Thursday, 8 October 2015

Daumier to Daylesford: A European Experience

I know, I know, it has been a while.

Uni has taken over my life. This post is a symbol of my endeavour to post more regularly again.

I have been to so many great exhibitions lately, strangely I have been drawn to European Artists, rather than emerging Australian. Here is an overview of my travels:

Monash Gallery of Art's Impressions of Paris: Lautrec, Daumier, Degas and Atget was awesome. I have always been a huge fan of Degas's dancers so it was great to see another side to him. For me however, the star of the show was Daumier; his wicked sense of humour shone through every piece and encapsulated the spirit of Paris in the 19th Century.
Below is one of my personal favourites from the exhibition, the witty titles take his work to another level.

HonorĂ© Daumier The orchestra during the performance of a tragedy [L'orchestre pendant qu'on joue une tragĂ©die] from the series Musical sketches [Croquis musicaux] published in Le Charivari, 5 April 1852 lithograph

Hubby and I have just been on holidays with some friends from church and my oh my, we needed the break. While away in Daylesford we ventured to The Convent Gallery which was such a beautiful space in itself. You know me, I believe there is more to art than the canvas, and The Convent is a prime example. 

1. Staff. Everyone we spoke to was delightful. 
We didn't realise there was an entry fee to the gallery (only $5), and we had a rough month and couldn't actually afford it. Husband of the Year to the rescue, Graeme announced that he would take me next month when they have the Swiss and Italian Festa. While I was gooing over my sweet-as-pie husband, the staff member says "At least go and have a look at the ground level and gift shop on us."
Elated, we went and had a quick walk-through and spotted a local work we had seen before but I can't for the life of me remember the name of the Artist. I loved it so much too so I'm bummed. Go and visit and look for a screen print with a dinosaur looking creature and  three people, two with the speech bubble "what if the stick breaks?". It's a personal fave.

We headed into the gift shop to do a little window-shopping and a lady, whom I presume to be either the Manager or Curator enthusiastically asks us what we thought of what we had seen. We had a great little chat and she says "You'll have to go upstairs! The Indigenous pieces can't be missed." We awkwardly explain our predicament and that we will definitely come back next month, and she says (quite forcefully) "No! No! You can't miss Hauser's work, you have got to see them, go up to see them."

2. Art
Barbara Hauser. Oh my gosh. Beautiful. My photos do not do it justice. I have said it before and I'll say it again: You need to visit The Convent before this show finishes.

3. Gallery Space. It is a beautiful old Convent in pristine condition, need I say more?

So not only did we see ground floor, but also Hauser's work on Level 1, free of charge. 
As I always say, the people are part of the experience. I love seeing people so excited about sharing art with the world that they make gestures of kindness and passion such as what we experienced. 
The Convent Gallery is a must-see, and we will definitely be back ( this time with $5 each and a friendly donation ;))

Please, go and see it for yourself.

Signing off very well rested,
Renee Bell

Monday, 8 June 2015

Claudia Phares: Castro's Family Fantasy at Seventh Gallery

May I just say that I feel so relaxed right now. I'm finally on holidays!

Seeing as I have so much time right now I went to see Claudia Phares' exhibition at Seventh Gallery in Fitzroy. I absolutely loved it! It is inspired by her experience living in Cleveland, Ohio at the same time as three women were rescued from the house of their kidnapper, Ariel Castro, after a ten year ordeal. Despite being a photographer, Claudia has stepped beyond her usual sphere and created a really meaningful installation. It comments on the feeling of isolation from different perspectives including her own of being a mother with a baby in a new place. She has recreated a model of the house in which the women were held for ten years. This is juxtaposed by a temporary wall and text referring to the proximity of prisoner to guard in jail. On the adjacent wall, text reveals details of the women's domestic imprisonment in Cleveland. This is brought together by a photo of her kitchen at the time. There are no blaring colours or distractions and the whole installation really clearly speaks of that isolation and feeling of imprisonment within a home.

I had a great chat with Claudia about these ideas and also others surrounding abuse and the way that we, as a country tend to deal with the effects of abuse but not the root issue. 

If you work in the city or just want to venture in, I would highly recommend taking some time to pop down to Seventh Gallery to catch Family Fantasy while it shows. It is on until the 13th of June 2015.

I'm on holidays for three more days and then I start my placement at Cheltenham Secondary College. I'm so excited to finally get out there and teach the young people who will create our future.

Enjoy the last few hours of your long weekend Melbournites!
Peace out,
Renee Bell

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Claudia Phares Coincidence and a Panel Presentation

It's crazy how life plays out isn't it?

Today I had my panel presentation(assessing me on this blog... so nerve-racking but don't worry they seemed to like it) and there was a lady with a baby peering in the window of the ACU Gallery. Naturally, I struck up conversation and turns out she is an artist looking for somewhere to promote her exhibition! Claudia, you met the right person today!

