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Reason for the treason

‘So what’s with the blow-by-blow account of her opening?’ I hear you say? Well, partly borne of self-obsession, partly to highlight the breadth of skills one needs as an artist. Creating the work is only part of the picture, so to speak. In organising my own solo exhibition (instead of hawking myself and waiting for an invited one), I’ve had to become graphic designer, marketing expert, event organiser, technical manager, carpenter, painter/decorator, lighting technician, chef, bar staff, production manager and public speaker. Not to mention the gal-who-knows-where-to-get-stuff. It’s all about problem solving really. Now, to some of you, I will be preaching to the converted and you will know how flexible and resourceful artists are. This is really to those who may be a bit suspicious about the reason for artists’ importance in society. We are the supreme problem solvers and I’m surprised that we don’t just all defect and start our own civilization ‘cos I’m sure it would run like goddam clockwork. Unfortunately, I need the scrimmage and mess of my greater society for my work. You’re all part of a social observation that ends up splattered on a canvas or draped across a wall, or flashing in pixels through an RGB filter. I’d like to think that by documenting the process of my artistic practice, there might be someone out there that will see and artists’ CV, know how much work goes into every exhibition, revere them for their skill and dexterity and pay them a whole bunch of money. And that the culture of artistic support will spawn.


Opening post-mortem

Howdy Kids!
Thought i might give everyone the second installment of my blow-by-blow update on the exhibition, seeing as you were all so exhausted by the last one :)

Friday 28th April - The Big Day
After getting stuck at the gallery sorting out running times with the circus WOW gals until late and then cooking stuff until about 10pm on thursday night, i thought i might go to bed 'early' only to get stuck watching hilarious TV until about midnight... not the smartest thing i've ever done, but hey. Got up early to get out to Unanderra and pick up the pie-warmer and glasses from Go-Hire and was trying to not stress about finances while hoping that i could stretch the fuck out of my credit card. By now, i've got $100 left in my accounts, $150 in my wallet and about $400 worth of stuff to buy. My credit card was already maxed out, but I closed my eyes and hoped for the sweetest words in the english language: transaction approved. Thankfully, it worked and i drove out with a huge hunk of catering equipment and glasses for the juice/softies. Got to the gallery just in time and opened up, starting to set up the space for the opening - setting up a bar area with the extra plinths that had appeared from Thirroul Seaside Festival (I hated them, now i love them..lol!) Set up glasses, printed up little signs to acknowledge mooroduc estate for donating the wine (http://www.moorooduc-estate.com.au) and to Workshop Theatre for the blacks. I had a few people come to see the show who i didn't know and one woman was challenged by the work, but she had the courage to still discuss it. She asked me what the work was about and why I'd produced it. This was really encouraging actually because i'd had a few people through who couldn't deal with the images of gashes and slashes. While not speaking with visitors, I was trying to not stress about the opening and just stay in the moment, although i found myself stressing about really important stuff, like the serviettes that I'd bought, realising that they weren't little at all, but like big red tissues. Thankfully my gorgeous and hugely pregnant friend Mel came to the gallery with coffee and some sanity. Jade came into the gallery at lunchtime to take over for the afternoon so i could finish running around - thank god for that girl - she's saved my ass about a million times with this exhibition! Talk about the beginning of burning fossil fuels for the cause! So it went something like this: *grog shop to pick up the beer (and that credit card stretched to unbelievable lengths and my car had to work a little harder),
*home to load in the wine and glasses that i'd spent hours washing,
*cook about 50 crumbed chicken drumettes, which was such a fantastic experience for a vegetarian like me - talk about taking one for the team!
*load up all that stuff, plus platters, bits and pieces like knives, toothpics and bowls
*head to Woollies (again) to get some more platters, softdrink, extra serviettes, pretzels, peanuts, plastic cups (in case 50 glasses wasn't enough) and filters for my fags.
*rush to the gallery to dump all that stuff and get back for a nap. a nap? yeah - i need my nanna naps. i didn't get much of a nap, but enough to kind of slow down for a bit and not get my nickers in a knot about the uncontrollable.
When i got up, i decided that i was gonna kick ass that night and cranked a bit of Sing Sing Death House - singing in the shower and generally rocking out - hell, i might as well enjoy it! I arranged to meet Sara and Jade at the gallery at 6, so i could finish prepping the hors d'oevres, get the alkamohol ready and have enough time to breath before the opening.

