Saturday, 27 December 2014

planet earth


Another year over - so much to say yet so little. It has been a year of triumphs and turmoil: one obvious highlight was my PhD graduation, shortly after which I began a new challenge in graphic design. It has also been a year of significant deaths - my step-father for one (who I really miss). And there seems to be a lot of cancer around.

In the larger world we landslided in the worst regressive government ever to have been elected in this country. An act of 'terrorism' signalled the end of apathetic innocence for an increasingly nervous Aussie culture. Government cutbacks, the end of the mining boom, job losses, thousands fleeing persecution and misery - all are encroaching on our 'isolated' island. Being Australian is no longer the sanctuary it was.

Current conversations with friends revolve around how best to stay grounded, calm and functioning within the increasing chaos. It does seem as though more and more people are losing the plot - domestic violence, murder/suicides, the prevalence of hard drugs......unfortunately these acts do not help anyone escape the misery. They just make it worse. This is planet earth and no-one escapes the human condition.

My advice: breathe deeply, seek out wild nature, walk barefooted, throw yourself in the sea, do one thing at a time, cherish what you have, be kind (everyone suffers), remember to laugh loudly at your many ridiculous foibles - live each moment as if it were your last. 

These images are currently circulating on Facebook. There is a topical synchronicity about them. In the absence of anything more profound, I post them here in some kind of vague protest and because they tickle my sexist sense of humour.




Wednesday, 10 December 2014

here's an idea - let's legislate against death


This is what Parks and Wildlife are going to build at the Gap - I am almost speechless and beyond pissed off. To add insult to injury, the public have also been requesting that toilets be built out there. 

I don't blame P & W, or the City Council. I don't blame the engineer - it's actually a really good looking design. I do blame litigation and public liability laws. But above all, I blame humanity's inability to come to grips with a psychological archetype that, in my not so humble opinion, underpins every single problem on Planet earth - the Fear of Death.

I have blogged about death many times, so I am not going over old ground, except to say that this has to be one of the ugliest demonstrations of humanity's denial of its mortality. The recent outpouring of grief over a 23 year old cricketer who just shouldn't have died confirms it - how dare death take him when he was so young and good at his sport.

This platform is another ridiculous and futile attempt to tame nature, make people feel 'safe' and shackle the wild animal in all of our psyches. It makes me want to go there - dance like a banshee and scream in front of all those tourists. Faaaaaaaaaaarrrrrkkkkkk.

Monday, 24 November 2014

end of semester

End of first semester. This was my final submission for drawing. A3, hand-drawn in mixed media. Still loving it - Can't wait to start Photography and Design units in 2015.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

team australia: men in suits

There are 2 ‘teams’ in the spotlight fighting it out on Planet earth – both patriarchal, sexist and taking the high moral ground. Team 1 is defending the ridiculous idea that every individual should have ‘freedom’ of choice and the right to live the life they want. (Just think about this you fools – not everyone can have what they want because it impinges on someone else’s rights) Team 2 - well who the fuck knows what they are really about. Their orientation to life is mediaeval – tribal. They despise the ‘feminine’ even more than Team 1 – at least Team 1 pays lip service to the notion of equality and lets women play along, as long as they don’t have any real power. Then they are out of the team.

Neither team will win - there are not going to be any winners.

These teams have more in common than they will ever realise - both want to be in control. They aren’t, they can’t be and never will be, but they will fight to the death. Each has an image of themselves as defenders of ‘truth’ - ‘brave’ souls who stand up for their principles and the wellbeing of humanity. In reality, they are not just 'naughty boys' - simply very, very fearful but dangerous people. Team 2 is afraid of freedom and Team 1 is afraid they might lose it and along with it, their God-given right to dominate the world based on the insane idea that there can be unlimited growth. Expansion of population, wealth, standard of living, longevity…...do the sums you idiots - any reasonably intelligent person will tell you there are swings and roundabouts, bell curves, ebbs and flows. Team 1's position is not only unscientific, it just doesn't make any fucking sense! 

One of the subsidiaries of Team 1 is Team Australia – which really means: male, Christian, right-wing, white, capitalist – unless you have shitloads of money and then it doesn’t matter what colour or sex you are. Some of us like to think we belong to Team Australia but it is a very select club and we probably don’t. It’s like the cool gang at school – kids want to belong to it but it has no real substance – it is built on lies and the fear of not being accepted. Team Australia is lead by a mob of randy teenage boys dressed in suits who wank each other off behind the toilets.

