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lessons learned

Top 10 lessons i've learned while uprooting my life and starting on a big adventure:

1. Cats' claws are sharp. Very sharp.

2. As ruthless as I've tried to be, i'm useless at throwing away artworks. I gave a few away to very good homes, but i ended up carting a whole bunch with me. Thankfully canvas can be rolled up and framed prints slide in nicely along the side of a van.

3. The Courthouse Hotel restaurant in North Melbourne is all-talk no action. I should really dedicate a whole blog about rubbishing this place, but i don't know if i've got time. Suffice to say, the place looks great, makes all the right noises on their menu, charges as it should, but is so far from being the kind of restaurant it makes itself out to be, i needed a speedometer to measure it. only one waiter has any customer service skills - the rest are in desperate need of cranial colonic irrigation.

4. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

5. Leaving a mix-tape in a hire van is a great idea! My van came with a tape already in the tape player and while we expected a bunch of tripe to come out of the speakers, we were introduced to some great music that we'll never hear again! I decided that i want to go around hiring vans/cars and leaving little mix-tapes/CDs in them and encourage people to pass them on!

6. Moving is a big deal. As i sat down with my cup of tea and suddenly burst into tears, i realised that everything is easier said than done.

7. Wireless internet is fan-fucking-tastic! Currently in the picture of modern connection right now: family kitchen table strewn with papers, diary, Banksy book, scissors, glasses case. I'm sitting with my ibook opposite my stepdad on his macbook, both connected to the net - him watching war news reel on YouTube, me writing a blog. Family bliss.

8. A cup of tea cures what ails ya.

9. Passport and visa photos will never look how i think i look. In fact my current passport contains a watermark of a photo of me that resembles Holly from Red Dwarf! When i open it, i keep expecting it to say 'Hello Dave'.

10. Wollongong is a really small town.

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i'll be back

hari, this one's for you - i'm working on being an installation artist who swears even more

northern planner has pretty much hit the spot with his post, but i'm doin' it here too.

i've packed up the shack i've lived in for 3.5 years and am currently posting this on my laptop in a bare room with an echo, precariously balancing it on my stereo while trying to not skip the record it's playing. kind of an indication of my priorities, given what is left in the house :)

so i've been reduced to dial-up speed (which is more painful than having your eye sliced open) and in a couple of days my net connection will be disconnected entirely, so my posts will be a little less regular. although i will be posting about an upcoming show i'm in and a couple of cool shows in melbourne that i'll be going to. then you'll be hearing about me from london.

i'll try to keep up with what's happening in oz, but for my australian readers, please forgive me if my focus becomes a little euro-based for a while. don't worry, i still love you all. for those that are in the UK and check in with me, i'll probably be reviewing a lot more shows from your neck of the woods, which i'm sure you're absolutely thrilled about.

and to the people whose blogs i hang out on, don't worry, you haven't got rid of me that easily :)

catch up soon!



the power of the read and the written 2.0

yesterday i was on my way to work and came across a wonderful gift to the world. the residents of 34 nicholson st, had left a whole bunch of books out on their verandah with a sign saying 'free to good home'!

eep! how excitement!

these free books weren't lame fiction that you would gladly walk on by either, i picked up a small pile including classics such as:
evenlyn waugh's decline and fall,
thoman mann's confessions of felix krull,
flaubert's madame bovary,
arthur miller's death of a salesman

and the clincher for me..
dh lawrence's kangaroo (i had made a note last week in my phone to borrow this book from the library!).

as i was writing a little thankyou note to them on their sign, i realised what a fantastic act of altruism these people had completed. they could have sold the books, or given them to Goulds, sent them to the op shop or kept them for themselves, but by putting them out there for people to pick up, they gave people like me not only a pile of excellent and necessary fiction, but a fantastic feeling of discovery and inclusion with them, by sharing their books.

so to the residents of no.34, thank you.

thinking about the gift of the written word, i came back to a post i had been slowly constructing about the written word 2.0 - on the web and especially through blogging. british-german artist and my long lost cousin* marcus brown has written a wonderfully heartfelt post about the phenomenon of online connection and i wanted to add to it.

