Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Heide High Point

Heide museum of modern art can be found in Bulleen, on the northeast reaches of Melbourne. Difficult to access via public transport it took 90 minutes and three attempts (thwarted by bad weather and poor planning) to complete the journey. So happy to finally arrive I take the wrong route and head up the roadside, the long way round, past ditches and speeding traffic.

Heide I, a majestic 1930s chocolate box house in pink and white, gazes out at the road, softened by trees. I imagine John and Sunday Reed’s plethora of cats (they had their own cattery) prancing around the garden and the Heide circle (Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester and Laurence Hope), painting in various spots. Inside are small-scale versions of the sculptures found in the garden with 1960s abstract works from the Heidelberg school, intact library and kitchen with built in iron stove.

Heide II is an impressive example 60s modernist design, it reminded me of the writers pad in Clockwork Orange. I sat in the conversation pit, flicking through the book on Heide II, transported to a world of decadent parties, glamour and hedonism. There were a few adjustments to interior, the floating stairs had a banister and glass guard fitted after Sunday's favorite felines had taken a nasty fall. The open banister on the viewing gallery was also contained within glass, parties must have had an air of danger to them, with the cold sandstone walls and tiled floors, save the creaky wooden floorboards in the conversation pit, covered in shag pile. An exhibition of the schools graphic artists was on display throughout the house.

Taken in 1968 of Sweeney and his girlfriend. Sweeney committed suicide in 1979.

The Heide circle was a relaxed commune with open affairs and parties, Sunday reportedly engaged with various artists including Sidney Nolan who was married to John Reeds sister Cynthia at the time. She assisted Nolan in the Ned Kelly series; painting sections of the works, he left under emotional circumstances leaving his entire collection of 200+ works behind. Sunday returned his art yet retained the Ned Kelly paintings; she eventually gifted the works to the National Gallery of Victoria. Joy Hester the only female painter within the Heide circle had a son with Albert Tucker. When her son Sweeney was 3, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and passed care of her child to the Reeds. Sunday became infertile after contracting gonorrhea from her first husband.

Heide III is a purpose built gallery space, exhibiting Albert Tuckers Modern Evil series, a fantastically engaging representation of the horrors of war displaced in Melbourne surrounds. Strong symbolism with angular depictions of devil pig women, clowns, prostitute and soldiers, the intensity of the pain sucks you in. Tucker was called up for duty in 1940; he worked as an army artist at the Heidelberg Military Hospital documenting its occupants who had endured disfigurement and mental illness as a result of service. After discharging in 1942 Tucker witnessed a shift in the attitudes and morals of Melbourne, wholesome family life had been replaced with teenagers and soldiers on the rampage. His paintings focused on the fall of women, in particular prostitutes, which he returns to during his years in Europe.

The gardens were beautifully landscaped and adorned with large and medium scale sculptures.

The site set on 16 acres over the Yarra river floodplain was a former dairy farm.

At first I thought it may be an installation, but on further discovery it was home to bees

I definitely got my monies worth the sun was dipping by the time I departed

Friday, 27 May 2011

Lifting the bar of positivity

Sometimes you find yourself coasting along foolishly thinking nothing is ever going to change, then an event forces a complete shift in attitude, irrevocably altering your course. For me, (the black hole was deep) it's taken three consecutive events and several conversations with good (honest) friends to set myself on a positive angle. My job terminates in two weeks, the three month stepping stone, my island far from any pebbles, is starting to sink. I traded in my creativity for job security and a healthy income, the modern trappings of many dissatisfied folk. It's a messed world that those wanting to use their brain and skill earn considerably less than the numbing roles I've found myself in. Yesterday I filed for eight hours, I cried (momentarily) at the end of it. It was a cleansing process, made me question why I was in Australia, in an office, FILING. Instead of booking the next plane home, I thought about everything I wanted to achieve during my time here and how lackadaisical I’d been thus far. It's true when you're alone and have no friends you learn a great deal about yourself, mainly about how much you value those friends and how much you hate being on your own. Jokes aside it grants you perspective on other areas of your life, questions I've avoided answering, it taught me to be even more independent/self sufficient, how to manage my personality and build something from the ground up. The second was an offer to join the St Martins, FCP Alumni website, they wanted a biography from me, I took a look at my contemporaries; Online Editor at i-D, works at British Vogue, Arena Homme + Sportswear Editor come entrepreneur, for a moment I felt like I didn't belong. I sat down and began to write mine, bullet pointing everything I had done since leaving in 2007 and I surprised myself, my achievements were many (even the blip where I’d left London) looked good. You can paint any picture for yourself, but what matters more than anything is where you are now and how you feel about it, success is subjective. The exercise however served to reminded me of my capabilities and how scared I was of failure (a significant jades on my judgement). The third was a conversation with a firebird, totally enraptured with a wonderful and now successful (the fruits of his talent and her support) boyfriend. Leaving the UK was me running away from a massively shitty break up. I realise now that it was a result of accepting less than I deserve, and how important it is not to repeat the same patterns (something I almost fell into here), raising the bar and be positive (GO BIGGER). By changing what you do or allowing the force of fate to take over can have profoundly positive effects, embrace the upside.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Lenko Pops Up

