Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When people become memories

Yesterday was truly the craziest day I've had in a long time. I had a video interview, a photoshoot, another interview and a meeting with my gallerist. Then I had drinks after all that to farewell Joe off for the last time on his homeward bound adventure. By the time the evening rolled around my voice was reduced to a raspy almost nothing, yet was still going at 100 miles an hour - in conjunction with my thoughts.

I'm not too sure what compelled me to organise all these things on the one day, but come to think of it, it literally is because at the moment, there aren't enough hours in a single day. I swear I would have talked for 8 hours straight yesterday. Not usually my style.

When I finally met Joe the sun had well and truly set and I was ready for some fries and a beer. After a typically lovely but rather bittersweet evening, we parted ways for the last time on Gertrude Street outside our favourite bar. I walked back down in the direction of Smith Street, past Gertrude Contemporary, a place I will call home in a matter of months. I peered in the window as I went by, wishing I already had my key but knowing that waiting will make it even sweeter. I walked very tall and suddenly felt a sense of unfamiliar pride and self confidence surge through my body. It came about by knowing that someone else was proud of me, that a peer seemed to actually recognise and genuinely acknowledge without the patronising niceties, sweet nothings or tinges of resentment - how damn hard I've worked and how much I've accomplished because of it. They believed this still, despite me displaying my weaknesses, confessing my fears, letting my eyes well up in public. I wanted to walk with that feeling for a bit longer, because it could vanish before I even had a chance to remember it, so I continued a little further before hailing a cab home. I had my hands in the pockets of my leather jacket, and I wasn't happy and I wasn't sad. I was neutral, which is rare for me - calm, and I just let the subsequent grittiness and brilliance of my current situation wash over me. I sunk down in the back passenger seat of the taxi and looked out the window, trying to remember every scene I saw through the orange lit front window of suburban houses as I zoomed past. I thought about how hellos become goodbyes so quickly, before you can get your footing or a even a tentative grasp onto something solid - and maybe about how beautiful that is.

Me this morning before work (weird hand position is me holding my turtleneck)
'All I wanna do is ride bikes with you' page in my scrapbook - 29th July 2014
I also have one more thing to report on. I bought a black, wool turtleneck jumper. I haven't had it off since I bought it, and can I just say it's like changed my life. I am now a beatnik and speak only in beat poetry. I've been wearing it with my high waisted black jodhpurs and leopard print swing coat (in my last post) and feel so slick. I never wear black really, but doing it makes me feel like I'm part of some cool club I never had access to before. Wearing black makes me feel like I'm receding, and at the moment I'm in the mood to dress in the shadows. That's okay, my art can do the talking for me when I wanna hide. I love that :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

If we still have time we might still get by / every time I think about it I want to cry

New drawing for an illustration job
Sunglasses in winter 
New found photos
Heart stitching collage
Grinning my face off after Pamela
Tiny little peek of some new paintings
Neato and I by Heather Lighton 
New to me '60s Japanese swing coat and a book about mobiles!
I have been so productive these past few days. I have needed to be, though, because I have so much work to get through before my two exhibitions in early August. Last week was crazy busy with work in combination with social commitments. Wednesday night, Pamela performed as a part of Nite Art at the Ian Potter Museum. We were on at 10pm, which seemed horrifically late when I knew how much I had to do the next day... but I ended up getting into the spirit. There was no bar at the venue, which we all reeled about for probably longer than necessary. I met Georgie and Jon 'round the side on a picnic table and we had secret pre-performance beers together. We performed well, but it's always an odd crowd at art galleries, a mixture of people who know us and our schtick and people who don't.

Afterwards we went to get drinks at a very fancy and *private* bar called the Kelvin Club. It was rather strange, with ancient royal red carpet, low ceilings and oversized pool tables. I was exhausted and distracted, so it seemed like some sort of Twin Peaks dream world.

Thursday evening I was at The Alderman for drinks with Joe and his friends. I really had a good time but said one really overtly obnoxious thing that I regretted as soon as it left my lips, and then you like fixate on that and worry that those people you don't really know and are trying to make a good impression upon now think you're terrible. I was reassured multiple times which helped, but I just can't seemed to go too long without humiliating myself every once in a while. I guess it keeps me on my toes.

