15 04 2014

Oh the love.

Seriously, I love the shape of these little ceramic objects.

from one and many Etsy store; click on image for original source

from one and many Etsy store; click on image for original source

So much it hurts.
Not meaning to be melodramatic or anything…

Can you imagine this shape in a textured fine silver? Swoon

Peaches + Keen ‘Botanical Calamity’ @ Modern Times

27 03 2014

Oh you all know of my fondness of Peaches + Keen. It’s unashamed I tell you.

The colourific ladies have a show of some new prints in ‘Botanical Calamity‘ at Modern Times.



It’s not a gallery space but one of my favourite kinds of stores, a mid-century furniture store … be still my beating-for-rosewood heart! And for my mind the beautiful prints sit quite a peace next to the gorgeous furniture.

The new work continues to showcase their love of nature. The motifs are delicate, gold-leaf is used sparingly for highlights (but for the outrageously fabulous cactus, where it is generously applied to fabulous effect) and their playful feel for combining colour is evident.



I think I say this about every one of Peaches + Keen’s exhibitions – it was a delight and a joy. I always walk away from their shows with a smile.

Botanical Calamity‘ is at Modern Times until 3rd April 2014.

Other shows from Peaches + Keen:

Melbourne Now ‘Contemporary Jewellery’ @ NGV

19 02 2014

I must admit to being rather ambivalent about this mega-exhibition-event. ‘Melbourne Now‘ is a huge collection of shows and events, staged by National Gallery of Victoria, spread across the two main galleries and many other locations.

Why haven’t I been overwhelmingly excited (like many others it seems)? Perhaps it’s just me, but I found the exhibition website difficult to navigate and frankly confusing. It felt awkward to get a handle on all that was happening (I’ve used the word ‘bamboozled’ more than once when discussing it). Looking at the website this week though it feels less tricksy; perhaps it has evolved over the length of the exhibition.

Eventually I found my way to the ‘Contemporary Jewellery‘ exhibition.

on the landing of floor 3 of NGV international

on the landing of floor 3 of NGV international; not sure why some of the lighting looks yellow (my camera isn’t very fancy to figure such things out)

Exhibition media: “Melbourne is recognised as a leading centre for the production of contemporary jewellery. Presented via a mild steel armature designed by Melbourne architecture firm Muir Mendes, this installation presents diverse technical, material and conceptual approaches to jewellery, including millennia-old craft traditions and innovative new methods.

Am I being especially sensitive to be a little uncertain about the show being on the landing? It’s a good use of the space sure, a high traffic area and therefore providing good exposure; though it’s not exactly high status … or is it in fact the highest status, with not being hidden in a room? Well, now I’m just unsure about it.
The cases are sleek though; I liked them.


Meredith Turnbull, Stephen Gallagher, Phoebe Porter

Participating artists (reverse-alphabetical by surname, as per Melbourne Now listing):

  • Meredith Turnbull, Blanche Tilden
  • Lousje Skala
  • Emma Price, Phoebe Porter, Nicole Polentas, Tiffany Parbs
  • David Neale
  • Vicki Mason, Sally Marsland, Carlier Makigawa
  • Manon van Kouswijk
  • Marian Hosking, Kirsten Haydon, Jo Hawley
  • Allona Goren, Stephen Gallagher
  • Maureen Faye-Chauhan
  • Mark Edgoose
  • Bin Dixon-Ward
  • Nicholas Bastin, Roseanne Bartley, Robert Baines

There are links for each of the artists on the exhibition page.

For me the most outstanding object was by Robert Baines (below) – the colouring and construction are a progression from recent work, and I love that it’s new and I haven’t seen it before. It’s a crazy kind of coral growth in purples and pinks and silvery-whites and gold. Outrageous and fabulous.
I would like to take it home with me … anyone want to donate it to my place?

Robert Baines

Robert Baines

It isn’t a simple matter to just list the other pieces I liked, for there were many indeed. That said though, Meredith Turnbull’s work is stunning and certainly worth mentioning.

In an adjacent room Meredith has also created a space and materials for children to create their own neckpieces and add to the wall display. This was a total delight and a wonderful way to bring the little ones into the art and making world.

neckpieces on display

neckpieces on display

It’s worth exploring the other rooms on the same floor.
I thought the collection of Prue Venables‘s ‘Tea Strainers‘ were beautiful.
And the watercolour faces of Sangeeta Sandrasegar were evocative and thoughtful (VettiLiveinNorthcote showcases this work too).

