Last days of "Eye of The Beholder"

Leonie Pye opened the Eye of The Beholder exhibition of Belconnen Artists Network, at Belconnen Community Centre Gallery on 26 March 2014. Some people commented that it is an irony that a blind woman would open a visual arts exhibition. Artistic expression is a way of beholding that goes way beyond the visual and includes experience, emotions and ideas. Eye of The Beholder exhibition showcases many different viewpoints and ways of beholding highlight some of the diversity of human expression such as;

  • A portrait of Leonie Pye’s experience of beholding from her guide dog’s point of view, negotiating the hazards of life,
  • Viewing Lake Eyre from a bird’s eye view,
  • the camera becoming the beholden,
  • the repeating images from the eye of a bee,
  • owl’s eyes delicately drawn yet piercing,
  • a multi-facetted sunset to sooth the soul,
  • an modernist geometric reminiscent of Escher,
  • questioning the stereotype of artist and model.

The artists represented in this exhibition have a wide range of skills including photography, sculpture, painting, drawing and textiles. They have exhibited in Canberra, interstate and internationally.

Go and see the exhibition quickly, it closes on Friday, 4 April.

Margaret looking into Richards eye_8489 sm

Looking into a glass orb created by Richard Lamond. Inside the iris are many facets of mirror so when I looked in, I saw dozens of eyes flashing back at me. Looking inside to look at myself! Stunning.

By Any Means

The other evening (7 January 2014) I snuggled up with my husband and watched TV. We watched a BBC crime show, By Any Means. You can follow it on ABC iview here. The show follows a crime fighting team who chase ‘the bad guys’ and use techniques that are not strictly ‘proper procedure’ rather in the style of Hustle. So the team members are not strictly police, although, several are ex police — “it is a grey area” the team leader, Jack says (Jack Quinn played by Warren Brown).

By Any Means is a light crime show suitable for families. The dialog is full of banter and there is little violence, just a few punches. It is easy to follow and fun. It doesn’t become bogged down with the horror of crime, stays focused on catching the bad guys, a bit reminiscent of Charlie’s Angels.

There are plenty of Blogs on the web talking about the strategy, plot and believability of the show. I will not add to that noise. Instead, in theme with this site, I will discuss an incident during the first episode where women’s periods are mentioned.

Jack assumes that because he is team leader, he has the most sensible suggestions. While discussing the case, Jess (Jessica Jones played by Shelly Conn) expresses a desire to kill the criminal, Mason. It would be quick and simple, but killing is not an option. When she repeats her desire to kill the criminal, Jack questions Jess’s judgement by taking a cheep shot at her womanhood, by saying “time of the month?”

Alpha males have been known to try to dominate women by reminding women that they will never be men. The implication is that men are the rightful leaders — you are not a man, so stop trying to be my equal. For many men, being a woman is an insult. The comment “time of the month?” highlights Jess’s womanhood inappropriately. It is designed to be an insult by implying that women are unreliable because of their periods. The implication is that women are ruled by their hormones and become irritable or moody and lack rational thinking as a result. This is an easy way for men to disregard and trivialise what a woman says without actually dealing with the issues she raises.

In this case, all of the team want to get rid of the criminal Mason. Why was Jess’s desire to kill Mason singled out and treated as inappropriate? Tom Tom (Thomas Hawkins played by Andrew-Lee Potts) cringes. He doesn’t want to get involved in this conversation, which is a typical bystander response — or lack of response. Tom Tom could have said that the comment was sexist and irrelevant to Jess’s capacity to work, but he stayed silent.

Jess defended herself by rejecting Jack’s sexist assumption as an unsubstantiated myth. He throws pseudo science back at her. Then Jess does an amazing thing. She boldly expresses her joy, power and deep spirituality in being a woman stating clearly that Jack wouldn’t ‘get it’ because he is a man. This is the first time I have seen such a bold retort to this common sexist stereotype. She takes back her power by embracing womanhood and celebrating her vibrant experience in being a woman. It is a really good comeback, even though it came across as a bit corny. I praise By Any Means because it gives women some powerful words to defend themselves in this common sexist situation.

I am proud to be a woman too.

View a preview clip.

View By Any Means - Episode 1

Christmas

I went to church on Christmas Day and saw a delightful video clip. Our church, Mosaic Baptist, Belconnen, often puts on dramas, interesting clips and info gathered from Christians from around the world. I attend a vibrant, active church that engages with modern technology.

