Presented by Denise Keele-bedford in partnership with Fed Square
Fracture Gallery, The Atrium Fed Square 1 – 30 November 2021
The origin of Deep Blue Crossing began in 2015. I had a discussion, with an artist friend, on the massive movement of people across the globe. We talked about how we came to be in Australia and the issue of so many people having to leave their homes and take boats as an escape, to find a better life and a secure, safe environment in which to live.
Australia and especially Melbourne has been voted the most livable city in the world and for me as a ‘privileged’ white Australian I thank my ancestors for taking a boat in 1849 and migrating to this country.
For so many, though, they do not have the choice to live where they want or to choose to migrate as a free individual. These are people who, for whatever the reason, have been forced to move find themselves physically and mentally drifting in search of ‘home’.
In 2016, I had the opportunity to undertake an artist residency in the Hudson Valley New York State. The city of Poughkeepsie is a melting pot of cultures and the ‘boat people’ issue in Australia arose in my mind again. My first boat installations were in Poughkeepsie where I used colourful papers to make origami boats that reflected the migration, trade and transport on the three hundred-and fifteen-mile length of the Hudson River.
The yellow boats came about by looking at Hope. Hope for a safe environment, Hope for security, Hope for a safe passage, Hope for a better life, Hope for a home and each person’s Hope could be different. The Yellow boats have become a symbol of Hope. I found myself continually folding for installations in Beijing, in Gwangju Korea, in Wuhan China and again in Melbourne. 2019 saw me traveling throughout Norway creating boat installations in the natural environment. In the beginning, I folded one boat at a time, completely. I then devised a rhythm and fold one hundred at a time through each of the ten steps of the production process. One hundred boats take about six hours to complete, it almost becomes meditative.
In celebration of Multicultural Week at Fed Square, an armada of origami boats will sail through Fracture Gallery, accompanied by rainbow colour beams dancing across the space. The installation uses colour to convey the kaleidoscopic diversity of nations who have traversed oceans and created a fusion from their cultural inheritances that transforms Melbourne into a unique multicultural society.
Deep Blue Crossing acknowledges our First Peoples, our first-generation migrants who continue to enrich Melbourne’s heritage, and all people of different backgrounds, ideas and cultures who contribute to the harmony of future generations.
With Thanks to: Stony Creek Studio, Kayendee Acrylics, Karyn Blokkeerus, Megan Caine.
Bastille Day, July 14 I enjoyed the company of Ceramic artist Jane Annois. Jane is very much a Francophile, who like me, travelled often, and embraced all things French. I was booked to travel with Jane and a small group on a walking tour in Corsica in June 2020.
Over coffee we excitedly talked of her upcoming trip to Magnetic Island and my trip in August to Brisbane. http://www.janeannois.com/
The day before I dropped eight artworks to Fitzroy Stretchers for framing. We arranged for me to go back on Friday 16 when the framer was present. https://www.fitzroystretches.com/
Bundit Puangthong their framer was absent, working on one of his major murals in the city.
As it happened, Melbourne went into Lockdown 5. Writing this Blog, I find myself having to research the dates and versions of the Lockdowns; they are all beginning to blend into one long series of restrictions with short periods of time being able to travel outside of 5 kms. Don’t blink otherwise you will miss it.
We know the drill of postponements, cancellations, zooms, refunds for tickets bought. Some of my refunds were difficult because my Credit Card had since expired causing phone calls to update the Expiry Date for remittance.
The MONOCHROME online exhibition was extended to end of August and the artworks are currently displayed in the online shop. https://www.mavacollective.com/shop?page=5
MSWPS Covid Creations online exhibition continues to be available for viewing.
With the expectation of the uplifted restrictions on 27 July I have continued to prepare for the Manningham Arts Fellowship Event on September 19. Unfortunately, this event is to be rescheduled, possibly into 2022:
As Melbourne tumbled into Locked 6 on August 5 for 7 days, then a further 14 days……we find ourselves, early September, still here, at home in STAGE 4 restrictions, most likely until 70% of us are fully vaccinated. Big news: Walter and I have our COVID vaccination certificates.
The length of time it has taken me to write this blog Victoria now stands at 70% with at least the first vaccination shot.
2021 Victorian Seniors Festival is with us and series of podcasts are available to listen to.
Two artists with Italian heritage are featured in Episode 4, including my dear friend Liliana Barbieri. Check out the link below:
Visual artist and gallery director Wilma Tabacco speaks about the triumphs and challenges of growing up in an adopted country. Fellow artist and educator Liliana Barbieri talks about migration, family, and following her dreams.
