'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Arty stuff

Well - another crescendo over - the mad rush at the end of term to get our artworks and PVR's (Personal Visual Diaries) finished, polished and in the gallery.  (Marks are about 75%/25% PVR /final work, so if it all turned to custard, the process and exploration would theoretically see us pass).

The 'fine arts' class (us) had two final works due this week.  The first one was a sculpture which was in and marked and out on the same day. The brief required it to be 'related to our ceramic studies, but not necessarily made of clay'.  The range of subject and material coming from just 18 people was absolutely fascinating.  

There was:
a full-sized cardboard donkey
a collection of exquisite, palm-sized New Zealand ceramic native birds, painted with their appropriate colours and glazed
a suspended clay sculpture that was part Maori canoe anchor and part wings, bound together with rope
a huge 2-foot papier-mache egg in a feather-covered egg-cup
a large skinny black hare in mid-leap with white fangs, shards of mirror for claws and four eyes
a work consisting of 13 black, white or red decorated skulls of varying sizes evocative of a Mexican 'Day of the Dead' altar
a hanging mobile of pink condoms filled with flour and each tied with a pink bow, suspended under a barbed-wire 'crown'
Three clay tiles incised with symbolic patterns and set in a huge block of stone
an old phone box with a 1950's skipping rope instead of a receiver, and the cavity in the back containing a tin of condensed milk, seashells, and a large black ceramic cricket.
My contribution was a jug made from an old sports coat:

Katherine de Chevalle   Herringbone Pitcher  
Recycled coat and lining fabric, Dacron fibre and coat label          
35 x 35 cm

The second work was the result of choosing one of the art movements we'd covered this term, and creating an original piece in that style. Comprising work from the 'graphics lot', and 'us', there are now being marked in our little basement gallery almost 40 works ranging from one or two crap to a huge majority of intriguing, or funny, or thought-provoking, or stunningly beautiful, or technically slick, or clever (or combinations of more than one of those).

To be honest, I think these two exhibitions have beaten hands down anything I've seen yet in the 'proper' gallery in the city.

Here's my second work; a painting in the abstract expressionist style.

Katherine de Chevalle   Enkindled Spring   Acrylic on canvas  90 x 60 cm


  1. Love the herringbone jug Katherine - a quirky and original take on the notion of clay sculpture. "Enkindled Spring" is, in my view, not a patch on those wonderful hillscapes you have produced - in which the world appears like an undulating eiderdown. Perhaps you will explain what you were trying to achieve in "Enkindled Spring" so that philistines like me can partly lose our artistic cataracts.

  2. Thanks for your comment and request YP. If I attempted to explain abstract expressionism, it would be at a very basic level, 'cos I've only just done a term's reading... But I did choose that movement because in the past I never 'got' it myself, and thought it would be a good opportunity to try.

    When my PVR is marked, and I can quote from it, I'll do another post or two and share what I understand.

    In the meantime, something big I've learned is that the abstract expressionists were often talking about painting, about paint, about canvas, rather than trying to 'fool' the viewers' eyes into seeing an illusion of something that wasn't there. - ie abstract art is non-representational.
    This was a gradual development and redefinition of 'art' that began with the invention of the photograph, and the realisation that painters no longer needed to be recorders of what we see...

  3. lovely works, and that jug is beautiful! i'll show that to tiger, who takes over my sewing machine routinely to make her own version of textile art! congratulations!

  4. Both of your works are absolutely lovely and show excellence of spirit, craft, and skill. I know absolutely nothing about art. But I stick by the sentiment in the first sentence.

    So do you prefer compliments from people who know what they're talking about or from people like me who don't know what they're talking about?

  5. Thanks Grit! I think I've already been inspired by something Tiger did, so she is welcome!

    Robert, Thank you for your compliment. And as for my preference, I will gather me compliments where-ever I may! That's what art is all about, as far as I can see - to 'speak' to someone.
    Enkindled Spring takes its title from the poem by D.H. Lawrence.

  6. Personal Visual Diaries? Hmm. One has to wonder what some of these people have been up to, especially the one who did the flour-filled condoms! I do hope they weren't connected in any way with the skulls! LOL!

    Love the jug. I have a thing about jugs anyway (I have a collection) so the shape always appeals. Your abstract is interesting, especially together with your comments about the genre. Though I have to ask, if it's about paint and canvas rather than subject, why do people give their abstracts titles which do seem to suggest their works are a depiction of something?

  7. Jay - re your second para about abstraction - you are so on to it! In my limited new knowledge, I find that symbolism and recognisable shapes often creep into their work, even if it's just the use of certain colours which, as we know, have psychological effects on humans...

    The full brief required us to explore the work of two artists and complete a work in like manner. I chose Lee Krasner, better known (unfortunately) as Jackson Pollock's wife. She would complete a work then take it to a poet friend who would find a line out of some obscure poem and name her piece.
    Hence mine.
    I suspect it was all rather intentionally obscure and possibly tongue in cheek for some of the abstract expressionists, although the likes of Rothko and Pollock really believed in their search for 'truth' in 'pure art', and would drink, become depressed, and even take their own lives.... so I'd better not poo-poo it too much!

  8. Wonderful work. I think the words "jug made from an old sports coat" are the best set of words I've read today (and I've read a gazillion words).

    Congrats on your accomplishments.