October 30, 2005

Christmas is coming?

I left Canadian Spring and arrived in full-force Asian Summer and started over again in Spring when I arrived in Australia. Looking forward to Summer in New Zealand, but all the Christmas decorations that are up in the stores are really confusing me!

Nicola makes really cool hand bags made of fabric, plastic and clear pvc. Her patterns are based on endangered flora and fauna and a percentage of her sales go to a tree project.

The Ian Potter NGV had a whole room of Fred Williams which was really exciting. I re-lived the red landscapes all over again. And then I realized I forgot to tell you that I was in a Fred painting on our bus tour from Adelaide to Melbourne. In daylight we walked on the beach among clumps and lines of seaweed that had been washed up. On closer inspection, the dark masses were more than leafy greens, but also what looked like coiled, flat rubber and reds and yellows. His flat, sandy coloured canvas also contained random sized, thick paint blobs of these exact colours. At sunset, we watched the cute Little Penguins wash up on shore and then throw themselves back in. A few would start the trek towards shelter and then turn around to change their mind and follow the others that continued to play. They were so amazing, such funny creatures! P

Earth's Colours


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Originally uploaded by Art Journey.

The different colours of ochre depend on the amount of iron oxide. P

October 29, 2005

October 28, 2005

Sun!

The Melbourne Cup is on and everyone is going crazy buying their fancy dresses and feathered hats and singing at the top of their lungs in the streets. Yesterday I was taking too many photos of the tram cables and skyscrapers when a group of green t-shirted guys gathered together for me to photograph them! Very funny and suddenly I was in the middle of their swarm to take another pic. It was probably the warmest day I've had in Australia so far so I avoided the galleries and absorbed as much sun in as many parks as I could :) P

October 27, 2005

Melbourne

Fitzroy is a cool part of town with trendy little cafes, clothing stores, galleries and great grafitti. Beautifully printed linens and cute alien-bird finger puppets (Laura!) at Printroom. A display of hand bound books at Port Jackson Press. One was a storybook about someone asking a blob what it will be today? My favourite bookstore of all time was small, but filled completely with books on Chinese fabric patterns, Japanese fashion, sewing, embroidery, beading (Kym!) collage materials, book binding, colour... so I bought a postcard! It is an aerial photo of white birds with their shadows cast onto organic shapes in the ground below. Reminded me of the seagulls and other birds that tried to steal my lunch today. Too bad I see all this amazing stuff but can't really buy it. Actually I also bought a couple peices of lovely gift wrap. Oh and I cannot forget Terri Brooks' display "Painting Forever and Ever". She uses mostly white as a base with some black spray painted lines. The textures mimic corrugated metal, with the drips and scratched lines the works are like grafitti and found art themselves. See, no colour is in! P

October 22, 2005

Adelaide

Checked out the Art Gallery of South Australia that showed mostly older English and Australian paintings. Although there was a room on William Morris who was popular in Adelaide at the time (the special ex. in Sydney was better!) and a couple rooms of contemporary art. One by Brett Whitely who is still my favorite Australian painter. Fred Williams caught my eye as some of his etchings and guaches are so minimal, landscapes represented just as coloured paint dabs on a flat background. I think this is the perfect solution for me, I feel I ruin my work whenever I add full colour to a drawing!

The Jam Factory had some really interesting ideas for glass, ceramics, fabrics and jewelery. Sewing around a detail in the dyed fabric to connect two layers together. Using Klimt's paintings as inspiration to compose a pendant. Many artists are using the subject CHANGE as a concept in their works, whether it's time or politics or the environment. I want to use a version of this idea for some paintings myself. Maybe change in artwork reoccurs because our generation lives in a fast evolving society, maybe it's us who don't want or do want to change frequently, maybe it's the only constant in everyone and our only link to eachother?

I went for a ride along the twisted Torrens River yesterday. The sunny weather worked for me until it rained. It was the first time I have been on a bike since leaving home and it felt so great! I really miss my bike. I really miss being fit. I really miss the routine I left because I was sick of routine. It was the first time I really looked forward to being back home. P

October 20, 2005

South Australia

The rain is definitely following me, but it has been an unusually large amount of rain that has brought about some not so ordinary circumstances in the middle of this hot, dry desert that I have only seen as cold and wet. South Australia is the driest area in the world, but not these days! The high Todd River running past our hostel is usually a dry river bed. Some said they haven't seen this much water for years. We had a delay in our trip when there was a slight obstacle in the road... a 3 foot high river! Our driver swore he had never seen anything like this and was hesitant to cross in case water got inside the engine and killed our bus. Then we'd be another of those gutted, dead cars on the side of the road! Everyone who had to stop got out to take photos of all the trucks passing through. After enough had survived, we crossed with a tarp across the front and made it safely, yay!

