Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bella Donna

To sum it all up:

Image taken by Carolyn West of me amongst my work at the Windsor hotel as a part of Spring 1883.
I have been delaying writing this post because I don't think anything I write could do justice to how busy and brilliant the past week has been. Truly. I'm on such a high and the image of me jumping on the bed is just the perfect summary of it all. Gosh.

This exact time last week I was putting the finishing touches on my installation 'Almost Forever' at The Windsor Hotel as a part of Spring 1883. That day, I'd risen at 5.30am and headed into the exhibition building loaded up with all my work, a bunch of plants, pots and a high visibility vest (so fashion) to install my work for the Melbourne Art Fair. I didn't quite believe I could do two major installs in one day, but I did. I was so proud of myself. However, I couldn't have done it without the help of my Dad, Daine, Jordi and Ben.

Early morning Art Fair install on Tuesday with Jordi
A very tired me beginning install at the Windsor for Spring 1883
Wednesday was a day for very last minute adjustments, and a bit of racing about waiting for a late delivery at the Melbourne Art Fair, an odd lunch alone across the road from the Exhibition building, a very busy Spring 1883 VIP preview at the Windsor in the afternoon, getting changed into my Kenzo jumpsuit in the toilets ready for the opening night at the Art Fair - Vernissage.

The Kenzo jumpsuit yahoo!

Vernissage was lots of fun, I really had a great time and was beaming all night. I thought I would be incredibly stressed but even before any champagne I was far more relaxed than I thought I would be. I think because before the week begun I'd instilled the "pace yourself/stay calm" mantra in my mind and it actually worked. My Mum, Dad and Aunty came along and I was really glad to have them there - I think they all had a great time, too! I felt no pressure to spend time with any one person, I floated about with different people the entire night, many of my friends were there and if I was alone at any point I always had my stand to go back to with my buddies Laura and Ben working there. The Vernissage ended at 10pm and I went to the after party at The Carlton Club briefly with friends Laura, Amelia and Zoe. We were joking that maybe there'd be a tab on the bar and I was very definite that there would not be, we'd already had free Chandon all night at the Vernissage... but when we went to the bar our drinks were indeed free and it was a brilliant yet shocking realization! This was in stark contrast to the usual art events we all attended and it was quite the novelty.

Mum and I at Vernissage in front of my work
Thursday morning was a very civilized 'Champagne Breakfast' at the Windsor for Spring 1883! I wore the most amazing Tsumori Chisato bubble sleeved top that I bought off Ebay - I don't have a picture of it on but I'll get one soon. It is so so elegant and I absolutely love it. It's black and white so I felt very sophisticated - perfect for a morning of pastry eating and listening to a harp player in the Grand Ballroom of the Windsor hotel. After that, I went to the Art Fair to spend time at my stand. That evening I was looking forward to my second night out in a row - to Loop Bar for the Spring 1883 Artist Party. I invited some of my friends so it was going to be good fun! Georgie (who was also working at the Art Fair!) and I left together to meet friends for dinner and have another celebratory champagne! After we all had something to eat (I had pizza yum!) Daine texted me and told me they were still at the Windsor in the Neon Parc suite, and for us all to meet her there. That was very glamorous with people mixing us negronis (too strong for me!) and music. I then had the grand idea to show my friends my installation in our room before we went to Loop bar - so I put on the Lava lamps and some Barry White and we lay about on the bed and danced and drank champagne from the mini hotel fridge. It was great to have my close friends there, I was glad we made that detour.

Loop Bar was so, so much fun. I thought I'd be collapsing from exhaustion, but when we got there Darren Sylvester was just starting his DJ set, and I danced from the minute I arrived to the minute I left. I had an absolute ball. So many people who make me happy were there on the dancefloor. It was all I wanted. Daine was buying Georgie and I light beers so we'd "last longer!" and I felt so grateful for the people in my life who are looking out for me. It felt so lovely.

I caught a cab home alone for the second night in a row and didn't even care about the cost or the time, I was just feeling so elated. I couldn't believe that I didn't feel tired.

Friday morning, though, that tiredness hit me like a freight train. I dragged myself out of bed and couldn't be bothered washing my hair or coming up with an exciting outfit. I was meeting my Nanna in the city to take her to see the Art Fair, so that was pretty low maintenance and luckily I didn't need to look too glamorous! I loved taking my Nanna around and showing her my work, getting her in for free and taking her to get a coffee and stuff. It was really nice. My family are my biggest supporters, every single person in my family made the effort to come and see me and my work over the duration of the fairs. It meant so much to me.