before Alexander Graham Bell made things a whole lot easier for us, the written word was the main way we got to know people and allowed others to know us. Letters were written and delivered regularly, books were treasured, journals kept and the style and tone of a person's writing was the primary way to know anyone not living within a horse-ride. A variety of technological advancements meant that we became far more accustomed to relating to people in a far more empirical manner - through the sound of their voice, or the expressions on their faces, especially once televised communications cruised onto the scene. Now, although we're certainly in an age of increased imagery, the advent of the far more interactive internet v2.0 means that we are also communicating again through writing.

we have revolved to judging others on the power, tone and truth of their written word.

in the last couple of months, i've found myself a bunch of strange and inspiring online communities, through the blogs that people write and the comment threads that accompany them. And unlike the early chatrooms of the internet, the communication and cameraderie in these 'spaces' feel quite authentic, attached to some real discussion and self-disclosure (and i'm not talking teenagers talking about their crush on jesse mccartney here). 10 years ago i used to hang out in a mountain-biking chatroom through yahoo. believe it or not, i was mad for MTB, until i busted the radial head on my right arm and still carry a pin in my elbow because of it. anyway i made some friends there and ended up biking with one of them.

since then, it's become even easier again to develop friendships online and the kinds of discussion is more indepth. usually from a main point of departure. i look forward to reading about my blog friends' thoughts, feelings. ideas and experiences. and the thing about being part of their comment threads is that they (seem to) respect my thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences too. especially because i am not afraid to use my name and link to my own blog, where, in turn, i express my thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences.

and when i think about it, i believe this is the key to the traditionally-illogical-but currently-quite-normal interaction between bloggers - equal amounts of honesty and disclosure. if someone posts anonymously on my blog, or doesn't link to their own blog (unless i already know them), i'm highly unlikely to give a shit about them. however, when there's a reciprocal blogger, i'm open to checking out their blog and becoming their 'friend'. most of my online friends have been found that way and i think they probably operate similarly. not an absolute rule, but it's certainly a large part of how i interact online these days.

the thing i love about this whole blogging connection is the fact that i'm hanging out with kids who, given usual social circumstances, i would be too shit-scared to talk to.

talking about this with a friend who isn't quite so open online, i explained to her that although there is a level of anonymity afforded everyone online and this opens us up for exploitation, those of us who generate online content and spend the amount of time on others' sites (like i do), we can see a bullshit artist a mile away. it's very clear, very quickly who is been much less than authentic and they don't actually 'last' that long as no-one really bothers to pay attention to them.

i think that for the most part, humans crave authenticity and i believe we perpetuate that in any place we interact. whether that face to face with a handshake, or online with a thought-provoking comment. maybe i'm naive and have actually been chatting with a bunch of murderers and paedophiles, but i actually don't think so. hell, even lonelygirl15 was 'outed', when people could easily have continued to believe unquestioningly. the thing about technology and the web 2.0 is that humans have created it, so it's unlikely going to be that far removed from a sense of humanity, even at its most inhumane.

i've been accused of being wedded to the web, and while i'm not the biggest technolovinwhore i know, i am grateful for growing up when i did, being open to the changes in communication and the resulting connections i've been able to have through my words online. and whilst every now and again i shake my head in marvel at the surreality of 'meeting' people through bits and bytes, there is a larger part of me that accepts that this is actually quite normal and am thankful for my ability to read and write.

*marcus isn't really my cousin, i just thought i'd be a bit cheeky. but with a common surname like brown - who knows!



exhibition tramp and great pick-up lines*

* channelling the wonderful art pimp

so last thursday night was art-opening mania in sydney. i had a choice of craigie horsfield and stephen birch at MCA; david griggs, carla cescon and hiroharu mori at artspace; ben quilty at grantpirrie or elizabeth reidy and
Alex Gereg at MOP. and somehow i managed to squeeze in 3 out of 4 of them and still get the 8:38 train from central!

carla cescon,night crawlers & shape-shifters: 100 days and nights in search of the ramones
thanks to artspace sydney website

i'm glad i have the opportunity to pop into artspace again easily, 'cos i only managed to really scoot around the gallery before getting a lift to redfern. the david griggs pieces are quite imposing and i've not seen his work so.. solid before. the paintings are mounted on huge free-standing frames, like billboards for the maniacally repressed. they're really quite amazing works, and although i can get really over the whole mish-mash po-mo fiasco, these works seem quite profound. i didn't get a chance to check out the Mori video piece, will do later this week and the Cescon Ramones stuff, well, i really didn't like it. Although i appreciate the intention of showing fan obsession and possibly teenage angst, it's too close to the bone for me. The Ramones saved me from full-blow teen angst and I believe they're one of the greatest bands ever. However, I don't know if wall scrawl and love-hearts over their posters really constitutes the kind of aesthetic enquiry i like from a contemporary exhibition.

