Archive for August, 2013

Michael Cartwright invitation
Michael Cartwright invitation

After twelve years, Michael is again carving marble. We had a car accident twelve years ago and Mike’s right foot was badly injured, forcing him to stop carving stone. He painted instead and this was not a bad thing because he has developed his wonderful sense of colour in a way that he may never have had the opportunity to as he was so known for his sculpture. This last year has seen him in Pietrasanta working again in marble carving studios. His foot is now able to withstand a bit of the weight bearing needed with working on stone. I can see it is a joy for him to be back with tools in his hands, tapping that luminous stone and bringing it to life.

Exhibition in La Rondine
Exhibition in La Rondine

Mike’s exhibition in La Rondine Gallery is without paintings this time. Three lush white marble sculptures in vivid contrast to one glowing golden bronze in the vaulted gallery space, five drawings pinned to the wall, another delicate two framed. The exhibition has a purity to it, in its shadowy grey and white. The forms are simple, barely textured, sensuous, the shadows soft and seductive.mike14

One of the forms is a magnificent abstracted bird, proud and preening, flourishing its feathers. The marble is in white Carrara and it’s soft glowing creaminess is intensified by the the contrasting roughness of the divits in its feathering. It has a subtle movement that needs it to be placed somewhere centrally so that it can be fully appreciated.mike01 mike04

The other bird form is quirky and always makes me smile. It is totally hand carved – that is, without machinery at all – so there is a liveliness in the texture and the flow of the lines, a sensitivity to the quirky lumpiness of the back of the bird, a contrast to the strange nest in the tree the bird is protecting. Tough and tender.mike05

The One Who Loves itself
The One Who Loves itself

Then there is the kneeling woman form, or is it a pregnant woman form, she seems to be a homage to abundance and fertility. She is related to the ‘One who loves itself’, an animal form Mike created a few years ago with all the feelings of self love and delight in the most beautiful way. This is the bronze piece, luscious in its golden reflective high polish.

mike19This exhibition, to me, seems to be an expression of love and freedom. There is such tenderness in the ‘Bird and Nest in the Tree’ and so much sense of freedom, especially in that big bird with his wings outstretched, ready to fly.

Rover Thomas in the desert making art that is of the earth, simple, iconic masterpieces, representing deeply the land he was, he not separate, but a part of a whole intimately felt universe.  Traveling overhead in planes, peering from tiny windows many times over the years, looking down into the land of Australia, seeing the red earth in a different way, became the first step for me to see life differently.  To stop trying to see the earth with only one sense, the eyes, in a two dimensional pictorial way.

Night Dance
Night Dance

Lying on thick dewy grass in the night, looking up into the velvety blackness, light twinkling from distant planets and stars, but part of it, in it, not separate and observing, but deeply within the great night sky, deeply held by the deep dark earth.  How to express this inner knowledge of life.  Maybe the ancients have always expressed this and it is we who are now the primitive ones.  Modernization and technology seem to have ultimately divided us from each other, our voracious consumerism has meant we are neglecting the earth, and our knowledge comes from others, not ourselves who have separated our senses from their essential connectivity.  We are often alone with only the companions of things that have no life.

Man and Woman in the field
Man and Woman in the field
Dance
Dance

For months I have been in my studio drawing, trying to feel the earth, be the earth.  I have scoured books of ancient art including the art of our Australian aboriginals, sinking into their work, meditating on it, trying to redraw in my own way their sense of the world, because instinctively I know they are deeply connected to all of life and I, too, want to belong.

Dance
Dance

My sculptures have been going this way for years, looking for the elemental, the spiritual essence of the human being.   My drawings have lagged behind, perhaps out of habit in the way I see two dimensionally, I have seen only pictorially with that one visual sense and not all.  My challenge was to ‘become’ everything I was trying to express.  Recently, I put big slabs of paper on the floor and crawled all over them, black everywhere, a mess, losing perspective.  Out of it came the message of Rover Thomas.  I have been shamelessly influenced by him and so grateful.  I have fallen in love with the rich earth colours that are here just the same in Italy.  I feel the earth colour in my whole being, I can smell in its dark smoky browns its woodiness, its mustiness, in the reds I feel the abundant bloody fertility, in the ochres I feel the sun and warmth and light.  I have let my figures fall on the paper, anywhere.  The spaces between them as vibrant as their own energy that is part of the sky and part of the earth.

