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Archive for January 2019

1788–January 25th, the next day, and now

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In 2010 we wanted to make an artwork to comment and reflect on Australia Day and some of our feelings about the origins of the date – the implications of that event and the repercussions that we live with and navigate today. Through a scorchingly hot day in Toowoomba we worked with cyanotype solutions and selected objects – some from our home and others sourced from the food scraps from a local seafood smorgasbord restaurant on the day.

The work that we did that day emerged as the collaborative artists’ book, a broadsheet we titled, Australian Banquet, January 25/ 26, 1788.

 

A statement about the artwork

Across Australia over the January 26th long weekend, people prepare, cook and consume food to mark this day in history.

For us, this work is our response to, and in recognition of, the ‘turning of the page’ in Australian history that this date represents. One day, January 25th 1788, Aboriginal people feasted on a diverse banquet of bush tucker as they had for thousands of years. The next day, the country was transformed by a new paradigm represented in this work by the table setting of the First Fleet.

Australia Day, for us, is an important time to acknowledge the First Peoples’ perspective and their knowing of land, culture and history and how it should be recognised as underpinning the diversity and identity of contemporary Australia. We, as descendants of European people, are seeking to understand and know more about our place within the longer history of this land.

The work is to be viewed/read in a display context with a spotlight directed onto the work.

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View 1: Australian Banquet, January 25/ 26, 1788

The 25th of January side of the broadsheet is viewed and contemplated.

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View 2: Australian Banquet, January 25/ 26, 1788

The broadsheet is then turned over to view the 26th of January side.

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View 3: Australian Banquet, January 25/ 26, 1788

Finally the broadsheet is held up to the light – the complex interrelationship between the two visual references to be seen and considered.

 

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION: A unique state artists’ book broadsheet

TITLE: Australian Banquet January 25/26, 1788

MEDIA: Double-sided cyanotype image in rice paper

DIMENSIONS: 37.6 x 77cm

PLACE & DATE MADE: Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, 2010

EDITION: 7 variations

 

EXHIBITIONS & AWARDS:

2014 EXHIBITED: Alternative Imaging – Curated by Dawne Fahey at Two Doors Gallery, The Rocks, Sydney

2011 SHORTLISTED: Southern Cross University Artists’ Book Award, Lismore. Judge: Ross Woodrow

2011 EXHIBITED: BLUE – Arts Council Toowoomba members exhibition, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery

2010 FINALIST: Josephine Ulrick & Win Schubert Photography Award,

………………………Gold Coast City Gallery. Judge: Judy Annear

COLLECTIONS: Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland

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2018 FIELD STUDIES: CAMERA OBSCURA FERRY PORTHOLE – Bass Straight waves over the Spirit of Tasmania

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Our 2018 Field Studies submission of 100 artworks

 

As an important end of year ritual, we have once again prepared our submission to the ‘FIELD STUDIES INTERNATIONAL’ collaborative mail art project organised by David Dellafiora. Artists from around the world contribute to this project by mailing to David 100 artworks of any process and printed media made to A5 size. He then works with a team to collate all the submissions and assemble 100 copies of the collaborative book. After each participant receives one of these books, a number are then sold to private and institutional collectors to fund the project. We have contributed to the Field Studies for the last 10 years. Some links to the previous submissions are provided at the end of this post.

 

Here’s the story of our 2018 Field Studies report…

 

In 2000, we began a series of site-specific camera obscura projects that is a continuing body of work… This year we made two attempts to construct a cabin camera obscura. The second attempt proved more successful and so in this blog we present this recent work – Through a porthole in 3-5metre seas on the The Spirit of Tasmania.

 

The Spirit of Tasmania

 

On the morning of the 3rd of November we boarded the Spirit of Tasmania and checked in to our cabin for the nine-hour day crossing. We had booked months earlier and had requested a porthole cabin with the idea of making a camera obscura.

Earlier in 2018 we had tried unsuccessfully to make camera obscura images on an overnight crossing figuring that by the time we boarded the ship we would have a brief period of sunlight – alas, that would not be the case it was dark by the time we had boarded and checked into our cabin. This second time we worked it differently with a day crossing and a porthole cabin… we then prepared for a full day of camera obscura work.