ben quilty,joe
thanks to grantpirrie website

after scoring a lift to redfern, i decided to go to grantpirrie first 'cos MOP was on my way back home and i thought there would be less people there. as i predicted, the ben quilty show was pa-acked! it was a reasonably warm night, so most people were out on the footpath, sipping vino. inside it wasn't as squished as i thought, but it was still pretty tight.
it was an opportunity to check out the goop up close and personally, and maybe get a glimpse of a painting from a wide view, if you were lucky. if you want to see what the show really looks like, go and see it during the week - you can actually stand back and see the works from afar. i've never really liked quilty's combination of spray paint and oils, but over the week, thinking about it, the way he's used it for shadow in the portraits, it's grown on me.

my highlight for the night was actually watching a little girl check out one of the paintings. she would have been about six and was wriggling about in a half-dance, like little kids do and the way she looked at the work was enlightening (especially seeing as i'd earlier watch Sir Ken Robinson on education at TED): she would go right in close to the painting, look at it sideways, then the other way, step back, have a think and do it all again. i was so busting to ask her what she thought, but she skipped off to hang out with her parents before i had the chance.

elizabeth reidy,box of broken dreams
thanks to mop website

after having a quick chat with a few of the ladies present (hi jesse, hi katrina, hi iz!), i popped in really quickly to see my friend dave who lives around the corner, only to walk back up the street with him on his way to the bottle shop. so i went back to MOP to see liz's work in the project room: Box of Broken Dreams. I really enjoyed it. The connection with Nirvana Unplugged might have been slightly lost on me, seeing as I thought that album was tripe and would gladly have sacrificed dreams for it to never see the light of day.
Alas, I digress. The image of Liz as a ballerina was fantastic and i could have watched it for hours. She easily conveyed a sense of loss and childhood expectations without the fru-fru (except the tutu).

Alex's paintings, Galactic Adventures in the main room didn't really interest me. Perhaps this is because I don't have a huge interest in garishly coloured graphic novels, or references to 3D movies or bad screen printing. Perhaps it's because I'm a closed-minded opinionated bitch.

I don't mean to sound quite so harsh, but i promised myself that when i started this blog that i was going to be honest. not mean and nasty, just honest and if that hurts people's feelings, well, it hurts peoples feelings. None of my opinions, by the way, are a reflection of how I feel about my own work or whether my own work is, in fact, up to scratch either. At the end of the day, opinions are just opinions, i guess.

Anyway, as an aside to all that, on saturday i went up to artspace again (although still managed to not see Hiroharu's work) to attend the screening of Multiple City, a documentary about the project in Panama City by Gerado Mosquera, curator from the New Museum in Havana. It was such an amazing film and perfectly timed, considering my impending research on guerilla works. After the screening and questions, i really wanted to ask Senor Mosquera more questions. so i did what i've never done before, i asked for his email address! i felt like i was asking someone for their digits in a club, but it was fine! I told him about my research and he said he'd be happy to speak with me more about it! yay! here comes some interesting progress.. eep!

so much for jaded, cynical cow then, hey.



sweet words in an email...

from ...@fco.gov.au:
re: Your Visa Application @ Canberra

"Your application has been approved and the visa has been issued."

sucked in england - i'm comin' over!!



deconstructing lauren

a little out of focus at the moment

i hate woody allen and his movies. his neurotic paedophilic whining just makes my skin crawl.

but there are two exceptions to this opinion: radio days and deconstructing harry.
i saw radio days as a teenager and all that sexual tension, the jewish "oi, veh, why" was great! deconstructing harry was the last allen movie i put myself through and i actually enjoyed it, much to my chagrin. this was largely due to the robin williams' character, mel, who spent most of the film feeling (and being) out of focus.

for the first time in ages, i'm relating to that. a lot. and i kind of like the irony that i'm into deconstruction, yet don't travel so well when i have to deal with it in my damned living room. not to mention the irony of being a woody allen character.

so, woody allen. i think i hate you even more. for making a character that makes me want to watch one of your films again and having my life somewhat reflect a movie you made.



the mercury can suck it..

after an article featuring everyone else in the show except me, i had a bit of a tantrum about the illawarra mercury and whether my artwork was ever going to be acknowledged by the paper.

