Wall art?

Heading down Swanston street this morning I saw a couple of guys setting up to do some painting. On my way back in the afternoon they had made some progress. I have often wondered how large paintings on the side of buildings are actually produced.

When I was at Teachers College there was a compulsory subject that was a bit of a bore. PPT – the principles and practices of teaching. It was all about using technology to support classroom practice. This included spirit duplicators, gestetners, slides, film projection and mention was even made of the epidiascope even though it had been recently superseded by the overhead projector. OK it was a while ago.

But most of the time was spent on the blackboard as a chalkboard was then called. This is well before they became a trendy cafe menu device. We learned that by soaking the chalk in a sugar solution, you could make semi permanent lines that would only come off with washing. A great time saver. For potential infant teachers it was very important to be able to create lively pictures and of course a map of Australia on the board was essential for social studies. We even had a blackboard writing test. If you have ever tried it, it is not easy to keep things straight or spell correctly when writing on a wall.

The secret we were let in on was the existence of large brown paper templates with lots of pin holes that you taped up onto the board and then hit with a dusty blackboard eraser. When you took the paper down a faint outline of the illustration or map could then be traced over.

And this is the same technique the wall painters I saw today were using. First they taped up cut out shapes from their design, and marked around it. Then they filled in with paint.

But is it art? If you look closely at the design on the bench, it is an ad for a sports broadcaster.



After a lovely morning and lunch with one of my quilting groups I took a friend to the member preview of a small but interesting exhibition at NGV International. It’s topic is Japan and the Birth of Modern Art. Using works from the gallery collection, it is an exploration of the influence of Japan and Japanese Art on European and Australian artists.

Unfortunately a lot of other members thought attending the curator floor talk a good idea too. The curator is in about the centre of this photo.

Fortunately the PA system worked very well and while not being able to see specific works, at least you could hear what he and the other curator had to say. Seeing works from the familiar art movements of the 19th and early 20th century alongside the ceramics, block prints and textiles from Japan that had a huge influence on their development was fascinating. It gave an insight into how novel the Japanese aesthetic was at the time and how quickly it was embraced, not only by copying but by adapting compositional techniques and the use of everyday subject matter.


Nearly everything is displayed in very dark cases with dramatic lighting.

The serving platter is part of a new acquisition from the Bracquemond Rousseau dinner service designed in France in 1866 by Feliz Bracquemond after work by Katsushika Hokusai.

Cockatoo is stunning piece of French majolica from 1870 shows the popularity of the exotic.

Having just seen the documentary The First Monday in May, a behind the scenes look at the mounting of the fashion exhibition ‘China Through the Looking Glass’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the corresponding 2015 Met Gala, I had a bit more of an idea of what goes on in mounting an exhibition. By the way it is great viewing and on iView until 19 June.

Still, it was a bit disappointing to find a couple of glaring problems with this NGV exhibition. As my friend pointed out, the labels were placed so that the reflected light flared on them, or your own shadow obscured the print.

An interesting set of lithographs from 1901 by the Austro-Hungarian designer Koloman Moser, were intended to be adapted for use in wallpaper, textiles and other flat surfaces  After much puzzling we figured out the labels did not match the layout of the prints so I could not find Wish hat, fabric in two colours at all. It was easier to identify this one as Silvanus, a printed textile design.

I think I will drop in again for a second viewing when it is not so crowded.

The Field: Revisited

I remember, even if many people don’t, visiting the Art Gallery in Melbourne when it was in the State Library Building. The museum was also housed here.

Then 50 years ago the brutalist building by Roy Grounds was opened in St Kilda Road. The building itself was controversial with its huge grey walls and defensive moat. It is now one of the most visited Art Museums in the world, sitting around number 20 depending on the list used.

Imagine the excitement when the art works that had formerly been seen in a few Victorian era galleries in a Neo Classical building, were moved to a huge, modern venue. The opening exhibition was keenly awaited. What was shown – shocked.

