Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Friday Report

This week the painters have finally put paint on my studio walls and more work has been done on the electricity.
As we have had a series of visitors and I was interviewed by the local paper, I spent quite a bit of time tidying my temporary studio in the front living room to make it look a bit more picturesque. I can’t wait to have my own space again.
The interview with the local paper brought up those issues of identity that I discussed here earlier in the week. I entered a competition, The Mural of Survivorship, associated with the October Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. I was eager to support the cause and give hope to women battling the disease but I am an artist who survived a medical condition and not someone with breast cancer who took up painting so I was not sure about the publicity but finally decided it would have been less than gracious to refuse the interview!
The Southern Highlands Artist Studio Trail is on this weekend so today I’m going to visit the studios of several local artists. Last night we went to an opening at the Robertson Community Centre that was part of the weekends events. We had a wonderful time and met lots of locals. Artists, film makers, hobby farmers and other locals gathered in the community hall while the children climbed trees in the gardens and ran around as the mist descended on Robertson. Wine flowed and there was an abundance of beautiful food. It felt so good to be part of the rural arts community - so different from the cool sophisticated gallery openings in the city. I met Anika Ekholm, architect and sculptor, and Carlos Barrios, painter, from Studio 40 in Robertson. They have invited me to their studio so I am looking forward to the visit.

Untitled. Work in progress.

I have managed few hours in the studio this week and have been continuing to make small works on canvas. I am very happy with the way the new technique is progressing. I also made some enquiries about rental spaces in Sydney with view to showing there in 2011.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Beauty of Symmetry

Candice Herne sent me this link because she knows i love mathematics and geometry and that the Alhambra is my favourite building in the world.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How Do I Define Myself

Susan Buret. Portmanteau. 2009 ©. Detail.

Most of the work I make has dealt with ideas of definition, categorization and identity and it is only recently that I have explored ideas of displacement from a more subjective viewpoint. As someone new to the community I have to introduce myself and find that I am often asked to describe myself or my work. What is expected as a reply is a short answer which will give the person to whom I am talking a 'snapshot' of Susan Buret, artist, and will be the deciding factor as to whether the conversation or friendship will continue. I find this very difficult even though I have been taught that I should always have my elevator blurb at the ready.
In a recent post Joanne Mattera discussed the negative effects of categorization that arise when an adjective is used before the term artist. I had not really thought about this issue before but over-description does result in being consigned to a 'ghetto'. Have you experienced this when you have been asked to describe your work in a social or professional encounter.
I am going to work on a new elevator blurb which hopefully I will post soon.  

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Friday Report

Susan Buret. See All Without Looking.(Detail). 2006.© Acrylic, Shredded Visa Document
 and Ink on Canvas.75cm x 3755cm. 

The weeks gallop along. I don’t know if I imagine it, but does the western clock run faster in the 3 months before Christmas? I don’t hold any specific religious beliefs so it can only be from the comments of others and references in the media that I get this feeling of racing time. Here in the southern hemisphere the days are growing longer so it doesn’t make much sense at all. (I want to end this paragraph with a punctuation mark which expresses bewilderment, searching, question to the universe. At a time when new words and symbols appear in electronic communications I think there is a place in language for a new punctuation mark).
As the week whooshed by the builders finished up in my studio on Tuesday. I am still not in there as the painter and electrician can’t come until next week. I still have this nebulous vision of where everything will be in the space.
This week's nudge came from Anita Traverso, my gallery director in Melbourne, who asked how I was going with translating the works on paper I showed recently in Diary Notes from a New World into works on canvas for my exhibition next year. I have been experimenting with small scale works but still haven’t achieved the transcluency and luminosity that I getting with waterbased media on paper. Then one morning I woke with a new idea which involves more gessoing and using really diluted paint. I think it will work.
On Monday I wrote an artist's profile for a fellow artist. I love writing about other peoples work and have previously written catalogue essays for other artists. I would like to do more of this so I am considering marketing my services to other artists.
On Friday, I went to Sydney to visit Lyndal Hargrave and Jacinta Howard  who were shoeing their work at Geomancer Fine Art’s stall at Art Sydney 09. Jacinta’s paintings and Lyndal’s Sculptures and paintings along with the work at off the wall were the highlights of the show. It was sad to see that many of the galleries that were there last year had pulled out. I felt that the overall standard of work had fallen.
Next week I hope to start moving into my studio and continue working at my new techniques on canvas. My work has often developed from having a vision in my head and finding the technical means to transpose the vision onto canvas. This search led me to overlay paint with shredded documents and then stamp over that so, the search for the layered shifting image continues……

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vale Nancy Spero

 Nancy Spero (1926-2009) passed away on Sunday, October 18. Spero, along with Jenny Holzer, Fiona Banner, Roni Horne, Sophie Calle, Louise Bourgeois, Ellen Gallagher, Ida Appelbaum and Kiki Smith, is one of the female artists I feel privileged to have had as  a role model.

