Thursday, March 24, 2011

Postcard 1 from Vietnam

Fiona and I have been in Vietnam for the past week. Spent a couple of days in Hanoi, three days in the area south west of Hanoi and are now back in Hanoi.

We have spent quite a lot of time looking at art in small local galleries. A lot of these have sprung up since our last trip to Hanoi in 2006.

As part of the effort to develop tourism and social balance the government has decided to build possibly the largest pagoda in south east Asia; including the biggest Buddha.

The complex is still under construction but already is an incredible endeavour. So many textures, vistas and craftpersonship.

Below are just a few photos from the complex.

Barry Smith © Detail behind Buddha
Barry Smith © Ninh Binh Pagoda Buddha
Barry Smith © Niches filled with small buddha statues
Barry Smith © Offering money on huge brass drum
Barry Smith © Worker construction hut 
Barry Smith © Carved and ready for installation

Friday, March 18, 2011


Last week I had to do a very quick work-work trip to a couple of Indigenous communities on islands off the coast of the NT.  Quite a journey - left home 5.30am on Tuesday and returned to the mountain at 1pm Saturday (more than enough time to prepare for the opening of the exhibition).

Basically I flew from Brisbane to Darwin, Darwin to a community on Melville Island, back to Darwin, over to Groote Eylandt, 4x4 trip to community and back to main settlement bon Groote Eylandt, flew back to Darwin and then Darwin to Brisbane - quite a few klms and a lot of small planes.

I took my camera but there was not a lot of time for personal art given that I was there to negotiate permission to do field research.

I did manage to drop into a local art centre.

Discovered this great work by a talented female artist, Diane Tipungwuti - the art work is a representation of body art work.

Diane Tipungwuit
Diane Tipungwuti
And I did manage to take these two photos of new rootlets breaking out of the bottom of a palm tree.

Barry Smith © Rootlets
Barry Smith © Rootlets

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Razor's Edge and Choosing find a new home

Over recent months I have shared my work on a what I call post sculptures. Both sculptures, Razor's Edge and Choosing a Path, are very simple and spare - made from a solid block Huon Pine and rusted iron with no other embellishments. As indicated in the earlier blogs both pieces reference the concepts of choice and life journeys. The Huon Pine posts are 900mm high and 160mm square. You don't often get such big pieces of Huon Pine given that most of it has to be salvaged - even from partially burnt logs.
Barry Smith © Razor's Edge
Barry Smith © Choosing a Path
Denis, a friend and art lover-collector, told me as soon as he saw the pieces that he just had to have them. Initially I thought he was just interested and that would be that. However, he perused the matter and said he definitely wanted both works. So after a generous offer regarding price, the works are packed for their journey to Melbourne. Always gives me a buzz to know that pieces I love myself are going to 'homes' that I know. In a way  it is possible to maintain some link with the works. And of course great to sell work

Barry Smith © Choosing in the wrap
Barry Smith © A pair of parcelled pieces
Given that each piece is under 20kgs I should be able to send them through the post. They have many layers of art bubble wrap - heavy duty bubble wrap with an inner fibre lining. I had it stored away from the time Fiona and I moved from Canberra to Maleny almost 5 years ago.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

We have lift off

With the support and positive vibes of friends, both local and in the blogging world, the opening of the exhibition, Journeys, Places, Marks and Traces, went well.

Studio 4 Gallery is quite an intimate space but we managed to squeeze 25-30 people in  - though a little rotation was required. Jennifer hosted and opened the exhibition - thanks to her for giving us the opportunity to do this joint exhibition - and the food and bubbles.

Fiona and I were able to share how we approached the theme differently both from a medium, and message perspective - Fiona's a much more personal interpretation; and mine with an emphasis on creating physical and spiritual places.

Intimate and personal enough to be able to explain the meaning behind pieces.

Fellow artists (Kim and Jo) to celebrate with.

Always good to sell a few pieces on the night ( thanks to David, Tanya, Jo, Noela, Mark and Kim) - Jo and Noela with their purchases.

