Friday, 15 February 2013

Friday Five: Gonna Eat a Lot of Peaches

There is a peach tree in our back graden and we have a glut of peaches at present. They are only ripe for a very short space of time before they fall from the tree, become rotten or get scoffed by the rosellas. Now, I really like peaches, but there are only so many I can eat au naturel in one sitting (about three) or even for breakfast with a handful of blueberries and a dollop of natural yoghurt.

I looked into bottling them but, although all reports say it's easy, it's also pretty time-consuming and you need the correct equipment. Him Outdoors is going to brew a peach weissbier this weekend, which uses a considerable amount of fruit. In the meantime, we've been eating a lot of peaches, in various different ways.

5 Ways with Peaches:
  1. Peach and prosciutto bruschetta with basil oil
  2. Upside-down peach tart
  3. Lamb cutlets with glazed peaches
  4. Peach polenta cake
  5. Peach and coconut crumble

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Art Gallery of South Australia: Part Three

Moving perhaps to more familiar artistic territory for me, here are some more of the artworks I enjoyed.
The Letter (1889) by Emma Minnie Boyd
This is a fine example of the later nineteenth century Victorian narrative style of painting which told stories and pointed morals. It hints at the young woman's possible future as she looks away wistfully, the letter tucked behind her back and the opened envelope lying at her feet, pointing to a world beyond the threshold of the drawing room.

I also like the treatment of light in this painting as the interior is dark and precise highlighting the peacock floor feature and Persian style carpets indicative of the popular aesthetic movement, while the sunlight filtering through the curtains and the impressionist style brushwork of the outdoors world provide a pleasing contrast.
Peacock Panel (1899) by Albert Pedvin
And speaking of peacocks and aesthetics, this glorious beast shines brightly against the walls. It's watercolour, pencil and gold leaf on wood, and is quite a remarkable feature in the gallery.

The Four Seasons (1902) by Hugh Ramsay
Detail from The Four Seasons
This is Hugh Ramsay’s only known multiple panel work. It was originally placed in a Tasmanian hospital and later incorporated into a bookshelf in the billiard room in the house of John Ramsay, the artist’s brother. Illustrating women in harmony with their environment, the figures can be identified by their corresponding landscapes as spring, summer, autumn and winter. The lyrical treatment of the figures and drapery show the influence of French symbolist Puvis de Chavanne, while the Latin inscriptions reference the romantic Pre-Raphaelite tradition. Ramsay’s embrace of these influences reveals a more poetic side to his more typically masculine work.

Onions (1905) and Still life with celery and apples (1901) by Margaret Preston
The Tea Urn (1909) by Margaret Preston
Aboriginal landscape (1941) by Margaret Preston
Margaret Preston was one of Australia’s foremost modernists. Travelling widely both in Australia and overseas brought her into direct contact with modern European art and its assimilation of oriental and so called ‘primitive’ art influences. As early as the mid 1920s Preston began to reference Aboriginal art, in some instances borrowing directly from the designs made on rainforest shields.

In Aboriginal Landscape Preston modernises the then waning landscape tradition via the visual language of Aboriginal art. Furthermore, Preston believed that it was through the influence and agency of Aboriginal art that Australia could develop a truly national art form.

The Pink Scarf (1913) by Hilda Rix Nicholas
I know very little about this artist and less about this painting, but the soft gentle colours moved me, along with the young woman's slightly wounded expression. Apparently Nicholas has been accused of painting 'picturebox perfection' but I wonder if the fear of the young woman's propensity to blend into the wallpaper is what we see reflected in her features.

French Café (1936) by Peter Purves Smith
French Café was painted towards the end of Purves-Smith’s study at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London. Depicting three men and a woman seated at a table it pays homage to Cézanne’s famous series Cardplayers. The work shows, on one hand, compliance to artificial form with flattened planes, modelled figures and flat light while also representing a departure into an imaginary realm characterised by elongated arms and exaggerated facial features. A sense of alienation is evoked by the open doorway where a loan figure stands in the shadow of an isolated tree.

The Bridge (1030) by Dorrit Black
The Olive Plantation (1946) by Dorrit Black
Dorrit Black travelled overseas and studied in both London and Paris. It was her training in France in the Cubist manner in the late 1920s that led her to simplify her compositions and focus on the fundamental structures of her subjects. On her return to Australia, Black made a significant contribution to the Australian artistic community by teaching, promoting and practicing the philosophy of modernism – initially in Sydney in the early 1930s, and later in Adelaide during the 1940s.

The Olive Plantation is one of Australia’s most distinctive landscapes of the 1940s. It is a tonal depiction of the Adelaide foothills at Magill, now surrounded by suburban houses. The rounded solid forms are characteristic of Black’s modernist compositions of the 1940s.
Subway Escalator (1953) by Frank Hinder
Frank Hinder was an artist known for abstract and semi-abstract paintings and drawings, which expressed his belief that art is a means of revealing the fundamental laws of design that underlie the world of appearances. He not only painted and exhibited as a Modernist artist, but also worked on theatre and costume designs, commercial art for book publishers, magazines and advertising agencies, textile designs, and lithographic printmaking.

In this painting he uses tempera to produce dry, light colours and precise lines, rendering the city as a dynamic, living organism, where everything (particularly people and buildings) is in a state of endlessly altering relationships.

