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i'm obviously out of practice

so, my exhibition opens today at allan's walk, in bendigo. go and see it, if it takes your fancy.

and, contrary to my apocalyptic imaginings, installation went well. but boy was i stressed about it. in the past, as i've documented on this blog, here and here installation hasn't always been smooth-sailing. i have a habit of underestimating the power of the fuck-up and suddenly, what is supposed to take x long, takes 2.5x long, with 0.5y sleep. (see kids, you do use algebra in real life!).

i also have a habit of forgetting to ask for help from the beginning and by some grace of something, i end up with people who are willing to help me out. thank god for best friends, hey. next time, i promise that i'm going to enlist in an 'assistant' from the get-go.

so, given these habits of mine, i have often worked myself into a state of unnecessary frenzy putting a show up and it was the fear of this frenzy that freaked me out this time around. installing on sunday, i really didn't want to be up until something a.m, having to start a hectic working week on nerves that resemble the struts of the bolte.

given that most of my work lately has been site-specific (ceres, docklands, overlooking the hamburg hafen and at Spinach in London) i had also completely forgotten that it is always alright on the night. there are always solutions. and while compromise can be the bain of art production, sometimes it can be for the better. i was clearly out of practice in the art of having some perspective about the whole thing. i had to keep reminding myself that i wasn't saving the world, i was just putting on a show in a small regional (beautiful and culturally rich) town in the arse-end of the world.

thankfully, i'm happy with the show. whether it's good or not, i'm not in a position to say (i'm too attached to it still), but it's together, pretty close to what i was intending, in working order, and so far, nobody has spat on the window in disgust. that's gotta be a good thing, right?



tea vs red

you'd think, with all this talk of red that i would be a supporter of in the drinkwars. but you'd be wrong. so wrong.

i think tea is better. i think northern's case for tea was a bit nice to start with, but with the double post and all that talk of "fat, bloated and slovenly"... ooh, them's fighting words and i love it!

if you're into schoolyard games and underhanded competition, check out the drinkwars: tea. red wine. and then vote.

sustainable art practice and utopian slumps

Firstly, if you live in melbourne and wanna see a great exhibition, jump on your bike and ride over to Utopian Slumps for Brendan Huntley's exhibition. It's chocker-block full of sweet and creepy ceramics and drawings of masks. or faces. depending on your outlook.

His glass pieces are so adorable and I fell in love with one particular work as soon as I saw it. Only to find out later that somebody else bought it. Which is probably for the better, seeing as I can't really afford to be buying others' works at the moment.

Huntley, for those who live outside Melbourne, is also known as Brendan Suppression - singer from Eddie Current Suppression Ring - bloody brilliant post-garage noise rock saviours. Which explains why I ended up chatting with Kate Langbroek at the opening. Surreal, I tell you.

And speaking of Utopian Slumps, I've been thinking a lot lately about how difficult it is to have a sustainable art practice. I don't mean environmentally (although that can be hard sometimes, especially for us solvent-loving types), but physically, financially, conceptually and emotionally. A friend quit her arts admin job this week, because of the lack of organisational support. She'd only been there for just over 12 months, but that level of rotation is not uncommon. In fact, I only know a handful of people who have been in the one arts admin job for more than 18 months. That's a pretty high attrition rate.

But it's quite common here. It's quite a vicious cycle: there's no money in the arts, so we work our guts out picking up the slac, where there should be more staff, we burn out, move on and our organisations are left with staff who are underpaid, overworked and inexperienced and so the cycle starts again. Not to mention the fact that half of the arts admin workforce are practicing artists/writer/curators and are spending the rest of their lives working on other stuff. It's like the whole arts industry is sleep deprived. Which is great for wacky, zany ideas and spontenaity. Not so good for long-term, let's get some policy written and some considered discussion happening. We're reacting.

Look at my workload for a case-in-point: I'm currently working full time, putting in a half-arsed attempt at finishing the uni semester, working on a joint [technically-group-but-might-as-well-be-solo] show and somehow managing to still have some sleep. How the fuck i do sustain this over a 20, 30, 40 year period? Add to that the globalisation spoiler of realising how much more possible it is to do elsewhere.

