A week in the life of this artist …
Every week is a different mix but they pretty much all involve some drawing, painting, talking, listening, looking, writing and thinking and so much more too. Last week I started off with a portrait drawing session of Charley in my studio in Napoleon Reef. Being just a child I was really aware that it is such a huge thing to sit, and I was blown away by how amazing she was. It was such a beautiful day drawing and breaking and chatting and drawing and breaking and drawing some more … just spending time with this beautiful soul and her mum. But I now look back at the drawing and think – another long lost relative of my sitter has come to life – more work needed. We talked a bit about the process of creating a portrait and it is good that they are coming back. It does take time and is an exchange. If you have a few minutes do check out the warm and terrific National Portrait Gallery video - Robert Hannaford and Tim Flannery about their experiences and the story of Robert’s oil painting of Tim. It is only a few minutes and well worth a view “Robert took me into a room … just had a chair … and I sat there … and he just looked for quite a while … it felt like forty sittings … early in the morning for a number of months … and then rush off to the museum to do my job …” and “Tim is such a vital person … with enthusiasm for life … it was larger than life ... perhaps I thought he was larger than life …” https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=flannery+portrait+hannaford&&view=detail&mid=5D9174A3FA35E82DF6F15D9174A3FA35E82DF6F1&FORM=VRDGAR
I packed away STILL my exhibition that had just finished in Tablelands Artists Cooperative Gallery, and packed away some of the energy that had gone into it too. And then I stood still … for just a moment. You can see images of my works from this exhibition on my website … http://www.nicmasonartist.com/still-gallery.html
News came through - a notification from Cowra Regional Art Gallery that my work ‘Fox on eastern grey kangaroo’ will be part of the national Calleen Art Prize 2017. Awesome.
Some cramming happened to finalise and submit my major Practice-led Research Proposal: ‘Further exploration of still life painting as a symbolic or metaphoric vehicle for contemplating issues of environmental loss and hope’ at ANU for my post graduate studies there. And with these studies I have been researching some of the work of Marian Drew. In his opening of the book Marion Drew photographs and video works, Geoffrey Batchen says of her work that she explores the ‘real unreality of the photograph’. The real unreality of art is at the forefront of my lobes and her work has drawn me in … http://mariandrew.com.au/
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, a regular haunt, was visited where I sketched in my field diary some notes on Lloyd Rees lithograph ‘Timeless cliffs’ and oil ‘A south coast canal’ in the current exhibition Lloyd Rees: In the Regions. And then there was more from this neck of the woods, with the launch of the book ‘The Hill End Table: Food, Fire, Art by Lino Alvarez & Kim Deacon’ colliding with works on the walls … I spent some time with each work and was stopped in front of works by Euan Macleod, Garry Shead, Guy Maestri and Rebecca Wilson. The quote on the wall is a good one too “To make food taste better put it in a better serving dish. Eat if possible in a room with a view … there should be artwork in the room … to provide nourishment for the soul and for the development of character” Kitaoji Rosanjn 1883-1959 …https://www.bathurstart.com.au/exhibitions … http://www.brandl.com.au/hill-end-table/
A day of life drawing was had at Tim Millers Rockley Studio where Graeme was so good at being so still – and thanks for the chat at lunch too. And with each of my sketches, I stepped forward with those figurative commissions from long ago. One of my sketches from this life drawing session is posted in the life drawing section on my websites ongoing practice and learning page http://www.nicmasonartist.com/ongoing-learning.html
I played a little on Instagram – having just posted for the first time a week before. For years I have been told by so many to get on this train. I am in the process of un-nannaising my game, but if my start is any indication, it will be a slow build. https://www.instagram.com/nicmasonartist/ And then I updated my website a little, with more added on doings, learning and process with some thanks too.
Some logistics were organised for those upcoming travels to France to have a cultural exchange – family style and work on my art practice – talk about stuff to do and organise – the planning and the paperwork! I have continued to be disciplined in my car travels learning French with the polygot linguist, Michel Tomas. What a life he led, after serving in the Maquis of the French Resistance he survived imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps, later emigrating to the US and starting his language schools. I do like to speak back to him.
The regular exchange of images of current works with my cousin Kiata Mason, mine to her and hers to me with some dialogue too continued. She is doing such richly composed works of her Grans collections. https://www.instagram.com/kiatamasonart/ There were doings with my children – the flexibility of time that comes with being an artist is a relief sometimes, and then some walks with Nim in local bush. Some thoughts about my works for a group show in a few months. A portrait of my gorgeous son was welcomed back into the fold after a trip to Melbourne and back, a finalist work in the Cambridge Studio Gallery portrait exhibition. I packed off some paintings too to my children’s Great Gran who has been so generous in lending me some of her dolls. I hear she has been thinking about her dolls and what they have been up to. A visit has been planned to spend some time with her.
