I saw this exhibition of 38 finalists work which delves into the myriad different ways that paper can be employed in making art. In 2017 the conceptual theme
for Banyule Council’s Arts and Culture Program is ‘water’. The award features a wide assortment of works on paper and various techniques of production. Extensive printmaking processes feature including linocut, screenprint, mezzotint, etching, intaglio, letterpress and woodblock. Other making techniques include drawing, painting,photography, digital prints, artist’s books, and paper sculptures.
I took my sceptical self to the VCA Open Day, and was most impressed by what I saw. Having already visited MADA, and RMIT, I thought my mind was firmly made up, as to where I might hope to continue my further study.
A brand new ceramic and sculpture facility mightily impressed, as did the Painting studios. Whilst not expansive, they boasted good natural light, due to the beamed and skylight, old factory ceilings.
The model of mixing in all year levels together, appealed, offering fostering, and cross pollination of ideas. The 9 to 5 work ethic, promoting a 40 hour working week of studio practice, struck a cord in this old proletariats heart.
I freely conversed with a sculpture student, an administrator, an academic, a lecturer, a painting teacher and an artist, John Campbell, one of my favourite Australian painters. I garnered factual information, insider tips for interview, and appreciated the positive, can do attitude. It gave me much to think about, and contemplate, and I admit I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw, who I met, and how it takes its place as a valuable training facility, in the visual arts field.
To complete my plan of further visual arts training in 2016, it will be necessary for me to deftly negotiate the VTAC site, surmount my growing horror in an interview situation, amass my huge body of work, and retrace my steps back to Southbank aka South Melbourne, the familial home of my misspent youth. The VCA is housed in the old factory where I began my working life as a staff clerk at Telecom Workshops. I can stride through the old costing area, above the sheet metal workshop and know that 35 years later I have made a triumphant return feeling more at home with a paintbrush in my hand, than I did with a P66, and an annual leave bonus.
I went along to RMIT”s open day, with some trepidation. It was thirty five years, since I’d walked these hallowed halls. The place was jammed, roads closed, and an army of helpers wearing red tshirts, had descended on the usually austere end of Swanston St. Upon locating the building housing the Fine Art Degree talk I quickly darted up the stairs, only to be pursued by a youngster, wanting to know if she could help. The talk was found, it had started fifteen minutes early, and the man giving it was enthusiastic, jocular and verbose, but it put me in mind of a real estate salesman, hoping to clinch the deal. A dizzying array of facts and figures were reeled off and we were left in no doubt that RMIT, is the best Art and Design Faculty in Australia, and also boasts a stellar reputation internationally.
A whirlwind tour proceeded of the cramped sculpture studios, minuscule painting studios, and shabby printmaking facilities. Perhaps the scales have fallen from my eyes and I have recovered from the stigma of failing third year painting, back in 1979, but I just found the facilities sadly lacking, particularly compared to other Fine Art schools I have recently visited. Conversely the lecturers seemed mightily enthusiatic, the students inspired and the vibe a creative one. I gazed disconsolately at the Painting Studios and realised they weren’t for me. A cubicle the size of a wardrobe in a vast shared space with no natural light is not conducive to my art making. I can barely contain myself now in my VU studio,and my tired eyes seek daylight.
It was big , unwieldy and eminently untransportable . How to get it to VU ? certainly not on a slow moving Sandringham line train . I could just hear the shouts of indignation , and rude expletives as I tried to wedge it sideways onto the commuter train at 8.03 am monday morning .
Nothing for it , it would have to be driven in !! Gasp ! its like ! huge , t he 17 year old learner driver exclaimed as I attempted to secure it to the roof of the car . Not my car , its too small , but the larger other car had to be called into service . Dangling tent guy ropes , old shoelaces , torn rags , any binding agent that I thought would work was used to secure it .
Hmm , didn’t look that big when I first rescued it from the hard rubbish , and skewed it home , hanging out the boot of my car .
A slow procession was made through the sleepy sunday morning streets of Elsternwick . No speeding I exhorted to the hapless driven , or we might become airborne ! A foray into chaotic Kings Way saw us take the outside line , proceeding at a gentle 55 km per hour . I was on tenterhooks as we sometimes accelerated , waiting for the dreaded ripping sound as the canvas left its moorings and pirouetted into the path of the oncoming traffic . Didn’t happen . Town loomed and I exhaled gradually . Stopping in Flinders St I finally breathed and gleefully congratulated my daughter on getting us there intact . Trembling , I unloaded the canvas easing it out of its haphazard bondage , and sauntered into the lift at VU . It was a Sunday , and it would insist on stopping only at the 15th floor . I couldn’t cajole it to go any further despite frantic swiping with my fob . Exiting , I plunged toward the stairwell , and feverishly dragged the enormous canvas up the two flights of stairs to level 17 . Finally , secured in my studio looking resplendent with a coat of gesso , its all ready to go . Now what to do with it !! Watch this space .