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isiiad - isiiad, Jeannette Davison, warrandyte, art, design, blog, photography, painting, Nillumbik, Yarra Valley, artist's trail, artist open studio, art

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Isiiad (I saw it in a dream) is an arts and design blog. It is centred in Warrandyte and the surrounding Yarra Valley but will go where ever my creative spirit takes me… so Warrandyte to the world. Creator and blog owner is Jeannette Davison.


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Kate Hudson- Fourfold

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Thankfully, The Light Factory Gallery is back in business after experiencing significant damage during the heavy rain at Christmas time.  Their latest exhibition, Fourfold, showcases the work of four printmakers associated with the Australian Print Workshop.  I met one of them, Kate Hudson, this week at her home and studio in Eltham.  Her delightful lino cut prints feature indigenous and non indigenous plants from her immediate environment. She brings a lifelong interest in oriental art, along with the stunning ceramics (the black and white pots and vases) of her husband Stephen Hudson, to the work included in Fourfold. (Kate met Stephen at the Central School of Art and Design in London. They have been 'collaborating' in a variety of ways ever since.)  

Kate and Stephen moved to Australia 22 years ago. Kate remembers being struck by the "space" and "big skies" of her new home.  The move uncovered a sense of fearlessness in Kate, so that when the Eltham Living and Learning Centre asked her to teach lino printing, she leapt at the chance. (Her previous training was in textiles.) Her interest in the process of printmaking grew. She soon discovered the Australian Print Workshop. In 2005 the Workshop recognised her work, awarding her an Australian Print Workshop Collie Print Trust Scholarship. Of this award Kate says,

"The Scholarship gave me confidence in my ability and reinforced my passion for printmaking." ( from Scholarship Exposed: Where are they now?  Published by Australian Print Workshop Inc, Melbourne Australia, 2011.)

In addition, Kate has enjoyed the creative community at the Workshop and the opportunities to share ideas and techniques with other artists.  

Other printmakers who have influenced Kate include, Margaret Preston and Lesley van der Sluys

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Fourfold can be seen at the Light Factory Gallery up until 13th May.

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Regular readers will know that I enjoy the experience of seeing artists within their studios and creative environments. There's always work in progress and visual references to add to the fascination of the finished product.  Kate's studio didn't disappoint me.

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Kate has exhibited at galleries here and overseas. She is represented by Manyung Gallery and also sells prints through the Australian Print Workshop, and PG Printmaker Gallery (Brunswick St).  In 2011, Melbourne designer Catherine Manuell used Kate's print- Tree Sparrows and Blossom on her bags and wallets (they all sold out).  This year Catherine Manuell has used another of Kate's prints, Passionfruit.  If you'd like to see them, follow the link to the online store.

Kate has been a participant in the Nillumbik Artists Open Studio Program for the last 2 years.  You can have the pleasure of meeting her at her studio during that program's next Open Studio weekend on the 5th and 6th of May.

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Another Nillumbik Open Studio's participant, Shaaron Smith, gave Kate this bunch of flowers to mark the opening of Fourfold. (Sometimes an artist's inspiration is as close as the kitchen table.)

All work in this post is Kate Hudson©


Parent Category: Arts

Michelle Mischkulnig

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Who could resist the riot of colour that is a hallmark of Michelle Mischkulnig's textiles. Judging from the huge success of her recent exhibition at Yering Station (where she sold 80% of her work), not many. She almost apologises that all of her work is happy, "cause I have a happy life", she says. Oh lucky thing... and how wonderful that we can all bask in the glow of that via her beautiful textiles. Compliments for her work abound. This one,  "It's brought so much joy into our lives." is a favourite of Michelle's.

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It didn't surprise me to hear that Gustav Klimt is an influence.  Like Klimt's work, Michelle's is highly decorative. The rhythm of life is also a constant preoccupation. The work below grew from observing a favourite, local tree, over the seasons of the year.... it might be called Four Seasons in One Day.

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This magnificent lacework is made using water soluble fabric.

Michelle, studied textile design at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, straight out of Secondary School.  She has worked with textiles ever since.