It was a 2 day, 1500km drive from Alice Springs, down a long, straight road to Adelaide. The landscape seemed to change every couple of hours, starting with the rugged mountains to flat areas of grass clumps in red sand. Suddenly there were green bushes, which then turned into a forest of trees and then back to absolutely nothing for miles. Past a shimery white salt lake where the light blue water matched the sky exactly. Soft rolling hills with divided farmland into squares of golden yellows, lime greens and deep green bushes lining the borders.

Our Stop for the night was in Coober Pedy, the Opal capital in the world where half the population lives in dugouts cut out of the side of the hills. This area gets so hot during the day and so cold during the night, these hideaways are perfect for protection against the harsh weather. Surrounding us where small mounds with pointed peaks... all dirt that had been dug out searching for the precious stones. Opal had been created from the sands beneath the sea. The layers had compressed back into stone which I thought was unusual. I had always thought of stone only turning into sand, thinking eventually there would be no rock. P

October 17, 2005

Alice Springs

I pictured the middle of Australia being a really hot desert... WRONG! I happen to arrive durring day-after-day of clouds and downpours. Although it has prevented me from seeing the best sunsets and made my decision not to rent a bike today, the gray skies still bring out the luminosity of the brilliant red earth and bright lime greens in the grass.

This is the place to buy Aboriginal artwork, there are so many galleries. One woman named Minnie Pwerle is 95 years old but produces really attractive paintings. She mostly uses body art patterns mixed with bush melons in bright orange and yellows or blue and purples or pink and oranges. Colours very different from the traditional ochres that are found all over this area.

Part of the trip yesterday was to Ochre Gorge, a huge, long wall of colours from white-light yellow-deep yellow-orange-green-red-purple... it was amazing! The softest colour was the yellow that worked just like chalk pastel. I want to say ochre, but this word describes this whole variety of colours that all contain iron oxide. The more iron, the redder and darker the colour. I quickly snapped a million pics as we only had a few minutes to look around. I could have stayed all day using these natural pigments for my paintings!

The landscape was truely amazing and you could easily spend a week seeing all the formations in this transit town that people usually only stay for a night or two. Australia broke off of Antartica and South East Asia and New Zealand broke off of Australia. A huge sea used to sit within the middle of this country which formed the mountain ranges and strange rocks of mixed sand and stone. Along with the rain and wind and moving earth, the ground has shifted upwards and carved through by the main river systems. What remains now are huge flat valleys surrounded by lines of mountains and rolling hills, gorges and gaps, cliffs and waterholes. The cross sections of earth are revealed so you can see the way the land has rose and fallen. Slats of rock point in diagonals, layers form curved arches and caves and everything is mish-mashed together at odd angles. Sometimes the earth moved an entire 90 degrees, showing vertical wedges, like at Ochre Gorge.

And some beautiful wildlife: a Rainbow Bee Eater bird (so colourful!), a Comorant (maybe?) duck (all black with a white beak), a Rock Wallaby (like a miniture kangaroo) so cute and furry, but can apparently rip through your flesh if it's cornered, yikes! No snake or spider sightings yet, yay! P

The Centre of the Outback

Oh, woh, a lot to catch up on! The cost of everything was ginormous at Ayers Rock so I sadly had to avoid internet. So here I am in Alice Springs, but first I have to describe the 2 wonders 6 hours from here.

Ayers Rock is Uluru and is a fascinating rock that changes colours throughout the entire day. My first glimpse of it close up was a huge black silhouette as we drove towards it in the very early morning. The sky was already light before the sun appeared above the horizon. Uluru gradually lightened into a brown and dark long shadows, showing the tall clumps of rock. Soon, circular holes appeared and gradually more detail was seen within them. Suddenly, the sun hit it and the emmense rock glowed bright vertical stripes of orange and black. It popped out of the sky, hundreds of cameras clicked, and moments later everyone hopped back into their cars to leave. Can we ever have enough sunrises and sunsets? No! Because I saw them several times within those few days and each one was completely different.

