Sunday, April 10, 2011

revisiting work from 2007 - rethinking process!

A couple of days ago I opened a box in my studio and found a pile of postcard size artworks from 2007 ... some were originally A4-size works cropped and worked on in further stages. This inspired me to puddle around this weekend on some new stuff.

I hope to have images up soon of what Im doing at this time ... till then... these ones from 2007 are a good reminder of how one can work on something, perhaps return to it... adding another layer ... or not!

All works here are in acrylic and pigmented ink... including the white which I love for its milky-ness and semi transparent covering ability.

8 works (postcard size)

two postcards

use of a syringe filled with paint resulted in some of the works being extremely
animated... hard to control ... but capable of creating a lot of energy in the lines!

pod forms meeting the fluidity theme.

the infinity symbol was another preoccupation

Sennelier inks are rich and dense ... when using the stopper the bubbles remain in the ink and dry o create this texture.

layers of surfaces.

sennelier inks with art spectrum white

blue and brown sennellier ink

texture of the paper coming through.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

further thoughts on an art practice and the year that was.

painting based on a work by Paul Klee form his Vol 2 Notebook.

Years ago I heard a fascinating lecture (notes are stashed somewhere) and a thought that travelled with me from that was a discussion on the concept 'to coagulate'. The speaker's lively imagery kept my imagination dwelling on this idea around things needing to coagulate before they become fully embedded in one's psyche.

She argued our oft acquisitive approach life, to work and ideas... compelled as we are to consume more and more as we go along... leaves us periodically needing to stop the flow and 'close in' so as to address the necessity of coherence! By giving time to chew things over... work out what to reject  ... how to re-incorporate the rest  she suggested we could move forward ... strengthened, deepened, reinvigorated by this interlude.

Musing on how energy collects around a strong idea the first step seems to demand of us that we become clear re what is of central importance. Taking time for things to 'coagulate' it could be said is what precisely what allows one to arrive at what really matters.

From the Mirriam-Webster dictionary:

Definition of COAGULATE

transitive verb
: to cause to become viscous or thickened into a coherent mass : curdleclot
: to gather together or form into a mass or group
intransitive verb
: to become coagulated
— co·ag·u·la·bil·i·ty noun
— co·ag·u·la·ble adjective
— co·ag·u·la·tion noun

Examples of COAGULATE

  1. The eggs coagulate when heated.
  2. The medicine helps coagulate blood.


Latin coagulatus, past participle of coagulare to curdle, from coagulum curdling agent, from cogere to drive together — more at cogent
First Known Use: 15th century

section of a painting completed after hospitalisation
for 15 days in Feb, 2008 ...I'd needed constant blood
tranfusions over two days till I was stabilised...!

So why consider this now?

... words work slowly, over time.... offer me a potent source for contemplation. 

For each person who commits to 'Practice' their art there's endless deliberations ...over years... on how best to approach development of ideas and execution of one's work (lets not even start on the rest). To insist there is one way... a right way... when we are now, more than ever, aware of individual differences and at the same time celebrating  enormous global diversity of cultural forms and practices, would certainly be a blighted view!

A Tumblr site seed capsules I recently began reveals, for me anyway, the particularities of how people 'see'... especially evident in those who pursue their vision with verve. Tumblr's visual archive means one's own postings or reblogged writings, poetry, quotes, artworks, photos etc are easily accessed. I'd not expected it to be so useful or engaging a process... for tracking ideas - visual and textual... and thinking! Curiously it has spurred on feeling more at home with my own idiosyncratic artistic impulses and mark-making ...not out of self-regard for what I do... rather ... in finding a quieter middle ground between that familiar love/hate see-saw re the work! Simply by 'getting' more into the essential truth of what interests and concerns me. 

 'to coagulate' ...  describes quite well this much needed 'slowed-down time' I've had over the first few months of 2011.  Ive been pondering  thoughts on "the art of interpretation" in a similarly slow way.


a presentation of an artistic work (as a piece of music) from a particular point of view interpretation of a piece that is a touchstone for violinists>

Related Words adaptationreworkingvariation
a distinct treatment of something (as a story or a play) interpretation of The Nutcracker>

Related Words versionadaptationtranslation

Basically... last year felt like the running shoes were on from February till December during the residency ... and for someone who actually enjoys a lot of quiet studio time without dead-lines, is not afraid of working really long hours, with not so much as a date on the horizon for a show ( I know - not the done thing) last year was quite shocking in some respects.

On the other hand it was the perfect timing for moving things on and throwing together ideas that had been brewing for years.

