Puddle Series

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On my many walks at the witching hour with a new baby, when it was still daylight saving, I photographed a series of puddles at that ambivalent time between dusk and nightfall. We had quite a lot of Autumn rain, and I liked how the many remaining puddles reflected the sky, creating there own abstracted shapes.

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It is these spontaneous ideas that I am mulling over to incorporate in my next painting series inspired by my surrounding environment, the Cooks River.

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Tempe House Open Day

Tempe House Open Day was in April, a while ago now! It is open once a year, located right on the banks of the Cooks River in Tempe. It would have once had a commanding view of the river, with expansive lawns gently flowing to the rivers edge. Now backing onto new apartments, you can still glimpse the original views.

“Tempe House is an exceptional and rare example of Neo-Classical Georgian architecture designed by leading colonial architect John Verge who was commissioned to do the work in 1831 for Sydney businessman (Alexander) Brodie Spark. Since that time the house has had a significant history. Caroline Chisholm, the renowned philanthropist who appeared on the old five dollar note, leased the house in 1863 and ran an educational establishment for young ladies on the site. In 1884 Catholic nuns, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, bought the site for a women’s refuge and built St Magdalene’s Chapel.”

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That beautiful historic green under the porticos, and grand doorways looking out to the river.

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The stables, with layers of history embedded in the walls.

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St Magdalen’s Chapel

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Beautiful timber vaulted ceiling and remnants of painted walls.

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The garden, a walled garden and Mt Olympus Gardens

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New landscaping with native grasses

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Archaeological finds on the site

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Leaving, the view of the river from the bridge, with “Verge” the architects name, think this is a coincidence!

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“Tempe house was created as a romantic vision by the respectable Scottish merchant Alexander Brodie Spark (1792-1856), as a recreation of the romantic Vale of Tempe – a gorge in northern Greece through which flows the Pineios River on it’s way to the Aegean Sea. On the right bank of the river sat a temple to Apollo, near which the laurels used to crown the victorious in the Pythian games were gathered. Ancient Greek poets celebrated it, as the favourite haunt of Apollo and the Muses. Alexander Brodie Spark came to Sydney as a free settler from Elgin Scotland. He had discovered romantic places such as the Vale of Tempe and Tusculum during a grand European tour in his youth, having been joined by the famous poet Wordsworth on the magical lakes of northern Italy. A. B Spark arrived in Sydney in April 1823 and quickly established himself as a most successful merchant. He built his first mansion at Potts Point, which he named “Tusculum” after the large Roman cities in Alban Hills outside of Rome. Spark employed the most fashionable architect of the period John Verge, to design both Tusculum (1834) and Tempe House (1836) – John Verge had also designed other famous mansions including Elizabeth Bay House and Camden Park for the wealthy of the colonial period. In 1840 A.B. Spark married Frances Maria, née Biddulph, the beautiful widow of Dr Henry Wyatt Radford (her portrait hangs in the Art Gallery of New South Wales). Over the next 10 years 6 lovely children were born at Tempe House. Sadly the halcyon days did not last long, the depression of the 1840’s hit Spark hard, having being declared insolvent by 1844. Gone were the days of 35 servants and up to 778 guests annually at Tempe, these guests included famous artists, wealthy merchants and Sir George and Lady Gipps, Governor of Colony of New South Wales. 1863, the famous philanthropist Caroline Chisholm leased Tempe House and converted it into a school for young ladies named Greenbank. However by 1866 and Caroline’s failing health, the school closed and the original 100 acre grant was subdivided leaving Tempe House retaining only 12 acres, Tempe House was again leased as a private residence. In April 1885 Tempe House and grounds were sold to the Sisters of The Good Samaritan of the Order of St. Benedict. The sisters conducted a refuge and training centre for the rehabilitation of delinquent girls, teaching skills such as laundry, dairy, gardening etc, which by 1900 comprised over 100 people. St. Magdelen’s chapel was constructed in 1888 by renowned architects Sheerin and Hennessy and constructed from fine quality red brick with cream brick and sandstone detailing. The Chapel, like the house, represents the period of architectural style in which it was built, being of Victorian Gothic in design. The most striking feature of the Chapel is the vaulted cedar boarded ceiling supported by a series of arched ribs. In 1990 a permanent Conservation order was established for Tempe House, meaning the preservation of Tempe House and the remaining grounds to the riverfront were secure. In 2001, the architects Tanner & Associates were employed to restore Tempe House and St. Magdelen’s Chapel to their former grandeur. This was the start of the renaissance of the Tempe House Estate, with the creation by Australand of the Discovery Point Community, ensuring the preservation of these historically significant properties for the future.” History compiled by Ross Berry – Honorary Historian, Tempe House

