Why I do what I do

For as long as I can remember, creating art of any kind has been been more about the process than the product. Even as a child, I didn’t draw to replicate what I was seeing, but to explore things emotionally. I was acutely aware of how what I saw affected me, and how what I was feeling affected the way I saw. For example, a donut would look very different to me depending on how hungry I was. When not hungry, I’d be more relaxed and inclined to notice and wonder about all the various ingredients, colours, shapes, textures, smells and tastes. I might even notice how the light reflects off the individual specs of sugar; the contoured edges of the glossy frosting; the spongy, rounded surface of the golden pastry…

When starving, I’d simply see a doughnut.

The Process

When I produce a visual representation of my internal chatter, I can see things more clearly. My muddled thoughts start sorting themselves into orderly queues instead of simultaneously clamouring for attention.

To put it another way: imagine hundreds of oddly shaped, different coloured Lego bricks scattered across the floor around you. Sharp little boobytraps everywhere you look! Each individual piece unidentifiable as anything other than part of the one big, insurmountable MESS. You can’t step in any direction without hurting your feet.

It is easy to become so focused on getting rid of or around “The Mess” that you fail to see The Bigger Picture. You might even find yourself paralysed (Procrastinators Unite!) stuck to the spot, awaiting rescue.

But what if you were to stop for a minute, crouch down, give each and every little brick your full attention; start sorting through them, finding connections and piecing them together…? You might see how each seemingly insignificant piece, while not of much interest or use on its own, transforms into something entirely different when it’s linked to others. Each little piece plays a vital role in constructing The Whole. By the end of the process, you’ll still have the same number of oddly shaped, different coloured bricks as you had before, but now there is cohesion and clarity, and more space in which to manoeuvre (For the techies: think defragmenting the hard drive on your computer)

To all those people thinking “But I don’t have time to sit around all day playing with my problems! Hand me a broom!”, think of all the time that you’ve already wasted trying to avoid doing emotional housekeeping.

So that’s how I’d describe the art-making process; forcing myself, despite the discomfort, to slow down and confront the chaos, start picking through the minefield in my head, treading carefully to avoid detonation! Examining and fitting together seemingly random thoughts and feelings until I find a common thread or an image starts to form. Because everything is related. No thought, however trivial, meaningless. Everything matters. The answers to most of my questions are hidden somewhere amid the jumble, so I just keep sifting and sorting my way through it, without any real sense of direction, until I have what I call an “AHA! moment”.

And then, there’s ….

The Flow!

Have you ever tried catching a feather or leaf that’s fluttering about on the breeze? The more you wave your arms or move your hand, the further away it will get. That’s what it feels like for me when inspiration is just out of reach. The AHA! moment comes when I have managed to grasp an idea. Then, the the hard part is over.

When in that creative zone, known as “the flow”, my mind becomes very still. I’m no longer chasing or running or flailing about desperately trying to make sense of things. I am completely tranquil, opening myself up, letting those fluttering objects drift down and settle upon me. I loose all sense of time and space, and switch into cruise control. Emerging from this flow state feels like waking from a dream, only I’ve brought something tangible back with me. A souvenir from my subconscious.

Externalising my thoughts and emotions in this way helps me gain better understanding of them and how they affect me, but it also makes my internal world accessible to others. Exposure to scrutiny and criticism absolutely TERRIFIES me, and makes me extremely vulnerable. So why do I do it??

Because my deep seated longing to make authentic connections only very slightly outweighs my paralysing fear of rejection.

It’s something I find difficult to write about without feeling a tad wanky, but there you have it.






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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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Graffiti artist David Choe set for Facebook windfall

A US graffiti artist who painted Facebook’s offices is set to become a multi-millionaire when the social network begins trading as a public company.

David Choe, who first spray-painted the walls of Facebook HQ in 2005, accepted shares in payment for his work.

Now the site is planning to float on the stock market, its thought his share could be worth around $200m (£126m).

Writing on his blog, Choe said he was the “highest paid decorator alive”.

Although he had initially thought the idea of the social network was “ridiculous and pointless”, the artist decided to take the stock option instead of cash “in the thousands of dollars” according to the New York Times.

Choe’s payout could be worth more money than auction house Sotheby’s attracted for its record-breaking $200.7m (£127m) sale in 2008 for a collection of work by Damien Hirst.

The Korean-American artist, 35, was first asked to paint erotic murals for Facebook’s first office in Palo Alto, California, by the site’s then-president, Sean Parker.

The site’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, later asked Choe to paint “tamer” art for its second office in 2007.

However art from the original headquarters was cut out from the walls and is on display at other Facebook offices around the world.

Choe – whose work can now be seen in galleries all over the world – is currently painting the site’s new offices in Menlo Park, California.

The artist, who began spray-painting in his teens, created the cover art for Jay-Z and Linkin Park’s multi-platinum album Collision Course in 2004.

In 2008, he also painted a portrait of the then-Senator Barack Obama – a picture that now hangs in the White House.

BBC News – Graffiti artist David Choe set for Facebook windfall.

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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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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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P!nk shocks with graphic self-harm, attempted suicide, anorexia scenes in ‘F…in’ Perfect’ video clip

Disturbing scenes … P!nk’s graphic new video for her single F**king Perfect is expected to shock. Screen grab from You Tube

PREGNANT pop star P!nk has sanctioned graphic scenes of self-harm, attempted suicide and the ravages of anorexia in the video for her single F…in’ Perfect.


In a statement accompanying the controversial clip F…in’ Perfect which debuted online this morning, the 31-year-old singer songwriter claimed she was attempting to promote awareness of the escalating problems of “cutting and suicide”.

“… two very different symptoms of the same problem, are gaining on us. (the problem being; alienation and depression. the symptoms; cutting and suicide),” she writes.

“I personally don’t know a single person who doesn’t know at least two of these victims personally.

“A lot of us have seen certain starlets showing off their latest scars on a red carpet somewhere, usually right before they head back to their favorite rehab.

“It’s a problem, and it’s something we should talk about.”

Napoleon Dynamite star Tina Marjorino plays the teenager struggling with bullying and self-esteem issues who harms herself.

But the video has a happy ending. Marjorino grows up to become a successful artist and a mother.

Pink, who has played out her own teen struggles in videos for Family Portrait and Just Like A Pill, said recording the song and video was a “very emotional experience” for her as she gears up to give birth to her first child with husband Carey Hart.

“I have a life inside of me, and I want her or him to know that I will accept him or her with open and loving and welcoming arms,” she said.

“And though I will prepare this little munchkin for a sometimes cruel world, I will also equip this kid to see all the beauty in it as well.

“There are good people in this world that are open-minded, and loving. There are those that accept us with all of our flaws. I do that with my fans/friends, and I will do that with my child, whoever they decide to be.”

For more information on depression and to seek help on suicide prevention, please contact:

Lifeline on 13 11 14 http://www.lifeline.org.au/
SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) http://www.sane.org/
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

P!nk shocks with graphic self-harm, attempted suicide, anorexia scenes in ‘F…in’ Perfect’ video clip | News.com.au.

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Artist gets camera implanted in head

A tiny camera has been surgically implanted to the back of a New York University (NYU) professor’s head – all in the name of art.

Visual artist Wafaa Bilal teaches at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He had the surgery for a project called The 3rd I. It’s been commissioned by a new museum in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar that opens December 30.

The Iraqi-born artist will wear the camera for a year and capture images at one-minute intervals that will be transmitted to monitors at the museum. He says details of the project will be revealed at a December 15 preview at the museum.

NYU is concerned about how the artwork will impact students. It says it’s talking with Bilal how best to protect privacy.

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