Theresa May Postcards: my latest project

On 17  February 2019, two days after Theresa May’s Government had been defeated for the second time on her Brexit deal with the EU,  journalist Tom Peck  wrote an article in The Independent on the British Prime Minister. Peck likened her to the rugged Nokia 5210, a shock proof, water-resistant mobile phone that was renowned for its indestructibility.

She is indestructible. She is the cockroach in nuclear winter. She is the algae that survives on sulphuric gas from sub-aquatic volcanoes, seven miles beneath the daylight. She is the Nokia 5210.

Tom Peck The Independent, January 17, 2019

 Fascinated by this I looked up the Nokia 5210 and started reading old reviews from 2002.  Bizarre as it seemed, the journalist had hit on something that resonated: the words used to describe phone in the reviews somehow seemed to speak of Theresa May and the political situation. 

I used some of these words in the digitally-designed postcards.  Another element, the unusually shaped “on” “off” buttons of the Nokia phone, suggested people shouting; they represent the “yes” “no” protests seen daily in the press at that time. 

After two more defeats, May proved not to be indestructible, resigning on May 24, 2019.

Meanwhile mobiles have come a long way since the fabulously retro orange Nokia 5210, Peck’s quote, no doubt forgotten by most, has been buried by the 24 hour new cycle, and postcards are fast becoming a nostalgic thing the past.

Why blog if you are a visual artist?

Fun street art in Paddington Sydney

It is difficult to be a painter alone in your studio, no matter how much time you spend there. You have to show your work and engage with an audience, for it is social contact that energises and renews us.

Christopher Allen, Arts Writer, The Australian 

Christopher Allen goes on to say that perhaps artists were luckier in earlier times when they were commissioned to paint significant subjects for public places such as churches. Their works had a shared meaning that people understood and that was relevant to the time and place. Artists therefore had a responsive wide audience. 

Now, perhaps with the exception of graffiti, art is not so imbedded in the fabric of society. It has become rarified being ‘held’ by esteemed institutions. In contemporary western society at least, you can see fads in art and ‘trending’ artists. There is fierce competition to get a gig at a commercial gallery, or to be part of a prestigious gallery ‘stable.’ We speak of ‘the art world’ as if it is quite seperate from the real world.

That leaves an outsider artist like myself, who hasn’t been to art school. but who is serious about her practice, wondering how they can find a way to escape from what Allen calls “the quicksands of solipsism”.

Being an artist is about creating works to be viewed

A website and blogging is one way to reach an audience, though it does have limitations where visual art is concerned. That said, it has never been easier to publish your creative work, be it literary or visual.

Art Travel

Today I took some paintings of Bhutan out of storage. I would have been travelling right now, but instead I am preparing for Noosa Open Studios. If it wasn’t for Covid-19, I wouldn’t be opening my studio space up for people to visit. If wasn’t for the border closures between Queensland and the southern states, I probably wouldn’t be opening up the studio either. Our Covid world seems more uncertain and less predictable, even for the lucky ones like Queenslanders who are in an state with virtually no transmission and where contact tracing is swift and effective.

Crossing the stream, Bhutan, Oil on Canvas, 18×24″, 45.5x61cm

Every day the relentless statistics that are a shorthand way of describing death, grief and distress flash up on my screen. We all need uplifting diversions at the moment, so it was wonderful to remember those amazing wanderings in the verdent mountains. How lucky I have been. Every experience seems all the more precious. We can all travel visually, through art and photograghy.

My mother’s scales

Somehow these scales found their way to me. They pre-date Australia’s move to the decimal system of measurement in 1966. Perhaps Mum kept them to use when she followed Grandma’s time-honoured recipes, measured in pounds and ounces, handwritten in an old yellowing exercise book. Now I am using the scales, which have their own innate beauty, as well as functionality, as an art piece. They carry symbolic spheres, lovingly made using old silk ties. Each one represents a sphere of mum’s life

Fifties Fridge

004_early-married_06-001-copy-1

I’m developing a new series of artworks using old family photos, collage and photomontage. (Pun intended.) While this work contains much that is personal and meaningful only to me and my family, it is also a commentary on the many roles of women, the changing images of women, the tensions and struggles that women navigate and much more.

The idea arose when I came across some old photos last year and started talking to photographer and friend Craig Holmes. We got together to select photos to reproduce. Craig brought a technical and creative eye to the process of selection. He made digital masters of the selected family photos, some of which were very small, with the oldest taken in the early 1930’s.

A high quality scanner in the hands of a skilled photographer yielded spectacular images. We were both surprised at the amount of detail contained in some of the images that had not been captured when the photos were developed manually.

 

 

2020 painting: Sunrise at Marcus Creek