Saturday, May 30, 2015

Romantic Rome antics

Hey bella, ciao! Just thought I'd write one more reminder to let you know that Che Cosa!, the Italiano themed exhibition I'm in curated by David Capra at the Wollongong City Gallery in New South Wales, is in its last days and closes tomorrow on the 31st of May.

Here's a photo of me at the opening of the show holding my sculpture of a slice of pizza. When this photo was taken I was right in the middle of serving people real neapolitan ice-cream while standing in front of my ceramic sculpture of neapolitan ice-cream.
Here's a photo of a kid looking at the sculpture.
And a split second later here's the kid pouncing towards my ice-cream sculpture with a spoon, which was both alarming and flattering.
After the opening a bunch of us went out to dinner at some Italian restaurant. The restaurant even has a poster for our exhibition in the window. Look, there's my name being pointed out by my amazing pal Jodie.The best thing about that above photo though isn't having my name pointed out, it's the shadow of Jodie's screaming profile.
Naturally for dessert I brought out one of the remaining bags I have of Fonzies, (Italian Twisties). Here they are up Jodies nose.
Here's my buddy (and Jodies husband) Heath, another exhibiting artist in Che Cosa!, making sure that each of those Fonzies does snot go to waste.
The day after the exhibition opened some of the other artists in the show and I gave artist talks
and following that we presented a public class on how to make pasta. It was a bit like we were participants in a cooking show, which is of course the role I was born to play, as seen in my caption for this instagram post I did last year.
Ten minutes after being taught how to make pasta I was already a pro, and here I am immediately imparting my wisdom to this junior masterchef.
And then, you turn your back for one second...
Before the pasta learning day though I had actually made pasta once another time; I made a bowl of fettuccine, however rather than use flour, egg and salt I used kiln fired clay. It's actually one of the sculptures in the exhibition. (I'll get a better photo of it soon but for tonight this is currently the best shot of it I have.)
Earlier this afternoon I decided to have another go at making real pasta. Here I am kneading it. Turns out I'm a natural. Which of course makes total sense; my whole life I've always been extremely kneedy.
Me being kneady.
Making pasta doesn't take very long, having said that though sometimes the pasta itself can be very long. Check it out, today I made a piece even longer than me.
At which point my dog Chloe decided to help out with the cooking.
I never knew a dog could be such a help in the kitchen. Speaking of dogs, I guess probably the strongest argument against legalising same sex marriage is the whole thing of "well if we let gay people get married then what next, we'll let people marry their dogs?!"

On an unrelated note, Chloe and I are currently planning a trip to Ireland.
In the Che Cosa! exhibition, as well as pasta sculptures and ice-cream paintings I also have some photos from my time in Italy, including this one taken by artist Georgina Lee of me in the Colosseum painting the movie Gladiator on blu-ray DVD. 
So many things I saw in Italy completely blew my mind and the Colosseum was definitely one of them. I'll never forget seeing the cells where they kept the lions, tigers, jaguars and bears that were forced to fight to the death with unarmed prisoners.

So much brutal history, meanwhile here's me using my plastic shield as a pallet and my plastic sword as a brush.

There's also a video of me doing that painting in the Colosseum, which although I never really intended to be "Art" I was so pleased to see it's also included in the Che Cosa! exhibition.
Here's someone watching it.
But so yeah, tomorrow's the last day of the show. It's a really good day to go too. At 1.30pm the curator David Capra will be giving a floor talk, there'll be Italian folk music performed by David De Santi and Zumbi, and also if you're there between 3 and 4pm you can learn the Italian card game Scopa. The Wollongong City Gallery will have the drinks a flowing and many a plateful of a meats, a cheeses, a olives, a mushrooms, a breads, a oils and a sauces. Yumma mia.

And so ok, alls I'm tryna say is that if you're able to make it tomorrow then you definitely should. But alright I think for now I'd better end this here as I'm starting to fall asleep, and on that note, here's a photo I took last year in front of some ancient castle in Naples of a snoozing man using his phone as a pillow.
Thanks heaps for reading, hope you're having a great weekend and hope to see you again really doggone soon.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A new lease on life drawing

Hey pal, what's new? Not me, that's for sure.

I can't believe I haven't mentioned it here sooner cause by now it's nearly over but the NEW15 exhibition is on at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, and you know what that means, don't you? It means I'm not the NEW kid on the blog anymore. Yes, my glory days of NEW14 are now ancient history and the time has come for a newer group of newer artists to have their NEW15 minutes of fame.

Ha, no I'm just being silly of course, I've been pretty excited for NEW15 and I've got some friends in it who are real good artists, but my point is that I'm officially OLD15. 

Here's a portrait of me as a washed up artist.
...And heres a portrait of me as an artist washing up.
A day or two before NEW15 opened I was invited by the website thethousands to write a fun little something in the lead up to the ACCA opening. It was a real thrill to have the opportunity to write about it for those guys and so yeah, click here to read it!