 Spero’s art has depicted women in many forms, but always from the basis of the political, and with the necessity to move the female figure away from the entrenched “male gaze” – creating a woman’s art, from and for a woman’s vision.   Her work spoke strongly against the pervasive abuse of power, Western privilege, and male dominance. Her imagery and subject matter were inspired by current and historical events such as the torture of women in Nicaragua, the extermination of Jews in the Holocaust, and the atrocities of the Vietnam War.

Despite the nature of her subject matter, Spero’s artistic vision has often given these same women forms which embrace incredible freedom and are celebratory in their expansiveness.  Nancy Spero has said, “Even when the work is celebratory, I still hope it has subversion to it, in that all the protagonists are women.  That it is we who are the activators.  That is not the usual way of the world but it’s symbolic of the way the world could be.” 

Nancy Spero.“Explicit Explanation"
relief print and screenprint
17.00 x 22.00 Inches. ©

"I guess maybe my art can be said to be a protest. I see things a certain way, and as an artist I’m privileged in that arena to protest or say publicly what I’m thinking about. Maybe the strongest work I’ve done is because it was done with indignation. Considering myself as a feminist, I don’t want my work to be a reaction to what male art might be or what art with a capital A would be. I just want it to be art. In a convoluted way, I am protesting- protesting the usual way art is looked at, being shoved into a period or category." Nancy Spero

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Friday Report

It’s still Friday somewhere so this is THE FRIDAY REPORT.
It’s been a week of ups and downs. At times it looked like there would be nothing to report however, and this is one of the pluses of making a weekly summary, it ended on a good note.
On Monday I went to Nowra. I love Nowra because it is the nearest town to Bundanon a place that occupies a special place in my heart since my residency there. It was a beautiful drive through Kangaroo Valley as the bush changed from Highlands to rich rain forest.
On Thursday I went to the Casula Power House to deliver my entry in the Liverpool City Art Prize. I have to admit that my temporary studio is a bit of a mess and I almost missed the deadline for deliveries as the entry details were buried in a stack of paperwork. I have since bought a desk diary for next year to avoid near misses but I think I really need a wall planner and a secretary too. World do you here this? Send me a secretary.
On Thursday I received a nudge and I will send an entry to the Alice Art Prize.
I am really missing my workspace as there are some big works busting to be done. Nothing had happened in the studio all week and I was beginning to despair when, on Friday, Craig and Tony reappeared and began to install the interior lining. I had made a subtly demanding call to the foreman on Thursday and it worked.

 The plywood is so beautiful it is a pity to paint it white.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Susan Buret ,Afterimage, 2009 ©, Acrylic and Pigmented Ink on 
Watercolour Paper, 76cm x56.5cm

Most artists spend a lot of time alone in their studio and in their dreams and since moving I have not had any opportunity to mix with my peers except for emails and facebook. This is my chosen career and I enjoy the solitude and the luxury of time to dream and create but, from time to time, I fell a bit 'flat' and thats when I am so grateful for a nudge from my peers. Without their support and suggestions I would not achieve half of what I do. Without an email/nudge from Nicola Moss I would not have thought about entering the Alice Art Prize. Without several reminders from Catherine I would not have  work in the Liverpool Art Prize.
So thank you Candy, Lyndal, Nicola, Deb, Maja and Uta  for staying in touch and to Catherine from Anita Traverso Gallery for forwarding details of opportunities on a regular basis.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stargazzy 2

Stargazzy 2. 2009. © detail.
Oh how I struggle with documenting my work! Here are two images of Stargazzy 2 my newest work. I experimented with using pigments instead of diluted acrylic to get a luminosity to the background. I'm not sure about the texture to the background but I am very interested in using this pattern to make some bigger works.

Susan Buret. Stargazzy 2. 2009. Acrylic and Pigment on Linen.35cm x 35cm ©

I am hoping when I get into my new studio I will be able get the tripod out and find the right camera setting for the lighting.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Friday Report

Hossein Valamanesh
Leave Your Shoes Here (detail), 2008 ©
voile, felt, steel, lights, persian carpets
This morning I listened to a repeat of Margaret Throsby’s interview with Hossein Valamanesh on ABC radio. Hossein, who works with ideas of place and the displaced, talked with passion about how he bonded with Australia as he saw the country outside Perth and the outback. When asked to describe his art he replied that he made stuff. Wonderful, beautiful stuff indeed. You can hear the interview online. Next week there will be a series of interviews from the Melbourne Arts festival.