Another still life painting (this time an irregular play with acrylics) of stacked skulls and also some paper sculpture bowls where finished. These were then shown in the local Textures of One exhibition. http://texturesofone.com.au/2017-exhibition/. I would have loved to have seen the exhibition but it was just a weekend affair and time had already been taken - If only there was more.
I sat at Tablelands Artists Cooperative Gallery https://www.facebook.com/t.artsgallery/ and through this role liaised with artist Chis McGirr about his upcoming exhibition at the Gallery. Put April 21 in your diaries for the opening of Power and the Imperfect World.
The weekend also saw me do a plein air demonstration at Art in the Park, Bathurst – Machattie Park. My demonstration had a little still life action too as my red bag came for the ride and found a park chair to own. Thanks to Rachel Ellis for the image above and for creating such a lovely community art event. And of course thanks to all who turned up. https://www.facebook.com/Art-In-The-Park-Machattie-Park-Bathurst-650769108393752/?hc_ref=SEARCH
But I missed going down to Scratch Art Space and hanging out in the current group exhibition there, Candor of Doubt with Niqolet Lewis, Scott Pollock, Laura Badertscher, Carmel Byrne, Aliki Yiorkas and me as part of Art Month Sydney. You may be able to catch it though? It is on until 26 March …
So I now prepare for this week – a trip to the Capital with all its offerings, face to face French family lessons commence, some more time at Tablelands Artists Cooperative Gallery, time in my studio, a local habitat day in Napoleon Reef … https://www.facebook.com/events/644452395743057/ ... and of course more …
cheers for coming this far :)
Thank you to Corey Tatz for writing the STILL Catalogue essay.
‘A Voice That Was Still, by Corey Tatz
It is blisteringly hot on the drive out to Napoleon Reef, situated on the outskirts of Bathurst. With the car windows down the air is dry, carrying with it the scent of eucalyptus, and dry grass. The parched landscape has a hazy, sun-bleached appearance. The light lends itself to a palette of dusk rose, pewter blue, and creamy terracotta.
When I arrive, Nic Mason is at home with her kids, and there is a contented flurry of work in progress. Nic shows me a series of sculptures that will feature in her latest exhibition, Still. There are a dozen or so round vessels lined up on the large kitchen table. They are translucent, delicate, and fragile. Yet they resemble something robust and utile - a vehicle for food, a bowl to eat from, a feeling of being nurtured. The bowls are inspired by gumnuts and eucalyptus leaves that are observed in abundance around the property during daily walks with her Kelpie, Nim.
In the studio, an original goldminers cottage, the oil paintings are taking shape. The paintings read like a cautionary fairy-tale for adults. Her narrative speaks not only of Australia’s wealth of unique, varied, shy, and painfully beautiful wildlife, but also gently reveals her concern for environmental decline.
The walls of the studio are interspersed with finished pieces, as well as canvasses simply painted in blocks, or grounds of colour. Nic looks constantly for new techniques to develop she explains, “My use of painting grounds is a result of terrific guidance from my supervisor. This has led me to search for and experience greater richness and layering in my works adding a sense of time, a hint of something before, and where a buried mark can be lost and found”.
It takes time to absorb her work, and to let the narrative speak. The red bag with brass locks and leather handle is full of hope. Is this a journey, a destination, new beginnings, or maybe a farewell? A series of skulls from both introduced and native species - stacked on top of one another like an evolutionary timeline that is about to topple. The dolls borrowed from Nic’s husband’s grandmother are comforting, but also unsettling. A tinge of melancholy prevails. The animals depicted throughout her work reveal eyes that convey intelligence beyond their childlike bodies.
Nic has a profound and deep connection to the land, of our cultural history and a great love of storytelling, fuelled by a rich background in conservation management. Her work struggles with tension between hope and loss. This is communicated through the symbolic use of still life objects to convey meaning, and stimulate discussion. Her works raise a myriad of questions, trigger memories, surprise, and foster the imagination, inviting thought and reflection.’
Time has been stolen and you can still see my STILL works up for one more day - a new last day Monday 13 March 2017 as the change-over in the Gallery is occurring on Tuesday this week. You can also catch these STILL works online on my website here …
And here is a link to some more musing, the boiling kettle by Corey Tatz …
Thanks to Steve Woodhall for this ripper of a photo taken on the opening night of STILL in Tablelands Artists Cooperative Gallery (t.arts Gallery). For those I caught on the night and those I didn’t – thank you for your support but if you missed it, it is still on – for one more week until Friday 10 March.
And if you are not in the Tablelands, here in the Bathurst Region but you are in the basin that is Sydney – you can catch some others of my works. Some of my works are in a group show Candor of Doubt with Niqolet Lewis, Scott Pollock, Laura Badertscher, Carmel Byrne and Aliki Yiorkas in Scratch Art Space, Marrickville opening 6-8 Wednesday 8 March as part of Art Month Sydney. No doubt it will be a terrific figurative exhibition. More details are here …