A wild fortnight
It's been a hectic as well as a well oiled machine these past two weeks. School holidays, Tinker having the usual 3 months of work in 2 weeks, my own practice and life. I knew going into the April school holidays that it was going to be a lot of gripping my phone tightly waiting for me phone to ring with and SOS in one hand while I sculled tea with the other in an effort to calm my nerves.
The thing is we have a REALLY great team at Tinker. AJ, Emma, Paddy, Kel and Ash just get it. They are adaptable and extremely capable and wickedly talented, they make this part easy. I never actually worry about them. Instead I find I am on high alert with so many things on that I worry if something goes wrong how can I support them through it if I myself am also busy. And yeah things popped up out of the ordinary but we all just did the move, dance and jig (seemlessly I may add) so it always just felt normal.
But these last two weeks we collaborated on a 4 day pop-up with Toowoomba Regional Council, 4 days of creative activiations at Kingaroy Shoppingworld, 5 days at Grand Central Shopping Centre, 4 days at Tinker South, 1 day at Tinker City, 2 Days at Zebedees, 1 kids birthday party, 1 night at Toowoomba City Library and that's just the studio...physically. As I said I knew going into these two weeks that my brain would be full and as we are coming to the last few days I feel a great sense of accomplishment.
But aside from the administrative nightmare the work itself was delicious, glorious, soul enriching. When you are in that shared creative space I cannot describe it better than filling ones cup. You walk away feeling rejuvinated and all round happy. The numbers reflect the community excitement too with over 2000 people through our collective workshops and activations. People love to experience the arts, we all need it. Whether its for professional purposes or just to stop being so serious and just play art truly is for everyone.
An added experience was my face....and how much it appeared through the media and socials and for that I am sorry. I guess it was somewhat inevitatble if you are going to be here, there and everywhere your face is bound to show up from time to time. Or in this case every day on a new platform. it's kinda (very) weird to wake up every day do a check in and then HELLO it's me, but you'll be glad to know it will slow down a bit as I do over the next few weeks. We will all get a break from seeing my face spamming your newsfeed.
So what's next, I've got a creative workshop coming up as part of the creative arts summit, back to the regular Tinker programming and you'll catch me in Brissy over the next few months with some professional development sessions. But over all my big to do list is to get into my garden. The weather is turning and I want to prep it for Winter and nature isn't going to wait for anyone I need to get in there ASAP.
Workshop of SOCA UniSQ
Recently I was asked to share some personal knowledge with year 12 students at the school of creative arts UniSQ. The brief was teach them something from your practice. Love that.
With 1.5 hour up my sleeve, acrylic paint, brushes and paper I knew exactly what I wanted to share.
When we started the session, I offered this. Today we will play with paint, I will show you my personal technique for creating layers or a double exposure technique but ultimately we want to have fun. There is no assessment, no theme, no outcome at the end other than playing with our medium.
I am a firm believer that in order to develop we need to be able to play, explore, challenge concepts, let go and not always be outcome focused. Sometimes we need to sit down and create and not make a design. Just let the art happen.
This idea can be really challenging, for most people. It often depends on how much you have stretched your art muscles. Nothing can be scarier than a blank piece of paper.
But after about 10mins there was a visible and audiable difference in the space. The shoulders relaxed, the sounds moved from nervous groans to delightful and sometimes surprising hmmms.
Students stopped the rush through, waiting for the next instruction and started having conceptual conversations amongst themselves. Offering ideas of brush movements, colour theory and compositions.
I then moved through the space with them, painting alongside them and offering conversations and individual creative input throughout the space.
The students asked some fascinating questions about my practice as an artist, as well as their potential within the industry. Most wanted to know what actually is the creative industry and what careers options were actually available. The shift is slowly happening, there is still the constant humm in the background of 'well I need a job that pays and if I am an artist I will be broke'. But the conversation is happening, the arts is moving towards a space of career options not career doom.
Everyone say it with me - you can have a career as an artist!
Once the pages filled with colour we then switched it up a gear, and this is where the technical side came into place. I demonstrated how I created the layers and suggested other ways to interpret the technique. Students then adapted the technique to their own work and off they went on their own journey.
It was a great day.
A meaningful commission
Earlier this year the team at Darling Downs Health asked me to create a series of works for their annual staff awards.
Honestly I love the idea of giving out artworks instead of tropheys. There is something intimate about sharing art with others, and I felt deeply honoured to even be considered.
The brief was simple, create a series of works that embody the pillars of the organisation, in your own voice. It is a beautiful thing when someone offers you the space as an artist to simply create authentically in your own voice in response to a concept. It's wildly exciting and soul enriching.
I truly hope those who were awarded these pieces find love and joy from them.
This body of work explores the principles of compassion, courage, dignity, innovation, integrity, vision & volunteer through the lens of our region. Connecting with the landscapes of the Darling Downs; Meewah, inner CBD, the tall gums of Highfields, our Sunflower fields and institutions.
Alex captured reference images of each space that she believed embodied the principles of compassion, courage, dignity, innovation, integrity, vision & volunteer.
Colour palettes were pulled from these reference images and each painting was developed using her signature painting style of automatic mark making. Through the use of colour, pattern, painting and screenprinting each artwork tells its own story.
An exhibition opening
For Alex, art is an extension of her selfness. A way to explore the influence of environment, health, lifestyle, memories and community through the act of automatic mark-making practices. The process of automation provides a pathway for Alex to dive into her subconscious and play with the impacts of these everyday factors to unlock an intuitive environment while holding space selfishly and unashamedly.
Collecting Dust refers simply to that, works that have sat piled high, or in pieces with no intention other than the process of creation. The works have been collecting dust. To honor the series Alex believed it was only right to give the pieces the space of an exhibition, to share walls with each other and to share with the community.
Alex’s fascination with automatic mark-making parallels her diagnosis of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a form of Dysautonomia. Dysautonomia is a disorder of autonomic nervous system function. The autonomic nervous system is in charge of involuntary functions—things that happen without thinking—like breathing. Dysautonomia usually involves failure of the sympathetic and parasympathetic parts of the autonomic nervous system. Through automatic mark-making Alex seeks to find the peace and therapeutic opportunities of truly finding a space of restful contentment. Her paintings are often without a plan, purely regulated by happenstance and convenience. With unconscious repetition of elements including pattern, representational imagery, colour and movement. Couple with a safety in process and colour palettes often chosen at convenience or by place as she lets her hands tell the story.
Through this process of play and disconnection the outcome of the work will often become apparent in its own time, which may be hours, days or years. A resolved piece is never planned and often determined by a sense of restful completion. Each piece of Collecting Dust marks a moment, and a sense of connection to the artist.
Observations as an artist