Sunday, August 17, 2008

Matryoshka Dolls

matryoshka tarten family

I've been experimenting with creating Matryoshka (babushka/nesting dolls) dolls as a way of making objects again alongside my tapestry works. I managed to get my hands on a few sets of blank sets to works with and have been playing with adding collages at first to see how they turn out. They've been a little tricky but quite rewarding. It's taking some time to get the feel of the object themselves and how they work. I'm hoping as I get more of a grasp of them as an object that I will explore the use of tapestry elements as well but just now, they are pure collage/paint numbers.

So why Matryoshka's? Well obviously my obsession with Soviet and folk arts has played a role in this. As a child, I remember a matryoshka doll that my nana had from USSR from the early 1980s. It used to sit on the mantle piece and now that she is gone, it sits on my mantle piece. I love the use of narrative within the nesting doll formula and also the metaphor of various sides to our personality, life-cycles etc. They can be very loaded.

matroyska 007

I've been working on 2 sets today. One a small set of 3 and the other a set of 5.
The first one is a bit of an anarchist, stirring trouble theme. It shows 3 girls with the text on each: "going against the grain", "you're a red-blooded anarchist" and "it's time to be counted". All things that could be 'living life motto's" for me!

The second series plays with this great D&G advert that I love where it has all these family members in tartan dresses and head scarves. I've added the girls onto the dolls and the final one has a boy and a girl, bit of a fairy tale fantasy but with a bit of an edge. The last one will have a landscape scene as well.

These works are purely in progress at the moment, much finishing, lacquering and painting to be done but I'm happy with how they are looking and hope to have them for an upcoming display case exhibition soon!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Team Up exhibition opened

The Team Up exhibition at Town Hall Gallery that I am involved in opened last Thursday evening. It was a great evening, a few sales and my pal David managed to snap this picture of Miss Shannon in front of my tapestry taking a look at my other works. I had to add it as she managed to step in front of the tapestry at just the right time and looks like she is the girl in the tapestry. Very much like a live collage! Other photos from the evening can be found on the gallery blog.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

MIFF - Revue & Dead Daughters

My second and third films were Russian films. The first Revue was a stunning collage of various Soviet films used for propaganda and support for the Communist regime from the 1920s to 1940s. The films filmed in black and white were broken up with music and dance scenes that had me tapping away to the oompa music in the cinema. Very quiet and beautiful and a fantastic opportunity to see this type of historical footage on the big screen.

Dead Daughters was shown at 11.15pm at the Capitol theatre. There were huge cues so it looked like it was going to be popular. The story was "three young women, murdered by their mother, return from the dead to take revenge. Anyone who comes in contact with these spirits and commits a sin within three days will suffer their wrath. With this in mind, five Muscovites attempt to remain without sin - though sometimes the greatest sin is inaction."

The film was entertaining, though I think I would of enjoyed watching it earlier in the evening. It reminded me of films such as The Ring with the group of friends banding together as they each get picked off by some supernatural force. Yet again, the MIFF audiences were there in their annoying state. There were so many people walking out throughout the film it was incredibly distracting! I know that it was late but are we that picky these days that we can't hang around for 2 hours to see how a film ends... not matter how bad we think it is?!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

MIFF - Bob Marley and Lee Scratch Perry

Heading into the last weekend of the Melbourne International Film Festival saw me doing 3 films in one day on Saturday 9th August, the only triple session I had done this year.

It started at 10.45am with a mad dash to see the Bob Marley doco and Lee 'Scratch' Perry doco. I had read on Richard's blog that the Bob Marley one was pretty disappointing so I didn't have much expectations and Richard was pretty much right. After going to Kingston in Jamaica late last year, I recognised the scenery but the doco didn't deliver anything new or exciting. The Lee Scratch Perry on the otherhand was very intriguing. Described in the guide as:

"Some people call Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry a prophet; others claim he’s a madman. Seeing him in the opening scenes of this documentary – spinning in circles in his plaid shorts, oversized sunglasses, spouting the praises of Jah Rastafari – you could conclude he’s a little bit of both. Kicking off in rural Jamaica, Upsetter looks into Perry’s youth before segueing to the days of his musical peak in Kingston, where he mentored a young Bob Marley, shaped the reggae sound as we know it today, pioneered a new genre called ‘dub’ and invented what would become ‘the remix’. A documentation of music culture and a unique character study, Upsetter uses archival and contemporary footage, interviews, concert and music clips, and dramatic recreations to detail Perry’s influence across the globe."

