Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tony Abbott a Post Turtle?

Post Turtle
Our beloved Prime Minister a Post Turtle? Well that is what he has been called in response to the news this weekend that he had wanted to invade Irak a second time.

"While stitching a cut on the hand of a 75 year old farmer, whose hand was caught in the drafting gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to politicians and their role as our leaders. The old rancher said, "Well, as I see it, most politicians are Post Turtles”. Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was. The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle." The old farmer saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain. "You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, he's elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ar*e put him up there to begin with." 
(This explanation is from the Facebook page of Michael Trant  , a longer version of that found in the Urban Dictionary.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Paintings - when are they finished?

Jugs, some hibiscus and a fairy
Before I can decide if a painting is finished or not, especially a larger work, I need to have it up on the wall for a few weeks. Over time things that are not right start to irritate me and then I take the time to find a solution.

At the moment I am surrounded by the set of small work which was painted over Christmas.

Squirrel, nectarines (white and yellow fleshed) and blue duck.
A larger canvas with a few lines sketched on it is now sitting on my easel. It has been there for three weeks and beckons to me each time I pass by. I know what I want to paint - it is just starting that is the problem.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

ACO, Four Seasons, Joseph Tawadros

The Australian Chamber Orchestra has released a new CD - The Four Seasons. Why would you want another four seasons CD you ask yourself? Well, listen to this one and you may decide you do.
Joseph Tawadros plays Oud

I heard the ACO Four Seasons concert yesterday and it is a beaut; a collaboration with Joseph Tawadros who composes for and plays the Oud (Egyptian string instrument) and his percussionist brother James Tawadros who played the Riq', which is like a small tambourine.

Put a group of virtuosic players in a room together and this concert is what you get. It is energetic and obviously fun for all participants. That makes it even more fun for the audience who leave the hall smiling and humming.

The concert is touring Australian east coast cities through February ... catch them if you can.

Valentine's Day

Ophelia : ...
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-1601)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chuck Close

Tapestry portrait of Chuck Close
Art, like music, is best consumed live. That was my thought yesterday at the Chuck Close exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

The close-up portraits produced by Close and his collaborators are in all the books about 20th Century art, but only when you see them live do you realise why.  Close has worked with 'old-fashioned' techniques or pushed new techniques beyond their boundaries, producing large and usually labour intensive work that is strikingly different from your average portrait.

Detail: tapestry portrait
His work is dominated by grids and seems obsessive: work based on hand drawn computer-type graphics designating exactly which colour should be dotted in exactly which tiny square over exactly which other colour; large works printed using multiple wood-blocks prepared by a Japanese collaborator who is expert in wood block carving; tapestries woven from computer generated images which are startlingly super-realistic.

I left the exhibition with a new understanding of this work and this lifetime of grid exercises

ADDENDUM: I just discovered an interview with Chuck Close that is really worth reading. I had no idea he was incapacitated for much of his life.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Shedding the past

Shedding bark
Shed bark
Some Australian gum species shed their bark in summer.  They become works of art as the bark peels off and lies multi-coloured around them.

Once the process is complete, they stand naked in the woods, pink among their clothed-in-grey neighbours, until the weather blends them into their environment again. They become larger and stronger. The material they shed material provides mulch and fertilises their continued growth.

As I watch the cycle, I wonder if there are lessons for us there?

Naked wood