I did look about on the other floors, though am sad to report that nothing there took my heart or mind. I’m kind of disappointed, as I was hoping to be swept away and amazed. Perhaps though it was just my frame of mind on the day…

Mark Holsworth of Black Mark blog wrote about it; and I especially liked his connection of the event branding colour to the ‘Yellow Peril’.

Marcus Banyan, of ArtBlart blog, has written at length also (part1, part2); I agree with his overview and particularly responded to his summary on the first post.

Melbourne Now‘ is at NGV and other locations until 23rd March 2014.


Update (a few hours after initial publication): Since writing the above I’ve been wondering – does anyone know how the artists were selected to be part of this exhibition? I’m fairly certain it wasn’t by open submission or application; perhaps invitation or curator selection or gallery recommendation?

Of the 23 makers, there are two emerging (early career) artists only a few years out of university. Many of the artists are probably best described as early or mid-career; and quite a number are established.

It could be suggested that a ‘now‘ exhibition would do well to include more work from the newer makers or even from students (or more experimental individuals). That said though, it must be acknowledged that the strength of the Melbourne jewellery community is its diversity and support across ‘experience’ depth, so including all levels is perfectly reasonable.

Looking at the artist biographies, it looks like there aren’t any who have not undertaken formal education – even though the text on the wall mentions the richness of the community including self-taught makers.

Still much to think about.


Update (21st February): Marcus’s text I mention above is worth reproducing here for your reading enjoyment (with author permission): “As with any group exhibition there are highs and lows, successes and failures. Totally over this fad for participatory art spread throughout the galleries. Too much deconstructed/performance/collective design art that takes the viewer nowhere. Good effort by the NGV but the curators were, in some cases, far too clever for their own (and the exhibitions), good. 7/10“.

Also worth reading is the review that Marcus also quotes: that in the Sydney Morning Herald – it’s pretty scathing by my reading.

One of my favourite statements: “… the exhibition is an act of metropolitan navel-gazing on a scale inconceivable in any other Australian capital. The catalogue is filled with references to Melbourne’s global status and international sophistication, but this event is insular and tribal almost by definition.”


Thankfully I knew my interest (energy and attention) limitations and only wanted to look at the one aspect of the whole show (for which I am unashamed) – for just reading about the whole shebang makes me reel and feel like I’m drowning (and we come back to my initial impression of the bamboozle).


What happened to Barbara?

2 02 2014

The traffic information provided by blogging platforms like WordPress can throw up some pretty interesting things – like which countries readers are from (well, at least their ISP), and what other websites have sent traffic your way (either through direct links, or sometimes through the ‘similar’ suggestions generated automatically at the bottom of pages).

A few days ago I noticed that The First Book of Fashion tumblr had sent a visitor my way; specifically from the post about the upcoming sale of the Barbara Schwarz portrait.

Portrait of Barbara Schwarz, 1542 Oil on panel, 74 x 61 cm; click on image for original source

Portrait of Barbara Schwarz, 1542 Oil on panel, 74 x 61 cm; click on image for original source

This was incredibly interesting to me because the Barbara Schwarz portrait by Christophe Amberger was the basis of a piece I made in my third year at uni : Brooch for a Mother.

J#1: brooch for Mother

J#1: brooch for Mother

Further though, this tumblr was inspired by Matthaus Schwarz and his Trachtenbuch, his book of paintings of his own clothing ensembles – who was also the key inspiration for my entire collection in that uni project. How wonderful to discover kindred spirits.

image from ... Lübbeke, Isolde (translator). The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection – Early German Painting 1350 – 1550, Sotheby’s Publishing, London, 1991

image from … Lübbeke, Isolde (translator). The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection – Early German Painting 1350 – 1550, Sotheby’s Publishing, London, 1991

To the point at hand though: the portrait was being offered for sale at Christies in New York (expected to realise US$4 – $6m), and I also thought it would be super-fabulous if the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza were able to acquire it to hang with the companion portrait of Matthaus.

As the sale had already happened by the time I saw this post, I thought it would be a simple matter of searching the auction house’s website to see what it sold for; or search the internets to see if the museum had managed to buy it.