My ceramics in the exhibition, ‘The Course of Objects’ at the Manly Art Gallery

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At the Manly Art Gallery & Museum, West Esplanade Reserve, Manly, 2 May – 8 June 2014

The Course of Objects: the fine lines of inquiry’ is an exhibition without a specific theme, Rather, the intention is to provide a way to map, gather, assemble and reflect on current ceramic practices. It is intended too, to take the pulse on what is being made now, and to ask about current ideas or issues of influence. Importantly, its intention is to try to unravel the triggers that inspire practice, and lead to focused and rigorous lines of inquiry”

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My quote, “My fine line of inquiry is the interplay and tension between the gestural mark and the hand built three-dimensional form, a conversation between paint and clay.”

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Several views of my six ceramic vessels

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The opening night

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Artist talk on 4th April, Toni Warburton talking about her work, “Shells stained black by mangrove mud, white light grey day bay waters. Graphite gleams on paper, mists, clouds, pond rain, sombre moods, quietude. Old gardens, arbours, safe harbours appear in silver gelatin prints. Round walls hold borrowed views. White lines of molten feldspar track through iron grey surfaces. Dragged and dug from drawing, walking, seeing and talking.”

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Kylie Rose McClean talking about her work, “I’m on a journey connecting my past and current experiences with my ideas and dreams. In these works Japanese quilt block patterns formed the basis for paper-resist designs using slips, with the addition of tissue transfers, iron pigment was and sprayed dry glaze. I see these forms anew on each viewing they draw me in; they make me feel calm and embraced”

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Sarah Ormonde, “Finding a true and sensitive understanding of materials is central to my practice, so that my form and surface can deliberately express an idea. The landscape in which I live is an ever present and pervasive aspect of my work, and as such informs all my inquiry.”

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To the left, Neville French. “In my work, glaze and form are used to stimulate the imagination and evoke associations with the natural environment, and as well, to express a deeply internalised and ethereal sense of place”. To the right, sharing the table, Vicki Passlow, “My work is an exploration of the sinuous line. I work in porcelain for its ability to create soft organic shapes and for its colour response.”

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Steve Harrison, “I have always had an interest in the natural world, particularly in growing plants, as well as attempting to live a gentle, creative life with a small, light footprint. My research into and use of local materials has been the central mandala in my ceramics. My recent work has involved growing some of my glaze ingredients, which I use in the form of ash glaze.”

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To the left, Simone Fraser, “My inquiry involves looking from the macro of the landscape to the minutiae of surface. Exploring creativity in process, I see my work as a series of communications about the senses, texture and beauty.” , and sharing the table to the right, Fiona Fell, “I attempt to dissolve the tough skin of three-dimensoonal work, and blur the hard and fast distinction between artwork and artist, interior and exterior, animate and inanimate, fact and fiction, body as art and corpus of art. It is an investigation of a zone where clay no longer solidifies into common, everyday reality but spins a metaphor for vaster, more fluid fabric of experience.”

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Kirsten Coelho, “Utilising domestic forms and social history as a vehicle- I am always attempting to investigate the points of convergence between materiality and abstraction.”

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Prue  Venables (sharing at table with Toni Warburton), “My experiments have led to new lines of inquiry in my work – the exploration of new materials, new techniques, and radical adventures into a range of unusual and experimental objects. I continue to extend this practice to incorporate the use of materials other than clay, and making separate components to be joined after firing.”

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Left, Dianne Peach and Tania Rolland in the foreground. Right, Kathy Franzi

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Left, Robyn Phelan, Right, Fiona Hiscock and Janetta Kerr-Grant

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Lynda Draper in the foreground, and Juile Pennington

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Left, John Dermer in the foreground, Right, Merran Esson in the foreground.

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Vicki Passlow and Neville French in the foreground, and my work behind.

 

 

 

‘Strange Pockets’, ceramic sculptures by Bev Hogg

A really interesting recent exhibition was by the wonderful Canberra based artist, Bev Hogg. The show titled ‘Strange Pockets, turf wars: wild life at the urban fringe’ was exhibited at Kerrie Lowe Gallery, Newtown, Sydney.

