Turning Japanese …

Since our previous trip in 2015 was cut short, we have been planning to get back to the crazy/sane, beautiful/ugly, elegant/kitschy, techno/rustic conundrum that is Japan. So we finally got back there this winter (hot summer over there) and loved it all over again. This time we travelled from Hokkaido down to Tokyo by train over 4 weeks. You can read the story here: http://belinda-ann.blogspot.com.au, and see the slideshow here:

Stay tuned for some Sacred/Profane Japan mashups 🙂

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In with the in crowd

Sacred/Profane Triptych

Producing visual art is a satisfying and addictive activity, but sharing it with the world and trying to cut through all the visual noise out there is an exercise in frustration. This inevitably cultivates festering self-doubt – ‘why would people want to see this stuff?’, ‘why should I add to all the visual rubbish in the world?’ and ‘isn’t this just an insanely narcissistic exercise?’. But those times when your work is judged to be included in competitive exhibitions feel like some kind of vindication.

A roundabout way of saying how very happy I am that my work Sacred/Profane Triptych has been selected for inclusion in the upcoming biennial Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award. My friends and fans will know that this work was shown quite recently in my exhibition Palimpsest, so it may look familiar.

The Hazelhurst Gallery and Arts Centre has provided great support for my work since it opened in 2000, particularly through the opportunity it provides for local artists to exhibit in the Community Gallery, now renamed the Broadhurst Gallery. It’s a really lovely art space with a great cafe and garden, so please do come and visit the show, from Friday May 19 to Sunday 16 July.

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the blink of an eye

Belinda with works from ‘Sacred/Profane’ in the Palimpsest exhibition.

Proposing, designing, producing and hanging an art exhibition is a fraught and lengthy process. It always seems so crazy that the eventual show seems to be over in the blink of an eye. Two weeks is not long to present work that has been over three years in development. But of course it is part of a lifelong process of producing creative work and, occasionally, showing it to others in the brief opportunities that are available.
But artists today are fortunate, in that images of both the work, and of those rare exhibitions, can be shownto the world on the internet.

So – for the several billion people who did not catch Palimpsest, with my partner, Christopher Lawrie, in February this year – here’s the slideshow (click slideshow button at top right of the flickr page to start the show).

We were thrilled that our old friend and fellow Adelaidean Phil Cam (aka Dr Philip Cam, Chair of the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations and Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Humanities UNSW) gave a wonderful, thought-provoking talk to launch the show. It provides an excellent framing of the theme and guide to interpret the work.
Read the transcript here.

Belinda with some work from ‘Sacred/Profane’
Chris with video work – ‘Hazratbal: Majestic Place’, and accompanying prints

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On this day …

It’s Australia Day, or Invasion Day, depending on your perspective. My photographic series, ‘Plenty’, is currently showing at Hazelhurst Gallery in Gymea as part of the ‘Palimpsest’ exhibition.

Indigenous people lived for millennia in a way that was sustainable, but in the eyes of early settlers they were ‘uncivilised’. In this series, panoramas of Australian landscapes affected in various ways by European settlement are overlaid on encyclopaedia pages pronouncing on the history and culture of Australian indigenous people.

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Palimpsest – exhibition at Hazelhurst Gallery

In Arcadia – Endormie 2 (Archival inkjet print)

Together with Christopher Lawrie, I’ve put together images from travels in Australia, Europe and beyond to create this new series of work about to be unleashed!  My work comprises photo-collages and compositions, Chris’s is video, print and installation. After all the work, it’s only on for a couple of weeks – but Hazelhurst is a lovely gallery and has a great cafe, so we hope lots of our friends will get to see it.

About the show
Some work from the show
Gallery link

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The grand tour …

At Palais du Papes, Avignon
At Palais du Papes, Avignon

… well, grand-ish.
In June Chris and I made a journey to England (to visit his brother Bob), Wales (where I spent childhood holidays), France (re-visiting Provence) and Italy (re-visiting Umbria).

