A VISUAL LIFE | Creative Direction + Design

MASTERSTROKE // robert mapplethorpe

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ABOVE: ‘Self-portrait’, 1980 (gelatin silver); ‘Self-portrait’, 1983 (gelatin silver); ‘Self-portrait’, 1980 (gelatin silver). BELOW: ‘Patti Smith’, 1979 (gelatin silver); ‘Marianne Faithfull’, 1974 (gelatin silver).

 

BELOW: ‘Deborah Harry’, 1978 (gelatin silver); ‘David Hockney’, 1976 (gelatin silver). BOTTOM: ‘Isabella Rossellini’, 1988 (gelatin silver); ‘Lucy Ferry’, 1986 (gelatin silver).

 

I wish I had a chance to post this before the exhibition closed but life just got in the way. Perfectly timed with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, the renowned work of Robert Mapplethorpe: the perfect medium was on show at the Art Gallery of NSW. He was a controversial figure who pushed boundaries and his art was ground breaking. His black and white photography is legendary but it was inspiring to see some of his work that I wasn’t familiar with. Being a designer, it was also nice to see some of the graphic examples from gay publications he collaborated with.

An enclosed room housed the more erotic images as well as his published books – X, Y and Z Portfolios. This three part book series details homosexual sadomasochistic imagery (X), floral still lifes (Y) and nude portraits of African-American men (Z). I loved the sculptural and evocative florals, shot in bold colour with a meticulous play of light and shadows. He was famous for celebrating the human form and his involvement in New York’s gay scene cultivated this, but his contemporary images also caused outrage.

His artistic methods and personal life are also detailed which is fascinating. Robert was friends with famous artists and musicians who he photographed regularly, including his muse Patti Smith. I idolised these icons so I couldn’t go past sharing them here and imagining the story behind each setting. Robert Mapplethorpe had an amazing but tragically short life, although he lives on in his pictures and as he would say ‘perfection in form’.

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STREETSCAPES // train of thought

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I love the Blue Mountains and I go there regularly to visit family and friends. After moving out of my apartment, I stayed with my parents before I could move into my new house. It was nice living back where I grew up and it gave me a different outlook. When you’re young you can’t wait to leave the familiar and explore a whole new world.

Even though I was busy packing and organising my next move I did enjoy returning to my hometown. Years ago I had grown tired of my surrounds but now I saw it in a new light. An appreciation for the little things like the quiet atmosphere and getting back to nature.

I relished sitting on the intercity train (which I loved since it felt like a Wes Anderson film), reading a book while admiring the adorable historic stations along the way. The commute to the city gave me time to think of the next phase of my life – literally a train of thought.

HOUSE CALL // moving on

After much deliberation I decided to leave my beloved Art Deco apartment. It served me well for many years and always felt welcoming after a busy day. With no major reasons for moving, it was more of a feeling that I needed to move on and was ready for a change. I am sentimental about leaving but also excited about this new chapter.

Going from apartment living to a house may have new challenges but we’ll soon see how it goes. I have plans to renovate/redecorate but it may take a while. As soon as I’m unpacked (by the way I’m in no rush), I will share my new space. First I need to recover from moving twice! Not ideal but it’s the way things panned out. Here are some things I learnt about moving.

Lesson 1 – Don’t decide to move around Christmas (I was so busy with end of year work/shopping/festivities that I didn’t have time to plan packing).

Lesson 2 – Don’t actually move in January (I had to cut my holidays short to rush home and frantically pack).

Lesson 3 – Don’t move in Summer (It was sweltering hot every single day I had to pack and/or move stuff).

These were extra hurdles all due to my bad timing. Apart from this it’s the usual advice of packing as early as you can, labelling boxes with detailed descriptions and most of all culling so you’re not lugging unwanted items with you to the next place. None of which I did – but I’ve survived!

INSTA-JAM // sending off 2017

          

I admit I have been slack and absent from social media in 2017 but it has been a huge year! It’s been great but extremely hectic on all fronts (home, family and work) so I’m definitely needing a well earned rest. It will be a short break as 2018 is gearing up to be a time with lots of changes coming, which is exciting. Here’s a few highlights from my Instagram that I shared (albeit sporadically). I hope you have all had a good year and the upcoming one is even better. Happy holidays!

MASTERSTROKE // margo lewers

Margo Lewers ‘Broken Circles’, c1968 (synthetic polymer paint on composition board)

Margo Lewers ‘Composition in Orange’, c1952 (oil on canvas on cardboard), ‘Orange Shapes (torso)’, c1956 (oil on hardboard)

Margo Lewers ‘Green on Brown’, ‘Red (1)’, ‘Red (2)’, ‘Orange with White’, c1971 (perspex)

Margo Lewers ‘Interior (Centre) (diptych)’, c1965 (synthetic polymer paint on composition board)

Margo Lewers ‘Marine Composition No.1’, no date (oil on masonite), ‘Scene Change’, c1951 (oil on masonite)

I managed to catch the exhibition Emu Island: Modernism in Place before it closed and I was glad I did. It celebrated the significance of Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest as well as it’s importance to Modernism. You can read more about the history of the space on my previous post here. Featuring works by founders Margo and Gerald Lewers along with luminaries of the Sydney art scene such as Frank and Margel Hinder, Judy Cassab, John Olsen, Tony Tuckson, Carl Plate and Robert Klippel. The works span four decades when the Lewers’ resided on the property from 1942-1978.

The standout for me was Margo Lewers’ work which celebrated bold colours, shapes and experimentation with materials. She was an inspirational woman who lived in a time when there were limitations for females but she shone. They were living in a changing world when those formative years of feminism and attitudes were evolving. Margo and her husband created a holistic way of living, working and entertaining their friends and art contemporaries in the new modern age. It would have been amazing to be a part of that energy and creativity.

TYPE-RIGHTER // retro meets exotic

Stanbuli is a modern Turkish restaurant in Enmore established by the Porteno team and chef Ibrahim Kasif. Delicious food is obviously the focus but the architecture and history that abounds in this space is intriguing. Classic interiors with beautiful details such as lights, signs and eclectic photos salvaged from ancient marketplaces in Istanbul.

However it’s the juxtaposition of the famous exterior that adds even more interest. The heritage-listed pastel facade shows the shop was previously the Marie-Louise Salon. Locals say it was left in a time warp with hair products, newspapers and hand written appointment cards. The former owners were George and Nola Mezher, who later opened a soup kitchen in Pitt Street for the homeless after they won the lottery. Their philosophy was that everyone should have a great dining experience and their old salon also pays homage to food.

In this age where so many historic places are being lost to developers, it’s a relief this iconic spot has been left intact and lovingly restored. The vintage typography of the former salon signage complements the retro lines and colours of the shopfront. While the current restaurant logo on the door hints at the exotic fusion that awaits inside.

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