And look, here's a screenshot of my thousands article featured in the ACCA email bulletin! Pretty awesome, my 'reporting' is right there between The Age and Time Out Magazine! 

(I would've preferred it if my article was first on the list but I guess as the saying goes; The Age before beauty.)
And so who knows, maybe I've misinterpreted the photo of me at the beach and maybe I'm not washed up at all, maybe instead I'm actually just emerging.
Ha, although if I have to choose between being an emerging artist or a washed up one I'm not sure which is harder.
Another exciting thing about NEW15 is that with Matt Hinkley as guest curator it means that for the first time ever ACCA has invited one of the past NEW artists to curate the show. And so hey, maybe one day I'll have my turn at putting together a NEW. 

But that won't be for a while; I mean it was way back in 2008 when Hinkley was a NEW08 artist, so if that timeline is anything to go by it means I won't be up for the role of the NEW curator until NEW22. Hopefully by then we'll all be driving our new hover cars to the ACCA openings. 

But so yeah, it's funny to think that it's been a whole year since I exhibited my train drawing work in NEW, I guess one of the main things that's changed since that exhibition is that I don't actually draw people on the train anymore, (as I explained in this piece I made for the ACCA blog). 

Stopping train drawing was difficult at first but on the bright side it does mean I'm now a lot less creepy. A while back the satirical website The Onion published a great article about train drawing with the headline 'Artist Always Carries Around Sketchbook In Case He Feels Like Making Someone Uncomfortable". Here's the photo of the guy the article was talking about.
Fortunately when I drew people on the train I didn't look anything like that. For starters I never wore a red beanie. No way. Mine was green.
It's actually a funny coincidence that The Onion brought up drawing because I did actually used to eat a lot of onions while I was drawing. I didn't do it for any reason related to the drawing though, I just did it incase I ever want to be a leader in this country.
Anyway don't get me wrong, even though I no longer do train drawing I do still do life drawing. Here I am in the National Gallery of Victoria a little while back when they had the David Shrigley life model. 
My drawing even ended up being hung on the wall, which technically means I've now exhibited at the NGV, as seen on the bottom left of this photo on the National Gallery's instagram account. 
As well as drawing the fibreglass life model I've also recently been going to actual life drawing classes. 

Life drawing is so much fun, and even though I suck at it I think partly I just love it because it reminds me of being back in first year TAFE. Plus it's pretty much the only time I get to see somebody naked.
I guess if I really wanted to see naked people though I could've just gone back up to Canberra and done one of those Stuart Ringholt 'naked tours' at the James Turrell show.

Admittedly I'm not 100% convinced that looking at art naked does enhance the looking at art experience, ha, but I suppose if any hotties ever do want to take off their clothes and look at my latest work naked then my studio door is always open.

But life drawing isn't actually about naked people at all, it's about developing mad drawing skillz, which is clearly something I need to do more of as seen here in this three minute pose I drew.
Fortunately this drawing was easy to fix, all I had to do was turn it on its side, chuck in a few extra details and hey presto, no longer a bad life drawing, now it's a lovely drawing of a woman with her wrists tied together and hanging from a rope above a crocodile. 
(Don't worry, the woman in the drawing doesn't get eaten. You can tell by the look in her eyes that she manages to untie herself with just a second to spare, she then wrestles with the crocodile until they eventually develop a mutual respect and the pair team up and hunt down the baddie who tied her up there in the first place...)

The other thing I've been working on at life drawing class is foreshortening. I'm sure you know what foreshortening is but just incase you don't foreshortening just means things that are closer to you appear bigger than things that are further away. Like how my thumb is nearly as big as my face in this photo.
Or for another example of foreshortening here's a drawing I did of a reclining stick figure.

Unfortunately life drawing doesn't always involve drawing pretty women, in fact most of the time it's about looking at some guys penis.
Practising foreshortening is one of my favourite things to do, although I have to admit I enjoy it slightly less when it involves foreskin shortening.

Sometimes when I go to life drawing I prefer to just draw the chandelier on the ceiling rather than the naked guy on the floor. 

Then again, sometimes it's fun to just face the penis head on.

And if going to life drawing classes wasn't enough to make me feel like I'm back at art school then lately I've also been going to a few public lectures as well. Here's a drawing from when I went to a talk at Gertrude Contemporary hosted by Discipline magazine and presented by the Australian film critic Adrian Martin.
I really enjoyed the Adrian Martin talk, he discussed ways of presenting information through using a combination of both images and text, which I think is something I sometimes try to do with this blog. 

The last slide in Martin's talk was titled "Do you I have to draw you a picture?" 
Adrian Martin concluded the talk by saying "Yes, you do, it is time for drawing", which was the perfect reason for me to then give him the drawing I'd just done.
Another talk I've been to recently was at the NGV and presented by the wonderful Sydney artist Del Kathryn Barton.

Here's a drawing I did of the talk while listening to her Del-ightful insights.

