Entries from October 2009 ↓

Morandi @ Hely

It’s The Week of the Vessel on Iconophilia. The most intense expression of this theme is to be found at Patsy Hely’s exhibition “around & about” at Helen Maxwell Gallery in Braddon, Canberra. Not only does Hely make exquisite cast and surformed porcelain vessels, she then uses them as the support for her elegant and engaging genre paintings (in under & overglaze colours). The forms, colours, and translucent materials of her objects/images cohere in a beautifully distinctive way. Hely records her subjects like a visual diary – the images that catch her eye from a wide range of sources and experiences find their way onto her evolving vessel repertoire.


But it was this example Jug: Gwynn Hanssen Piggott, 2009 which particularly caught your Iconophile’s eye: here Hely renders Morandi via Gwynn Hanssen Piggott. And hey presto! in Hely’s work the origins of all this homage action comes full circle: only now are the still lifes of crowded vessels rendered on the surface of a vessel. Hely’s impressions on a twin-lipped jug comes fresh from viewing GHP’s exhibition at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery, which I reported in The Not Morandi Effect

plasticity, style, function


The specific function of a watering-can seems to have stimulated designers to stretch the limits of plasticity. But how does it feel to water your plants with an award-winning icon? Especially one made of extruded plastic? Dutch-born Monika Mulder‘s award winning Vallö (2001) (above) is currently part of Democratic Design: IKEA at the International Design Museum in Munich.


The great Danish designer Erik Lehmann Hansen seems to have seen the humble watering can as an excuse for a playful exercise in style, echoing the geometric purism of his predecessors. But somehow he has exaggerated those characteristics to produce a postmodern object which seems to make fun of its origins: part oil-can, part Constructivism. I haven’t been able to discover the date for Lehmann’s watering can (Rosti #5173), but Lehmann was Rosti’s chief designer from the mid-70s. Although most of his classic designs were cast in melamine, his watering can is extruded silver thermo-plastic.

If the too-much-plastic thing is worrying all you 21st century readers, now check out this nifty award-winning recycliste design by French-born Swiss designer Nicolas Le Moigne seen here at designboom… His minimal use of plastic, part-recycled, maximises functionality, minimises consumption.


Trick or Treat: Canberra’s “Latin American Quarter”


…how many April firsts do we have this year? How many Halloweens? The CT’s report last Sunday claims the Chief Minister chose this $90,000 beauty himself to enhance the “Latin American Quarter” which is, apparently, at the corner of Childers and Rudd Streets, to the west of Civic. Even the artist admits “it’s a tongue in cheek” work… And according to the lucky artist, our CM is demonstrating “just how pro-active Jon Stanhope has been”. He would, wouldn’t he? He’s probably already been paid once for the Sydney gig, and he’s already working on a commission across the Lake (we specialise in multiple commissions in this town). It’s a revealing article. Being unaware of a Latin American Quarter so close to his place of work, your Iconophile investigated the address as he drove home. He can now assure you the Quarter will be enhanced by many thousand percent by the addition of this symbol of public taste. Coming off a very low base. See the 360 degree view below to experience the compelling virtual ambience of The Quarter.

a pseudo-Christo in the day-for-night


Yes your Iconophile is suffering aesthetic delusions. Last week it was the ghost of Jawlensky, this week it’s a premonition of a Christo. But when Sailor barked at the Dabro newd nearby, your Iconophile came back to reality. Good dog Sailor! Clearly we’re all being driven barking mad by the awesome mediocity of art in the public domain… John Kaldor, where were you when Canberra needed you most?

Day for night? Sailor also sniffs out Truffaut

Tatzu Nishi via John Kaldor

Well as it happens, John Kaldor has been busy outside the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Here you will find two blue boxes which at first glance look as if the two equestrian sculptures by Gilbert Bayes (1923) are undergoing conservation.


But no, these are works by the latest John Kaldor sponsored artist Tatzu Nishi (aka Tazro Niscino, Tatsuro Bashi, Tatzu Oozu), who has created a living room and bedroom which accommodate both details of the The offerings of peace,


and the whole of The offerings of war trampling a double double bed. Bravo! Scooped up by roslynoxley9 where you’ll see his drawings…


garden living


…has emerged as the theme of the week. See more of this slinky holiday house in a forest in Japan by Kotaro Ide in the article on designboom. Go to the Kotaro Ide ARTechnic site for some real mouse sex. Yet the sadsack sceptic inside The Iconophile thinks: desire objects sure, but maybe we over-fetishize the playpens of the super-rich? PS make sure you can’t find your credit card when you go to <shop> in designboom…

But then, if your forest is only one tree, you can still wrap both your shop and your house around it. Yesterday Kevin Miller returned from Japan with this charming vernacular analogue he found in downtown Harajuku, Tokyo (near Yoyogi Park)!


Or if you want to see some really quirky Japanese architecture: see Terunobu Fujimore’s teahouse-in-a-tree and other houses…

nature’s garden/nature’s residents


It’s true! Those Masters of Disguise, the Tawny Frogmouth, do return to nest on the same branch in the same tree each year. Last October this pair produced three nestlings – although whether they survived the marauding Currawongs is an open question. Let’s hope they left the nest after dark… In windy weather they sit like a weathervane – beak to the wind!

This nest is two thirds up Mt Ainslie – due west of the track – 55 m below the Eora Creek plaque – follow the three-stick-and-rock pointer below!


gallery/garden, garden/gallery


See what the new Barnes Foundation Museum plans look like, and drool… The proposed building is designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects – but visit their underwhelmingly cool site for a dose of reality. More story with the image above on ArtDaily

wet meets dry: old and new photography in Herat


Business is slow. There are no tourists in Herat.


Street photographers still use the darkroom-in-a-camera negative-to-positive technology.


The negative is exposed on paper, developed inside the camera, then rephotographed and redeveloped to get the positive.


Everybody seems happy with the deal. Except the opposition across the street?


Lost Jawlensky discovered in Canberra


On Wednesday night the Canberra audience for the premiere of the movie Julie & Julia were transfixed by the appearance of a rare three dimensional self portrait attributed to the great Russian/German modernist Alexej von Jawlensky. No sooner discovered than lost again to the mysteries of art history, alas… See for yourself.