After watching this doco, I have a new found respect for Mr Perry who has always been so inventive and incredibly original. I have also found my continual lack of love for MIFF audiences! I'm sick of people laughing at inappropriate parts, people coming in and out half way through films. Where did film attendance etiquette go?

Friday, August 8, 2008

IPOD shuffle

I got this from the fantastic Richard Watt's blog and thought I'd give it a go myself. How it works, there's a list of questions, you then put your ipod on shuffle and keep forwarding to the next mysterious song for each answer, some of them are a bit freaky!

Here's my responses:

1. What does next year have in store for me?
Evolution (song by Catpower)

2. What’s my love life like? The losing end (song by Neil Young)

3. What do I say when life gets hard? Emptiness ( song by John Frusciante)

4. What do I think of on waking up? Ta douleur (your pain) (song by Camille)

5. What song will I dance to at my wedding? Dream on (song by Depeche Mode)

6. What do I want as a career? Caught in a whisper (song by Moloko)

7. My favorite saying? The bright light (song by Tanya Donelly)

8. Favorite place? Panama (song by Van Halen)

9. What do I think of my parents? Flesh and blood (song by Johnny Cash)

10. What’s my porn star name? Besame Mucho (song by Xavier Cougat from Cuba)

11. Where would I go on a first date? Falling away with you (song by Muse)

12. Drug of choice? Memories (song by Madness)

13. Describe myself: Ode to Isis (song by ...and you will know us from the trail of dead)

14. What is the thing I like doing most? Benga – Zombie Jig (song by youngsta and hatcha – dubstep)

15. What is my state of mind like at the moment? Breathing (song by Kate Bush)

16. How will I die? Friday night (song by Lily Allen)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

MIFF - Surveillance

I've always been a fan of David Lynch, so when there was the opportunity to see the latest film Surveillance by his daughter Jennifer Lynch, I was most definitely in! My only recollections of Jennifer's work was the fact that she wrote the Laura Palmer Diary that was the book accompaniment to the Twin Peaks series. Though thanks to google, I discovered that she also directed one of my favourite films, Boxing Helena.

Described in the festival guide as:

“A twisty thriller with an unabashedly nasty streak and an almost theatrical taste for excess.” – LA Times

After a 15-year hiatus, Jennifer Lynch (daughter of the notorious David Lynch) follows up her controversial filmmaking debut, Boxing Helena, with another violence-laden bombshell.

stars Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond as FBI agents who ride into a small desert town on the scent of some killers involved in a mass shooting on the highway. Surviving witnesses are hauled into the police station to recount what they saw, but the individual pieces of the puzzle fail to fit together.

-esque in its presentation, Surveillance is seasoned with plenty of midnight movie flavour and dissonant genre notes, giving credence to the old adage: ‘like father, like daughter’.

This film had a all the right ingredients, goofy cops with too much personality, interesting flashback scenes and a series of twists that are amazing! Although there is a lot of violence, I feel that I'm more immune to people being shot dead than the type of bizarre sexual violence that I saw in Cargo 200! Bill Pullman was fantastic in his role as FBI agent. I don't think that I've ever seen him act in such an interesting way and also with such conviction. A real credit to Jennifer Lynch. Surveillance is another film that will go into my library of great films alongside Blue Velvet!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Final works for Team Up exhibition

Stop, What are You Thinking?, paper collage on canvas, 10 x 10cm, 2008

Capture Revolution, paper collage on canvas, 10 x 10cm, 2008.