About twenty MSWPS Members visited the studio of Vicki Sullivan via Zoom recently.
Vicki’s art practice is based in the realist tradition with a passion for 19th Century portraiture.
I wrote a review of our visit that can be read here: https://mswps.com.au/a-virtual-journey-to-vicki-sullivans-studio/
Walter continues the rounds of medical checks, tests, in and out and in again to hospital during August. He is well on the way to recovery from skin grafts. The Victorian artists Society will create an online Profile for him and he is pleased with the recognition.
While I wait for the outcome of various exhibition entry submissions, notices of postponement have been received and some different activities in my studio are occurring.
Preparation for Deep Blue Crossing to be held at Fracture Gallery in Federation Square has continued with some difficulty having acrylic forms made during this Lockdown.
The installation will coincide with Multicultural Month in November and fortunately Fracture Gallery is a view only 24-hour space, constructed of glass and steel. The Public will be able see the work without concern.
From the Orient: Recent Works from China is still planned for Mid-November for one month.
I have edited the Spring Edition of The Bulletin for the Melbourne Society of Women Painters & Sculptors and am currently preparing more than ninety artworks from fifty members for the online Annual Exhibition. Changing Perspectives 2021 will be launched for Public Viewing on Friday 1st October.
An older friend, who downsized, asked if I would advise on where to hang her art collection in the new abode.
Having less wall space than previously we took time to work through her collection and select the pieces that had the most ‘value’ to her, not monetary but emotional and historic value. I have been assisting for several months, in and out of lockdowns and her getting to travel to Darwin for a month. What luck.
It has been a most satisfactory engagement on my behalf with one piece now waiting on a valuation certificate and another which will be donated to the Golden Dragon Museum. It has been a pleasure dealing with these people and the Museum in particular are quite excited to receive the donation. When I suggested the donation to my friend, I knew nothing of her family background, the Museum, however, knew of the family connection to Bendigo. My friend is thrilled that the piece that has been in the family for well over 100 years will be well cared for as has in essence returned home.
You will recall me writing about The Year of Wonder Photographic event in Warrandyte, that resulted in a fabulous publication.
The next iteration is on the way with entries closing on 17 September for an event to be held late November. My submission was entered this week with my view on the theme Fresh Perspectives.
2021 is the 30 Year Anniversary of Redgate Gallery in Beijing.
In 2003 China opened to the world after SARS and I was one of the first foreign artists to go there. For Redgate Gallery anniversary many artists and associates have written articles, sent images, and a range of memorabilia for the celebration. The link is to my article:
Symbols of Joy is an article I wrote for the Warrandyte Uniting Church Bridge. I will make a post for the article. Based on the quirky artwork by Joan Denison, they bring a smile to faces that see them. Take a look at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/joan.denison.52
Although it seems not much is happening in this time of Lockdown 6, with a little light coming in on Saturday, there is a lot to be thankful for, a lot to keep us engaged and a lot of reading. Just finished reading The White Road by Edmund De Waal, who wrote The Hare with Amber Eyes. Thanks, Anne Hastie, for lending me this book on a pilgrimage through the history of porcelain.
On the last note, I am thoroughly enjoying watching the wrapping of the Arc De Triomphe; the last work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude https://christojeanneclaude.net/artworks/arc-de-triomphe-wrapped/
Around Stony Creek Studio
As we move beyond Winter Solstice and into the second half of 2021, life around the studio continues to ride the waves in and out of Covid restrictions.
A pleasant time was had when Anne Hastie and I met at Tacit Gallery to chat with Celia Bridle and view her latest exhibition of exquisitely detailed prints. She described and process of layer upon layer in between printing until she is happy with the completed work. The works demand to be investigated intimately.
When the Rising Festival had to cancel or postpone all events during our fourth lockdown Walter and I were disappointed to miss all the events we had planned. However, Anne and I did get to visit the Old Ballroom above Flinders Street Station and be awe inspired by Patricia Piccinini’s A Miracle Constantly Repeated. The exhibition continues until 31 August.
Arc One Gallery, have been showcasing an exhibition of works by Guan Wei. Not sure if it will be extended beyond 3 July, as unfortunately it opened on 26 May only to be closed the next day for the lockdown duration. Anne Hastie and I had a wonderful visit to Guan Wei’s Beijing studio in the days when we could travel internationally. Talking on international travel, my crate of artworks has been held up. Due to be delivered to my door on 18 June, the ship has been delayed and at this stage no news of its arrival. https://arcone.com.au/
On the upside, my artwork from the re$pect exhibition is currently online with mavacollective:https://www.mavacollective.com/product-page/siev-series-expression
Mava Collective will also showcase my monoprint in the upcoming online exhibition MONOCHROME to be launched 1 July at this site: https://www.mavacollective.com
I have been a smidge busy putting together the MSWPS Covid Creations online exhibition to also be launched 1 July. https://mswps.com.au/covid-creations OR under the website address and WHAT’S ON.