I walked with her to the uni admin and she was so lovely (with the cutest baby ever). If being nice and having a cute baby isn't reason enough to go to see her exhibition, then the fact that her work is really good should convince you. I should get a chance to go see it next week and then do an 'official' post about it. The opening is TONIGHT so if you haven't had terrible experiences with crowds and openings (see "My First (and possibly last) Gallery Opening") then you should totally go!


It's at Seventh Gallery: 155 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy (Melbourne).
Opening tonight: 27th May 6-8pm

Claudia Phares:  Family Fantasy
28th May -13th June 2015

Me? I'm head down, bum up doing assignments and eating chocolate till Monday. Healthy eating is out the window.

Off to get a donut and write a reflection,
Renee Bell

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Inside Info at Ian Potter...

I think we should all pause for a moment and just appreciate the alliteration in that title #myothermajorisEnglish #itsthelittlethings


Back to art.. Hello!

I went to Ian Potter not so recently. Sorry, I've never been a chronological kind of gal.

The great thing about studying art and writing this blog concurrently is that often I go to a gallery for a class. This visit was extra spesh as the Curatorial Manager of the gallery (Dr Vince Alessi) was making an appearance to walk us through the collection, talk to us about various processes of acquiring art and basically the life of a curator. Gotta admit, it was pretty cool. Maybe it will be my second career after Teaching? Nah, I love teaching, and I don't know how I'd go smoozing with Art Collectors and Donors.

Naturally, I struck up a conversation with Vince who was extremely down to earth. I really respect that someone in his high position is happy to share their knowledge and thoughts with a student.
Now as you may have realised, 90% of the time I am very awkward, but thankfully there is that rare 10% of the time when I see an opportunity and approach it like a smooth operator. This was the 10%.

We talked about lots of things, but the most interesting to me, and as a result you, was who he considered to be the the best/most influential Melbourne artists.

Here is the list: (off the top of his head)

Juan Ford (This is The Intermediary. NB: I love Juan Ford. His work is amazing, and totally cutting edge.)

Sam Leech (This is Cinder in Partial Dymaxion, but this guy has a huge range of work that you have to have a look at. Some of it is quite different to this.)

Darren Wardle (Teenage Wastleand... Bit boring I think.)

Reko Rennie (Installation)

Prior to looking up these artists and their work I chatted to my Art Teacher (shout out to Catherine Bell - great lecturer, great artist... can I have a HD for this mention? ;) ), who was keen to know Vince's thoughts also, and she was quite surprised about Reko Rennie.
And I understand the reason. 

Let me introduce you to Brook Andrew.
Ancestral Worhip

Jumping Castle War Memorial

(Watch this video where he talks about his Jumping Castle War Memorial)

As you can see, Brook Andrew is simply way better. 

Brook Andrew and Reko Rennie are both Indigenous Australians and I love Contemporary Indigenous Australian Art. The movement speaks volumes about Australian history, activism, child removal, genocide and injustice, and their work has had a massive effect on moving Australian politics and legislation to recognise the rights of our country's first people.

When we are looking at Melbourne Artists that are influencing the world though, Brook Andrew's work packs a punch. Maybe Vince just forgot him (as it was off the top of his head), but I had to address this.

Brook Andrew is the bomb digity.

Full Stop.

Signing off for the day, ready to let Ella Fitzgerald soothe my soul into writing unit planners, rationales and reflections.

Renee Bell (some Ella for you)

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Artist vs. Artisan, and a new appreciation for Bromley & Co.

Artist: one who professes and practices an imaginative art
Artisan: a worker who practices a trade or handicraft

The difference? I thought mass production, but I'm not sure any more.

Here's the story...

Hubby and I took a trip to Ballarat a few Sundays ago, and while we were there I stumbled upon a few galleries. The most notable being Bromley & Co.
As we wandered in, my hubby asked me the age old question "Artist or Artisan?" (I love that these two words are a part of his vocabulary #welltrained)
Looking around at not only the artwork but the bits and bobs such as furniture, clothing and even wallpaper, I first announced confidently "Artisan".

We walked around and the more I discovered the more my view changed. Is this actually an Artist who is truly successful, who has not only created his own very recognisable style, but also has the business and marketing skills to make decent money doing what he loves before he carks it. Why is there this concept in my mind that if art sells well the maker must be classified as an Artisan or trinket-maker? David and Yuge Bromley may not be installing toilets in gallery spaces, or changing the direction and future of art as we know it, but he is creating something that people can appreciate and engage with.

When did I develop this attitude that 'if it is not challenging my concept of art, then it is not art.'

Do I have a warped measure of success? 