On the weekend, for once in my life, I was a little bummed that I had no night time plans. No place to go to get dressed up to or clutch onto a drink and laugh. I couldn't believe I was actually mildly disappointed that I didn't have any obligations to go anywhere in the evening. The only social thing I did on the weekend was on Saturday afternoon, where I went to Heather Lighton's house/studio to be photographed for an upcoming feature. I can honestly say it was the best experience I've had being photographed ever. Heather was a dream to work with, super professional and brilliant in giving direction, which is what I need - lest I have the exact same mildly sad expression for every photo. Anyway so I can't wait to share them! But I must! However I can show you the little outtake of me having a break with Heather's dog Neato ;) (Above!)

Saturday night, Sunday and Sunday night was work. Today was work. Tomorrow I have two interviews/photoshoots and a meeting in my studio, then, a fond farewell which I am equally looking forward to and dreading. Siiiiigh a thousand times!

Hope to be able to blog more this week. In the meantime I always am putting stuff up on Tumblr if you wanna follow me there too! and y'all know I am ALWAYS on Instagram... @minnagilligan


Monday, July 21, 2014

Dancing up a river in the dark

Thursday morning in the winter sun
New Kenzo slides and '60s printed board.
'What you don't see is better yet', 2014, collage.

Working on some illustrations!
Collage collage
Deadline mess
Trying to keep warm in my studio
Beautiful Ella in the bathroom. I saw the IRL Ella in there too!
Glam selfie post gig - a glalfie?
Instagram photo of a new work in progress 
At 23 years old, I've finally come to a point where I'm truly enjoying and even wanting to socialize. Instead of letting weekends pass by uninterrupted with the presence of someone not related to me by blood, I'm making plans to go out. I want to go out. I even almost look forward to and get excited to go out. This is very, very unusual for me and is totally at odds with how I know how to navigate life. I feel like I'm sort of flying the nest a little and widening my circles. I am so happy because this is what I wanted to happen this year, and it has, and I'm not even forcing it anymore.

While trying to wrap my head around this hopefully permanent change of heart, I'm learning so much. I've learnt so much more about PEOPLE, their little eccentricities, a part of me newly understands why everyone places so much importance on friendships, relationships and closeness - because it's amazing. It's not like I've been housebound up until now - I did used to go out and have friends whom I loved and still love - but I just feel so much more compelled to organize drinks with someone, to just have company. Instead of wanting to go home after work, I want to go and hang out with someone. This really is a remarkable shift for me.

I think a part of this is that my little niggling anxieties about staying out after a certain time or not knowing how I'd get home or if I'd have a good time or say the right things, have faded. I think this is inadvertently through hanging out with a certain person I've met recently. With them I don't worry about what time it is. I don't even think about time, or distance, or logistics. I'm just having fun. And I've never been able to truly have fun without niggling worries before. It's the wildest most uninhibited experience I've ever had, even if it only lasts for an evening, or a few hours - it's bliss. I guess that's youth. It's strange that I've had to grow into it.

I can't believe I've maintained the social life I have lately with the amount of work I've been doing. It's kind of like I'm bouncing off these social interactions back to making work, and vice versa - each way feeling more compelled towards the other. Nothing is more inspiring for making art like company. On Friday night after work I went out with my dear friend Brodie to dinner at a fancy place on Flinders Lane, and then to Ella Hooper's gig at Shebeen. It was a really nice night, I met a couple of new people, but mainly got to spend time with Brodie, telling her all my woes and vice versa, then laughing about the ridiculousness of our respective situations. She's the best person to talk to to put things in perspective. I got home late but stayed up later just thinking about stuff, spending some one on one time with this new part of myself.

I was out again on Saturday night hanging out with someone whose time here is quickly running out. They are leaving for a long stint overseas in August. I've realised that it is possible to feel highs and lows at precisely the same moment, and that the irony entwining those feelings together is what makes it so vexingly beautiful. My friend Georgia said two words to me in a text message on Saturday afternoon as we were discussing our respective plans for the evening: "Have fun." I'm going to be a little bit careful, keep my fragile little heart in the back of my mind, but in the meantime that's pretty much what I plan to do.