This past few months have been essential for catching one's breathe.... and despite other undertakings keeping things busy,  this precious opportunity to go over certain ideas and themes...  observe ideas coalgulating or "thickening into a coherent mass" ... well that has been invaluable! 
journal page included in 'homage to the seed' book

When commencing the residency in February, 2010 the first weeks were bewildering despite the well-defined focus and plans, familiarity with the location and such. The journal was a life-saving device whilst playing with possibilities. The page above, from the beginning of the journal, arrived out of a conscious effort to not be waylaid emulating the work of botanical illustrators. I was after a development of my own visual language around seed forms... building on what I'd already been working with.

This page from the book can be clicked to enlarge for reading ... it brings the process of drawing cross-sections of seed capsules together with the creation of motifs which were then employed in paintings like on the oval below.

This seemed the most pertinent way to refer to Biodiversity in its multiplicity ... in a manner that was simultaneously based in realism whilst being abstracted to translate as a symbol.

Queensland Rainforest Fruits : Seed capsules - cross sections
representing the biodiversity of species to be found in this state.

I kicked off this post today after revisiting this quote below from NY based artist Philip Taafe in conversations with American Poet Robert Creely. Taafe's work resonates with me - his interest in forms, in symbolic languages and forms that survive the archaic world ... and yet he is very contemporary and engaging on different levels. Click to enlarge for reading. Written 11 years ago the ideas are certainly relevant to me now...

From Homage to the Seed book

Something I'm appreciating increasingly as I work on seeds and all that they represent ... culturally, politically, scientifically... is that seeds and plants were of enormous significance to the ancients...their lives depended greatly on foraging, hunting, harvesting a crop, on knowledge of what they could eat, what would kill them, what might be medicinal and so on.
When images of these forms found their way into engravings, wall frescoes, mosaics and textiles ... these motifs weren't simply decorative but held great spiritual, symbolic or cultural value. 

We've lost something very life-preserving in cutting ourselves off so dramatically from nature, from intimate knowing of life-cycles in nature, from the symbolic realm and cultural valuing of the earth and its abundant heritage. 

I'm certainly not arguing for a govt-led reinstatement of belief systems and rituals... but I'm certainly keen to see more complex and penetrating ideas brought to the table for dialogue on how we think about our seed heritage, the biodiversity of this planet and the relationship between all things... and the cultural thinking that sustains the links between all things.

And in this light we have much to learn from those who've come before us and those around the planet whose cultural practice has not divorced them from honouring this profound symbiotic relationship.

symbiosis |ˌsimbēˈōsis; -bī-|noun ( pl. -ses | -ˌsēz|) Biologyinteraction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to theadvantage of both. Compare with antibiosis .• a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups a perfect mother and daughter symbiosis.DERIVATIVESsymbiotic |-ˈätik| |ˈˈsɪmbaɪˈɑdɪk| |-ˈɒtɪk| adjectivesymbiotically |-ˈätik(ə)lē| |ˈˈsɪmbaɪˈɑdək(ə)li| |-ˈɒtɪk(ə)li| adverbORIGIN late 19th cent.modern Latinfrom Greek sumbiōsis a living together,’ fromsumbioun ‘live together,’ from sumbios ‘companion.’

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Unruly ecologies: Biodiversity and art

Symposium: unruly ecologies

Unruly ecologies: Biodiversity and art
A SymbioticA Symposium
November 26 to 28 2010
A symposium exploring the possibilities and difficulties of the diversity of life through critical investigations in art, ecology and action.
If you visit this web page you can read my entry (below) and that of others in an interesting Online directory of artists working on Art, Biodiversity and Ecology themes that is still current and also informative.

Sophie Munns: Homage to the Seed
Sophie Munns: Homage to the Seed
Homage to the Seed is the title of a year-long project conducted at Brisbane Botanic Gardens as 2010 Artist-in-Residence. This project was born of a collaboration with the on-site ‘Seeds for Life’ Seed Lab (set up by Kew Garden’s Millennium Seed Bank Project) with the underlying objective of spurring on public awareness  of the critical [...]

About Adaptation

Adaptation is one of SymbioticA’s long term projects featuring a dynamic program of production based artist residencies and events. It explores a unique blend of organisms working together to create a community, ruptured by the chaos and dysfunction of the environmental threats we now face.
A major focus in 2010 was the unruly ecologies: biodiversity and art symposium Friday 26 to Sunday 28 November. As part of the  symposium – we built a collection of artists working in the area of biodiversity/art and ecology through submissions by the artists.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day .... in the studio

Up late tonight ...  its been quite a day!

