something I worked on recently

This gallery contains 2 photos.

I took advantage of a tiny, painless hemorrhage in my left eye to do some self portrait work…. No eyes were harmed. Seriously. It’s mostly makeup.

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And so it begins

In the last two weeks, the knock on effects of cuts to small organisations have shut down two long established programs in Footscray. I imagine similar messages are being sent out in places all over Australia.

Jobs will be lost. Opportunities will be lost. And the community as a whole is the worse off for it, as will be Australia as a cultural nation.

Bollocks. Way to completely fuck things up for years.

This does effect me in a personal way, but I dread to think of Aboriginal communities having their arts funding cut.

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Random bits und pieces…

Haven’t done anything concrete lately, except get depressed about the state of the arts in Australia, and my lack of funds. I have been trying a drawing at work with the Wacom tab just for fun.

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A letter to Mr. Myer and Mr. Fifield

Re the cuts. The cuts that are making me think I just don’t have a future as an artist. That I’m just unlucky to be an artist at this time in Australia’s history.

Dear Mr. Myer and Mr. Fifield,

As an artist, in Australia, it’s always been an uphill battle.

Entry to University: selected as one of 33 lucky students out of at least 2500 (That’s what was left over after 2500 were culled out. Perhaps a couple of hundred actually get to the interview stage out of all those applications.)

I was lucky enough to be one of two students that received advanced standing into my degree, due to previous studies and I assume, talent. Certainly the head of the school, an established artist and teacher saw something in me.

I completed my degree and applied for Honours. I was one of the lucky few to get selected for that. I did my honours over a 2 year period, working full time and battling ill health, and I did well, honours First Class.

I paid for my six years of education myself and was Hecs debt free by the mid ninties.

So, talent, luck, hard work, stubbornness or a combination of all four got me through the start of my career.

NAVA, whom I’ve joined in the past few years, has been the one most important source for information. These things are hard to find and it’s an invaluable source for artists to find prizes, scholarships, grants, opportunities. The reason I’ve only joined them recently? I
couldn’t afford it.

Art, you see, is mostly self funded. So in addition to using the money from my full time job to pay my mortgage, bills, rates, all that stuff which comes with being an adult, I pay to be an artist. I pay in time off paid jobs to sit exhibitions, rent of galleries, materials, time,
always time, away from friends, families and loved ones. No one does this because they’re going to make even an tiny living from it. Few do. We often receive support from partners and friends. This gives us some limited opportunities. Most opportunities are those we make ourselves.

But this is not a sustainable thing. It was unlikely before that I would have gotten a grant or a scholarship, now, impossible. I haven’t had a pay rise at my full time job in four years so my chances of squeezing enough out of my pay are dwindling. I’ve relied on festivals
and short term rentals (over a weekend) or places where I don’t have to sit the exhibition (thus missing out on days of pay) to get what I do out there in front of people’s eyes, because that’s what I can afford.

But if you defund those things, we lose opportunities. Last year I participated in a Festival that had $100,000 less in it’s budget than the year before. That meant we had to hassle local shop owners to display our work for free. This was not an effective way to get art
seen. That $100,000 would have covered rent of space for the many, many artists who effectively got nothing for their efforts. I’ve got no idea what the next one will be like, or if it will even go ahead.

How much I paid for participating in the festival last year:
Materials – around $500
4 Days taken off from paid work – $504 loss of earnings
Labour costs (if I had gotten paid for my labour, which has to be factored into the price of the finished art works) $2500

So if I take out my labour, except for the four days I took off work to meet my deadline for this exhibition, it cost me over $1000 to have two paintings in an exhibition, which I didn’t offer for sale.

If I had factored in the labour – $3500 or so to participate. As you can see I’m not really getting a return.

I want to continue as an artist because it really is my vocation but the timing is bad – I’m in my forties and should be building a strong following and profile at this stage in my career. I do it because I love it and studies have shown, over and over, that art makes a difference to the overall cultural vibe of a city, it brings tourists to us, and adds much more value that we credit it for, just look at Mona in Hobart and Dark Mofo. And to expect artists to keep banging away at it and paying for it for themselves as well, out of the love of their heart is unrealistic. And then there the experienced creatives who work backstage to make these things happen, their knowledge will be lost and wasted.

Would you do six years of Uni, work in an unrelated industry and then use the pay from that to do the thing that you did 6 years of Uni for?

Young artists and small organisations are particularity getting done badly by these cuts.

They hurt Artists, writers, comic book artists and writers, dancers, singers, actors, poets, stagehands, casting professionals, curators, film makers, and will do for a long time, even if they are reversed. They hurt Australia.

