Tuesday, 25 October 2011

..and sees the last of the "Fringe"

Hello Possums,
a last rant about the Ballarat International PhotoBiennale "Fringe"...  

venue 52 was in an old renovated brewery in Buninyong  and although I'm almost a local it took some twenty minutes running around Buninyong before I found it.

As you can see it's a good clear space that would be an excellent proposition for people thinking about 2013.
the works on display were screen based DVD images from Japan titled Elegy Japan by Darron Davies of which I saw some  but was distracted ( it looked very interesting) by the other two presentations in the room.

Pam Kleeman's "A PrivateView: Skinned":  insallation pieces that made place-mats, handbags, wallets. hats etc from images of skin and hair that was purportedly about consumerism and cultural colonisation.
 I found the Dinner setting a rather thin take on Judy Chicago's grander sculptural work from the 80's because it tackles less with less ...as Chicago herself said, "...the women develop as artists, they build skills that are relevant to their content. Their work improves and they become more sophisticated, but that sophistication is built on a solid, personal foundation and is not the result of prevailing art modes" . ( Women Artists:  Peterson & Wilson, Harper/Colophon 1976)

What made me a little queasy with the handbags etc was the thought  that concentration camp guards during WW2 made similar objects from the cadavers of murdered Jewish inmates.... there was no mention of this in Kleeman's text .

 Konrad Winkler's "Love At First Sight"...only made me think, Why so grayly mis-named?
And......... Too Much Information!

I fled!

To the Ballarat Observatory where the map, again was not particularly helpful. But the works in the main were delightful.. Alex Cherney's celestial time-lapse images were hauntingly beautiful (sorry no images) and Julie Boland's "Visiting Diana" was a quietly evocative and feminine evocation of freindship ... lovely, lovely stuff.

As was Angie Turnbull's: shots on 10x8 plate, of film and reels, photographs of stock...'a la Bauhaus, Lazlo Moholy Nagy style.  Good puns all round. These two sets of work were really very impressive in their dignity toward both the subjects and the medium.

Although the venue was OK ..just... it was not an inviting place and I found I really had to concentrate hard on the works and not be distracted by light reflections and bumping into that monolithic telescope in the middle of the room.

Speaking of reflections ...cop this.....10:00am .....
not a good look for images... and weaving in and out of the tables( luckily all the guests had eaten and departed) was not comfortable at all.  

The nature of "Fringe" events is like this and it is the exhibitor who must make a conscious decision to present appropriately for the circumstances they have at hand.

Although, that being said there was one venue that really confused its exhibiting artists with its own wares....

...... but I'm pleased to report that Simon Peterswald did sell some stuff.... nice strong images.

Confusing as hell, that place... always asking yourself if it is an exhibit or part of the shops' stock......???

I think this has given a reasonable overview of the "Fringe" .... I'd  also comment that it was very funny to see so many people running around Ballarat with camera's on display for the month of the biennale.....and joyous that they came out in such numbers.... but even funnier to find stuff online..... one was a pic of one of the venues because the tog seems to like old architecture; he mentions the biennale was on at the time but none of either the core or fringe exhibits so I wonder if any thing impressed this teacher of photography at all?
A more ludicrous entry was from a Ballarat amateur who posted a journal note/survey on a particular site asking if anyone knew of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale?
OK, all you child psychologists.... work that one out!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

....to some of the Fringe venues

"Pont a Mousson"
 G'day Possums....
there are venues and then there are venues. Some work for the photographer a lot don't. 
Some photographers hang their work well and some seem clueless as to the point of the exercise.

Probably the best venue in this Fringe that I've seen so far has been Backspace Gallery behind the Art Gallery on Camp St. It's inclusion as a "Fringe" venue is accidental as there was supposed to be a master printers show there as part of the events program. This "event" was a non-event and the three people exhibiting there  ( Kathleen Winder's "Columba Livia, Rosalind Lawson's and Lynden Nicholls' "Meniscus")  were fortunate to be offered the space when their original venue was sold and the new owners decided that renovations would begin ten days into the biennale. Not the only venue to change track two weeks before the opening. (Kirrilee Bailey's "Young" is now at Portico.) This happened after the program and broadsheets had been printed, which is somewhat unfair to the exhibitor and not a good look for the business' concerned.