The sad thing is that visual art (and other forms of art, methinks) isn't built on a sustainable business model. Well, not here anyway. There is no easily quanitifiable outcome, product, turnover, cash flow data or even staffing procedure. Each artist runs his/her business as best they can, based on the practice. Not the practice based on a common business model, and the whole industry flows on from there. Money doesn't come first - it's product or idea and then fitting finances to it. And, unlike graphic design and architecture- the most financially self-supporting of the creative industries - the hourly rate just doesn't feature. If you try to fit a standard billing idea to arts practice, most artists are working pro-bono 100% of their time. Can you imagine if lawyers did that?

Having said all that, I like that art is outside of regular, commercialised modes of engagement. It provides a detached viewpoint for analysis and also contributes an 'exit' within society - a shining light away from supermarket shelves and a long list of unanswered emails.

But if we're unable to continue providing that viewpoint 'cos we're malfunctioning, something needs to change.

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those magazines again

some of you may recall that i decided to buy a new magazine a fortnight. well, i've continued on that front, so have a little stockpile of interesting bits and pieces to read.

since i finished reading my book and couldn't quite work out where to go next, i decided to just catch up on all the magazines i've managed to collect on my 'to read' pile. i've had some real joy discovering some great articles, new mags and i figure that it's about time i shared them with you:


monocle is ace! it covers Affairs, Business, Culture, Design and Edits.. a little like Time, but monthly, and lovelier. The ever-talented Mr Hill has been seriously involved in starting the mag, especially its great online element, but is sadly leaving. He talks about the mag in much more depth here, so read that.
The bits that I loved included the discussion on trains and train travel, the snippets of info from around the globe: including a super clandestine mission to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe (before the fall, obviously); discussions with Lebanon’s answer to Veronica Guerin, May Chidiac about being blown up for campaigning against Syria’s occupation of Lebanon. There’s also a profile of Amos Schocken: publisher of Israel's Haaretz newspaper and contemporary art collector, plus a whole section on urban planning, which is like mind porn for a geek like me.

creative review

ages ago, I asked for someone in London to read the Creative Review for me. Well, I finally got to read it myself and boy is it a corker: it largely centres around the Tate and Tate Media, it’s inhouse comms department, headed by Will Gompertz. There are several articles – a diary of Will’s day, which is enlightening, but also quite sweet – discussions with awesome designer James Goggin and interviews with Fallon, who have worked hard with Tate on the strategy of turning the Tate into what it is today. Their great Create Your Own Collection ads for Tate are Fallon UK at their most brilliant. [Will talks about the strength of Fallon and their strategy, which is encouraging, as Fallon UK have taken a major hit in my opinion of them lately, thanks to their desperate TVC turnout.]

There’s also features on how they work with artists to develop the communications for their shows and also how they work with designers: emerging and established to accurately convey what a blockbuster is about. It also covers the joys and perils of working with that Tate logotype created by Wolff Ollins – design blockbuster himself, and also the more intense ways in which a gallery like that is communicating to the huge variety of people it does.

From an artist’s perspective, it’s a great feature: a behind-the-scenes look into the world’s most well-known contemporary artspace. From a comms person in the arts sector, it’s brilliant. As pathetic as it is, it’s so satisfying to read that the head of Tate Media – an organisation with an overall budget probably 1000 times mine, never has enough time to do all the cool things he’d like to do either and has to make it through the minefield of creative vs strategy. As a bonus, the Fischli/Weiss manifesto is printed up nice and large on the back, which is surely the artworker’s 10 commandments.

*magnation is so rad – they have a great pile of discounted mags and a few weeks ago I was able to grab monocle and creative review for $20. what a deal!

un magazine

it’s the first one in aaaages. it’s great. it’s so lovely to have it back. there are a few great articles: my favourite being Daniel Palmer’s guide to making a speech. i haven't read much more of it than that, 'cos i just found where i put it after the launch, but i'm looking forward to digging in deeper.


big issue

how could you not love this mag? i can never manage to buy it each week, but once a month seems to be my rotation. i picked up no. 298, which focused on the gap year - that year between high school and uni (mine ended up being a gap apprenticeship of 5 years!), with a great article on working overseas: ich bin eine gastarbeiterin. other highlights include helen razer (the woman rocks, i don't care what anybody says!) and mic looby, fiona scott-norman on drinking culture in australia, an interesting snapshop on polination control, plus the beautiful Beirut (Zach Condon) interveiw. bliss. i bought it from the vendor (on the corner of elizabeth and bourke) - i didn't catch his name, but he had a beautiful smile.

