Tom Carment’s “Womerah Lane”

 

I used the excuse of a recent significant birthday to treat myself to the just- released memoir by Tom Carment, Womerah Lane: lives and landscapes.

 

I think of Carment’s paintings as honest and faithful – both to his subject and to his process. Most often his works are  modestly sized, sitting quietly amongst the crowd of the Archibald Prize;  the Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize; the Wynne and Sulman; the Dobell Biennial; Mosman Art Prize and many other exhibitions.

Were I the judge, he’d receive the prize every time. He’s regularly received formal recognition over  his long career of course, but it’s easy for his works to slip through the net. They don’t have the vivid drama or commanding scale of works that may go on to become popular favourites – though I doubt the artist would find that too troubling.

 

Coledale Camping ground

2013, watercolour on paper, 11 x 15cm

 

Images of artworks – plein air and still lives – are peppered throughout this memoir that takes a long look over the artist’s career.  Carment’s writing is indeed, as Helen Garner commented, just like his painting: gentle and understated. He has a deep love of country, speaking fondly of travels to far-flung properties of friends and family. Much of his travelling is done on pushbike, affording him the time for a rich appreciation of the countryside as he quietly passes through. He describes how he will stop and simply set up to paint a scene that strikes him. Many images he paints have been painted before, some many times over the years. The artworks themselves are a journal of sorts.

 

Afternoon shadow, William Street, 1989

oil on linen, 100 x 87

It’s a sign of a master when a description  of a quotidian object like a potato or an egg manages to cause true visual excitement…

 

Two eggs, 2017

oil on linen, 15 x 20cm

 

Tom and potatoes

 

As a painter myself, I perhaps predictably most enjoy those sections where Carment speaks of his actual painting process – his rucksack set up with a certain small number of favourite colours; a self-designed box to transport wet oil paintings so they are held secure but separate. Over the years he has honed his technique and keeps to the bare minimum what he must lug about. Painting, like writing, is always about what you keep and what you leave behind.

 

 

Alex Olivetto, oil on linen, 41 x 51cm, 2o17

 

 

 

 

IAVA Art Sale at Clifton School of Arts

 

Lovely to be exhibiting at Clifton School of Arts in the summer time. It’s a fabulous venue, with that sparkling ocean view from all windows. This weekend there are cut-throat prices on everything. I’m showing with Lara Seresin, Mary Wingrave, Judy Bourke, Gillian Day, Alannah Dreise, Julie Donnelly, Sue Smalkowski, Mel Ritchie, Arja Välimäki and Jennifer Jackson.

We’ve taken spaces and set them up as little booths, just like the Sydney Art Fair. So it’s busy – a true feast for the senses. Come on down!

IAVA Art Sale

Clifton School of Arts (immediately south of Seacliff Bridge, Clifton)

Fri 6 Dec / Sat 7 Dec / Sun 8 Dec

10am till 4pm

Drinks with the artists 2pm on Saturday 7 Dec.

ALL WELCOME

ALL WELCOME TO MY PLACE

After planning for most of the year, finally it’s time to invite you all over. I’m holding an Open Studio and Art Sale…

 

It’s basically a little solo show, but I’ve raided the store room (now THAT was scary) and pulled out lots of older works, available for – as they say –  crazy prices.

I’ve also created a whole lot of tiny pieces for a tiny price, so everyone can have a little piece of Moira in their life…

Yes there will be champagne. Yes there will be nibbles.

Come on down!

OPEN STUDIO & ART SALE

Sat 9th Nov & Sun 10th Nov, 9 till 4.

32a Squires Crescent Coledale 2515

cash or card | prices from $20 | original artworks

Need wheelchair access? Give me a call or text first so I can make sure the driveway is free….0400374362

 

Community in action: Scarborough Art Show 2019

This is a fabulous annual fundraiser for Scarborough Public School. The Scarborough Art Show makes a whole heap of money by doing a whole heap of hard work.

Everyone enters work in the show, and thousands of people go through over the weekend. There’s also live music and contributions from the pupils of the school. I’m always delighted to be involved with a show that is so professionally run… all power to them.

Scarborough Art Show

Oct 12+13, 10 till 4

Scarborough Public School, Lawrence Hargrave Drive Scarborough

 

One of my entries for this year:

 

Memories of machines

2018, mixed media on paper, 56 x 76cm

 

 

Love your work – group exhibition coming up

YAY! I just love to exhibit with people whose work I admire. Mission accomplished…


I’ll be exhibiting with Jennifer Jackson, Liz Jeneid, Susan McAlister, Julie Donnelly and Mary Wingrave.  SVES is a lovely, light filled space and it’s great to be showing there again.

Love your work

Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space

cnr Addison & Wentworth Streets Shellharbour

OPENING EVENT: Sat 28 Sept @ 2pm

To be opened by the incomparable Anita Larkin

Show runs 25 Sept – 7 Oct, Wed- Sun + Mon Pub Hol, 10am till 4pm

Free entry, refreshments provided, gallery is accessible. Come on down!!