I attended the opening of Tickled Pink at Artereal Gallery in Sydney on Wednesday evening. The exhibition was, as I always want to say ‘well hung’ and, included works by 26 artists Cash Brown, Damian Dillon, Janice Kuczkowski and me. Funds from any sales will go to Breast Cancer Network Australia so if you are in Sydney here is the chance to support a good cause.
While in Sydney I also visited several other galleries.
Sarah Cottier Gallery was showing some whimsical works by Huseyin Sami, Liverpool Street Gallery featured work by Jeanette Siebols. A series of charcoal and burnt sienna works with layering and text reminiscent of CY Twombly’s work.

Grace Burzese. Seeker of Light 2009 ©
acrylic on canvas 168 x 152 cm

Ray Hughes was showing Sichuan Hot, a group show of young artists from Sichuan whose work combined traditional technique, brushwork and calligraphy, with contemporary themes. Grace Burzesse’s exhibition in the back gallery was a series of gestural works with yummy colours.

Penny Byrne Guantanamo Bay Souvenirs 2007©, vintage figurines, metal chains, epoxy resin, plastic, re-touching medium, powder pigments, 14 x 32 x 10 cm.

My favourite show was Penny Byrne’s exhibition of altered figurines at Sullivan+Strumpf. Her lightness of touch and use of humour engaged and challenged me to think again about ideas of power, the macho, horrors of war and the victims of fundamentalist regimes.
The big (really big) news of the week is that the windows are now in my studio and the lining will go in next week. It was approved by council this afternoon.

It will look better with landscaping!

The electrical wiring went in today.

This will be the view from my desk which of course will be tidy.

Oh, and I need to mention that the radishes are up and potatoes are doing well in the vegetable garden and here are two very pretty but unrelated garden shots.

Waterlogged tree peony, bluebells and cavolo nero.

So green after the rain.
Finally, I made it into my temporary studio today to do some work on my entry for the Chapman and Bailey competition today and I have prepared a submission for a Paper Works exhibition next year so I can finish the week on a virtuous note.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Inspiration

My inspiration doesn’t only come from other artists it often comes from people I admire from all walks of life.
On Sunday I went to see The September Issue. I love high fashion, not because I want to wear it or can afford it but because it is a feast for the senses, a path to fantasy.
Grace Coddington, the creative director of American Vogue was my inspiration when I was a teenager looking at the fashion in English magazines and dreaming about what the future held. Now she produces the most beautiful fashion shots that like good art engage and transport us.

Grace Coddington modeling in British Vogue.

The quote below her image is one that I think all artists relate to. It is what makes my life as an artist so rewarding, the idea of living in the moment and being able to take in ones surroundings. There is never a chance to be bored.
This idea also came up in Peter Thompson’s interview with Greg Mortimer on Talking Heads last night. He said that when climbing you were in a state of heightened awareness and focused only on the present. He made me realize that climbing a mountain was the same sort of experience I have when making art (major epiphany). When asked if being the first Australian to conquer Everest was his major life experience he said that he believed that there is always something more exciting out there to come even in later life. Is this what drives us all to continue?  

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Friday Report

This weeks report is a little thin on activities to do with my arts practice. I have made no work at all and as a result I feel a bit miserable and as you can see from my previous post I have had bouts of monumental lethargy.
I am hoping that the video will in some way compensate for the lack of drive in other areas!
Most artists report times when it just doesn't happen and I feel very fortunate that my down times can be measured in days rather than weeks or months. I have been nurturing myself with frequent visits to the art21 blog and doses of good wine.
I notice that when I don't make work for a few days I always get unsettled. This also happens when I am traveling. Now if you are asking yourself why I don't have a sketch book or journal for these times the answer is simply that I am hopeless with both.
The plans for next week are that it will be more productive and, on that note, it has started to rain and I had better go out into the garden to see if any seeds have sprouted.

Sol LeWitt

Sol Lewitt is one of my favourite artists. I could stand for hours in front of one of his works. I have seen several of his works including some beautiful gouaches at Art Chicago but I would love to see the exhibition currently showing at Pace Wildenstein Gallery in New York.

Installation View. Sol LeWitt: Forms Derived from a Cube 
 showing at Pace Wildenstein Gallery.

I think I could spend a week in this room. Sol Lewitt: Forms Derived from a Cube is at Pace Wildenstein Gallery, 32 East 57th Street NYC. The exhibition continues until 17 October ... sigh. At least I can visit their great website.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feeling Slothful

This is the view of my temporary desk, aka the dining table, from the couch. I am having a really slothful and unmotivated day. I am blaming it on the temporary desk and the temporary studio but I don't think either is the real reason. I think we all have days when it is better to forget about trying to be productive and write the day off.
In an effort to appease my consciense I am about to go look at the art21 blog which is generally a source of inspiration.  I hope it works. Even my internet speed is slow today. Here's to tomorrow.