Most individuals in either of these 2 teams have absolutely no idea they created each other – without one the other would not exist. But people are so dumb – they know so little about life because they don't really think. The rest would probably say ‘well we have to do something’.

I am completely over the rhetoric. Even the ABC news is shoving this stuff in my face every day. I have resorted to looking at my Pages on Facebook – the ones I have subscribed to - because everywhere else is fear and mayhem. This is the ‘rule of the shouting masses’ prophesied by Plato. Panic abounds - everyone is shouting and nobody is listening.

So why is it like this? Because Planet earth is a place of dualities, binaries – always working towards equilibrium but never achieving it. It is folly to expect it to be any different. And anyway - there is a much bigger problem for humanity and it eclipses the GFC, mass beheadings, Ebola and refugees. Planet Earth has had enough of our destructive ways and is finally fighting back. She’s kicking those patriarchs fair in the balls.

And while Nero fiddles....well you know how it goes. The Christians and the Muslims are nearly right about one thing – except that we will all burn.

Friday, 31 October 2014

a rat's guide to survival 1

A perfect storm of circumstances conspired to shape me into a ‘survivor’. First, but not necessarily in this order, I am an artist. As my peers will tell you, you need to be tough to ‘be’ an artist – for a number of reasons - among which the lack of money figures predominantly. But also because you have to be a bit belligerant and cultivate a thick skin – everyone is an art critic, whether they know anything about it or not (usually not).

Second – I was raised by my Dutch grandmother who lived out the second world war in occupied Holland – very close to the German border. She grew up in a middle class family and learnt about frugality the hard way. She was a young woman with 2 small children when the war broke out - that 5 years shaped the remainder of her life. She passed the lesson onto her children. Most of them didn’t take it on board but I took it to heart – probably because it resonated with my own nature.

Third and maybe most critically, I was born in the Chinese Year of the Rat. Rats are born survivors and I am no different. I am always aware of my surroundings, I sit facing the door and have worked out all the exit routes before most people know there is anything going down. If there is a whiff of trouble, follow the rat – they don’t get their reputation for being the first to leave a sinking ship for nothing. At exhibition openings I am the first to head for the grub and get stuck in before I go and look at the art. You have to get your priorities right if you want to be a survivor.

Although I am definitely not wealthy by Western living standards I can afford to buy new clothes. But I much prefer Op Shops – there is something very satisfying about tracking down that unique little treasure at a bargain price. Where’s the challenge in heading for a rack of boringly similar items? I don’t want to wear what everyone else is wearing anyway. I am also in the habit of salvaging other people’s lost items. The thongs I am currently wearing were found at the beach. I haven’t bought a beach towel for – well – ever! I don’t steal things, I give it a couple of days to see if anyone claims the item before I take it home and add it to my stash.

This is a very Rat thing – which you will know if you have ever found a rat’s nest under your house or in a cupboard. Rats will collect things that seem absolutely useless to anyone else – but that’s where the resourceful bit comes in – you never know when something will come in handy – and it has on many occasions. When I lived with my mother as a small child she used to regularly clear out my stash when I was at school. I would come home and wail that someone had ‘froan out all my good stuff’ and head to the bin to retrieve it. As a mature person I have trained myself to curb this natural tendency, but I will often still pick up bits of blue plastic on the beach out of habit.

I am resilient and resourcful and, at times, I can be ruthless – these are good Rat words because they also begin with R. I am calculating but not because I want to take advantage of anyone. My code for life is that, where possible, any transaction should be mutually beneficial to both parties.  I love working out ways to make that happen – it’s the best kind of problem solving – doing the sums, negotiating – it is creative and maybe that’s why I like it so much.

Finding creative solutions is in a Rat's blood, it is essential for making art and for survival as well.


The great image is called Rat Survivor, by DizOider (Petar Jokic) on Deviant Art

Saturday, 13 September 2014

rediscovering discovery

After I finished my PhD into the Void I came to the conclusion that images were not an end in themselves - which meant that in and of themselves they have no intrinsic value. I expected to be a bit lost and I was, but I am an artist - did this mean my romance with images was over? It left me in a different, but similar material 'void' - it seemed inconceivable I would ever engage with images in the same way again.

