Thanks again David's Nonna!)
Here's a photo of Tom using an app to translate all the text on a Fonzi packet. "Fingers" and "Coat kisses", so that's what they taste like!
And here's me and Heath in David's Nonna's backyard looking at the towering cacti and abundant vegetable patch.
You can't see the cactus or the vegetables in that above photo but you can see that Heath is holding a wrapped up shirt. The shirt needed to be delivered to Heath's wonderful partner Jodie at the Museum of Contemporary Art and as Heath was busy I offered to deliver it for him. 

I didn't think to take a photo of me delivering the shirt but thanks to my mad photoshop skillz you wouldn't even know; here's a picture of Jodie and I in front of the MCA.
Ha, but ok, it's clearly time for me to wrap this up. In fact maybe I should just start again. I oughta download The Sims. But thanks very much for reading this and in conclusion; some work I made about Italy and some work I made in Italy is now safely in Sydney and the show opens in Wollongong on March the 6th. 

Oh also, the exhibition I'm in at Anna Pappas gallery (in Melbourne) finishes this Saturday so if you haven't seen it yet I'd love it if you can get there in one of these next few days. I'll write more about the show soon but for now here's a review of it in the Art Guide.

Oh and also, I'm in another upcoming exhibition that opens this Sunday evening at the Cowarra Art Centre in Gippsland, a two and a half hour drive out of Melbourne. The show's called Future Now and is curated by the brilliant Rosemary Forde. I'll talk more about that soon too but for now here's a little flyer with all the details, I'd love to see you there!
Oh and also, I'll talk more about this soon as well but while I'm loading you up with places to see my work I'm very excited to say that I've got a 1000 word text and image piece in Issue 3 of Sturgeon Magazine, out now in pretty much all good newsagents, delicately displayed between my two other favourite magazines; Art Collector and Flower Arranger.
And finally, while I was in the MCA on Saturday delivering Jodie's shirt I also had a chance to see the great retrospective exhibition of American painter and photographer Chuck Close. 

And so the last thing I'll chuck in this blog post, to bring it to a close; here's Close, but no cigar.

And here's Close, with a cigar. (A ceramic sculpture I made of one.)