Backspace Gallery... there is another larger room to the right.
Interesting works but the plastic framing bothers me. Too many reflections behind the work make it confusing to look at and the lightness of the frames made them awkward to hang a level.
"Columba Livia"

One of Kathleen Winder's  "Columba Livia".... well worth a look but I'm extremely biased. ( Shane and Mrs Wombat's daughter).
This show to me, is the pick of the Fringe and is beautifully presented.

Another good venue is Creative Framing in Armstrong St.  Good clean wall space with professional lighting and ease of access for viewing.

Showing there is Craig Marsdens' "In a Quiet Space"; beautiful long exposure landscape/seascape most, Zen-like. and nicely hung, too.


My own show "Continuum"  is at the "Bean Barn"  in Sturt St.  Another  good venue with a most amenable and helpful owner.
I should, perhaps show how I planned my show and hung it.
I sought Richard's permission for the show some 12 months prior and after returning from France had some 2  months to select, print, mat and frame the selected works.  I paced out the venue ...it's around 14 metres long with good natural light and small "spots" for darker days.
After I had selected the works to show I made a 1:10 scale drawing of the wall frames and prints to see how they would work together and how the colour balance performed.

It certainly helped and as some of the works are sculptural and meant to be manipulated I had to place them where they would cause least disruption  to the staff and patrons at Bean Barn ... in the event, hanging was simplified and the show went up almost fully as originally planned.

Bean Barn
Things I learned: 
1/ Don't use standard wire for the backs of works, use twisted brass picture wire; it doesn't slip around as much.
2/ Have double sided tapes on backs of frames to stick them to the wall to minimize movement through air flow.
3/ Have your hanging points as high as possible on frame so they hang as flat as possible. 
4/ Make your catalogue as obvious as possible.
Funniest comment so far... gentleman commenting on a piece as to its location in France. I told him and then he asked, "Is that yours?" "Yes", I replied. He then asked,  "Whose are all the others?  
5/ Make your signage as idiot proof as possible.

In and Out or Home and Away

This piece is called; In and Out or Home and Away.
The  images can be rotated.
it has proved a popular work but I hope the guy with the camera who was overheard saying that he would utilise the same format shows more originality and imagination when it comes to the crunch with his own work.

Cheers petals... hope this has been slightly informative and by the way, Bean Barn is already booked for 2013.... more soon.


Monday, 29 August 2011

....to the Fringe

Well Petals, France has long been departed and we’re back in the Victorian Burrow.

This blogs’ a bit like the French tour much was intended and about a 1/3 actually happened.

We’ve been busy post-processing stuff shot in France for exhibition at The Ballarat International Foto Biennale

which opened on the 20th and will be running till Sept18th

My show, “Continuum” is on at “the Bean Barn” 

A neat little venue with good light and very good coffee.

This work is part of “The Fringe”….  and I am going to be commenting on the fringe shows and their venues over the next couple of weeks.
There’s not much point talking about the “Core” shows as the protagonists are pretty well known and get plenty of coverage.  Some unnecessary.
One exhibitor, Jan Saudek was stage-centre to a small controversy when (I believe) a woman in Ballarat rang festival director Jeff Moorfoot to complain about one of Saudek’s works that she had seen advertising the biennale in Art Almanac.
She was of the opinion that the mother of the child in the image was prostituting her child and wanted the work removed.
Jan Saudek

Apparently, she has been known to “play-the-public-conscience” before and receiving no joy from Jeff, rang both Child Services and then Tourism Victoria with her complaint. A bureaucrat from Tourism Victoria suggested that if the controversy reached the State Government funding might not be forthcoming for the 2013 biennale.
Picture was pulled!
Welcome to the “Nanny-State”
The nasty woman has sexualised the child but provided good publicity via many newspapers and television who ran the image… did she complain to them? Tourism Bureaucrat “covers-arse” and is gutless in the face of a storm in a teacup.
All in all a pathetic reflection of the reality of Australia.    

The process of putting an exhibition of photographs into non gallery spaces is  interesting and  I will make comment on the works and the venues and how they “work” together.
Please take note that even if my opinion is critical of works exhibited that underlying the criticism is a respect for the photographers willing to put their work in front of the public gaze (at much expense) in a real, not in a cyber sense, where so many “fibs, porky's and outright lies” can be told.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

....on a tangent

G,day you two.....

....thought I'd post a brief note as an antidote to the "tourists" of the "blissfully ignorant" entry.
There was the day Mrs Wombat and I visited the Musee D'Orsay... but the staff were on strike so we popped around the corner to Musee Rodin. (Paris' a bit like that we found.)
I'll talk about this extraordinary collection another time 'cause this is a story about children.... or more particularly a child, behaving, well... I think, brilliantly.