For very practical reasons I enrolled in a Diploma in Graphic Design (online), which meant starting all over again from the beginning in a different but related field. What I found though, is that I am enjoying the same basic exercises I did in the early 80s when I went to Claremont TAFE to study art at tertiary level for the first time. I have rediscovered the simple pleasure of playing with shape and line and colour. 
Now one would assume images in design don't have much meaning because they are created for a specific, mostly commercial purpose. But even in design my 'brand' of image and way of percieving the world persists. This is evident from comparisons with other students' work - I am doing collage at the moment and the textures and images I am selecting are very 'me'. For the past year or so I have been obsessing with 'fire' and 'ice' and although I have been gathering these images, I put this investigation on hold until I finished the thesis. Now it is clear that I have moved naturally into a new phase - from the black/blue rock and water to red, yellow, black and white - the full significance of which I am yet to discover. These colours and certain motifs are showing up in my design work.

I had been wondering how I could integrate my new 'world focused' interest in graphic design with the ongoing process of individuation, so it was a relief to see that the unconscious was still guiding me. The colours of my collage are mainly red and yellow and I now believe I may be negotiating the alchemical phases of 'Rubedo' and 'Citrinitas'.

It seems that with awareness, or maybe even without it, the alchemy of images continues to evolve consciousness. Reassuringly the work goes on despite my numerous lapses and involvement in 'ordinary' reality and the everyday.

Friday, 29 August 2014

'balloon girl'


This is 'Balloon Girl' - all vectorised - sporting a new patterned dress, a bunch of balloons and her very own cloud.

image: Illustrator vector from an original idea.

Monday, 11 August 2014

a lighter side of life


So this is what I am reduced to. Actually it was a really fun exercise and I learnt a fair bit about Illustrator. 
This is what I get to do for part 1 of my Illustrator assignment - make a vector from a drawing of my choice. Which means turning it into something like the panda. Yes, all quite trivial subjects - as one person said - 'not really you'. In my defence, not many people appreciate that although I am known for delving into the dark psycho-philosophical depths I am also whimsical and very eccentric. No doubt it won't last, but it is really enjoyable - even a relief - to be surfing and creating in the sun at the moment.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

from PhD to grade 1


I survived the first week and a half of my on-line graphic design course - survived being the key word here, because it was very fraught. Although I was excited to get going I stalled early on - getting used to on-line learning systems, negotiating the course structure - not to mention having to go right back to square one and start a drawing unit at beginner level. I had to suffer the indignity of redoing one exercise because my 'blind contour' drawings were too accurate, which meant I must have been peeking! Add to that the trauma of losing our internet connection towards the end of the week which meant I was unable to log on at will and watch videos at home. I have been going to the local TAFE every day this week so I can keep working. Through some clever 'hotspotting' via my partner's phone, I uploaded the first submission with 1 minute 46 seconds to spare last Sunday (which just happened to be my birthday). Phew! Our connection was only re-established yesterday after 6 days - how did we ever live without the internet?

I am very relieved I opted for part time (2 units) which is supposed to amount to 10 hours a week study, however the 4-6 hours a week for video tutorials in one unit alone only covers watching them. It's not enough time to take substantive notes and apply the knowledge. Although we don't need to submit anything for 4 weeks I can't see the point in passively watching videos - the information goes in and straight out - so I am taking notes and doing the exercises along with the cyber-tutor. I feel I may be at a slight disadvantage because younger minds will retain information more readily and I will probably have to work harder in the beginning. I am hoping my knowledge of design elements and principles will give me a huge advantage later on when I have learnt the software and can begin to enjoy creating some nice work.

The design software is one thing, but I have been drawing for 40 years. I could have got recognition for prior learning, but that is almost as much work as doing the entire unit. I also think it is good to get back to the core of things, and being humbled is very good for one's ego. The mission last week was simply to get through the material. My performance was adequate but I am reminding myself that although I have a PhD, and possibly the most to 'lose' here, this is not a competition and there is always much to be gained no matter where you sit on the academic ladder. Design is a new area for me so I am happy to be guided by what I think are very good tutors at the design school. I have placed myself in their capable hands.

The drawing above is the final in a series of exercises for the first week - a simple line drawing of a still-life.

Friday, 27 June 2014

a guilty pleasure

I have just signed up for a 2 year (4 years part-time) on-line Diploma of Graphic Design. It will add another $20000 to my HECS debt but what the HEC? Am I waking in fright at the thought of another round of study? Not yet - I'm still in the honeymoon phase and I haven't started the work yet.