You can imagine our excitement to find that our cabin was in the middle at the front of the boat with a view over the flagpole on the prow of the ferry to the sea beyond. So we set to work with a mini camera obscura tool kit had been prepared for the preparation of the darkroom:

  • A quantity of heavy-duty black garbage bags
  • Gaffa tape
  • Scissors

 

A camera obscura tool kit

 

Vicky documented Doug as he negotiated the space beyond the bunks to tape the black bags over the window. Progressively the room got darker and glimpses of the features outside our little cabin imaged themselves on the walls of the cabin. One problem was the darkening down of the central image area caused by depth of the room and a mirror on the reverse of the door. We decided that to create an observable image we needed re-purposed two white doona covers as a screen by taping them to the ceiling and walls with the gaffa tape. To recreate the theatrical space of the cabin camera obscura, we combined a series of images of the cabin walls and the screen at different stages of the journey. We also found our humble Olympus Pen camera set at ISO25,000 the best option as it fitted the small space and enabled hand-held exposures.

 

 

The Spirit of Tasmania left Devonport port and headed out into Bass Straight. For us this was a challenging crossing as there were strong westerly winds and huge 3-5 metre waves for most of the day. It wasn’t long before we began to experience the ‘bang’ and ‘splash’ of waves over our porthole… we were on one of the upper decks – deck 8!!! Kwells (anti-seasickness pills) were taken and to take our minds off the thump and roll we got active documenting the CO crossing.

Two composite images were constructed from our work that day that we entitled Through a porthole in 3-5 metre seas on the The Spirit of Tasmania. The first is a panorama that shows Vicky on her bunk looking at the projected camera obscura image. On the right-hand side the shadow of the camera held aloft is imaged. The final panorama is made of 4 images.

 

Vicky observing the panorama camera obscura image

 

The second image is a triptych of the projected image on the screen showing a series of three photographs made by Vicky as the boat rocked with the centre image documenting a whiteout as a wave crashes on the window.

 

Camera obscura: a 3-5 metre wave crashes against our porthole (inverted)

Camera obscura: a 3-5 metre wave crashes against our porthole

 

We left the camera obscura setup until we docked. Midway across Bass Straight the images described above we assembled and optimised as the ‘bang’ and ‘whoosh’ of the waves on the boat continued incessantly. At one stage we ventured out to see how those brave souls in the public areas of the ferry were managing… they all looked pretty green–some not well at all, and many finding any horizontal space they could to find some comfort.

When the Spirit docked we dismantled the CO and disembarked, glad to be on terra firma again.

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To see a post about the FIELD STUDIES INTERNATIONAL and other of our Field Studies submissions

About David Dellafiora and  Field Studies International

https://wotwedid.com/2013/01/05/field-study-international-our-contribution/

 

Our 2016 Field Studies International submission

https://wotwedid.com/2017/01/17/field-studies-international-2016-our-contribution/

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THE HIDDEN ART OF DRAWING – REVEALED: JADA 2018

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Artists fill notebooks with drawings using a range of mark-making methods from burnt sticks (charcoal), lead and coloured pencils to ink pens and colour washes. These can be renderings that replicate the subject in ways that a camera might. They can be of details and juxtapositions of elements. Or they can be quick-made glimpses full of emotion and movement that come not so much from the subject itself but rather from the artist’s response to the inspiration created by what they witness.

Later in the artmaking process the artist retrieves these references and in the studio space with the grander media of canvas, metal or expanses of paper the drawing’s trace is carefully made and through the application of pigments applied by brush and palette knife or engraved, etched, inked and pressed. Here a ‘real’ artwork is made. Yet, underneath the final artwork the reference drawing resides – hidden.

 

The secret hidden ‘art’ of the artist’s drawing has for 30 years been the focus of the biennial Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) at the Grafton Regional Gallery (GRG). In this award the drawing is revered not as an aide-mémoire for the artist’s later work but rather as the product of a deliberate creative and expressive artmaking activity.

 

The gallery has as it’s rationale for JADA and the GRG Drawing Collection the following statements:

The award seeks to encourage and promote innovation and excellence and plays a vital role in fostering Australian drawing practice.

