Recycle re-use

On experiencing creativity

 

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I am feeling particularly energised after an afternoon workshop at QAGOMA (Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art) with Brisbane artist John Honeywill. John had us wielding large sticks dipped in black paint across paper laid the on the floor, followed by collaging, pencil scribbling and rubber drawing. All done in the name of creativity.

Collage number 2, now nothing more than an image on my hand-me-down iPhone, is the collage design I liked best of the three I did. We had just 15 minutes. The exercise aimed to combine the intuitive with the thinking part of the brain. Instinctively, I approached this as a colour and tonal piece. Intuition and experience drew me to the particular colours.

My first collage had been a happy accident that resulted primarily from plonking the bits of paper on the backing page. As a consequence, for Collage Number 2, I decided to work within the ‘confines’ of the materials, that is to use their own particular qualities rather than manipulate or change them.

What spoke to me were the beautiful ragged edges of two of the bits of paper, something I had not particularly focused on when choosing them. They became the heroes in my design and, being heroes, needed top billing, with a good supporting structure. This is where the black strips came in handy.

The whole design came together in minutes, with no repositioning or conscious thinking. Even the conscious thoughts, requiring many words to describe here, came in seconds. Not surprisingly this exercise felt like a powerful burst of energy! For me, collage making, or any artistic endeavour, too frequently becomes laboured rather than fluid. A drawn out bid for the right composition, colour, texture or shape can degenerate into exhausting, fruitless fiddle rather than a creative act.

At the outset of the workshop John had briefly explained the connection between unconscious process and the the thinking brain in creativity. Good teachers provide experiences, not just words and that is exactly what John orchestrated. We had the experience of combining intuitive thinking with analytical thinking. Doing art using these different aspects of our brain makes magic happens. Oh to find that place each time I set to work!!

Thank you John. Click to visit John Honeywill

Waterscapes

Mother’s day memorial

My mother has no gravestone. Gravestones, like funerals are for the living. Or for the dying, a re-assurance that somehow, once gone, we will be remembered by a physical marker, something solid and tangible. I really don’t know what mum would have thought about a memorial. When death calls, we forget to ask. I am sure though that she wanted to be remembered. That seems fundamental to being human, a consequence of loving and being loved, and our capacity to feel loss so profoundly.

She is remembered, not just by me and the immediate family, but by so many others whose lives she touched, in small, kind ways. I have come to understand how important small things are. Thank you mum.

Remembering: perhaps this is the best memorial of all.

Tell the one you love

Our eyes, our identity

Anzac Day Memorial

Tomorrow I will be on the driveway at 6.00 am observing the makeshift Anzac Memorial that my neighbour will unveil on his wall. A news report tonight predicted that driveway memorials might draw a larger number of people than the traditional Anzac Day ceremonies. Such is the power of the idea of collective remembering.

War memorials, like other public memorials such as the Septemeber 11 Memorial in New York, commemorate events that are seared into the collective memory. They keep alive the memory of those who died, while telling a story of the place, the time and circumstance of their death. Generally they provide a collective meeting place for remembering on anniversaries, and at other times invite us to contemplate and make our own meanings.

In country towns all around Australia, the commemorative obilisks dedicated to those who died in the First World War are a familiar and somehow comforting feature. This year the steps or enclosures of these memorials to the fallen will be bereft of floral wreaths. Seeing dying wreaths around these stone pillars after Anzac Day, is a memory from my childhood.

Deep set eyes

Jack and Jill

Artist-in-home-residence

Welcome to my artist-in-home-residence virtual space. Doing a non-residency feels a bit weird, but these are unsual times that call for flexible, creative thinking and new approaches. Instead of being located in a gallery, I like so many others, am working from home, doing the same hours that I would have done in the gallery. With no gallery goers to stop by for a chat, I already find myself musing about various things that this projects evokes. Perhaps I’ll blog about some. I’m not sure right now. Who knows how this will unfold?

Anyway the actual theme remains the same. The story of a mother, my mother, as told by a daugther through her art. Like all personal stories, this one has wider meanings and relevance, otherwise why share it? It is a window to a period in Australia when there were massive changes in the way women led their lives, the roles that they undertook, and way they were portrayed. My mother’s story encapsulates this broader historical context.

In undertaking this creative project, I cannot escape my own context, the most obvious being the Covid-19 lockdown. Perhaps the distress and angst of this will come out in some of my work. Who can tell? There will surely be some light relief too, as mum had a lively sophisticated sense of humour. I still laugh inside when I think of the some of the jokes and funny moments we shared.

Certainly the way in which I concieved this has altered. No panels suspended from the ceilings for one thing, and no gallery exhibition on the Mother’s Day weekend. How exactly do you role out a virtual exhibition? Do the materials I planned to use lend themselves to being viewed on a screen? How do I link together individual posts? Is that necessary? I have no idea.

I did have an idea about mystery and puzzles. It was forming up even before the virus. Mum loved puzzles and solving problems. I wanted to incorporate that in the exhibition. So now each post will be a piece of the puzzle of her life, with clues, some obscure, some there for all to see. So here goes. I’m determined to find a way to keep going in these disruptive, uncertain circumstances.

Re-invention

“If necessity is the Mother of Invention, then adversity must surely be the Father of Re-invention.” Johnny Flora
What to do: continue on with other work, or do an “as if” three week at home residency on the My Mother project? I don’t have an exhibition space for the pieces, let alone rafters at home to hang my two-sided panels, so a re-think is in order.  In my mind, a virtual on-line exhibition slowly evolves. My Mother, and artistic journey  re-invented.

My mother: an artist’s tribute