Friday, April 25, 2014

The Artist Swap Box Project

I decided on a limb when I saw advertised this international artist swap project that 'what the hell' I will do it. So I registered. I was given the details of my swap partner and the date when to send my package by. Not knowing what type of artist my partner was I just had to hope that what I packaged up with be of some use or benefit. 

As I am a painter I put together an Painter's Box of goodies. I included: A catalogue by Phillip Bacon Gallery "Important Australian Paintings", a homemade tonal value chart, a mini colour wheel, some travel postcards, a lino print of eucalyptus leaves by me, a peacock feather laminated, some blank A5 canvases, a few tools for experimenting and some sticky note words of inspiration.All of this got sent off to my Artist Krista Ruohonen from Finland. This is what she got.

The parcel I received was accompanied by a nice letter about my Artist, who she is, what she does and included a partially complete piece of jewellery, as my swap partner is a Jewellery maker. At first I though...what am I to do with this as she included some bits for me to finish off the piece and make it personal to me. I have had this for a while not knowing what I wanted to do. And then, I thought about adding buttons to the piece of string and tying them to the necklace. It added colour which more reflects me, and I have always liked buttons. I enjoyed the challenge of getting outside my artistic comfort zone.

To see what other people swapped, click here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Bonnet Hat

As a crafty mum making an Easter bonnet hat is as much for your child as it is for you to get crafty. Once again I par-took in the creation of an Easter bonnet/hat for Missy's Kindy parade. 

Last's year's hat I tried to be more authentic in making from scratch. I made a paper mache bowl to represent an egg, stuffed the cup full of yellow paper and made a standing cardboard chick. This however was not a successful head piece as i didn't really think about how it would sit on the head and the curve of the head and the curve of the hat was opposite so it didn't sit well and Missy didn't want to wear it :-( 

So this year, I went simpler, I bought a foam top hat and foam stickers. Missy was able to decorate the hat herself with minimal mess. I PVA glued the rim so she could had the yellow paper. Much happier and more successful!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Art as the Viewer

I attended a book club talk at the Queensland University of Technology Art Museum on Alain de Botton's and John Armstrong's book "Art as Therapy". Though I am yet to read it, I was able to follow the conversation/discussion/debate. From the group of about 30 people, there seemed to be much contention around the authors' style of writing and pitch to the audience. It seems unanimous amongst the group the authors frequently addressed different audiences and was targeted at art enthusiasts and elitists on the matter of art education. A majority of the book club participants despised  the tone of Alain de Botton and contested much of his philosophical opinion, as he has written with art specialist knowledge but not the background to back up his theory. Also, much like his other books, he has a generic 'formula' approach to his philosophy.

What I found interesting about the discussion was the authors' focus on art as therapy for the viewer NOT the maker. The point of the book was to give the viewer 'seven' tools for reading or understanding art and the emotional state which you feel from the artwork, whether good or bad. My point to this is, the authors are just one opinion, one perspective and everything should be taken with a grain of salt and people should seek 2nd and 3rd opinions on matters to deduce their own opinion.

However, this brings me to my next topic as addressed in the book by de Botton, that "people without much of an education in art tend to think that art should be about pretty things". In response to this very point, being able to read or understand art is a learned and taught knowledge. It is not inherent that people can analyse a work of art AND even if they do it is subjective. Unless the artist themself writes about their own work and the meaning behind it, it is all speculative. That said, isn't it the role of public institutions these days to 'educate' the public. And the answer is yes to a degree. Many institutions have taken it upon themselves to have resources and a public program. That in itself could be contentious in that people may take the curator's point of view as being pressed on them, however, just as one should not take de Botton's and Armstrong's opinion is fact, nor should they of the curator's essay. The difference is, a Gallery (the Curator) will research the Artist and the background to the work and provide statements on implied or interpreted intention.

There are many people, the public, who visit galleries and rely on the gallery tours, audio or visual information, catalogue, exhibition panel and didactics to help inform their viewing. Often the problem is that some of this 'helpful' information is becoming too 'academic' for the audience it was intended for, and many non-art educated people I have spoken to say they read the children's didactics due to ease of readability and understanding. The way in which the viewer may approach this is to read the information first and then look at the work or vice-versa. Some Galleries or Curators might be opposed to having information at all for the viewer as they want the work to 'speak' for itself. In the end, it is up to the viewer to choose to read the information or part-take in any other form of exhibition education and accept what has been provided.

None the less, I feel the mixed reviews about the book 'Art as Therapy' and how the topic is about the viewer not the maker is still a mental debate in my mind if I should read it and support the celebrity nature of de Botton as described by the book club enthusiasts as him being.

If you have read the book, feel free to leave your comments on what you liked and didn't like about the book.