Sunday 23 June 2024

The Richard Randall Art Studio

Last week I installed Algalrhythms for its final showing at the lovely Richard Randall Art Studio. The intention was to enable a local viewing, as it had only been shown in regional venues, and to hopefully generate some sales of the remaining work (a number of pieces were acquired after the last official exhibition at Dogwood Crossing in Miles). I also included some wearable works, and created extra
botanically-dyed silk garments – tank tops, camisoles, scarves and ties – thinking that I would have the perfect audience and market, with the studio housed on the grounds of the Mt-Coot-tha Botanical Gardens. 

Unfortunately, the visitors were few, and the sales even fewer – not even a single botanically dyed piece sold! I did what I could to get the word out there, obviously using social media, Janet de Boer’s newsletter, the Brisbane City Council website, and even sent a media release to what media email addresses I could get. It’s so hard to keep up with them – they are constantly changing, and even their own websites can’t keep up. The council could certainly help a bit more – I sent the release to them, asking if they had any contacts they could send it to, but they just re-directed me back to the website where I had already submitted it. What they could have done is send it to their own Visitor Information Centre at the gardens – fortunately, the ladies there came and visited me and asked for some information to share with visitors. Guess what I gave them…?

However, this is not a tale of tragedy and woe. I thoroughly enjoyed my week there, from the massive day of install, to the days spent minding, less so the pack up on Sunday, which incredibly took just over an hour. I thank my years of working at markets, and my year of touring Australia in 2015 with the Craft & Quilt Fair for giving me the experience in the bump-in and bump-out (even my theatre years, with that terminology!) and the hours of sitting, and random chatting. 

What I enjoyed the most though, was talking to the people who got it, who were touched by my exhibition work, who felt something, who were inspired. Usually I don’t have this opportunity to see and hear the response – you install, open, then leave the exhibition for the period. Sometimes people write in a visitor book, but it doesn’t really convey the full response. It meant a lot to me, and was particularly timely and reassuring as I face the last few months of creation before my new exhibition opens. I also had the support of a lot of friends who made the effort to drop in, and purchase work.
Finally, it brought about a new level of organisation at home as everything returning had to be accommodated. The room where most was stored is now a room again, the wet area has been reorganised to accommodate Matt’s car so my kombi can finally go into the hospital bay and get worked on, and even the studio is pretty tidy considering the amount of work that is in process.

Friday 17 May 2024

Exhibitions Everywhere

2024 has been a very busy year, and I have been very remiss in not sharing it thus far. I do find it becomes tricky between sharing the more immediate moments on Instagram, and writing articles for TEXTILE Fibre Forum; one keeps folks up to date to the minute, the other is almost six months behind, but claims most of my best words, images, and adventures - sometimes it seems as though there is nothing left for here!

It has been a wild ride so far, beginning with the continuing evolution of work for DistoMorph, my next body of work. For the most up-to-date mentions of #textileart and related activities, studiosvenja on Instagram is the place to visit.

I took a break in late March with a trip to Auckland to visit not only family but to see the Guo Pei exhibition. I was not disappointed with any moment of this trip, and I spent a day of wonder at the Auckland Art Gallery, looking at her work from 2005-2020. As someone definitely NOT from the less is more camp, her glorious excess was relished by my appreciative eyes, captivated also by the skill in design and construction of such wonders. I was extremely glad I was able to make the fairly spontaneous trip to witness this, bundled up with visiting long un-seen family members. It was a beautiful trip in every way.

On our return I did another three weeks in the studio before leaving for Melbourne with Janet de Boer on our pilgrimage to the Annemieke Mein exhibition in Gippsland Art Gallery. Ours has been a slowly evolving friendship since the time I first met her when I worked at Craft Queensland in the early 2000’s, and attending the first meetings of Queensland ATASDA. In actuality, my respect and admiration for Janet began a long time before that, as Editor of TEXTILE Fibre Forum, the magazine I devoured during the 90’s, the convenor of TEXTILE Fibre Forums, and the owner operator of Gallery 159, where I was fortunate enough to exhibit twice. Since then we have met more and more frequently, to talk art and textiles in the company of bubbles.

It was therefore an easy task for us to plan a trip down to Gippsland Art Gallery to visit the retrospective exhibition of the most influential artist on my career and Janet’s friend, Annemeike Mein. Due to their long-term friendship, I was able to ride Janets coat-tails along to an afternoon tea in the house of the woman who set me on this path, who demonstrated that textiles did not have to be clothes, but could also be employed as art materials. 

I was incredibly happy to meet this amazing woman who was a) so visibly happy to reconnect with Janet b) so generous in sharing her time and space with us, c) someone who clearly believed in her vision and doggedly followed and logged it, with wonderful family support, and d) just such a lovely lady! I adored watching them reconnect and then getting a tour of her beautiful attic workspace whilst she was signing our copies of the marvellous new book that supports her retrospective exhibition, ‘Annemieke Mein: A Life’s Work.’

 Arriving home on Thursday evening, it was back on the road on Friday to head to Warwick, where I had been invited to make presentations to students about wearable art. This was facilitated by the Jumpers and Jazz in July collective – I was involved in their Wearable Art Warwick event last year, and they are hoping to encourage student participation in the future.

In the evening I was delighted to be opening Sharyn Hall's exhibition at The Warwick Regional Art Gallery - A Cabinet of Curiosities. I thought it was a great turnout to see her fantastically eclectic new work, which I got to visit in her studio a week or so beforehand.

In more good news, after a concerted effort in the office submitting applications and slowly chasing them up, I have a skeleton schedule for my new exhibition, DistoMorph for the next few years. It is encouraging yet not totally surprising that this becomes easier as I gain more successes, or should that read, validations. Check my 'News' page on my website for updated venues.

It is a constant battle for me between studio and office, and I feel grateful for my ability to express myself in words as well as imagery, as application processes are reasonably demanding for even the most erudite, not to mention technologically literate. Let alone the spreadsheets that record when proposals were sent, received, responded to and/or chased up. It’s an on-going drama of the most unglamorous kind.

With my impending term of recovery after surgery looming in early May for my rhinoplasty revision, I felt like I was getting my affairs in order as I tidied-up loose-ends, mostly in my studio.  It did feel good to have a clean up and get a few things sorted out. 

I’m now on the other side of that, and although I had lots of very small tasks lined up to go, I didn’t factor in that one can become very fractious and impatient when not feeling 100%, which effects the usual work ethic. Still, there's a few weeks left of being a bit gentle left. 

And of course, having received the excellent news that my design has made it through the next round of paperonskin, work on putting the finishing touches to that continues. As usual, there is a fair amount of secrecy involved, so snippets are all I can show for now.

I also had to prepare for my special event coming up in June – a sale of works from my exhibitions and general creations to be held at The Richard Randall Studio at the Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, 11-16 June. Textile art-works from Algalrhythms for the walls, wearable art works for the body, felting, nuno-felting, ice dye and botanical dye. Hours will be 10-4, and credit facilities are available.

So pop in and say hello!