24 July I will be in Melbourne CBD engaging with the Scavenger Print Hunt. The event will see artists placing ‘free gifts’ in a range of locations throughout the city streets. The scattered artworks are to bring some joy to anyone who finds and collects them. It is a gentle way to also acknowledge the significance of art in our world. From 12 Noon in a radius from Flinders Street Station.
AUGUST and beyond
Mid August, fingers crossed, I will be on a plane. Yes, those wonderful flying machines, we remember them, don’t we? Learning Gel Printing, I have been guided by a series of video classes put together by Kim Herringe in QLD. I am combining a visit to friends with a weekend workshop at Kim’s Maleny Studio https://kimherringe.com.au/
A week in and around Brisbane is just what the travel bug in me has ordered.
Looking forward to experiencing the James Turrell Light Installation at GOMA: https://blog.qagoma.qld.gov.au/james-turrells-light-installation-in-brisbane/
I recently sent a brief and images for promotion of Deep Blue Crossing and workshops to be held during Multicultural Month at Federation Square, in November. Paper folding continues.
I am putting a callout for volunteers interested in joining me on 19 September on a Public Interactive Project at Finns Reserve Templestowe. In conjunction with the culmination of my Manningham Arts Fellowship I am supporting Talk Like a Pirate Day https://www.talklikeapirateday.com.au/
If you are into poetry, like to sing, play an instrument, like to make art, know stuff about ships, waterways and pirates OR like to support worthy causes, contact me: https://stonycreekstudio.art/contact-us/
In March 2020 my exhibition Marks in Time at Art at St Francis had to be cancelled due to a little bug called Covid 19. Mid June it was lovely to receive the offer of a gallery exhibition for mid November. The exhibition will overlap with Deep Blue Crossing at Fed Square for two weeks.
Lastly, for funky art materials: Reverse Art Truck – https://www.reversearttruck.com/
Re-use, Recycle, Revive, Re-invent, Revamp, Renew and Reduce!
Today I saw a Facebook post by my dear friend Zheng Xuewu. His post is reflective on a 2006 exhibition and an introduction to a 2009 exhibition. Below is the text from his post.
I was invited to participate in the 2006 ‘Qingzhou International Art Exhibition’, my first real international art exchange exhibition. In a Museum, how exciting. Although many international artist were represented only three attended the event, Kim Nam-Oh, Nathaniel McMahon and myself. I felt like I was representing female artists across the globe and was extremely proud to be an ambassador for my country on this momentous occasion.
We traveled by train for eleven hours. There is much to be said for the fast train today as it now takes four hours from Beijing to Qingzhou. Many of the Chinese artist went by car. Nathaniel and I were offered to go by car, however Wang Lifeng was so nervous about taking us, due to his little experience of foreigners, that he backed out of the offer.
I learnt much about luggage; all the things that I do not need to travel with. I felt burdened by my load of too many changes of clothes, laptop computer, backpack etc. My room mate, the other female Wang Jing, carried so little that I look like I was going for a month, not a week.
The exhibition was a buzz of activity, my rice and bean installation well received and made on site with local produce. I remember Shen Jingdong watching me working in the exhibition hall, whilst a row of artists sat opposite also watching me. They had carried their artworks with them which already were on the walls, while I spent several hours installing my design. Shen Jingdong announced to all and sundry, “Here, you are watching a real artist at work.” Another artist who was also busy creating in the gallery hall nearby was Liu Bolin. Today Liu Bolin is an internationally celebrated artist, who in 2019, was honoured with a solo show at Ballarat Art Gallery.
Qing Zhou International Art Exhibition
Qing Zhou Museum of Art, Shan Dong, China
Curator: Xuewu Zheng, Baijun Sun
In the summer of 2006, Beijing’s art atmosphere is as hot as the weather.
Three big jeeps carried over ten Chinese-foreign artists, starting from Beijing, running six hours to the ancient city Qingzhou that is located in the middle part of Shandong province. On the way passing Dezhou, we were attracted by famous food braised chicken; we stopped for a while and bought a fat one and felt quite good.
Ancient city Qingzhou has a long history and strong culture atmosphere. Colour stone carvings collected in museums are particularly exquisite. Artist Sun Baijun and I together with Qingzhou museum jointly planed “2006 Qingzhou International Modelling Art Exhibition”. Plus, Qingzhou local artists, more than 40 artists attended the exhibition.