I am having an identity crisis of sorts - who I thought I was, who I am now, who I might be. Me and images - the complex relationship goes on. At the end of my PhD I had come to the conclusion that images were not an 'end in themselves' as I thought they were. I still respect the images that emerge from my unconscious but they have lost some of their hold on me. They used to possess me completely but now......maybe I am just tired and it's too soon to say. But my relationship with them has certainly changed because I have changed irrevocably.

That in itself is a good thing, except I am wandering in a new land without the co-ordinates that served me in the past. It's good to question identity, in the end it is not who we really are anyway. Except life goes on and I can't walk naked through the landscape as my 'avatar' does here. I need to find my place, and find some clothes so other people know who I am and what I am about, and they want to know.

A conversation I had yesterday rattled me a bit. This person had just finished reading my thesis and gave me some very positive feedback, asking questions like: 'well, what's next? Are you going to try and publish, deliver papers at conferences?' This person thought I had written well, and liked my journal entries the best of all. My plan had been to keep writing, try and get a paper published, but somewhere in the gruelling struggle to the finish line that idea got sidelined and all but thrown out of the box. 

I have fallen into another kind of void, but this one is brightly coloured and seductive, shimmering with the formal aspects of image-making - colour, shape and design. I admit there is a guilty pleasure in playing around with software and its chicanery. The guilt comes from an unnecessary but well entrenched attachment to traditional forms of art and a lifelong habit of making images out of suffering rather than joy. But there was this dream, right at the end of my study, where I am surfing in crystal light-filled waters, diving under to find a white shrine with nothing inside it. That should have told me something, but what?

The doll in the image above is me of course, walking through a strange new world. It occurred to me yesterday, when this person asked if I was still recording my numinous dream images, that I had forgotten about them. But when I think about it - maybe I am still recording them in different ways - like this image above.

After 8 years of study, with a grinding agenda unsympathetically driving me on, I feel I still need a framework. And maybe that's why I signed up for the graphic design course. This will be different, in that the focus will be on certain types of images and certain ways of conveying a message, but it doesn't mean I have abandoned who I am. My unique sensibility will prevail as it does for everyone, so maybe there is no need to fear losing my identity at all. We are always in a state of flux. As the retirement age moves further into the distance, the other practical reality is that my new skills just may allow me to work into old age if other streams of income dry up.

All I can think of to sort this out is to go back to the core of what I do - keep drawing, and keep writing. And that is what I am doing here.

image: Frantom, original digital image compiled from a traditional drawing and a manipulated, collaged landscape.

Friday, 13 June 2014

inertia

For months I have been having epic surfing dreams in which I am unafraid, in harmony with the sea. Sometimes I am even jubilant and triumphant, hurtling down the face of a large wave. I have been meditating for 25 minutes, every day for 7 weeks now, and it seems to help me remember my dreams more clearly.

But in my waking life I am in a 'no-woman's' land. It is to be expected I guess. I am officially a 'Doctor', my thesis is being bound and the digital version is online at Curtin and on my website - there is nothing more to do. I have loaned out a couple of hard copies to interested readers but there has been no flurry of activity and I didn't expect one. In my work-life things are unstable as usual - I have picked up an extra copyright class and may teach PhotoShop in term 4 - things continue to limp along. 

But there is a split, a disjuncture. Once my art and my spiritual life were aligned. Now that I want to study graphic design, I wonder if I can reconcile it with future spiritual study. Or even if I need to. In meditation recently a voice said to me: you are that which you seek. I know this is true. So I am wondering what is next. Is anything at all next? After encountering the Void - is there anything else? Or am I just marking time? Is there still a role for images in the spiritual journey of my life? Apart from their more commercial application that is. Is that going to be enough? Or should I instead devote all of my attentions to psychic evolution? If I do that, how do I make a living? Or is just living my life mindfully enough, no matter what sort of images I produce?

I don't know the answers to any of these questions right now. It is probably not a good time to be making any decisions. I am not comfortable with this state of inertia - but I know how this goes. I will just have to wait for knowing to come.

image: my © - digital drawing of a wound added to a digitally enhanced photo.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

the burden of memory


Last year I took a couple of copies of a book about the Carrolup artists into the prison to give to one of my university students. As a Noongar Elder I figured it would be appropriate to entrust him with their care so he could loan them out to others, which is what Charlie (not his real name) dutifully did by locking them in his cupboard. Prisoners in maximum security aren't usually allowed locked cupboards because they can hide contraband, but Charlie was a 'lifer' and after many years of good behaviour, had been granted some privileges.