I Love You, Me Too (green envelope), woven tapestry, 2008

Looking Back, woven tapestry, 2007.

Check Black, paper collage on canvas, 25cm x 25cm, 2008

The Used, paper collage on paper, 25 x 25cm, 2008.

Counter Intuitive, paper collage on canvas, 25 x 25cm, 2008.

I Love You, Me Too, paper collage on canvas, 25 x 25cm, 2008.

I Got So Lucky, paper collage on canvas, 10 x 10cm, 2008.

Team Up exhibition - questions

With the exhibition looming (we install in the next 2 days!), all of the teams are providing answers to the following questions to give viewers a bit more of an idea of what we do!

Below are my response - not that I really thought about them too much!

1.Who are you? What is your background?

I’m Mardi Nowak, curator at Town Hall Gallery and also mentor of Jessamy Gee. My background is quite varied. I completed a Bachelor of Fine Art majoring in tapestry at Monash University, then completed my honors year and a Master of Fine Art by Research in about 2004.

I usually describe myself as a full time curator, part time artist and I find that they both feed each other in positive ways. After working as a curator for over 10 years now, I don’t think that I could go back to being an artist full time as it can be quite isolating and insular. Working with other artists allows me to trial new ideas in the gallery and be in touch with new ideas, media and ways of working which I love!

tapestry in progress, this will be in the exhibition.

2. What do you like best about what you do? What motivates/inspires/influences you?

I always look at things on two sides, as a curator I love working with a wide range of artists and seeing their exhibition ideas come to fruition. That’s also one of the reasons why I decided to do this exhibition and take part as a mentor. When it comes to being an artist, in particular an artist working in woven tapestry, I love being part of a very old tradition but showing contemporary imagery. I also like the fact that it’s a skill based art that not everyone does, so it makes it a little special - it has a bit of ‘wow’ factor.

When it comes to motivation and inspiration, the everyday is what inspires me. Now that I don’t have much time to spend on my artwork, I make things that I want to make and that I feel strongly about or have a connection with. I don’t make work that is controlled by what may sell or what other people want. The imagery I create is made very intuitively but the selection of what will be woven is selected on aesthetic basis and because it has something to say, either about me or because there is a narrative I want to share. I’m heavily influenced by artists such as Karen Kilimnik and Elizabeth Peyton with whom I share a love of figurative works that have a quiet narrative and who also put the viewer and artist into a range of characters.

3. Why did you choose the medium you are currently working in? How does this differ from mediums you have worked in the past?

Before studying tapestry, I had worked in painting and printmaking. However I come from a strong family tradition of textiles, so having the opportunity to work in a medium that I love and have an affinity with the right thing for me. As tapestry takes a reasonably long time to make, especially the large works, I generally work in other mediums as well, especially collage which allows me to create images and designs and ideas quickly. In the past I have worked in installation with the tapestries as well as going through a stage of working with PVC! Even now, I still go through stages of making or playing with objects as a break from weaving.

4. What patterns emerge in your work? Is there a pattern in the way you select materials? Why?

There’s no specific patterns to my work other than the pattern of my work process which is:

Idea/collage – black and white enlargement of collage – potential cropping of enlargement – cartoon – tapestry.

5. What has been the most beneficial aspect of the mentor project? What is the most important thing you learned from your mentor/mentee?

For me it has been great to see what Jessamy has been coming up with over this time, though I feel that I’ve been involved in some way with everyone’s partnership! I was lucky as Jessamy and I have known each other for a couple of years through the gallery so I was familiar with her work. Though I have seen it develop over the last 3-4 weeks greatly and she has become very experimental. It’s hard to say what the most beneficial part has been, I’m sure that more will come to light during the actual exhibition process as well and it won’t end with the exhibition. I’m sure that the teams will continue into the future in some form or another.

MIFF - Somers Town

Described in the Melbourne International Film Festival guide as...

