Oops, I forgot to mention the Dobell Drawing Prize!

At the Dobell Drawing Prize announcement with my work ‘365 Days’

Looking back on my blog I just realised that I hadn’t posted about the Dobell Drawing Prize 2019, which includes my work ‘365 Days’. Spoiler alert – I didn’t win the $30,000.

The big announcement was made two weeks ago, at the end of March and I went up to Sydney for the event. I always find openings and suchlike quite intense experiences and this show, being the most prestigious I have been selected into was no exception.

The 2019 prize panel called for, among other things, drawings in non-traditional media. This resulted in a wide display of techniques and materials across the 58 finalists. It appeared to me that this was a key element of the selection criteria where the public might have been a bit better informed. There was lots of “but how is this drawing” remarks floating around in the gallery on the night. I certainly had that asked about my work and Justine Varga’s winning work using paint into wet photographic medium also copped a lot of the same.

Justine Vargas winning work, ‘Photogenic Drawing’

I think the gallery might have also increased the understanding of the works by including the artist’s statements in the wall text. I doubt that anyone would realise that my work was made over the course of a year, just by looking at it. When I did look at works with the catalogue in my hand l really came to appreciate a many works that had previously appeared quite difficult to grasp.

With such a broad range of styles on display it must have been a challenge for judge Ben Quilty to make a final choice. There is both seriousness and fun in this show. Chris Doherty (aka Reg Mombassa) certainly got my prize for the best use of glitter in a drawing.

Chris O’Doherty, ‘Robot Priest with captured Australian’

There were also a number of exquisite pencil drawings and this wonderful landscape by Western Australian artist Sonia Kurarra.

Sonia Our area, ‘Martuwarra’

The Dobell Drawing Prize exhibition is being held at the National Art School in Darlinghurst, Sydney and will run until 25 May 2019.

PS My work is featured on the inside back cover of the catalogue!

Small beauty

It’s been a while, but I am moving forward again with my opening stitches project. This time a most beautiful piece of fabric and thread, (both made by Deb Lacativa, http://morewgalo.blogspot.com) contributed by Mo Orkiszewski.

Mo’s original submission.

Mo’s current exhibition ‘I dream of a world where love is the answer’ at Artsite Gallery Sydney, seems more relevant than ever given the awful events in Christchurch, New Zealand. Mo’s exhibition closes 24 March. (https://www.artsite.com.au/exhibition/2019-03-mo-orkiszewski-catalogue.php).

This was a piece that had me thinking of complex wetlands, filled with intense colours and flashes of light, glinting off the water. Couching the threads down proved quite challenging, so choosing to use some slippery rayon thread was possibly more challenging than necessary. Here are the photos of the front and back sides, now that I have worked on it.

The front side.

The back side.

The opening stitches project is still open to new contributions, check of the link to get the full details if you would like to join in.

Stitching with my eyes closed 

Some of you will know that I have been participating in the #365handstitch2017 challenge where people are asked to stitch a minimum of a thread a day for a year. I thought it was time to show you the progress so far.

The ‘front’ of the piece 

As you can see I’ve already added several pieces of cloth together and am working on melding them together.  I made the decision up front to ‘stitch with my eyes closed’, (a process I have been using since I first started this blog). Working this way has meant that I do not visually self-censor. This choice has removed from me the necessity of neatness. I also find the process of leaving the decision about which thread and which stitch to use, until the moment I pick up the work, really freeing.  

Other people online have asked some very pertinent questions about the direction the work is taking. This has made me think about a number of issues, in particular whether I have a specific end in sight – no; and how much bigger the piece might become. 

So I have decided that the current size is where I will leave it (at present). The obvious question of what to do when I run out of space to stitch, was equally quickly answered -work on ‘the back’. I have started this process and not looking while I stitch has helped a lot. It is so hard not to be precious with my work.

The ‘back’, with two new areas of work in cretan stitch and herringbone stitch.

You can see from the photo above that the reverse side of the stitches predominantly resembles small running stitches. That’s why I’m currently adding some strongly coloured lines of stitching. You can see from the following photos that the reverse of even strong colours is not very intrusive. 

Blue herringbone stitch is quite strong when looking at the face of the stitch

The reverse of the stitch is quite unobtrusive

The ongoing challenge will be to stick with the process. It may be difficult to ‘spoil’ this work, but working against an established aesthetic is hard.