Winter exhibition at Camden

 

Well, this is nice. A new opportunity has arisen for me through Nan Howard at Camden Fine Art Gallery. The Gallery doesn’t have a permanent shop front any more: rather, Nan conducts ‘pop-up’ style shows throughout the year at Camden Civic Centre.

Apart from my own work, you have the chance to see work by my award-winning compadre Jennifer Jackson who has been exhibiting with Nan for many years.

One of my little darlings:

 

Buttons in the city

2019, mixed media on A4 paper

Thread IV @ Red Point Gallery

Yep, it’s on again! I’m delighted to be exhibiting with Julie Brockenshire, Liz Trujillo, Anne-Marie Hayes and Gail Wistow in this fourth iteration of the Thread series. Art is the thread that binds us….

 

Paintings, drawings, ceramic figures and installation – it’s a solid show and it’s great to be a part of it. Come and see!

Thread IV

Red Point Gallery, 100 Wentworth Street Port Kembla

Opening Event Saturday 13 April @ 2pm

Show runs 11-28 April

Gallery hours Wed – Sun, 10 till 4pm

Fee admission, refreshments provided, all welcome. Gallery is wheelchair accessible.

Hey, and thanks Ella Molinia of UOWTV for taking the great vid…

Thread IV connects artists in Port Kembla

 

Wanting

 

John Olsen, The tree of life, oil on canvas, 152 x 182cm

Wynne Prize Finalist 2018

 

I know I’m not alone when I express a desire to be included, just once, in a major exhibition. Something like the Wynne Prize or the Mosman Art Prize.

These exhibitions have a tradition and a prestige in the Australian art scene. Every year many hundreds of suckers like me – wannabes, I guess – pay our $50 or so to have a chance to be considered as  Finalists.

Oh,  I’ve done all the math. Just over 5 % of submissions end up on the walls as  Finalists in the Wynne prize. Now if a Doctor gave you only a 5% chance of contracting  some dread disease, you’d go, ‘Oh! Ok well that’s fine then. I’m home and hosed.’

Yep…a 95% chance of missing out. My $50 – which didn’t get into my pocket all that easily – down the drain yet again. Why. Why. Why do I persist?

One friend tells me  philosophically that she regards it as her “Annual donation to the Art Gallery of NSW”,  wryly acknowledging her slim chances of selection. Another friend has long ago decided he’ll never attempt it, as the continued rejection is too disheartening. Both of them have good arguments, and yet I keep on.

 

 

Andrew Sullivan, T-rex (tyrant lizard king), oil on canvas, 152.5 x 213cm

Winner, Sulman Prize 2014

 

 

I’ve figured out what the hook is. I want to be with the Big Kids. Dammit, I want to BE a Big Kid. Not for fame or fortune (though they’d be fine, thank you.) I think it’s about being seen  (by who????) to be in their gang. Esteem? Peer recognition? It’s something along those lines I reckon. And yet, what arrogance is this? (Put the concept of ‘talent’ aside, please – I’ve always considered this to be mainly superstitious claptrap.) No, most of it comes down to practice. Lots and lots and then, surprise, lots more. Practice. Faithfulness to the craft. The people who are really on the top are so very dedicated. I don’t come close.

Ok,  but  I still want to throw my hat in the ring because… You Never Know. And the success of these prestigious shows – and the vast amounts of money that are generated from the $50 per entry – is dependent on so many entering. It’s good professional practice, too, to work to a deadline, get your work entered. Every time I do that, I am in fact playing with the Big Kids because ALL the Big Kids have to do that as well, each and every time. Somehow they make time to do this.

The secret is Not to Think Too Much About It.

Put in your entry. Blow it a kiss. Now leave it alone: get on with your work. Back into the studio and focus your attention where it truly needs to be: in creating something worthwhile.

I read a quote somewhere and will no doubt misquote, but it goes something like: ” don’t seek to have your work recognised. Rather, seek to create work worthy of recognition”. It’s an important distinction. Don’t go chasing the ego-driven outcome. Instead focus on the profound, some say sacred, act of being an agent of creation. Stay humble. Keep working.

Momentarily she felt at one with the Universe

2019, acrylic on board, 122 x 82cm

My entry for this year’s Sulman Prize.

 

 

 

 

MASTERS OF MODERN ART FROM THE HERMITAGE

These big shows overwhelm me. Apart from the audience crowds there’s the celebrity of the artworks themselves, with their big, colourful personalities. Indeed, it’s colour (and at the end, its absence) that really is this show’s theme.

Summer blockbusters are crowdpleasers, and for that you can’t go past Monet. The mark-making of his Poppy field is rough as hell but tonally it’s perfect. Standing in front of this, you squint through the sunshine; feel the breeze riffle your hair.

