Mountains & Glaciers

Reference Material: Old photographs of glaciers. The first image shows a glacier in Canada. The second two images are Alaskan glaciers. Those photographs are from a 1946 LIFE magazine article which, advices me that the Alps and Himalayas have the most glaciers but Alaska has the best glaciers. That is informative, unbiased advice.

Image 1.

Children's Teeth

This first image is a of a child's lower skull from Grey's Anatomy of the Human Body. It shows both sets of teeth except for the first bottom two. The second is a scan from A Child's Book About Teeth. I snatched it from here (where there are more nice pages from the book that offer both sound advice and nifty illustrations). I think they look well together.

Old Fashioned Seánce

Reference materials: Old seánce photographs remind me of those old paintings and drawings that illustrate autopsies and anatomy classes for trainee doctors. It is the way they are all gathered around a table with expressions of concentration. Except for the last image, that just amuses me.

The little triangle segmented pattern on the first table is pretty fantastic too.

The Public Library

I rediscover my library card every so often after previously forgetting I had one. Which allows me to rediscover the fun of a public library. A big part of that is finding people's notes in the books. I like to imagine them reading it. The current book I am reading has a lot of it, notes in the margins and underlined sections. I hope it was a donated book and not the work of a very inconsiderate person. Some of it is funny, like that little drawing on the title page that bears a striking resemblance to me. 

There are a few post-its too, which are lovely. I love the mother's productive response. They read;

"I luv wu 5 ever and evr, because you're my mommy and I love you forever and ever and ever night night.
I kiss u."

Please hang up your uniform. I won't wash it as you only wore it for 2 days x x x
Love you Forever."

Once I was at the reading table flicking through the local newspapers. Earlier in the day someone had read the one the papers and commented on the entire thing with a blue biro. They ticked paragraphs they approved of (Like a teacher does with homework) and added their opinion in the margins. I like to imagine it was an old, grumpy man.

The Importance of Being Original. (Cecily Brennan @ the Crawford Gallery)

Image top, Black Tears by Cecily Brennan. Image above, The Enemy and the Self.

Recently I attended a discussion with artist Cecily Brennan following a screening of a video piece Black Tears at the Crawford Art Gallery. I was immediately reminded that nothing I do is ever entirely original as soon I opened the e-vite and saw the included screen shot that bears resemblance to Enemy and the Self that I made last year.

Black Tears was a more successful piece. The result of years of research, a more experienced artist and a professional production team. There is resemblance at a glance. Both touch on "vulnerability and strength" and as Black Tears gallery press release said it opens up a "maelstrom of questions directed both to the weeping woman and within oneself"1. There is the element of performance in both. The Enemy and the Self is part performance piece however the woman in Black Tears is an an actress, a professional performer, the late Britta Smith. There is a moment in Brennan's piece when the subject looks into the camera. Some people at the discussion said that this made them feel more voyeuristic, but I felt differently. By looking out, into the camera, the subject connects with whoever is watching. I learned that Britta could not cry in front of the artist and the cameraman, so they watched by live feed in another room. They did not specify how long it should last and I suspect that although Britta was channeling real emotions, it was a performance and she may have been looking towards the director/artist for a response. My piece is about performing for myself and for others. I think that the idea of performance and putting on a mask works wonderfully with strength and vulnerability.

But the differences are very much there in both the idea and in the execution. Yet still I could not help but think of the importance of originality in art. Every now and again the topic is brought up, usually in a discussion about what is or is not art, or a discussion about the value of contemporary art, or something like that.  With absolute originality being hailed as a prerequisite for a great artist. But is absolute originality even possible or even desirable?

Every artist has at some time done something and realised later that half the world already did it. I remember once reading about an art lecturer who had a rubber stamp made that said "nice idea but already done by______". He would walk around the studios, stamp it on student's work and fill in the gap. I can't remember the who or where, if you know please tell me.

I love going to art discussions. They allow an artist and an audience to engage with each other and with the art, opening up an omnidirectional conversation.  Which is exactly what art is. If art is to be relevant, can absolute originality exist? Art needs to know what came before, what was said earlier, if 
it is supposed to make a  relevant response and any thoughtful response will reference that. If we are responding to the same world in the same time surely there will be a few similarities.

