wide open studios
So far, Couchsurfing.org has never failed to hook me up with quality people, and tonight I hit another CS goldmine. I have been looking for activity buddies since I moved to Newtown last week, and one CS post caught my eye. It was an open invitation to meet up and attend the Lennox St. Open Studios. I had biked by the studio building earlier this week and was planning on stopping by at some point this weekend, so I shot the guy a message and we decided to meet up on King Street.
To help him find me, I texted him, “I’m a tall redhead,” to which he responded, “Cool. I’m the cutest guy ever.” And he pretty much is. A Taiwan born, New Zealand raised PhD cognitive neuroscientist who takes tango lessons and seems to know every artist in Sydney. Right?
The Lennox St. Studios are housed in a 1920’s Catholic school building. Huge windows, peeling paint, a few schoolboy ghosts hanging around. Over 40 artists rent studio space, and they range from recent art school grads to established artists who have shown their work internationally. There were paintings, wood block etchings, a sculpture made of chillies, textiles, and a hodgepodge of other media and styles. The atmosphere was festive, with paper christmas lights and lanterns, plus snacks and a variety of Fox Creek wines for a ‘gold coin donation’ (their $1 and $2 are gold coins).
My top 3:
1. Rita Karagelinian: Rita told me that another observer simply remarked, “You really go for it, don’t you?” Does she ever. I told her I want to wear her oil paintings as a dress. Her colours are delicious and their application is delirious – thick , bright, swirling layers that are inspired by the lush local scenery. All I know is, I want to come on that bushwalk. Some of Karagelinian’s paintings are entirely abstract and evocative while others are more concrete subjects – mangroves, self portraits bathed in rainbows of shapes and symbols. She also has a series of large scale line drawings (I think they’re oil pastels or maybe chalk on painted canvas) of people in architectural interiors whose layers reverberate and make you feel like you’ve got x-ray vision.
2. Mark Bailey: On the opposite end of the spectrum are Mark Bailey’s stark landscapes. They are eerily beautiful, with peaceful dusk lighting illuminating stripped down fields of earth with nothing but rocks, a lamppost, or a row of alien looking grain stores. He said they are inspired by landscapes he has seen, but he “had to remove a bush here and there.” To my Canadian eyes, they were reminiscent of prairie landscapes but the feeling was hotter, dryer, lonelier. He also has some great miniatures on chipboard, with the wood grain showing through giving them a rough feel.
3. Jennie Pry: “Esther mused that she had never fallen in love – just stepped in it a few times.” This caption accompanies one of Pry’s vintage bathing suits, full figured but disembodied, plastered on old newspapers. The clever captions are inspired by stories of real or imagined women who once strutted their stuff in these suits. Pry collects swimsuits, photos, and oral histories and her art tells stories of womanhood, nostalgia, and love. Her studio walls have colourful bathing suits tacked up next to black and white photos and epehemera and a chalkboard with lists of names of people’s mothers, aunts, friends – Lonni, Iris, Sylvie, Dolly, Fiona. I can see myself and the women in my life in some of these outfits (and in some of these stories). Also, Jennie used to take tango lessons with my CS friend.
There was a mass exodus at 8 when they abruptly turned off the lights, but the studio is open all weekend and I might try to pop in again and see some of the artists I missed – in particular, Tim Johnson, whose Buddhist beauty is now my desktop background: