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I paint, make collages and mixed media work. I write poetry. I reflect on the Tao.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Art From Trash, Far from Trashy

I have been visiting the Art From Trash exhibition at Salamanca Long Gallery in Hobart. I quote from their site:

Art From Trash is an annual community event that encourages the reuse of discarded materials in the production of visual art. The exhibition is open to all ages and is a great opportunity for many first time and emerging artists. Art From Trash is instrumental in promoting creative reuse, and, while the exhibition is a lot of fun, there is an underlying message to use the earth’s resources wisely and to minimize the inappropriate disposal of limited resources.

You can view the winners here and learn more about the exhibition here

Closes Monday 2nd August., so rush down to the Salamanca Long Gallery if you can.

The exhibition blows me away with the inventiveness, diversity and wit of the art works, created by everyone from school children to grandparents, professional and non-professional artists and craftworkers.

Without slighting the other artists, here are some of my personal favourites.

First, through the door “Are we Dancer” by Terry Byrne (Sorry about the relatively poor quality of the photograph), a seemingly simple piece that re-pays slow looking as you engage in the interplay of text and image and track from left to right across the piece.

Right beside this piece, two scarecrows by the Lenah Valley Primary school, to delight the eye, intrigue with their ingenuity and raise a smile. Enjoy looking, because you cannot have these scarecrows at any price. They are destined for the school ground to replace the wooden scarecrows torched by mindless vandals.

Or perhaps you might prefer something a bit more flamboyant and theatrical? Then check out Ian Hawkin’s work, a baroque assemblage inspired by Medieval and Renaissance examples. You can explore his work on his website

Oh, there’s so much more. Ali Frost’s intricate and intimate pieces

and Heather Blaikie’s witty pieces. Here is someone I relate strongly to (The Insomniac)

Quite clearly my preference (or should that be prejudice) for assemblage work is showing through, since this is the type of work I do (and yes, I confess, I have some work in the show).
So I should also mention that there is a much greater variety of objects (e.g. handbags from recycled materials by Sonja Cook, a garden bench from salvaged steel by Simon Parkhurst).

And finally, for me, the piece de resistance. (drum roll, please)…the winner of the Trash Rat Youth Art Award, the Taroona Primary School students with a display of mini robots constructed from discarded metal parts. Funny, inventive, witty, a sheer delight…as Picasso said,

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

MONA, CLOACA and real soulfood

Cristina Ruiz has recently written about the new Museum of Old and Modern Art being developed by gambling millionaire David Walsh in little old Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. A museum like no other, it is described by Walsh as an “unmuseum” and a “subversive Disneyland”. I highly commend the article in its entirety.

I was amused by the description of Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca.
“The machine, which simulates the human digestive process, creates excrement which is apparently indistinguishable from the real thing. It will be the first version of the work which Delvoye has sold to a museum.”

I understand its artistic pedigree (out of Bosch by Duchamp); confronting the unpleasant reality of the universal human condition and challenging the concept of art as something higher. I also grasp its intellectual point; humans as digestive and excreting machines (a point denied by the imaginative and technical faculties that conceived and realised the piece).

However, I am quickly bored with such intellectual parlour games. I prefer art before which my intellect is silenced and my soul engaged. This is not necessarily sublime, uplifting or beautiful. Sometimes it is downright ugly, depressing and shocking. But it is always profound.

So here is something far more human and pleasant for the digestive faculty. Some real soulfood: a spontaneous creation from intuition with love, made in the spirit of wu wei.