art review

february’s issue is only just hitting the streets here, but I’m glad I was able to pick it up: liam gillick on the cover – he’s just brilliant and I loved hearing about him “re-gifting” half the space of his mid-career’retrospective’ back to the organisations to see what they’d do with it. plus there was a great interview with the grumbly smokey Belgian “saviour of painting”: luc tuymans.

another highlight: review of Will Self’s Psychogeography, which I’ve been going on about for a while (which is on its way from amazon as we speak) and reflects the early stages of some investigation into psychogeography that I wanna do. [edit: check this stuff out happening in sydney].

art world 2

I know I posted about art world last time I did this, but can I just say again how fucking great it is to have a good art mag in this country? it’s sold out of magnation twice now. thankfully I can pick it up at work… featuring Rachael Whiteread: hello? hello!

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rocking in red and helvetica

ha! from this to this:

from boingboing, via gemma jones

PS: she sees red is on skeleton blogging timetable, in this last week before install. sorry.


woo hoo moo!

there are a couple of furrowed brow/ranty blogs waiting in the wings here at she sees red, but before i unleash them on the world, i had to celebrate my latest cool parcel: my moo cards!

i know, they're so yesterday, but i had just never got it together to get them, until now. i went through the oh-so-easy online thing [although if anyone from moo.com happens to read this, it could be tweaked a little by having a 'save' button - i had to start again twice after having to go back and reselect a couple of images], put my text in and waited for my order.

i got an ace little parcel (from Deutsche Post, which seems to be the service de rigeur for everyone except die Deutschen)and here's what i got:

my moo mini cards, in a slick recyclable white plastic box with my moo mini card holder [i've already stuck a sticker on the holder, just so i don't lose the thing.]

including some awesome free cards:

with the message:

some love and friendly reminders: "yay! you're our new best friend" and "don't forget that moo cards come as stickers"

not to mention the easy option of letting them know that they've fucked up. unsurprisingly, everything is just right, so that sticker is just going to go onto the front of my next journal. which will be nice.

i can't brag about these cards enough.

and they arrived early! did i mention that already?

woo hoo moo!

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blatant self-promotion #227

I have a couple of works in this show. Pop down and see it if you get a chance.

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blatant self-promotion #226

[click to enlarge]

from the media release:

Abracadaver is a joint show about magic, death and artifice. The exhibition draws on aspects of the macabre and the somber, as well as fun and whimsy. It features the sculptural installation work of Lauren Brown and the illustrations and photographic work of Linda McRae. Tucked away from the limelight in a small arcade gallery, hiding in a regional town, the exhibition also focuses on that which is precious being hidden and then revealed in art, death and magic.

Brown investigates the crossover of magic and death through the idea of the resting place as ‘architecture’ and her sound/light-based work and interactive sculpture actively “put the fun into funeral”*. Meanwhile, McRae focuses on the subconscious, reflecting the link between death, faith and magic. She interprets magic as the unknown, the mystery, the confusion, the trick of the eye, and the afterlife through a series of banner works, illustrations and etchings.

*quote from Jake and Dinos Chapman, When Humans Walked the Earth


red is the helvetica of colours

according to mr spiekermann.

i can't work out whether i'm delighted or dejected.

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short black map

i have a confession to make: i used to order a decaf soy latte.

caffeine used to make me really sick [thanks to a greater addiction to nicotine] and i prefer to not drink cows milk [in an effort to reduce my contribution to a cruel dairy industry].

after going to europe and realising how fruitless it was trying to order all of that in german, i discovered the joy of espresso. oh my. from then, it was all i drank - right through germany, italy, austria and france: at €1 for a shot, it was just the way.

being back in melbourne, the 'cafe culture' city, i've now discovered that good coffee is not actually a given in this city. sure, there are a whole bunch of great cafes who theoretically make good coffee, but really it's just mediocre coffee with great milk. fine for your latte-sipping set, but i've now joined the black coffee militia. and it's proving a mission just to find a place to partake in the joy of a good, strong, coffee with depth and body. holy shit - did i just say that?

