Monday, September 26, 2016

Letter from America 1...

Letter from America 1...detail of archive

'Letter from America 1' is composed of 100 hand-made muslin envelopes whose surfaces and interiors have been embedded with etching, collage and beeswax. The collage images are a random collection of encyclopedic-like illustrations gathered from various sources. Once enclosed within each envelope they attempt to evoke an ensemble of ambiguous narratives and poetic associations. The use of bees wax creates a duality of possible responses...its transparency suggesting a certain fluidity yet the figure, the event remains inaccessible and motionless, All of which have the capacity to reinforce a measured reference of not wanting to relinquish the small pleasures of everyday life. The title of the work relates to the demise of a favourite radio program that I had listened to for almost fifteen years on ABC's Radio National.
Letter from America was a weekly radio critique of contemporary social and political life in the USA presented by London Times foreign correspondent Alistair Cook. He possessed one of the most sublime radio voices. My doctorate thesis made a number of unnecessary and over emphasised connections with Barthes references to notions of punctum and studium...interesting concepts in themselves but the deciphering of these works is in the descriptions made available in the work itself...figures fixed and frozen within a certain moment devoid of any particular space. The envelope form is an overwhelming symbol of correspondence...but in a form (the implied letter) that has almost quietly become obsolete...the transparency heightened by the use of bees wax
creates a sense of things being  accessible...obtainable..but they remain both veiled and if not fixed than adrift within the shallowest of spaces.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

archive of fragments...

I imagine the usual reaction to receiving damaged works having returned from an exhibition tour could be one of disappointment however in the case of this small collection of pieces with torn edges and detached corners they seem to reaffirm their archival/artefact belongings. There is a temptation to repair them but in their fragmented state they seem to have created their own history of mishaps. 

     The pieces are part of a wall installation 'Archive of the Unfamiliar'  that was composed of over one thousand postcards sourced from numerous antique stores throughout Australia and my personal collection. The 'aboutness' of the work related to a deliberate juxtaposition of altered texts and images whose interrelations provide the viewer with a sense of deciphering a palimpsest of historical narratives. The expanse of postcards could be viewed as a threshold of a European re-inscribing of place. Ultimately the archival tableau offers little more than an encounter with a reflective thought-space relating to a gathering of historical awareness within our colonial past that recognises the potent inscriptions that were already set in place.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

'unpacking mytho-poetics'...

Object poem 1: Living in your very last house:2014

Mytho-Poetic:Print and Assemblage works of Glen Skien.... has now completed its tour of regional galleries throughout Australia. Through the support of both the Gympie Regional Gallery and Museums and Galleries Queensland the experience has afforded me the opportunity to travel to places within regional Australia that would have simply remained  topographical notations. Such experiences have helped to reaffirm my personal conviction that the nature of art within all its layers of expectation and experience in its most fundamental and immediate state provides what the German language describes as 'Denkraum'.....'thought-space'. The philosophy of  touring works to regional districts is underpinned by the simple concept of exposing contemporary arts practices to communities who are never ignorant of its ideologies but simply starved of experience, exposure and conversation of it all. 
The premise of 'mytho-poetic' as a disparate collection of books, prints and assemblages relating to personal stories was based on the notion that our individual narratives have the capacity to infiltrate the big-picture sense of historical narrative that prevails and in doing so are capable of  providing meaningful and memorable visual articulations. Such narratives may remain within the margins but their significance and meaning need to be acknowledged and articulated. Within the realms of the poetic such articulations are never meant to provide a fixed body of knowledge...instead they embrace a more fluid and transient existence where meaning is ever only grasped and lost within the residue of the reflective moment. These ramblings are dedicated to the wonderful team at Museums and Galleries Queensland and the Gympie Regional Gallery.   

All of the things I could have told you about birds,,,miscellaneous books and postcards....

Monday, September 5, 2016

'concealed fables'...

Thank you to all who visited 'fable in brief' over the past two weeks. The exhibition was initially  realized as part of the 50th. anniversary celebrations of the Australia Print Council. It was nice to be part of the continuing celebrations that highlight the diverse methods of contemporary printmaking practise in Australia. I'm not certain that art institutions need to establish a facade of notions of a 'print culture' to ensure that printmaking practises remain relevant in contemporary times. Often for those who make prints the attraction is the nature of printmaking's covert and marginal existence. In this age of digital re-production that manipulates a desire for everything to gain acceptance within the 'mainstream' and a general public still somewhat perplexed by what defines an 'original print' I feel the mystery of making prints is rendered even more enigmatic.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Closing fables...

'fable in brief'..heart:graphite on tracing paper

'fable in brief'' has its final day tomorrow Saturday September 3rd.... an artist talk at 10.30 am...the aboutness of the work has been revealed through the collective conversations with visitors who were generous enough to spend time exploring the various ways of deciphering possible narratives...perceptive comments from several visitors allowing me to see unrealised associations...I was a little taken back with the comment of one 'academic' voice who described the work as 'safe'...perhaps in certain regards its a justified remark...feeling safe in what one creates and making 'safe' work are two quite  separate realms of experience...that sense of following a secure intuitive voice embraces equally the safe and the uncertain...perhaps for individual artists it is something that exists perpetually within a state of flux...I think if any creative response is devoid of degrees of apprehension there is a strong chance that what it evokes will be fleeting....and once one loses that uncertainty then it may be time to find another game...'fable in brief' has been one of the most uncertain collection of works I've ever the 'academic' response of creating safe work without having taken the time to tease out what is often hidden beneath the seduction of surface...of veiled wax paper images or the transparent familiarity of graphite on tracing paper may simply be regarded as a safe comment.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Camera Lucida..2B graphite pencil book tracing

Camera Lucida...Roland Barthes...(detail) book tracing in 2B graphite pencil:2016

Apart from other fragments of experience 'fable in brief' also explores an interest in the photographic image...mostly through the very simple method of transferring a photographic image with the use of acetone rubbed on the back of a laser printed image then having pressure applied either by hand or with the use of an etching press...essentially  exploring/questioning the relationship between the photographic/the mechanical and the hand drawn/the human...which has the capacity for the most compelling response?...the context and image type seems to hold sway over such questions...indirectly connected is this tracing of Roland Barthes poetic reflections on the photographic image in his 1980 book  Camera of the first pieces I started for this show...commenced simply with the desire to trace objects/images that already existed...creative responses that didn't require any conscious or self-conscious manipulation...there is an understated element of excess in this response that perhaps makes this one of my favourite works...there is also the fixed yet transparent element of time. The final artist talk is this Saturday 3rd.Sept. from 10.30 am in the Queensland College of Art Project Gallery, Grey Street, South Bank. 

Camera Lucida...Roland Barthes...(detail) book tracing in 2B graphite pencil:2016