Fun + work... I can't forget to do work. But I also can't forget that I'm young, and that these are the things I've felt I should be doing for years, while I happily did the opposite - sitting at home alone drawing, blogging or writing in my journal, planning and scheming my career trajectories, dreams and goals. I don't want to live so much in my head anymore. It's too hard, too cold and lonely. While I do credit my time spend lonely and indoors, working on my "shhhh.." as what has gotten me to where I am now in regards to my work and practice, you have to make sure that it's not the only thing you're putting first. I've always known I can have it all, but it's a helluva lot easier when you want it all.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The night is a starry dome

I think the phrase most uttered in my head is "oh dear", particularly lately as I navigate some rather treacherous emotional territory. After relaying and justifying my thought processes not once but three times to different parties, I have come to a conclusion to not come to a conclusion, and to ah, "go with my heart", or as I so eloquently put it a couple of posts ago "go with your gut" an easier said than done  idea that so many people have put forth to me over the past few days.

It seems all well and good, but lately I've learnt a lot about myself and the way I do things, that is - I am a stickler for being sensible and making the most rational and thought-out decisions that result in the best possible outcome for myself and my rather sensitive emotional state. I am in control of every single aspect of my career and practice, and the one thing I can't totally wrap my arms around and shake some sense into is causing me much grief and frustration. I can't control how I feel.

This is a good thing. Not only does it reiterate that I am human, but I do need to experience some elements of going with the flow, lest I never experience anything worthwhile or wonderfully heart-wrenching ever again. I don't want to spend my existence wondering "what if?" when I can do something slightly against my better judgement, deal with the consequences afterwards, then learn and move on from the experience. I'm not advocating for taking risks, as all my decisions to "go with the flow" have been made in very controlled circumstances... I guess it's more about not letting your common sense dictate every. single. move. you. make - especially in emotional circumstances. Those are the circumstances in which you are supposed to be so enraptured by feelings of the heart/gut that your head is silenced, and the most passionate, heartfelt exchanges seem to be born there.

It takes a lot for my head to be silenced, so I have to consciously do it. I did it this weekend. And I don't regret it. Even if I did regret it, I'd prefer to regret something than be wishing, hoping and wondering. I've never been able to substantiate that frame of mind before, but I guess it's about me wanting to collect new experiences and learn from them. I wouldn't trade whispered sweet nothings on the black leather couch at a dark, elegant, velvet curtained bar on Gertrude Street for anything, especially not sitting at home alone. Of late I've felt much more open to being in company, to socialising. This is a big change for me. I've realised that people are very important beings to have in your life.

As I sat on the train for the millionth hour on the weekend, I was reminded of Tavi's five-year blog anniversary blog post, where she divulges that she records moments of what she refers to as 'Strange Magic' in her journal:

"I keep a list in the back of one of my journals called "Moments of Strange Magic." It contains events that were either (a) just really, really happy (jumping around to Beyoncé with friends) or (b) aesthetically cohesive and perfect and synesthetic (driving through the desert in a blue convertible to Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang" past a bunch of neon-sign motels and trailer parks). Each event is marked with a symbol indicating whether it took place in real life, a movie/TV show/book, or my imagination. Examples of some imagined (b) ones would be: sweaty teens in shiny pastels dancing in unison at a wood-paneled, tinsel-covered community-center room to "Snowqueen of Texas" by the Mamas and the Papas; a view from the side of a guy walking down a school hallway to Frank Ocean's "Forrest Gump," passing lockers painted in the 1970s and a ton of muted, rowdy students; a girl submerging her head into a tub of red hair dye to the chorus of St. Vincent's "Cheerleader."

Where do these episodes come from? A past life? An innate discontentment with everything life already offers, combined with a form of voluntary synesthesia developed from an adolescence of perpetual loneliness manifesting itself in movie marathons and an inconvenient impulse to pay attention to every visual and auditory detail of every situation as an escape from the social interaction at hand?"

I remember reading the entirety of this truly exceptional piece of writing (read it already!) and realising that my own moments of strange magic were the impetus for every artwork I've ever made, equal parts reality and projected cinematic fantasy - composites of everything I've ever experienced and everything I've ever imagined.