And here we are afterwards when I gave her the drawing. 
And so yeah, all I'm really trying to say is that I've still been drawing lots since NEW14, even though I haven't been doing any train drawing. 

Actually, I say I haven't been doing any train drawing but I did accidentally lapse just once the other night and without thinking I started drawing a woman sitting near me on the train. 
Now that I'd done the drawing I decided I may as well give it to her, and so I built up some courage and sheepishly walked across to her side of the carriage. She was so funny, she took one look and said "You have drawn me to look much too old, I do not want this drawing because I simply do not see myself in this, it is not me, this is a drawing of a stranger".

Ha, far out, tough critic, all I could do was laugh and tell her I'll try to be better at drawing in the future. See, I told you I need to work on my mad drawing skillz.

The person who'd been sitting next to me and watching me make the drawing then offered to take our photo.
Here I am, looking particularly chipmunkish.
The woman I'd drawn and I started talking. Her name is Marina, she's Russian and has been living in Australia for ten years. Apparently back in Russia Marina was a university lecturer who taught literature, but in Australia she can't find a job because over here all her qualifications are invalid. Also it's probably just a hard job to get. Due to financial reasons  Marina told me she will have to return to Russia at the end of the month, (coincidentally around about the same time the other Marina; Abromovic, will be arriving in Australia. If the two happen to both be travelling by boat they might even pass by each other at a marina.)

I ended up talking with Marina, (the Russian teacher, not the Yugoslavian artist), for about half an hour. We were on a Lilydale train and so when we got to Ringwood I told her I had to change trains to get on the Belgrave line, at which point she said she did as well and insisted we continue the conversation. So we waited on the platform together and then got on the next train together and continued talking.

Marina's going back to Russia on May 27th, she told me it's the shortest night of the Russian year and only gets dark for one hour. She said "You can sit outside at 1am and read the newspaper. People get very upset because they can't sleep."

Marina demanded if I was serious about art I must go to Saint Petersburg, she pulled out of her tote bag a sealed calendar titled "Twelve bridges of Saint Petersburg" and she removed the packaging. She then talked me through the history of all twelve bridges. She went into explicit detail on every bridge explaining who designed it, when it was built and what water the bridge goes over. She really knew her stuff... well, I don't know, she could've made up every word of it, but she was very convincing.

As we approached Marina's station she asked me to help her put the calendar back into the plastic and I happily did. She then insisted that I take the calendar, I was less sure about whether to do that. She made me promise her that one day I'll go to Saint Petersburg and see these bridges in person. Marina was very stern with me but it was clear she really cared, I bet she'd be an amazing uni tutor. I promised her I'd see the bridges. And I do hope to live up to that promise, I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
As a nice little epilogue to that story the next day I received this email from the person who'd offered to take the photos of Marina and I.
And so yeah, I guess the same way that the article on The Onion reminded me why I'm glad I don't draw people on the train anymore, meeting Marina (and also Liz) reminded me why train drawing was so special.

And now when I get into bed I have hanging on the wall behind me the Twelve bridges of Saint Petersburg calendar, a drawing which may or may not resemble Marina, the drawing of a chandelier, the tied up woman dangling above a crocodile and the drawing of a foreshortened figure (hung upside down so that she's smiling at me)
And so alright, I'd love to keep writing this blog post forever but oh would you look at the time...
Kenye Westtock
Before I go just a quick reminder that you've still got until May 31 to see a nice collection of my Italian themed sculptures, paintings, photos and videos in the group exhibition Che Cosa!, curated by David Capra and held at the Wollongong City Gallery in New South Wales. Apparently my work in the show was recently on the local TV station WIN, unfortunately I haven't been able to track it down yet but I'll keep you posted if I do.

Also, I've got a new ceramic sculpture in the 2015 fundraiser exhibition on at West Space, the exhibition finishes today so if you're in Melbourne definitely check it out! It's both a great cause and a great show. Here's the flyer.
Plus here's something really cool; I found out today that my piece in the West Space show has just been acquired by the City of Melbourne state collection! The City of Melbourne also bought some of my drawings last year which are currently on display in Town Hall and so yeah, that's just really awesome and I'm really honoured and grateful.

But so ok, my conclusion to this blog post is that even though I'm not NEW anymore and even though at any moment I could disappear into obscurity faster than a woman dangling over a crocodile, it turns out that at least for the time being, touch wood, everything seems to be going a.o.k and on the up and up. 

And speaking of things that go up, even though I vowed to do no more train drawing I never said anything about plane drawing, and so to finish off the blog post here's a quick thing I drew when I sat down on a plane the other day of a mother and daughter holding hands across the aisle.

When the plane engines turned on the daughter squeezed her hand a little tighter and asked nervously "Mum, are we about to blast off now?"

If you've read all the way to the end here then thanks so much, you are the best. See you soon, and in the meantime I hope that whatever you've been up to is starting to take off, whatever baggage you've got is light enough to carry on, and that you're having a blast.