The clip is an entertaining interpretation of the Christmas story from the angels’ point of view acted by some very cute children. There were some poignant comments that illuminate both the fragility of the Christ child and the enormity of the salvation message. I was amused by the gun-ho attitude of the boys who wanted to bring Christ to earth with an almighty army to conquer the world. The girls came up with some practical questions of where He will live and who will be welcoming Him. God shocked both the boys and girls by choosing a peasant girl to give birth in a stable! One angel showed impeccable logic and asks “What if they don’t notice?”. God’s answer is worth listening to carefully. All the angels were horrified that Christ was being born with animals! and hay! and POO! The look of disgust when they said “Poo!” was classic.

Christ was born physically in the same way that we all are, as a helpless baby born through the vagina of a woman, then suckling at her breasts. We can take joy in the physicality of our bodies whatever shape we are in - God certainly affirms the importance of our bodies. We are all fragile lumps of vulnerable flesh in a harsh, difficult and even hostile world. Christ’s humble natal family show us that we can all be agents of God regardless of our status in society. Christ’s example shows us that we all have the capacity to have an intimate relationship with God creator. Being rich and privileged does not give any advantage with God. Christ became one of us with a vulnerable physical body. He needed to eat, drink, have warm clothes and shelter, just like all of us.

And he died - just like all of us will.

The production was made by St Pauls in Auckland, New Zealand.
View on youtube: “An Unexpected Christmas

The Little Shell

The Little Shell_bookcover

The Little Shell is a delightful book written by Leonie Pye, a Belconnen resident. It is a collaborative work from skilled local people including illustrations by artists from from Open Art Group at Belconnen Community Centre, Lida Emami, Timothy Burke, Jenelle Outhwaite and Cameron Michael, graphic design by Susan Hey and photography by Margaret Kalms, also Belconnen residents.

The little shell finds herself washed up and broken, exposed on the beach. She is frightened and vulnerable and believes that she is not worth anything because she is broken. Will she ever fell safe again? The story is a metaphor for life. It demonstrates the joy of appreciating beauty in us all including our differences and imperfections.

It is written in easy language so that a young child could read it on their own. Yet the story has layers of meaning and different teaching aspects that a parent or teacher could bring out over many occasions of reading. The discussion points could engage older children and even adults.

This will make a great present for a small person in your life.

Leonie Pye is legally blind and gets around with her faithful guide dog, Franklin. She very generously is donating 20% of sale price to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

You can hear Leonie Pye in an interview recorded by ArtSound FM 92.7 (or 90.3 Tuggeranong) on Saturday 21 December 2013 on Artcetera. She spoke very well, articulating her story in a lucid and candid way. It was moving to listen to. Leonie has overcome many difficulties to publish this book and it is inspiring to understand how she has achieved this success. Franklin, her guide dog, rattled his lead to make sure he was included in the discussion!

The Little Shell by Leonie Pye - ArtSound FM interview 19MB

See ArtSound FM 92.7 programmes at; http://artsound.fm/programs/

Leonie Pye with "The Little Shell" 22 Dec 2013

Buy The Little Shell now at $A16.95 from Dymocks Belconnen and Paperchain Manuka.

Or direct from Leonie
- $A15.00 with $A2.50 postage within Australia.

email: nonibear62@gmail.com Mobile: +61 (0)428 330 073
Guide Dog website banner

Endometriosis Study

Do You Have Endometriosis?

A researcher I know, Maryam Moradi is doing a PhD studying how endometriosis affects women. She is inviting women with endometriosis to complete this newly developed questionnaire to measure the long term impact of this condition. The questions in the Endometriosis Impact Questionnaire (EIQ) have been developed based on 10 focus group discussions with 35 women with endometriosis. This study is being conducted by researchers through the Australian National University (ANU) and Canberra Endometriosis Centre.

Please invite anyone you know who has endometriosis to participate. You may place the attached Information sheet on your websites, Facebook and anywhere else you think is appropriate. Data collection for the project will close on 28 March 2014.

I encourage women with endometriosis to support this study, https://apollo.anu.edu.au/default.asp?pid=7700. Contact Maryam Moradi 0403 679 650 or email her at: maryam.moradi.fu@gmail.com

See information page and flyer,
Endometriosis Study Moradi ANU

More Photography Tutorials

Photography Concentrate is having a sale until 13 December 2013.

There is so much information on the internet, it is hard to know which information is right for you. I have been looking at various downloadable photography tutorials and have selected ones that develop specialist styles of photography. The advantage of downloadable tutorials is that they are not time limited. Once you have them downloaded onto your computer, you can work through the exercises whenever you have some spare time. You can also go practice techniques over and over until you have really gained the skill. My experience is that often what I learnt in class is forgotten a few days later unless I repeat the exercises. With downloadable tutorials, you can repeat them as often as you want. They become a reference material.

Hone your skills with a relevant tutorial from my “Photography Tips and Tutorials” page.

