Monday, September 27, 2010

Is street art, art?

This is not a creative outlet for myself ... but it is for other people and I have a habit of taking photos of good street art ... or graffiti.  Not all graffiti is street art in my opinion ... so is all street art, art?

I am getting quite sick and tired of the "tag" phenomenon, where graffiti or street art just becomes glorified lettering .... am I just getting old or is this boring for other people?  Catching the train into Melbourne a while ago I noticed that ALL of the graffiti along the railway line was lettering ... or tags really.  On some of them, someone has gone to a lot of detail ... but it's just words that don't mean anything to anyone .... unless you hang out with teenage boys and you know who the "taggers" are ...

I must admit I've been looking at graffiti and street art again, since seeing the movie "Exit through the Gift Shop" earlier this year.  Driving through North Fitzroy after, I recognised a sticker on the back of a sign that was an image by US street artist, Shepard Fairey - who features in the movie. 

Shepard Fairey sticker (the face one) on a sign in North Fitzroy.
I guess in some ways using the same image over and over again is some sort of a tag in itself ... it identifies the "tagger" .... but I far prefer to look at sometime like the face than a word an exaggerate dynamic font!!  There's a "tag" of a cat that is literally across the Western Suburbs ... I've seen it all over the place, in Footscray, Altona, Braybrook, Yarraville ...

Cat tag in Footscray on the side of a railway bridge.
And yes I don't mind the cat .... however I still love it when you come across a piece of street art that impresses you ... that really shows the creativity of the person, who, although breaking a law, is sharing something worthwhile with you.  I go looking for them ... rather than walk down a main street in Melbourne CBD ... why not a laneway?  I found the next piece pictured, in the city recently.  It's in a lane that runs from Bourke Street to Little Collins down the side of David Jones.  It's covered in graffiti ... or street art ... I really needed a fish eye lens to capture it properly ... I should go back one day with a different camera.

But does street art become art when it's actually commissioned?  There's no risk .... the artist is either paid for the work, or at the very least given permission to paint the area.  I stumbled across some recently when I took myself for a walk alongside Moonee Valley Creek (killing time before an appointment!).  I can only assume that prior to the artworks, that the concrete under this bridge was a prime "tagging" spot ... and I really do prefer the end results to a bunch of spray painted lettering.

Wikipedia defines art as "the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects the senses, emotions, and/or intellect."  I guess the fact I've even bothered to write about it in the first place ... or taken photos of it ... makes it art.  It must have affected some senses, emotions or intellect in me.  And if we go by the wikipedia definition (yes I know ... not the most academic of references) then the fact that tagging affects my senses (I hate it) ... well even that may be art.  (Big apologies to my friend Zette about this ... who is still fuming about the local tagger who has written "splash" on her fence .... she would really like to deal with Splash.)

So graffiti is art ... and one of my all time favourite pieces of graffiti is now long, long gone ... it used to be in Moor Street, Fitzroy ... I loved it so much I photographed it, which is great as I still get to share it with people.  It's not as paintly as some of the examples above ... in fact it's quite simple ... and witty ... and that's why I still think it's great.
Simple but witty ... a bit like me at times!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Unfortunately I haven't had much time for creativity lately, I have an assignment due for uni this Saturday and my hours are gradually increasing at work back to normal.   Not 100% full time yet, but before I do I need to schedule in more creative time so I don't slip back into bad habits. 

I now have a huge pile of ceramics to glaze .... I made 35 porcelain pendants in the end .. far more than I realised!  I'm in the process of sanding off rough edges and deciding on what to draw on the blank ones.  Hopefully once I submit this latest assignment I'll find a block of time to sit down and glaze.

In the meantime I've managed to sneak in the odd photo over the past two weeks.  I was working on a photoshoot for work ... photos of our students in action, our facilities etc - not exciting subject matter, but I enjoyed it anyway.  The last day we did at our Coburg campus were they teach all things automotive from truck engines to marine, lawn mowers and chainsaws to trims for car.  I found a couple of thins I couldn't help taking photos of.

Springs on a shelf in the Motorsports section
Cupboard under a spray booth for adhesives
I could of spent hours just taking photos for myself, but unfortunately that wasn't what I was there for ... so I manage a small number.  Pity, as the whole department will be moved in about a year to a new building being built in the Docklands.  Perhaps I'll get another chance at some stage, as it seems that I am attracted to "industrial beauty" .... or is that beauty found in industrial settings.  Whether it be urban decay, a pile of discarded materials, tools or a whole actual warehouse I love finding something attractive in not so obviously aesthetic appealing situations.

Safety gear in Motorsports

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung, the rains have come and Victoria's all awash ...

However, Melbourne seems to have survived the storms and I'm loving all the colours of flowers everywhere.  Blossoms, magnolias, wattle and daffodils ... now just need a couple more sunny days where I can do more urban exploring.  I have a list ready ... now where's the sun.

My plum tree all in blossom.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bisque firing was a success!

I'm very happy to announce that the first firing of my ceramics pieces was a success ... other than the pieces I smashed before even getting to the kiln!!  There are some hair line cracks in the cake stand but being so fine, they will hopefully fill with glaze.  We are also wondering if these cracks have appeared because it was at the top of the kiln and therefore cooled quicker than the pieces that are deep in the kiln.  I suppose we'll find out when we do some more!

Now I just have to decide on how to finish all the pieces .... what glazes to use ... what effects ...

Just found a great blog from a ceramic artist in Adelaide that uses some gorgeous retro designs and some interesting glazing techniques ... I'm no where near their level but the posts are very interesting ... wondering if they have ever tried house paint like some ceramics artists did in Australia in the 50s ...