The exhibition mode is completely different from exhibitions at art districts in Beijing. It uses the method of local governments organizing large-scale cultural activity. The huge banners and ad billboards, colourful banners, Qingzhou leaders and cultural bureau leaders attend the opening ceremony. Zheng Zuoliang, director of Collection Dep. National Art Museum of China, famous engraving artist cut the ribbon for the exhibition.
In fact, in just short days, people who came to see the exhibition were so many. Besides the local poets and scholars, more were ordinary visitors. This is probably due to the report by Qingzhou radio on the exhibition. People cheerfully communicated with artists. We were also very happy, although the terrible Dezhou braised chicken made me and Shen Jingdong go to hospital for intravenous infusion before the exhibition ended.
This year is just good time of Chinese contemporary art. Beijing is China’s most important art battlefield, with various exhibition activities concentrated here, seeming to fight for land. Many artists are busy with little time to go away from Beijing. In such a background, we planned this modern art exhibition in little Qiangzhou which is far away from the noisy city, really out of serious artists’ art historical responsibility. Modern art in Beijing is already very active, which gets world’s attention. But small and medium cities completely do not know what modern things look like! Like Qingzhou this ancient cultural city, people’s cognition on tradition has reached a high degree. Compared to other places where traditional culture is not deep, choosing such places as pilot locations of publicity and popularity of modern art will have better effect.
We’re really a bunch of idealists.
In the summer of 2009, the weather of Beijing is still hot, but art scene is “cool” a lot.
Artist Bi Hongliang and I together with Zibo Museum jointly planed “2009 Zibo International Modelling Art Exhibition”. To conduct this activity, we drank for many times and had meals for times! Hongliang did a lot of detailed concrete and trivial things for the exhibition, such as implementation of exhibition hall, leaders and insider’s invitation, artists’ accommodations in Zibo, manual mill visit, and pictorial design and printing etc.
Compared with 2006, today’s art environment has changed significantly. Global economic crisis cooled China’s popular art market. Many artists are like hundred hearts scratching, with no interest to conduct any exhibition activities without any benefit. In fact, the exhibition activity is far better than last time. The organizers print brochures for us, arrange accommodation, visit coloured glaze factory and ceramics factory, also arrange special travelling place. This is really quite good cultural and artistic activities.
This exhibition is full of famous Chinese artist elites: oil painting master, professor o
Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts Sun Jianping; engraving master, famous art educator, professor of China Central Academy of Fine Arts Wang Huaxiang; Pioneer modern artist Shen Jingdong; true power heavyweight artists, professor of Luxun Academy of Fine Arts Wang Jiazeng; Representative of the new realism Bi Hongliang and Jin Guangri; active international modern artist, the Chinese character biennale planner Pan Xinglei; Academic painting master Zhang Chun; dean of Nanjing engraving yard, famous engravings artist, “practice power” contemporary engraving literature exhibition curators Liu Chunjie; The Chinese modern experimental ink important artists Sun Baijun; Installation artist, curator Zheng Xuewu; Wang Chuanhe Qingdao drawing artist, well-known for sea drawing. International artists attending this exhibition are Tokyo Kabata Yuuri and Kabata Chihiro sister’s combination; American Chicago site artist Alsion Rhoades, North Carolina young artist Lauren Goding, New York’s installation artist Heejung Cho; Slovakia copperplate painter, Professor Peter Kocak; Australian famous painter Jayne Dyer; South Korea installation artist Kim Namo and Yoon Ilkweon; Dutch photography installation artist Rienke de Vries; American material artist Kathryn Gohmert.
Every artist is like flying flags in the wind. Wherever these colours dance to, there will be bright beautiful scenery. We take on our art sincere, eternal love to art, we will go to more places and enjoy pleasant sensations that come from a collision of different cultures, different space-time, many differences with more people!
We believe, in the future, the climate will remain cold in winter, hot in summer. What will art be like? It is unknown.
But we always expect, if China has more places such as Qingzhou and Zibo to accept and host modern art activities, and through various media with various means, let our ordinary people have access to modern art and foreign culture with various forms and fresh vitality. We ordinary Chinese people’s drab aesthetic orientation formed in hundreds of thousand years will become multivariate.
Thanks to the Chinese and foreign artists; Thanks to all the people that participated in activities.
Songzhuang studio, night of June 7, 2009
Here we are in a ‘7 Day’ lockdown which has given me time to stop and reflect on the month of May that went so quickly I almost missed it.
