Tag Archives: art

All that Glitters: Brett Whiteley

I am a few weeks behind commenting on my visit to the Brett Whiteley Studio and Gallery, and indeed on Alchemy itself. I have been in deep thought about what one part to concentrate on. The work ‘Alchemy’ is an incredible artwork mapping Brett Whiteley’s life. Some have said it is a self portrait. I think of it in a literary sense. It is autobiographical. A portrait in art is generally one picture, showing one aspect of a person, with facial features, showing only the surface. An autobiography however, can reveal thoughts and feelings that perhaps were not evident before being revealed.

Alchemy can be described as taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Taking what is common, and making it shine like gold. I believe that what Brett Whiteley was trying to show was the transition of his own life, from conception through to spiritual nirvana, turning one sperm amongst millions, into a life that mattered.

alchemy

The section I wish to focus on is his discovery or what I call the exploration portion of the artwork. I have interpreted this part of the painting to coincide with Whiteley’s adolescence. Adolescence is a time of discovery. We use a telescope to look into the cosmos. We discover what part we are to play in this big wide world. and we realise, with the use of a magnifying glass, that our own worth is infinitesimal compared to the universe. Brett Whiteley depicts this as him looking at his own life as William Blake’s grain of sand, making reference to his work

alchemy-exploration

 

If we are reading the work from right to left (Contrary to the chronological way it was painted), you will see that at the end of what I term Whitleley’s adolescence a speech bubble with …!! enclosed. I believe this is the moment of revelation for Whiteley. the “That’s it!” moment.

And then with the realisation, he has discovered IT.

 

When travelling in the city on the weekend, I had my partner lean out of the car window and take these photos of a mural on the side of a building on the corner of Southern Cross Drive and Flinders St. You will see here that the artist is also facinated by Whiteley and has captured some of the spirit of Whiteley.

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Blessings

Dave

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How Studying William Blake has affected me

I used to be religious. Well, not religious as such, but fervent in my belief of and evangelism of God. Then I got honest with myself and others and disclosed my homosexuality. I felt disengaged with the church as it were. I was excluded from some churches because of my sexuality. The churches that did accept my sexuality, I felt compromised on some vital areas of doctrine.

William Blake was also disillusioned with the church or organised religion, but he had a deep understanding of and relationship with God. This is evidenced by his writings and engravings. When I studied the plates that Blake made for The Book of Job, I got a greater understanding of Job, than I ever had before.

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Studying William Blake, and studying in a Catholic University as well as being part of the University Choir, has developed within me the passion to again live a life that is more in line with the gospels and with the tenets of Christ.

Being part of the University has encouraged me to be socially responsible and aware of human rights abuses both in our country and in the world in general. It has pushed me to be active in my faith and not just talk about it but do something about it. I have increased my volunteering where I could, helping those less fortunate than I.

I use my God-given talent of singing for the glory of God. I use my other talents of art, writing, and photography to promote and advance social justice issues, and to fight against human right injustices.

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Studying Blake has helped me to separate the Church from the Word; to follow the Word of God where I find a discrepancy between the two. It made me feel that I am not the only one that is disappointed with organised religion, but seek to follow Christ separate; but also with others in the University choir.

In short, I am more of a Christian now, than before when I was a “Churchy, or God-botherer” as some of my friends described me. I hold true to the teachings of God through Christ but admit I do fail. I don’t beat myself up when I do fail.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths”.

 

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William Blake’s Book of Job Plates.

The plates that Blake made for the Book of Job are very descriptive and fairly true to the word of the Bible. I do like his interpretation in pictures what is written in words.

For this blog entry, I am concentrating on the first and last plates of the book. I intend to point out various aspects of the plates and try to explain just what Blake was trying to get at when he engraved these images.job-1last-job

In Plate 1, the day is ending, and night is coming. If we think that Light is good and dark is bad, you can see that this is a forewarning of the doom to come. Life in Plate 1 is “nice”. Job is content with his life, surrounded by his pious children and his loving wife. the open book, representing the word of God sits on Job’s lap. the family is wealthy. The flocks of sheep are deep around them and beast and man alike are content. In the background we see a church and also a town or community. Does this signify that these things, although present in Job’s life, do not take priority over his flocks and family which are displayed further in the foreground?

We see too, that it is a passive scene. Everybody, and all the beasts are at rest. The musical instruments are hanging in the tree like ornaments. Did Job take his faith for granted? Was he passive in his faith?

The Book of Job in the Bible tells the story of a man of faith. Faith that could not be broken. The Devil then goes to God and says, ” I can cause any man to stop following you, and follow me instead”. (this of course is a Dave’s paraphrase and not a literal translation). God answers Satan saying “You wanna bet? Consider my servant Job. You wont break him”. God gave Satan permission to try Job. He told him he could do anything he liked to Job except not take his life.

