Monday, February 04, 2008

2 completed commissions & a beautiful failure

Untitled, 2007,Steel reinforced, aerated concrete with a plaster skin, 117cm x 98cm x 117cm, in our garden. A work that had a very short life (6 days). Unfortunately the material was not able to hold its own weight, and the plaster skin cracked at the joints, I had to deconstruct it.

Blue Cube, 2008, polychrome galvanised wire, 44cm3

over and over and over, 2008, stainless steel wire, 42cm x 96cm x 42cm

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Count me the stars

I launced my friend Kylie Johnson's book of poetry last night, a few people asked for a transcript of the speech, here it is.

Generosity is a peculiar and often undervalued aspect of the creative spirit.

To write a poem is a generous act!

Personal thoughts are delicate and fragile. Keeping these thoughts guarded and protected; offering them only to the trusted is the prudent path. The generous offering of these thoughts to the world, laying them bare to be scrutinised and examined - this is the generosity of the creative spirit.

As humans we are bound by familiar experiences like love, fear, happiness and envy. Equipped with this knowledge we hope that others may recognise themselves in us and share in our experience. We hope to be understood. This collective aspect of experience transcends time, geography, politics and gender. The gift of the poet is in unmasking this mutual knowledge. The poet seeks out these shared concepts and avails these thoughts by revealing and reflecting them back to us. The poet offers us what is already known, what is forgotten and what is yet to be understood.

The artist begins with the intangible and makes it tangible.

This task may sound simple but believe me it isn't. Thoughts are not fixed, but rather elusive and fleeting, forever on the run. How can they be brought into this world? How can thoughts be made physical? How can they be given substance to transform into word, sound, form or image? How can this be done without damaging them, or forcing them into spaces into which they do not fit, without making them rigid or static?

these misfitted words, as our poet calls them,

changing and disappearing
and neither mine
nor yours
to possess…

As a sculptor I too am faced with the task of composing the elusive into form. I must confess that I may never fully understand the mystery of how this happens, what I do know is that it does happen and that I get great joy out of the result.

Count me the stars. A challenging request, it is a lot to ask, maybe not asking for so much might be giving up too easily. After all, our poet would ask no more of us than she is willing to offer!

To write a poem is a generous act!

Count me the stars! One of life’s great mysteries is 'what on Earth do you do with it?' Our poet has generously offered us one possible lifetime’s occupation.

Of course, we are speaking of the poetic here; a literal reading will never reveal the full spectrum of what is being proposed. Poetry is rarely to be taken purely at face value. Yes, there may be sufficient meaning to occupy us on the surface and recognition aplenty, yet it is in the spaces between the lines that the essence is to be found. As our poet might suppose,
trapped inside the cracks. Only when the pages of this book are pawed and softened might we say that we have understood. Until such time, we must continue to search the surface, patiently awaiting deeper understanding. Or perhaps, like a thought, a poem will continue to evade, teasing with the promise of complete understanding, showing more with time, but remain perpetually unresolved.

To write a poem is a generous act, as it is to read a poem. To willingly step into another’s world and listen requires us to be quiet and to give a little of ourselves. Obtaining what we hope to find requires our attention and consideration. Consider, from the Latin con, meaning ‘with’ and sidus, referring to the sky and the stars. Perhaps our poet does not ask so much, she may just ask us too look deeply, to feel ‘with the stars’.

The reader and the poets engagement with poetry is not wholly selfless - both the poet and the reader are mutually rewarded for their efforts. For the reader, the realisation that the poet listens and speaks our thoughts, or reveals something new is the bounty. For the poet, to know that someone has truly listened is reason for being.

I would like to congratulate Murdoch Books for their inspired foresight in publishing this beautiful book. Also, I would like to thank all of you for listening to and considering what I have said, and for supporting Kylie this evening. Most importantly, however, I would like thank Kylie for her generosity. Thank you for giving so much of yourself and for taking the time to help us in knowing ourselves a little better.
It gives me great pleasure to launch this book
Count me the stars and to introduce ‘our poet’ KYLIE JOHNSON