Things from my Things Drawer

I was inspired to make this piece while contemplating the little gold charm bracelet that I’ve worn almost every day for over 20 years. It struck me how little it would be worth to anyone but me, as the true value is in the meaning attached to each individual charm, all the memories preserved and provoked when I look at them.

Each charm has a complete, standalone story of its own, and when linked together on a single chain they become part of an even more intricate and meaningful whole.  A metaphor for life, really, as who we are is the sum of our myriad parts, all invaluable.

I have always had a “things” drawer in my kitchen, a Purgatory for random objects that don’t fit or belong anywhere else. Some are waiting to be useful again, some waiting to be repaired, some waiting for their pair to show up, and some have been in there so long that the outside world has forgotten they exist.

This things drawer has been moved from rental house to rental house over the years, and i thought it was time to explore it. Spending so long with each random piece, cleaning it, preparing its surface and gilding it, then linking them all together was quite an amazing experience. Every single seemingly insignificant castaway had a story to remind me of. Every single thing had once had purpose, played a part in my life. Remembering the tiny ways in which each object had served me over the years prompted all the surrounding memories to surface. I was able to see patterns and links and make sense of the chaos. It was just the start of a very important and ongoing process.

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Analysing Louise Bourgeois: art, therapy and Freud

Christopher Turner

Saturday 7 April 2012 07.45 AEST

Louise Bourgeois was in therapy for more than 30 years and wrote an essay on ‘Freud’s Toys’. The Freud museum in London has a display of her work and recently unearthed writings about her analysis

Louise Bourgeois working on Sleep II in Italy, 1967. Photograph: Studio Fotografico, Carrara /The Easton Foundation

Above Freud’s bulbous, oriental carpet-draped couch in 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, hangs a shrivelled, double-headed bronze penis by Louise Bourgeois. In an essay on “Freud’s Toys” (1990), as Bourgeois dismissed the ancient artefacts that swarm over his desk and shelves (including numerous phallic amulets), she described Freud’s cluttered office, with its “half-dead hysterics”, as “a pitiful place”. She also referred to Freud’s patients as “maggots”, which gives additional resonance to the placing of her suspended larval form. Analysis was, in her view, a form of metamorphosis, promising the transformation of seething misery into what Freud described as “common unhappiness”. “A maggot,” Bourgeois wrote, “is actually a symbol of resurrection.”

Though she doesn’t acknowledge it in her essay, Bourgeois had been in analysis herself for more than 30 years. In 1951, suffering from depression after her father’s death, she entered therapy with Dr Leonard Cammer. The following year she switched to Dr Henry Lowenfeld, a second-generation Freudian who had emigrated to New York in 1938, the same year she did. Lowenfeld had been trained by the Marxist analyst Otto Fenichel in Berlin, where he was also a part of Wilhelm Reich’s radical group, Sex-Pol.

However, in New York, keen to assimilate to American culture and disenchanted with communism, Lowenfeld became part of the psychoanalytic mainstream and hid his radical past. At the height of the cold war he stole the incriminating Rundbriefe – letters written by Fenichel in the 1930s and circulated among their group of dissident analysts – from his colleague Annie Reich in an attempt to erase that history.

In 2007, just before Bourgeois’s retrospective at Tate Modern, two boxes of discarded writings that refer to her analysis, which she underwent four times a week, were found in her Chelsea home; after her death in 2010 (aged 98), her assistant unearthed two more. Selections of these have been exhibited in the Freud museum alongside two dozen of her bulging and sinister patchwork sculptures and installations. These jottings, on random pads, letterheads, even playing cards, offer a glimpse into Bourgeois’s psychological states. According to these notes, Lowenfeld considered the artist’s inability to accept her aggression as the central problem to be worked through in analysis. “Aggression is used by guilt and turned against myself instead of being sublimated into useful channels,” she wrote.

To art historians her free associations and doodles not only suggest clues as to the personal relationships and conflicts that inform all her work, but seem to offer direct links to her creative process (one Isis-like sketch is displayed here next to a similar multi-breasted sculpture, as fecund as the Venus of Willendorf). In an aborted letter to “Mon cher Papa”, Bourgeois wrote: “In the 20th century the best work has been produced by those people whose exclusive concern was themselves.” Her father was a tyrannical philanderer who had a 10-year affair with a live-in English governess, the discovery of which was the central trauma to which Bourgeois endlessly returned in her confessional work.