Maria modeling the more edgier version matt black with graphic lining.

Lenko is a cute store located at the lower end of Swanston Street, however for the next two months it has found an additional temporary home in Melbourne Central. The pop up store, has delightful merchandise carefully sourced from around the globe, some of it also being designed in house by the Lenko girls of course. Lazy Oaf the UK based label also makes an appearance. We wandered down to the opening to check out the store, they had a great selection of pendants, jumpers, cards and of course the animal hats, which I gather are very popular.

If only I had someone to buy this jumper for

What a cat pee on your bed? Never...

Jules looking fetching as a bear...

S I C K ness skewed...

This week I've been mostly coughing the inner workings of my chest into the (very small) hand sink of my ensuite bathroom; there is no door to my room, just a stairwell rising up into the princess tower (a name coined way before my arrival).

My house mates have been subjected to a daily morning ritual, rising from their slumber with aural performance which is distinctly gruesome and animalistic, the sound of lungs attempting to function in a perpendicular state post eight hours of horizontal build up.

Melbourne is a place of new germs, my body is ill prepared to counter attack its unfamiliar strains. I've found myself clearing my way through ten days of fuzzy heads and hazy surroundings.

Today I got hit by a tram,

in my dazed state it whizzed past me, clipping my arm as I gazed ahead confused as to why people were signing in my direction. It was a sensory experience, aside the embarrassment and pain, the rush of Adrenalin was heightening. I am on five different drugs.

Illness warps everything. In a martyr like fashion I attempted to overlook my cold, denying any desire to go home and sleep, instead consoling myself in the distraction of life, My social calendar brimming with alcohol based activities, hot toddy's to get my through the day, glasses of fizzy white post work at various openings around the city. Tonight, warehouse, party, bar and opening, in reverse order, interesting, the mind immediately jumps to the end. There is something grossly sadistic about ignoring ones ills and pushing through, yet the sickness makes you feel alive and inspired, perhaps by ignoring the problem it goes away.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Suggestive Sax

Von Haus has now become my new favourite place, its small enough to feel friendly and with a discerning eye for the finishing touches which enhance your experience. Upstairs you will discover the Sarah Scout Gallery, once home to Eugene von Gerard in the 1850s the building reeks of character. Inside the space is spans two rooms, one semi office come exhibition space and the other a room in which to view art.

We found ourselves at the opening of a new exhibition by Lou Hubbard who appears to have strong links with the gallery and Claire Lambe (from what I gather a curator in her own right) at the Sarah Scout Gallery. The work is evocative, suggestive and somewhat cheeky, its references are suggestive and play on the feminine. I found myself wanting to pick up the truncheon, squeeze the leather and kneed the clay. It all seemed highly marketable.

One of the highlights of the evening aside the art work of course was when a friend of the artists tripped over the clear perspex, momentarily destroying the work. The clay which was unset, was unable to support the weight of the guy and fell flat, an eerie uncomfortableness swept over as we watched the car crash ensue. He managed to style it out moderately, however the entire room (which was packed) played witness to the event. The artist with a courteous smile on her face and the aid of the gallery owner graciously moulded the work back into its original form (or as near as its ever going to get).