The book of Job tells of the trials that Job goes through. He loses all his family and flocks. His friends ridicule him and give him bad advice. They mock him and say “Listen, you follow God, but still all this bad stuff happens to you. Curse God and live!”

Job answers “Go away, what should we expect, that only good should come from God, shouldn’t we also expect some troubles?”

The whole story is depicted in 21 plates engraved by William Blake.

Plate 21 shows us the story after Satan has given up. God has won the bet. Because Job was faithful, God allowed him to live another 140 years and see 4 generations of his family following. His farm prospered and again he was highly regarded amongst his friends.

Look closely at Plate 21 (above). We can see that the night or darkness is ending, and day or good times are coming. The flocks again lay at the feet of the family. But the family itself, Job included, is not passive in their worship of God, or their spiritual life. Where before, in plate 1 the family were all seated and at peace, this new family is active in their worship of God. They are all on their feet, worshiping, playing music to God. Job himself is depicted not only holding a harp, but has his hand raised in worship to God.

Blake was telling the story of Job through the plates, but I also think he was trying to tell the believers who followed not to be passive in your life with God. If you do that, disaster may strike. Are you ready for it? Be fervent in your following of God. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”. It is the prayer and worship of God that will help us to overcome the hard times. “Even though  I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I fear no evil. The rod and thy staff, they comfort me”. The Rod represents the punishment or correction of God, the staff of a shepherd is used to keep the sheep on the right path.

Blake quotes on the top right corner of Plate 21 ” Just and True are they Ways, O thou King of Saints. Job is telling God that he knows that God was with him through all the trials. God did not desert him and so Job, will not desert the True and Just God.

I loved seeing these plates in person in the Art Gallery of NSW. I would have loved some extra time to study them. Thank God for the internet. I can look into them all I desire.

Sometimes, I think we can all relate to Job. There are times when we think that God may have deserted us. Recently, I had a fall. My health was bad. The bank made a mistake that meant I was without money. My car started to fail. But I held on. I am glad I did. My health improved, the bank issue was sorted in my favour, I bought a new car and sold the old one… I was not expecting to get money for it. I won a national photo competition, I am getting good grades at Uni, and in November, I am going to Rome to sing with my choir. So hang in there, it does get better.

Dave

 

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Kaleidoscope Art Festival

​Just dropped off 14 artworks for this exhibition. Half of all proceeds from the sale of my artwork will go into the gofundme for ACU National Choir Rome trip. Come and see the art and support Mission Australia and marginalised artists.

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First ceramics class

We learnt how to work the clay with our hands. It was good to mold it and shape it but because it was so fluid I felt that it was harder than drawing or painting.

The pieces aren’t being fired so I smashed my wizards coat and dolphin but kept my judge and shackles to be fired later.

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NSW Art Gallery Visit

For my 19th Century Literature class, our Professor, Michael Griffith, took  us of a tour of The Art Gallery of NSW to look at art in the 19th Century. It is interesting to see how the art of the period reflects the literature, or visa versa. In fact it seems all of the arts are in cahoots with each other, because if we look at the music of the period, we can see the temperament reflected in the melodies written at the time as well.

“Edward Elgar and Charles Villiers Stanford as quintessential English composers of the Victorian era, (Think ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ although Elgar wasn’t responsible for someone else putting words to his “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1”.) If you want “dark” and weighty, go for Elgar’s Symphony no. 2 – a superb work that doesn’t get heard enough. For “Romanticism” I’d suggest Brahms or Dvorak, any works. Or Smetana’s ‘Moldau'” from Richard Peter Maddox, Emeritus Professor of Music, UNE.

(Richard)Peter and I are good friends and we often discuss music through the ages.

Describe the impact on you of ONE of the paintings viewed on our tour- talk about how it has opened up your understanding of the key issues in the period we are studying!

The painting that had the most impact on my, and with which I could relate both ‘Hard Times’ by Dickens and ‘Silas Marner’ by Elliot, was ‘The Widower’ by Sir Samuel Luke Fildes.

Fildes grew up an orphan and was adopted by his grandmother who was a social reformer of the time. After Art school, he shared the concerns of his grandmother and went to work for the Graphic magazine. It was while there that Dickens saw Fildes work and was so impressed that Fildes actually went on to be illustrator for the Charles Dickens book ‘Mystery of Edwin Drood’.

Fildes had a real connection to the working class people of this era. He liked to paint the working class people of his time as a way to highlighting the problems in his world.

‘The Widower’ connected me with Silas Marner in the way that here is a single man, advanced in age, trying his best to care for children. Silas Marner also cared for “his daughter” as well as he could. The Girl in Silas had also been left motherless.

silas marner

Motherless

Motherless looks to be a template for the widower, with the same man and child in both pictures.