anyway, just for a bit of fun, i've started myself a short black map. i've got a few places on it that are ever-reliable on the short-black front. and, in the interest of un'espresso buono, i'm going to track my progess.

unfortunately, this probably means taking several bad blacks for the team, but i'm willing to make that sacrifice. if you're in melbourne, and have a suggestion for a good espresso, please feel free to contribute. and for the rest of you, well you'll just have to deal with an occasional post where i wax lyrical about finding a gold mine.

short black map

1. rouge galette. bonjour, ça va? they speak to me in french, know that i just get un café and make a killer brew.

2. pellegrinis. institution. never a bad coffee. sometimes a bit of attitude from the barista, until you start talking italian, then you're bella ragazza

3. mag nation. i know, you wouldn't expect magazine valhalla to be up there with great espresso, but believe me, it's great. the only down side: paper cups: ick.

4. stacks. brilliant. opposite RMIT bookstore and next to melbourne artists' supplies. perfect, if i could get there in my lunch break.

5. stellini. it's pretty good. a little on the uncertain side, but it's certainly worth a spot on the list.

and, seeing as I don't hang out in the CBD on weekends, i've needed to find places closer to home, so i've got a map for the north side. although, given i live stone's throw from the italian centre of the melbourne universe, it's not that hard to find a good 'un. but going to the same 4 cafés is going to get tiresome for my friends.

short black map

1. tiamo. institution. great coffee, fantastic atmosphere, italian conversation and only attitude from 1 or 2 of the barista.

2. DOC. my favourite restaurant. great people, fabulous mozzarella and top coffee.

3. kent st. sleezy, rock'n'roll bar with great stuff on the walls, wicked soundtrack, cute baristas and mind-jarringly great coffee.

4. rosamond. almost perfect coffee, but the best breakfast and ace people. so it makes the list.

so, there you go. completely self-obsessed list of places to get a decent espresso in this city. but it's not enough i tell you. so the official mission has begun.

à bientôt!



the superest is still going!

a while back, a few of us posted about The Superest: the great blog, which is a game between two artists to come up with a superhero whose superpowers cancel out the previous hero's.

well, i just wanted to let you all know that it's still going! and it's getting better.. I don't know how the hell they do it, but it's fantastic. It's up there with The Sartorialist and Postsecret as my favourite simple yet delightful ideas that have come to life on a blog.


my tweet cloud

i twitter rather a lot. but i had no idea i was such a go-getting workaholic!


art and public transport, public art and transport: flying.

airplane image by aaron kraten (awesome artist) stolen from his flickr set.

Following on from the discussions on art and transport i posted about here, i've been doing some investigating into the role of art and transport together. my current flavour of the month centres around airports.

i spent a lot of time in airports as a kid - i was an ID90 kid. that's jargon for the child of an airline staff member. so it stands to reason that i have a fascination with airports and airplanes as public spaces and forms of transport.

The airport is a particular kind of public space: unlike loads of other transport hubs, it's not entirely democratic, given that you have to pay a huge sum in order to facilitate being there. and for most of the space, you have to go through security searches. and that's just the passenger terminals. it also contains huge sections of open, but incredibly restricted space: tarmac, hangars and runways.

but similar to other axes of transportation, it's incredibly dynamic and diverse. and, depending on the airport, the sheer number of people passing through the space is unlike any other.

And yet, for all the coming and going, to-ing and fro-ing, there are also large numbers of people waiting around, trying to get comfortable, hungry, tired, bored, anxious, excited and joyous. and, like in the film Love Actually, airports are areas for expression of pure love. unlike most other public spaces connected to transport.

So, in terms of a marriage between airports and art, architecture and design, it's a hell of a brief:

Make a site that's got to have room for 500 people getting off a long-haul flight; space to run full-pelt towards your flight that's about to close [but not so much that you scare the living daylights out of post-9/11 jittery security staff]. But it's also got to have a cosy space to be able to curl up with a book while you're waiting 3 hours for a connection, or for your loved one whose flight has been delayed.