The recently discovered archive reveals the artist to have been an enthusiastic list-maker. In 1958, aged 47, Bourgeois compiled a melancholy account of her failures: “I have failed as a wife / as a woman / as a mother / as a hostess / as an artist / as a business woman”, and so on. She made a suicidal list of “seven easy ways to end it all” (and throws in another for good measure). She listed her fears: “I am afraid of silence / I am afraid of the dark / I am afraid to fall down/ I am afraid of insomnia / I am afraid of emptiness …” And her feelings about analysis: “The analysis is a job / is a trap / is a privilege / is a luxury / is a duty … is a joke / makes me powerless / makes me into a cop / is a bad dream …”

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Art rules 101: Keep the bikini bottoms on until the sun goes down

Andy Golub’s nude body works have been leaving New York commuters gobsmacked. Picture: AP Source: AP

AS MONET used to say, art is all about the light.

In New York, there’s a clear line between public indecency and performance art and it’s marked by the setting of the sun.

City officials have told artist Andy Golub who body paints nude women in public that his models cannot go bottomless until the sun goes down, the New York Post, reports.

“It’s a compromise that is allowing Andy to paint, and the police to do more important things – although less fun,” said Golub’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby, after a judge agreed to let charges against the artist lapse if he is not rearrested in six months.

Golub had been arrested for public lewdness in late July as he finished painting two nude women in Times Square.

Under an agreement approved prosecutors, he will be allowed to paint topless, but not bottomless, women all day long – subject to any crowd control issues.

Full public nudity is allowed in New York City, so long as it is part of a play, performance, exhibition or show.

The city has no law specifically banning nude body painting. But city officials can set what are called time, place and manner restrictions, banning nudity, for instance, at times or places when very young children might see it.

As a compromise, the city agreed to leave painters of nude bodies alone so long as the models do not go bottomless before sunset, Mr Kuby said.

“There’s not too many people doing this, that I know of,” Golub said as he left court. “If you see live, outdoor body painting, it’s probably me.”

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Australian Artist Margaret Olley dies, aged 88

Margaret Olley at her home in Paddington. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Australian painter Margaret Olley has died, aged 88.

A spokeswoman for the Art Gallery of NSW says Olley was found dead at her Paddington home in Sydney, early on Tuesday morning. The cause of her death was unknown at this stage, the spokeswoman said.

Olley was the subject of this year’s winning Archibald Prize portrait by Ben Quilty and in 1948 sat for William Dobell’s prize-winner.

In 1991, she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service as an artist and to the promotion of art. In 2006, Olley was awarded Australia’s highest civilian honour, the Companion of the Order, for service as one of Australia’s most distinguished artists, for philanthropy to the arts, and for encouragement of young and emerging artists.

“It’s such a great award. I’m overawed,” Olley said at the time. “I thought just judges and just very important people got it. “I’m not important. I just do what I want to do.”

Born in Lismore on June 24, 1923, Olley began painting as a young girl at boarding school in Brisbane, going on to become one of Australia’s most respected still-life and interior artists. She become of the country’s most generous benefactors to public galleries, including the Art Gallery of NSW and Museum of Contemporary Art, and she held honorary doctorates from the Macquarie, Sydney, Queensland and Newcastle universities.

Olley lived alone in her Paddington home.

via Artist Margaret Olley dies.

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British artist Lucian Freud dies aged 88

PHOTO: ‘Foremost figurative artist of his generation’: A Sotheby’s auction house worker displays Freud’s Self-Portrait with a Black Eye (AFP: Shaun Curry)

PHOTO: Dead at 88: Lucian Freud last year (AFP: Stephan Agostini)

MAP: England

British painter Lucian Freud, whose uncompromising portraits made him one of the world’s most revered and coveted artists, has died aged 88.

His long-time New York art dealer William Acquavella said the grandson of Sigmund Freud and brother of British radio and television personality Clement Freud had died at his home in London on Wednesday night (local time) after an unspecified illness.

“My family and I mourn Lucian Freud not only as one of the great painters of the 20th century but also as a very dear friend,” the dealer said in a statement.

“As the foremost figurative artist of his generation he imbued both portraiture and landscape with profound insight, drama and energy.

“In company he was exciting, humble, warm and witty. He lived to paint and painted until the day he died, far removed from the noise of the art world.”