 

Claude Monet (1840-1926), Poppy field, 1890/91, oil on canvas, 61 x 92 cm

 

It was fabulous to see two whole wall of Matisses, although like John McDonald I wasn’t a fan of the glaring yellow wall colour. It did make me feel the heat of the Mediterranean though.

Game of Bowls  is both puzzling and magnetic. It doesn’t seem like anything much, and I’m often not a fan of his figuration (there, I’ve said it in print. Yikes…) but it was very hard to drag my eyes away from this one. Once again Matisse nails both forms and tone: the rhythmic positioning of the almost – black heads and balls is delicious.

 

Henri Matisse (1869-1954 )  Game of Bowls, 1908, oil on canvas,115 x 147 cm

 

I came across an artist I’ve not heard of, whose work was a welcome respite from some of the noisy psychedelia of the show. It allowed me some breathing room and I found it soothing. Albert Marquet is associated with the Fauves but his palette is as you can see much more restrained, for which I was grateful.

Again, tones win the day and I found the light in this, as well as the composition, both balanced and satisfying. I especially enjoyed the quiet interplay between the sequences of oar/standing figure in the foreground and middle ground, with the outline of mast and rigging in the distance. This linear discussion considered and over with, we could then enjoy the quiet saturation of the sky at the top of the work, before discovering on the right side of the work a gentle echo of the previous conversation. More on Albert Marquet here.

 

Albert Marquet (1875-1947 ) Bay of Naples, 1909, oil on canvas, 62 x 80.3 cm

 

For all the visual excitement of those colour-saturated Moderns, it’s Malevich’s Black Square that has gotten under my skin. I didn’t expect this.

That period, the first decade or two of the 20th century, saw several artists experimenting with the strange new ideas of abstraction – Kandinsky; Mondrian; af Klint – and each of these with some sort of spiritual component to their concerns.

I stand before Black Square with a century of Abstraction under my belt. It could never possibly hope to convey the original meaning. It was created at a time of great change and excitement in art, however very soon it would become increasingly dangerous for artworks to be created if they were seen to create ‘public unrest’ or were ‘decadent’. It’s  hard to get a good sense of that today. Malevich was ok up until Stalin’s takeover in the 1920s. After that his career didn’t do so well and at times he was obliged to create socialist realism  posters for the State.

In its inaugural exhibition,  0.10 in 1915, Black Square was positioned high in the corner of the room. The ‘red corner’ or ‘beautiful corner’ was where an icon painting would hang in a traditional Russian home. [1] For Malevich to adopt such a presentation spoke eloquently about how he regarded his work, and the ideas behind the work.

Malevich was trying to get away from the pictorial, the descriptive and invent a new language, where a painting was not descriptive of something, but- like an icon – was an object of magic in itself. This was Suprematism. Phillip Shaw from the TATE tells us that Malevich announced  that ‘To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling’.[2]

In recognition of the superlative nature of Malevich’s ideas – and he is considered one of the founding fathers of Abstraction –  the Curators at the AGNSW have given the work a wall of its own, and it is the final statement in the show.

 

Kasimir Malevich (Ukraine, 1878-1935 ) Black Square, this version 1932 but originally 1913, oil on canvas, 53.5 x 53.5cm

 

But Black Square in 2018 is small, cracked and…well, humble. It comprises simple materials that are now, naturally, degrading. There is something about its uncompromising presence that I found moving just as we may be moved when reading the headstone of someone famous.

All the artists in the show are long dead, but I don’t feel like this about any of the others. Maybe it’s the nakedness of it; like the bald head of a monk. It’s not showing virtuosity or brilliance. We’re not transported by the fascinating composition or saturated colours. It’s unapologetic and at one time was very sure of itself. And as we know, this never lasts.

It ended up talking to me of human endeavour, exploration and courage. It stood for the endless ways artists will come to the creative act.

 

 

[1] https://tmora.org/happening-now/online-exhibitions/a-homespun-life-textiles-of-old-russia/complete-diorama/red-corner/

[2] Kasimir Malevich, The Non-Objective World: The Manifesto of Suprematism (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2003), p. 67            quoted in Shaw, Philip: The art of the sublime: Malevich’s Black Square, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/the-sublime/philip-shaw-kasimir-malevichs-black-square-r1141459

The creative

 

Choose your own path, 2018

mixed media on A5 paper

 

It took a long time before I realised that one must answer the call to create. Not just when I felt like it. Not just when I felt inspired or had time. There is a respect that must be paid to …well…whomever or whatever you  call it. That divine wellspring. The origin.  This is a poem about that.

 

The creative 

This  the demand:

 …your ‘yes’ must be oceanic. Wide, glad-hearted. Dark

is OK: troubled, turbulent, all that, just keep on. The shoreline

shows up only at your final depletion…

 

Her skin is hot, her arms  a drawstring strained

around kids, lover, home.

 

Here’s her mouth loosening. A howl, a torrent

down her cheeks as out she wades.

 

Oh brave and brave, knowing herself

insufficient, yet strangely perfect for the job.

 

(for A.C.)