Back to me being on the train this weekend, where I found myself hurriedly typing sweet words recently exchanged and pennants of wisdom that for some reason stood tall from others over the years, in the notes section my phone - lest I lose them - and yet it seemed so frustratingly futile. The strange magic was diluted, it seemed like a hypnagogic dream. The more I tried to replay these now mere memories accurately in my head, the more they slipped through my cupped hands like sand. I realised strange magic can't be held, which I guess is why I make artwork - to try to grasp and bottle even a single grain of the slippery strange magic. Of course, the very action of bottling that grain erases the very traits that make it special. I feel like a lot of things in life share the same frustratingly elusive characteristics.

Last night I caught up with my friend Georgia, and we headed to an exhibition opening at Daine Singer. We then went to what is fast becoming our regular haunt - Hell's Kitchen, and had a couple of drinks. It was really nice. We headed home rather early and I walked home bathed under the eerily bright light of the super moon. I was so enraptured with the sight that I was walking without looking where I was going and, yes, I tripped over. Luckily it was dark and where I live is totally deserted as soon as dinner is on the table, so no-one saw, but it certainly made the situation immediately less cinematic...

Things I bought at Savers today including the fabric underneath which is amazing! 
Drowning in collage pieces on my bed argh
Dress at Savers 
Stained daisy dress at Savers
I wished this book had more pictures of eyes in it

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

There's a place for us

Me being angsty when I got home on Saturday night
Nanna blankets at Savers on Sunday
Can't beat that font
This was just weird
Really dirty pink chair that I actually wanted
Some patches I bought from Spotlight
Vintage shop purchases from Tuesday
Top that I was going to buy but didn't and wish I did
Lately is unexpected feelings of fondness, clumsily sweet company, absence and presence, invisible arms, mushed up hearts, lunching well into the evening, leafing through book after book after book after book until darkness has well and truly settled, and yet I have SO. MUCH. TO. DO.

Today I had a meeting with Daine Singer my gallerist/pal/dealer (I never know what you're supposed to call the person who runs the gallery that you're represented at!) and some other *VIPs* for an upcoming project in August. I have been invited to run the children's space at this year's Melbourne Art Fair. This is a huge deal! And it's an even huger deal because it happens to be on at exactly the same time as my other exhibition 'Almost Forever' at The Windsor Hotel as a part of Spring 1883. August is going to be maddeningly busy. I guess if it's any consolation, the two shows are literally two minutes down the road from each other, so I can run like a crazy sped-up cartoon character between each space, and you guys can *make a day of it* and see both shows side by side at your own leisurely pace! Ha ha. The dates of both of the exhibitions are 13 August - 17 August and I will no doubt be talking more about them on here, so you've no hope of forgetting!...

On the weekend I went out to a party with Annabelle and I was kind of grumpy but still laughed a bit mainly at ourselves because we stood in a corner for the majority of the time, until a bit of a dance floor started and we danced briefly before running home amidst the rain into our respective taxis/trams. I was glad I went out, and didn't sit at home cutting out pictures from books and watching episode after episode of Doug - that 1990s TV show that's kind of reminiscent of The Wonder Years in the way that it is narrated by the sensitive crush-addled young boy... I've been working on lots of collage lately, and I'm finding it really enjoyable. I haven't done any proper collage in ages. Every night I've been getting home from work, preparing dinner and getting back to work. I've been working until late at night, too, which is unusual for me. I guess I know I really need to pull my socks up and make stuff, otherwise I'm going to find myself very unprepared in a few weeks time!

Yesterday I caught up with my friends Georgie, Cheralyn and Sophia at our regular haunt on Smith Street. It was so good and just like old times but also new times because we were talking about different stuff and the sun was in my eyes which was kind of nice because it was winter sun which reminded me of sitting in the exact same spot in summer that seemed to long ago because of the stuff we were talking about then seemed so faint and far far away. You know!

Then we went to the Op Shops and Vintage shops and I got a couple of things because I'd just gotten paid and I couldn't resist... I was also *rewarding myself* because three of my works were purchased by the National Gallery of AUSTRALIA, for their collection, which is a fact that I am very proud of.
These are the works that now belong to the National Gallery. I can't wait until they curate them into an exhibition or just randomly decide to put them out on display. Heart swelling with dreams that have come true!