The bathroom was magnificent

YAKETY SAX - Lou Hubbard and Claire Lambe runs at Sarah Scout Gallery, Von Haus building, 1A Crossley Street -19 May to 11 June 2011

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Human Rights opens its doors to art... and protest

Human Rights is such a sensitive issue, yet when combined with art it becomes embroiled in a debate as to whether art is the main importance or the message itself, or are the unequivocally entwined - what is art without its message anyway... the selection curated by Joanna Gould and Brooke Tia Silcox, certainly covered all bases - photography, installation, film/documentary, sculpture, painting, live performance. The room at No Vacancy gallery inside the QV building filled up quickly, I was glad to have arrived with a little time to move freely before the polite shuffling began. Skateistan is a project in Afghanistan empowering children by teaching them to skate, the video documentary by Jacob Simkin explores the impact of the project, by working closely with five children, and developing their photographic skills in the process.

Same sex weddings, are forbidden in Australia, the piece documents many couples who would like to be married but are unable to because of their choice of partner.

This piece was fascinating - see shaky (out of focus explanation below).

I became embroiled in a protest outside where some hard nut Palestine protesters were up in arms as their art work wasn't included in the exhibition - it later transpired that a work from the artist was selected, he decided to add a further piece a few days before which was declined as it hadn't even been seen by the curators. I ended up getting shouted at by an angry lady for not being able to argue with her, as I stated that wasn't informed enough to give her the answer she was looking for, this acted like a red rag...

Monday, 16 May 2011

Neon Nuns

Sister Corita Kent seems like a pretty formidable lady, her life was filled with teaching and art, this resonates in her graphic slogans on harmony and respect. Her serigraphs are make their debut appearance in Melbourne at Neon Parc gallery (just off Bourke Street). SCK passed away in 1986, 25 years ago, money from the sale of her artwork goes on to fund the Immaculate Heart Community.

The exhibition runs until 4 June.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Walks in the dark towards the light...

So it's been pouring down with rain all weekend, I'm bored shitless, I have no place to go and no one to go with. It's Sunday and I've not done anything creative all weekend, I feel guilty. I decide to smoke a joint and take a walk, with my ipod for company and my camera for stimulation I head out into the night looking for inspiration. First I encounter a man hoovering in a place near the bike track its illuminated and the concept of the voyeur engulfs me, I start snapping away hoping to get a great stalker shot. Alas nothing comes and he disappears from view. I continue into the dark and play with the idea of filming myself under the light from the lamp post the idea is essentially good, but I feel self conscious and the images remind me why I'm not a model. I try out different locations, the garage, the street, it becomes less successful. I remove myself from the picture and focus on what is in front of me, the way light and dark play with the camera... here are the results...

What I like about Melbourne are the contrasting buildings, the architectural styles are so vast for such a young city. I wish I had a better camera (and better photo shop skills), in the darkness provides limited information, however the images offer a suggestion as to the community around...

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Lunch times are for enrichment...

So I went to the wrong gallery, and had to drag my friend and I back from where we came, we missed the first 10 minutes, the section I was most excited to hear about. I hadn't made it to the splinter exhibition of Men's Style, just to confuse the display spans two galleries, the National Gallery of Victoria, International and the Ian Potter Centre. The talk lasted 40 minutes and walked us through the various exhibits within the Dandy section of the Ian Potter Centre, it was good to meet the curator and hear first hand about the designers and garments...

1920s linen suit became fashion attire for the artistic man.

Interesting choice of suit on offer, the subtle nuances are marked throughout the exhibition.

Heidi Slimane for Dior, before he became a full time photographer he was an extremely talented designer. This men's cape is stunning.

It was good to see the range bought up to date with the latest offering from Rick Owens, one of fashions most contemporary menswear designers. This was taken directly from Spring Summer 2011 collection.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Dancing in the dark.

Positivity can come from darkness, an opportunity to turn the lights off and focus, removing external distractions and stripping the self-conscience away. The omission of one sense forces us to enhance another, producing a relaxing acceptance of our surroundings. Sam Potter (Late of the Pier) and Eat Your Own Ears present an evening of darkness full of music. A venue devoid of light will become host to a healthy line up musicians and dj's carefully curated by the boys. Adding further anticipation the artists are planning to remain anonymous throughout. I would like to be in London for this show, at the very least to have my foot stamped on and get felt up in the dark. After the initial novelty has subsided a plateau might be attained in which to embrace a publicly sensory first, or maybe not, either way it will certainly be fun.