Please, reconsider for the future of Art in Australia.

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The best laid plans

So I’ve submitted two expressions of interest for Big West 2016, which will decide my artistic focus for the next few years (if they chose to let me participate).

If they don’t, I shall forge on with both regardless. Thinking about photographs this time instead of painting, if I think it’s going to work. I do love painting, as frustrating as it can be.

We shall see. In the meantime I need to get the studio in working order. Preferably over this long weekend.

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#illshowyoumineaus

#illshowyoumineaus is an opportunity for creative people to tell you what they have to do to make money so they can keep doing their thing, because let’s face it folks, if I’m not getting paid to paint, lot of you aren’t gettin’ paid for your creative endeavours either.

So the long and short of it is that I chose a day job. Unfortunately I chose one that was uncertain, anxiety inducing and not as well paid as one would believe, that is bereft of any ethics or worth.

Pros: I have access to some decent computer equipment and software and a printer, when it’s working.

Cons: Pretty much everything else. I’ve paid with literal blood, sweat and tears to remain employed and keep a roof over my head. Advertising takes it’s pound of flesh. Whether it’s getting paid less and being valued less because you have a vag, being expected to work 12 hour days for 8 hours pay, the pressure to perform flawlessly, not being taken seriously (again, because of aforementioned vag) to the absolute vampire-like nature of advertising and the fact that it’s not really important to anyone except those commissioning it and those producing it.

Advertising rarely helps anyone. Except large corporations and Ad people.
(I’m not really an ‘Ad person’ because I don’t believe the hype.)

Anyway.

This is how I make money. The pay is below the average for a full time person in Aus. I haven’t had even a cost of living rise in years. It also impedes my drive and ability to make artwork in the few days I have off.

I try seek out opportunities where I don’t have to pay to exhibit, and I don’t have to sit the exhibition.

I use holiday time as time to paint, not time to relax.

I am contemplating a change of career to something that won’t exhaust me mentally so I can paint, possibly part time, placing a financial burden on my partner.

And I still haven’t ‘emerged’ as an artist. It’s a tough one.

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Portraits/self portraits

Some of you may have seen these before – the pictures of me as a 14 year old in my year 9 school dance dress were taken by my sister.

As you can see, of late, I like to accessorise with fake blood.


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young v

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Contempory Australian artists (I think) you should know about

There are shitloads of artists in Australia. SHITLOADS.

One of my favourites, for so many reasons is Hazel Dooney.

(NSFW warning BTW)

She merges her art/life/life/art so effortlessly, that I’m endlessly fascinated. She is unflinchingly honest and open.

She’s also kicked back against the old school, mostly male dominated commerical gallery system in Australia, and copped a lot of abuse for it. But the art world is evolving at a rapid rate and kicking against the old school rich guys ain’t such a bad thing. In fact it may be the most necessary thing to keep art in Australia alive, and uncensored.


www.hazeldooney.com

(I can’t get the link to work because my brain is broke this morning, but google her if you like. I’m not going to force you to. But also read the following – Warning: Not a comfortable read.)

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/art-and-anguish-20130531-2nfxh.html

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This used to be my playground…

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Next project – babcia and dziadek’s house. (That’s nanna and pop in Polish). I spent a LOT of years being babysitted, visiting, planting potatoes and eventually after my grandparents death, living in this house in Elsternwick. I still dream regularly … Continue reading

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Stuff what I do to relax

I crochet when I’m too stressed to do anything solid (or useful, like cleaning) mainly because I like to make things, and at the end of it you may have a wearable thing or a blanket so you feel like the time has been used well.

A few years ago, I was on etsy, looking for vintage crochet patterns, when I came across the shop of someone who made the same simple motif over and over and over and seriously, fucking over, in jute, and then sold a decorative string of these for $55. I was incensed at the lack of worth, imagination and technique of these (I made one of these in about… 2 minutes) and begged people if they wanted a jute pencil holder, or, for jesus sakes, even a string of decorative motifs, I’d do it FOR FREE.

I looked back at the amazing, intricate, painstaking HUGE crochet works that my grandmother had done for family (which I imagine are worth so much these days) and I did this:

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Vulgar, I know, but this piddling bit of… overpriced, questionably decorative tat pissed me off. It pissed me off that much, that granny square profanity was my almost immediate reaction.

This cost me about 1 dollar in the same materials that this person used and yes, I’ll do anyone one FOR A GLASS OF WINE. 2 glasses for a sentence.

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