Thursday, October 28, 2010


Susan Buret, Northward Aspiration, © 2010, acrylic and paper on gessobord, four panels 31 cm x 31 cm.

I am in one of the studios at the Bundanon trust property after receiving a last minute invitation for a residency and to help with a schools workshop.
I was last here in 2008 and, as Bundanon and the surrounding Shoalhaven area have a special place in my heart, I jumped at the chance to return. I piled as much of my studio as would fit into the back of my car and drove down the escarpment and along the slippery muddy track to arrive on Monday morning. After spending two days working with the students from Bombaderry High School, I am now working in my studio.
There is something extraordinary about this place which allows one to focus without any disruptions. I feel privileged to be the beneficiary of the Boyd family's generosity where the beautiful setting, no mobile, no television and crackling radio reception leave only the internet as a diversion.
The top two images are the views from my studio window; one towards the pastures and the other towards the native bush that covers most of the Bundanon property.
Since being here I have been working on Northward Aspiration. Using a section of an old map of the world which includes Africa, the Middle East, India and Europe, I have cut airplanes and pasted them over a damask inspired pattern.
The old map shows a colonial Africa divided between Britain, France Germany and Italy and I was thinking about how the inhabitants of the poorer nations of the south often moved north in the hope of a better life. The immigrants were screened and often refused entry to these countries where, paradoxically, the affluent were happy to adorn their homes with patterns borrowed from the very southern cultures they wished to exclude.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Southern Highlands Art Studio Trail - there's more to it than cockatoos!

I will be opening my studio in Burrawang as part of the Southern Highlands Art Studio Trail on 20 & 21 November from 10 am to 4pm.
If you live nearby or are thinking about a visit to the Highlands it is a wonderful time to visit the region at it's fullsome fecund best. The trail provides the opportunity to visit the studios and workshops of local artists and crafts people ranging from hobby artists to experienced professional artists.
To download the brochure including a map of the trail click on the link above.
If you are looking for somewhere to lunch while on the trail I can highly recommend flour water salt in Bowral and Three Creeks Cafe in Robertson.
While you are in Bowral you should also visit Loft Gallery above Bowral Art Supplies in Banyette Street where Bella Hazelton and Adrian Davies show seriously good contemporary art and, for more information about the best of the region pick up a copy of SOHI magazine at any of the outlets mentioned above.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Statement Progress

Susan Buret, Into Whose Arms, © 2010, Mixed media on Linen, 150 cm x 200 cm. (Detail)

I am still not progressing much with the new artist statement despite good intentions. Deadlines for other written pieces and the flipping pages on my desk calendar only serve to increase my anxiety. I have always used a quote to introduce my statements but ,after reading Tracey Clement's latest post on The Post Post , I wonder if I am self aggrandizing when I begin a statement this way. After all, as much as I admire Foucault and Pythagorus do I have any right to place my work in their company?
When I woke up this morning I had a brief epiphany. (Why do they always come when I am nowhere near a pen and paper? I'm not good at recording or journaling having always preferred the back of envelopes for important thoughts.) Pined to my studio wall is an old subscription notice for The Economist Magazine which says 'Never lose your place in the world'. It has been on my walls for about 5 years. I put it there because I like the idea but also because I like the white font on red paper! The medium is the message.
Given that I am now using maps in my work it suddenly seems so relevant. I am very aware of my place, having spent the last year recording my observations and reactions either purposely or subconsciously as I enjoy the beauty of my new surroundings. Yet I'm constantly reminded of those who don't have the luxury of safe and pleasant surroundings. Maps tell us where we are, how to get somewhere , who rules or governs us, where we may or may not be welcome and where we might go for refuge.
I cut the maps and place them over patterns used to decorate or to imprison or restrict, comfortable security or the unwanted security associated with punishment or imprisonment, my process based repetitive images result in layered images which come together to my satisfaction to form a work. If only layers of ideas and illogic would do the same I might come up with a reasonable statement.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Networking, exposure etc.

My work And the River Looked at Siddhartha with 1000 Eyes, 2005, (far right) is currently in an exhibition at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne.

On a negative day I wonder if I am babbling into a vast void but there are several good reasons for blogging. It provides an opportunity to communicate one's thoughts and ideas, it can be a diary or, as in the case of Queensland artist Nicola Moss it can serve as space to record information and observations which are later published as a book. Recently I wrote about the ideas that formed the basis of some new work and was amazed and delighted by the response. I have also been fortunate in the past few days to have my work featured on two blogs which I admire - The Design Files is Lucy Feagin's blog which features design, architecture and beautiful things and oh what a world, oh what a world , artist Lorraine Glessner's blog where she generously show cases the work of other artists. I really appreciate the mentions and the opportunity to widen my network. Thank you Lucy, Lorraine and Anita who has two of my works on show in Melbourne!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Life in Cuba 2

Susan Buret, Life in Cuba 2, © 2010, Mixed media on Panelpop, detail.

Heavy rain for the past few days meant that the outdoor concert we were planning to attend was cancelled and I managed to finish the work above today. It is fun to make small works and complete them quickly even though I think I work more successfully on a larger scale. The process is so different as I don't get the sense of exploring every inch of the surface as I work. The image materializes straight up as a whole almost before I have an opportunity to bond with it.
I don't know if the more 'roccoco' style will work on a larger scale ... I'll see what happens when my stash of panelpops runs out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Life in Cuba Series

Susan Buret, Life in Cuba 1,©2010, acrylic and paper on Panelpop, 30 cm x 30 cm.

In the second part of her article Art, Labour, Love in the September issue of Art Monthly Australia, Pat Hoffie begins 'For artists it is true that they cannot know what they think until they see what they make'.
As I mentioned in a recent post about Artists' Statements , it is often difficult to nail the conceptual bases of one's work concisely and clearly. I have recently been making some smaller works to show at my open studio as part of the Southern Highlands Arts Trail in November (more about that later).
These works including Life in Cuba 1, above, arose form my interest in maps and boundaries and treatment of those who breach boundaries which led to the reintroduction of collage in some larger works. Recent news about events in detention centres in Australia led me to think about Cuba and Guantanamo Bay. Now (stay with me if you can!), when I tried to find a map of that area in Cuba I found that the relevent bits had been blanked out! I then went on to think about the ridiculous blockade of Cuba by the US which has resulted in Cuba existing in a state of rather beautiful decay .....I had these lovely Panelpop surfaces which I had got in Melbourne and when I applied a wash to them I suddenly had the feeling of weathered plaster walls and the works Life in Cuba came into being.
Dragonflies and Butterflies fly freely across border but we don't. I would love to go to Cuba but I can't believe that I must fly via Canada and the route to the greyed out region of Guantanamo Bay doesn't bear thinking about.