The … collection exemplifies the developments and changing parameters of contemporary drawing since 1988. The collection explores the way that drawing resonates as a contemporary medium, demonstrating the relevance and strength of drawing. Works in the collection offer a varied and extensive overview of drawing ranging from highly resolved articulate works to spontaneous expressive works that are mostly retained on the conventional support of paper.

… the collection has attractively developed through the tastes, opinions and approaches of the various judges into a collection that is compelling, thought provoking, innovative, exuberant, and diverse.

 

JADA 2018 Grafton Regional Gallery installation

For those interested in artists in their practice of drawing a visit to the GRG will reveal all. In 2018 fifty-five artworks were selected from 498 entries by a pre-selection panel of suitably qualified persons. The selection of the major JADA award as well as acquisitions for the gallery’s drawing collection were adjudicated by Anne Ryan, Curator of Drawing, Prints and Watercolours from the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

 

What is surprising in the JADA selection is the way in which the techniques and media of drawing the can lead to such a diverse and stimulating variety of artworks. There are works that:

  • Emulate photographs in their fine detail and tonal rendition
  • Are exquisite in the draughtsmanship expressed
  • Show the artist’s use of the drawing to ‘find the edge’ and give shape and form to the subject
  • The emergent use of computer software, digital output, and digital media animation screen presented time-based artworks
  • Express the textural nature of the drawing media on the receiving surface
  • The passing of time in a stilled framed work
  • Explore caricatures
  • Play with simple gestural lines and equally simple ideas

The winner of the $30k 2018 JADA award was Todd Fuller, a Sydney based artist with his work titled Ode to Clarence as described in the Gallery’s website as: a hand drawn and painted animation, created during a residency at Grafton Regional Art Gallery.

The work deals with the current issues in Grafton associated with the building of a new bridge connecting the city with the highway. Through a digitally presented narrative relating to the disruption to the community caused by the terraforming, street changes and house demolitions caused by the bridge building. The work is created as a continuous drawing in parts.

 

 

Some may question how this work is classified as a ‘drawing’ as we usually encounter a drawing as a static artwork in a notebook, on paper or in a frame. As such time-based digital media presentations and other such works present a challenge to the traditional paradigm. These digital media ‘drawings’ may be documentation of drawing projects or of performances commenting on the concept of drawing. As we know there is a significant history of animated drawings presented as moving picture films. It should also be acknowledged that documentation by video might also make visible a drawing work in transformation. Though it might be asked how do these works ‘fit’ with the term ‘drawing’? And when does a drawing cease being a ‘drawing’ and become a work in the discipline of animation or digital media?

Interestingly Fuller’s drawing work uses a technique similar to that used by the artist Blu in his famous street graffiti video documentary MUTO. Blu describes his work as:a seven minute animated mural.

Thoughts such as these will no doubt occupy the minds of many visitors to the JADA exhibition as it travels around the eastern seaboard over the next two years. Whatever the outcome for such thoughts ultimately JADA has provided an important biennial review and space for critical commentary and reflection on the discipline and has stimulated this enquiry. The award also reveals and makes visible the work of artists, it shares their stories and ideas through the discipline of drawing – perhaps the oldest of all human creative endeavours.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

With thanks to Dr Cooper for editorial support

 

JADA 2018 Grafton Regional Gallery installation

 

FOOTNOTE:

Other works acquired for the Grafton Regional Gallery Collection with their $10k allocation are:

  • David Fairbairn Portrait of T.J.K No 1, 
  • Kedal Gear Haze, 
  • Nicci Haynes Drawing Dancing (an animation),
  • Noel McKenna Silent Assassin and
  • Claire Primrose Assembled Landscape 3.

 

An illustrated catalogue of the JADA entries can be downloaded here: 2018_JADA_Finalists_Catalogue

Apart from the Gallery exhibition in late 2018 the JADA will tour regional galleries over the next two years to the following venues; Manning Regional Gallery, Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery, Griffith Regional Art Gallery, Latrobe Regional Gallery and the Tamworth Regional Gallery.

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Text ©2018 Doug Spowart  Photographs of gallery ©2018 Doug Spowart. Copyright of artworks is retained by the artist
Many artworks have been photographed to show the nature of the framing and matting of the work.

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