Whatever he thought of the art world, Freud was very much its darling towards the end of his life.

Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, a 1995 portrait of a nude, obese woman asleep on a sofa, fetched $US33.6 million at Christie’s in 2008, a new auction record for any living artist.

He lived to paint and painted until the day he died.

New York art dealer William Acquavella

The buyer was widely reported to be Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

He tended to paint people he knew – family, friends and fellow artists, but was also famously commissioned to depict Queen Elizabeth.

The resulting portrait, an unflattering portrayal of a severe-looking monarch painted in 2001, divided the critics, with Arthur Edwards, photographer for the Sun tabloid, saying: “They should hang it in the khazi (toilet).”

Freud was born in Berlin in 1922 to a well-off German family who fled the Nazis for Britain in 1933 and became British citizens in 1939.

Freud went to several schools but is said to have attended few classes.

“I was very solitary. I hardly spoke English. I was considered rather bad tempered, of which I was rather proud,” he once said.

Freud attended a string of art colleges and had a brief spell with the merchant navy before turning to art and staging his first exhibitions in the 1940s.

The artist had a string of relationships and is believed to have left behind many illegitimate children.

via British artist Lucian Freud dies aged 88 – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

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Picasso pic raises $20m for Sydney Uni

A Pablo Picasso painting given to the University of Sydney has fetched more than $A20 million at an auction in London, with the sale proceeds to fund health research at the institution.The 40cm-wide painting, Jeune fille endormie, was one of 11 artworks given to the university last year by an anonymous donor, on the basis that any sale proceeds would go to research.The brightly coloured cubist work, which Spanish-born Picasso painted in 1935, depicts his French lover and muse, Marie-Therese Walter, asleep over her arms.

It was brought to Australia a year ago by plane in the mystery owners carry-on luggage, University of Sydney spokesman Dr Andrew Potter told AAP from London on Wednesday.When it was auctioned by Christies on Tuesday London time, it fetched STG13.5 million $A20.8 million, which was above its top end pre-sale estimate of STG8 million $A12.31 million.

Bidding was fierce, with the bidding starting at STG7 million $A10.8 million before escalating to the final price in less than two minutes.”We understand it was a British buyer,” Dr Potter said.”Were not aware of the name. There is some suggestion the name will be released in the next few weeks.”The painting was auctioned in London rather than in Sydney because the market for such works was much bigger in the United Kingdom, Dr Potter said.”Collectors of work like this are not normally in Australia,” he said.Money raised from the painting will go towards research into obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the university.

Originally acquired by Walter P Chrysler, founder of the motor company, the painting changed hands just once before it was donated to the University of Sydney in 2010 by the mystery benefactor.It was shown at a Picasso retrospective at New Yorks Museum of Modern Art MoMA in 1939, and an exhibition of works from the Chrysler collection in 1941.  It had since been hidden from view in a private collection. The painting was part of an overall gift to the university which included other paintings, cash and jewellery.

via Picasso pic raises $20m for Sydney Uni.

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Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington dies, aged 94

Sculptor Leonora Carrington, considered one of the last of the original surrealist artists, has died at the age of 94, Mexican officials have said.

British-born Carrington arrived in Mexico after she escaped from a mental hospital and fled Nazi Europe.

She settled in the country, becoming a national treasure, and creating works of art that depicted mythical worlds.

As well as sculptures, she wrote articles, novels, essays and poems exhibited around the world.

“She was the last great living surrealist,” her friend, poet Homero Aridjis said. “She was a living legend.”

She was famed for haunting, dreamlike works focusing on strange ritual-like scenes with birds, cats, unicorn-like creatures and other animals.

Life of drama

She died on Wednesday after suffering from a respiratory illness, Mexico’s National Council for Culture and Arts said.

Ms Carrington’s life was full of dramatic twists and turns.

Born in Lancashire, England, into an aristocratic industrial family in 1917 she took up painting at a young age.


These were some of the images that sprang from a mind obsessed with portraying a reality that transcends what can be seen

Mexico National Arts Council

At 20 she moved to Paris, falling in love with Surrealist painter Max Ernst, who was 26 years older than her.

He introduced her to major figures within the movement including Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro and the founder of the group, Andre Breton.

She held her first surrealist painting exhibits in 1938 in both Paris and Amsterdam.

After Ernst was arrested by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France in 1939 she fell into a deep depression and was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Santander, Spain.