More exciting was the Olgas, known as Kata Tjuta, which is a group of several rocks. Their bulby roundness and strange angles make them so unique, I felt I was walking on a different planet! The highest rock is 200m higher than Uluru and has a "Magrite" surreal composition with the bright red walls on each side and the perfect flat sky behind and a white moon pasted in the middle of the gorge. I really don't think I was on earth!

Our very informative driver Simon, used to be a traveling journalist and has taken photos all over the world. I showed him the cute, furry catapillar I saved on a stick from being trampled on in the middle of a path. He said, when threatened, they shoot out their long hairs like daggers at the enemy! I'm glad the catapillar and I are friends. P

October 10, 2005

Bondi Beach

I'm still in a bit of shock being in such cold weather... today was the highest so far, 23 C's! Nice for spring temperatures I suppose but quite the contrast from living in the sticky humidity of Asia to wearing all 2 of my sweaters at the same time :)

A few of us headed over to Bondi and lay on the white sand watching the surfers disappear into the high crashing waves. Their wetsuits making them look like a bunch of seals, a Christine observation. There is a scenic walk that takes you along the coast of white water splashing against the cliffs. It was just as hypnotising as the water at Uluwatu in Bali. From deep down, the splashes would come half way up, and then fall slowly, in what seemed like light droplets, until they pounded back down on the water's surface. I want to paint the group of seagulls flying against the wind, lifting and falling from it's power, with the lines of white caps and deep blue water behind them.

Happy Thanksgiving Canada! Maybe someone can save some turkey for me?! P

October 09, 2005

How many more artists can there be?!

There are some great displays up at the Powerhouse that had everything from the first wooden-canvas plane to fly from Sydney to Melbourne to a display of leading Japanese fashion designers, including Yohji Yamamoto. The fashion show was exciting too, using found fabrics and existing clothing and recycling them into a new garment. Also, an exhibition on the master of repeat patterns, William Morris. He strived for the best quality and must have had an awesome home: "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Wandering around Paddington I glimpsed through a few more galleries, but a little late in the day for a Sunday. I think I'm galleried out now! It will be good to pass through different scenery at the big red rock of Uluru before heading to Melbourne. Coming up in only 2 days! P

October 08, 2005

Blue Mountains, Wildlife, Art

Every night, when the sky is still darkening, just before it is completely black, thousands of fruit bats fly directly above our rooftop from the Botanical Gardens to someplace South of us. The large soaring mass lasts about 5 minutes and is a hynotic display.

The Blue Mountains were not as blue as I had thought but there was still a blueness filling the valley. An hour and 20 minute trek led us down steep stairs that took us into the gorge. We passed 3 rock formations called the 3 Sisters that stood out as layered piles of different colours of rock sticking out from the other cliffs. Wentworth Falls (300 meters!) was built the same way. Also a couple of red parrots with brilliant blue wings. And fortunately, none of the poisonous snakes or spiders we read about on the drive up. Most exciting was the ride back up, claiming to be the steepest train in the world. Like a Wonderland ride, we shot up the mountain with the rock wall cut close on either side of us. Going up, the walls gradually came in closer, the light becoming narrower, until we were in complete darkness... and then it was over. Fun!

And then were the hopping kangaroos and white feathered cocatoos! The hind leg and foot on Roo was so big, quite amazing to see in real life. And the birds with a green tuft waving on top of it's head. They looked like angels when they flew away.

Today was great too, saw some young talent in the Museum of Contemporary Art and a display of clothing, the designers being as young as 16. One girl silkscreens and uses a paintbrush directly onto suit jackets, describing "I use garments as my canvas". The Ken Done Gallery was so playful... bright bold colours with objects just splashed on the page, but still great compositions. He had actually started as an art director, and at 40 gave up the advertising world to use his marketing skills to produce tshirts. They were so successful with the tourists, he got rich (this is the key!) and was able to paint. Still living in Sydney, he has an entire gallery of his own work that changes with new paintings every couple of months. So I scrapped my patient detailed sketching habits and quickly scribbled a representation of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, Done-style. P