The Field was a big and bold survey of colour field and hard edge art movement shown on silver walls inspired by the walls of Andy Warhol’s Factory studio. The legacy, quoting from the catalogue – is the “recognition of the public art gallery as a place where expectations can be challenged rather than where the familiar is confirmed”.

The Field: Revisited opened at the end of April in the Ian Potter Centre, the gallery for Australian art that opened also amid controversy in 2002. In her introductory talk, the curator explained how they decided to show all the paintings and sculptures that could be found, and place them in the same space as much as possible considering it was in a different building. She used photos from the original catalogue to determine where the works were hung.

A grey tone masonite replica is hung where a missing work should have been as with this work by Rollin Schlict Twentieth century note which is believed to be destroyed. Also by Schlict, Dempsey 1968 was thought to have also have been destroyed but was found rolled in his studio. Both works explore the concept that paintings need not be confined to the conventional shape of the square, rectangle, oval or circle.

I liked the way this painting seemed to contain architectural elements; stairs, arches, window panes or tiles. He was also an architect, maybe that was the influence.

More domestic items were the inspiration for other works.

Dale Hickey’s magnificent untitled work of 1967 was based on a quilt pattern found on a bedspread. The use of shading creates an amazing optical effect of depth.

Kind-hearted kitchen-garden IV 1968 gets its name from the first and last words on the page of a dictionary. Robert Rooney’s series is based on observations at his parents’ home in Hawthorn East. The main shape comes from the internal curves of a clothes peg.

The myth of the machine 1968 is by Udo Sellback who was born in Germany and migrated here after spending the war living in Cologne. This is part of a series that explore abstracted rectangles. His forms are inspired by topographies of cities bombed and devastated.

The shadow cast by a sheet hung from a Hills hoist is transformed in the breeze, like a rectangle but with edges that moved.

I found this work totally absorbing, with so many forms to explore around the edges of the black shape.

Three other works I really loved. Noumenon XIX Indian Summer 1967s by Alun Leach-Jones and one of two works from the series in The Field. The circular form is filled with a complex and lively pattern.  Malvern 1967 by Dale Hickey has the most serene look you could almost fall into it.

And James Doolin’s Artificial landscape 67-5 is just beautiful.

After 50 years this important exhibition still looks fresh and new and exciting.

Wandin diversion

I have started the quilting on my Japanese Ginkgo, but the sashiko thread I thought would work is not looking good. Fortunately I remembered seeing various packets at the Lilydale patchwork and embroidery shop that is closing down. Quick check online. Yes, still trading until this Saturday. I found two options that I am sure will work and 30% off so buying both was not painful.

Then I remembered that the Warratina Lavender Farm Quilt Show to support the local CFA is on this month, until 27 May. Wandin is not that much further on, so I carefully hit the Warburton Highway. It has more speed limit changes than any other road I know. So it is a case of eyes on the signs.

The lavender has been cut and the remaining mounds put an interesting texture on the landscape. The white boxes to the left are bee hives. I guess they need lots of bees for the lavender honey.

The quilt show is in the drying shed, instead of bunches of lavender, quilts hand from the overhead grill. There are also table displays of quilts and quite a lot of framed embroideries as well.

Labels are minimal, the quilt below left is called The Laura Ashely Quilt by Sue Clark. I really liked the crazy mix of colours and free form spirals. Many of the quilts where large appliqués by Margaret Baker. Bountiful Baskets is a pattern I have seen at my Appliqué Special Interest Group, so I know that each basked contains the State Flower of one of the States of the USA. They are then repeated in the centre basket and border trails. Rivka’s version is quite different and will be on display at the Waverley Patchworkers Quilt Show.

This centre block also by Margaret is from Baltimore Spring by P3 Design. A perfect quilt for a lover of flower gardens. I looked up this pattern and found that it is also sold as a precut kit, for fusing. But this version is all needle turn with delicate embroidery.  If you don’t want to do appliqué the designers are selling a printed panel of all the blocks. One way of making the most out of your design I guess.

