Friday, July 24, 2015

It's a marvellous night for a moo-ndance

Hey pal, how're ya? Or should I say; Cowwarr ya? Because I just realised that it's about time I write a little bit about the two week residency I did recently at the Cowwarr Art Space, which is in regional Victoria about three hours out of Melbourne.

So yeah, for two weeks back in April I lived by myself in a one bedroom studio with an outdoor toilet and no phone reception in the middle of the woods, a nice half an hour drive from the nearest sign of civilisation. 

And the nearest sign of civilisation it turns out was this one, hung in the window of the main street general store asking if anybody would like to buy a nanny goat named Pookie.

Cowwarr is a pretty fantastic place, here's a photo of what you saw when you stepped out of my studio and looked to the left.
And here's a photo of what you saw when you stepped out of my studio and looked to the right.
Being so isolated I started to feel like I was in the Louisianan badlands of True Detective... which would of course make me Matthew McConahey. Or should I say; Matthew McKennyhey? Ha, can we get that to catch on? From now on I'd like you to only refer to me as Matthew McKennyhey.

Anyway to get to know the area better I started riding a bike around and eventually I stumbled across the local gym, it's a bit different to the facilities at Fitness First.
But civilisation or no civilisation, I kept on working away and here's a photo of me unloading some ceramics from the Cowwarr Art Space kiln.
As well as spending most of my time with my head in the kiln, on one of the days of my residency at Cowwarr Art Space I taught an art class to the Sale Catholic College year 11's. 
Here's a photo taken during the first part of the class where I gave a powerpoint presentation about some of my work.
(The slide being projected in the photo is from way back when I met Bill Henson at the MGA in 2011.)
Incase you're unsure whether or not the students were or were not engrossed by the talk, here's a post I was excited to see on the Cowwarr Art Space facebook page proving that fortunately yes they were indeed engrossed.
'Engrossed' is the right word too, as many of the students were very engrossed out when I talked about my sculpture that involved me taxidermy-ing a mouse.
The mouse work was actually in the Future Now exhibition at Cowwarr Art Space which was still on during my residency, so after hearing about the piece during my presentation the gang was then able to see the mouse up close in the flesh. 
Acrylic on ceramic, taxidermed mouse. 2013.

Here's a dad and his son doing just that.
After talking about my work we then busted out the clay and got our hands dirty. 
Sure our hands may have gotten dirty but here's a student making sure his nose stays clean, using his brand new extendo clay nostril picking finger.
Also, even though the students got their hands dirty they still of course tried their best not to get their clothes dirty. When one of the students couldn't find a place to hang their blazer we suggested he use one of the sculptures on display in the gallery. 
Ha, this of course was just my latest attempt in forever trying to be the cool Dead Poets Society sits-on-his-chair-backwards kind of teacher.

Secretly though I had already asked the gallery if I could have permission to play with some of these artworks on permanent display. It was good fun too, here's my ceramic sculpture of a pair of keyring sized Australian flag thongs placed in front of a marble thing by the artist Sanné Maestrom.
I also incorporated a Bubble'O Bill ice-cream sculpture and a cheezel sculpture amongst a marble work by Clive Murray White, who's a great artist (and great guy) that taught Sanné Maestrom, and here's a photo of three of us together with the works. (Also in the photo on the wall behind us is a text piece by my buddy Dan Petersen.)Good old Cowwarr, full of cows, in fact here's a drawing I did of a cow I saw while I was there.
Ha, no just kidding of course, that's the cow from Elioth Gruner's 1919 painting Spring Frost at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. 
But in all seriousness there are a lot of cows in Cowwarr, so much so that did you know the Cowwarr Art Space was actually built out of an old butter factory, pretty cool huh? 

The day before I did my residency at the old butter factory I was taking an overnight train from Sydney to Melbourne and thinking about this while I ate a nine dollar gourmet dinner.
After I'd eaten I did this drawing of the butter container, altering the text of course so it says "I Cowwarrn't Believe It's Not Butter"
During my residency I then turned that drawing into a sculpture. It's acrylic on kiln fired ceramic, 3cm x 2cm x 1cm. Here it is photographed in the Cowwarr Art Space gallery on a nice white plinth.