Found my camera was seriously not working any longer so went to buy a new camera and took along the old one... girl in store: "well yes... this camera has been dropped". To myself I pondered just how many times - I hate to think!
Home again and working on something that has been seemingly never-ending! Here's a close-up section of a large painting: 150 x 150 cm that I actually began just after Xmas. After the best part of a week painting I'd taken off south for a few days... and returned to discover the city of Brisbane was about to be deluged.
Im extremely fortunate to live in an area on a hill and consequently we were not personally affected. Given the floods in Queensland extended over December and January with a Cyclone late in january it was extraordinary to not have been caught up... so may were and it was harrowing seeing the plight of many. Its the first of April and many still don't have their homes to go to.

sophie munns: close-up section of painting “seeds… stories across time”
close up section of work
My lovely Paddington Studio I had to say good-bye to in February when the owner was made a very good offer from aspiring tenants seeking a large space to run their film business. Its was a fabulous  space that had been an inspiring opportunity in which to spend the later half of 2010 completing the work of the Botanic Gardens Residency...  which curiously did not come with a studio/work space.

A residency without a residence is hard to describe and not to be advised! So Helena ... you were a godsend, a true patron ... and Im grateful for that magical 6 months after you swept in with the most brilliant offer of space to go for it! 

And being the Cancerian I am ... returning to my home studio ...while its definitely small ... is very homely ... there's no commuting, late nights are very doable, the computer and books are handy, garden... really... it was a chaotic changeover (who likes moving?)... but I always knew I would adore getting my late night painting sessions going again! 
And the timing for getting things set up for the new year was perfect ... a huge clean up and unpacked heaps of books that have been packed away for 3 years.

One such book was a much loved version of an original work by Flinders Petrie titled 'Decorative Patterns of the Ancient World'. I've thought often of this book but didn't know which box is was stored in... so it took a quiet January to begin the search!

Decorative Patterns of the Ancient World Flinders Petrie
from Introduction 


Given the trivialising the 'decorative' and 'patterns' often draw in serious art realms - certainly a few decades back at Art School one did not admit to such interests - its worth noting the career of the Flinders Petrie and recognising the sites where he discoverd these "patterns" and such symbolic material. Huge treasure to be found pursuing this direction I can tell you!

trio of rabbits

three hares - pottery fragment egypt or syria.
Read more on these images here.

sophie munns: close-up section of painting ‘seeds … stories across time’
close up section of recent art work

Art work 150 x 150 cm... working title: "seeds... stories across time"

sophie munns … this painting (150 x 150 cm) has been pre-occupying me for days…and days… and still its not finished. Working title “seeds … stories across time”. 
What is this thing that compels one in strange directions… not for me (at this time anyway) the large, loose canvases and brushy strokes… oh no…I have to stop in every small intimate place and bring something into being and layer it over what is there, then take some away, add somthing else… bring in a new colour or tone… add, subtract… compose… remember, think some more, and more again! Its a kind of story telling… only …. who knows the stories?
 and talking a photo of it…found my camera had been dropped and no longer worked… went to buy a new camera… oh! batteries need to be fired up… borrowed a camera…not very good photos tonight …inside…night-time… not good lighting…  what a strange process its been…. oh well!
See at Tumblr.
I actually posted this at my tumblr blog a little earlier with this note:

sophie munns … "this painting (150 x 150 cm) has been pre-occupying me for days…and days… and still its not finished. Working title “seeds … stories across time”. 
What is this thing that compels one in strange directions… not for me (at this time anyway) the large, loose canvases and brushy strokes… oh no…I have to stop in every small intimate place and bring something into being and layer it over what is there, then take some away, add somthing else… bring in a new colour or tone… add, subtract… compose… remember, think some more, and more again! Its a kind of story telling… only …. who knows the stories?
 and talking a photo of it…found my camera had been dropped and no longer worked… went to buy a new camera… oh! batteries need to be fired up… borrowed a camera…not very good photos tonight …inside…night-time… not good lighting…  what a strange process its been…. oh well!"

The day has been indeed peculiar... each thing I attempted to do I had to find another way around... Just after midnight some good news came though ... I've become a great aunt for the second time...  little Patrick has been born... I think on April Fool's Day ... to the delight of the waiting clan!

Very late now...must say goodnight!
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Blogging for me is an extension of keeping a journal which I have done in various forms over the decades. The difference being this is not a closed book! I like that it offers an opportunity to explore that which concerns me as an artist and as an individual about living and participating in this vastly complex, unquestionably exciting yet unnerving time in human history. Through the blog I hope to increase the possibilties for cross-pollination which I believe can strengthen the sense of being part of something both personal and universal that is vital, expansive and refreshing.