Sunday
Oct052014

Durban Girls' College Grade 12 Visual Arts exhibition 2014 

I can't believe that my time with this class is almost over. I have dragged them all over Durban in the school bus in pursuit of an expanded art education at the local galleries, cajoled them into listening to my art history lectures with promises of Youtube clips at the end of each lesson, discovered "selfies" of them on my phone, witnessed the 'torture' of non-arty students as models and been surprised by the whole group arriving at the opening of my exhibition at the KZNSA gallery this year.

Please feel free to pop in at school during school hours to view their fantastic exhibition.(or attend the opening) 

Saturday
Aug302014

Understory Exhibition opening - 26 August 2014 

I generally find my own exhibitions quite nerve wracking, but for this particular one my emotions seemed to go into neutral, and just as well...my Grade 12 class secretly organised to meet each other ouside the venue & surprise me. They sneaked in as a big group - I was standing on the balcony talking to the gallery assistant & all sixteen girls managed to get right up to me before I noticed them. They are in the middle of writing preliminary exams & sacrificed some of their study time to attend the opening - what a special gesture! 

Jenny Stretton, the senior curator from the Durban Art Gallery, opened the exhibition. 

This is an excerpt from her speech:  "In Understory we descend to a level below consciousness, below the physical and below logic. The artists have used botanical shapes as the ladder for their descent: a curvaceous, organic, root-like link brings the viewer down from the canopy to their world. There is a sense that we are not viewing abstracted forms in the real world but rather real forms in an abstracted world – an exhibition that Alice may have curated. But the work is more serious than that with both artists narrating internal journeys that paradoxically have their roots above ground in the hustle and bustle of everyday life: it’s as if they descend to process and express the tensions in modern society."  You can read the whole speech here. 


Monday
Aug252014

Problem Bowls

I have been collecting flyers advertising the services of traditional healers (Sangomas) for some years now. These flyers normally handed out at traffic lights advertise to cure all sorts of 'ailments' ranging from debt to ill health to lack of sexual performance.

The flyers even promise to get rid of & harness the power of a mythical creature called the Tokoloshe.  Unscrupulous individuals pretend to be genuine healers, distribute these flyers and often damage the lives of innocent people. 

 I used a daisy punch used by crafters to cut daisy shapes out of the flyers that I then assembled in ceramic bowls. The traditional flower meaning for the daisy is purity and innocence.  The theme of wishes - or unfulfilled wishes comes up repeatedly in this exhibition. 

Wednesday
Aug202014

Understory exhibition - an educational supplement 

Understory:  a collaborative exhibition by Joan Martin and Lara Mellon 

Tuesday 26th August at 6:00pm until Saturday 13th Sept 12noon

The term Understory (or understorey, underbrush) in forestry and ecology refers to plant life growing beneath the forest canopy without penetrating it to any extent. As a rule forest understories also experience higher humidity than exposed areas.

1.

 

2.

After reading the above interpretation of the word ‘understory’, come up with your own/another interpretation of the word ”understory”.  

Write down a title of an artwork on this exhibit that best relates to this theme. Explain your choice.

 (2)

 

(2) 

The definition of the word “collaborate” from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is to: work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.

Watch the Youtube clip on the Tate gallery channel Unlock Art: Great Double Acts and answer the questions that follow. 

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4.

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7. 

Name one contemporary visual arts partnership mentioned in the Youtube clip “ Unlock Art: Great Double Acts”.

Is collaboration new in Visual arts? Explain your answer.

How does Jeff Koons create collaborative art?

Describe the artwork that Sue Webster & Tim Noble make. 

It is stated in the Youtibe clip that” By engaging with artwork the viewer also becomes part of the art” Explain this statement.

 

(1)

(2)

(2)

(2)

 (2) 

Note to teachers – questions 3-7 are best done prior to the gallery visit, after viewing the Youtube clip. The Youtube clip provides a comprehensive overview of collaborative artists of the past and present. Questions 3-7 may also be left out if you haven’t got easy access to the Internet.

Joan Martin and Lara Mellon have chosen to collaborate because of the support their relationship has brought to the making of this exhibition.