When I went back 2 weeks later, Charlie was very excited because he had found an old sepia photograph of his parents in the book. He didn't have a photo of his mum and dad so he asked me if I would scan and print one out for him, which of course I did - on my best glossy photographic paper. It was a wedding photo - husband and wife were dressed in wadjela clothes and made a very handsome couple.

In my job as Aboriginal art lecturer a few years ago I was keen to give my students information about their past - many knew little of their Aboriginal culture so I took every opportunity to educate them. I felt uncomfortable doing it, because a white woman shouldn't really be giving these people back their heritage - but so much had been lost already and I thought it was really important. I tried not to be patronising but maybe it seemed that way to them - I really don't know.

Just recently I passed on some information about an exhibition of the Carrolup artists that Curtin University has curated for the Town Hall. There were some photos from those days at the old Marribank Mission and the Curtin staff were trying to identify the kids. Some had already been identified and I recognised many familiar names. One of the curators was quite excited about this yet although I know her intentions were honourable, like mine had been when I tried to reconnect these people with their past, I saw myself reflected in her and it got me thinking. Was I just perpetuating the same patriarchal culture where the 'whites' tell the 'blacks' what's good for them? It occurred to me that maybe Aboriginal people are just plain tired of being reminded. When I talk to my Aboriginal colleagues at work I get the feeling they don't want to keep dragging up the past, they want to talk about their pets or how one of their kids has just completed a degree in anthropology. It seems many of us wadjelas have only just caught up with what's been happening for the past 200 years and it's we who need to talk about it. But Aboriginal people have been dealing with it for generations and maybe they just want to move on.

This stuff happens in families - at least in mine. It wasn't that long ago my aunties were reminding me of my 'bad' behaviour as a teenager - this was when I was in my forties. For f***k's sake - aren't people allowed to change and move on? My guess is that it's easier to file people away in boxes and tape them up - in that context memory is just a convenient way to keep everything neat and tidy. 

Recently something else got me thinking about memory. For the past 7 weeks I have been a participant in a research study into the emotional benefits of spending 25 minutes a day in 'mindfulness meditation'. Many memories have surfaced during my meditation sessions - random things I had completely forgotten about. Some have been good memories, but there are some unpleasant things I now have to deal with dammit - things I had unknowingly shoved into the darkest recesses of my psyche. It's got me wondering - when is too much remembering a burden?

image: Randy Mora/YCN, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/15/memory-test-membryo-memperor

Sunday, 25 May 2014

off 'out-the-back'

I’m reading through the printed hard copy of my thesis but I’ve fallen out of love with it. I know I can be a fickle lover but to be fair, this is not the story I fell in love with. In the prolonged struggle to get it to the finish line I didn’t notice how much I compromised. I acknowledge a degree of compromise was a necessary means to an end. But so much has been taken out or made more academically palatable - this is definitely not the passionate and personal tale I wanted to tell. In truth I think I have finally realised that despite the enormous amount of work involved, a thesis is a very short chapter in a life. It may sound disrespectful, and although I have had little opportunity to enjoy any accolades that might be coming my way, it is kind of ‘yeah, well I’ve done this thing - so what – what now?’ I’m pretty unimpressed with myself and that’s probably a good thing.

Since finishing the amendments and submitting the final product I have been ‘playing’  - making images about nothing in particular while I make money and develop my digital skills. It’s been fun but inevitably I have become dissatisfied playing in the shallows. I long to plunge head first into the depths again. After going through the trauma of being afraid of even small waves (in the ‘real’ world), I am well and truly back ‘out-the-back’ surfing again, so this paddling around in the shore break will simply not do.

Yesterday I was looking for reference images for a group exhibition in 2015. In case you hadn’t noticed Australia has gone mad discussing and planning the 100th anniversary of WW 1 and because the fleet left for Gallipoli from Albany, this town will take centre stage. The theme of every damned exhibition or community workshop is – you guessed it – ANZAC. I hate the rhetoric around ANZAC, I hate ANZAC day – I think war is a load of apha-male bullshit. (Ok, I know it’s more complex than that). I do think I am justified in being disgusted that the Australian national identity is predominantly based on the WW 1 & 2 ‘diggers’ and an outlaw named Ned Kelly. For a start, women only have bit parts in these ‘heroic’ cultural myths, not to mention indigenous Australians. The local city council supports the group of artists I belong to with in-kind donations like free gallery space, so we queried whether we were going to be shackled to a particular ideology, that is – would we still get assistance if we made anti-war art? Apparently we have been given a free rein, but we’ll see what happens when the show is finally curated.