We had become accustomed to seeing excursion groups of children from Prep to Senior High at places we visited.
"......Let's take the students to Villandry/ LeThoronet/ Louvre/ Musee Rodin for the day..."? (sort of tops any excursion I ever took students on.)
They were invariably well-behaved as were the the late Primary-aged students there at Musee Rodin that day.
I was looking through the collection and taking some photos and when lining up a shot of "The Crouching Woman" noticed a little girl sitting with her mother on window seats diagonally opposite. The girl was drawing intently. In fact, very intently. I think she was about seven or eight years of age and as she was staring past me to my left I put the camera down so not to distract her.
I wondered... how long she would be able to maintain her concentration?
Minutes passed, probably four or five and she was still staring at that Rodin she was drawing, checking briefly what marks she was making and returning her gaze to the sculpture in such a concentrated manner when a man, French (well he spoke it fluently), approached the girl and asked to see her drawing. Her annoyed look made me grin but she showed him her work and looked glad that he was satisfied and was moving on and then returned to her drawing in her former decisive manner.
A few more minutes later the girls mother looked up and saw me watching and smiled... I went over to her and apologising for not speaking French asked if her little girl was always so conscientious?
"No, in fact it's the quietest I've ever seen her... she's always running around ...very active".
We conversed a little more, I thanked her and returned back behind the Crouching Woman, photographed them all and moved on, too.
She was still drawing......

I wonder what impact that place had made on that little girl and how she might remember it for the future?
This little episode was just the tonic needed after the "tourists".
In fact we returned to the D'Orsay... it was open ... but decided that looking/jostling at a Degas work with 200 others was probably something he never intended and went and actually found a good French coffee!
A satisfying day.

Cheers, petals.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

...about the blissfully ignorant.

Cheers, fellow Antipodeans.....
I said I'd follow up with a few (heh, heh) shots of touristic behaviour .. you've been warned!

Photography, Tai Chi style
Tai Chi is a good way of becoming an excellent photographer and just might get you noticed by Paris Opera talent scouts.

 It is also important that when in a  foreign country you take shots that reflect not only your originality and creativity  but your respect for the country and monuments visited

Eiffel Tower Originals

Louvre antics

I'm not quite sure what the following couple were up to but I think they were making little "stripper-grams" for the folks back home!

Burlesque at Eiffel
Lord knows what they photograph in private. They did a whole routine which looked more  burlesque than tourist. French Police group standing to left of plaza looked on in disdain.

And if things don't work out the just the way you want them: then it's perfectly ok to abuse your elderly (and I presumed) mother.

Weddings are always fun, particularly the "frou-frou" ones. This one was funny 'cause as they lined up in front of the fountain in Place de la Concorde for wedding snaps the always customer-oriented French, obligingly turned said fountain off.
Chinese frou-frou at Place de la Concorde

La Pissoir
It is always prudent to locate the public toilets, too!

Public displays of affection are sometimes frowned upon in foreign lands ...thank god this is Paris...........
Le Controleur gras
...........but there are probably less demeaning looking modes of handling your g/f.

and a one ...and a two... and a three..... wheeeeee
And if it dosen't work the first time try, try again.

It is  testament to Gustave Eiffel that his temporary monument has not only lasted this long but continues to outlast the tourist glance. It is a beautiful elegant structure that repays a deal of study.
Robert Hughes said once that tourist-groups are given something like 90 seconds - 2 minutes in front of a painting before they are moved along. Any shorter and they feel short-changed, any longer and they begin to get involved and that throws the whole schedule out.
I wonder if the little "chicky-babes" in front of Rude's  "La Marseillaise" at the Arc de Triomphe, poutingly throwing their shoulder provocatively forward for another face-book ID update really give a damn where they are as long as they are there!

Cheers mates, 'til next time.
Shane Wombat.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

...with the Hordes to the Louvre

Making art is generally a solitary affair requiring concentration, application and time in order that conceptual and material matters coalesce into a coherent expression that satisfies the maker enough to put the results to public view.
It’s a serious business….. and Petals, I’m not wanly placing back-of-hand-to-forehead and sighing… emo-like… about the high nature of the creative act but thinking rather of Fragonards’ little bravura portrait in the Louvre.  A portrait of a priest in Pierrot costume about to attend a Ball: painted wet in wet, in an hour,  it is a hugely fun, frothy, lighthearted and ultimately very serious work of art.

