Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sheree Rensel - ART AND LIFE: Art Cliques

Sheree Rensel - ART AND LIFE: Art Cliques

Art Cliques

So I was surfing the other day and came across a web site I thought I might like to join in order to broaden my artistic horizons. It shall remain nameless, but it was a mosaic forum web site. I love mosaics and taught myself the basics (which, trust me are pretty basic) about 10 years ago now. Under the influence of my mentor, Jena Mafe, I gradually came to incorporate mosaic and the aesthetic that so fascinates me about them into my sculpture work. It took a bit of persuading on her part because I was fully aware that mosaicists tend to be a fairly conservative bunch and not keen on having their art from bastardised by other branches of the arts. So I came to terms with the fact that I couldn't really call myself a mosaicist any more. But I was very happy with my weird and wonderful incorporation of mosaic ideas in my work.

Anyway, not so long ago, I read an article by Sonia King, world renowned mosaicist, (who I once shared a tram ride and Vietnamese lunch with in Melbourne at a Mosaic Symposium). In the article she said that in order for Mosaic to be truly considered a fine art, mosaic artists need to be strong in artistic integrity and rigorous in the pursuit of excellence. She also says 'There are serious mosaic artists creating a commendable work today. Yet there is a lack of critical dialogue. Our numbers have grown so fast that, to some extent, we've become a closed circle...we don't think about how this is perceived outside the Mosaic community.' Later in the same magazine from which I took that quote (Mosaic Art Now No 3, 2010), I found an image of a beautiful art work by Pamela Goode (USA) which incorporated found objects, including fibre - a woman after my own heart.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I dropped in at the exhibition of the local chapter of MAANZ (Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand) not really intending to admit my crossing over to a hybrid form of the art, but prepared nonetheless to enjoy their fabulous pieces. I found the women looking after the exhibition overwhelmingly friendly and accepting, many of the pieces sitting on the border of 'true' mosaic and we ended up exchanging business cards.

Buoyed up by all of this, I confidently submitted my name to the aforementioned web site for vetting, thinking that membership was a Fait accompli given that I was neither a paedophile or serial killer. But this morning I got a message rejecting my application on the basis that 'it was not felt that I would find like-minded artists on this site'; this conclusion obviously drawn after a viewing of my website and not finding anything that resembled a traditional mosaic. If that means I won't find any other artists keen to learn from others, discuss the nature of our art form and be open to new ideas, then I guess the messenger was right. All of those artists have clearly been rejected like me!

So I would love to hear from any of you out there whose art work doesn't fit in a neat tidy box and from any of you who have been ostracized from a particular group or society as a consequence. Most of us are keen to support and encourage each other on this creative journey. Why are some people so married to the idea that creativity needs to be able to be classified?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where to from here?

I don't know about you, but I find it alarming to wake up one day to discover that suddenly and without warning, Christmas is about nine weeks away. How did that happen? The department stores are already gearing up which aside from following along with the blatant commercialism is actually quite good from my point of view - I find wonderful treasures for my art amongst the decorations and lights.
The alarming thing is more that what has to be achieved at school and other places between now and then hardly bears thinking about. I am itching to get into the studio, but I just don't seem to get there and the thought of cramming assessment, reporting, and other boring things into the remaining weeks is quite exhausting.
On the up side, I went to the craft fair in town the other day. It is such a lolly shop for people like me who are excited by all the fibre, fabrics, beads and other luscious stuff. Of course I spent too much money, but now I have these wonderful bits and pieces to inspire me.
I just wish there was some time to focus on the inspiration and follow through with the work. I have been looking at some of the fantastic work on other blogs - very inspiring, but also a bit depressing. Right now I am weighing up whether to have another solo show next year or not - am I going to have time to do it justice? On the other hand I don't want to give myself over to just working on curriculum and lesson plans 24/7. Will have to get my act together and get on with it.

Monday, October 11, 2010


What do they say about rainy days and Mondays? Today is the double whammy - Monday, and we are experiencing what the weather people call a weather 'event'. A low pressure system is sitting over our heads which means it has been bucketing down for the last 24 hours. Just to make it even more fun, I have to drive across town, dodging road closures and flash flooding to front up at the accountant and get my tax done. Great. Needless to say, my inner artist is descending into a fit of thumb-sucking despair. I don't think I have mentioned that as well as being an artist, I am also a part-time art teacher at a local secondary school. Mostly it is good: I love being with the kids and watching them develop their creativity. But the politics and the 'institutionalised' mentality depress the hell out of me. Got to sort out a few 'issues' today along with everything else. Not a good start to my week, all in all. Must do something to cheer myself up. Some art work would do it - but will I manage to get into the studio?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Work and Exhibition

This week is going to be another in a long line of ridiculously busy weeks. I have a group show opening on Friday night, with four other women artists. It will be a great show - very diverse and featuring sculpture with textiles, found objects, wire, works on canvas and natural fibres like felt. I will be including the finally finished Royal Spoonbill (pics below taken by fab photographer Carl Warner) as well as some of the other pieces I have already shown you, like Ceibhfhionn (which is soooo heavy, I can feel my back hurting already) and The Bower. If you live in the Brisbane district, feel free to come along to the opening on Friday (15th Oct) at the White Canvas Gallery, Church St, Fortitude Valley at 6.30pm.

To Check out more details, go to White Canvas Gallery