In my search for reference material for this themed show, I brutalised myself looking at gory images of dismembered bodies and headless corpses. I have always been interested in this topic. I have seen many headless corpses and heads in large glass jars during my student days in the anatomy department at UWA but photographs of real people with real blood was a savage assault on my senses. I had intended to do a very bloody and ‘human’ Goya or George Gittoes inspired work about the brutality of war. However, as I looked at one disturbingly fascinating image after another I was reminded that dismemberment and decapitation are symbolic stages of spiritual evolution. Once again I am confronted with the paradoxes between the material and the psychic, the ephemeral and the eternal. I was kind of looking forward to rendering all that torn and bloody flesh. But the work will now take on a more abstract and symbolic form, which will at least stop me from making any readable contraversial statements that might get me chucked out of the group show.


Jung wrote a lot about ‘synchronicity’ and last night in ‘A Dangerous Method’ on SBS, there he was. It was pure joy watching a dramatisation of the man who has influenced me so much. I took it as a sign - it reminded me how badly I needed to get back to my core study into the evolution of consciousness. After all, although that was the central theme of my thesis, I was only allowed to wade in knee-deep. Thank God, I am off out-the-back again.

image: Cropped section of my painting 'The Minotaur and Me'.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

just as well I look good in a hat

This is page 46 of my thesis, which includes a photograph of The Gap by Mike Lyons - Albany dentist and amateur photographer.


I am having 3 'unofficial' copies of my thesis printed next week locally to make them available for people to read. One will go immediately to my Wise Old Rosicrucian Friend. I suspect only a couple of others will actually put their hands up for the task. Can't say I blame them, you have to have a very good  reason to read something like that.

The official versions of the 153 page document and other appropriate notifications will probably take a couple of months. Graduation is in early September and this is the regalia (and that is what it is officially called) I have to wear or else I'm not allowed to graduate. I don't usually like these types of ceremonies, especially when I am in the thick of it, but I confess I am really looking forward to it. And the nosh up afterwards.

Just as well I look good in a hat.


Monday, 5 May 2014

life after a PhD

Today I chucked my amended thesis in the DropBox and e-mailed a link to my supervisor at Curtin. It has taken me more than 3 weeks of solid work to climb the last bit of the PhD mountain. I thought after 8 years of gruelling study I would be too exhausted to even think about art. Instead, I am chaffing at the bit.

I had a few things left to do in relation to the PhD in the last few months - one of them was an artist's talk just over a week ago for my friends and interested folk who live on the south coast. There were 28 people there and I knew the majority of them quite well. It was a joy to share a condensed version of my journey with them and I was very moved by the support. From the feedback I got most people really enjoyed it and some even found it inspiring. The other task of course was to dive back into the thesis and make the 'minor' amendments recommended by both examiners, who said they really liked it. I'm very relieved they were only minor adjustments, because dealing with them was hard enough. I struggled to get my head back into it because I felt it was done - I'd had enough when I packed it off 6 months ago - but the changes have meant the whole document is very readable now, rather than just some parts of it. I had wanted to unify it as a piece of writing, but ran out of time and energy last September and just had to get it in so I could exhibit in December. Robin has read the amended thesis and agrees it is now very palatable.

So what's next? I have registered a business name Void Art & Design, in honour of the profound insights the PhD has given me on a few levels. I intend on doing some study next semester to learn more about Illustrator, InDesign and PhotoShop. These are all programs I should be able to use professionally if I am serious about doing some graphic design work. I am in the middle of doing a digital drawing for a promotional banner at work and I have finished another small job as well.

But best of all, I am excited about being able to move around in my art practice - between different media as well as subject matter, because I am no longer shackled to one massive idea. I am feeling so much lighter, as though some huge weight has been lifted from me. I am pretty pleased with myself for persevering, in fact I am even a little surprised because there was a time in my life when I didn't get to the finish line on anything. It's nice to know people can change. 

