Inspired by Emily Speed and Annabel Tilley, here is my list of highs and lows to finish out the year – and thanks Annabel! You’re on my list too!

High Points:

My solo show Vif! It was a great experience and I learned many valuable lessons, one of the most important being, to meet the audience where they are and help them engage. I also learned to really value my ability to organize. It takes time, but the pay-off is worth every moment of attention to detail – with the added pay-off of reducing stress immensely. This link shows images from Vif! Scroll down to the September 1 entry:


Joining Cor Blimey Arts and becoming an associate member of Core Gallery! That really gets and exclamation point. So many opportunities are opening up for me and I’m learning so much. I think I learn most by sharing my knowledge and skills and seeing them come back enlivened and vibrant by passing through the intelligence and sensitivity of others.

Writing my blog on a-n! All things are possible because the Artists Talking platform exists. It is an awesome experience to write one’s thoughts and have someone come in and comment in kind. My eternal gratitude and thanks go to a-n for creating the space in which to do this. Thanks to everyone who has read my blog this year, and a special thanks to everyone who has engaged in discussion with me.

Having a rather fulsome letter on taking responsibility for one’s own intetlligence printed in full in LETTERS in the October issue of a-n magazine.

Meeting many of my blog pals at the PV for Relay at Core Gallery! It was exhilarating and through that meeting many friendships have been cemented. This link is for more images of Relay on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5249347717/in/photostream/#/photos/[email protected]/5249347717/in/set-72157625445437959/

Being chosen ‘Choice Blog’ with Jo Moore in November! What an honour it was to be chosen by Sarah Rowles, a young woman who is succeeding greatly at forging her own path, and to be chosen in the company of Jo Moore, a young woman who sees her world with a keen sensitive eye. These links are for Q-Art, Sarah’s project, and Jo’s blog, What does it mean to be an artist:



Producing lots of work this year! When I look back, I made:

10 paintings

26 works on paper

10 digital images

5 sculptures

1 work still in progress and under wraps…

Recognizing a shift was happening in my work and finding the inspiration to define it through a critique with Graham Crowley!

Annabel Tilley’s enthusiastic acceptance of my invitation to partner for Relay at Core Gallery! I think we both grew from that experience.

Having a really great interview with Chantelle Purcell! Her insightful questions brought up some interesting points for me to consider. http://coregalleryinterviews.blogspot.com/

Low Points:

Not being able to afford a plexi cover for a sterling silver sculpture for Vif! The work tarnished as a result.

Losing valuable gallery visiting time in London because I couldn’t navigate myself out of the neighborhood! (What an eegit!!)

Losing confidence in myself and my work for about a week because I went back to a past I cannot change and which is really no longer relevant.

To look forward to:

Curating! I’m really excited about the opportunity to curate a show with Rosalind Davis at Core Gallery this spring.

Giving a DIY workshop with Becky Hunter at Core Gallery in April! It’s going to be really great to work with Becky and it’s going to be great to develop another skill.

Developing new work! I want never to stand still repeating the same old things.

The unknown coming my way! Is it frightening? Yes. Will I flinch? No (at least I hope not!). Whatever comes I will grow and that is always good.

Wishing you all happiness in 2011!


Part 3, my response to Rob. I’m reposting in full because I think it is important.

Hi Jane. Of course your right about other peoples reasons for painting being dead and that its not dead if you dont want it to be, that is very well put. Pushing the boundaries so that painting is relevant and with patience and searching for the right opportunity with the right brief I am sure that is achievable. And that is undoubtedly one of my ‘sometime in the future targets’. All your conclusions are exactly the same as mine. I wanted to describe the corner I found myself. Part of this this ‘self pity painting rant’ is really a cathartic stratergy to actually start painting and I am planning ‘painting’ to be part of the journey which lies along the ‘Turn Left’ option on my Blean project. In fact the point of my Blean blog was to place myself in a situation so that it did not matter if my work there was paid or unpaid it was to provide a stimulating arena to make work. As it turns out now there is a paid element to it. The best of both worlds. A very public way to show my thought process, but that is the point of a blog. I am proud not to have completed my MA, but I had hoped it would enable me to re-learn how to explore ideas which stimulate me in a personel development way, not a client stakeholder agenda way. I failed to achieve that. So turn left in the blean and blind searching will be on show? I have 5 paid projects all going on now(including the Blean) so unpaid personel art time will be small, but most importantly ongoing. And I know you’re not arguing, as this is an essential exchange of views and perspectives that never could happen in my shambolic attempt at academic study. My learning is done in a situations like this (in public? I am a public artist remember), just that this is a blog one! as we used to say at junior school ‘Power to your elbow’ Jane.

