Wednesday 29 May 2013

Arts Festivals and Self-Image

The other day I was reading an article in The Irish Times on arts festivals around the country and among other things, how exciting they were and seemed to have an edge on regular museums and galleries.  The image below was included in the article; it is a sculpture by David Mach which was placed in a disused space during The Galway Arts Festival last year and drew more than 30,000 visitors. Very impressive figures indeed - I only wished I was among those visitors, as this sculpture of Golgotha looks amazing!

The Wicklow Arts Festival took place last weekend in Wicklow Town, and my husband James had been invited to join a panel to speak about a number of art related issues. While preparing beforehand, going over the topics, case studies and the other panel members a curious but noticeable thing came to light.  As one would expect, all the panel members had a job title after their names as a shorthand for their biography; however, what seemed like "important" job titles were capitalised while anything to do with being an artist was in small case letters. For instance, after my husband's name came the title "Creative Multimedia Consultant/artist", and someone else was an "arts worker" and someone else was a "musician/Teacher".  It struck both me and my husband that this was an odd thing to do for an arts festival event, i.e., place something in the arts as being of less importance than the "day-job".

I thought it was quite a coincidence then when reading an article in Brainpickings "The Pace of Productivity and How to Master Your Creative Routine" that there was a quote from Seth Godin "The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it and especially when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don't feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby."

By placing the "art job" in small case (whether musician, visual artist, writer, arts worker) in this context, I think the organisers of the panel in Wicklow minimised the professionalism of the members of the panel with regard to their art career. While this may be an entirely unconscious act, it reflects psycologically on how the public sees those involved in the arts -- generally as hobbyists. Unfortunately artists rarely openly complain about this (I can be pedantic, and James did raise the issue with the organisers) and I worry that this reflects how artists may all too often see themselves!

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Birthday and Baking

As I tucked in my 11 year old daughter last night, once again I wished her a happy birthday, but I also told her it was the 11th anniversary of the happiest day of my life. Which indeed it was. Here is the finished sketchbook I made for her. 

Last Saturday, we were doing all the prep work for her party with friends on Sunday. Elise loves Pokémon things and picked out which character which was to appear on her cake this year. The cake is chocolate and the icing is a butter icing.

For Monday's celebration, a fondue dinner with my Mum (Nana) was in order, and the cake was decorated a la Jackson Pollock. Again, it was chocolate with a butter icing.

Yesterday, the actual birthday, Elise had Brownies. So we made chocolate muffins which she decorated using the Brownie colours and symbol with a glace icing. None came home after Brownies, so I guess the troop liked them!

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Sculpture and Play!

Slice of the Land is a permanent sculpture created by Fion Gunn for the Zhangjiakou Sculpture Park in Hebei Province, north west China after she participated in an international sculpture symposium outside Beijing last year. It is primarily made of stainless steel and fibreglass but has elements of stone and ceramic which are not apparent in the photo below. Fion is the Irish artist and independent curator based in London who has organised the Irish Wave exhibitions in China for the past 4 years. Recently Fion has set up CATBeijing, a company which provides full tours of the contemporary art scene in Beijing, including translator and guide. The itinerary looks fantastic and I hope to be able to go there myself at some point.  For details check out the website: 

Ever since I saw the first image of Slice of the Land, I was reminded of how much fun I (and my now husband, James) had at the Kröller Müller Museum and sculpture park back in 1992 when we did a trip around Europe (we lived in Toronto at the time, so it was a big trip!).  Certainly Gunn's sculpture has the same inviting sense of play to it that I found with Jean Dubuffet's Jardin d'email.

That day in May 1992 (21 years ago!) James and I were the only people running around on Dubuffet's sculpture. The sculpure is made of painted concrete and epoxy resin and is accessed from the park through steps which lead up a little stairwell inside the sculpture and out a small doorway (seen to the left).

I don't think James meant to look like the wonderful John Cooper Clarke as he ran along, but that is who he reminds me of - see the album cover below!

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Suzanne Osborne and Tindersticks

I love the band Tindersticks and am really taken with their new album "the something rain" (I listened to it A LOT while I was in the attic painting my big egg).  I am excited at the news that they are coming to Dublin in October, at a wonderful small venue, Vicar St.  The last concert I have been to in fact was at Vicar St. where the excellent American bands Low Anthem and Brown Bear played.  This is the only Tindersticks song I could find on YouTube from "the something rain".

Another thing that fascinated me about this cd was the cover, which was obviously a series of paintings. Happily, the cd contained a pullout insert printed with a few of the paintings, and the artist was of course credited. So I googled Suzanne Osborne and found her website, which included the section on "small paintings". She painted the sky daily for a year, and on her website she gives the date and weather conditions the day of the painting. I love the paintings and would love to see them in person. The closest thing for me though will probably be a copy of the limited edition book that Osborne and Stuart Staples (Tindersticks) are putting out together -- Osborne's paintings and Staples' lyrics. My copy is ordered! You can find more information here:

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Making books

I think it was in 1993 that I attended Judith Patterson's one day workshop on book making at the Women's Art Resource Centre in Toronto.  Judith showed the participants the principles and techniques behind basic book making and everyone went home with a medieval style tacket book (the light green one on the top of the pile).  Since then I have been making variations on the theme as gifts for friends and family -- sketchbooks and journals with cardboard, denim, leather, and heavy fancy paper covers.  I have recently started working on a leather cover one for Elise's birthday which is coming up.  Apparently her travel sketchbook (the denim one on which I embroidered her name), which was the first one I made for her, is just about full and she needs a replacement (the cardboard one underneath it, also with her name on it, is too large for travel).  The picture below includes sketchbooks I have made for myself, James and Elise.