The night Blackout is the first of a series of music events from the collective and is supported by National Lottery via the Arts Council.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Walter Hugo LIVE

Its been a long day and I'm still up, watching with glee at 'Walter Hugo' revealing the techniques behind antique photography in its early beginnings.

It's streaming LIVE now on Show Studio.

Photographs from showcase exhibition

Reflecting the Bright Lights... from London Sessions Productions on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Modern quandary...Lentil as Anything's trust exercise,

Lentil as Anything is a buffet style eatery set in a convent in Abbotsford, the concept is simple pay what you think the meal is worth. However, the trust exercise only extends so far, as the charity barely breaks even each month, which is surprising when you consider how many people are in there. Packed to the rafters with young eco trendies, rosey faced mothers, yuppy gays sharing a bottle and shouty teenagers, I ponder 'who left without paying?'

The fare on offer was varied an comforting, baked potato with beans, dahl, salad, rice, pasta, curries and vegetables. I consumed one and a half platefuls with ease and still found room for a small serving of rice pudding. With my belly full save bloaty, I was able to absorb the hippy 'trippy' music on offer, live five piece jamming their way through the evening with a composed sense of contentment. When I got bored of that, I had Charlie (Chaplin) projected on to the wall overhead, all bases were covered.

I left with a wholesome feeling, after depositing a tenner into the tinbox – a completely different sensation from departing Naked for Satan after rejecting a handful of used cocktail sticks into the sanitary bin.

I abandoned my bicycle to the rain and attempted to hitchhike back west to Lygon, failing, I dived into the bus shelter when I engaged with a fellow dinner, or rather a young drunk with two Tupperware boxes packed with LAA dishes and a bottle of non-descript ale. We waited wilfully for a bus to appear; I flashed my empty myki card and hoped on. Arriving home cold and wet some 50 minutes later, shame it’s so far from home.

Friday, 6 May 2011

The hand that rocks the Tesco...

It was over a year ago since my dalliance with the Bristol Tesco protests. It happened on a rather glorious day in March - back then it was more of a civilised eviction, with horses, police and cranes. Despite the protesters being removed successfully, losing their squat and most probably being booked by the police, the publicity coverage over the plight must have impacted Tesco's PR department. In turn becoming a figurehead for anti-capitalists and activists to throw darts (or more recently petrol bombs and art works) at.

Tesco Value Petrol Bomb, by Banksy, I love the Daily Mails spin, made me laugh out loud

It's a not-so-modern dilemma that beseeches my generation, one of capitalism, monopolisation, aggressive expansion. Its impact is one that could potentially change our urban landscape, replacing communities with retail parks, shopping centres, lining the pockets of a few rather than spreading the wealth more evenly. I grew up in a new town, built over an old town, Telford was born in the 1960s, it's town centre - a giant indoor shopping centre. The old town, Wellington - where fortunately I spent majority of my childhood - a medieval market town. Evolving slowly over time, next to a Roman road, which led from Holyhead (North Wales coast) to the River Thames in London, such history and inspiration. It bore the marks of time, narrow streets, Tudor buildings, town square, however has become more shabby since. Many have closed their doors as the supermarkets moved in, vacant spaces, now home to charity shops and discount frozen food stores. When I think back to the richness of my youth I recount with longing the focaccias hand made daily by the grumpy Italian in the kitchen of Sidolis; Chelsea buns bought with tuck money from the kindly bakers with the dickensian square glass frontage; pic and mix sweets from the market as a Saturday treat, coconut wheels and peanut brittle; saving and savouring every Christmas present bought for my family from Woolworths and little homely shops. Not discounting the joy of a McDonalds happy meal at Telford Town Centre or shoplifting in C&A. I think I learnt more about interaction with adults from the independent shops that knew their customers and were able to impart some of their personality on you. The richness that life provides is never going to be found in endless trips to giant Tesco's. Yet it is our own hand that leads us there, the anti-movement comes from our choices. It is difficult to pay more, make life more laborious, make several trips to different stores, but if we are to support each other, encourage our communities to care then we must.

In New York they have food co-operatives, where customers become members and contribute their time, usually three hours a month - in turn they can to shop in the store buying food with considerably lower mark ups.