Turkey Art Adventure Sept 27 to Oct 10, 2015

I am really excited to have been asked to lead a small group tour to Turkey this Fall with Finisterra Travel. See the itinerary here.

See my blog posts here for my 2014 painting trip to Turkey here.

Read about my month as artist in residence at the Babayan Art House, Ibrahimpasa, Turkey in March 2009 on the blog here.

Read about my month as artist in residence at the Gumusluk Academy on the Bodrum peninsula in Turkey for May 2009 here.

Los Angeles Center for Digital Art

I am delighted to have accepted Director Rex Bruce’s offer to become a represented artist at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art. My work will be included in the LACDA 11 Year Anniversary Represented Artists Exhibit running from April 9 – May 14, 2015 in their huge new space in downtown LA. For more information about the LACDA, click here.

Double Self-Portrait in a Burning Room 4

For an account of my earlier visit to LA as one of the winners of the 2010 Digital Art.LA International Exhibition, click here and here

Double Self-Portrait in a Burning Room 3

See related videos here.

Theatro Florae Sufi

Video of my Theatro Florae installations at the Gumusluk Academy. Soundtrack Zeb Sufism, remixed by me.

I was fortunate enough to be an artist in residence at the Gumusluk Academy in May 2009, a “thought farm” located in a small fishing village on the Bodrum peninsula in Turkey. While there, I constructed a number of installations with local flowers, vegetation, and found objects on the Academy grounds and around the area. For more information on this project, see my page here.

To read more about my time in Gumusluk, click here and go to the May 2009 blog archives.

Amed Beach Mandala (Jemeluk Bay, Amed, East Bali) & The Rocky [Beach] Horror Picture Show

While in Amed, Bali in 2011 I created mandalas on the beach from natural objects found locally, placed next to a yarn-wrapped tree. Within this setting, illuminated at night with small LED lights, myself, my partner, and several local community members joined in three public performance pieces invoking the spirits of the dead; this one is entitled Amed Beach Mandala/Rocky [Beach] Horror Picture Show. Soundtrack MacLean/Palestrina, Kyrie from Pope Marcellus Mass.

For more information on this project, click here.

Nevruz Burning

This video documents a site-specific installation and performance of Nevruz Burning, a piece created for the Spring Equinox in a ruined cave house while I was an Artist in Residence at the Babayan Culture House in Ibrahimpasa, Cappadocia, Turkey. For more information on the piece, click on my blog link.

Viernes de Dolores: An Altar for the Virgen de Dolores in Guanajuato, Mexico

This was a small performance for Viernes de Dolores, the Friday of Sorrows that begins Semana Santa, inspired by the Guanajuato Virgen de Dolores altars. One of the most sumptuous and popular celebrations in Mexico is Semana Santa (Holy Week), which begins with the Viernes de Dolores (Friday of Our Lady of Sorrows), celebrated the last Friday of Lent. It is dedicated to the seven sorrows that Mary suffered before and after her son’s death. Widespread in Mexican homes in the 18th century, the tradition of putting up the altar of sorrows dates from the 16th century. The altar was meant to comfort the Virgin Mary, who eight days later would suffer at her son’s death. For more information on Guanajuato’s altars, click here and here.

Below are a few examples of public altars in Guanajuato: the first at a neighborhood fried chicken shop, the second at a funeral store where coffins are made, and the third in the lobby of a government building.

Our performance took place on the terrace entrance area of our colonial home and included floral elements, ribbons, masks, and lights

See more pics here.

 

Dia de las Flores: Death and the Devil visit the Colonial House, Guanajuato, Mexico

Holy Week is a very big holiday in central Mexico and the festivities begin the week before Easter, with El Dia de las Flores (Day of the Flowers) and the Viernes de la Virgen de los Dolores (Friday of the Virgin of Sorrows). The Dia de las Flores (Thursday of the week before Palm Sunday) involves seemingly the entire city; a vast number of flower stands (fresh, paper, and fabric), as well as stands selling toys, Easter eggs, small animals, stuffed creatures and live ones (tiny turtles and hermit crabs), devil and demon masks, cow and steer carrying cases, and the like, are set up everywhere downtown. The whole city comes out to see and be seen and to purchase flowers and other accoutrements for their own Virgen de los Dolores altars. Using these supplies, altars to the Virgin (who is also the patron of miners, most important in this city of silver mines) are set up in public places (hotels, restaurants, churches, stores) and in private homes beginning on the Thursday before Palm Sunday.