The Lift (1954) by John Brack
John Brack is regarded as one of the most significant Australian artists of the twentieth century. His art is characterised by his carefully considered and controlled compositions, and by his choice of subject matter, often consisting of mundane images drawn from the world around him. Of course I had to take a picture of this one to show Him Outdoors (who didn't come to the gallery with me).

The Lift belongs to an important group of works from the 1950s which reflect the awful reality of the Holocaust. Rather than making an anguished or impassioned response to this subject, Brack imbues these paintings with their power by exercising constraint. The unnerving quality of this work comes from imagining that the steps leading up to this seemingly ordinary lift are analogous to the tragic fate suffered by the Jewish people led to their deaths in the gas chambers of Nazi Germany.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Art Gallery of South Australia: Part Two

The Sisters (1954) by Arthur Boyd
I thought I'd mainly focus on the sculpture in this post, as there was a lot of it about, including this intriguin piece by a man better known for his landscapes and war art. It confronts the visitor to the gallery, being in the first room in front of a range of Sidney Nolan's portraits.

There were some very fine sculptures and pieces of metalwork in the gallery too. Many silversmiths arrived from Europe and adapted their skills to the Australian environment.

Perfume bottle holder (circa 1875) by Henry Steiner
Steiner was born in Rodenberg near Hanover in 1835. He arrived in Adelaide in 1858 and set up in business on his own account around 1860. Steiner was a very prolific silversmith who exhibited at many of the great 19th century exhibitions around the world.

This is an actual emu egg that encloses two perfume bottles. The egg has been cut in two and is hinged to allow access to the perfume bottles inside. The bottles are made of two very large beans from a Queensland tree, with silver necks and caps added to make them functional as perfume containers. It is an excellent example of the silversmith's ability to combine skills in engineering and design in the production of this visually striking, as well as mechanically clever, work of art - the emu finial activated the locking mechanism.

Detail from Julius Schomburgk's Presentation Cup (1861)
Schomburgk emigrated to South Australia from Prussia in 1850 and soon established a solid reputation for his silversmithing and design skills. A committed exponent of Victorian naturalism, he incorporated in his designs a vast range of sculptural motifs representing Australian flora and fauna in combination with figures of Aborigines.

Curator Robert Reason says, “For me, the work from 1850s and sixties is the most fascinating – you can really sense these European trained silversmiths grappling with their new environment and see them responding with different design solutions to Australia’s unique flora and fauna and Aboriginal people.”

Bishop Augustus Short Testimonial Candelabrum (1876) by Henry Steiner
Table (1878) by Henry Hugentobler and Conrad Sturm

This flamboyant table is an outstanding example of the technique known as marquetry, in which pieces of contrasting timbers are inlaid on a surface in decorative patterns. Reported to contain 30,000 pieces of timber (Australian red cedar; pine; stringy bark; red gum; black gun), it is the most elaborate example of nineteenth century South Australian furniture. It was made as a display piece and exhibited at the Sydney and Melbourne international exhibitions of 1879 and 1880 respectively.

Wreath of hair in a floral design (circa 1880) attributed to Zelma Sobels
I don't know why, but I've always found things made out of human hair a bit creepy. Actually, I suppose I do know why; it's the thought of people being forced to cut or shave their hair for money, or in concentration camps. Piles of hair on hairdressers' floors always makes me shudder as it was attached so recently and now it's lifeless. Hair in plugholes makes me feel ill and I always very carefully dispose of mine - nail clippings too: those things have power in the wrong hands.

Eros (1892-93) by Alfred Gilbert
I'm not really sure what this statue is doing in the Australian section, but I like it, so I've included the picture. And he looks pretty good there too.

Transitional shield (circa 1930) - artist unknown
This early South Australian shield has been carved from a dense hardwood and then burnt and scraped back to create a tortoise shell-like appearance before being incised with delicate decorations. The shield is described as a transitional shield because it combines the traditional form of a parrying shield, used as both a weapon and to parry the enemy away, with decorative elements from a non-Indigenous culture. The inclusion of introduced species such as camels, horses and cattle provide a fascinating and succinct synopsis of European contact. The focus on the kangaroo and emu can be read as both Aboriginal totem or game images and as a reference to the Australian coat of arms.

Caprice (1935) by Barbara Tribe
This glorious sculpture won Tribe a New South Wales Travelling Art Scholarship when she was just 22. The scholarship provided £250 per annum for two years’ travel, plus the return fare to Southampton. Not since its inception in 1900 had this scholarship been awarded to a sculptor, or to a woman – an exceptional achievement.

I love the curvaceous warmth and exuberance of this sculpture. It did not surprise me to learn that Barbara Tribe, born in Sydney to recent immigrant parents, was a proficient swimmer and body surfer who represented her state. I can image that Caprice has just emerged from a swim in the ocean and is stretching her body on the rocks.

Transmutation (2010) by Caroline Rothwell
This is from Rothwell's website: "Transmutation, a pre-Darwinian word used to describe ideas of evolutionary change is also an alchemical term referring to the attempt to change a base metal into a precious metal. Both these terms are relevant to Caroline Rothwell’s practice where science, art and perception collide.

"Rothwell’s work revolves around our relationship with the natural world, particularly how the unintended consequences of our past crash into present and future technologies and environmental politics. Her work also explores very sculptural concerns where ideas of monumentality and process are challenged. Form gains a sense of liquidity, what appears light may be tremendously heavy or vice versa, industrial materials are hand-crafted. Things are never quite as they seem."