Friday, 18 July 2014

City adventures - sculpture, fashion, froth, textiles, wildlife large and small

The past few days have been full of art and more wildlife encounters.  First of all a walk around Sydney finding urban sculpture. 

"Youngster: by Caroline Rothwell on George Street.

Forgotten Songs by Michael Thomas Hill, which is a sculptural and aural installation that changes between night and day.

I loved the shapes of the bottom of the cages against the grid of the building.

Next to the Powerhouse Museum, to see the costumes from the film of Strictly Ballroom, and to whet my appetite for the musical that we are going to see in 10 days.  These costumes were even more over the top than I had expected.

At the same museum, there were examples of some of the work of the final year fashion students from Sydney colleges.  Instead of sketchbooks, they had inspiration boxes in front of their creations, which was a good way to demonstrate the breadth of their influences.  First Emma Macgregor's gorgeous, ethereal dresses

Then the wonderful sculptural creations of Yousef Akbar

Finally, on the way to an early dinner at Movida, ( smoked tomato sorbet, anyone?) an unexpected encounter with two young dancers in Kimber Lane, where there is another of the public art installations.

The next day started early with a train to Newcastle to visit a long-term friend.  When
I am in a culture wher eno English is spoken , I am less struck by the oddities of that culture than when I am in other English-speaking country.  One of these oddities was the train notceboard, showing that an empty train would be passing - blurry as I didn't have my camera set up correctly.

This was my first morning of rain during my visit, and the journey through the Hawkesbury river area was full of misty valleys and dark reflections on the water.

I did do some stitching on the 2h journey - as i was going up to see some textiles, I felt the need to to do.

The key visual experience of the trip was to visit an exhibition at Timeless Textiles, an intriguing textile gallery.  This was a beautiful space, and the key exhibition was of pieces by Omila Bir,  ( who doesn't seem to have a website) shibori fabrics, dyed using natural dyes.

I was particularly intrigued by the pieces with very regular squares and rectangles of resist.

A beautiful large piece had wonderful patterns

The owner of the gallery is a felter, and attracts teachers who are internationally famous, such as Kerr Grabowski, known for her work with deconstructed screen printing.  One of Kerr's scarves was for sale in the shop.

New to me was the name of Meredith Woolnough, whose machine stitched pictures / sculptures / installations were breathtaking.

Next to the Art Gallery of Newcastle, whose policy on photography is directly in opposition to that of all other galleries I have visited on this trip, in that no photography is allowed.  As this is a public collection, that seems very inconsistent to me.  Lots of native Australian artists, and some wonderful cut paper by Kylie Stillman.

Lastly, a walk along Bar Beach, to see where my sister did a triathlon, and thrill of thrills, two whales playing in the bay about 500m offshore.  Fins, backs and spouts, but no tails, still an incredible thing for a Brit to see.

Lots more to come, but I'm now probably out of blogging opportunities for 10 days, as we are off to here, and then to here.

PS the small wildlife encounter, was at a yoga class at a city gym, when in the middle of the warrior poses, and the supposedly calm breathing, a huge cockroach made its way down the length of the gym.  The instructor took a very non-yogic action to get rid of it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Walks, wildlife, and well...... too bad

A bushwalk yesterday to the idyllic Flint and Steel Beach at West Head.  One of the advantages for me of being here in the winter, is being able to do these hikes without being too hot or being bombarded by flies.  Once on the beach, I was again amazed by the colours, shapes and sculptures in the  sandstone.

Sitting quietly on the rocks, feet in the water, half-eaten roll in hand, I then had that apocryphal interaction with Australian wildlife, when a kookaburra flew over my shoulder and grabbed the remainder of the roll out of my hand.  It was so quick and quiet, astonishing.

Sea eagles then flew overhead, helping with the very steep climb back to the top.  A drive over to Palm Beach followed, with a delicious snack at the Palm Beach Boathouse, where the flowers, view and coffee decoration were quirky and fun.

The "well....too bad"  part, is that I heard that  my entry for "Dislocation" was not juried in to the exhibition.  There's always next year.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Blue is the colour - football is not is the game

There had to be a world cup reference today, but I'm not a fan, so the reference is in song.  Every day, for the past 9 days, I have pulled back the curtains to cerulean blue skies - except for yesterday, when we met the dawn on the way to the Bold and Beautiful morning swim at Manly.  Since the air temperature was about 7 degrees C ( although I was assured that the water temperature was a balmy 17 degrees C),  I was on photography and coffee duties only.

As the sun came up, the sandstone on the walk to Shelly Beach glowed with warmth - which had not manifested itself yet in my fingers.

The scene on the beach on the return walk was full of colour, interesting shapes and shadows.

Blue has also manifested itself in a previous day's bike ride  ( my sister is very fit, luckily enough she had a great bike for me to borrow).  View from the top of the Gladesville Bridge.

and in a wonderful sunset, seen as the ferry home was leaving Circular Quay.