Jean Honore Fragonard  Louvre
It deserves to be looked at because of its brilliant handling, the surety of its drawing, its composition and its sheer good humour. 

As do the Chardin’s in the same room.  
Chardin, Louvre
Quietly sober works of meticulously recorded thought that have influenced the likes of Corot and later Picasso, that pack into their modest proportions huge concepts and sensibility.

Watteau was a beautiful revelation, too...a very melancholy aura like a strange mysticism in his works and that drapery... stunningly painted. And the portrait of "Gilles" is rivetting in a way and depth of feeling I wasn't prepared for it engages you like a real event and... it is so, so sad
Watteau, Louvre
Fortunately, these works are not on the audio guide tour 
as is poor old Vermeer’s tiny “Lace-maker”. 

You are allowed time to consider them, make decisions and learn as the mass of tourists hurriedly pace past in search of ……in search of…in search of what?
Part of researching the visit to France was to discover that the D’Orsay Museum had banned photography within its walls and I read some well written diatribes against this negation of “rights” and thought;  ”Bugger, there goes an opportunity”. Until  Mrs Wombat and I visited the Louvre.  When you observe a tourist “flash” his point and shoot a metre from Ingres’ “Odalisque” you have to wonder at his suitability to be allowed in front of any artwork. To see people do this immediately they face a painting and in 15 seconds  move on to the next piece to repeat the exercise beggars belief. Or to see some-one stand in front of an artwork, listening to the audio, whilst reading the text or looking at everything but the bloody artwork!  And yep, you're correct, the lady with the red hair is photographing herself in front of a Vermeer with her mobile.
The Louvre should be next to ban cameras.

Perhaps there should be additional questions in visa applications. 

“When did you last visit your home town gallery?”
“What works held your attention for more than 10 seconds?”
“What does NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY mean?”
“Do you understand that the intensity of repeatedflash photography will eventually fade the colours of an artwork?”
“Do you really care? “Wouldn’t you really be happier back at home shooting (killing) what’s left of your native wildlife?”
I had never really believed the stereotype of “the tourist”… I do now.

The woman maniacally running around Notre Dame “flashing” every polychromed C15th sculpture she could; all glazed eyed and furrowed brow (like the White-Rabbit…. “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date….”)  some-one dislocated in place and time. A look seen on lots of faces: we’re here because we’re here, because we’re here and I’m not sure where I am or why.  And you just have to applaud the choir, don’t you? 
Notre Dame, Paris

(It’s not really a religious service…… is it?) 
It may have been her cousins outside, securing a photo-op with a very polite and compliant maker and vendor of Parisian water-colour scenes…(they didn’t buy one)....
“Oooh thank you soooo much … we only have one day in Paris.” (He was very gracious… )
One day in Paris?  Good grief, you wouldn’t see much of Ballarat in a day!

And yes, Madam, that C16th chair was placed there just for you when you got tired of traipsing through Chennonceaux. 

And certainly Madam, steady yourself against that bit of Renaissance furniture for your photo-op ….....and of course you can pick at the flower arrangements to see if they’re real! 

No probs!

I’m not at all sure Oscar Wilde would be appreciative of or agree with the attention his tomb receives from those who think they are latter day kindred kinky spirits… or would the sculptor, Jacob Epstein (for me, a unexpectedly and surprisingly moving piece) be happy to see his work obliterated in so Vandal a manner? Loved to death by tasteless children!

wilde's tomb
 Pere Lachaise is a wonderful, fascinating place and I had to laugh when photographing  a sculpture to hear a voice loudly exclaim “Oohh… woow, is he imporrrrtaaant?” and push in front of me to take a shot before scurrying off to “capture” another historically significant person.  It was the same principle as standing on a city corner looking up. Others will follow.

It occurred to me there when reading as best I could, the testament of some woman on her tomb that facebook and twitter are our present-day cemetary’s of thoughts.

It seems too, that when travelling to the fashion capital of the world and one of Europe’s most elegant cities you must dress as badly as possible.
I thought I was leaving the Bogans behind.
People-watching is fun, but tourist watching can really makes you feel quite ill. 

Well dressed tourists at Chennonceaux

So I’ll drop-kick the malady your way with a few more choice tourist antics in the next episode.

Here we are on a canal near the Loire
 And here in Paris

funery monument
And the "important " character in question in Pere Lachaise.
Actually, Z.T.Gramme, developer of the dynamo....

Cheers petals.