I spoke to the lady working in the shop, who was so friendly and helpful, and felt pretty bad for initially putting Bromley in the 'Artisan' pile just because he quite clearly wasn't a 'struggling artist'. I think I need to rid my mind of this idea that good art doesn't sell and can't be hung in a house, or I'll be really limiting myself. Some limit themselves by refusing to learn about contemporary art and writing it off as "something my two year old could do"; I have been limiting myself by writing off anyone who is making real money off their art. How bad is that?

Intrigued by these two Artists who had brought me back down to earth, I did a little research... Here is an excerpt from their webpage:

We (David and Yuge Bromley) usually take on projects based on our passion / obsession for art, design, interiors, fashion and generally liking to get our hands dirty with whatever creative scenario we can immerse ourselves in. Be it in the studio, planting gardens, seeking out treasures or collaborating on creative visions or with creative people it is all the same to us. 

Outcomes are varied and whether it is a shop to display our wares or a fit out for a hotel or a design for packaging or exhibiting an artist we are obsessed with, we are ultimately driven by a love for all things creative. When asked once what was the value of art, our reply was not how to value art, but to imagine a world without it was unimaginable!

I don't know about you but this speaks to the artist in me. Art is not something you do but it is something you live; it is God-breathed, it is in people and experiences, it is life.

So the difference between artist and artisan? It's imagination.

Maybe it's time for us to refresh our perspectives? This humble adventure of writing a blog has really made me think. #gettingdeep

Skipping out with a challenge,
What is art for you?
Let me know in the comments...

Renee Bell
Forever a student.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

My Devastating Dilemma

Cannot believe that NEW15 at ACCA ends Sunday!

I desperately want to see it (for the second time) but I have tickets to 21st Century Heide on Sunday!

I know what you are thinking... "Can't you just go another day?"
Well normally I could except that it is week 12 (of 12) next week which means that I have four massive assessments due in less than two weeks! Which in turn means that I am locking myself in a room with my laptop and a slit in the door big enough for my husband to pass coffee, chocolate and pizza through (and yeah the sugar free thing is going so well... NOT).
So basically I am coming out of hiding for Heide, and then retreating back into my cave immediately after.

It is this kind of decision that I hate.

Option 1: I go to both and risk handing in an assignment that is not perfect, leaving my poor husband to deal with the tears that result from those six cruel letters C.R.E.D.I.T, or worse... the possible meltdown and utter regret with the four unmentionables beginning with P.?

Does anyone else find it hilariously ironic that the promo image for NEW15 just happens to be an indecisive man? (below)

Option 2: I only go to Heide as planned, leaving my poor husband to deal with a sulky wife buried in textbooks, consoling herself with Dairy Milk...

Help me decide.. or if you have an idea (that isn't inventing time-travel), let me know!

Renee Bell
Non-adventuring Hermit for the next two weeks

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Mercy vs. Justice

How do I start?

The past week this world has been turned upside down; so much devastation, so much grief. To those involved in the Nepal Earthquakes, my prayers are with you.

Yesterday I was sitting in the bustling cafe area of my uni 'studying' ...aka eavesdropping on the various conversations of the people around me. Topic of the day: Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan of the 'Bali Nine' who faced the death penalty and have just been executed (or murdered, depending on your stance).

I'm going to try to be as diplomatic as possible with this post, which is very difficult given the nature of the death penalty discussion.

First and foremost, I want to honour the lives of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan as they were human just like the rest of us, and many will be grieving their loss today. Whether you see these two Australians as criminals or victims, the fact remains that they were people with mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends and loved ones, and I can't imagine the pain that those loved ones are going through right now. My heart and my prayers go out to you, may God be your comfort and your strength.

The discussions I'm hearing revolve around this idea of JUSTICE vs MERCY. I'm going to be upfront with you that I stand on the side of GRACE. My hero once stood before a woman who was caught in the act committing a crime punishable by death in that time, and He said to a crowd "Whoever of you is without sin, cast the first stone." One by one each man dropped their stones and walked away. He then gave the woman the free gift of GRACE that comes undeserved.

JUSTICE says: the men knew what they were doing was wrong and they were aware of the punishment that went with it, thus they deserve the punishment of death.
MERCY says: they did the wrong thing, but over the past 10 years in jail they have been rehabilitated, they deserve mercy but from the original punishment.
GRACE says: "I do not condemn you either, go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11).

I can't say who is right from the stance of justice or mercy, because I see that we all have valid points. You should follow the law of the land that you are in and there are also times in life where mercy is required. All I know is that we all need GRACE. Both Myuran and Andrew turned to the God who loved them first, and I have no doubt that they reside in heaven now experiencing the fullness of God's grace poured out upon them.

During his time in jail, as part of his rehabilitation Myuran learned to paint. I want to end with some of the art produced by artist Myuran Sukumaran in his last days.

It has been two days since the execution and people seem to be already forgetting. I post this today to help keep the conversation alive.
#endcapitalpunishment #Jesus #justice #mercy #GRACE #art #beauty #activism

Peace Out.