Their collaboration takes various forms:

Their postcards record conversation and demand a response to each other’s work. They also were required to meet on a regular basis to hand-deliver these postcards to one another.  Examine the collection of postcards

Above: Joan Martin, Postcard 44 (Front and back), mixed media, 15x10cm

Above: Lara Mellon, Postcard 45 (Front and back), mixed media, 15x10cm

8.

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10.

10.1.          

10.2.

What date did they start the series of postcards & what date did they finish?

Do you think that it is important that these artists recorded dates on their postcards? Explain your answer.  

Select one PAIR of sequential postcards 

Record the date, describe the visuals on the front of the card & write down the message in EACH card.

Explain how the postcards relate to one another visually or thematically (in terms of subject matter). 

(1)

 

(2)

 

(4)

 

(4)

The informal meetings where they swap postcards often turn into more formal lengthy meetings where they discussed ideas, the meaning of works and the general direction and form they want this exhibition to take. These meetings often take place in each other's studios where they got opportunities to view each other's work in progress & make comment on each other's work. 

Above: An excerpt from Joan Martin's Journal

Above: An excerpt from Lara Mellon's Journal

11.

Can you think of any positive effects that meetings like these could have on the development of an artist's work?  

 (2)

 

The circle shape occurs quite frequently in this exhibition.

Above: Joan Martin, Accumulation 1 (detail), mixed media, size various.   

Above:  Lara Mellon, Hope Sewn, mixed media, 15cm diameter. 

12.

 

 13.

 

Find an artwork that is based on a circular shape/contains circles by each artist and compare how they each use the circle in their work. Some things to consider: Is it a frame? Is it a compositional device?

Do you think the circle has symbolic meaning for each of these artists?

Back up your discussion by referring to features of specific artworks.

 

(4)

 

(4)

Joan Martin and Lara Mellon both use mixed media and often use similar materials, techniques and even swap items they have made with the other artist.

14.

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18.

List three unusual materials/mediums used by each artist.

Focus on ONE unusual material/medium used by each artist and describe its use in a particular artwork. Write down the name of the artist, the title, medium listed on the label & the size of the work as part of your answer.

Do you think this material has any effect on the artist's message? Explain your answer.

Can you find examples of both artists using the same materials/techniques?  Describe this material/technique and explain how each artist has used it differently.

Despite often using similar materials, techniques and both working within the theme of this exhibition “Understory”, each artist interprets the theme in a different way.Can you work out the general message/concerns of each artist by interpreting the motifs (distinctive subject matter/images used) or the mood of their work? Explain your answer.

(3)

 

(6)

 

(4)

(4)

 

 

(4)

The PDF version of this worksheet may be downloaded here.

Wednesday
Aug202014

Wolves, Sheep, Cats and Dogs and circles 

Our last postcard exchange before our exhibition opening next Tuesday the 26th of August went golden and conversed about the behaviour of both domestic and wild animals. We also both returned to a motif that is revalent in this exhibition 'the circle'.  
Text Above:

7th July 2014, Dear Joan, With so little time I hoped to use the superimpose app... but battled. Hope you can teach me. Your interest in Red Riding Hood seems to keep emerging in my work these days. Love Lara 

Text Above: 11 July 2014, Dear Lara, I thought you would like the following quote: The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care@ Hugh Macleod. Love Joan

Text Above: Wed 30th July, Dearest Joan , I know that I had to respond with my Sienna to your last card. She was so sick last weekend...I nearly lost her. She ensures that I am neither lonely or bored. Bullmastiffs are also known as ‘Lion-dogs’... another appropriate connection to your last card. Love Lara. Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is – German proverb.  

Text Above: Wed 30th July, Dearest Joan , I know that I had to respond with my Sienna to your last card. She was so sick last weekend...I nearly lost her. She ensures that I am neither lonely or bored. Bullmastiffs are also known as ‘Lion-dogs’... another appropriate connection to your last card. Love Lara. Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is – German proverb.

Text Above: 1 August, Dear Lara, I am so happy that your card was about Sienna. We have almost come full circle. When we started thinking about our collaboration we came up with the Sienna Sam identity. It is only fitting that Sam appears with Sienna in our postcards. Love Joan 

Text Above: 9th August, Dearest Joan, I can’t wait to dance, Love Lara. If people stand in a circle long enough, they’ll eventually begin to dance.