Many things drive my love of art and influence my artwork. I’m excited by the power of colour and inspired by the rawness of urban living, its effect on landscape and connections to sub-culture.
Underlying this is my preference for a sustainable approach towards living and making art. For instance a preference for found objects, as used in my sculpture work. The philosophy of being resourceful and creating with what’s at hand, rather than going out to “consume” materials, actually informs and shapes the work. Those materials become a “collaborator” in the artwork.
My philosophy and preferences lend themselves to an urban undertone style, strongly apparent in my paintings and drawings.
A sense of place.
The theme behind this series of photos is ‘the urban and the everyday’. While shooting them I was looking to capture a feeling of abandonment, loneliness and isolation. The location of these photos is a glass factory now used for storage in Spotswood.
In this series of sculpture I was exploring the possibilities of found materials. My focus was on shapes and forms. The final series translates to many different things. They could be cityscapes or a comment on waste in our society. They are open to interpretation.
In this series of geometrical paintings , I am trying to evoke a joyous, happy, fun mood within the viewer. These paintings are not trying to be complicated and are just meant to be easy to look at. Paintings without the emotional baggage.
THE IAN POTTER MUSEUM OF ART
UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
Here there and everywhere
This exhibition is a survey of the work of Jenny Watson since 1980. Watson is a noted Australian and international artist. The paintings and drawings in this exhibition reflect her experience as an Australian artist living and working overseas in the seventies and eighties. Watson says in her notes, ‘one of the downsides to an international career is time away from home’
I think this is a theme, which is painfully expressed in Watson’s work, and my initial response was one of sadness.
On entering the gallery, the first work presented to the viewer is full of hope and anticipation. The young jenny is escaping the clipped hedges and brick veneer suburbs of Melbourne. It is bright simple painting with paved wall and green hedge, from behind which, the head of the artist can be seen. From then on, the paintings and drawings present the figure of Watson in her personal and psychological struggle with loneliness and isolation. The viewer is not standing with Watson looking out at the world, rather the viewer is watching and experiencing the artist’s personal suffering. Watson drinks, she is sick, she loves but she is almost always alone. The figure of the artist is crudely drawn and crudely painted, in a child like manner and a few of the paintings are covered in a fine delicate sparsely painted fabric, as if to remove her even further from her environment and from the viewer.
Jenny Watson is deeply involved in her own personal narrative; this is in fact an autobiographical exhibition. Watson presents only insignificant happenings and aspects of her international experience, and her sense of having lost her Australian identity. I think that for a viewer, Watson’s art is too narrowly concerned with her emotions and individual experiences. I found her art often absurd and jarring, as for example, the comical juxtaposition between the child like drawings depicting the death of her much loved horse ‘Trad’ and the horror of event. There is a jokiness here, which makes a viewer uneasy.
Watson’s art is emotional and vulnerable. She reveals details of her life overseas in a very honest way. The artist presents her struggle with herself and with her art. She movingly attempts to deconstruct not only her international status but also her efforts to cope with life away from family and friends. I found Jenny Watson’s art too self-centred and obsessed with her own feelings, and the exhibition sad and puzzling.
“People ask me, “Why are you so distrustful of authority figures?” to which I reply “Why are you not?!” exclaims Steve Cox as he talks about ‘ Art, Life and Censorship.’
Steve Cox was born in London the year 1958, and studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1978, which was the year of punk rock in Melbourne and London, a very meaningful time for Steve Cox the anarchist. He finished his postgraduate at VCA in 1981, and by 1982 had his first body of work, which he exhibited at Pinacotheca, Melbourne.
When traveling England in the late ‘80’s with his partner, they visited the Giant of Cerne Abbas, more recently known as “Rude Man”, an earth drawing in Dorset, maintained by volunteers. It is said that if a couple spends a night in the left testicle, they will have plentiful children. Cox and his partner just had a picnic in it.
While in London he observed and photographed the graffiti, and was particularly intrigued by the naïve drawings of penises on walls. This may have sparked his obsession with the display of male sexuality through his art, and his concern with the disappearance of the male nude in the gallery. Cox believes that heterosexual males have problems with erotic male images and so he explores them thoroughly.
When Cox was teaching in the Koori unit of RMIT he observed one of his student’s drawings in their notebook, it was a crude drawing of a naked male figure, which surprised and impressed him. When Cox approached the student about the drawing, hoping to keep the piece for himself, the student’s initial reaction was that he might be in trouble. On Cox’s insistence, the student gave him permission to draw his own copy of the work that he holds to this day.
As a gay artist Cox feels a ‘duty’ to create propaganda work. He explores the ideas within and around authority, homoeroticism, killing, rave culture, and much more, expressing feeling and opinion, and new means to conveying ideas through his art. It is quite possible that Steve Cox’s insights to human nature and life through art can be attributed to his adolescence spent in Dandenong, a suburb of middle- to lower- class Victoria.
Steve Cox was influenced by emotion, which is especially displayed through the works he developed during the break-up of his marriage; one example, his piece ‘Being King Cnut’, an anagram for ‘cunt’, which Cox explains everyone can be during a divorce.
His rave-culture series is one that intrigues me the most – he really captured the expressions on people’s faces when they were in drug-induced states of ecstasy. I am taken by the way he instills ‘the moment’ in his portraits where he really shows the character of a person. I find the way he paints to be exceptional and his technique through use of watercolours is magnificent in view of the colour he uses and the way he layers to create depth, even in such fine artwork.
His explorations of the unconscious stream of mind and his interest in strange, dreamlike connections intrigue me and I now find that negative ideas, and things that scare or overwhelm me, I can express within my own works, the same way that Steve Cox demonstrates.
Although zombie movies create an anxiety in Cox, he has produced artworks detailing killings (featured in his exhibition on children killing children), which may have been influenced by his experience of culture shock in Cairo in 1983, and of his knowledge of the Moors Murders in England. He also has an interest in boxing where he sees the ridiculousness of “two people beating the crap out of each other”.
Steve is interested in the accidental things that can happen when creating a painting and accordingly enjoys the idea behind the work of Francis Bacon, where chance and accident are part of the positive creation of work. An example of Steve’s personal experience with this is at a time of frustration, resulting in him throwing his painting like a Frisbee across the room. Weeks later Steve discovered the pleasing effect the painting had gained through the smudge created and new means of conveying ideas through his art.
Today, Steve continues to consolidate his art practice, and share his knowledge with willing students, and is a beacon for those who challenge orthodoxy by remaining true to a sense of who he is and what he believes in.
“Girl who escaped Moors Murderers.” Europe Intelligence Wire 31 Dec. 2005. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 6 June 2012. Retrieved from
This gallery contains 3 photos.