So much in this world to occupy a little brain
Greetings wool gatherers,
So much in this world to occupy a little brain: vaccines, vaccines that may clot, Canberra et unbelievably al, WA election, young women loud on the streets of Australia after decades of quietude, writs to silence the media, London bobbies arresting and beating peaceful women mourners, the annoying trend of media commentators to refer to SA as “ess ay”, International Women’s Day as well as Clarice Beckett at AGSA. https://www.agsa.sa.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/clarice-beckett-present-moment/ Whew…..I was worried about finding a topic to write about.
How has your past fortnight been? My brain has been busy; the body not so much. I did desire to march with the women last Monday but life drawing and marching had a time clash and so I stayed at G1 and drew an old(er) man instead…..anything to get out of exercise.
Apart from exercise, another strong theme emerged: WOMEN. As Gallery One is a space concerned with arts, let’s go with Clarice at AGSA (Art Gallery of SA), The Present Moment.
This show is all about girls: woman artist, woman curator, woman catalogue compiler (one of the best I have seen and an absolute steal at $40, (woman guard, woman selling me my ticket), woman promoter. If you do not know the works of Beckett, be advised – her canvasses are small. She painted/finished her works at the family kitchen table: no studio, no designated creative space allowed -I hope the turps/thinners gave her parents headaches!
I first saw some of Beckett’s work many years ago in an exhibition called, The Misty Moderns. I fell in love with her painting then. About 5 of Beckett’s paintings are usually grouped together in one of AGSA’s main galleries as part of the permanent collection. I never feel as if I have properly visited the Gallery if I have not paid homage to the Becketts – they are included in the current exhibition. Clarice Beckett was highly skilled, perceptive, committed to the vision she painted; under-valued in her life-time. There is an ethereal quality to her works, a sense they are not anchored within the frames that surround them, or to the walls which support them. Please excuse the wanky panky art-talk– visit the exhibition and you will however discover what I mean. Some commentators have said there is something dark and hidden in her paintings. I sense rather a more elusive quality, something behind what is in front of your eyes. It does not loom. For me, it has never seemed so much a darkness as more the sense of something other. I highly recommend this exhibition.
GALLERY NEWS: Life@death will soon be on the walls. This Easter exhibition will be the first formal showing for the year 2021 and there will be an Opening Night (fingers crossed). How strange it will be to gather together in the Gallery again: perhaps the opening night itself will be a form of ‘Requiem’ which is the theme of this year’s event. Dieter Engler, curator and inspiration behind this annual Gallery One exhibition, tells us he is excited to be back on stage. Our artist in residence will be chef Sam Prance –Smith of Angler Stirling restaurant in Stirling.
The Committee Meeting is this week – apologies, it will have to be bated breath for readers until the next edition for your Committee news/revelations.
Of course, Committee member Anna Maria has an inbuilt capacity to forewarn, excite you with messages of future news so as to ease any stressors you may feel in anticipation of your Committee’s plans – there is a reason Anna Maria is always a person to consult….
Anna Maria once planned a life as a fortune teller – swirling mists of time in a glass ball, (follow her hands!) the swing and loop of patterned, coloured gypsy skirts; a scarf glistening with gold coins, long vermillion fingernails: this was to be the fate of Anna Maria – I really must ask Anna Maria if fortune-tellers also paint their toe-nails red.
Orange and ochre desert sands in Africa, the caravans of Andalusia, tea leaves in the low-lit backrooms of Soho, bone runes in Iceland, smoke signs in Canada, bells in Tibet, the hand-lines of Italy: these are the wiles Anna Maria sought to master in order to hone her desired destiny.
Alas! It was not to be for Anna Maria. “Australian?” prescients said from all over the world. “You can’t have an Australian fortune teller! What on earth would an Australian fortune teller use to predict something? Anything? Dried gum leaves, koala droppings, boomerangs, vegemite smears? Too many nationalities, too much information all round, too dry and suspicious by nature and someone would start a betting school on what would be predicted. Sorry, it’s not on mate.”
She should have known.
The Book Worm
‘A Scandal in Bohemia – the life and death of Mollie Dean’, by Gideon Haigh
Nothing titillates as much as a good scandal and if the written word can conjure a mix of murder, Australian, beautiful, young woman artist then the hook is bound to set in deep. Nonetheless, I do feel slightly off/disrespectful about describing the book, ‘A Scandal in Bohemia – the life and death of Mollie Dean’, by Gideon Haigh as such because it is, in fact, a biography.
I first heard an interview about this book some time ago on Radio National. The book sounded interesting and as I had only heard half of the interview, spotting the book at Writers’ Week, I thought I would give it a read.
As the gods of serendipity would have it, prior to her death, the young Mollie Dean mixed in artistic circles in Melbourne where the focus of her artistic interest lay with a then radical group of artists connected with the painter, Max Meldrum. Principal among Meldrum’s devotees was another young woman artist named Clarice Beckett. It seems Mollie and Clarice were not close associates but the author of the book goes into some detail about the group of artists following the theories of Meldrum known as tonalism – not least because Mollie was involved in a long affair with the married Colin Colahan, one of Meldrum’s followers. Haigh offers an excellent description of the principles of tonalism, very handy if you then see The Present Moment at AGSA.
The brutal murder in 1930 of Mollie Dean remains unsolved. In the climate of today, where violence against women is finally being proclaimed loudly across the nation, it somehow seemed very fitting to feel newly outraged at the tragic fate of Mollie Dean.
ps. Women – talk loud
pps. Women – stay safe
ppps. Men stay safe too
Video of the Week
Meryl Wilkinson Gallery One Volunteer
Photo by Michelle Ding on Unsplash We will not be silenced
Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash Men protesting
Photo by Antonino Visalli on Unsplash Women in the field of sunflowers
Photo by Wyron A on Unsplash Psychic Vision
Photo by Duane Mendes on Unsplash
Anna-Maria’s FB page -Anna-Maria’s photos