well, this week, the mercury can suck it. i've been accepted to have a show at the renowned artist-run space allan's walk in bendigo!! with my good buddy linda mcrae (otherwise known as loopy or goo)!! yay! we rock and no amount of lack-of-local-exposure is going to deny me this happy dance... *it's your birthday, it's your birthday*

this show won't be until next year, when i get back from overseas, but it will be a great start to the year and a real celebration of good stuff for both of us! what a way to celebrate moving back across the border. and you will be hearing about it, that's for sure.

when i found out, i called my mum to tell her the news. and i realise that this makes me an absolute dork, but did get me thinking about success. do we just start to take these things for granted? or no matter how much success i manage to garner, will i always call my mum in excitement? did daniel von sturmer ring his mum when he got selected for venice? does tracey moffat still call her mum when she gets selected for the armory? and what about outside the arts.. do you planner types call your parents when you score a pitch? does brett lee call home when he gets selected for the world cup? or is it so expected, so passe that it's not worth a mention, except for the very uncool and supremely geeky classes of the world?



i hope you like jammin' too..

i've been doing a lot of thinking and a bit of reading lately on one of my keen interests at the moment: culture jamming and guerilla artworks.

while i'm in london and europe, i'm going to do some much more intensive research and talking with people about it (not to mention hopefully doing some of my own), eventually ending up (hopefully) as a masters thesis. and in response to seb's post about it and then age's dedication, i thought i was high time i posted about it here too. that way you can all rubbish my research before i've even started it! he he he..

there's already a lot of talk and online content about culture jamming and there could be a chapter all on its own about the relationship between culture jamming/street art/guerilla artwork and the internet (ooh, lovers). but at the moment i'm really just focusing on a few specific things about jammin and other forms of renegade visual communication: the city, the architecture, the market, the politics.

the city

seemingly, street art, culture jamming and interactive architecture are all mostly the domain of the metropolis: lots of people, lots of buildings, lots of advertising and noise and information and activity. and with all of that comes a dichotomy of exposure and anonymity. within the throng of people and shit going on, artists/jammers can more easily undertake their works of art, sometimes in broad daylight, and city dwellers won't blink an eyelid. it's the nature of living in the city, with the weird and wonderful mix of people and their business, that we're so alienated and dissociated from anything that's a bit strange or out of order. and the added attraction of throwing up a piece in the city is that coupled with the anonymity of the action is the sheer volume of exposure you get. your audience wide open and (more often than not) open minded.
however, despite these conduits to creating renegade works in the city, there is also the chance that, because of the volume of visual information aimed at metropolitan populations, the message will be lost or treated with indifference. i could go into the irony of this, but will save that for later.

so what is the relationship between the city and the renegade artist? and is the city hidden character in street art/culture jamming/guerilla works? i know that amazing works is created in the regional areas and significant messages need to be taken there, but can this form of communication exist in a place that is more open and exposed, where the populations there may not.

thanks to wooster

the architecture.

relating to the city is the interesting relationship that culture jamming/interactive architecture/guerilla works/street art has with architecture. more often than not, images are sprayed, posted or projected onto walls of buildings. wooster's spring st project even went so far as to take over the whole building, really embracing the relationship street artists and creatives have with architecture.

i'm going to spend some more time thinking about this aspect of it, but a couple of thing really interest and excite me about this relationship. the first thing is about value. currently in australia, street art and guerilla installations are seen either as a nuisance or a 'cute' form of expression, like a side show. but what if the value of having artists and therefore an audience interacting with a building or infrastructure was seen as a qualitative and even quantitative element in the success of a building. is a building a worthwhile building if it gets plastered by amazing artworks, projections and messages - proving that the residents and visitors of that area actually engage with it. and if it could be proven, would development of suburbs and burroughs only be approved if the architects and developers could prove that the building was conducive to this kind of interaction? i'm not an architecture student, so i'm not sure how much interactivity comes into play with the analysis and appreciation of architecture, but i'm dying to find out.

thanks to seventeen gallery

the market.

as much as artists bemoan the commercialisation of art, the reality of the situation is that the art market has had an influence on art practice and production at least since the 17th century. you think rembrandt created those amazing self-portraits for the good of the plaats? so, given that the art market is becoming increasingly cut-throat and we're all becoming more and more aware of marketing and promoting, not to mention the assault of ads (especially in the city - see above), it's little wonder that art is created which attempts to be outside of those constraints and customs. not so easy to walk away with a piece of flinders lane wall and proudly say to your lawyer mates that you're 'supporting the arts' is it..