Espontaneidad (Eng: spontaneity)

Olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
4 lean pork steak medallions, cut into small cubes and dried
4 slices of lean bacon
1 teaspoon of Mexican spice seasoning (I get mine from the Spice Shop in Hobart)
1 teaspoon of mild smoked paprika
A little salt
4 roasted garlic cloves
Half a cup of stock or white wine
1 can of diced tomatoes
4 potatoes, peeled cubed and parboiled
Corn from 1 cob
1 Tablespoon of chopped parsley

To serve:
1 corn tortilla per person, warmed in oven
Generous amount of sharp cheese, grated
Mexican Salsa sauce (mild to hot, as preferred)
(Optional) Chopped Jalopena chillis

Cook the onion in a generous amount of olive oil on a medium temperature until softened and starting to brown. Remove onion from pan, reserving as much oil as possible. Return pan to heat and turn up to high. When oil begins to smoke, add pork and brown. Turn heat down to medium high. Add bacon. When a brown crust starts to form on the base, add the spices and the roast garlic. Stir and add the wine or stock. Scrape up all the crust from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, potatoes and corn. Turn heat down and allow to simmer and thicken. Add parsley.

Lightly grease a pancake pan or griddle. Heat griller. Place tortilla on pan, spoon mix over, top with cheese and melt cheese under griller. Top with Salsa and chillis.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cooking with M.O.M. (Monet, Olsen and Me)

The recent exhibition by John Olsen of paintings of meals captures the sensual pleasure and passion of food.

I particularly liked The Bouillabaisse

It got me musing on the relationship between making art and the preparation and consumption of food. There are artists, like John Olsen, for whom the enjoyment of food is an integral part of the sensuous enjoyment of life. His diary excerpts in “Drawn from Life” are peppered (pun intended) with notes of meals enjoyed and recipes.

You can find his recipe for Poulet Picasso at the Artist’s Lunch website

Photographer Sarah Rhodes and writer Alice McCormick visited the homes and private studios of Australia's pre-eminent artists, including John Olsen. As they say,

The culinary arts and visual arts are linked by colour, texture, form and taste, and to see the process by which each artist combined these elements was captivating and revelatory.
What follows in these pages are eighteen invitations to dine with the most surprising and engaging selection of bon viveurs. Like that game about who you'd like to invite to your ideal dinner party; forget the high-minded nonsense about wanting your companions to be Aristotle, Voltaire, Jefferson, let me assure you that you want to dine with artists. Artists do it better.

Monet is another artist for whom the enjoyment of food was an essential part of his lifestyle. There is even a cookbook of the master’s recipes.
Monet's Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet by Claire Joyes, Jean-Bernard Naudin, and Joel Robuchon.

I wasn’t going to give a recipe, but having cooked chicken this way myself, I couldn’t resist this one from the Claude Monet Foundation

Chicken with onions
Choose a good big chicken, 16 to 20 onions according to their size.A half pound of butter, some flour, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Brown the chicken in warm butter. Cut the onions in four, and put them around. When the chicken is well browned on all faces, sprinkle it with a very little bit of flour. Salt, pepper and add 2 sticks of parsley. Cover and let it cook. From time to time, lift the lid up to drop the mist. Take care so that onions do not stick to the saucepan. At mid cooking, add a half glass of bouillon or, if not available, hot water. In a saucepan, brown one dozen small onions in butter, a little bit of sugar, salt and pepper. Serve the chicken surrounded with onions.
Two things I would add. Cook the chicken in a covered casserole dish (preferably a creuset). Cook the chicken in a SLOW oven (about 150 degrees Celsius).

You could deduce from these examples that there is some connection between the enjoyment of food and the sensuousity of the art.
Alas, van Gogh destroys that argument. While he produced some of the most sensuous art of all time, his diet mostly consisted of bread and coffee, supplemented occasionally by onions, chestnuts, olives and fish. Indeed one writer suggests that much of Vincent’s erratic behaviour and mental condition may be attributed to chronic hunger and near starvation:

To conclude, there would seem to be no necessary connection between the arts of painting and cooking. It really depends on the personality of the artist.

For me, cooking and art have this is common. When I am cooking, I go into the same calm, focused and egoless state from which I make art. The difference is when I make a meal, the reward is fairly immediate. With art, as Fats Waller put it, “One never knows. Do one?