Monday, 29 April 2013

Point Danger

A visit to the far North coast and the co-joined twin towns of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta could not be deemed complete without visiting the iconic surfing breaks of D'bar and Snapper Rocks. Breeding grounds for many Aussie surfing legends and host to some of the biggest competitions in the world these two places flank Point Danger, named by Captain James Cook in 1770 after his ship the 'Endeavour' was forced further out to sea by shallow reefs. 

 

Grommets head to the breaks while the Mt Warning National Park can just be seen in the distance behind the high-rise holiday apartments in Cooly...


D'bar to the south on a beautiful autumn Saturday morning. A fairly small swell but that didn't deter 50 or 60 to go out. All of them seemed under 20 years old and all of them hot riders, with most probably starting surfing when they were 6 or 7. Crowded but still a little room to move, unlike...

 

Snapper Rocks where there was an insanely large crowd all vying for position along the formation known as the 'superbank'. Not only dangerous, but downright unpleasant. Late take-offs frighteningly close to the rocks were the order of the day, and if you were lucky enough to find yourself in the groove then threading your way through the crowd was nightmarish. Personally I thought something had gone terribly wrong here. The idea of surfing as being at one with nature and having a spiritual element had been lost. This was more akin to dodgem cars at sideshow alley. The less said about my local break on the far South coast, where 8 out is starting to seem like a crowd, the better.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Christina Amphlett 1959 - 2013

It is with sadness I note the death of Chrissy Amphlett last week. The curse of breast cancer. The Divinyls were one of the best Aussie exports, making us proud that we in the Antipodes could cut it with the rest of the world. Great rock and roll, with surprisingly honest and perceptive songwriting. Chrissy transcended all the shallow stereotypes of what a front woman should be. Not for her the New York art school untouchable Debbie Harry, the icy commercialism of Madonna or the "I wish she had stayed at home" embarrassment of Courtney Love. She just exuded a sexuality, if not an eroticism, that was dangerous, yet in control. It was always about the performance, but my God, she had it down pat. RIP...

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

I am no ghost

anonymous waves, Self portrait in Tocumwal, late March 2013, digital photograph

This one is just a little visual joke for some people I know in the ambient music field...

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Old stamping ground

The recent journey west culminated in another kind of journey with a visit to the Art Gallery of South Australia where I managed to catch up with some old friends and make some new ones as well. This beautiful institution is where my love of art started and many hours have been spent within it's galleries. One thing I like about being there is you 'feel' like you are in a great art gallery, and with the major Turner from the Tate show on at the time, in the presence of a great master. And what a knockout of a show, beautifully presented and lit, chronologically laid out, with the end result being that you are left in no doubt at all about Turner's place as one of the greatest painters ever. The works just shimmered off the walls. And a nice surprise to see a Turner from the National Gallery of Victoria as well. I have spent many hours admiring this work and trying to see it from the perspective that Turner did and when I finally did 'see it' it was a moment of enlightenment in the appreciation of art. This may be a garbled stream of consciousness but hey, it's been that sort of week...

J.M.W Turner, A mountain scene, Val d'Aosta, c.1845, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Victoria

On the way to the Turner an obligatory stop at the Dusan Marek wall to pay homage to the man who started me on the surrealist path, and to acknowledge the role my mum played in introducing me to him...

 

With my new interest in video, it was a timely reminder of the fact that Marek was experimenting with film way back during the 50's when I was still a toddler. More recent video work of Adelaide artist Bridgette Minuzzo was of interest...


 Bridgette Minuzzo, Of light and clouds, 2013, Digital animation

Also spotted Tim Johnson, who would probably be arrested today for filming on the streets mini-skirted girls and women dealing with gusts of wind...

Tim Johnson, Public fitting, 1972, 16mm film

Particularly liked this work from Burma. Kinda drove it all home in a fatalistic way...

Death, Third of the Four Sights seen by Prince Siddharta, c.1900

Makes one wonder what the other three sights were...I am sure it wasn't the video nearby from Russian collective AES+F...

AES+F, Sacred allegory, 2010-11, 3 channel video

I have no idea at all what AES+F are up to in their work, either at this size or the giant installation tableaux at MONA in Hobart, but whatever it is, they do it technically very well, and certainly take this weeks prize for 'weirdness'...and then in the last gallery on the way out my favourite work when I was a child...

 William Adolphe Bouguereau, Virgin and Child, 1888, oil on canvas

Now, I wonder where my interest in sex, death, the church and eroticism stems from?

Descent into Hell

 

Here's the cover to the new album...now all I need is some sounds and images to go with it...

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Chance Encounters

Third cultural stop was La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre in Bendigo where we 'did a job' on an installation by Bruce Mowson and Elliot Howard called 'The Listening vs Striles of Ming'. A series of different boxes, mostly on casters, sat randomly in the VAC Gallery. While reading through the 'artist's statement' (which incidentally was sending my blood pressure up around the 200/140 mark) the delightful Gail McNaulty (VAC Events and Admin Co-ordinator) explained the work was interactive and that the public was invited to 'move things around'. I asked if there was a sound and light component we could play with as well but sadly no.  

But first to the health hazard of  the 'artist's statement'. I quote:
"The sculptural products are the end result of an extended period of collaborative studio work by Mowson and Howard. During this period Mowson and Howard have developed a way of working that encompasses, amongst other things, fabrication, discussion, design, critical reflection, material selection and testing all of the above. There are also other complex factors in play that may include the friction produced between adjacent and slowly brewed subjectivities, the disarming affective qualities of noise meeting cheek and the divining of ephemeral political, libidinal and golden forces. Through the working process they are pleased to have stumbled upon certain key effects that include a favela-glance, a disco-touch and an amoeba-noise."

This was enough to set me off, in this rare opportunity to make some (what I call) easy art. So, five minutes later and we had rearranged the boxes into a wall that divided the gallery in half. I asked Gail if we could turn the lights off to 'complete the piece'. After some discussion with the Managing Curator Paul Northam the switch was found and turned off. Unfortunately skylights prevented the darkness I was hoping for. Paul commented that no one had done anything like this before to which I replied that "the wall represents the alienation that exists between much contemporary art and the public, and that the lame drape inside a 'cage' represented the burka and the alienation of asylum seekers and the status of women in some Muslim societies". The darkened room simply added to the overall theme. He, to his credit, saw the joke immediately and much fun and merriment was had by all, he appreciating the chance to talk art rather than administration for a few minutes.

Mowson, Howard and anonymous waves, The Wall, 2013, mixed media

Mowson, Howard and anonymous waves, The Wall, 2013, mixed media

In an atrium opposite the installation sat a site specific work by Phillipino artist Jan Leeroy New that I thought a nice contrast, if not relief, from what stood opposite. Lovely use of recycled materials into a form that had meaning...enough said...I am sure you are getting the idea by now.

Jan Leeroy New, Carapace, 2009, mixed media

And finally on the way out spotted ceramics by Vanessa Lucas. whose black jug has to be the sexiest jug ever conceived. Exclaiming "Vanessa's jug!" brought Paul and Gail out again who asked do you know Vanessa? "We should" I replied, "she was bridesmaid at our wedding!" Vanessa will be showing her meticulously crafted creations in Malmsbury, Victoria during May. More details on this later... 


I did notice on the way out the lights had been switched back on...