The big bang.
After running around like a mad thing, i had about 5 minutes to suck in some fresh air and people started rocking up - early! People don't come to openings early.. they arrive about 20 minutes after it starts.. don't they? The night ended up really well - the first half, i kind of ran around and made sure food was going round, that the coffee guy could drive the van in and that the performance would be OK. Loads of my friends arrived and a couple even gave me a congratulations card - how cute is that! I was starting to stress a little 'cos people couldn't go into the final room, it being blocked off by the scrim for the performance.. but it kind of added to the suspense of it all. I jumped up on a speaker - in my stillettos mind you, and said thanks to a bunch of people, welcomed people to the gallery and plugged the trivia night we'll be having next month and jumped down - in my stilettos! The performance by the WOW girls went so fantastically. It was the first time i had seen it all the way through and I was so inspired and flattered at the same time. They had developed the work based on my video work and some of the images and it was amazingly beautiful and chilling at the same time. The feedback from the performance and the rest of the work was all fantastic! I had a grin on my face most of the night! I had a great chat about my work and installation with an artist from austinmer, great discussions about Project with Lisa, the first director and some great feedback from friends! All in all there were about 200 people at the opening, which was great. It was what i wanted - for 200 people to see the work, either at the opening or during the week, so I'm ahead already! And I sold a work!! Backy loved the work and was totally into the whole concept of it - gave me money at the pub and told me to choose.. so I promptly put a red dot under a gory drawing of a sliced-up penis!! He's gonna hang it on his bedroom wall! lol! So there ya have it kids - I'm pretty excited about. Check out the show if you have a chance and I'll be posting pics in a few days! Now it's time to catch up on some sleep!


Diary of the crazy week before installing

It's only been days, but it feels like weeks that i've been away from my blog! It has been the craziest of weeks and I thought I might make a little diary of it. A little for my own benefit to have the insanity written down and a little for your benefit or disdain - depending on your take on it.

Friday 21st April
Did an artist talk at Project. It was the first one that Project have organised in conjunction with ican and it was, shall we say, an 'intimate' affair - 6 people that rocked up and I knew all of them. I was the 'support act' for Deborah Redwood, a sculptor and installation artist who has just completed a residency at the Studio Barracks and has been a resident and intern for a few places in the states. Most of my images are documented digitally and we only had a slide projector, so i decided to get up there and just tell my story. Kind of an insight into my ideas and a bit about my artistic background. I got pretty good feedback, which was nice. Most people listened intently, although i lost a bit of confidence when Deborah was kind of looking at the ceiling and the ground when i was talking. I realised later that she was probably just checking out the texture of the floor :) Deborah's talk was pretty good - found out some great stuff about residencies in the US and inspired me to get overseas as soon as I can - I've got lots to learn for sure!

Saturday 22nd April
Although i felt quite shit from getting a cold, I drove up to Sydney with Jade Pegler (a fucking great artist from Wollongong) to see Peter Fay, the contemporary art collector and artist. He was having an open house for people to be able to see his own work and to check out his collection. It was amazing! He has some really great work in his place and i fell in love with his book collection. His place felt like a grandmother's place, minus the complete tack. His taste is very specific and I totally admire his committment to his particular tastes, and not necessarily the 'big names'. Most of the work on the walls were small works, but he has a few large pieces floating around and taking up space in his loungeroom. It was also great to meet other artists, some of whom are participating in a show with Jade at Silvershot in Melbourne next month. Peter is going to pop in and see my show too! My work isn't to his taste, so i'm not expecting him to buy anything, but it's still great exposure.

Sunday 23rd April
Slept in and tried to at least recoup from the cold. I realised that although it felt like shit timing, the cold was actually great timing. I couldn't push myself as hard as I ordinarily would have and it forced me to really just chill the fuck out. Started installing at about 6pm and left at 10:30. Thankfully moving the walls at the gallery wasn't as much of a drama as last time (there are moveable walls in the gallery). We started with gridding up the first room to stencil and the first coat for the red wall. It was a slow and boring process, but at least we got it done. We? Jade offered to help install and I don't know if I could have done it without her!

Monday 24th April - The day of disaster
After an attack of perfectionism at 7:30am about the state of my house and car, I picked my mum up from the airport. She came up to cater for the exhibition. She's an awesome chef and she has made the best food! I ran late for her plane and this was the beginning of the day where I came >< this close to subscribing to Murphy's Law... By the time I picked her up, I had to go to Blackbutt Youth Centre to pick up the projector which was expertly wrangled by Josh Wiffen (another top artist and graf guy). The guy who was supposed to let us in to get it didn't turn up and I had to try and sort out how else to get the thing, when the boss rocked up and Josh had to work his magic. After about 5 minutes, he came out with the projector and I swear I saw angels! lol! From Blackbutt, to Gwynneville to borrow theatre blacks from Workshop Theatre - thanks Louis!! A fucking heavy bunch of black material to make up the projection room and hoping that there was enough there. Mum and I then hit the fruit market and Woollies to shop up a storm for the food shopping - out to Unanderra to pick up the chicken from Brashy's work (thanks dude) and then to town to find a cookie cutter. Went to start the car and it wasn't going anywhere. It just grunted at me and sat there. Fuck! Flat battery. My charge light had been on, but i was pushing it until i could get to the mechanics.. shit! Got a jump from Beaurepairs so i could get home with the food and back to the mechanics, only to stall it in my driveway and it was all over! Stressed? Not much!! Fuck, I almost threw a microwave, blender and toasted cheese sandwich maker across the kitchen. And then i burst into tears. Somewhere in the way, I had to foresight to ring my friend Faith, also an artist, who came right over and told me about Battery World doing mobile battery changes! Yay! Called them and then Faith drove me round to do the rest of the things I needed to before the shops shut on the eve of a public holiday: get speakers from Salvos, RCA and SVHS cords from Dick Smith and to Bunnings for gaffa tape and wood for the frame in the projection room..phew! And then back to the gallery for more installation...Worked for about an hour and then took my mum out to dinner (thanks Stackers for the top meal) and then yet again, back to the gallery. I spent about 5 hours constructing a dark room out of 2 walls and curtains. Talk about exercise - I think I got up and down the ladder about 500 times and if i haven't lost my easter pudge by now, it ain't going anywhere... By the time we finished up, more stencilling had been done, 1st coat of the red wall almost done and the projection room happening with the projector tested and working. Finished at 12:30am.

Tuesday 25th April
Anzac Day. Had a cry after walking through the end of the parade in town. It was strangely emotional out there and mum and I found ourselves in tears. We had a great discussion about the futility and generational destruction of war and then went for coffee. Back into the gallery at 1pm and thankfully asked Faith and her partner Damian Bancks (both artists in Wollongong) to give me a hand. Faith stencilled up a demon and Damian helped me build a shelf for the projector after the 'roof' of the projection room blocked out the image where I had it. Jade kept on the red wall. I hung the drawings and a couple of the paintings and by 10pm, when Damian was doing the lights, the show was almost done. Technically it had to be finished by then, but I was so over getting stressed about it, that I just left it and went home to spend half an hour with mum before she went home in the morning. I still had heaps to do, but I figured that no one would come in on the first morning, so i left it.

Wednesday 26th April
Supposedly the first day of the exhibition and at 9am when I snuck into the gallery after going to Bunnings again and before opening time of 10am, i had a list of stuff to do: finish stencilling, finish the 2nd coat of the red wall, wrestle with the hanging system to fix the drawings, hang the last 2 paintings, set up the 'living room' diorama, sweep the floor, print a room list, number the works, put signs up that warn of the 'offensive nature' of the work and get the speakers happening. By 8pm last night i finally got it all done. So what if the 10 people who came in had to deal with a slightly unfinished exhibition. It was finished enough. So now it's done, time for the project meeting! Bloody hell - I'm starting to get sick of this space by now, and i've still got another 8 days to mind it :) Yay for artist-run spaces!!!

Thursday 27th April
Yet another day of running around, although today I've literally been running around, having dropped my car of at the mechanics to fix the fucked alternator. Thank goodness for the mechanics next to the gallery - they love me there and I trust them to look after me. Photocopied a bunch of room lists, started sourcing alcohol. I still don't know where I'm gonna get it - beer is fucking expensive! Then I had an interview on the radio at 2Vox - it was great fun! Sara has a regular guest spot on the Arts Grapevine and I was her guest today! It was so easy to just chat to Steen and although I was a little nervous beforehand, it was a breeze once I was in there. Makes it easier when you know the announcer. We chatted about all kinds of things, I discussed the nature of my work and plugged the opening as well as the trivia night coming up (watch this space). I could do that more often :) Then off to negotiate a sponsorship deal with a liquor supplier for the gallery, worry about my finances, buy some extra platters for the opening and some glasses for the gallery. Thank goodness for donations 'cos it saved me a bunch of headaches. I forget how everything works out exactly as it was meant to. And now I've got 48 wine glasses to wash before tomorrow morning :) Yay!

And who said being an artist was all about getting your hands dirty... thank goodness I love it.

see you at the opening tomorrow night 7pm at Project: 255 Keira St Wollongong!


it's the final countdown

unfortunately, the reference to Europe is the only one i could think of to describe the next week of my life. I start installing my first solo exhibition tonight and wouldn't you know it - i got sick on friday night. In the face of a billion and one things to do, all i feel like doing is hanging out on the couch and watching bad videos on video hits. I'm a bit scared now that the whole thing will just implode and be the worst example of art that has ever hit the face of this planet, but all i can do is just keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust that i know my shit and all the preparation i've done is enough. thankfully i've got people that i can ask to help out and i might just pretend i'm not a proud and stubborn idiot for once and use the help that's been offered. unfortunately for this control freak, i can't predict the future, so i'm just going to do my best to enjoy the experience. people will either love or hate the work, and perhaps in there somewhere someone may actually use their brain and think about it. if that happens, i'll be stoked. and if it all comes a cropper, there's always next time.


hi there

welcome to my blogspot.
it's very bland. not very red. boring.. just for the moment. it might take me a while to get it looking snazzy, but i'll get there. watch this space for my general bile and vitriole and updates on what's happening with my work. thanks for coming.