This morning after sending off the thesis for the last time I went for a surf. There were some good sized waves coming through and I had a great time, partly because although I am not ready to leave the planet just yet, I didn't have to worry that I might drown or be eaten by a shark before I had completed my PhD.

image: Girl with Balloons is an unfinished digital version of a small goauche painting of mine.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

so much to know


I've been really busy - too busy to blog. This is just some of what I have been doing. I've put in a lot of hours on this design job - I certainly won't get paid enough for the amount of work I've done, but I am building knowledge as well as my portfolio. 
I have the 'art' side of it figured and I have been using PhotoShop for ages - but there is so much more to know about the software, print specifications and making sure the image is high quality. I think I will be doing a lot of LYNDA tutorials to build on my sparse knowledge of Illustrator and learn InDesign as well. 

I have also been enrolled in a 'copyright' unit so I can teach it next term and in the process learnt a hell of a lot about copyright. It is a real minefield I'll bet most artists and designers don't even know they are treading in.

These 2 images are spinoffs of the current job I am doing - a couple of happy accidents I rather like that resulted from playing around with filters.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

how to drown an albatross


I am one of 14 Great Southern artists (that's artists from the Great Southern, not GREAT artists who come from the south) involved in this PIAF exhibition. I only finished my piece for it yesterday. I'm kind of looking forward to it - I haven't been in a group exhibition like this since 2008 when I participated in ArtiStories in Denmark.

My work is a simple video projection. I will post it here once the exhibition is up and running. It is a 'themed' exhibition and luckily I had an idea for something that fit - otherwise I wouldn't have bothered. I actually don't like being driven by other people's themes, but this one worked quite well for me. You'll be pleased to hear I haven't been cured of my addiction to apocalyptic gloom.

There will be 10 minute talks by the artists (including me) on Saturday 1st of March at 3.00 pm. Very casual. This is my artist's statement:

Michelle Frantom, How to Drown an Albatross, digital drawing/video

'Is it he?....Is this the man?
By him who died on cross,
With his cruel bow he laid full low
The harmless Albatross'

In a world where humans are the dominant species, 'interconnectedness' is generally considered to be a positive thing. The digital 'web', transport networks and invisible lines of electronic communication evidence our ability to penetrate almost every realm of existence. This work focuses on the negative outcomes of our obsession to leave nothing untouched.

A conceptual thread ironically links the albatross's 'webbed feet' to the human-made 'web-like' thread that has taken its life. Just as in Samuel Coleridge's, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the 'harmless Albatross' has once again been sacrificed because of humankind's obsession with itself.

(Original reference image of albatross: G Robertson, Australian Antarctica Division, Tasmania)

You are welcome to come to the opening next Friday 21 Feb @ 7.00 pm at the Albany Town Hall, but please RSVP to Annette Davis by 17 February: adavis@westnet.com.au 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

country town architecture





I had to travel to Katanning yesterday as part of my job overseeing some TAFE courses there. I really love the ambience of country towns with their odd mix of architecture. The old pubs with their big verandahs still take central place. And you can stop in the main streeet in your car to take photos. Brilliant.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

examiner's reports


The verdict about my thesis from both examiners is that it will pass with 'Minor amendments', which means: 'minor textual and/or structural amendments are required'. The examiners provided detailed reports (one was 7 pages long) with page numbers so it shouldn't be too difficult to work my way through the document (again!)

There are 5 possible outcomes, from 'No amendments' to 'Fail', so this is a good outcome. Even so, the list of changes is a bit daunting. I suspect it will look more manageable once I have gone through them one at a time.

The general feedback was very positive. Both examiners enjoyed the artwork and the written exegesis. One concluded: 'Overall I felt that it was a successful show which achieved the qualities of the terror of the sublime'. The same examiner also commented on the section entitled 'The Gap': 'In this section the writing of Michelle races - it sparkles!'

The second examiner said: 'Thank you for a very interesting and challenging thesis. The interweaving of imaginal psychology with art practice positioned at the dramatic and huntingly beautiful location of the Gap...., gives rise to an inspiring argument'.

There are suggestions to delete ideas that have not been argued fully which is fine because the overall argument will still prevail. There are also comments about 'generalisations', but mainly I will simply have to delete or briefly substantiate some of my claims.

Unfortunately my supervisor has gone on holidays for 3 weeks, and I will need her help to tease out which changes I should make, which I should argue against - there is at least one instance where I will be doing that.

But it certainly is a relief to know I am nearly there.