so how are the galleries effected. if audiences like to be able to have the freedom and easiness of checking out some great works on their local corner, or waking up and seeing the latest Nike ad stripped bare to become a face of a street urchin, do they still buy work off the walls? how much have the commercial trends in art buying been affected by what wooster affectionately call 'the banksy effect'?

but despite all of that, major players in the culture jamming and street art game - cut up and banksy are now in galleries, supported by them, with their clients and mail outs and the regular trimmings of a regular art industry. what interests me about this is not just the irony, but the power of the market. and are these two examples even indicative of the 'embrace' by the regular art market on these forms of art/communication. does this constitute a 'sanction' by the galleries that say 'street art is OK, as long as you make some on canvas that i can sell'. or is it merely a fact that these artists want and deserve the financial rewards that come from slugging their guts out night after night, trying to make the world a better place?

thanks to flickr

the politics.

and i don't just mean liberal, labo(u)r, tory, democrat, republican, forza italia or northern alliance. i also mean the polloi engaging with their environment. renegade art forms usually have a political or criticial message and the nature of the artform and its place gives artists the freedom to say these things and speak their mind in creative ways, a throwback from the situationists. with the amount of good political street art being created rising and people's understanding and appreciation of it increasing, are people becoming more politically aware through their art, or is the art a reflection of the political awareness of the masses that wasn't being expressed through 'high' art. which came first, the chicken or the egg?

as you can see - i don't have answers yet, just a whole bunch of questions i'm hoping to answer later on. but the questions are also a way into looking at these forms of art that haven't previously been discussed. i'm hoping that when i get to speak to some of the amazing people involved in this 'sub-culture' (for want of a less patronising term) that i'll be able to answer a few of those questions and also to really clarify why this form of visual communication is so vital.



she sees wedd

there are two great shows at the wollongong city gallery at the moment, and with the opportunity to make a geeky pun out of it, there was no way i wasn't going to blog about it.

gerry wedd, arcadia
thanks to wollongong city gallery

gerry wedd, one time designer for mambo, has work in amongst the mann-tatlow asian collection, taking the piss out of the pieces, in his show chinese whispers. well, actually he's giving them the cheeky aussie referential treatment that's actually based in a deep love, understanding and respect for the pieces. he researched and specifically worked from the pieces in the wollongong collection and the white and blue ceramic pieces are well-crafted and accurately replicate the traditional white and blue look of the historic asian artworks. Jung dynasty works featuring paddy workers, mountainous landscapes and fiery dragons have been recreated to feature aussies in thongs, steelworks, kangaroos and other local references. my description of wedd's work makes it sound incredibly twee, but the work is actually fantastic.

michael zavros,secret men's business
thanks to gallery shubert website

the other great show in the gallery at the moment is michael zavros' égoiste. i have always loved michael zavros' paintings of masculinity, finesse and excess. the first work i ever saw was his secret men's business in sebastian at hazelhurst - my boss and i stood in front of the work for 5 minutes straight, drooling.

in this show, zavros' exhibits a range of works on lavish excess. the small and exquisite paintings included my favourite from the show: the gorgeous image of the row of suit jackets in the exclusive mens' store. the large drawings included amazing photorealist works of Versailles and the Salvatore Ferragamo shoe bags. The centrepiece of the show was a striking image of a centaur, yves saint laurent le smoking/baywith the human body being that of a gorgeously dressed young man. Unfortunately, i couldn't help but find similarities between that and Peter Churcher's homo-erotic centaurs, so it lost a bit of its lustre.

michael zavros,milano interior/monetti emporium/i do not want what i haven’t got
thanks to www.michaelzavros.com

zavros' work is amazing and although i don't usually go ga-ga over realist works, i go ga-ga over his. something about the crisp masculinity about his works are so attractive! and, like todd mcmillan, he's an artist that actually investigates and represents men and masculinity in an authentic way, actually featuring men. as opposed to the 'masculinity' of, say, manet's olympia.


end game

another gallery dies in a regional town. another victory for apathetic citizens in satellite cities who are too lazy to care whether their town is a cultural backwater.