I am going to look at the similarity as a good thing and not give in to my immediate urge. Which is to never speak of my piece again, erase my hard drive and f**k the tapes into the river. Interestingly Cecily Brennan talks about how it is is difficult to look at someone crying2 and I had great difficulty editing this piece and a greater difficulty in showing it.  Although to lesser degrees this is an urge I feel with everything I make.

1 on 23-01-11. 
2 on 23-01-11.
Image is a screen shot from the artist's website, no copyright infringement intended.

Art I Like: Barbara Knezevic

Heavy weather structure, umbrellas (Dunnes Stores style no. 6489), thread, dimensions variable, 2010.
Photo:Miranda Driscoll

 I came across this recently, I really like it! Perhaps because it is black and glossy and reminds me of coal mining and is minimal and is angular. There is a lot to like.

Copyright the artist, please visit website here.

Poland's only Monet Stolen & Returned by Art Fanatic

Last month it was reported that the only Monet in Poland's National collection was recovered having been stolen in 2000. In 2000 Robert Zwolinski was granted permission to sketch the painting, Beach at Pourville 1882, at the National Museum under poor surveillance. Seizing the opportunity, Zwolinski cut the painting from its frame and replaced it with a copy. He was eventually caught when his fingerprints, which were taken for an unrelated issue, matched those found on the frame.

Art thief extraordinaire Zwolinski was not part of a criminal gang or hired by a millionaire mad man to steal the Monet. He was a fan. An art fanatic who acted on impulse and lost control in the presence of the object of his affection. This kind of behavior is common, if not expected, in the celebrity world but rarely seen in the art world. Zwolinski developed a passion for impressionism after spending time in Paris. His interest grew after the break down of his marriage and he said that his life was "empty and meaningless... I escaped into books. In one of them I read about the Monet" He had hid the painting behind a wardrobe in his parent's apartment, a hiding place it never left for ten years.

If art is supposed to give meaning and enrich life, if it is supposed to open up new possibilities then we could call this story a success for the arts.

1) The Art Newspaper.

Art I Like: Crystal Brass Knuckles

Debra Baxter, Crystal Brass Knuckles ( I am going to realign your chakra motherf*****) 2009

This piece is many thing; fabricated sculpture, conceptual art and jewelery craft. (And they say art has no use!) But the best aspect of this piece by Debra Baxter is the name. At the moment crystals are big in art, really big, getting bigger. I like that this is a great big crystal that pokes fun at itself with its title; I am going to realign your chakra motherf******. I like jokes in art and I like art that references art, though I can't say if this was the artist's intention.

If I were to make a movie...

I would shoot it in Detroit, Michigan.


 The city first introduced to me by the musical stylings of Eminem, the socio-economic implications of it's former automobile industry explained to me by Michael Moore in Capitalism: A Love Story and illustrated for me by this informative diagram, seems like a post-post-apocalyptic film set.

A part of me thinks that the end is nigh, not in a 2012 Mayan calender kind of way but in a change of social consciousness. A sort of reversal of the 1950s, 1960s consumerist identity. A quick look at the TV guide shows this redirection of public interest with a increasing number of self sufficiency programming like Grow Your Own Drugs, Kirstie's Homemade Home, Edwardian Farm, Born Survivor and even celebrity chef shows like Escape to River Cottage. Although the other part of me just thinks it is all just a trend what with the recession and that.

Images by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre and found elsewhere here.

Estonia joins the Eurozone

Continuing on reoccurring themes of economics, politics and icebergs. I would like to share the news
that Estonia, our USSR→EU friend, has adopted the euro. Huzzah! Anti-euro types have criticized this move, saying in a statement that "Estonia was getting the last ticket for the Titanic".

Recently, my boyfriend's parents told us about a vacationing American couple that they had met in a bar. By vacationing I mean they were planning to land in the UK but were diverted due to the weather. They were surprised that everyone here was so happy because they had heard how terrible the financial situation was. Irish people do love to have something to moan about and it was Christmas, the season of good cheer. When I told my boyfriend about our new shipmates he joked, "if Estonia bought the last ticket for the Titanic, Ireland must be the band that kept spirits up and continued to play as the ship sank!"

Scene from one of the older Titanic films. Image found here. Other image found here.