Woman
Woman

Some of these drawings and sculptures were in an exhibition recently at La Rondine Gallery along with the photos and sculptures of Sarah Danays.

Woman
Woman
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The Bagni di Lucca Art Festival has brought into our wee beautiful town some of the most amazing international talent that it has seen for many years.  Bagni di Lucca is known for its many famous personages.  It is known for all the incredible writers and musicians and visual artists that have come here through history, seduced by its unspoilt beauty, resting and walking in the deep greens and aquas of the verdant mountains rolling over each other, mystical visions of villages perching on the hilly spines,  torrents racing coldly through ravines and crevices emerging into still ponds where children play, leaping onwards and down into the river Lima, through the great devil’s bridge of Ponte di Maddalena and into the Serchio before reaching Lucca.

The Bagni di Lucca Art Festival has brought together today’s wonderful artists.  A couple of weeks ago we had two concerts in consecutive nights in the old casino in Ponte a Serraglio.  Both concerts blew us away.  The first concert was by Ronald Farren-Price playing piano.

Ronald Farren-Price at the Bagni di Lucca Casino
Ronald Farren-Price at the Bagni di Lucca Casino

Ronald Farren-Price, a virtuoso and one of Australia’s foremost concert pianists, now retired from concert life at eighty something, is an inspiration of daunting precocity.  An artist of meticulous self discipline, he has practiced every day for 78 years and sometimes on programs he will never play professionally.

“When students ask me why I’m working on a big program that I may never even perform, I say that I am working on it for the next world, and that nothing in life is lost. Eventually everything has a meaning.”

Ronald Farren-Price and Jaqueline Varela interpreting into Italian
Ronald Farren-Price and Jaqueline Varela interpreting into Italian

He himself believes in the interpretation of the music rather than the technical brilliance of the performance.  He believes in memorising his pieces in preparation before a performance for the inner ear and the mind so that that the only thing he has to do when performing is to interpret the knowledge.

“I always tell my students to strive for something that is beautiful rather than something only brilliant. Brilliance alone can lead to something blatant in no time if one is not careful.”

Ronald Farren-Price
Ronald Farren-Price

His body, bent permanently in its accustomed posture at the piano, reminded me of what it was to be a great artist, a vocation of intense pursuit, undistracted by the frills of life and desires for luxury, just the wish for all needs met.  This night he arrived in the old casino where Liszt played over a hundred years ago at its opening ceremonies, the beautiful old chandeliers glistening in the gilt age marked mirrors, the piano raised on a stage, the chairs fanning out around it, people eager in their seats.  Gentle gentle his hands barely lifted off the keys as he opened his performance with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. So tender his face, his eyes softly closed like a child’s, as though he was just feeling the music as it left the tips of his fingers, so exquisitely almost silent those opening notes that broke away the day and placed our minds in open readiness.  It was a truly amazing performance.  It was the performance of a master. It was an hour and a half of music laced with passion and tenderness, a meditation so perfectly controlled, yet so ‘felt’, so perfectly in harmony with the essence of every note.  I rave, but I loved it.  So did we all.  We clapped so hard we ached.DSC01116

DSC01117I am inspired for my own life as an artist.  Ronald Farren-Price gave us everything that night.  I am inspired by a man who, though frail and vulnerable in his advancing age, has not allowed frailty and a hurting body to interfere with his spiritual connection to his creativity.  His will to control the extremities of body to allow himself to ‘speak’ was really something to be seen and heard.

Chandeliers in old casino, Bagni di Lucca
Chandeliers in old casino, Bagni di Lucca

He was always revered, being one of those children with incredible talent that eventually took his studies to London and New York, feted and lauded wherever he went and here today. Most of his professional life has been cocooned in the Music Faculty of the University of Melbourne with concert forays each year into some of the most amazing concert halls of the world. How incredibly lucky were we to have seen this, his last public performance.  He promises to return next year with a master class of gifted students who in turn will take the stage to create another night for the soul to remember.

A magical night
A magical night
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