Pictures at an Exhibition

Speech

Speech on Opening Night no. 1

Robyn Varpins and I are half way through our art exhibition, “Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto”.  To mark this point, I am writing a post to share the journey so far.

Gallery Opening no 1. With my youngest daughter, Lucy.

Opening no 1. with Lucy.

Lucy Clements (youngest daughter) came all the way from Sydney to lend her support during the week’s lead up to the show and to help serve food and drinks (with style) on Opening Night Number 1.  We decided on THREE openings because the gallery is intimate in size.  We wanted our guests to have plenty of space to move around and see the art – and more openings meant more opportunities for celebration.

Showing the audience "Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto" by Robert van Koesveld.

Showing the audience “Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto” by Robert van Koesveld.

Two artists and their work.

Two artists and their work.

The Consul-General of Japan in Perth, Mr Tatsuo Hirayama and his wife, Sachiko, attended our first opening accompanied by Consul for Information and Culture, Mr Hideo Shinozuka.  We also had visitors from Australia-Japan Society of W.A.

Robyn taking a break last weekend.

Robyn having a brief respite last weekend.

We held two “Artists Talks”; last Sunday and today which were both well attended.  Robyn Varpins (Sculptor), Robert van Koesveld (Photographer and Author) and I (coloured pencil artist) held our audiences spellbound (I think) as we explained our processes, art materials and secrets as well as introducing the subject of maiko and geiko of Kyoto.

Robyn at today's "Artists Talk" explaining her sculpture process.

Robyn at today’s “Artists Talk” explaining her sculpture process.

After the 'Artists Talk' this afternoon.

After the ‘Artists Talk’ this afternoon.

Tomorrow is a public holiday in Western Australia.  I would like to announce, “YES, WE ARE OPEN ON THE PUBLIC HOLIDAY MONDAY” – and every day of the week after that, 10 a.m till 4 p.m until close at 4 p.m Sunday 2nd October.

Another exhausting day!

Another exhausting end-of-day!

We love to make our visitors feel welcome so we have chocolates to munch as well as a box of 40 Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils to win.  At this half way point in the exhibition, there are 163 people in the draw for the prize.  Thanks very much to Kadmium Art + Design Supplies in Sydney for donating the Luminance pencils.

On Saturday 1st October the exhibition will be visited by members of Perth Kimono Club.  That should be a beautiful occasion!  (I’ll have my camera ready.)

Half the drawings have sold as well as many of Robyn’s sculptures.  To see which drawings are still available, click here.

Only seven days left to see this little bit of Kyoto transplanted in Fremantle.  And after that it will be gone forever.  Please share this fleeting moment with us if you haven’t already….

invitation 3 jpeg

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The Humble Seagull

"The Humble Seagull" Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle September 2016

“The Humble Seagull”
Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle
September 2016

"Port Side" Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle September 2016

“Port Side”
Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle
September 2016

My art exhibition “Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto” is on at the moment.  Leading up to it I was such a bundle of nervous energy that I had to try to find something to calm me down.  These two drawings are the products of “how I kept calm and carried on”.  For as you might also have found in your life, if your hands are idle, your brain starts manufacturing problems.

At present I am at the gallery from 10 a.m to 4 p.m (until 2nd October).  I can’t sit there any longer without DOING something.  Tomorrow I am going to take a small drawing to work on…a crested tern this time.  Working on a drawing might stop me from becoming sleepy in the blank spaces between visitors.

If you are in Perth or Fremantle, please come and visit me at Early Work Gallery, shop 9/330 South Terrace, South Fremantle.  I’d love to see you.  (P.s we have chocolates at the gallery AND the chance to go in the draw to win a box of 40 Luminance pencils by Caran d’Ache.)  As for the art, you be the judge.

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Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto

invitation 3 jpeg

From September 17th to October 2nd 2016, Robyn Varpins and I open the doors to our art exhibition Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto celebrating maiko and geiko (geisha) of Kyoto.

"Odori" by Robyn Varpins

“Odori” by Robyn Varpins

Maiko and geiko are practitioners of the traditional arts of Japan.  These are cultivated, refined and graceful women who not only perform art, but themselves become works of art.

“This has felt like creating icons, as maiko and geiko have an ‘other-worldliness’ that make them symbolic and able to be imbued with meaning” ( Robyn Varpins)

"Super Deluxe" Drawing by Julie Podstolski

“Super Deluxe”
Drawing by Julie Podstolski

In case you wonder, “But what do maiko and geiko actually DO?”, we are fortunate to have copies of “Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto” by Robert van Koesveld for sale.  This sumptuous photographic book, published this year, will answer many of your questions.

"Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto" by Robert van Koesveld.

It is our wish that you will find contemplation, inspiration and even a touch of enchantment when you visit our exhibition of drawing (by Julie Podstolski) and sculpture (by Robyn Varpins).  Our muses are mesmerizing.  Welcome to our fascination.

Artist talks at 1 pm Sunday 18th and Sunday 25th September.  We welcome questions and discussion on our exhibition subject, our art techniques, art materials and Japan.