the little field office on 255 king

field gallery is closing after 6 years. in the heart of newcastle NSW, this is the second gallery to close in as many years, thanks to the directors being completely overworked and having minimal support, either financially or culturally, from their local residents, councils or media.

field is ace! i organised the recent exchange between project and field and it was a fantastic opportunity to share common experiences, to gain some insight, to travel somewhere different and expose our artwork to a new audience. the gallery was really well organised and in an awesome position. the directors were all fantastic girls and ran a tight ship, with studios out the back really supporting the local contemporary scene.

now, thanks to no money, and fuck all support, they're closing.

their final challenge show, end game opens this week and i put a work in. don't go to the opening because it will just be crushing if hundreds of people rock up at the end and they're all left wondering where the hell you have all been for the last 6 months.

scene viscera, patient: gallery, field.

RIP. here's hoping newcastle can recover from the loss of such a great space.

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red alert

while i'm supposed to be reducing the amount of time i spend on the internerd so that i can spend 'quality time' packing my possessions into boxes, i've actually got a few posts bursting to get out there. in the next week i will probably be a blogging maniac - blow my load, peak too early and fall asleep for a while, metaphorically speaking of course.

and until then, it's time for a quick update on what exciting procrastination projects i've been working on.

last week i finally bought myself some real estate.
well, online real estate. yes kids, lauren has a website. it's in the wee wee stages of being built and is pretty much a hello and my cv at this stage, but it does mean i've got a decent email address that's accessible via webmail (ie. not hotmail, yahoo, gmail, etc) and a place to put my stuff. i'm going to try and get some work done on it in the next little while, maybe enlist a little help from design friends (*ahem*, dave?) and then it will be spiffy and worth a proper post and a link all to itself!

in other news, i also became a fully fledged grown up and bought myself a digital camera! a gorgeous olympus extra zoom with a proper lens that has been only 5 years in the planning.. phew! photomajor? who? me?

thank goodness for non-commercial losses tax legislation :)

so, thanks goes out to my friends jade, damian and jase whose cameras/work cameras i have pinched over the last few years. this also means, as jade pegler lovingly pointed out, that i have to get flickr now... oh yes.. sleep? what sleep?

next on the wishlist is an iPod, but that, i think, will have to wait a little longer. and until then, it's me and my old skool cd walkman with a busted top - oh yeah, keepin' it real.

and that, my friends, is the news for sunday march 11, 2007.



this announcement is brought to you by..

So after all my ranting about frustratingly average magazines and a lot of thinking and commenting lately about advertising/planning, not to mention the WK Side project, I check my horoscopes from my main man Rob Brezny (and don't lecture me on it right now, just go with it) and i get this...


For the week 8th March, 2007

Sports franchises sell the naming rights to their stadiums. Baseball's San Francisco Giants play at AT&T Park, for instance. Then there are the parents who've sold the naming rights to their unborn children on eBay. Inspired by these precedents, I'm thinking about selling the naming rights to the astrological signs. Instead of just "Aquarius," I could maybe convince Nike to invest in calling it "Nike's Aquarius." Better yet, maybe I could hawk the rights (at a lower rate, of course) to organizations whose cultural influence I actually respect: Burning Man's Aquarius or Greenpeace's Aquarius. Given your current astrological omens, you should entertain an idea like this. Maybe you could add a corporate sponsor as your new middle name or as the name of your blog or your pet or your genitals. Consider it, Aquarius. It's the perfect time to think outside the box in regard to bringing more money into your life.

so, in order to fund a trip to Old Blighty, it seems, metaphysically, i'm gonna have to show some leg and hawk myself to the highest bidder ha!

so far i'm thinking Lauren Tate Brown, Lauren PETA Brown or She Sees (Red) Red...[ actually, i don't think i'm famous enough for that last one..] but all suggestions are welcome.

can anything be beautiful? part 3

for my final trick i'm going to unleash the hounds and have a good ol' rant.. and try not to rack up a defamation case in the process.

when beautiful things are complete shit.
sorry artswipe, it's not nearly as faececious as you'd like, i'm sure.

i like beautiful things, as you may know. right across the board too - i'm not too elitist about my beauty - beautiful houses, beautiful objects, beautiful artworks, beautiful landscapes, beautiful people, beautiful clothes (although you may not know it from my rockin' wardrobe of Got Any Blacker?), beautiful shoes, beautiful food, beautiful books/magazines. but one of the things that i really see red about is when some of those beautiful things are actually full of shit.

