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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.

Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Award

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Camilla TADICH©, 6.23am Kangaroo Ground  2009, oil on canvas, 94.5cm. x 125cm. framed.

"Ekphrasis is a genre of poetry that explores works of art and seeks to 'get inside' its visual subject."  Arguably the most famous example of this genre is John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn (1820).  Here's the last verse to get you in the mood...

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede

Of marble men and maidens overwrought,

With forest branches and the trodden weed;

Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought

As doth eternity. Cold Pastoral!

When old age shall this generation waste,

Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe

Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty"---that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

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Mark PAGE©, Of soft mauves in the meadow, in the fairest of her years 1979, oil on canvas, 101.5cm. x 83.5cm.

The Nillumbik Shire Arts and Culture team have done it again! Their inaugural Ekphrasis Poetry Award is pure gold. It invites poets to respond to one or more of twelve diverse works of art from the Nillumbik Shire's extensive collection (reputedly valued at four million dollars). There's sculpture, ceramic, painting and jewellery to inspire poets to weave together some well chosen words. Three of the works are shown in this post. 

"Each poem must be no longer than twelve lines, and may be in any genre of poetry."

Twelve poems will be selected by judges Helen Lucas, Fee Sievers and August Skipper.

First Prize: $500

Second Prize: $300

Third Prize: $200

Youth Prize: $150 (12-18 years old)

Entries close 30th April 2012.

Reproductions of all twelve artworks are available via the Nillumbik Shire website while the works can be viewed at first hand at the Shire Offices for the duration of Awards. What a clever, innovative way to draw attention to a fine collection.

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Clifton PUGH©, White Choughs in the Landscape / Untitled, 1958, acrylic and enamel on composition board, 124cm. x 226.5cm. framed.

I could hear the crackle of the bush at Dunmoochin when I saw this Clifton Pugh.  Ahh Dunmoochin.

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Poet and Ekphrasis judge Helen Lucas read "Nude Descending a Staircase" by X. J. Kennedy (while artfully descending the stairs of the Nillumbik Shire offices) to mark the opening of the competition...sensational!

Nude Descending a Staircase by X.J. Kennedy©.

 
Toe after toe, a snowing flesh,

a gold of lemon, root and rind,

she sifts in sunlight down the stairs

with nothing on. Nor on her mind.

 
We spy beneath the banister

a constant thresh of thigh on thigh;

her lips imprint the swinging air

that parts to let her parts go by.

 
One-woman waterfall, she wears

her slow descent like a long cape

and pausing on the final stair,

collects her motions into shape.

(Source: Poetry, January 1960.)

If, like me, you are tempted to revisit the poem's inspiration, Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase", you can do so via this link.


I look forward to enjoying the poetry that this project generates.  If possible, I'll share some of the winning entries with you.

My thanks to the organisers, Irene Pagram and her creative team for their exemplary nurturance of the arts in Nillumbik and their assistance with this post.



Parent Category: Arts

Victor Greenaway

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"The passage that most caught my attention in Tim Jacob's introduction to the 2005 book celebrating the ceramic works of Victor Greenaway concerned that moment of stillness, silence, and expectation that all artists, writers, poets, musicians and performers share when they are on the verge of creating a new work.  'Sitting there with the pot in one hand...waiting for it to say what it wants... Nothing is happening. And then in a flicker, the soft bristle is unloading its glaze across the surface, fingers working the rolling brush, and its done... 'It's down and done.  It's a one shot game.' " from Victor Greenaway, ceramics, drawings and paintings ITALY 2007-2012 - an introduction by Stefano Carboni, Page 4. 

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I loved the simplicity and elegance of these shapes, but it's the "glaze across the surface" that marks them out as uniquely Victor Greenaway.  He has had a stella career in ceramics, formed over the last forty years. Five years ago he packed up his belongings and went to live in Italy...to paint. In between painting portraits, landscapes and the interiors of buildings, Victor took time out to explore his new home. Venice became a regular 'must visit' destination. On returning to Australia at the beginning of this year, a body of ceramic work was created inspired by his Italian experiences. Victor says, "In Venice it's the carnival. Bright lights flash in the water." The decoration on these porcelain pots describes that observation.

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While the shapes of the pots above are primarily inspired by Japanese ceramics, there were others that echoed the shape of Etruscan pots and the pristine marble sculptures of Bernini...  The rims were tweaked to suggest splashes of water.

