Friday, 28 September 2012

Grinding away

After the distractions of the last couple of weeks, I've returned to the grind of editioning Curtains, satisfied that my problems are behind me.
The first copy of the edition has been completed and delivered to Sydney for an exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW that will open at the end of October. That's it on the left in its plain paper wrapper (I can't give too much away until after the exhibition opening).
The forwarding work on copies 2-7 is done and there's about one day's forwarding work remaining on copies 8-10. After this, another two or three days should see all ten copies finished, apart from slipcases and packaging. My aim now is to get the edition done and dusted a couple of weeks before the exhibition opens so I can begin tending to the ideas for new works that are backing up in my brain.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Tied up in tape (red)

Last week's post generated some insightful comments from Ronnie and Susan on what it means to be an artist trying to generate some form of income from one's practice - comments that have been thrown into focus by an email this week from a curator regarding a couple of pieces (including Cartographica (left)) that I have offered for an interstate exhibition. As one of the pieces is to be for sale, I find that I am required to register as a supplier of goods and services with the organisation responsible for the exhibition; complete an Australian Tax Office 'Statement by a Supplier' pro-forma; endorse two pages of 'Consignment Terms and Conditions - Artist Rights and Responsibilities'; and fill out and sign a formal loan agreement. At this stage, I must admit the temptation is either to withdraw from the exhibition or to mark both the pieces Not for Sale.

Monday, 10 September 2012

On a career as an artist

With students' work-in-progress filling the bindery, there's been no need to feel guilty about reading, rather than making, books this week. I'm part way through Orhan Pahmuk's My Name is Red, a glorious novel about a secret (and blasphemous) book put together in Istanbul at the end of the 16th century by the Ottoman Empire's best calligraphers, gilders, miniaturists and binders. Just a few pages in, I came across the following declaration by one of the characters: "To avoid disappointment in art, one mustn't treat it as a career. Despite whatever great artistic sense and talent a man might possess, he ought to seek money and power elsewhere to avoid forsaking his art when he fails to receive proper compensation for his gifts and efforts". It triggered memories of the business plans and prototypes (one of which is pictured above) that I put together when I was seriously considering trying to make a living as a full time bookbinder. I ultimately decided that heading down this track would quickly kill my passion for my art and held on to my day job. For me, it was the right decision. As New York photographer Bill Cunningham put it so succinctly, 'If they are not paying you, they cannot tell you what to do".

Thursday, 6 September 2012


This week's photograph is of the top of a three-piece lidded box I made a couple of years ago to house a project called The Indian Essays. The box was pulled from the shelves for use as a prop in box-making workshops that have been running  in my bindery over the past two weeks.
I still get a lot of pleasure from teaching (which I guess is why I do it), particularly when most of the students are artists from different disciplines, who come to the classes with their own ways of thinking and working. This year's crop of box makers included an architect, a paper maker, a textile artist and a couple of painters. It was great to see the diversity of responses to common problems and to share the box makers' satisfaction with their finely crafted pieces at the end of each workshop.