my victim today is actually a 'beautiful' magazine. it purports to contain beautiful people, good design, interesting articles about interesting things, a possibly inspiring and worthwhile read. but when i picked a back-issue, the communications issue no less, of cream magazine, i almost vomited with frustration at the utter stupidity and ridiculousness of what lay beneath the 'gorgeous' exterior. my suggestion is that they actually save on printing and become a rag mag like ralph or FHM, 'cos they're not that far off being that kind of mag.

i should have realised with the lame cover. the two boys (almost famous NRL players) are wearing ridiculous fucking t-shirts that say 'don't believe the bull' (oh the irony!!) and 'text me i'm famous' (which they are, but it still makes them a couple of jerks) and the girl posing all over them is wearing big colourful moon boots that only Rainbow Brite can get away with - and she's a fucking cartoon character!!

but i kept an open mind, interested in what may be discussed about communication in this issue: 'real' fashion statements, Clever Body Language, The Telco Backlash, Smart Identity Cards and Transglobal Music. i figured that there would be at least some indepth discussion on a few of those topics.

you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake!

Alas. It was all lost on some really bad articles and tied together with some facile fashion shoots: the discussion about communication through fashion bitched about t-shirt splashed with "obscure words and numbers" (which i can understand), to be replaced by "clearer messages" like "My Girlfriend's Out of Town" which, and i quote "after a little social lubrication they really do say something"....

...are you fucking kidding me? what do they really say?

the people wearing those shirts have no interest in communicating anything but "i'm a jerk off tart" or "actually, i don't have a girlfriend, but i'm hoping that this shirt will help me look like some promiscous rebel instead of the complete tosser that i really am".

the writers could have discussed the use of fashion in communicating ideas of identity, or the messages in social co-ordination, but no, they went for catchphrases and illogical references to Zoolander.

i'm a fair person and try to give things a second, or in this case, third chance. and seeing as it was the communications feature, there seemed a good opportunity to discuss telecommunications. maybe the increase in new technologies, the effects of them on modern interaction, all kinds of juicy, interesting stuff that their intelligent, stylish readers could engage with. instead, we get a bitch about Telstra. a lot like my bitch about Vodafone, but a lot less oomf (a bit like the service it was bitching about perhaps?). the difference is that my whinge was on a free blog about my random ramblings, but even then delved into ideas of modern brand communication and customer service. this article was actually just really embarassing.

those are just 2 examples, and i could go on about the design being quite empty and the choice of advertisers not reflecting the kind of magazine you would expect, etc, etc, etc.

the thing is, this is just one illustration of when beautiful things completely undermine their external glamour, freshness, excitement, style.. beauty, by being completely devoid of substance. just like bad sponge cake... or paris hilton.

as strong and inspiring as beauty is, it can be a tenuous connection to something that will always, always be overidden by something as simple as disappointment. and my disappointment was not necessarily that the articles aren't great, or that the fashion shoots are bloody ridiculous (with text bubbles from beautifully lit models). that's fine if it's vice mag. i know what to expect from that kind of mag and they don't sell themselves as anything more than that. but cream, and others like it, put themselves out there, dress themselves in haute couture and pitch themselves as a fine 'lifestlye' magazine, but treat me like an idiot who doesn't know the difference. it's insulting.

if, in a weeks' time, i have posted a retraction, it's only for legal reasons. but seriously, i really hope that if someone from cream does read this, that they may think about what i've said. in the whole scheme of things, i'm a nobody - hell, i didn't even pay for the privilege of my rant, but i do know about presenting honest beauty to an audience (whatever form that may take) and i do have some understanding of communicating with people. and you are doing both of those things badly. really badly.



so long and thanks for all the fish

well, it was nothing like Project Mayhem, but a certain friend and i went out and caused a wee bit of arty mischief around wollongong yesterday evening.

i've always wanted to put some art up around the joint, so we did.

jj kelly park now looks a little bit more, shall we say, modified.

otherwise known as 'the pod cage', but in some of the images i took, also looks like a sophisticated laser target. whatever floats your boat.

given the wild weather over the last couple of days, i'm hoping it's still up, but i'm pretty sure these flowers didn't make it through the night.

image: Flowers, Jade Pegler

but then, that's half the fun innit?