Dear Rob, thank you for your comment and good nature. One thing further I would say in response to your comment: I am proud not to have completed my MA, but I had hoped it would enable me to re-learn how to explore ideas which stimulate me in a personel development way, I failed to achieve that.

I would say it is not you that failed; it is the MA programme you entered which failed you.

You are enabling yourself to re-learn how to explore ideas which stimulate your personal development as an artist by undertaking this process of finding your own way back to painting. Re-learning ways to explore ideas is not something that someone can teach. It is a path we must forge on our own, but most certainly it is a path to forge in the company of others because as you said, there is stimulation in discourse.

I hope I can accompany you sometimes on the journey.


Part 2, my response to Rob’s comments:

Rob, thank you for your thoughts on painting and for sending those two links, they are fantastic! I hear and sympathize with your frustration. I’m going to talk straight and give you some tough-love. I think you can handle it…

All the reasons you give are reasons why someone else thinks painting is irrelevant. What I hear you saying is that you have been coerced into believing painting is irrelevant and it can no longer be merged with social commentary, that nobody wants it and a living can’t be had from it, at least until some serious time has passed, in which time an artist has to prove their seriousness. Also that you believe this to be untrue but you can’t fine your way out of the indoctrination.

First, as your friend and fellow artist, I’d say look at the media-biased nonsense for what it is and drop it.

Regarding public art, I think there is no other choice than to work in the preferred media of your employers. I don’t see anyway around that one, I confess. However, any MA program that discourages students from painting is short-sighted, being led by fashion and not worth the price of tuition (that’s my rant). It also sounds like you were in the wrong program, unfortunately.

I have nothing against new media – whatever it takes to make the communication, it’s the communication that is important and the media should enhance that. However, sometimes I think the glitz of new media makes it easy. It’s easy to be wowed by something new. That’s not to say an artist had an easier time of making the work because it’s in a new media. I just mean the novelty of new media can add to the wow factor. With an old media like paint, it is harder to wow because we’ve seen so much of it. But therein lies the challenge and precisely why painting is still relevant and no institution should discount it. There is still challenge to be met in breaking through the restrictions of painting and bias against it. It’s like you said in your blog, you’re looking at the restrictions of your new project as part of your inspiration. It can be a good thing to have boundaries to push against; it can have a focusing effect. Painting is the same; the challenge is in finding a way to move it forward, especially as society and technology change. The painting that is relevant is painting that faces that challenge and makes that social comment.

I hope you find your way to painting again, not because I want to win any arguments – and just for clarity none of these comments are made in frustration at you in any way, nor am I really arguing with you. But my frustration is with trendy ideas being spouted as justification against the choices one feels one wants or needs to make.

I hope you find your way to painting because you want to and because you feel there is something important you want to explore – also something I hear you saying.

Oh and that five year commitment in order to prove you’re serious about painting is the same for any pursuit/small business. It’s not unreasonable to be subject to due diligence, people will be investing in you after all.



Part 1: Rob made this comment on my last posting #29. I am reposting it here because it got cut by word limits and is a bit chopped up. Also the links aren’t live, and they really should be viewed. I will make a second posting along with this one in order to respond to Rob.