For those who want to have a look at the range of my work exhibited you can follow the link here; and you can check out Fiona's here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ready to rock and roll

The exhibition is set up and the official opening is on tomorrow night. In a first for Fiona and I we used our phones to make a wee video of a walk around the exhibition without people etc.

So if you want to take a short (3minute) stroll around Studio4 Gallery and check out the work then play the micro video below.

Sorry that it was all a bit shaky and the light was not great but I think it might give you a bit of an idea of how the exhibition looks. Fiona and I were pleased with the fact that our combined works filled this small gallery without cluttering it. Fiona is always keen to have 'air' around the works so that people can pause and appreciate each piece for itself.

If you turn the volume up you will hear ACDC music playing in the background - this was not intentional - one of the gallery owners was present while Fiona and I set up the work and just happened to be playing ACDC when I made the video - this seemed ok since I often listen to ACDC when I am creating stuff in the garage-studio. So may we rock and roll on Saturday.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quiet companions

On our recent trip to Bega to catch up with Ronnie and check out her exhibition in the Spiral Gallery we passed through a really small town called Nimmitabel. It is one of those towns that continues to exist because it provides a trip stop for travellers; and they have an excellent bakery. Fiona and I stopped for breakfast - great coffee and absolutely fresh bakery bits.

On our way back to Canberra we spotted the above  'tree' situated in a roadside spot  - not a park - just a spot near a farm fence.

The 'tree' has no sign to say why it is there or who created it - but the local magpies think it is not a bad roosting site - one dropped in to check out the immobile locals. Whilst we were there one of the local horses came to the fence and insisted that Fiona give it a bit of a scratch and pat.

I just love it when we discover these bits of art in the most surprising places - just makes you smile and makes one feel good to be part of the art community.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Packed and ready

Fiona and I are to set up our exhibition tomorrow morning so it has been full steam ahead since we returned from working in Alice Springs.

As you can see from the photo below there is a table full of goodies to go into the exhibition.

After working with Fiona to price sign and describe the pieces I packed them in readiness for the trip to the Gallery tomorrow morning. The pile doesn't look very big when you have it all wrapped and in boxes.

What I have not had time to do is tidy the garage and work bench. I think this is the worst state it has ever been in. Still the effort went into creation not tidiness. 

The photos above reminded me of a post that Art Propelled (Robyn) did recently on the models of artists' studios - in the main they were all messy - but creatively and colourfully so.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Almost finished on Friday

I have been finding bits and pieces of time to do a little more work on the the personal shrine that I am calling  Impermanence - a shrine for rust lovers. The thinking behind the work is that life holds no guarantees - we live in a state of flux and change. The rusting shrine could act to remind us that we need to live life each day, not postpone happiness, to find the joy in what is, and that nothing is permanent.

I basically wanted to make a piece that is untreated, unpolished and would continue to rust and break down over many years. In the process it would continue to create beautiful colours such as on the detail of the shrine.
Barry Smith © Impermanence - shrine for rust lovers - detail
This afternoon I did get two hours to get the piece within a grind or two of completion. The photos don't really do it justice as I snapped them quickly before showering to head off for bubbles with Mark and the gang to celebrate his 40th birthday.

Barry Smith © Impermanence - shrine for rust lovers
I have made an iron leaf and bowl for this piece.

Barry Smith © Impermanence - shrine for rust lovers - detail
There is no doubt this piece will only appeal to those who find beauty in rust. It is currently out in the rain 'curing' a little more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shrine of rust - work in progress

My last personal shrine for the exhibition at Studio 4 Gallery is a tribute to rust.

Friends of ours gave Fiona (and maybe me) 5 rusted  rectangles that were crying out for incorporation an art piece. I negotiated to use three of the rectangles on my tribute to rust shrine.

I wanted to create a long slender wall shrine that would be left out in the elements.

Barry Smith © Shrine to rust
This piece is 900mm long by 300mm wide. The shelf is riveted to the body - still haven't learnt to weld yet.
Barry Smith © Shrine to ruist
The offering bowl will be cut down rusted jelly mould. The leaf will be created from a piece of rusted iron.