I failed to find anything. Even the original listing for the painting has been removed; and the audio that was released before the sale to promote it has also gone. Intriguing. The ‘auction results’ published on their websites only seem to contain those lots that realised sale; this is different to many other auction house sites I visit, which also note if lots were passed in.

The options seem to be that the painting was either (1) withdrawn from sale or (2) passed in. I’ve undertaken a little internet searching but have so far found no answer.

Well, I can only hope in the next few months something surfaces about this portrait. Hopefully it does make its way ‘home’ and will be next to Matthaus once again.


Update (4th February): I’ve just noticed that the post about the upcoming sale of the Barbara Schwarz portrait has been updated to include a mention and link to my original jewellery post – sharing the blog loving, how fabulous indeed!


Update (11th February): I emailed Christie’s PR/media department to ask about the portrait, a week ago, no reply yet, but if I get one I’ll update this post.


The Bedolina Map

30 01 2014

I was watching one of my old map documentaries today.
You know, for fun and visual stimulation.

It highlighted the ‘Bedolina Map’ … more formally ‘COMPOSITE PETROGLYPH MAP FROM BEDOLINA, VALCAMONICA. (North Italy). Size of the original: 2.30 x 4.16 m.

click on image for original source

click on image for original source

Amazing right?

click on image for original source

click on image for original source

Almost like a Miro!

‘Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia’ @ National Library of Australia

27 01 2014

The second of the two exhibitions that brought me to Canberra was ‘Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia‘ at the National Library of Australia (NLA).

Maps interest me in how they make evident the manner in which people perceive and place themselves in the landscape, and then how they represent their three-dimensional world in two dimensions. This exhibition shows that to some small extent, though (naturally, given the title and focus) is more about how maps of the ‘modern’ centuries evolve to show snippets of what came to be called Australia.

Exhibition media: “Mapping our World is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see rare and unique cartographic treasures from around the world. Discover how European explorers unravelled the secrets of the great south land.
Highlights of the exhibition include the magnificent Fra Mauro Map of the World; the remarkable Boke of Idrography presented to Henry VIII; an intricate world map by the Benedictine monk Andreas Walsperger (1448); a fifteenth-century Ptolemy manuscript; magnificent and controversial ‘Dieppe’ charts; one of only four surviving copies of Mercator’s groundbreaking 1569 projection, and original manuscript charts by Pacific navigators including Louis de Freycinet, James Cook and Matthew Flinders.

There are some absolutely magnificent works of art here – and yes, they certainly do deserve that lofty description. The most stunning of course being the map used in media for the exhibition: the ‘Fra Mauro Map of the World‘ (1448-1453). This is the first time the map has ever left Venice … ever. If you only go for one reason, this is sufficient.

click on image for original source

click on image for original source

The above map is detailed beyond comprehension; and its counterpart could be considered to be the little map that struck me for its simplicity and design, and also its proposal of not-yet-discovered places: Macrobius’s ‘Zonal world map, in Commentary on the Dream of Scipio’, from the 11th century.

click on image for original source

click on image for original source

The most significant impact this exhibition had on me was to underscore how inadequate my primary school education had been in such matters. I was taught that Captain Cook ‘discovered’ the east coast of Australia in 1770. I don’t remember being taught anything of the Dutch reaching the west coast (it wasn’t until my thirties that I came to this knowledge, via someone raised in Perth and taught such things in school), nor that the Portuguese were more likely the first ‘Europeans’ to map the shores of the continent in the 1500s (if not earlier, as such knowledge was fiercely guarded).

Regular readers will know how I love maps; though visiting this exhibition was almost too much of a good thing. I found myself developing map-fatigue half-way through the rooms.

I’ve given this some more thought and consider it akin to compassion-fatigue (and of course closely aligned to art-fatigue, if not exactly the same): being surrounded by so many amazing objects, bombarded at each turn with a map deserving of attention and contemplation in its own right, creates such a weight that it’s overwhelming and desensitizing. An individual brilliance is dulled and suffocated by the company of many others of equal value.

Others have written more eloquently of this experience, so I won’t expand any further on it here. Though I have wondered if my ‘fatigue’ is speeding up with age – I feel I am reaching saturation point earlier in an exhibition than I did in my twenties or even just a few years ago … perhaps a larger and growing ‘back-catalogue’ of accumulated images and experiences casts a longer shadow over the new?

There is so much to appreciate in this exhibition, and it’s free.

Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia‘ is at the National Library of Australia (Canberra) until 10th March 2014.