: )

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Days are gone

I have a rather terrible affliction and I know I'm not the only one. I may just be the first to admit it in such a public forum.

My career is going great guns, especially this week, when something that I mentioned all the way back in March, has finally come into fruition. While I could now probably reveal the details of this project, I'm going to wait until I've signed on the dotted line, just to be sure. I also have three solo exhibitions coming up in the space of two months, and yet, all I can think about and talk about, are boys.

I know people who share my affliction, they're the smartest, most interesting, well-educated and successful people I know, and yet, when we get together, the most pressing issues are those surrounding our various romantic pursuits. I don't think there is anything wrong with this. I love listening and love having someone to listen to me go on and on, but I do find it interesting that out of all the other things that we're dominating in in our lives, we choose to talk about the one thing we're not dominating in. The one thing we don't understand, the one thing we can't just work hard at and conquer, you know? Matters of the heart are so tiresome and impossible sometimes!

Last night after rather dramatically descending the escalator at Parliament station to go home after a few drinks at an amazing bar which played Sam Cooke and felt like something out of Midnight in Paris (even though I know that film is set in the '20s and Sam Cooke was not releasing music then), I had a thought that I couldn't shake. Is it worse to wish you did something, or to wish you didn't do something? I could not for the life of me decide. To protect yourself, or to throw yourself into a situation you know you can't control, and most likely won't end well. It's boggling my mind! It's like, both sides have equal pros and cons, so how can you possibly make a decision! I suppose the answer is to do what feels right, because when the head literally can't make a decision, you turn to the heart. I've told you heaps about my struggles with those guys before. I don't know why I'm only feeling this now. I've never dealt with it before now.

I'm going to a party tonight with my friend Annabelle. I'm going to wear my new Acne leather jacket. I love it so much, and it makes me feel like a Kate Nash bad ass bitch from hell. In it I feel like I can do pretty much anything I want to.

Here's a new work I made for my upcoming show 'Almost Forever' at the Windsor.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Girlfriend, our life is one of lights and shadows

Today I knew I had to venture into the city and experience some hustle and bustle, lest I disappear completely into the murky depths of my own mind and the strange, foreign place that I live, and, before I start painting on myself rather than a canvas. In light of trying to be positive I planned to go and see the David McDiarmid exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, buy art supplies (If I have to buy anymore art supplies I will legitimately go bankrupt), and meet up with two friends - Brodie for lunch and Louis for a quick pow wow and a juice.

It was really good for me to get away from my paintings, even if I should have probably been forcing something out today, at the moment I just am not feeling my current studio/bedroom situation. Just to clarify, I do have a studio in Collingwood, but because the works I'm making are so big and in great numbers, I need more space than what I have in there. It's rather ridiculous because my bedroom space is already filled with a cornucopia of junk as it, without it being a studio. In fact let's be real my life is filled with a cornucopia of junk. Today at Daiso I bought a battery operated lint remover. It's going well.

Over the past few days I have tried to make a giant pillow in the shape of a hand. Tried, and failed. I've sewn it and stuffed it and it's sitting against a big canvas looking at me as I sit in my bed and looks like a flaccid, mangled monster and it's creeping me out. I don't know if I can resurrect it into something normal looking/not nightmare inducing.

I think when a little down and out, or even just a bit stale, long hours of thinking and making art is not always progressive in terms of positive thinking, and sometimes you need to throw in the towel, or paintbrush, in this case, and talk to people and eat stuff and laugh. That's why I wanted to go out and not do much work today. The David McDiarmid exhibition was just what I needed. It was absolutely brilliant. The first room was my favourite, which housed some amazing correspondence between David and his friends, typewritten letters, drawings from sketchbooks, etc etc. I love junk like that and I can only hope that all my ephemera hoarding and sentimental bric-a-brac can have a place in a similar exhibition one day and give someone else a similar feeling, after I'm long gone.

Here are some pictures, it's getting late and I wanted to write more but I'm too tired.

I was particularly enamored with this text piece.
And this is what I wore - sans the Barbie case (I got it on the weekend at the Camberwell market) I just don't think it's super practical... ha.

Till next time!