I have a list of all my drawings in the exhibition on my blog page Fascination: Maiko, Geiko, Kyoto – an Art Exhibition

The exhibition will be open 7 days per week: 10 am – 4 pm.  Early Work.  Shop 9, 330 South Terrace, South Fremantle WA 6162

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Port Side

"Port Side" Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle September 2016

“Port Side”
Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle
September 2016

What do I do when all my drawings are finished for an exhibition? [COMING SOON]  An entire body of work is ready and I am now lost for ideas.  I don’t want to draw another Kyoto piece.  No, that is complete (for the moment).  Let go.  How do I stop myself spiraling off into space –  rudderless and directionless?

How about coming home in my mind and actually looking round here once more for inspiration?  It is a while since I’ve done that (three years to be precise).    I have a new camera so I take it out for a spin – to the port – to visit my friends, the birds.

Trying to capture birds as subjects is a lot like trying to capture maiko and geiko.  On the plus side, I don’t have to feel guilty about taking bird photos or be mindful of good manners.   However birds can move much faster than maiko or geiko and often leave me before I’ve got my photo.

My bird drawings are never just about the bird.  They are a way for me to interpret the port – as out of focus as possible.  Container ships, bridges and cranes have cool shapes and colours but they are so hard edge.  I don’t want that hard edge.  I massively soften those forms  by focussing on the bird.

Working on “Port Side” these last few days has calmed my pre-exhibition jitters considerably.  I remember to appreciate where I live, and life in general, when I seek out subjects at home in Fremantle.  (Western Australia.)

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Seabirds of Fremantle

Pelican at East Fremantle

Pelican at East Fremantle

Last week I took the plunge and bought a new camera to replace my 2008 model Nikon D90.  The new camera is a Nikon D7200 with an 18-300 mm lens.  I spent Thursday and Friday reading the manual.  During the weekend I took it for a test drive.  My subject – seabirds of Fremantle.

Silver gull with the port of Fremantle behind.

Silver gull with the port of Fremantle behind.

Cormorant at East Fremantle.

Cormorant at East Fremantle.

Darter at East Fremantle

Darter at East Fremantle

Cormorant

Cormorant in front of “Left Bank” café

Osprey at the very top of the lighthouse at North Mole.

Osprey at the very top of the lighthouse at North Mole.

Here you can appreciate that I was standing way below the osprey.

Here you can appreciate that I was standing way below the osprey.

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Crested tern at North Mole

Crested tern at North Mole

Seagull in flight.

Seagull in flight.

Cormorant at East Fremantle.

Cormorant at East Fremantle.

Consensus:  The Nikon D7200 is an absolute dream – and – some bird drawings are inevitable.  I’m in love!

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Super Deluxe

Super Deluxe A new drawing for August 2016 in coloured pencils

Super Deluxe
A new drawing for August 2016 in coloured pencils

Word association:  the words on the taxi are a perfect description for maiko and geiko.  These practitioners of the refined arts of Japan are cultivated and rarified beings.   They are super deluxe.  The geiko in this drawing is Chisako; this has just been confirmed by my good Kyoto friend, Mima-san.

This composition was hidden inside a very ordinary photo which I took last September. While examining the photo, it was seeing the words on the taxi which piqued my interest.

Here is the source photo for the drawing "Super Deluxe".

Here is the source photo for the drawing “Super Deluxe”.

It took me a few months to see the potential for a piece of art hiding inside my hastily taken photograph.  That is the exciting thing about candid photography on Kyoto streets – one never knows what treasures lie within the copious material brought home.  What a bonus to have captured the reflection of the lantern in the taxi’s shiny paint.  I loved drawing this.

 

 

 

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Doll of Paradise

Doll of Paradise A drawing in coloured pencils of a doll I saw on display in a Higashiyama shop window. July 2016

Doll of Paradise
A drawing in coloured pencils of a doll I saw on display in a Higashiyama shop window.
July 2016

As I sat on the plane on the way to Japan last month, I instructed myself, “Don’t forget to take photos into plate glass windows”.

Two days later I found myself in a narrow lane in Higashiyama which was lined on both sides with souvenir shops.  I stared at a row of dolls who danced without moving in a display window.  As I looked, my visual awareness deepened.  I noticed fans reflected in the glass from the shop opposite.  What perfect accompaniments for a doll in a dance pose. I manoeuvred myself into position to capture the composition with my camera.

Back home in my studio I wanted to draw the doll in the window but I was unsure.  Did I have enough patience to handle the amount of detail on the kimono?  Was drawing an impassive doll a worthwhile project anyway?  I asked Matthew.  He reassured me on both counts.  He said, “You’ll enjoy it”.  He was right.  The obsessive-compulsive part of me was in its element.  I drew for extra-long hours by day and into each night as I could hardly pull myself away from the colourful and intricate work.  I would say it was a labour of love, except that it didn’t feel like any labour was involved; only joy.

I call the drawing “Doll of Paradise” as she is a figurine who is exotic, rich, colourful, luxuriant and unusual.  She is an imitation of a maiko.  And yet, often maiko are described as looking so much like dolls.  So my question to myself is – who is imitating whom?

 

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