She managed to escape and, in Lisbon, she married the Mexican poet and journalist Renato Leduc.

In 1942 , they travelled to Mexico where she settled permanently, befriending painter Frida Kahlo and future Nobel laureate Octavio Paz.

She married her second husband, the Hungarian-born writer-photographer Emerico “Chiki” Weisz, in 1946 and had two children.

“She created mythical worlds in which magical beings and animals occupy the main stage, in which cobras merge with goats and blind crows become trees,” the National Arts Council wrote.

“These were some of the images that sprang from a mind obsessed with portraying a reality that transcends what can be seen.”

via BBC News – Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington dies.

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Controversial Artist Ai Weiwei allowed to see family

Ai Weiwei plays with his installation Sunflower Seeds, at its opening in the Tate Modern (REUTERS)

Mr Ai, the creator of the Tate Modern’s Sunflower Seeds exhibition, was allowed to spend 20 minutes with his wife, Lu Qing, at a secret location on Sunday afternoon, helping to dispel online rumours that he had been tortured.

He seemed conflicted, contained, his face was tense, Lu told the Associated Press, “I could see redness in his eyes. It was obvious that without freedom to express himself he was not behaving naturally even with me, someone from his family.”

She added that the people who arranged the visit showed no identification and warned her not to speak about anything except family or health matters.

“We could not talk about the economic charges or other stuff, mainly about the family and health,” she said. “We were careful, we knew that the deal could be broken at any moment, so we were careful.”

The visit came as a relief for other members of his family, including Mr Ai’s elderly mother. “The rumours that we’ve heard about him being tortured have been too much for us to take, but now seeing is believing,” said Gao Ying.

Fears for Ai’s physical safety had mounted in recent weeks after online reports that he had been coerced into confessing after watching a video of another disappeared dissident, the human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng being tortured with an electric shock baton.

China has faced mounting international criticism over its detention of Ai Weiwei, who was taken last month during a widespread Chinese clampdown on lawyers, bloggers and artists apparently provoked by the fears that Middle East street revolutions could spread to China.

The novelist Salman Rushdie and the sculptor Anish Kapoor have headed calls from the international artistic community to free Ai Weiwei and urging governments to be more vocal in condemning his arrest.

China has responded by angrily rejected US and European fears that it is “backsliding” on human rights, describing such criticisms as “condescending” and warning strongly against any interference in its judicial sovereignty.

Ai, 53, is officially being investigated for “economic crimes” however his friends, family and colleagues all believe that his detention is because of his outspoken criticism of China’s ruling Communist Party and the failings of the one-party state.

His mother told The Telegraph that Lu Qing had reassured Ai – who was dressed in his own clothes, not a detention centre uniform – that his family were all strong and well, and that tears had welled up in his eyes as he heard that good news.

Although the circumstances of the meeting has revealed nothing of Ai’s exact whereabouts, it might have clarified the legal basis on which he is being held, lawyers said.

Ai’s family members confirmed to The Telegraph on Monday that they still haven’t been given any formal indication of the charges he is facing, which according to Chinese criminal law, they should have received no later than 37 days after his detention.

Liu Xiaoyuan, a lawyer and friend of Ai, says the visit now suggests that Ai is being held under a separate section of Chinese law which would allow the authorities to detain him living under house surveillance (house arrest) for six months.

Although highly unusual, Mr Liu said, it would not be unprecedented for a suspect to be detained under house arrest but outside his own home, even though in normal circumstances suspects under house arrest are allowed telephone contact with the outside world.

While relieved to be granted a visit, Ai’s family say they still want his case to be resolved quickly and in the open.

“Now that we’ve seen that his health is okay, of course we are a bit less anxious, but that’s not to say we want him to stay where he is,” Ai’s mother added to the Associated Press, “We really want this case to be dealt with as soon as possible and for the government to follow proper procedures in keeping with Chinese law.”

Ai Weiwei allowed to see family – Telegraph.

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The giant Spirograph as large as a room that is just as precise as a hand-held toy

Dominating a whole room, it looks far too unwieldy to draw a geometric picture with a small ballpoint pen.

But this giant Spirograph graphic images that are both huge and unique each time.

Swedish artist Eske Rex constructed the ‘Drawingmachine’, which works by suspending two pendulums from separate wooden towers and connecting them through drawing arms and moveable joints.