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“Over the past twenty years Bev Hogg’s figurative sculptures have developed as a social commentary bringing together cultural, political and environmental issues that we face today, on a local and global level. They examine the intricate relationships and interconnection between people, animals and their environment – whether natural or built. Operating in the space between understanding and imagining, these narratives encapsulate the emotional and psychological attachment to place.” (Quote from Craft ACT web site)

https://www.craftact.org.au/portfolios/artist.php?id=286

http://www.kerrielowe.com

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This exhibition explores the urban edges. Edges which expand into the bushland which surrounds Canberra, the bush capital of Australia. A shared landscape of shared borders, between wildlife and the suburbs. This is a space that is not fixed but an inter exchange between humans and species, featuring the kangaroo and native and introduced birdlife. Bev is interested how we can live in partnership with flora and fauna, not as a dominate force, but how to bring compassion and practical applications to environmental issues affecting all native animals slowly loosing their native habitat. Each animal or bird is treated as an individual. For this exhibition Bev has looked at eighteenth century naturalistic interpretations of a strange new land, where for example a kangaroo was a totally new species, and acknowledging that now some of these species have now been lost.

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Circular disks diplay birdlife that can live alongside humans, (on the left) ‘Adaptables’, the Thornbill, Currawong, Kookaburras, Wattle birds, Noisy Miners, Budgerigars, Blue Wrens etc, and on the right, vulnerable species in danger of extinction, the ‘Vunerables’  the small finches and larger birds.

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Bev gave a great talk, and looked as striking as her art work!

The Democracy of Drawing, AirSpace Projects

I went to the opening of ‘The Democracy of Drawing’, AirSpace Projects, a new gallery space in Marrickville. A large and varied range of artists works exploring the concept of drawing were on display, ranging from Peter Sharp courtesy of Liverpool Street Gallery to Judy Watson, Milani Gallery, and Floria Tosca, Flinders Street Gallery. A gallery space worth checking out for interesting and innovative exhibitions.

“AirSpace Projects is dedicated to exhibition and curatorial ideas from both emerging and established local, national and international practitioners who make ambitious, inspiring and inventive contributions to art processes and discourses. We aim to pursue both solo and thematically curated exhibitions to extend and deepen an understanding of artistic practice while facilitating an exploration of art and its relationship to the world.”

http://airspaceprojects.com/about/

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LOST, Leichhardt Open Studio Trail 2014

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The following weekend I got around to some of the studios at Leichhardt’s Open Studio Trial.

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The first studio I went to was the painter, Neil Frazer, who shows at Martin Browne Contemporary Gallery here in Sydney. He had a very cute black pug dog modeling on the artistically paint splattered floor.

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Neil Frazer has a great space, a lovely white box, reminiscent of a gallery space, so you can clearly see the work in progress. The paintings are predominantly landscapes, loosely based on trips to regional areas in Australia and NZ, and Neil is particularly attracted to places with rugged physical aspect.

http://www.martinbrownecontemporary.com/ArtistNFrazer.html

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Another interesting space was Pseudo Space, and Mulit Arts cross disciplinary experimental house gallery which encourages artists to to exhibit new works. There was a classic share house kitchen, with bottles lined up and help yourself by donation to drink and snacks, and out the back was a group conference/event in action, on the terrace lawn complete with dogs and milk crates.

http://pseudospacegallery.blogspot.com.au/

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The photographer Jenny Rix has a lovely studio space, with artful alcoves made by fabric hung in banners along the corridor to display her photographic works. There was a lovely alcove of paper cut out figures, and tranquil courtyard with a low lying fountain, and paper mache bowls created by Mina Rix.

http://www.jennyrixphotography.com.au/

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La Fabrique, the studio of Peter Griffen and Denise Lithgow, a live in converted warehouse space, 30 x 10 meters, allowing both an open plan living and studio space. The entrance had a little tea corner with views the communal street.

http://www.petergriffen.com/

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Redlips Studio Gallery has a flourish of red velvet curtains and fun hand painted chairs.

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The last space, Zen Garage, is a community space for people passionate about automotive culture. Its within a studio complex, and right next to an interesting timber yard.

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There is also art in the street, a passionate display on the porch of a Leichhardt terrace.

Second Installment, Marrickville Open Studio Trail

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This is the second installment for the Marrickville Open day! Featuring more studios and artist spaces.

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SNO Contemporary Art Projects, (28 on map), an artists run initiative providing a platform for established and emerging artists. SNO exhibits a wide variety of non-objective art, concrete and abstract art. A video installation work in the front gallery space, and artist studios behind, in a large industrial building, one of the advantages of Marrickville!

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Tortuga Studios (11 on map), “Eclectic, irreverent and deliciously subversive”, studio to 17 artists in an urban warehouse space in St Peters. Kooky subterranean studios and dens.