Of course a thousand photographs ensued, and here is a selection. They have been waiting weeks for me to edit and caption them, and maybe I will do that soon, but in the meantime …
You can read about the trip in my travel blog.

These images, as well as some from previous travels in Japan and Australia are inspiring my current project.

Hong Kong
UK: London, Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia (Wales), Solihull and Birmingham (Midlands).
France: Orange, Avignon and Uzes (Provence), Nice.
Italy: Milan, Perugia and Montefalco (Umbria), Rome.

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Life and work in progress

It’s been quite a year, with some life/death experiences that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but … all part of real loving, feeling, hurting life.

Now, at last to my creative life! Some recent work being developed for a proposed exhibition has me hunting through images from travelling done over the last year – see my galleries for the Grampians, Japan and Europe.

Here are a few samples of new compositions:

Sacred/profane – Avignon/Uzes (Europe)

Plenty – Natimuk (Grampians)

Wabi Sabi Hiroshima (Japan)

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National works on paper

The Timeless Land - Wentworth redgum
The Timeless Land – Wentworth (print on vintage book pages)

National Works On Paper at Mornington Peninsula Regional Art Gallery  is “one of Australia’s most prestigious awards and acquisitive exhibitions” for art created on or with paper.

It’s a total privilege to have my work The Timeless Land/Wentworth (from my series The Timeless Land) selected for the show this year.  The exhibition opens on July 16, and is open Tues-Sun until September 11.

See images and read more about The Timeless Land series

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A pilgrimage

Taylor’s Lake, Grampians, Victoria.

In late November I reluctantly abandoned my convalescing husband, and travelled to Adelaide to visit my Mum and rest of the family in commemoration of my late sister Kate’s 40th birthday. Mum and I enjoyed a long-planned trip to visit the Grampians in Victoria – staying in Mt. Zero, a location where she and Kate had stayed many years ago. In spite of some wild and windy weather we had a poignant time revisiting the places she had been with Kate. Here is a record of the trip, including some images taken in another of Kate’s favourite places, the Belair National Park.

We visited several lakes in the area – Lake Lonsdale, Lake Natimuk, and Taylor’s Lake. The last was the only one with any water, in spite of the promises of tourism websites. The last day of our stay had wild 35º winds and dust storms, and the effect of prolonged drought upon agricultural (wheat cultivation) areas such as the Wimmera was clear. Water management and environmental conservation is a critical issue in Australia, particularly for regional areas, yet it does not often appear in the headlines of our media.

I love to get into rural Australia and get a feeling of the ‘real’ country, away from our comfortable urban fringe. Here’s a gorgeous country store in Dimboola, selling all kinds of crafts, cakes, jams, plants, second-hand books and remaindered stock of toiletries – a school fete all in one shop 🙂

Mum is buying a cake for our dinner; check out the guy in top hat and steampunk goggles 🙂

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Pagan prayer rug

Pagan prayer rug Hand knotted woollen rug, 220 x 150 cm (Manufactured by Bespoke Rugs, design and specifications by Belinda Allen) 
Pagan prayer rug
Hand knotted woollen rug, 220 x 150 cm
(Manufactured by Bespoke Rugs, design and specifications by Belinda Allen)

This is a plan I have had for years – to have one of my tree mandalas made into a bespoke rug. It is not an inexpensive exercise, but finally, after much to-ing and fro-ing regarding design and colours, I ordered my rug to be made. Five months later here it is – in hand knotted NZ wool. The result somewhat surprised me – it has lost some fine detail, and the colours overall slightly lighter than I anticipated, but most of all – it looks handmade. I love that from a perfectly symmetrical digital image, the effects of human interpretation and fabrication have emerged. It is luxuriously soft and comfortable to lie on, and, as it is in our bedroom, it is the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night.
I have dubbed it my Pagan prayer rug, and some rules on how to use the rug are emerging:

Instructions for use:

  1. Take off shoes, stand on rug.
  2. Dance on rug.
  3. Take off clothes, lie on rug.
  4. Make love on rug.

Preferably locate the rug in a natural environment: garden or forest.

OK, I haven’t done #4 yet.

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art & photography