Wednesday 29 January 2014

Maritime Alps - details

I am enjoying being back to work on the triptych I started before breaking for Christmas. I thought I would post a few in progress details. This is a closeup of an area of foreground rock with sea behind.

The background mountains and the top of the mother figure's head.

A detail of the mother figure reaching for her young son on the rocks.

And a detail of the other two climbing figures, where the view of the landscape is still apparent.

Of course, it has all changed (though not "utterly") as these are pictures from yesterday and I was up in the studio painting this morning! Happy days!

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Doing and Making!

My colleague at the office is teaching a number of us how to crochet during lunches. For Christmas she most generously made and gave each of her students a beautiful bookmark (mine is centre, light green and pink). I have started on the next project, a small tote bag -- the rich green circles are my work. The items are laid out on the beautiful purple shawl one of my sisters made for me a number of years ago, and the sparkly purple earring was also made for me by the same sister. When making a Christmas stocking for my daughter I utilised the fine crochet work of my grandmother; originally this was trim for a set of pillow cases (which have long since disintegrated being made close to a hundred years ago!)

I made a list of all the people I wanted to make books for this year and started to work. I would not call this a production line, but while I was preparing paper for one book, I just did the tearing for the rest! I am making both leather and "eco" books (ready-made covers from recycled packaging cardboard!). I have two leather books completed.

And hurray! I have been back up in the studio painting my triptych friend "Maritime Alps" which has been so patient over the Christmas holiday period. This was the progress as of last week.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Inspired by Eileen Gray

In the spring of 1980 I went to New York for the first time as part of the school trip while in second year of Central Technical School's 3-Year Special Post Secondary Art Course. Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a fantastic experience and there was a major exhibition of the work of Eileen Gray. The exhibition showed examples of all types of work: paintings, drawings, architecture, photography and furniture design. I remember being amazed by her painted furniture and screens especially. I had an old DIY set of drawers that had been passed down to me by one of my sisters and that summer decided it needed some freshening up. Althought somewhat battered by my frequent moves (especially in the 80s) I still have the set of drawers with irises painted on them. Here is a detail. The irises are based on the variety which grew at the side of the porch at the house in Toronto where I grew up.

Before my daughter was born, my husband found an old cabinet in a skip that he thought we might make use of. I cleaned and painted the tulip and rose rain cabinet (middle) in the 2001, adding a new wooden knob. We bought a changing mat and it became the changing table for our new baby in 2002, with storage for diapers, cream, wet ones, etc. It is now the end table by her bed with lamp on top and lego and DS games and paraphernalia inside. The pink and buttercup drawers (right) were a very tired dressing table, given to me from a neighbour. I again added new wooden knobs and removed the mirror before painting. The purple daisy locker (left) was part of a bedroom suite that my older brother gave me in 2002 when he was updating his own furniture. He had seen my painted furniture and knew I would turn it into something when I had a chance. I must have painted it while my daughter was napping, it is dated 2003!

A few years later I had a chance to paint the clover cabinet/dressing table for my daughter. Again this originally was a very dull piece of furniture, part of the suite given to me by my brother (thanks Bro!).

The ash berry wardrobe was the last piece from the suite, painted for my daughter in 2008.

My husband lowered the hanging bar and added another shelf before I painted the inside.

With no more furniture to paint, I happily took part in The Big Egg Hunt Dublin a year ago, and had another irregular 3-dimensional surface to paint on! The event was a fund-raiser for children's charity The Jack and Jill Foundation, and my egg was part of the auction. It now resides in IBM Legal Services in Dublin!

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Eileen Gray at IMMA

After being closed for renovations at least a year, IMMA re-opened last October with what was touted as a spectacular and comprehensive exhibition of work by Eileen Gray. I came across an exhibition of Gray's work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on my first art-school visit to New York in 1980, and was incredibly inspired by her work so I was looking forward to this exhibition. I was getting anxious as the closing date was drawing near (next week!) but finally found the time yesterday after attending a site meeting in the morning. While the exhibition was "comprehensive" in that it included information on all aspects of her work -- architecture, collage, carpet design, furniture design, photography, painting and lacquer work it actually seemed very dry. I was disappointed, not in the work, but in the curation. The National Museum has an extensive archive of Eileen Gray letters and photographs, many of which were borrowed for this exhibition. Rather than supporting the objects it seemed that the objects were supporting the archival documents. There was a disconnect between the viewer and the work. For instance, the beautiful lacquer screen below was displayed in a glass-fronted solid box totally defeating the purpose of the screen! Gray had designed this divider screen specifically so that what was on the other side of the divider could still be glimpsed. The layout of the IMMA exhibition space is such that the screen could have easily been accommodated by displaying between rooms (many of which were divided by ropes anyway so that you had to go out to the hall to get into another room!). As the view of all 3 dimensional items was limited to one perspective, I thought there was a severe lack of imagination on the curator's part. I distinctly remember being able to walk around large pieces of furniture and screens at the exhibition in New York.

Again, the asymmetrical cupboard below was roped off with the wall directly behind so the audience got a straight, head on view only . The didactic said the cork drawers were lined with silver leaf. I would have liked to see it, not just read about it!

It was a pleasure to see some of the tiny collage/paintings which reminded me of Kasimir Malevich's work. It was easy to understand how Gray developed her interest in carpet design and I was glad to see some completed carpets in this exhibition.

This very vibrant screen was NOT in the Dublin exhibition, but it seemed familiar, so maybe I saw it in New York. The funny thing about being inspired by Eileen Gray in 1980 was that I had no idea that she was Irish -- born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford the town where my mosaic panel "Gorse" resides at the Enniscorthy Community Hospital. The Metropolitan still has her listed as a British artist, so perhaps that is a reason why I did not realise she is was Irish till about 10 years ago.