Like so many of us, I love art. I love to look at artworks created by artistic souls. I appreciate the creative process and the results of that pursuit. My first academic study was Art & Design. I have drawn and painted my share of artworks, but don’t call myself an artist.
I am lucky that in today’s libraries art is considered an authentic way to showcase the creativity of those in our community. The last public library service I worked in had a successful and inclusive local community art program that invited and encouraged anyone to submit works into the program. The library became a gallery that showcased new works every three months. Beginning artists had a place to try out their talent and successful pieces were often sold to art appreciators.
I am lucky again in my position at the public library where I now work, as I currently look after the Art for Loan Program. This program differs in that artists can include their works in the program and people who join the program can loan artworks and take them home to enjoy for 2 months. Then change them over for other works. The library again becomes a gallery where artworks are showcased and we all get to enjoy the creative efforts; and pretty pictures.
Today I visited the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery to see this year’s entrants for the Archibald Prize. It was busy with many other interested people keen to see these works. My favourite was the work by Anh Do of his father Tam Do. I didn’t realize Anh Do has this amazing artistic ability. I love the thick rough swathes of paint. The bold ‘unreal’ colours expertly and yet roughly placed to give form and light to the portrait. This photo of a postcard does not do it justice. The other portrait I loved was by Qiang Zhang of Yang Li. It shows a similar approach with bold thick imprecise brush strokes that give form to a large headshot.
My husband loved the portrait of Nick Cave, Citizen Kave by James Powditch. It intentionally looks like a movie poster and suggests a great movie with a cast to excite movie-lovers: Johnny Cash; Debbie Harry; Robert Mitchum; Tom Waits; and others.
Finally I am in a Book Club and have attended my first meeting this week. The book we read and discussed was Wicked but virtuous by Mirka Mora. It is an autobiography of the Melbourne artist. As someone who formally studied art and design in Melbourne I was embarrassed to admit not knowing of either her or her work. Having said that I discovered she is probably as good an artist as she is a writer, and that is “poor” in my opinion. The book was more of a memoir in the style of an unedited stream of consciousness. It lacked detail, information, and insight into her life and relationships. It was pretentious and parasitic in the way she loved to name-drop.
I know of and really admire the work of other great Australian female artists such as Margaret Olley, Margaret Preston, Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith. These were artists of substantial talent and contribution. Stravinsky’s lunch written by Drusilla Modjeska is a rich and brilliant exploration of the art, life and times of Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith set alongside the happenings of Australian society at the time. It is a book I wholeheartedly recommend.
The Book Club offers me a chance to broaden my reading outside my habitual tendencies. It also is a privilege to share our varied responses to literature and to hear the opinions and thoughts of others. It gives depth to my own limited ideas and notions. The things known about a topic beyond what is written in the book adds more to the story and discussion. Others in the group knew of Mirka Mora and her art and shared their tales. It served to enrich the experience and opened us all to more of Melbourne’s short history.
Meanwhile at work our Book Club students competed in the annual Readers’ Cup Challenge. I helped judge the quiz where the teams answered questions about the four books they had read: What I was by Meg Rosoff; The red necklace by Sally Gardner; Town by James Roy; and One whole and perfect day by Judith Clarke.
The girls had decorated their tables, responded to creative tasks by making colourful masks, and wedding dresses, and they had dressed up for the occasion. It was a fun activity and The Jane Austen Book Club won by a slim margin.