Monday 31 December 2007

Illustrators Australia Webpage

Above: I have finally made a page for my work on the fine new Illustrators Australia website. Will be interesting to see if anything comes of it. One New Year's resolution down, and there's still more than nine hours left in 2007. Must be time for an ice-cold drink...

Friday 28 December 2007

A Doll Prototype

Above: this morning I made a doll prototype. It will be offered for sale. Her general shape is influenced by a homemade looking doll from the 1940's which I found in the Cheltenham Op Shop many years ago. (I managed to ruin it recently by leaving it out in the rain, hence it won't be shown here.)

Book Review

Above: Nicki Greenberg's incredible and painstaking graphic adaptation of F.Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. In Greenberg's imagination, those tragic and beautiful symbols of the 1920's become a series of wonderful alien and underwater creatures, who tell the entire story in a series of gorgeous vignettes. One of the most universally loved novels is now even more of a treat to read, and re-read. (Melbourne, 2007.)

Above: a great glamorous monograph on the tres-hip American artist Elizabeth Peyton (New York, 2005), who is all of 43 years old. Peyton draws and paints famous people (mostly men) she admires in a style that is somewhat idealising, highly varied in quality and incredibly appealing. Best of all, her work sends art critics into a spin because they want to believe that she has a higher theoretical purpose to her practice than an overgrown 13-year-old school girl drawing in order to possess her unattainable objects of desire.

For example, above: Kurt Writing (Newsweek), 2002, Peyton's portrait of Kurt Cobain, presumably taken from a photograph published in that journal. There is alot of love in this picture, not to mention skill: it just makes me want to take my pencils out, play E.P. (not to mention David Hockney, whom she cites as an influence) and draw all the boys that I like. Watch out male readers, you might see yourselves here one day: if you're lucky.

Monday 17 December 2007

An Odd Assortment

Above: Unfinished puppet-like figures which were intended for the Bus exhibition last September. I decided that I had enough strange things to show in my little space without these. The most wonderful thing for me now is remembering where I made them: sitting in Amsterdam in broad daylight at 11pm stitching with the thread I had just bought(shown above); winding my cousin's cereal packet into a cylinder while getting bitten by mosquitos in his garden in Florence; and in our family kitchen in Pucisca dipping my aunt's teatowel in coffee and it obligingly drying in minutes in the heat outside. (Hence unpleasantly jaundiced puppet at right; the others had been 'aged' in tea. You learn.)

Above: a shopping bag I made this week as a birthday present for the beautiful Kaz. There's some of my mother's knitting in it, offcuts from dresses I made out of Liberty fabric, as well as a little piece of Sesame Street from a sheet I bought at the op shop in Port Fairy. It's better than one of those ubiquitous green bags.

Above: a summer scarf made out of a length of natural linen, stitched over with various coloured threads. I would like to learn how to weave a whole striped scarf one day; but this will do for now.

Above: papier mache flower people I made ages ago, influenced by the work of Odilon Redon, below.

Above: Odilon Redon, Little Flowers (Human Heads), 1880, charcoal on paper. Reproduced from Douglas W. Druick, Odilon Redon 1840 - 1916, Chicago, 1994.

Above: In turn, the author tells us that Redon himself was influenced by teratology, or the nineteenth century science of monsters, "an opportunity to contemplate the limits of human variability," understandably fashionable post evolutionary theory (p138). This picture shows a pair of conjoined twins called Ritta and Christina, born in Sassari in 1829. Originally published in Isidore Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire's Atlas to Traite de Teratologie, Paris, 1832 - 37.

Saturday 8 December 2007

A Strangely Shaped Piece of Wood

Above: This is what I did on my day off. I painted a lady and child onto a strangely shaped piece of wood that I found recently (approximate height 20 cm). Below is my attempt to explain to you -- and me -- how it came about.
Above: When I found this piece of wood, likely the limb offcuts of The Dancing Man, I thought that it resembled a person. I am one of those people who sees the anthropomorphic in most inanimate objects.

Above: It reminded me of this photo of a man taken in India from the incredible (un)Fashion by Tibor and Maira Kalman, London 2000. His headdress is said to represent heavenward aspiration. I think he is rather handsome.

Above: Looking at the picture of the man in India made me want to look at more pictures of people from various cultures who might inspire my little person's creation, so I also looked at Frances Kennett's World Dress, London 1994. This is a lady from Kyrgyzstan and her child. I find the dress of the people of Central Asia particularly beautiful.

Above: However, when I finished my piece, I looked at it and wondered why I often end up being reminded of this style of depiction, even though I start off aiming for something simple. I do love this creepy Victorian style of caricature for its politically incorrect subject matter, level of realism and kitsch. Children's cop and hangman bowling targets, circa 1890's. Photo from David Longest's Antique and Collectible Toys 1870 - 1950, Paducah, 1994.

Inspiration I: Homeland, Part II

Above: The body is like a machine, from Svijet oko Nas (The World Around Us), a children's encyclopedia in two volumes published in Zagreb in 1964.

Above: From Svijet oko Nas. The first home shows life without electricity, the second one with. Dusty Victoriana becomes Modernist pad, and the dingy attic even transforms into a roof top tennis court.

Above: From Nas Put I (Our Way I), a first grade reader by Edo Vajnaht, published in 1971. At school in Melbourne I would follow the lives of Dick and Jane, and at home in the evening it would be Ivo and Ana's.

Above: Life is good. Ivo tells his father to heed the stop sign while speeding in his convertible.

Above: Pioniri, about to race. In Socialist Yugoslavia, every child was a Pioneer.

Above: Ana waves at a passing ship and learns the alphabet at the same time. This looks not unlike the Yugoslavia of my childhood holidays.