For the Dia de las Flores, Ty and I decorated the front archways of our colonial house; using flowers, often symbolising the brevity and beauty of life, locally-made masks of Death (a tiny tin skull wearing a black sombrero), and the Devil (a papier mache horned demon mask), we reimagined the encounter of Death, the Devil, and the Maiden imagined so starkly in images such as those below by Hans Baldung Grien, and the great etching of The Knight, Death, and the Devil by Albrecht Durer.

Death and the Maiden by Hans Baldung, 1510

Death and the Maiden by Hans Baldung, 1518

“In this painting [above] a voluptuous young maiden turns to receive the kiss of her lover, only to discover, to her horror, Death. The skeletal figure gently holds her head, a gesture that belies the finality of his impending bite. His patches of wispy hair and rotting skin mock her flowing tresses and supple flesh. The dark setting, unnoticed at first, is a cemetery as she stands on a gravestone, perhaps her own. This Vanitas picture (an image that alludes to the transience of life) typifies Baldung’s predilection for erotically charged twists to more conventional themes, such as the Dance of Death. ” (Web Gallery of Art)

In Knight, Death, and the Devil (1513) Durer shows his Knight steadfastly ignoring both Death, who shakes an hourglass in the Knight’s face, and the pig-nosed devil behind, grinning stupidly.

For more information on the Memento Mori, and other installations on this theme that I had done, click here and here.

See all the photos of the Guanajuato piece here.

Amed Beach Tree Piece: Colour Therapy

Blue Star Bangalows is unique in Amed in having the most beautiful  large leafy tree on  the beach right in front of the restaurant.  It was this tree, and Barb and Tony lying beneath it, that initially attracted us  to this place on our first visit. The day had been very hot and dry and the tree beckoned us from afar like an oasis. No one knows what the name of this tree is but its leaves and branches provide a cool green-ness and shade from the hot Bali sun.

I had purchased skeins of coloured wool from a shop in Levuka, Fiji, intending to wrap a palm tree at the Beachouse, a project which I never got around to while we were in Fiji. But here the low hanging branches of this tree called out for colourful wrapping. After winding ten differently coloured skeins of wool around two branches, inspired by the bamboo pole decorations along the streets in east Bali, I also hung ten bamboo pinwheels obtained from the beachside cemetery on the same branches. These twirled and spun in the wind, looking very much like hands against the blue ocean and sky.

In the evening Ty and I hung up the coloured LED lights to illuminate the pinwheels; the lights also shone on the ground beneath with many varied hues.  The tree and its decorations then provided a theatre set upon which Barb and Komang enacted a stately dance, the colours tinting their faces and hands with a changing kaleidoscope of colour as they moved, effecting a kind of colour therapy. Many thanks to Barb and Komang for their performance!

Read more about colour therapy here.

See the complete set of photos here. If you use the slideshow function, you’ll get an impression of movement.

Amed Beach Mandalas (Jemeluk Bay, Amed, East Bali) & The Rocky [Beach] Horror Picture Show

I am currently on a ten month trip around the world. After having seen the beautiful flower designs created in circular water bowls in Ubud, and seeing the two marble-topped tables sitting on the beach out in front of the Blue Star, Amed, Bali, I was inspired to create mandalas from whatever material could be found on and around the Jemeluk Bay beach.

I wandered up and down the beach collecting different coloured rocks, seed pods, shells, small bamboo offering baskets, bits of broken crockery, and flowers. These I arranged on the table top in concentric circles fanning out from a central core. Later, in the evening, I added small coloured LED lights that I’d brought from home to the composition. I also added some of the frangipani flowers that I’d picked up at Iluh’s place. The pieces looked beautiful against the dark blue of the sky and sea.

As I was working, several people, including the guys and gals at Blue Star Bungalows, came to see what I was up to, and posed in the background, the light colours illuminating their faces and hands in combinations of red, blue, purple and green. On the second evening, things got a bit hysterical, as Lole and Eka and others took turns posing as Count Dracula, with coral sticks as fangs, cackling and laughing in the night.

The following day, I put together a second set of mandalas, this time using some of the materials gathered from the beachside cemetery which Barb showed us. There we found lots of dried offering baskets and quite a few more elaborate bamboo structures, all of which were used in burial services and left behind to disintegrate in the elements.

One of these mandalas includes part of a coconut tree, the part that holds the coconuts to the tree itself. It looks quite a bit like an asymmetrical tower, and is vaguely reminiscent of a Balinese cremation tower, the Wadah.

Within this setting, illuminated at night with small LED lights, myself, my partner, and several local community members joined in three public performance pieces invoking the spirits of the dead. Such performances are somewhat transgressive within a Balinese society that believes in witchcraft and the dark powers. These pieces were sites of intense interest to the Jemeluk community of fishers and subsistence farmers, none of whom had ever been witness to or participant in anything like it.

See all of the pictures here and here.