I am saturated with inspiration, from visits to the Art Gallery of NSW, where there seems to be a much greater representation of women artists that in comparable public  galleries in the UK.  I really enjoyed the woodcuts of Margaret Preston, the award winning portrait by Ben Quilty ( who has a show on in London until 3rd August at the Saatchi Gallery).  The paint is spread so thickly on this painting, it feels edible.

Awe-inspiring Chinese contemporary art at the White Rabbit Collection, particularly their wall of paintings, which they name the Great Wall of China.  There is a terrific review of the current show here.  Thought-provoking in the extreme.

A walk across the road to see Halo, an amazing collaboration between art, engineering and science, and Sea Mirror.

In between, inspiration everywhere, from colours at food stalls

to vending machines that seem bizarre to the British eye - flip flop emergency?  No problem.

Wonderful origami gallery at Kinokuyima books, but no photography allowed inside.  In between all of that I've been doing some sketchbooking and some stitching, but that will need to wait for another day, as we are about to go to here.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

NSW Quilt Show 2014

Any day at a quilt show that starts with these blues seen from the boat to the show is going to be good.

The NSW Quilt Show certainly was a great day out - although the new venue was very cold.  I took too many photos, so have linked to them here.  Not surprisingly, many of the quilts featured incredible applique, Australian plants and Australian birds.  The winners are shown on this link.  Many of the quilts, although not many of the winners, used paint and pencil techniques on their entries.  I was particularly taken with one of those, by Lois Parish-Evans,  in the "Living Colour" exhibit, curated by Brenda Gael Smith, which had been quilted, and then coloured after the quilting, leading to incredible contrast between the quilted and non-quilted area.

I got a chance to say hello to Kathy Doughty of Material Obsessions fame, and to meet the fun and charming Mollisparkles, who has a great free tutorial on how to make a pieced Union Jack block.  Too bad I don't have my sewing machine here.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Australian Art Adventures

It is still incredibly sunny here, so the temptation is to be outside as much as possible.  However, I spent some time indoors yesterday at the inspiring Museum of Contemporary Art.  Unfortunately, I had just missed the exhibition about Game of Thrones - would have loved to see some of those costumes.

However, the immersive video art of Tabaimo more than made up for that.  It was really special to see the drawings that made up some of the videos, and to see those drawings further extended to become new drawings on the actual wall of the gallery.

The lower pieces were firstly an ever changing array of coloured cards, by Rebecca Baumann, mesmerising to watch, and then an array of tiny slippers decorated with shells, each one a different pattern.  Made by Esme Timbery, the story behind it is very sobering.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Walking in sunshine

The song theme resurfaces, with apologies to Katrina and the Waves, as I am in Sydney.  Lots of sunshine, chilly when the sun goes in, no stitching yet, but already lots of inspirations from water reflections

Thursday, 3 July 2014

More Sussex experiences

My Sussex adventures continued last week, but I've been too pre-occupied with preparing lists for everyone's travel adventures this summer ( and with the tennis) to blog about them.  So a quick zoom about them.  First a visit to Architectural Plants near Horsham, which I had not visited for over 18 years.  It is even more amazing now, and is really worth visiting before they move to their new site near Pulborough, in 2016.  The vistas in the nursery are superb, and it is possible to wander for hours around the grounds.

Architectural plants vistas

Shapes and textures

Architectural  plants shapes textures

Quirkiness ( spelling?)

Architectural plants office

Then to the Ditchling Museum of Arts and Craft, small, but beautiful and well worth a visit.  Some of the artists in that community had troubled and bizarre personal lives, but the museum focusses on the work they produced.  Lunch in the welcoming and interesting Mister Magnolia's fortified me for a walk on Ditchling Beacon, to see the large horizon and watch the swallows.  I got my sketchbook out to record being there - Kurt Jackson influences  coming through




The next day, off to Sheffield Park Garden  to see huge trees and lakes.  The sequoia that exploded after being struck by lightning, is now just a stump, it must have been astonishing to see it immediately after it was struck.  Several trees in the gardens are succumbing to disease and are gradually being removed.  

Sheffield Park trees

I found the tag of one that had recently been chopped down ( my mind went back to the tree project and how to link that to identity tags of fallen soldiers)

Lots of feathers there as well


 And the last Morley session of the term on Tuesday, life drawing, daunting again, but I did manage to enjoy this session more.  It made me realise that I was missing my scalpel, so I calmed my nerves during Andy Murray's last match with the cutting board and some black card. ( The pencil lines were made while watching a match to see if anything interesting came out of the marks) - it didn't, hence the overlay with the paper cuts.




Younger son's end of term concert last night , always emotional as the 6th form leavers talk about their experiences in the music department.  Packing now as I am off to Australia tonight - trying to keep myself calm as the lists mount up.