As a local, she's been involved with the Stonehouse Gallery in Warrandyte for the last 14 years, taking on the role of one of its directors over the last 10 years. During the month of May, Michelle will be exhibiting a range of art garments at the Stonehouse Gallery.  The exhibition is called Threadelicious. She loves being in contact with the other creative people involved there. ( There are 18 artisans who exhibit at Stonehouse.). In June of this year, the Stonehouse Gallery will celebrate its 40th birthday with a retrospective exhibition.

Her work is also available at Edges Gallery in Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick.

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Michelle can be found every weekday morning toiling away at her sewing machine by 8am.  She often forgets the time.  How lovely to be surrounded by fabric and colour all day long.  She was working on this piece (below) when I arrived...the influence of a recent trip to Spain is evident here.

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If you would like to watch the progress of Michelle's work, follow her on Facebook.

All work in this post is Michelle Mischkulnig©


Parent Category: Arts

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Photograph ©Kerry Cross

I arrived at TarraWarra Museum of Art for my interview with Maudie Palmer with a head full of curiosity, a notepad full of questions and more than my usual anticipation. As has consistently been the case at TWMA, I was shown the sort of hospitality that immediately made me feel like an honoured guest in a trusted friend's home. I began to understand that a welcome of this sort is typical of the magic of Maudie Palmer. Her own efforts to make visitors to TWMA feel comfortable, trickle down to every staff member and every volunteer... more about that later. Within minutes I was swept up by her charm, and inspired by her passion for excellence in all things, particularly the arts.

For the uninitiated overseas reader, a little bit of background might be useful. Maudie is an arts legend in Melbourne.

Standouts in her illustrious career are easy to find. She cut her teeth as curator at the University Gallery, University of Melbourne (now the Ian Potter Museum), set up the Herring Island Environmental Sculpture Park and was the inaugural director of Heide Museum of Modern Art when Heide made its transition from the home of John and Sunday Reed to a public art gallery. In 1999, after her outstanding success at Heide, Marc and Eva Besen invited Maudie to become inaugural director of TarraWarra Museum of Art, the first significant privately funded public art museum in the country. I'm guessing that the Besens have never had any reason to doubt their choice.

Her first task was to oversee the creation of a building that could adequately house the Besen's vast collection and support contemporary artists. (As Maudie recounted the process of writing the brief for the building and selecting the architect, I found myself wishing that we had filmed the interview so that you, dear reader, could see Maudie's eyes light up.) Of the five shortlisted architects, Allan Powell's architectural vision fitted the brief perfectly. The board's selection committee saw what Maudie described as its  "everlasting quality" as well as the potential for its earthy exterior palette to sit in glorious harmony with the landscape.  Who could argue with that. Now that the building has taken up its place in the Yarra Valley, it looks like it's been there forever and will be there for centuries to come. Maudie also explained that Powell's design was inspired by the idea of the Tuscan Village on a hilltop, with the hearth at its beginning (the restaurant) and a vista walk toward the ultimate view (that window).

The building's interior has consistently vindicated Maudie's initial brief.  It was important to her that the interior provide a space that would equal the temporary exhibition space at the the Art Gallery of New South Wales (home of the Archibald).  How thankful we are for her vision.  Last year, the Archibald was exhibited at TWMA for the first time. Around fifty thousand art lovers made the trip out to TarraWarra to see it.  It was a howling success, due in part to the gorgeous, elegant spaces in which it was hung.

It's a source of pride for Maudie that eight and a half years after TWMA opened to the public, the original pristine state of the building has been maintained, both inside and out.  She is adamant that,

“It should be preserved in this form for posterity."

With the building solidly in place, the work of turning the spaces into a thriving museum was Maudie's next challenge. She has done this, in part, by establishing a programme of contemporary art exhibitions and exhibitions which focus on the TWMA collection of Australian modern art post 1950, and keeping to a budget. Along with a passion for curating and filling a space with artworks, Maudie enjoys cutting her garment to suit her cloth. It's a winning combination for a museum director.

Maudie is largely self taught, though art and aesthetics has always been woven through the fabric of her life. She trained in sculpture as a young woman. In addition, she says,

"I was fortunate to travel abroad and to have marvellous teachers who taught me the wonder of art.  They were inspirational."