October 06, 2005

Sydney

Sydney has so many galleries that I'm going crazy trying to choose which ones to visit. But from what I'm reading, Melbourne sounds even better! My first day was at the New South Wales Gallery which had a few contemporary aboriginal paintings. The main floor displayed some great modern peices... I have my photo beside Brett Whiteley's giant "The Balcony 2" which I absolutely love. One of Whistler's gray landscapes made me remember to not forget the older artists. Then there was a special exhibition on Margaret Preston, the most famous female Australian artist. Her work morphed from still life paintings to pottery and woodblock prints (my favourite phase) and then back to painting, but with a much more Aboriginal style she gained when discovering rock drawings later in her life. I really started to relate to this woman's work, especially when I saw a book full of Japanese patterns she had used as colour reference. Also her interest in flat patterns, flower subjects, and even her published illustration used to map out new rock paintings as they were discovered way back in the (30-40's?).

Yesterday I went to Manly beach, but before heading out with a few new Dutch friends, I met an old man. Steven saw me taking photos of the funny Ibis birds in Hyde Park and when I told him I'm a graphic designer he got all excited and showed me his membership card to a Poets Society. He said, "I must give you some advice that you should never forget... (long pause)... There are not bad things in the world, there is only bad thinking." I'm not sure if he wrote this himself but as he walked away shaking his finger at me very seriously, and as much as I really like the quote, I wondered why he had to tell ME this? P

October 04, 2005

Indonesia Photos


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Originally uploaded by Art Journey.

It's been 5 months already! More photos up of Bali and the trip to Java. See you! P

October 02, 2005

Bali October 1st

My condolances to those who lost friends or loved ones in the Bali bombings last night. I was shocked to hear it happened again and only a few days after I was there. But more important, are the people who are still there... my heart is with you. I can't imagine why anyone would want to destroy anything or anyone so beautiful. P

Singapore for the 2nd time!

Feel like I'm retracing my steps now! But Singapore just happened to have a children's day at the Esplanade and managed to get me inspired all over again. I revisited the Jendela Gallery that had an exhibition called Boxed Out. All the paintings were produced by 10 children involved with the Haroobee Studio art classes. From ages 6-11, these kids created amazing works of art! Some in only black and white outlines, others using pallette knives, fingers, squeezing paint directly from the bottle onto the canvas. I was stunned at the realistic animals by Kasia, and Zihnang's professional looking brushstrokes, using long drips of paint as rain. The best were abstracts by Daniel, the youngest! One titled "Heavenly Food, Chocolate Chip" was so good, I'll post the photo later. And I was allowed to take photos so I went crazy.

Watching the video of them working in progress made me think, why do I need to think so hard about my art? I calculate what materials and colours I'll use, plan the composition, build it around a concept, have reference material, all before I even make 1 brush stroke! And these kids would just go, drawing confident lines non-stop. It all came from the mind as a continuous flow of concentration and enjoyment, which resulted in fabulous peices. P

October 01, 2005

Tioman

Maybe because Tioman Island is so tiny on the flat map, that I didn't expect the grandeur of it's tall profile. The entire length was made up of overlapping mountains that suceedingly became fainter, the further they were. The tops of the peaks disappeared behind huge white puffy clouds that reflected into the smooth, blue, wavy sea.

I had the best snorkling yet! A tiny Rengis Island is really just a pile of a few rocks with some trees growing on top. But underneath the water was a carpet of the most colourful coral I've ever seen. I couldn't believe my eyes at how much there was and how far I could see in the clear water. If anyone else had been around, they would have heard my muffled snorkle saying "oh, it's so beautiful, oh my god, wow...". Actually, maybe that's why the barracudas were eyeing me so strangely! And they were big, their thin, white bodies almost 3 feet in length. They came so close I could see dozen's of teeth pointing out of their long mouths. There were so many of them circling around me, and a couple were not so far away on either side as they followed me swim around the island. I think they wanted to be my guide! Thousands in schools flickered from the sun in blues and yellows. Ooo, and there was a jelly fish which glided over my shoulder like a small plastic bag. That made me decide to get out of the water. I sat on the dock waiting for my boat and watching the skinny "tom" fish fly out of the water.

Closer to my end of the beach was a pier, with no coral, but amazing big fish. The parrots were bright green, pink and blue. Brilliant orange spotted guys, a white sting ray, and these small shark-like fish, that were the thickness of an eel. They were black and white with a flat circled head and slithered around my legs which made me shrieeeeeek! The water was so deep, I could only see the fish swimming metres up from the dark hole below. Wow. P