25 Feb 2018

Bage like the Canterbury Plains

I think it's safe to say I'm unpacked and settled into the new workshop. I really dislike the term studio. It implies some kind of performance. I met a rather well known artist once who had the same opinion. He called his place of work a "practice" and punctuated it with "Musicians and monkeys perform, I practice". I don't think he meant there was a link between the two and I agree but it was an amusing way to put it. Educating folk to the ins and outs of a rare job title like Artist is, in itself, sometimes a full time job. I stick with Sculptor. It's just less hassle and it comes with a few less connotations. A lot of them are fair enough but like myths and legends, the stories can get outta hand. Like Picasso quotes, there is the statement and then the meaning.

Little me, 1000 years ago

While packing/unpacking, among the bits and bobs I stumbled on a couple of drawings I did when I was a kid. This one is from 1989 when I was 11 or 12 years old and it reminded me of so many things. My Godfather used to do stunning pen and pencil drawings. I wish I owned one. He's nothing if not a polymath. If he wasn't building huge houses or restoring old cars or motorbikes he was drawing houses, painting, cooking or pursuing some other form artistic expression. I can honestly say John not only single handedly lead me into art in the beginning but through his varied skills helped me realize that art is as honest and applicable as any trade under the sun. It was also around this time I was able to spend a fair bit of time on a farm with my Aunt and Uncle. 

Geoff Williams 1942 - 2015

We used to travel down from Christchurch for about an hour or so out of town down to their property to shoot rabbits. Rabbits are an introduced species in NZ and are extremely destructive to the natural environment so short of poison (not the done thing back then) a .22 was the only way to try and control the population. Of course at 11yrs old I only learned this and many other aspects of the NZ environment from these trips. We'd spend hours, day or night, walking or on the back of motorbikes or the trusty Hilux, me listening to the conversation and life tips from my uncle Alan and my Dad and once in a while, shyly offering a remark or two. They were truly good times and for a day here and there I managed to be someone helping out or part of a group of friends rather than my usual role of (insert cutting name here) that was my life in the city. The drive from Christchurch was one of my favorite parts of these trips. I'd be in the back looking out the windows at rolling hills and back then plenty of decaying barns and old sheds. At the time Geoff Williams was pretty big in NZ cultural circles and anytime spend watching Sunday afternoon TV magazine shows would eventually feature his work or an upcoming exhibition. 

All these things were a perfect storm for me. With John's inspiration, Geoff Williams' framing and my uncle's inclusiveness, I would gaze out the windows on our way through Canterbury and the world would seem so right. I used to try and use John's pen and pencil style (it seemed so masculine as far as art tools go at the time) and what Williams so cleanly pointed out and try to mash the two together. The drawing above though was never finished. I remember not being able to figure out how to draw dirt and this really pissed me off. I thought, how can someone who wants to be an Artist not be able to draw something as mundane as dirt. I felt like such a fool. I obviously thought I'd come back to it at some stage as it's still kicking round but I'm pretty sure this may have been my last attempt in this style. Funny how things turn you around even with such valuable guidance.

I'm feel very lucky to still be in touch John and my Aunty and Uncle, Jess and Alan. I've often wanted to tell them how well and completely they affected my younger years. Shamefully, it's hard to get enough of the right words out before the feelings of foolishness or embarrassment wash over me. I guess, and in the words of a friend of mine, "That's when ya know it's the truth!"