She is quick to acknowledge the assistance of mentors who guided her along the way, in particular Ray Marginson (Vice Principal of The University of Melbourne), Georges Mora and Barrett Reid, long term associates of Heide and the Angry Penguins.  She also knew patrons Sunday and John Reed, the originators of Heide, and has had the pleasure of working directly for visionaries Eva and Marc Besen.

She explains that in the early days at the Melbourne University Gallery (where she worked for Marginson), it was essential to have the support of volunteers. Maudie learnt the value of having a volunteer program in place and subsequently developed very successful volunteer programs at both Heide and TWMA.

"I set the bar high for myself, and with my remarkable staff, ask others to jump over it with us. The volunteers keep coming back because they know that here we all work together towards achieving excellence."

Local painters, sculptors and art lovers have truly embraced the opportunities that volunteering provides. Maudie makes sure that they know how much their work is appreciated, thanking them publicly on every occasion.

I was curious about what her advice might be to an aspiring student of arts management. Her quick reply, brilliant in its simplicity was,

“Make sure you visit museums and galleries and develop a passion for the visual arts!"

Passion for the visual arts is in plentiful supply at TWMA. Collecting is still the Besen's passion. For Maudie, it brings to mind Kenneth Clarke’s observation that, private collectors acquire artworks “for initial excitement and for lasting satisfaction.”  Maudie acknowledges that the unique ongoing process for collecting at TWMA has greatly contributed to its success. The collection committee, known as the "Works of Art Committee", is made up of Eva and Marc Besen, Maudie and Victoria Lynn. (Maudie will remain on that committee when the renowned curator Victoria Lynn takes over as the new director.) The committee's mission is to fill the gaps and continue to acquire contemporary work. Not surprisingly, Maudie is effusive in acknowledging the Besen's overall contribution at TWMA,

They have been prepared to gift their collection, build this acclaimed building, and to continue to fund the museum through the Besen Family Foundation.  It’s the most far sighted, generous contribution imaginable!

With the combination of the Besen's extraordinary generosity, Maudie's unparalleled directorship and the outstanding beauty of the building and its surrounds, TWMA has taken its place amongst the best public art museums here and overseas. Maudie is confident that she has achieved all of the goals that were set for her and that she set for herself at TWMA.  She is leaving TWMA in the capable hands of Victoria Lynn, who takes up the position of director in April 2012. Of her decision to hand the baton on, Maudie says,

"I'm thrilled that we have found a passionate curator who as director will take the museum into the future. All my life my work has been about taking up a vision and running with it and for my part I believe I’ve achieved what I wanted to do in establishing this museum."

 

Visitors to TWMA will enjoy the solid foundations she has put in place for many many years to come.


Maudie wasn't telling what her next step would be. She did however say that she has three projects on the boil. She will no doubt apply her passion and her pursuit of excellence to whatever she does next.

 

I'll finish with this great photo (thanks Kerry) of Maudie in front of Fred William's painting Lysterfield, currently showing at TWMA as part of an exhibition of work from TWMA's own collection titled Before the imperative of scale.

 

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TWMA Inaugural Director, Maudie Palmer, AO in front of the Fred Williams painting, Lysterfield, c. 1966 Gift of Eva and Marc Besen 2001, Collection of TarraWarra Museum of Art.(Photograph ©Kerry Cross)

My sincerest thanks to Maudie Palmer and TarraWarra Museum of Art for making this post possible.  Maudie, it was a great pleasure and privilege to meet you. Isiiad thanks you for your part in making TWMA an outstanding home of art in the Yarra Valley and wishes you all the very best in whatever comes next.


Parent Category: Arts

More Articles...

  1. Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Awards-2
  2. Victor Greenaway
  3. Karena Goldfinch
  4. The Rug Maker of Mazar-e-Sharif
  5. Montsalvat's Peacocks
  6. Warrandyte's Longest Lunch
  7. All that is solid melts into air
  8. Passages
  9. TarraWarra Museum of Art's "State of Being"
  10. Jenny Reddin at BSG
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