“An affectionate tribute to cross-cultural friendship and the rapidly changing landscape known as Somers Town” - Variety

Leaving the Midlands behind, 16-year-old Tomo (played by This Is England’s young star, Thomas Turgoose) escapes from a tough and lonely life, but finds that living in London’s Somers Town district can be just as harsh. Teaming up with teenage Polish immigrant Marek, who spends his days in isolation while his father works on a construction site, the two boys make money where they can and share their affection for local French waitress Maria.

Somers Town mixes filmmaker Shane Meadows’ (This Is England, MIFF 2007; Dead Man’s Shoes, MIFF 2005) trademark gritty realism with a more comic and tender touch.

I'm only half way through my film festival selections but I am prepared to say that this is the best film that I have/will see at MIFF this year. It was beautifully shot and even though it could of been incredibly grim, it is funny, tender and makes you remember how small things can make you so happy. Thomas Turgoose is again fantastic. I loved This Is England and seeing him continue with fantastic characters and acting (though I often feel he IS the character!) was delightful. Even when you think the worse is going to happen, it all turns out ok and made me feel bad for thinking the worst of people... something that our contemporary life has led us to do. I really can't say how much I loved this film, I honestly walked out of the cinema smiling.

MIFF - Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?

Melbourne Film Festival guide described it as...

“If I’ve learned anything from big budget action movies it’s that complicated global problems are best solved by one lonely guy.” – filmmaker Morgan Spurlock

Having lost the weight from the fast food experiment that was Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock returns in an attempt to track down the Western world’s arch nemesis, Osama Bin Laden. On the news of his wife’s pregnancy, Spurlock reacts how most men would – he heads straight to the Middle East; not in an attempt to escape his responsibilities, but instead to find Bin Laden and make the world a safer place for his child.

Travelling through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? tries to discover how the world’s most wanted man was created, and just what makes him tick.

Last night we went and saw Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden. Film maker Morgan Spurlock introduced the film with a very cringe worthy, "Aussie Aussie Aussie, OI OI OI!" Why, I'm not too sure. The film was entertaining with it's animated Osama Bin Ladens dancing to You Can't Touch This and had lots of pretend game sequences but for me, it pretty much feel short of being anything cutting edge or educational. While it looked briefly at the USA's history of propping up international war lords when it suits them, it pretty much was Spurlock going around the world asking people "How do you feel about America and where's Osama?" and also lamenting on the fact that his wife was having a baby.

His series, 30 days was far more informative and hard hitting and made viewers think about the bigger picture whereas Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? was pretty much a whole heap of jokes and subtitles. The only real amusing part was the huge cue for the film which was a sell out and staff yelling out "If you're here to see Osama Bin Laden, here's the cue!" a bit like an old fashioned freak show - nice.

Friday, August 1, 2008

MIFF - Asterix at the Olympic Games

Described in the film festival guide as....

"Gallic mischief-makers Asterix and Obelix once again take on the entire Roman Empire in their third live-action adventure.

With the Olympic Games approaching, Brutus has hatched a plot to overthrow Julius Caesar, dominate the games and win the heart of beautiful Greek princess Irina. But Brutus didn't count on Asterix and Obelix, who are enlisted to help young Gallic athlete Lovesix compete.

Features a star-studded cast - including Alain Delon as Caesar and Gerard Depardieu as Obelix - Asterix also features cameos from sports stars such as Tony Parker, Amélie Mauresmo, Zidane and Michael Schumacher.

With the biggest budget of any French film to date, Asterix brings to life the books of Goscinny and Uderzo in a brilliant spectacle that stays faithful to the unique humour and style of the original 1968 comics."

Unfortunately I missed out on seeing Red Like the Sky, due to getting some flu like illness, but I did work myself up to seeing Asterix at the Olympic Games. It was packed with school groups unfortunately and I had to hold back from smacking one of them as they made continual noise and took forever to get out of the cinema, though it was worth it for an afternoon of cheesy fun. One of my favourite parts was seeing how they put their cameo sports stars in (basically in a montage like scene at the end!!) though the one involving Michael Schumacher as an amazing chariot racer was hilarious, especially the pit crew scenes. All in all entertaining and giggle worthy.
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