Friday morning with my LOVE badge ;)
Saturday I had a photo shoot with Carolyn West at my Spring 1883 room. I was absolutely stoked with the results. I came up with the outfits and Carolyn worked her magic behind the camera. I had such a fun time and felt really relaxed in front of the camera. You can view all the photos here on Carolyn's blog! http://young-limbs.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/almost-forever-by-minna-gilligan.html
After that, another Melbourne Art Fair afternoon loomed - they also took my photo that day looking rather unenthused:

Saturday night I was invited to yet another party, but just could not bring myself to make an appearance. I'd already begun to lose my voice after talking literally non-stop for the week, and I felt my introvert self had really made a monumental effort so far and I caught the train home when the fair closed at 6pm. The last day was looming and I couldn't quite believe it - the last day looming also meant that deinstall was looming, which I was rather dreading!

Sunday also meant that my family was coming to visit, including my beautiful little twin cousins! I went and met them at the front ticket booth and they were so beyond excited, running from wall to wall and pointing at things and tearing ahead to get to my stand first. It was such a lovely feeling to have them there participating. My other Nanna also came with my Mum and Dad - here is a photo of her and I:

As the day came to an end and my family had gone, I was physically flagging. I went and hid in the bathroom for a few minutes and just closed my eyes and tried to relax and breathe. There I thought about how well I'd done over the duration of both fairs - I'd achieved the almost impossible - producing work for and exhibiting two major installations at exactly the same time. I told myself that all I had to get through now was deinstall - the easiest part. Before those few minutes in the bathroom I didn't think I could do deinstall that evening. After I had composed myself, patted myself on the back and said "GOOD JOB" and walked back out, I knew I could. After all, I'd gotten this far!

At 5pm, when the loudspeaker came over "The fair is now closed, I repeat, the fair is now closed" Laura, Ben and I began ripping down the wonderful work that the participants had made over the duration of the project.

Ben started carting the plants down stairs (I couldn't bear the thought of doing that again - neither could my aching arms and legs!) and we took down the fabric prints. It was once again an empty space and seemed like such a dream - it disappeared so quickly I begun to wonder if any of it even happened!

It was about 7pm when Ben and I headed to the Windsor to begin deinstall there. As I we wound our way for the last time through the grand Wes Anderson/The Shining-esque corridors of the fourth floor I realised I'd somehow lost the key to our room... I emptied the contents of my bag on the floor outside our door and I was sitting splay legged amongst it frantically searching though. It was gone. It must have fallen out somewhere.

Like many little hiccups over the past week - this was resolved by the serendipitous kindness of a friend who happened to be the front of house manager for Spring 1883 and was walking past just as I was about to give up. She had a spare key - gave me a hug and Ben and I opened the door to rip down my silver streamers as unceremoniously as possible.

At this point, I had the giggles. I was absolutely delirious with exhaustion and found most things about the whole situation absolutely hilarious. I had wanted to order room service at some point while I had the exhibition at the Windsor, and this was my last chance. I dialed 9 and ordered a bowl of wedges and a bowl of chips for Ben and I to share as we bubbled wrapped my many knick knacks and reflected over the ridiculousness of the hand pillow I'd made - which actually sold to someone. I know. I don't know what my life is either.

I am notoriously dodgy when it comes to packing my art for transportation, and this was no exception. I think I have horrified Daine on many occasions but this time, the bubble wrap I was using was absolutely ruined and had holes in it and didn't fit the paintings and I was in hysterics with Ben who was helping, being like "This one's ready to go to MoMa!" or "This one's being delivered to the NGV now!" with the mangled bubble wrapping barely covering the corners of the paintings. We had a beer and I was feeling very light and happy. I couldn't believe it was over. I couldn't believe I was packing the paintings up when I'd just been nervously unpacking them. Time was so distorted last week. It seemed equally like the longest time ever and the shortest time ever. I do know, however, that it was the best time ever.

My sophisticated choice for room service
I caught the train home at 9.30, carrying with me my giant hand pillow. It was so surreal. I got out my iPad and watched Stevie Nicks 1982 White Wing Dove concert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9fuzSWRqP0) Both her and the incredible people in my life at the moment have made me feel all powerful, made me beam with joy and gratefulness for the incredible position I have found myself in. I can't express this properly but I will try again soon... Will also post pictures of the installs so those from all corners of the world can get a good look. I have so much more to say but will attempt to with a little more retrospect - this time I want to finish on the picture of this cherub (below) - doing some collaging and wearing my LOVE badge. Pretty much made my week.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you kept some of the collages from the Melbourne Art Fair! Some were really good, I'm going to post about it on my blog soon and there's a bit about the creative space on it too :)
    It was nice to see you again Minna, thanks for the badge!