It was such a shame that Walter and I could not attend the much-awaited RISING festival activities as our tickets for all performances were cancelled. On the eve of Reconciliation Week, we were to enjoy Bungul in Hamer Hall and experience the magnificent projection on the Art Centre. I hope that the projection is extended, as it looks great in the video clips.
We did, however, have an at-home dinner celebration and extensive clear view of that giant red-blood moon. Joy for Walter that his oncologist does not want to see him for a year.
May came in a flurry as the Flora exhibition closed, the Nillumbik Prize opened at Montsalvat, and Walter featured on the front page of the Warrandyte Diary that reported on the Anzac Day March.
In between Walter’s medical appointments we managed a few days, with the dog, in Lakes Entrance. What a vibrant arts community, full of energy, collaboration, and some broad thinkers. We spent time with Jan Martin, Cynthia Boyle, Ngaere Donald, enjoying their creative studios, afternoon tea in the converted dairy and great conversations with spouses.
Another lovely dinner at Jan’s place with Josephine Jakobi, Andrea Lane, more spouses, and an introduction to the Lake Tyers Float residency.
At Red Gallery in Fitzroy, with Janet Boddy and many others I listened to Anne Hastie’s presentation, set amongst her artworks in the Peridot exhibition, in gallery one. In gallery three Beatrice Magalotti exhibited her Migration Series of drawings, installation, bronze, and photography.
I was wowed when I walked into an exhibition by Sue Jarvis. Art That Makes You Think was held at the Cardinia Cultural Centre, a superb gallery space where Sue’s paintings were literally awesome. The exhibition was a survey of some 15 years of studio production. An absolute credit to her.
It was a privilege to attend the wake and exhibition of works for Valda Cuming OAM. Valda, at 91, passed away in April 2020. Valda’s legacy continues with the profit from exhibition sales being divided between her three favourite arts organisations. I am pleased to say I now own two small Valda Cuming artworks.
Not knowing whether June will be spent at home in our 5klm zone, Walter and I are in preparation for future activities but keep low key immediately. This time is good for, well, writing, studio work, touching base with friends and family and updating social media.
With a major installation planned for November, I am required by end of June to submit images and text for promotion of the artwork and workshops, whilst continually folding paper for the installation.
As the webmaster for the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors (MSWPS) June will see me setting up an online Covid Creations exhibition due to be launched 1 July.
Also, as editor for The Bulletin, a bi-monthly MSWPS Newsletter, my job is to have the publication out before 1 July.
For more than a year I have been planning for a crate of my artworks to be sent from China.
11 June sees the crate landing in Melbourne and delivery to my studio 18 June. I look forward to having a few of my babies in Melbourne.
In February I participated in the Year of Wonder presentation in Warrandyte. The exhibition concludes on 30 June and a celebration with a book launch will take place on Saturday 3 July. I was fortunate to be able to by a copy and full of excitement to see my images included in the publication. Our Year of Wonders Warrandyte 2020 is available for purchase at $40.
In 2020 I applied for a Creative Industries Small Fellowship with Manningham Council.
I was successful in Phase 1 and currently awaiting the outcome for Phase 2. A future blog will be written when I know the outcome. In the meantime, this link introduces the project: https://www.manningham.vic.gov.au/row-row-row-your-boat
Pleasantly surprising was a call to ask if I was interested in being part of an artist-in-residence program. Manningham Arts, as most organisations, had to rethink programs, utilizing spaces and public engagement due to the pandemic, public restrictions and various lockdowns.
The three Fellowship recipients were invited to prepare public workshops and take up residence at the Manningham Arts Studios.
In 2021 I was the first artist -in-residence, 22 February to 21 March. Day one was orientation discussion with Staci Mariolis, acquiring a pass to the studio, basics of studio access, parking and facilities. I spent time photographing the building architecture, interior designs, shapes and colours. My access time was 2-7pm Monday to Friday, although it soon changed to 6:30 due to regular classes starting up for Term 1. The last week overlapped with Michel Tuomy, when we both used the studio. I was finishing off, packing up and he was just contemplating what the residency would offer him.
I have undertaken many residencies over many years and not one has been similar. Every residency is unique in its own way, we weigh up the pros and cons, find a happy medium and work with what we have. At least it is the principle I work by each time. I have said before that as much as possible I do not have a predetermined plan for a residency. I may have some basic ideas of what the residency might offer and allow the situation to guide the work production.
The images and descriptions show the fantastic architecture of the Manningham Arts building, the studio and several of my artworks in progress.