Aesthetically, it has to appear clean, calm, safe and orderly to allay fears post 9/11 and also for those 80% of passengers who are afraid of flying, but at the same time, has to leave enough emotional space to accommodate the inevitable tears from hellos and goodbyes.

You need to do the basics in terms of logistics: cars, luggage, public transport, check-in, security and the official stuff. And of course, in terms of planning and business strategy, there have to be places to be basically human: food, water, toilets, prayer and entertainment.

And, naturally, flying changed dramatically after 9/11. Interestingly, though, I've noticed that, as a result, more care, thought and pointed strategy has gone into airports and airplanes since. Perhaps it's because the airline industry stopped taking flying for granted and started to look at the benefits of flying and how to improve the experience of it. Or perhaps it's always been like this, and i'm just noticing it now for the first time.

And seeing as I am noticing it, the whole world seems to be conspiring with me too!

Ben's been posting about his opinion of Heathrow's new T5 and its new interactive signage and infographics; Design Quarterly has done a bit of a feature on Marc Newsom's design of the Qantas Lounge at Sydney Airport (above), and I picked up a cheap copy of last month's Monocle mag, which was focusing on trains, but raised some of the same points about the experience of train travel vs air travel.

Then, over Easter, I went to Adelaide [boy has that airport changed in the last few years!] and I got to experience an airport that had obviously had a good long think about how to lay out the space, how to engage people, give them a good experience, while rushing them along to their planes. I took pictures even (and didn't get arrested, which was nice). They even had art works on the walls and a showcase of maqettes from the JamFactory Furniture Design Studio.

Which reminded me about the secret desire I've had to open up a gallery in an airport. With all that amazing space, people looking for mental and visual stimulation, tourists looking to experience an essence of a place (and take some of that away with them), what better place to start an interesting art space. Or some site-specific projects.

And speaking of site-specific projets, one of my other secret desires has been to create an installation/experiential artwork within the interior of the plane. not to really freak anyone out, but to add a sense of play to the space which isn't really there at the moment (aside from the chipper staff on Virgin flights). Does essential plane travel still have to be glum?

Having had that playing on my mind, it was with glee that I listened to a fabulous interview by The Architects on 3RRR featuring with Frederique Houssard-Andrieux, a designer who is working specifically with the interior of airplanes. I already love this woman! and one day would love to work with her - she spoke about colour use within the confined space of the cabin with real depth and understanding. and she's looking to push the boundaries of what the fitouts of fleets will look like and feel like. unlike car upholstering, designing the interior of a passenger airplane (especially the long-haul jumbos she's working on) really have to take into account the psychology and feelings of the passengers. and how there's a whole range of pretty intense emotions that could feature in a flight, which need to be addressed in the design [and i suspect some of the fantastic primary school designers are probably tackling similar issues.]

Having said all that, airplanes and airports have always been aesthetically rich, thanks the need to try and make [expensive] air travel sexy and attractive. but since it has become mainstream and then back towards an environmental anathema, i think there is going to be a renaissance of design and interaction with this form of public transport. Which I have to confess, I'm a little bit excited about.

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proxy required: me in NYC.

Can any of my NYC peeps please be me for a day and go to see this exhibition for me?

Lots of Things Like This
organized by Dave Eggers

April 2 - May 10, 2008

With works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Cohen, David Berman, Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, Georges Braque, Jeffrey Brown, R. Crumb, Henry Darger, Marcel Duchamp, CM Evans, Shephard Fairey, David Godbold, Alasdair Gray, Philip Guston, Paul Hornschemeier, Jay Howell, Chris Johanson, Maira Kalman, Kenneth Koch, David Mamet, Quenton Miller, Tucker Nichols, Alice Notley, Ron Padgett, Raymond Pettibon, Dan Perjovschi, Amy Jean Porter, Steve Powers, Royal Art Lodge, Peter Saul, George Schneeman, Olga Scholten, David Shrigley, Shel Silverstein, Nedko Solakov, Ralph Steadman, William Steig, Saul Steinberg, and Kurt Vonnegut.

And if you've been hiding under a rock for the past 10 years and you don't know who Dave Eggers is, please read A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius. It is.

EDIT: For a great story about the top work Dave Eggers is doing, and a link to his tip-top TED talk, check out this post over at We Made This




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