My Thoughts about painting! I will start my response with two examples of painting (or use of paint) which have shaped my whole approach to making art. A) The Ngurrara Canvas 10x8m 1997. http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/ngurrara_the_great_sandy_desert_canvas_/about_the_canvas/ The painting depicts land and its history owned by aboriginals and was carried by them all the way to Canberra, while politicians amended the Native Title Acts. Then traditional dances were performed on it, this provided vivid evidence and ownership of the aboriginal lands in question, and this cultural expression bridged language breakdowns. B) The Hundertwasser House http://www.wien-vienna.com/hundertwasser.php This is a radical look at council housing architecture and communal spaces. But relies on paint for major impact and a visualisation of some kind of personal ethos! I find both totally awesome. But this is where it all goes wrong, as I made myself unemployed for about a year by submitting public art proposals and applications inspired by these. As soon as I gave up this nonsense and played the public art thing with a straight bat again. The word paint was omitted completely and work started coming in again. I want to show you another example of paintism. I started an MA thinking that this would be an ideal way to immerse myself into painting again. No that particular academic establishment did not want to be associated with paintings….sculptural installations and video were encouraged and I was thwarted and failed to complete the course. Commissioned painted murals are itchy shirts that no one wears anymore, even though I can construct the same content and imagery in mosaic and build some kind of sculpture or groundwork to display these images, without opposition. My conclusion is: If you are Anslem Keifer or an artist who makes painting their medium of expression, then I agree thats only just acceptable. And you may have to paint for five years or more before anyone believes you actually mean it. Use it in public, inside or outside as a tool to comment about society there is an attitude barrier. And I believe the only way to enjoy painting now is on an inner exploration out of ones own curiosity. If artists can find a way to make money doing that, then power to their elbow. When artists can be taken seriously if they want to use paint sometimes, is the day the phoenix rises. Bit of a rant, sorry. rob.


Now Jane, I’m looking at these blogs searching for stuff to help me start painting. I’m looking to justify its manfacture in this time we live. I was forced to leave it, like a left handed person might be forced to use their right hand by social conditioning…..Paintings only remaining context is itself and I am looking so hard to disprove that. It seems the creation of images is just about healthy enough to continue making them in other media. So why dont the two quite join up anymore? Or do they and I’m in some kind of denial…………. Is your dual fusion the same elixior that I’m looking for. your thoughts?

posted on 2010-12-08 by Rob Turner

Rob very kindly posted this comment on my last posting #28 and I have been considering my response very carefully. So here it is:

Rob, I think painting is as relevant today as other media, more so in a way, because it is one of the few remaining media that merge the body and mind in a tangible extension of the self. To my mind that makes its context the whole of the human experience. Certainly, other media are compelling, but too often I come away from work feeling untouched, meaning I haven’t connected to what is human about the piece. The human aspect either wasn’t important to the artist or ‘conditioning’ has convinced the artist of its unimportance. I believe that tangible extension will become more and more important as time goes on.

I think people talk about the ‘death of painting’ because they can’t imagine anything new to do with it. I’ve struggled with the same issue, but you know what, I don’t really care if painting has been pronounced ‘dead’. I still go into the studio and am surprised by what happens, so I feel painting is anything but ‘dead’. I also see other artists working with paint in a vivacious way and I’m convinced it is still very alive. Just as ‘death of the author’ has been proven to be untenable, so has the ‘death of painting’.

Perhaps that is the question to explore in your return to painting; why don’t image-making and painting join comfortably anymore? I think it is a valid and important question. It’s kind of like asking, why don’t the body and expression join comfortably anymore? Both are good questions, pertinent to our time. I find it interesting that the body within art seems to have changed places with expression and is being used as a symbol to express, rather than some symbol being used to express the body.

When I was in London, I saw two exhibitions which were focused on body as symbol, one sculpture and one painting, both media espoused to be ‘dead’:

1. Rachel Kneebone at White Cube: http://www.whitecube.com/exhibitions/rk%202010/

These figures depart from literal depictions of the body, expressing feelings directly and viscerally.

And I would add to that, Kneebone used the body and body parts to symbolize expression. Using the body not as a vehicle of expression but as a readable symbol for what it is to express.

2. G.L. Brierley at Madder 139: http://www.madder139.com/exhibitions/past.html

Looking at painting always involves perception and interpretation, but Brierley’s convoluted pictures seem defined by their capacity to trigger pareidolia, a psychological phenomenon whereby a viewer recognizes shapes in abstract patterns.

These paintings were exquisitely crafted. And I think perhaps Brierley was poking fun at our propensity to see all bodies as overtly sexed and freakish. Her bodies were not the usual pleasure objects or objects of desire, but rather like stuffed toys for sex. Distorted body used to symbolize its own obsessions.

So now it’s back to you, Rob. What are your thoughts?