Manningham arts are currently calling for applications that close on 30 May 2021. Below is an introduction and links for information on applying.
About the Arts Manningham FAIR
In 2020 we launched a new program of small fellowships to support local artists research and develop ideas for new arts programs, installations and performances.
The program provides recipients up to $6,000, over two phases, to develop and implement projects that provide engaging arts experiences for the Manningham community and encourage visitors to the region. Recipients also receive a short residency at Manningham Art Studios during their fellowship. This allows them to facilitate artistic collaboration and run supporting public programs, such as workshops and artist studio talks.
Two months on and a fresh perspective on my world.
Well actually it is three months on. Wow that went fast.
With ups and downs, cans and cant’s, sudden restrictions on again and off again our lives have been in a state of questions.
Do we make plans, buy tickets to a show, arrange dinner with friends, book the restaurant etc. for if we do will it be postponed, cancelled or become a non-event?
Here I am three months since the last blog, festive season come and gone, Walter in treatment for six weeks, come and gone and moved into 2021.
We are living within a freedom of movement that can be restricted at any time.
As always flexibility is the key. Yes, we make the plans, buy the flight tickets to South Australia, organise a night with friends and book a restaurant to celebrate the end of Walter’s radiotherapy treatment.
Somethings we can do, somethings we cannot do. With a sudden five-day lockdown recently, we cancelled five different activities, movie ticket purchase reimbursed, just sneaked in the new studio shelving, new worktable delivery postponed, Church service back to Zoom, Gallery visits cancelled and postponed meet up with friends.
I was due to start an artist-in-residence with Manningham Arts on February 22. Would it happen, would it not happen? Fortunately, restrictions lifted and life continued.
In the past three months I have managed to attend some exhibition openings, covid safe environments are a bit spasmodic and I do set my own criteria.
I have managed to start an exercise class, just skimming either side of a five-day lockdown.
I have entered Art Shows and actually taken artwork to the framers.
I have rearranged my studio, had new shelving installed and had a new worktable delivered.
I do not know what is normal anymore and continue my mantra of flexibility. Activities and events that pre 2020 were part of everyday life take on a different significance.
Strange experience today to walk around the supermarket and choose products, so different to online ordering and having groceries delivered to my car boot.
I went to Bunnings, physically walked into the store and asked where I could find certain products. I enjoyed the time sifting through the storage bin shelves. Just a little exciting.
As we hover at the edge of March and look at a twelve-month anniversary of the first restrictions and cancellation of my exhibition at Art at St Francis, we can thank our own resilience and personal strength that has carried us thus far.
The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be looming closer. It has grown from a pinprick, like a distant star in a vast blackness, constantly out of reach; to something not quite beacon like that illuminates for miles as a guiding symbol.
That light, what ever it is for millions of people, has been a distant hope in a time of turmoil.
It has been bright at times where we have willed it to beam us up and out of dreariness and then has dulled off, like a storm approaching. On the edge and in the eye of the storm we have had to bunker down, keep safe, close the shutters and wait out high winds, lightning and try to keep the floodgates closed.
For eight months plus, my life at times has been a whirlwind of emotions and stress, yet also a hollow vacuum of lethargy and questioning purpose, of laziness, yet undertaking major sorting programs.
What has been the purpose for artmaking? Some small stimulus from exhibition invitations that have been postponed assisted to trigger me back to the studio.
For one hour per day a walk in my 5km neighbourhood instigated looking at my environment, seeing the changes of the seasons, plants sprouting new shoots, flowers, colours. Nature has no restrictions.
Encouraged to create prints, I watched copious videos from, across the globe, on a form of printmaking new to me.
Online shopping opened a new world of scouring Art Supplies websites for paper and paint.
Recycling acetate sheets to create stencils and recycling papers of preloved prints has proved to be a good way to make space for new works.
I blossomed into a creative functional being who looked forward through the tunnel to the small light at the end and I have seen it grow larger as I get closer and the blackness dissipates.
On most daily walks I have and am collecting the beauty of my neighbourhood through plants. Choosing size, shape and patterns of leaves to keep, arrange on the printing plate, layering colours and shapes that intermingle with stencils. I am moving along with a series of artworks reminiscent of the healing power of nature.
The artworks are currently suited to two themes:
Walking Tour 2020 consists of foliage from my neighbourhood, freshly collected on mornings of printing days.
No Restrictions for Nature incorporates feathers with foliage. The feathers represent freedom and the ability to take flight to wherever one wishes to go.
The closer I move towards the light, the brighter the world becomes. Asked about my plans for 2021, my answer is let’s get to the end of the tunnel first.
