My time at Victoria University, studying the Visual Arts Diploma 2014, is drawing to a close. The studios are swept, work is displayed, and final submissions are being pulled together. Tomorrow is the Final Assessment Day, other assessments having already taken place last week. Relief washes over most, as the door is closed on a years work. A period of nervousness will ensue, indecision being the lot of most visual artists
Hope is writ large as we scramble to secure one of the Fiona Myer Travel, or folio awards. It is with some sadness I will bid farewell to my fellow classmates. Much of their work is exemplary, and I expect their imagery will stay with me through the years. I hope to see their trajectory rise, all of these “bright stars”. I will retain my fond memories of them as VU collaborators, and thank them all, they have taught me much.
It is a collective exhibition by eight artists , 2 local , 6 international , with the underlying theme of artistic fieldwork . The central premise is that understanding is founded in personal experience and most of the works in the exhibition are taken from daily life , a record of the day to day comings and goings of the artists , and the curator .
The artists are Maria Antelman , George Egerton – Warburton , Dara Gill , Sandra Selig , Alexandre Singh , Charlie Sofo , Michael John Whelan , Nina Yuen , and the curator is Melissa Keys .
Many visual tools are used in the exhibition , including , photography , collage , b&w photography , inkjet prints , assemblages , video , altered book pages , found objects and polystyrene sculpture .
To quote the curator the artists ” composing their work using everyday found objects , images and routine simple gestures , the artists featured in ” Notes from the Field ” create humorous , poignant and haunting works that confound and rewire the habitual and commonsensical ways we establish meaning and make sense of the world . ” Melissa Keys , Curator , September , 2014 .
It is a diverse skill base employed by the artists , and they too are a very diverse group . I particularly liked Sandra Selig’s work . Her altered book pages using enamel paint , adhesives and folding techniques were displayed in a series , and were beautifully executed . It was an interesting and unusual variation of the altered book theme , and one we have used in our own practice in studying our VU Visual Arts Diploma.
Housed at 40 Dodds St , the gallery space is a former factory , and one in which I worked in the personnel office , as a young school leaver many years ago . The transformation of the former factory is innovative , although the old wooden staircase , stained glass doors and windows , concrete floors , and beamed ceilings , bear testament to its former life .
Last week and weekend I attended a two day symposium entitled ” Pathways ” . It was run by the VCA&MCM , supported by Arts Victoria , held at Southbank NGV , and VCA.
It was two days of talks , presentations , and workshops designed to help arts practitioners find a sustainable , economically viable career , in the creative fields of their choice . Many talks and presentations were given by visual artists , dancers , musicians , lyricists and music producers , filmmakers , illustrators , painters , sculptors , scriptwriters , actors and playwrights . Whilst the presentation style , and field of expertise , of the speakers varied they all had several underlying themes to their talk .
An artist has to work long and hard at their craft and it requires a sustained , day in day out work ethic . You need to exhibit , display , audition , and somehow be seen in your artistic endeavours . Networking , and self promotion are essential tools for the modern day practitioner , and effective grant writing plays a big part in the sourcing of funds , to make your practice viable . Diversifying into other fields is necessary , so you have to work across a variety of disciplines , not necessarily those of your specific interest , or addressing and complimenting your training .
The good news is you can hope to earn $13,000 a year from all this , if you’re lucky . The general average yearly income is perceived to be much lower than this .
Artists are driven , passionate and intuitive mark makers . It is not a profession chosen for wealth , prestige , or success . Usually the profession chooses us and for those in its thrall , its a lonely , indescribable process of struggle , but one we usually can’t ignore .
The mighty Bosphorus, is a vibrant and turbulent River, as unpredictable as the seething Turkish City of Istanbul. Bobbing along on the commuter ferry, clutching a fish roll that cost AUD $1.50, I crossed the imaginary line from East to West, or Asia to Europe. Istanbul is a city of contrasts, medieval turkish bath houses, and gigantic, iconic shrines of Hagar Sophia proportions . The Grand Bazaar is a labyrinth of streets, a maze of stalls, and a brash collection of hawkers all exhorting you to enter their shops. Turkish Delight, stuffed camels, brass, garishly coloured ceramics, and handicrafts abound. Its a vibrant, alive, city summed up perfectly by the Whirling Deverishes, a local iconic, folk act who twist this way and that in their exuberant, native dance .Home to myriad stray cats and dogs ,homeless and itinerant locals, Istanbul has a pulsating energy, and irreverent view of life .
Stumbling down the main street, I chanced upon the Galata Greek Primary School, one of the venues of the 13th Istanbul Biennial. Titled ” Mom Am I Barbarian “it included many artists, exhibiting in a diverse range of mediums spread over the entire six floors of the venue, including a roof top terrace . The space included short films about abandoned dogs and african miners, intricate drawings, installations and a whole lot more. The exhibits were free, the catalogue a measly $5, and the entertainment priceless. One of my favourite presentations was a series of altered books by a Portuguese Artist, Carla Filipe, who used books damaged by moths to create her altered book series. I spent many fruitful hours gazing at the exhibits, and gleaned a lot of visual stimuli. It ended my visit to Turkey on a high note and I hope, one day to return.
I went along to the Nicholas Building Open Studios on the 28 th August 2014. It was a brilliant opportunity to see inside an iconic Melbourne landmark , and watch artists at work .
Nine floors of visual delights were unveiled . The building itself is ever so slightly down at heel, just as you would expect from a work in progress . True to the Art Deco period of architecture and ornamentation , it has glass ceilings , iron framed windows and period ornamentation . The staircase alone is worth a visit, and would be suitable for a horror movie set.
The standout artisans for me were ;
Nicholas Jones , an exemplary artist who creates beautifully constructed and crafted , altered books . Many completed ones were on display , whilst some were a work in progress . Off cuts had been sewn together to create garlands , truly inspiring work .
Another room held textile artists who had magnificent collections of vintage fabrics , marbling kits , large wooden cotton reels and retro sewing accoutrements . Photographers , Printmakers , painters , leather workers , book designers , illustrators and jewellery makers were all on display . A truly incredibly talented group of disparate individuals, all bought together in a mutually inclusive inner urban creative space , it was a joy and privilege to observe them at work .