Fractured Dwellings: Rosi Griffin

Paintings that describe fragmented domestic spaces populated with disintegrating walls, are timely. They come when the industrial spaces around Rosi Griffin’s Collingwood studio are rapidly transforming with new developments continually springing up for a swelling inner city population. They come at a time when massive rises in Australian house prices have turned property development and residential renovation into a national sport when glossy magazine style layouts of idealised domestic spaces cloud our image of that the home has been for most of us.

Fragmented Dwelling, Rosi Griffin, acrylic on canvas, 122x91cm

The paintings, Fragmented Dwelling and Urban Transformation, describe this time as the disintegration of the domestic space. Not only is the possibility of ownership becoming more remote for emerging generations but for those that have a home, the domestic space is now set in the context of surrounding development and unattainable images of perfection. The domestic space is being threatened on many levels as materialistic impulses cloud out communal and familial impulses. The stability and viability of that space is being torn, dislocated and shredded like the walls in these paintings. We can no longer claim to be escaping the slums, as Modernism claimed almost century ago, rather, it is now all for the sake of the new and the ideal as dictated by fake images of domestic perfection.

Urban Transformation, Rosi Griffin, mixed media on board, 60x50cm

Walls create a space that not only protect, but also provide a known place, and in that place gradually builds a narrative of belonging. The experience of a neighbourhood, the identification with a place are held by familiar walls. The walls of our home, the walls of our streets, are pages on which our stories are written. Without them we fall into a a perpetual present with no past, perpetual change eroding a language of belonging. Language of home gradually disintegrates and becomes abstracted until all that we have in its place are traces of memory of what was. As in Build after demolition, we no longer have identifiable walls, just the trace of walls that define a present space with no history and no story. Edges without containment and protection.

Build after demolition, Rosi Griffin, acrylic on canvas, 112x140cm

Opening Friday 2 June, 6 pm to 8 pm at St Heliers Street Gallery, Abbotsford Covent, 1 St Heliers Lane, Abbotsford.

Written by Marco Corsini

Students’ work from our Painting Intensive

Marco’s Painting Course in December was three days of intense energy between painters and canvas. This concentrated effort is not often exercised in our busy lives and the end results were acute, new technical skills and a finished work after only three days of painting.

The students who attended had varied painting skills; some with little knowledge at all. As you can see from the finished pieces of work below, they completed sensitive paintings with varied tone and interesting compositions. We are very happy with these pieces and proud that such detail was achieved over a short amount of time. It normally takes our students at least few weeks to complete a painting of this standard in our normal classes with two and a half contact hours per week.

We have introduced another intensive art class – drawing with Hilmi Baskurt, which runs for three days over the Labour Day weekend in March. This is a great opportunity to focus and refine drawing skills over three intensive days. You can find out more here.

Ethel, acrylic on canvas
Ethel, acrylic on canvas
Painting
Julie, acrylic on canvas

 

Elizabeth, acrylic on canvas
Elizabeth, acrylic on canvas

Children and art

The following is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent earlier today which may be of help in understanding what I am trying to do in the Young Artist Program.

Until the age of thirteen or fourteen a child needs to be reassured that their own creative processes including experimentation and failure are all valid. I am trying to allow the children to emulate the creative processes that I see a mature artist go through. By doing that I am hoping that the child will be equipped with confidence and creative processes to deal with the challenges of anything they choose to take on. At some point the child’s vision widens and seeing skills they do not possess; they choose to acquire those skills. It is at that point that a systematic direction can be given. To some degree these two aspects are present in every child at every stage so I am trying to read the child to know when to let them go and when to give direction and I do that every class.

If the child were to produce mermaids and dogs every week I would not see that as being any different from Fred Williams producing landscapes. My role then is not to distract from the child’s vision but to support them in developing that vision and give technical advice when necessary (which at this age, may or may not be taken on). My other role is to expose the children to art and art processes which I try to do although the children are often so absorbed in their own work they barely seem to notice.

Marco Corsini

Kevin Brennan will be asking; why do we make art and does art really matter?

Why do we make art and does art really matter? Kevin Brennan, our guest speaker this Tuesday the 5th and Friday the 15th, will be exploring these questions.

Kevin has worked in the arts and cultural arena for over 25 years as artist, producer facilitator and entrepreneur covering a range of art forms and practice. Kevin is fascinated by creativity and its practice as well as in public debate and policy frameworks. He has extensive experience in teaching, facilitating community engagement, writing strategy and analysis and developing policy in this field.

Kevin was Artistic Coordinator of La Luna Youth Arts (1990-94), Company Manager of Melbourne Workers Theatre from 1995-1999 and Programming Co-ordinator for the Art of Dissent Conference for Adelaide Festival and Melbourne Festival in 2002. He has served on numerous local and state government committees and advisory bodies.

