Friday, December 25, 2009

The Friday Report

It's Christmas afternoon here, that time when everyone takes a nap so what better time to do the Friday Report on time for once.
It's our first Christmas here and, after years of sweltering in the Brisbane heat we are enjoying a pleasant 14 degrees C with rain and mist. We will have a fire tonight.

Vege garden in the mid-summer mist.

We have unwrapped our presents including a new DVD player. We watched Samson and Delilah, a visually beautiful film, and a sobering reminder that not everyone enjoys an affluent and comfortable lifestyle here in Australia. We have got it very wrong and still have no real idea of how to (I can't think of a word that isn't patronising) help, provide for, give hope to, share with Indigenous Australians. I am left feeling guilty, impotent, useless and very very lucky to have such a wonderful life. If you haven't seen the film, do.
On a brighter note, as we are used to having summer in the heat we will have Christmas Dinner tonight so I am off to cook the turkey.
I plan to be back in the studio tomorrow but, in the meantime, best wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous and creative 2010.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Friday Report

Red Cow Farm Garden Tour
Running late yet again. This weeks excuse is house guests and Christmas parties.
On Tuesday night we were invited to a street party in the village by Liz Boothby, the other artist in Burrawang. It was a cool summer evening and another opportunity to get to know more locals.
We met poets, Emeritus professors, wonderful cooks and local business owners as we were happily introduced as 'the girls who bought Judy's house'. I still continue to be amazed that we have landed in such a friendly community.
Yvette, old friend, wine connoiseur, cobbler manque, cyclist and fellow ratbag who worked with me about 12 years ago arrived from Melbourne on Wednesday. We spent the next few days touring the area, visiting Red Cow Farm for the Border Collie Garden Tour and making rumballs.
Last night we went to the Robertson Village Musical Society to hear Gerard Willems play Beethoven and to listen to John Gregg read from Shakespeare. My experience of Shakespeare at school was less than inspirational and has led to a lifelong avoidance of anything Shakespearian so I had gone to listen to the Beethoven. John Gregg's reading was really beautiful. I am now converted.
I did do some work in between celebrations. I managed to spend some time in the studio and completed a large work that I am very happy with.
I have quotes for the laser cut steel works I have been thinking and will spend the Christmas break deciding if I will make some prototypes.
Best of all, I have been invited by Brenda May Gallery to show in their exhibition of works by artists who use paper early in 2010.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Friday Report

It's a beautiful cool crisp clear early summer day. Low humidity means that the sunlight dances on the leaves and the twinkles as the colours from the underside of leaves are revealed by the wind. It's almost like looking at water.

Wet paint on canvas.

I am writing this as I literally wait for paint to dry. Hence the time to indulge in poetic fantasy about subjects green.
I have had a good week in the studio continuing to work towards my next exhibition. I also received payment for some recently sold works just in time to use the funds towards the delivery of new canvases that should arrive TODAY.  
Yesterday I set to work to make space in my racks for the new canvases by putting some older works on the top rack. I was high on the ladder when one of the heavier canvases fell on my head...... ouch! Maybe thats the reason for the poetic moments.

Susan Buret, I Often Wonder Why Red Roses Have the Best Perfume. (Detail)
© 2009.

Detail New Work.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Propoganda or Not?