Mid December 2006 Walter and I drove the old van to Moorabbin airport to catch our flight to Flinders Island.
I had recently returned home from an amazing adventure in China and my new studio in Beijing and thought that my time on the trip with Walter would be reflecting about my China trip.
Walter was really enthused and with a painting kit all packed and ready to go was eager to discover some great painting spots.
As I was learning the Chinese language, I decided to take my workbooks with me and spend the week studying. I told Walter that as I had had such an exciting time in China, I would not make any artwork on Flinders island.
We had pre booked our accommodation and rental car, so plans were to be straight forward in settling in.
Not a red cross, but Whitemark on the map showed us the main hub of activity on the island. We had a little house on Patrick Street, a short walk to both the Pub and the foreshore.
What is that saying about mouthing off, then having to eat your words? That is exactly what happened to me. After purchasing a few supplies of tea, coffee and breakfast foods we set off to look around.
I was AMAZED. I could not believe that within a few hours on the island my plans were completely and utterly thrown out the window.
Below is an extract from: https://visitflindersisland.com.au/
Flinders Island is one of 52 islands in the Furneaux Group dotted across Bass Strait, north-east of Tasmania.
When the eastern Bass Strait Islands were still a land bridge between mainland Australia and Tasmania, the region was a highway for traveling aboriginal groups. With the flooding of the land bridge the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community was separated from their mainland cousins and they developed their own culture and practices.
The history of Flinders Island begins with the Tasmanian Aboriginal people who were the first residents 35,000 or more years ago. About 9,000 to 4,000 years ago for reasons uncertain the Tasmanian Aboriginals ceased to be full time occupants of the Furneaux group of which Flinders is the largest island. The next human contact was when Tobias Furneaux discovered the islands in 1773. However, he did not land on any of the islands. In 1797 the merchant vessel “Sydney Cove”, en route from Calcutta to the fledgling colony at Port Jackson, was beached off Preservation Island, south of Cape Barren Island. Read more at the website.
The geological formations across the Southern coast of mainland Australia, Bass Strait and Northern Tasmania are a stunning display of Granite mixes formed some 380 million years ago. An orange lichen that grows on the rocks is a combination of algae and fungus providing food for tiny organisms.
It was these rock formations of brilliant colour and shape against a clear blue sky that shifted my plans to create artworks on Flinders Island. The complimentary colours of Orange and Blue forming positive and negative spaces of harmony for the eye captivated me and I was willing to submit to interacting with nature.
At this point with six days ahead of us we were both very keen to get out and about seeking sites to create. Because we were both wanting to interact with nature but in very different ways; Walter to paint and me to use what nature offered for hands-on creations, he would drop me at a site that I liked and drive to a place that suited him.
We did find two sites that suited us both which meant that we could share a cuppa when finished or on a break.
If you have been following my Blogs, you will know that documentation of my works is significantly important. Even with the artworks created in Farrera, it is the documentation that I take with me, as the work is left behind, returned to nature or given to the Residency Centre.
Walter and drove to a site high above the beach, with mountains in the background, we both loved it. I looked across the beach where not one footprint impacted on the smooth surface. I said, “look at that vast canvas just waiting for an image”. I was smitten and while Walter took out his sketch pad and pencils, I wandered down below.
Think of the ocean, eons of time it has taken to form this island, the sea creatures and the vast expanse of sand. My thoughts of the nautilus and the perfect spiral within gave rise to me stepping out and marking Spiral from the Sea.
The outcome of this island journey is great memories and the realization not to have expectations. I am so pleased that the natural environment of Flinders island drew me in.
Late 2014 I wrote an article based on an Artist-in-Residence (AIR) in Spain, titled a Tribute to Farrera.
Whilst in Spain, at least three times, I drove to the end of the road, usually up a narrow mountain road. Farrera is at the end of the road on the edge of a valley in the Catalan Pyrenees. A small village of houses and barns, built with local stone and slate, grouped around the 17th century church of Sant Roc, it is sited at an altitude of 1365 metres and is one of the highest inhabited villages in Catalonia. (extract from The Centre d’Art I Natura website)
In the following article I mention six weeks of exploring Spain. It was an amazing journey, however by the end of week five Walter did not want to see any more cities so I took him to the costa del sol where we idled for several days traveling to the end of the road at Capileira on a day trip.
Our one-week artist residency in Farrera was unique in our usual style of touring. It was Walter’s first residency and a week of sheer indulgence to create for both of us. We had the opportunity to stay in one place and really get to know that place. Tourist companies continually advertise the concept of seeing seven countries in seven days rushing guests to the must-see spots for them to tick the site on their bucket list before taking a bus or flight to the next spot.