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At the Manningham Gallery, Victor's ceramics sit side by side with his paintings.  Walking into the space felt like taking a trip back to Italy. The sights and sounds were all there.  The exhibition was beautifully curated by Melbourne ceramics expert Anna Maas, who managed to place works in such a way as to draw attention to the influence of one upon the other.

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Victor Greenaway© Civita di Bagnoregio, Oil on canvas. 1600 x 2000mm. 2011

The painting below, was inspired by a memorable visit to a cathedral in Florence where a young Italian soprano was singing arias...Victor was so moved by the experience that he rendered it in paint.

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Victor Greenaway© Figure in the colonnade, FLORENCE. (detail) Acrylic on canvas. 1000 x 1000mm. 2008

As I write this, I'm conscious that Victor will have returned to Italy by now, where he will continue to explore figurative and narrative painting.

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Victor Greenaway© Blue mooring poles, Ponte dell'Accademia, Venice. (detail) Oil on canvas. 600 x 600mm. 2009

If you have ever travelled to Italy, here's an opportunity to re experience it, without having to dust off your passport. But beware, you may be tempted to visit a travel agent when you leave. Victor's exhibition is on display at the Manningham Gallery until Saturday 14th April.

My thanks to Victor Greenaway, Anna Maas and Manningham Gallery Director, Megan McEvoy, for their assistance with this post.  

Victor is represented throughout Australia by the following galleries, 

Skepsi on Swanston Melbourne

Bett Gallery  Hobart

Gallows Gallery in Perth

Framed Gallery in  Darwin

Beaver Galleries Canberra

All work in this post is Victor Greenaway©



Parent Category: Arts

Karena Goldfinch

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Karena Goldfinch© Black Wallaby Forest

My dream of living by the river at Warrandyte was born way back in my childhood when the Murray River was my 'playground'.  Any wonder that the river and trees at Warrandyte, so reminiscent of my childhood, drew me out here. Now I listen to the dance and laugh of the Yarra River over the rocks at the bottom of my garden on a daily basis.  I wake up to the birds and go to sleep with the sound of the frogs.  I would probably chain myself to a tree if anyone looked, for one second, like they were going to damage my environment.

So when I heard of Karena Goldfinch's mission to help save the habitat of the Leadbeater's possum (you may know them by their common name, the 'fairy possum') in the Toolangi Forest, I was in.  As an accomplished photographer, she put together an exhibition of photographs at 69 Smith Street Gallery which evoke and describe the efforts being made by an organization called MyEnvironment, to stop the logging of the Toolangi Forest, thereby saving this endangered species from extinction. The images (immediately above and below) were part of that exhibition. 

MyEnvironment has taken on a battle royal in the courts against VicForests to halt logging. Karena's exhibition was her way of supporting that organization. All of the proceeds from the sale of photographs were donated to MyEnvironment to help fund their legal costs.

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Karena Goldfinch© The Blue Rope

As so often happens in my explorations around Warrandyte, I discovered not only a worthy cause, but also an artist, working away quietly and earnestly in her studio. Karena shares an enormous studio with her partner (also a photographer) at their home in St Andrews.  She's surrounded by the bush and loves nothing more than to record its beauty and its abundant wildlife in photographic images.  Storage drawers are full to capacity with them. 

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Old cameras and photographic equipment are dotted around the studio.

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While we chatted on the terrace, Karena spotted a kookaburra in a nearby tree.  Quick as a flash, she set to work with her camera.

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In the week preceding my visit to Karena, I received the info from the Baldessin Press about their workshops for 2012 only to discover that Karena will facilitate a gumoil photographic printmaking workshop there in June.  She is an aficionado of this technique in her own work.  Check out the workshop on this link.  

Karena's images are timeless and rich in symbolism. 

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Karena Goldfinch©  Nest

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Karena Goldfinch© Front row

Last week, while my photos for this blog sat unprocessed in my camera and these words were drafting themselves in my head, the news came through that the court case had been lost.  How will I ever face my grandchildren? 

Obviously, there is still work to be done. If you would like to get involved please contact MyEnvironment via their website, or Karena through her website.


Parent Category: Arts

More Articles...

  1. The Rug Maker of Mazar-e-Sharif
  2. Montsalvat's Peacocks
  3. Warrandyte's Longest Lunch
  4. All that is solid melts into air
  5. Passages
  6. TarraWarra Museum of Art's "State of Being"
  7. Jenny Reddin at BSG
  8. Real Nowhere Land
  9. Montsalvat and Amanda Ruck
  10. Strathewen Letterboxes
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