Australia was accused of censorship Tuesday after it denied visas to North Korean artists invited to a rare international exhibition of their work, saying their studio is a propaganda tool of their country's communist government.
The following are extracts from an article by AP Writers Rohan Sullivan and Hyang-jin Kim which appeared
in newsletter for December 9 2009.Propaganda or not I think it is sad to see artists denied the right to meet with other artists in an international forum.
The Asia Pacific Triennial is the foremost exhibition of contemporary art for the region. In denying visas to these artists the Australian Government is engaging in the same sort of behavior as the countries whose paranoid censorship it does not condone. The co-curator of the exhibition said the works were nonpolitical, and that letting them be displayed while banning their creators from entering the country so they could talk about them did not make sense.
Five artists from the Mansudae Art Studio were invited to the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in the eastern city of Brisbane to talk about their paintings and drawings that are part of the exhibition, which includes work from more than 100 artists from 25 countries in the region.
North Korea remains one of the most isolated countries in the world, with the average citizen prohibited from accessing the Internet as well as outside phone networks, radio and TV. In recent years, cultural and sporting events have provided the best opportunity for "soft diplomacy." The New York Philharmonic performed in Pyongyang in 2008, while North Korean athletes, from gymnasts to football players, have served as international ambassadors.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith rejected the artists' applications for an exception to the government's visa ban on North Korea, part of targeted sanctions in response to the country's efforts to build nuclear weapons. In a statement Smith said "The studio reportedly produces almost all of the official artworks in North Korea, including works that clearly constitute propaganda aimed at glorifying and supporting the North Korean régime, "
Some of Mansudae's approximately 1,000 artists devote their time completely to painting portraits of Kim Il
Sung, the late founder of the Stalinist state who handed power to his son and who is the subject of a government-fueled personality cult.
Nick Bonner, a Beijing-based British businessman and art dealer who helped curate the exhibition, said all art studios in North Korea — like most other things in the hardline state — were government organizations, but that did not mean every work was political. One large mosaic depicting a scene in a steel mill is from the socialist realism that is often associated with the country, Bonner said. The rest, including portraits and landscapes in ink or oil paint, were the artists’ individual works. The artists were extremely disappointed in Australia's decision, after spending weeks getting North Korean authorities to approve passports, Bonner said. “For an artist to produce a body of work and not be able to speak about it, that is censorship," Bonner said. Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korea Studies in Seoul, said the visit to Australia by the artists could have formed part of international efforts to draw out North Korea, and Canberra should not have banned it. 

"I think Australia took that step because it was concerned the exhibition may turn into a site for their political propaganda," Yang said. "But it's too passive an approach on North Korea.”
Australia, one of the United States' closest allies in the Asia-Pacific region, has diplomatic ties with North Korea, but they are prickly. Canberra froze relations in 2002 and imposed limited sanctions and the visa ban in 2006 in response to the North's attempts to go nuclear. North Korea closed its embassy in Canberra last year, citing financial reasons.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The 'Friday' Report

I've noticed that the more I paint the less I blog. I don't know if it is the total absorption of making work or whether I am only capable of output in one medium at a time.
This week I've had loads of time in the studio listening to music (hence the post below) and painting. I've managed to finish one work, create a new one which has since been deemed a dud and make progress on a third work.
I have been wondering why I am not happy with one work. At first I thought that it was just too strong and serious and lacking in the luminosity I try to create but, this afternoon I realised (yes realised with an 's' spellcheck)that the image was too static and I have always wanted to make shifting images to lead the eye on a bit of a dance.
Now I will sand and gesso the canvas and start again. I have also discovered that I prefer to paint on surfaces with a few extra coats of gesso. This new body of work  is providing an opportunity to explore materials again and I'm enjoying that.
I have also attended to matters practical, rescheduling my Sydney exhibition to December 2010 and ordering a load of stretched linen surfaces from Fitzroy Stretches. It's a major financial outlay but I have decided that the linen will give me a finer work surface and my works 'deserves' a beautiful surface.
On Thursday I had a visit fro Brisbane Artist Candice Herne who is currently traveling around Australia with her family. It was great to catch up and to show her my beautiful new studio. She was suitably impressed. We both have work in a group show about weather at Logan City Gallery in 2011 so we talked about that project and what we were planning to show there.
Last night we went to drinks and open studio at Cloud Farm where I showed great restraint and didn't buy more of Celeste Coucke's beautiful ceramics. The thought of the bill for the streches must have been foremost in the back of my mind. It was a great evening and I have decided I must have open studio in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I have just been listening to a more earth shattering spine tingling version of Saint Saens Symphony No 3 while I paint. OMG now I feel like painting the side of a skyskraper.