We have an immense amount to gain by stopping the rush. Yes, there were many ‘must see sites’ in Spain that we did not see and may never see, but we will spend the rest of our lives talking about one week in Farrera; the people we met, the walks, the dinners, the changing weather and the joy of art making.
A Tribute to Farrera Denise Keele-bedford December 2014
Late in 2013 my husband and I decided that we would journey to Spain, a first for us both.
From early September to mid October 2014 we would have six weeks of exploring the Peninsula driving a Northern loop from Madrid to coast and down to Barcelona. A train from Barcelona to Seville then driving a second Southern loop to coast and back to Madrid, virtually a ‘figure 8’ form.
After looking at the resartis website to discover that Spain offers 22 different residencies I contacted two in Northern Spain then applied to one to undertake a one-week Artist-in-Residence (AIR).
In its 18th year The Centre d’Art i Natura (CAN) in Farrera offers workspaces and facilities to artists and natural scientists. It is directed by Lluis Llobet, his wife Fransesca is host and son Anau is chef.
Farrera is sited at 1361 meters above sea level in the Catalan High Pyrenees, close to the Andorra border. There are historical references to its existence more than 1,000 years ago.
Farrera is in a remote location at the end of the road. It is a small village set on a hillside, facing South opening to magnificent valley views to the West and with a fluxing population of 20/25. CAN is owned by the local council and administered by a non-profit association “Friends of the Centre d’Art i Natura de Farrera”.
The Centre d’Art i Natura has renovated the old village school l’Estudi, which was our accommodation, Casa Ramon, set beside l’Estudi and an old barn la Bastida into ateliers, kitchen, dining room and living studios. We had access to the Centre’s Library, Computer, Printer, Dry workroom and Wet workroom.
Llavorsi, 12 kms away is the closest center for produce and supplies and as we provided our own breakfast and lunches, we took supplies in the car with us. When we arrived, we were introduced to l’Estudi, the Art Centre and informed about the group evening meals.
Four other female artists in residence were from Denmark and Spain whose disciplines covered, writing, dance and visual arts.
My husband took paints, brushes, and paper with a plan to create a series of paintings based on the location. He produced 11 paintings approximately A4 size in gouache.
I took a small A5 sketch pad, pens and a small travel set of water colours for I did not know what I would produce as I usually prefer the place, environment, atmosphere and physical space to guide me.
On arrival I was most impressed with the slate roof tiles, old style (hand cut) and new (laser cut) that covered every roof, gateway, and stacked spares in case of breakage.
The first day I walked as far as I could past the end of the road turning back when it became a climb. The area sees many hikers and climbers especially in fine weather. Cutaways along the roadside revealed layers of fine slate. Scattered fragments laid along the roadside in a range of colours from dark charcoal, silver grey and raw sienna from light to dark. Lluis informed me that a clay could be made from the slate, showed me samples and I considered experimenting with this.
The second day I walked to a little village nook, that I had driven through, 1.5 kms from Farrera exploring the different architecture, laneways, steps and gardens. In this remote area, with rich soil, sheep and cattle, many vegetable and flower gardens flourish. Three non-denomination churches form the historic context, and in my eyes, slate was the dominant feature.
I collected fragments of slate in a range of colours and tones and spent a warm afternoon washing and setting them in the sun to dry. I spent time in the Library mainly looking at historic cultural sketches and images of local flora and fauna.
By the third day I had decided that the slate fragments would become a diary of my time in Farrera. I had collected many pieces of slate and was able to be very selective in allowing aspects of the slate to direct the images that I painted on them.
I completed 43 pieces depicting the everyday objects and items about me. Several pieces referenced flora and fauna seen in the village and on my walks. A found feather, tadpoles in a nearby water trough, sheep and sheep dogs, insects that crawled in the apartment and art studio all represented my time in Farrera.
A slope to a stream in the valley is a depot for old slate roof tiles and an afternoon was spent collecting these, some quite large, pieces to from a base for my installation.
The last night in Farrera we had a display of our artwork with village people in attendance.
Due to the weight and delicacy of the slate fragments I donated most of the pieces to the Art Centre, gave several as gifts to Chinese friends on route to Melbourne and arrived with three broken and a few as mementos. Retaining the artwork is not important to me for I have the documentation. The experience of taking an Artist-in-Residence is just that, an experience. We grow and become richer as an artist through these experiences.
I highly recommend experiencing an Artist-in-Residence (AIR)
The Centre d’Art I Natura website is: www.farreracan.cat.
Res Artis: http://www.resartis.org