Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Apologia

I hate to think of myself as a cliché and yet during the past few weeks I have lived up to the cheesy stereotype of a depressive, unreliable, chaotic artist.
I've been remiss in nearly every aspect of my professional life: not keeping in touch with collectors, delivering copy late to editors, not fulfilling publicity commitments, neglecting this blog and ignoring emails. I've delayed a long-planned trip to Japan not once but three times in three weeks. Instead, I've been holed up in my studio alone, anxious and insufferably moody. My boyfriend, who remains constant, supportive and kind, is looking worn-out from being around what he refers to, with withered patience, as "this mess".
There are reasons for me being this way – there always are – but in the end, I can only think of them as excuses. I've been having problems with my ADSL access and my whizz-bang new Nokia mobile phone has turned out to be a piece of crap. I'm setting up another studio in a third world country where I speak little of the language. And I've had some difficulty – call it abject fear – getting started on a new series of very large oils on canvas.
I finally broke through with the first painting last night. Everything in my world now seems better, shinier.
I've been writing abject apologies and catching up with files filled with unpaid bills, unanswered invitations, logistical dilemmas and collector enquiries for most of this morning.
It's only right that I should apologise here, too, to everyone who reads this blog regularly. I am sorry for not updating it for so long.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Come The Revolution

When I first aspired to being an artist, I wanted to be represented by the biggest and best galleries in the world.
I thought that having the approval and support of a big time, internationally recognised space was integral to 'making it'. In a scrap book, I kept articles on the very sma
ll number of Australian galleries that I considered – in a very business-like, pragmatic way – to be necessary 'stepping stones', as well as the larger number of American and English ones. The two that most interested me were the hyper-successful, former wild man, Larry Gagosian's eponymous Gagosian Gallery, home to some of the biggest names in American contemporary art, and Jay Jopling's gallery, White Cube, which has stage-managed the careers of most of the so-called Brit' Art stars. I used to think both were less staid and different in their approaches to representing artists – clearly, I was as susceptible as everyone else to the art business's 21st century image-invention and hype.
I saw that big name galleries corralled significant collectors and nurtured relationships with major institutions. I thought I needed them to reach both and to buffer me from the harsh, mercantile realities of today's art world. Idealistically, as an artist, I felt I should focus only on making art.
Now I realise that one of the few real pleasures of being an artist is having contact with collectors of my work - after all, they connect enough with something coming from deep within me to want to buy it. I also realise that having my work in state art institutions is something that just happens, sort of – sometimes I don't even know about it until a collector writes to tell me they have lent a piece for a show or sold a work to be part of a collection.
I have had a few opportunities to show at some of the galleries on my old list but they just don't hold any appeal for me. I would rather set up my own exhibitions, albeit, sometimes, in collaboration with an established gallery, and handle my own marketing, communications, and sales.
In the much same way that Gagosian and Jopling were revolutionary gallerists of their respective times, the artist as a truly self-organising, self-promoting, self-sufficient independent, adept in new media and unshackled from the old gallery and institutional systems, is the revolutionary of today.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Spirits Of Things

Recently, I hosted a small lunch for three women with whom I've become acquainted over the past year or so: Dr. Julianne Schultz, the founding editor of Griffith REVIEW, Katrina Schwarz, the editor of Art & Australia, and Clare Press, the features director of Vogue Australia. As I often do, I created a set of small drawings to give to my guests.
I've been immersed in a series of novels that often refer to Thai superstitions, particularly the Thais' belief that ghosts (and demons) linger at the edge of their everyday reality. I couldn't help but imagine some of the women I sketched in Pattaya as playful wraiths – indistinct, faceless, glancing off the edge of consciousness. I made three, light-hearted watercolours quickly. Without my thinking about it, the languid spirits in them took on aspects of the personalities of the women for whom each painting was intended.
Maybe I've my picked up my own Thai ghost to haunt my imagination.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Make Mine Manga

One of my early paintings, Doop De Doo, a large enamel on canvas, has been loaned by a private collector to Redcliffe City Art Gallery for their exhibition BLAST! The Influence of Manga and Contemporary Japanese Popular Culture on Australian Artists, until 25th July, this year. The exhibition will then move to the Logan Regional Art Gallery, near Brisbane, where it can be seen from 7th August to 15th September, 2007.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Proof

ID photos are often the most revealing portraits. That's why we're often so unhappy about our driver's license and passport mugshots. Like an emotional poultice, the unflattering light and awkward circumstance in which they're taken draw out a kind of stark, undeniable truth from our faces.
I renewed my driver's license yesterday. I was photographed early in the morning at an RTA office in a suburban mall, without make-up and after a night of little sleep. To my surprise, when I was issued the card, the person in the photograph was someone I really liked. I looked well. I looked happy. I looked at peace.