And here's a photo I took of the sculpture out in the fields with some of the local cows, who were acting a bit more lively than those cows in Gruner's painting.
After I'd finished the residency, as a thank you for having me, I gave the sculpture to Carolyn, who both founded and runs Cowwarr Art Space, (and is also the mayor of Wellington). Here's a photo of the two of us with Carolyn holding the sculpture.
I loved my stay at the Cowwarr Art Space and I so just wanna take a sec to say a huge thank you to Carolyn and Clive, also to Rosemary Forde, and also to Robert Natoli and the gang at Sale College.

And so ok, I definitely could end the blog post there but I won't because the other thing I want to talk about is that a couple of months ago in May my buddy Alex and I once again ran in the Great Puffing Billy Train race, just like we did last year

Here's a photo of us taken last year while we were standing around before the race.
Because we didn't beat the train last year, this time in the moments before the race instead of just standing around to have our picture taken (or worse still; doing stretches) I figured I'd try out a new pre-race tactic that would hopefully give us the edge, because if I've learnt one thing from Mario Kart it's that if you wanna win a race then you gotta lay down some banana peels.
Rather than on the road though I really should've put a banana peel on the train tracks, as sadly once again Alex and I did not beat the train. Someone once told me that "slow and steady wins the race" but I think what might actually work better would be to go fast and steady and so after losing to Puffing Billy twice now I've decided that that's the last time I listen to a tortoise.

I actually really struggled this year, forget the train I was lucky to even just beat this guy.
And so yeah I know to a lot of people 14kms is nothing but it was hard work and I was so happy to finally reach the end. Here's a photo of Alex and I from last years race holding hands as we crossed the finish line.
And this year we decided to do it again.
And here we are after the race eating shepard pies.Next year I promise I will beat that stinking steam engine, in the meantime though all I've got to show for this years race is sore muscles and a bloody ankle.Moving on from the race, another thing I wanna quickly mention in this blog post before I forget is do you remember a few months ago when I wrote about driving from Canberra to Melbourne and doing a drawing of the iconic Dog on the Tuckerbox? Well the actual dog from on the tucker box messaged me on facebook! Check it out;
Very cool. I'm really looking forward to dropping in to get an ice-cream and pat the dog the next time I'm out that way but in the meantime if you happen to be passing by the Dog On A Tuckerbox I'd love it if you'd stop in, say hello and send me a photo of the drawing in the shop. 

But alright, I'll finish this up with some quick plugs for upcoming things I'd love you to come see; first up the Art As A Verb exhibition I'm in at Artspace in Sydney is still on until July 26. I still can't get over how awesome it is to be in the exhibition, here's a photo of my work holding its own between great work by Ariel Orozco and great work by David McDiarmid
So cool! For more details on the show click here

Other than that I've got a couple of pieces in a group show in Melbourne at George Paton Gallery that runs from July 29 to August 7. This show has an exhibition closing (instead of an exhibition opening) on Wednesday August 5th from 5-7pm. The show's curated by Hanann Al Daqqa, Anushia Andrews and Carol Que and is titled "The things that scared me this morning are over now!" For more details click here

Also upcoming in Melbourne is the Victorian Craft Award which I'm very excited to announce I've been shortlisted for as a finalist. That exhibition opens on August 1st and runs until August 15. For more details click here.

Oh also I mentioned it two posts back but remember I'll be one of the four artists hosting an "Imagineering" workshop for kids and families at ACCA tomorrow Saturday July 25 from 12-4pm. Come along! It's gonna be fun! For more details click here.

Oh and lastly, remember how earlier in the year I had some work included in issue one of a new publication called Funny Ha Ha? Well issue two has just come out and alongside a bunch of comedians and writers is also a trilogy of three "Kenny The Wacky Artist" comics by me!

Here's what the cover of the book looks like so you can see the names of who's in it.
So if you're interested in getting your hands on a copy of that it's available at The Good Copy on Johnston street in Melbourne or you can order it online here.

Oh and lastly, and I'm not too sure if this is a good idea or not, probably not, but I created a facebook page for my art. I'll probably realise the page is unnecessary and delete it within a week but in the meantime if you're a person who's interested in updates on exhibitions or hearing when I write a new blog post, which hopefully you are if you're reading this all the way to the end, then please click on this link and like the page.

Here's a photo of me having a big party with all the people who've clicked like on it already.

And well alright, alright, alright, that's enough out of me for one night. I hope you're going really good, thanks heaps for reading and please feel free to leave a comment below if you know of any serial murderers that need catching, cause remember, they don't call me Matthew McKennyhey for nothing.