There is also this lovely Patchwork of the Crosses, the Lucy Boston quilt made by Joy Lewellin. This is a fussy cutters dream quilt. I have had the book and window template for a while, and it may become my next handpiecing project. By the way, there is a version of this quilt too at the  Waverley Show. You would think I was on the committee or something it is all I am focussing on at the moment.

On the opposite side of the road is an apple orchard, all set for hail storms.

In the next paddock these beef heifers were enjoying their lunch. They also seem to be fed apples as there were a lot lying near the fence. A pair of willy wagtails were enjoying all the insects that must have been hanging around. You can see one just to the right of the post.

Which brings me to the challenge for the Waverley show. The theme is Birds of a Feather Flock Together. And as well as finishing my main quilt I have been working on my challenge entry. This is as much as you are going to see before June.


Appliqué – tick

My checklist for the upcoming Waverley Patchworkers Quilt Show 2018 is still very long. But I have got a bit closer to having my own entry finished on time.

Lots and lots of appliqué on this one. The ginkgo leaves are all in the Hawaiian or channel appliqué style. Then the bamboo on the setting triangles is all reverse appliqué.

Basting, quilting and binding still to do.

Autumn colour

It has turned cold. At last. And it has rained. At last.

Umeko and Lulu and I went out during a brief spell of sunshine to do a quick survey after last night’s rain. I don’t have many deciduous plants, and it is too mild here to have anything like the spectacular shows you see in the mountains. But there is a little colour.

Evidence of rain, the birdbath is nearly full. The smoke bush Cotinus coggygria adds some pretty colour. Leaves on my ornamental pear is just beginning to turn.

The ginkgo captures every bit of light and the yellow fruit on the white cedar Melia azedarach nearby will be enjoyed by the birds in a few more weeks. Meanwhile the leaves on the Judas Tree Cercis siliquastrum that have survived the heat and insects are also turning yellow.

Blueberry leaves turn red.

And much to my surprise, considering how many times this potted plant has been scorched over summer, Vireya ‘Golden Charm’ is covered in buds and the first cluster has opened.

Worth the wait

What was supposed to be a quick detour on my way home from Carlton, turned into a slow crawl through Warrandyte Village. The traffic jam highlighted just how vulnerable this community is with a single road in and out and only one bridge across the Yarra. That was the reason for the hold up, the bridge is being revamped and widened.

Many motorists did U turns to go back towards Doncaster or Templestowe, but my destination was right in town. It was worth the half hour wait to make it to the first carpark.

The Annual Textile Art exhibition “Threadalicious” is on during the month of May at the Stonehouse Gallery. Don’t let the traffic put you off, the sign said this road work is only until 7 May.

The work is by members of Stonehouse and guest artists. Catherine O’Leary’s transparent dresses with digitally printed fabric looked lovely wafting in the breeze. Regular exhibiter Michelle Mischkulnig had a huge embroidered chaise lounge and felted and embroidered jackets. Her lily pond machine embroidery will appeal to many viewers. There were also sun dyed cushions and woven scarves.

Elizabeth Syndercome was at the gallery. She is a weaver and she was very keen to talk weaving. So of course I had to ask her about her loom and why she liked it. It is a large countermarche which was very interesting as this is the mechanism that I haven’t seen but have been reading a lot about. She was very reassuring about the tying up process which I had heard was tricky. Her lovely wrap is below on the right.

The machine embroidered and quilted bee image and the bird cluster are from the ongoing gallery display.

After a walk to the bakery to get something for lunch, I had a bit of a wait again to exit the carpark as this bin truck was using the area to turn back and the line of cars in the road had no where to go to clear a path.IMG_8885

Fortunately I was in no hurry, and knew an alternate way home via the Warrandyte State Park. Unfortunately others had found this route and didn’t really know how to drive on a dirt road. So much dust!