I am only part way through ‘Hard Times’ and while I can see elements of Hard Times in the painting, especially where Stephen Blackpool and his beloved Rachael are caring for Stephen’s poor wife.

Stephen Blackpool and Rachael

Fildes became a very well known and wealthy artist, painting portraits of Society’s finest including Royalty from England and Europe. He was knighted for his work in 1906, but never forgot the working class.When commissioned by the Tate gallery in 1890 to paint a picture, he recalled  the death of his first son to tuberculosis in 1877 and painted ‘The Doctor’ as a response to his grief.

The Doctor

Fildes died in 1918.

 

Many thanks to artmagick

http://www.artmagick.com/pictures/artist.aspx?artist=samuel-luke-fildes

and Google images for the pictures.

 

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“All Art is Quite Useless”

This was the sentiment of the society in the Victorian Era. It is a quote from Oscar Wilde, . Oscar promoted the school of Aesthetics which said art is for art sake. It is not meant to have a use. “Those who go beneath  the surface do so at their peril”. What he was saying here, is appreciate art for its own sake, don’t try to find meaning in it where possibly there is none. Both quotes are from ‘Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray’.

Oscar-Wilde_All-art-is-quite-useless

 

Art today however is not useless. Art is used by our Utilitarian society for the promotion of products. An image, a logo designed by a graphic artist, would be used around the world for people to recognise the brand as Universal.

Where have all our writers gone… long time passing?

Where have all our writers gone… long time ago?

Where have all our writers gone? Gone to movies and music everyone.

When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn.

(thank you Peter, Paul and Mary).

It is my thought that writers of good literature or poetry are being swallowed by the media machine. When one reads a new action fiction book, we think of how good that would transfer to be a movie. And inevitably we proclaim, that the movie is never as good as the book…. But a writer has to eat. Plays are no longer written, but screenplays are, such is the evolution of literature as I have espoused before.

Likewise our poets cannot make a living as a poet anymore. Much poetry is now adapted to become songs. Songwriting is much more lucrative than poetry writing.

I beg for the return of good literature to again fill our shelves. What will future students of 21st literature say about writers of our generation? We as writers need to give them something to talk about.

Art can indeed be utilitarian as well as aesthetic. Producing art, in any form can be so therapeutic. Have you seen the latest trend? Colouring in for Adults, as a form of stress relief. Music is used in therapy. Reading books lowers the heart rate and calms the nerves, (although I am not sure if reading screens does the same thing).

The Expanse conference which I attended  last year and the SPARC conference are recruiting artists of all kinds to encourage them to use their art for the good of social causes around the world; to make the first world aware of third world problems and issues that can be more easily digested than just mere facts.

My aim in Life as I have spouted before, is to look for beauty in this world and share it with people who have difficulty seeing it for themselves.. Whether this be through my art, my photography, my music or my writings. This is the whole purpose of my life. Don’t keep the beauty of your world to yourself, let others see it, and smile.

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C is for Como

Here is a little watercolour i did today with my sketch group at Como. It shows the new pub on the hill on the other side of the valley.

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Palm Sunday Painting; William Blake

 

The text below comes from an app on my phone called DailyArt. Each day they present an artwork and provide commentary on the artwork presented. Since the entry today was from William Blake, I decided to share it here for my fellow 19th Century Literature students. I hope you enjoy, and maybe subscribe to this great free app. The painting comes from artuk.org

Blake, William, 1757-1827; Christ's Entry into Jerusalem

Blake, William; Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem; Glasgow Museums; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/christs-entry-into-jerusalem-83204

 

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. It is the Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels.

This image by William Blake painted for Thomas Butts is out of the ordinary even for Blake. The subject of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday receives a distinctive treatment. Jesus and his party of disciples enjoy a conventional treatment although they display the elongated bodies and reduced sized heads which Blake adopted for a period of time. The crowd gathered around Jesus are definitely unconventional since they are in various degrees of undress. The contrasting sizes of the various figures leads to a confusion of scale and perspective.

The Window through which Jerusalem is visible is framed by trees which are being climbed by figures of individuals attempting to reach a higher level. Jerusalem is not pictured as the earthly city of Jesus’ day but as the heavenly Jerusalem of the vision of John of Patmos.

During the period when Blake was reevaluating Classical thought as an influence on his myth and prophecy, he seems to have reconsidered the neoclassical style of art which he had adopted in much of his work. Neoclassicism gained prominence with the enlightenment; Blake looked to replace them both. This picture owes much to Mannerism, a style of the 16th century. According to this National Gallery website Mannerism demonstrated that “excellence in painting demanded refinement, richness of invention, and virtuoso technique, criteria that emphasized the artist’s intellect.” Blake found that this technique allowed him to use his intellect and inventiveness to stimulate a fresh view of a Biblical scene which could be opened to vision

 

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One more time with colour.

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Added some soft watercolour to the previous sketch.

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