Bigger is better: A giant Spirograph creates incredible precise geometric images with a standard ballpoint pen

A ballpoint pen, which is dwarfed by the apparatus surrounding it, rests on a drawing surface covered with paper and is mounted at the point where the pendulums come together.

 The pendulums are set in motion by hand, and their movements are represented by the drawing on the paper.

Mr Rex said: ‘I am interested in the machine as a sculpture in space, a constantly changing mobile.

‘In addition, the universe in the drawings is interesting by virtue of their spatial, textural, temporal qualities – a never-ending experiment where it is impossible to produce two identical drawings.’

 The ‘Drawingmachine’ was constructed by Swedish artist Eske Rex. Two pendulums are each suspended from a wooden tower and connected them through drawing arms and moveable joints

 Precise art: The pendulums are set in motion by hand, and their movements are represented by the drawing on the paper

Amazingly, he claims never to have heard of the Spirograph and was instead inspired by the harmonograph, a mid-19th century device that also uses pendulums to create a geometric image.

He explained the concept behind his huge gallery piece was to captivate the audience.

‘The movements of the pendulums affect the entire room, and the experience engages the beholder’s body,’ he said.

‘While the rhythmic repetitions cause the beholder to pause, the drawing emerges on the paper.’

 Unique design: Mr Rex claims to have never heard of the Spirograph and was instead inspired by the harmonograph, a mid-19th century device that also uses pendulums to create a geometric image

 Unfamiliar pattern: Spirograph sets were popular in the 1960s and 1970s

Drawingmachine by Eske Rex from Core77 on Vimeo.


The giant Spirograph as large as a room that is just as precise as a hand-held toy | Mail Online.

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Painting of leaking Assange wins Archy


Prime Minister Julia Gillard as Mona Lisa, former NSW premier Kristina Keneally as a pensive mermaid and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange with his trousers down – where else but at the Bald Archy awards?

Politicians dominated the humorous art competition, but it was a depiction of Mr Assange taking a leak in an American top hat that took the 2001 prize, which was announced in Sydney on Tuesday.

The painting, entitled `Bad Ass…ange’, by French artist Xavier Ghazi, was “deliciously, irreverently, larrikin-y Australian,” competition founder Peter Batey said.

The Bald Archy exhibition and its $5000 prize is advertised as the only art show one in the world judged by a sulphur-crested cockatoo named Maude.

Maude’s decision was “not influenced by fame or favour”, Mr Batey joked.

The cockatoo wasn’t present at the announcement, but a contented cat called Rocky watched on with interest.

A total of seven Julian Assange caricatures made the finals of the competition, which makes fun of Australian celebrities and politicians.

But Ghazi’s was “the definitive Bald Archy”, Mr Batey said.

“It’s an appropriate subject which people seem to have varied opinions about.”

Assange is portrayed with his usual deadpan expression and his trousers around his ankles as he pees into a top hat with an American flag on it.

Ghazi, 60, said he decided to portray the Australian-born Wikileaks founder taking a leak because Assange is “pissing off a lot of people”.

“I choose to represent the US, because that’s basically what attracted most attention when we started to hear about him being threatened physically,” he said.

Whole sections of the Tap Gallery at Darlinghurst in inner Sydney were devoted to the other `Jules’ – Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Ms Gillard was portrayed as a comely barmaid serving former prime minister Kevin Rudd, as a `top dog’ and a rather unflattering Mona Lisa.

Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott got off lightly after being caricatured several times in his trademark budgie smugglers in 2010. This year, he appeared in just one painting.

Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally was a popular subject and was caricatured as a mermaid and a big-busted superhero.

She also presided, in place of Jesus, at the last supper of the NSW government.

Federal MPs Bob Katter and Martin Ferguson, Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke, Dr Geoffrey Edelsten with socialite wife Brynne, and entrepreneur Gerry Harvey also featured among the 46 finalists.

Ghazi has previously won the competition three times – in 2007, 2004 and 2002 – the first for a painting of swimmer Ian Thorpe as a semi-shark.

But he said this year’s win was particularly meaningful to him as he has had “a horrible three or four past years”.

“I’m very very pleased. It probably doesn’t show … this is very good news for me,” he said.

“I lost my teaching job, I lost my job for a newspaper I used to work with, and I’m turning blind in my right eye.

“This is something to cheer about.”

via Painting of leaking Assange wins Archy – Yahoo!7.

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