Tuesday, August 23, 2011

St Patrick's College Ballarat Art Prize

My work Tree Circle has been selected for the St Patrick's College Ballarat Art Prize.

Where: St Patrick's College Ballarat, Old Collegians Pavilion. (Entry from Wanliss St.)
When: September 7 to September 11 2011.
Gala launch: Wednesday September 7th at 7pm. Entry by ticket from the College.

More information here (go to "Community" and then "Flanagan Art Prize").

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

London and Home

I spent a week in London before heading home.  The riots there erupted the night before I left, but not in central London, and I only found out about them from a TV in the airport as I was waiting for my flight to Australia.

In London I spent time at the Tate Modern and Tate Britain, but I also looked at the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the British Museum, all wonderful institutions.

Ai Weiwei, "Sunflower Seeds" (ceramic), 2010

The Natural History Museum, as well as having some spectacular displays, is a great research institution and holds hundreds of thousands of so-called type specimens.  A type specimen is the first specimen of a species to be described scientifically, and acts as a reference for all subsequent work on that species.

Spectacle: the entrance to the Earth Sciences display in the Natural History Museum

And the Science Museum has a range of material from Stephenson's "Rocket" locomotive (1829) to the Apollo 10 command module, that flew round the Moon in 1969.

Diagram in the Science Museum showing the geometric construction of one of the elaborate illustrations from the Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript

I saw the Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript itself in the British Library (though of course it was only open at one page, which wasn't this one).  The manuscript dates from 700 AD or shortly afterwards, so to see it at all was astonishing enough.

 So ends my grand art tour.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Multi-cultural Paris

My trip is drawing to an end: Rome, Paris, London, home.  I'm now in London.

I spent most of my time in Paris in the Pompidou Centre, looking at the wonderful collections of modern art, contemporary art, and new media; also Brancusi's atelier, which is packed full of his sculptures. 

František Kupka, "Disques de Newton, Étude pour fugue à deux couleurs" (1911-12)

I also saw three exhibitions from or involving non-Western cultures.  The first was a special exhibition at the Pompidou called "Paris-Delhi-Bombay".  Work by Indian artists, and by some European artists responding to Indian culture.  
Subodh Gupta, "Ali Baba" (installation) 

The second exhibition was at the Bibliothèque Nationale, of illuminated Islamic manuscripts from the Bibliothèque's collection.  The accompanying text pointed out something I certainly hadn't appreciated.  Islam spread to cover three main language areas, speaking Arabic, Turkish and Persian.  Religious texts generally did not show animals or humans, so there were some wonderful examples of calligraphy and geometric patterning in the religious works.  But only in the Arabic-speaking area was the ban on showing animals and humans applied to all (or almost all) texts.  Thus there are Turkish and Persian illustrated manuscripts showing warriors and heroes, animals, the constellations represented as people or animals (as the West did also), events from legends or fairy tales, gardens with princes in them, and so on. There was even an anatomical treatise.  Sorry, no photographs, but there is an exhibition website at http://expositions.bnf.fr/islam/.

The third exhibition was of Vodun (Voodoo) objects from West Africa, and claimed to be the first exhibition devoted entirely to these objects.  These are not primarily artworks, but are considered to have magical properties, to ward off harm or to cause harm to one's enemies.  Most of them consisted of a small wooden human-like statue (often with two heads) with additions such as bones, pieces of metal, padlocks and pill bottles, very often bound around with twine.   The exhibition was very well laid out (by the Italian designer Enzo Mari) and ended with a funeral chariot placed in a small pond with black water.  Again no photographs, but there is a website on this material at http://www.vaudou-vodun.com/.

And finally a non-human culture: I went to an exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo that consisted essentially of a large ants' next, filled with large leaf-cutter ants.

Robin Meier and Ali Momeni, "The Tragedy of the Commons" (detail)