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May Street Studios (9 on map) A large studio complex in St Peters, with a myriad of corridors and artists cubbies!

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May’s Lane Art Project (10 on map), Street art and an outdoor gallery space at mary Lane, St Peters, always open!

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A great cafe around the corner from Mary Lane, continuing on with the graffiti theme, ‘Velvet Garage’, 3 Applebee Street, St Peters.

MOST, Marrickville Open Studio Trail

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On the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of March I got a quick window amongst breast feeding my new baby to see some of the studios on offer at Marrickville Open Studio Trail. Its a great initative by the Marrickville Council, also partnered with Art Month, which is now currently on in Sydney.

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(Number 21 on Map) Airspace Projects, A new artist run gallery, solo and thematically curated exhibitions, with its Inaugural exhibition, ‘The Democracy of Drawing’, lots of interesting work from emerging to established artists. 10 Junction Street, Marrickvillehttp://airspaceprojects.com/about
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Right next door there is, (Number 22 on the Map), Squarepeg Studios, Contemporary jewelry studios and workshop area which offers a range of jewellery
making courses. http://squarepegstudios.com.au
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Well deserved lunch break at Jewellery course!
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(Number 20 on Map) Studio 1A Sydney, Photography studio of Christopher Getts and Pania Newport, practicing in an alternative process of photography, wet plate collodion.
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(number 19 on map) Think Negative – Analogue Photographic Arts, studio/ gallery/darkroom based on Analogue Photographic Arts. Artists; Enrico Scotece, Tony Sillavan, Klaus Major, Paul Dorahy.
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(Number 18 on Map) Jane Pollard Jewellery, Contemporary jewellery utilizing a mix of recycled materials. “Each piece draws on the inherent qualities of the component objects/materials she finds and receives to create unique wearable objects”
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(Number 23 in map) Marrickville Garage, In Riverdale Ave, artists take over the front yards for Garage Yard Installations 2014. A great idea, really enjoyed this, art in the suburban front yard! The video work in the garage was sourced from the national film and sound archive and explores the destruction of Marrickville’s cinemas.
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Artworks already existing in the street!
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(Number 17 on map) Salmagundi Studios, Salmagundi means a mix of random elements and is the name of a type of stew cooked on pirate ships. A warehouse studio in Arncliffe with twenty artists.

Creative spaces

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A while back now, I went to a great studio party of the painter Aaron Kinnane. It got me thinking about the importance of creative spaces and the artist studio, not only for artists but stimulation for society as a whole, as seen by the blossoming of studio artist trials in Sydney, books, blogs etc, celebrating the creative space. Aaron’s studio is a quirky inspiring warehouse in the Inner West of Sydney. His new paintings were on display with plenty of interesting vistas for the creatively inspired. There doesnt seem to be enough of this, the individual, the expressive and the makeshift, all created on a shoe string, with no stylist in sight!

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Aaron’s latest work on display, landscape inspired paintings with layers of thick impasto paint.

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The workbench area of the studio, for stretching canvases etc. One of Aaron’s inventive sculptures/candelabra in the foreground, with a beautifully poetic use of found materials.

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Vistas and views in the studio, with assemblage and arrangements of found materials; a piano, a sound recording area, sculptural objects derived from furniture, nick nacks, idea boards, and arranged objects.

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Films projected onto the iconic garage roller door, to create a unique screening area

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View from the kitchen/BQ to the studio entrance, and the use of found timber and timber packaging crates to create cubby like areas, almost like a tree house. I think this is one of the elements that makes this space so intriguing, the reminiscence or reminder of childhood.

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The garden, with found materials and lighting.

I have just joined the Marrickville Cooks River Committee

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I have just joined the Marrickville Cooks River Committee. I thought it would be a good experience, and a way of contributing back to the community. As I walk almost daily long the river, and my art work is inspired by the subject of the Inland River, for me it is a relevant way be involved in the community. The committee aims to improve the environment of the Cooks River and raise awareness amongst the community of its value as a natural system.

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Last weekend I went to the Marrickville Council’s Rain Garden Planting Day. One of the largest rain gardens created so far along the Cooks River. Marrickville is a great council, very active on the environmental and arts front. The Planting day, part of the ‘Water Revolution’ initiative, was open to the whole community. There was a big turn out on the day, with everyone getting a chance to plant a tree! The Street Rain Gardens are one way the council is improving the quality of the Cooks River, removing pollutants and rubbish from storm water over flow.

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The catchment area, with grass plantings for filtration, and a stoney river bed with gums.

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View looking up to the neighbouring golf course, with new plantings in the foreground.