For many years now, at least 10 years, people have been anonymously decorating the sheep sculptures that celebrate this suburbs past history as a farm. Good taste never comes into it and apart from a father and small child I once saw adding a few pieces, I have never seen who does this.
I posted this on my ‘other’ blog (largely gardening and food), which was for many years the only blog I had, but I think this is something that my art friends will enjoy as well.
It’s a big year for women artists with the National Gallery of Australia showing, rather belatedly, a program featuring women artists called Know My Name. Works have been borrowed from around the country for the exhibition.
Meanwhile in other parts of the country State galleries are also turning their collective eyes to the work of female artists both within and outside of their collections. During a recent visit to Adelaide I took a look at the Art Gallery of South Australia’s offerings.
Leading the way in S.A. is this year’s Tarnanthi 2020: Open Hands exhibition, which is all by women artists
1. Warwiriya Burton, (born 1925), Pitjantjatjara people, Ngayuku ngura (My Country), 2018 synthetic polymer pigment on linen. 2. Warwiriya Burton, detail of No. 1
3. Iluwanti Ken, (born c.1944) Pitjantjatjara people, 2030, Walawulu ngunytju kukaku ananyi (Mother eagles going hunting), pigmented ink on paper.
4. Iluwanti Ken, detail of No. 3
In the Chromotopia exhibition:
5. Naomi Hobson, (born 1978), Southern Kaantju/Umpila people, Touch the River Floor, 2019, synthetic polymer on linen.
6. Virginia Cuppaidge, (born 1943), Second Transition, 1974
7. Annabelle Follett, (1955-2019), UN Knitted Forms, 2000, wool and plastic knitting needles
Elsewhere in the gallery:
8. Dora Chapman (1912-1995), Head Studies, partial image, 1969 and 1970, gouache and polymer paint on board
9. Top, Grace Crowley (1890-1979), Abstract Painting, 1953, oil on hardboard; Below, Dora Chapman (1912-1995), Abstract, 1943, synthetic polymer paint on board.
10. Bessie Davidson, (1879-1965), Artist’s paintbox with French coastal landscape, c. 1930 Guéthary, France, oil on wood panel in wooden artist box
My completely subjective view is that the work of women artists is definitely more visible in the galleries that I have visited this year. But 25% National Gallery of Australia???
The Countess Report is Amy Prcevich, Elvis Richardson and Miranda Samuels.
They are an independent artist run initiative that publishes data on gender representation in the Australian contemporary art world. They believe a focus on gender is a focus on power. Countess works in the legacy of institutional critique and research based conceptual art practices. Their goal is to inform and influence systemic change through data collection and analysis. While their evidence is often cited, they are not data analysts. They are artists and activists who are interested in investigating dynamics of power, value, labour, and collecting through the lens of gender. The work of Countess is both art and advocacy.
Artist Rebecca Mayo has launched a collaborative art program examining “the role of trees during uncertain times”. Participants are being invited to take a rubbing of their favourite local tree. She asks “Has this slower paced, looped walking (where we set off to get out of the house, rather than to reach a physical destination) allowed us to pay a new kind of attention to our neighbourhoods and what grows there?”
I received my kit last week and took advantage of the relatively windless conditions to take a rubbing of my favourite tree. In this case one of the remnant Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box), that started life on Ngunnawal land (before European colonisation), survived pastoralism and having a suburb and an oval built around it. We guesstimate that the trunk is more than 3 metres in circumference (I forgot to measure the rubbing before I sent it off).
I had some help with friends to hold the paper as I circumnavigated the tree’s large circumference.
We also had some discussions with passers by who were happy to share their thoughts on this tree with us.
The rubbings will form the basis of an exhibition by Rebecca to be held at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre in 2021.
2019 marked the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt. Both theRijksmuseumand at theMauritshuis(Den Haag) were showingalltheir Rembrandt’s in special exhibitions. So we couldn’t miss this opportunity.
The one painting that I couldn’t get up close and personal with at the Rijksmuseum was The Night Watch, which was being digitally scanned when we were there. By complete coincidence the Rijksmuseum has just released that very digitised image this week. You can super zoom in on the image and watch as it gets more and more detailed as you look.
The Night Watch (more correctly, if long-windedly, called Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642
Most of these photos are from the Rijksmuseum and you will have to bear with the fact that some of them were taken from rakish angles as I attempted to get shots without the milling museum hordes.
Here we go! Rembrandt’s only full length portraits of a couple, Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, were painted in 1634. The subject of the portraits is as much about the wealth of the couple, as it is the sitters. The refined painted surface shows all the details of the elaborate lace, silver filigree and silk that the couple are wearing. Marten was an up-and-comer, whose father had moved to Amsterdam from Antwerp and made his fortune running a sugar refinery, and Oopjen was the daughter of an established Amsterdam family,
Portrait of Marten Soolmans, 1634
Detail from the Portrait of Marten Soolmans, 1634. Just look at the detail in the wrinkle of the silk stocking, not to mention the woven pattern visible in the stocking of Marten’s left calf. The filigree work and punched holes in the shoes are astounding.
Portrait of Oopjen Coppit, 1664, who married Marten Soolmans in 1633. She was pregnant with her first child when the painting was carried out.
Detail of the portrait of Oopjen Coppit, showing not only her pearls, but also the exquisite lace of her cuff and the fine silk of her dress.
Far and away my favourite ‘couple’ portrait by Rembrandt is this un-named man and woman, who chose to have themselves painted as the Biblical couple Isaac and Rebecca. This painting is often referred to as ‘The Jewish Bride’. The tenderness and warmth of their relationship is on show for all to see.
Issac and Rebecca or The Jewish Bride, 1665-69
Detail from Isaac and Rebecca or The Jewish Bride, 1665-69
In comparison to the previous two portraits Rembrandt used thick impasto paint and a palette knife on this work to give a more textured feel to the finished painting, though the details of the dress are in reality no less sumptuous than those of the previous works.
The Mauritshuis, situated in the Hague (Den Haag), was relatively quiet compared to the Rijksmuseum and it was definitely worth visiting. When I checked I realised that I took very few photos in the gallery. I think that was because I was looking and sketching the Rembrandt portraits instead.
I am so pleased that I did take a photo of this poignant painting of King Saul, listening to the young David playing his harp.
King Saul , a detail from Saul and David, 1651-54 and 1655-58
You can see my sketch of this on the lower right corner of the page below, along with the other self-portraits of Rembrandt, both as a young man and an old one.
Even now I get a thrill just remembering the chance we had to see all these amazing works.
And just because we are there already I will share with you a bonus shot of that other famous inhabitant of the Mauritshuis, Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring.
The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Jan Vermeer, 1665, and a few admirers.