Through his business United Notions Creative Solutions Kevin has worked strategically through consultations & research with small arts organisations, diverse communities, government and arts industry bodies and the broader community and tertiary education sectors. Among many other projects, Kevin was Executive Officer of Arts Management Advisory Group (Victoria) from 2005-2011, Specialist Arts Advisor for Deloitte’s Research into Small Arts organisations for Arts Victoria (2007). He has worked on the development of Arts & Culture Strategies for Shire of Cardinia, City of Kingston and Shire of Golden Plains. Kevin is a sessional lecturer in the Masters of Community Cultural Development Course at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships (Victorian College of the Arts) and lectures in the Masters in Arts Management course at RMIT.

Managing a Creative Project

Often, working creatively is seen as a completely intuitive, whimsical and spontaneous process. Nobody that I know, who is producing consistently, works in this way. While intuition and spontaneity do play a part in the creative process often it is just dogged persistence that gives results. I have put together the following chart to help manage and encourage persistence in the creative process.

Managing a Creative Project

Managing your creativity

It can be difficult to do creative work when you have limited time and have to maintain other responsibilities such as study, work and family. So how can you achieve the most with the limited time you have?

I have frequently struggled with this question and have put together the following thoughts based upon my own experience and that which I have observed in the lives of other artists.

Curiosity

Creativity is a part of life and should not be isolated to your work time. A curiosity and passion for life is a key element of getting ideas. Creative people usually have an interest in how things around them look, feel, smell, how people behave and what makes things work and not work.  They tend to appreciate other people’s creative work and the natural world. They observe and they reflect. So, although life may be busy, the many instances when we are engaging in our daily routines present many opportunities to use our natural curiosity and to be passionate about our existence. This engagement with life will breed new thoughts and ideas.

Space

You need a space to explore ideas playfully. This is a place for your creative work. Perhaps this could be a room, a corner, a desk or your studio. It can be a place where you leave special objects and your associated thoughts. This is a place where you leave your work and can return to it to see it again. It is a well organised space that has the materials you need, when you need them so that you can pick up on a thread of an idea quickly. When completing your creative work, you take the time to reflect on your work while cleaning and organising your space so that it is ready to receive you the next time you come.

Journal

Ideas and observations are a special insight and they need to be treated carefully so that we can all benefit. They can lead to great work but we have to be ready to record them as they come. A journal, a sketch book or book you can write in offers a place to jot ideas, sketch, observe, plan and play. It is a private space and you can put down whatever comes to mind regardless of whether it makes sense at the time. I keep several journals and pencils around me. I have one in the car and I usually travel with one. Although I am often away from my work space I try to maintain a discipline of drawing and writing in my journal. It becomes my little travelling work space.

Consistency

Be consistent in your work schedule even if it is only a few hours a week. Your commitment to journaling or working in your space is important for your creative development.  If you are like me you will find that periods of time pass when you are not able to be consistent. If you have been maintaining a curiosity and passion for the tasks you have been doing in your life, you probably have been creative in other ways and this will be useful for your work when you return.

Unclutter

Our minds need the freedom to process information and ideas. I find that my mind works better if I am able to release myself from worry, apprehension and needless distraction. I try to limit wasteful distractions, my ideas mostly coming from my daily experiences and reading. I think carefully about whether I need extra ‘things’ in my life as the more I have, the more my mind is occupied. I try to maintain a routine that allows me to free my mind at some stage in the day. Curiously, I’ve found that I get my best ideas while doing menial tasks such as washing the dishes. This document came to me while washing the dishes and was initially written on some serviettes.

The pressure we put on ourselves to be creative can also clutter our minds. For me it was a combination of a demanding life with the added pressure of coming up with new ideas that had for a period of several years brought my creative work to a standstill. It was only after walking away from the pressure to create that I found ideas began to flow again. I have learnt a lot from that experience. I now cycle my projects through a process of focusing on them then letting them go. I will work on the project until it is clear I am making little headway. I then leave it alone, switch to another project or task until from somewhere in my subconscious mind the solution to the problem emerges or until I am ready to return to the project with a clear mind. Then I repeat the process for the next stage of the project.

Set Objectives

Once you know which direction you want to go in then apply clear objectives and parameters to ensure you get there.

What is it you want to achieve?  What are the qualities your successful project will have? What is the strategy you can employ to get there? Who or what can help?

Feedback

Seek feedback from positive people whose judgement you trust and avoid exposure to people whose judgment you don’t trust. With sincerity and openness, you may find the opportunities to befriend people that have the knowledge and experience you seek.

Discuss your work with others as it develops and always be open to new perspectives.

Exposure

Find places to expose your work. If you have worked hard for your idea then you need to be a good advocate for it. Telling a story about the development of the idea will most likely draw some interest.

Rest

Take a break. After a heavy work schedule on a project you need rest your body and to free your mind so that you can return to living with a curiosity for life.