i could have created more mischief. made it extremely political (like made something that looks a little more like a guantanemo cage) or something completely anti-social, like a huge fuck-off dildo, but for the moment, i just wanted to put something up a little kooky. a little bit out of the ordinary and something a little bit fun. i make serious art, but it's got to be a bit fun in there too, otherwise it's boring as fuck and really doesn't say anything anyway.

so i'm going to do a few more little cheeky things around this town before i leave. i hope the residents of this crazy town think of it as a parting gift. i'll keep you all updated with some pics.



can anything be beautiful? part 2

it's been a funny old week this week and i've had a few really important things put into perspective.
so this week's less on beauty has a subtitle:

judging a book by its cover. if it looks beautiful it must be beautiful

last week i went shopping at woolworths and right at the end, remembered that i needed some chewy [chewing gum for the rest of the world that doesn't abbreviate everything and then add a 'y' or 'o' to the end].
so i headed for my usual brand of cheap, but reliable gum, only to find it in a 2-pack with some spiffy new packaging. i don't usually get quite so excited about packaging with brands, but lately, i'm really into the importance of presentation.

this new packaging has a few things going in its favour as one of this week's beautiful things:
1. the stuff inside is good. it's not fancy, it's not mind blowing. it's goddamn chewing gum, but it's reliable and it does what it's supposed to. it doesn't let me down and therefore doesn't undermine it's beauty by being incredibly frustrating, stupid or wanky.

2. it's personal. in several ways. the actual sticks of gum are individually wrapped and have been for a while. like wrigleys back in the 70s (prior to the instant me me me generation of the 80s and their PK), not only has this sense of being kept a bit clean, it's also about revealling the product inside. unwrapping presents isn't just about the present, you know.
the sense of the personal, clean and unfolding is also carried through to this outside packaging. the two 'rows' of gum are protected by a silver paper, so you feel like it could sit in your manky car for at least a week and survive. and the wallet type shape of the package says 'it's mine'. and it felt like mine.

3. it's simple. the design keeps true to the main look of the usual wrapper, but it's also simplified it. the words are clean. there's no fluffy bollocks, shiny squares, stupid star bursts of FLAVOUR! or kooky fonts. it's blue, it's got a logo, it's been endorsed by the dental association. it's got the ingredients on the bottom, it's has the warning about excessive use and laxative effect and it leaves it at that.

the great taste that really larsh

now, maybe i got a bit carried away with the whole thing since giving up smoking (and strangely, the packaging has taken a bit of a leaf out of cigarrette packaging) or maybe it's 'cos i'm thinking about beautiful presentation, but it got me. and it got me thinking.

april flowers, circa 1985

and while i was thinking about the nature of packaging and how it can be incredibly seductive if it's done right, provided that it's not about bullshit, i was drinking my cup of tea and i realised how much love my cup of tea and my tea set.

my cuppa is a ritual. lately it's been with a toasted hot cross bun and from a wedgewood cup WITH saucer, that i was given as a gift when i was 8 (for my first holy commmunion for you recovering catholics out there).

I don't own reams of nice crockery, so don't go thinking i'm all lahdy-dah. but i make a point of using this beautiful "packaging", because it gives my simple ritual a sense of decorum and for some reason, it makes the tea taste better.

and as another one of this week's beautiful things it subscribes to the same checklist as the chewing gum:

it's personal. aside from the nostalgia of it being a gift, the cup is personal because it's delicate and vulnerable (so vulnerable in fact, it's currently missing the handle 'cos its previous adhesive has decided to retire). you have to hold it carefully, you can't just chuck it down and you have to sip. you can't skull from a tea cup: there's no room for Wham, Bam Thankyou Ma'am.

it's simple. it's just a tea cup (and saucer). it doesn't profess to be anything else. while the saucer will hold a couple of scotch finger biscuits, its main purpose is to hold liquid and nothing more. no multi-tasking, no trying to be all things to all people, no blowing smoke up my ass. it has a very clear statement of purpose. it's a fucking tea cup (and saucer).

and the stuff inside is good.tea is tea. it pretty much tastes good, whatever brand you use and however you have it. i'm sure if i had to use it to slurp a cup of dirty coca cola, or cough medicine or cheap cask wine, it wouldn't be quite so endearing.

now these two things may seem completely random examples of beauty, of all the amazingly beautiful things, but that's the point isn't it? anything can be beautiful. and when it's honest and simple, has a sense of consideration and makes a difference to your day it's a beautiful thing. even if it's just on the outside.

next lesson: when beautiful things are full of shit.