Tutorials include:
Posing Secrets Vol 1 and Vol 2, Landscape photography, Phone photography, Photo editing, Tricks and Special Effects photography, X-factor photography and PhotoShop for Photographers.
If you enjoy these tutorials, please recommend them to your friends.

If you buy one of these tutorials, I will receive a small commission which I will use to fund this website and to continue my “art of woman” photography.


I am presenting a photography workshop as a fund-raiser for Belconnen Artists Network. It is called, "Photography - The Art of Seeing". The workshop is aimed at a general audience and does not assume a sophisticated camera. It will be presented in three parts; 
1. background info such as elements and principles of design, planning photography, overview of camera controls,
2. a practical exercise taking photos and exploring new ways to see ordinary things and,
3. review of participants photos and discussion and evaluation.

The workshop will be held at Strathnairn Arts Centre in the Village Hall.
Photography-The Art of Seeing-Poster-web

Women Under-represented in the Arts

Guest writer Jennifer Amos writes about the participation and recognition of women in art. Many of the points Ms Amos raises applies to other fields. An Australian example is a recent study that found that women are under-represented in Architecture in Australia. According to the University of Melbourne, there are approximately equal male / female student numbers in Architecture faculties around Australia, yet, only 20.6% of the women registered for practice after graduation. There may be many reasons for this. Dr Niomi Stead has built a website forum to encourage debate about this issue. The site is called Parlour. Is there a similar site for artists?
Yes, women still have work to do to claim equality.

Margaret Kalms


No Going Back – There’s Still a Long Way to Go
Since 1960 I have been concerned with the creation of formal imagery that is specifically female, a new language that fuses mind and body into erotic objects that are namable and at the same time quite abstract. Its content has always related to my own body and feelings, reflecting pleasure as well as pain, the ambiguity and complexity of emotions." From Hannah Wilke, A Retrospective, University of Missouri Press, 1989
Two recent art exhibitions have brought forward this question of a specifically female “formal imagery”, but perhaps most importantly, have sought to re-examine the history of art through the work of female artists. These are
 WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution and  Elles: SAM - Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists. Read More...

My new website ecospiritlife.com.au

For several years I have been on the email list of Matt Branding at Global Eye Images. Over this time he has given me many tips on how to improve my photography and recommended ebooks or .pdf books to read on various photography topics. He shares a lot of information about his experiences with photography and how the digital age has impacted on the photography industry. He runs a successful stock photography business.

Recently, Matt Branding introduced me to new website package designed especially for photographers that his team has put together. I was somewhat skeptical about the idea at first as the site is built using WordPress and I had no experience in WordPress (Artofwoman.com.au is built using RapidWeaver). But I was curious about a site that was built with photographers’ needs in mind.

Well, I took the plunge and bought the package and, with the aid of the comprehensive tutorials and manuals, I built my new site. When I made mistakes, the support was prompt and friendly. It would have cost an absolute fortune to pay a technician to build ecospititlife.com.au without this package.

It is with great pleasure I present:
http://ecospiritlife.com.au
Exploring ecology and spirituality with photography and commentary.

If you would like to build your own site click on the banner below
Instant Profitable Photography Websites Read More...

Photography and PhotoShop tutorials

A lot of photography success is a result of knowledge and technique. There is a lot of information on the internet, but much of it is a poor standard and it takes time to filter through to the good stuff.

Today, I created a new page titled “Photography tips and tutorials”.

I have gathered together some reputable tutorials and information about photography that I have found helpful and interesting. Although I have been trained in photography in a technical college, there is always more to learn. Of course, the equipment is constantly changing, but I am not focusing on equipment. The information by manufacturers is comprehensive if you want to find out about equipment. I have selected information and tutorials that will develop creativity and ideas. If you work through these tutorials and tips, you will become an excellent photographer and be able to develop your own style.

There is a cost to some of these tutorials, but they are excellent quality and represent good value at reasonable prices. If you enjoy the links and take up the offers, I may receive a small commission, which will be used to continue my art photography practice.

Realistic Female Body in Nude Scene Shocker

It is a privilege to introduce guest writer Jennifer Amos who has written this post. She has insights into how women’s bodies are portrayed in nude scenes in popular TV shows. I agree that the way women are portrayed in the media can have a huge impact on women’s body image and self esteem.


Realistic female body in nude scene shocker

Fans of British drama Downton Abbey may have either been upset or unmoved by the death of Lady Sybil in the third series that finished its Australian run last month. Readers of this site however may applaud her refusal to slim down for nude scenes when shooting the film Albatross recently.

Jessica Brown Findlay as the actress is known in real life has said that she has since regretted doing the nude scenes at all because she wasn’t aware she could refuse. She has admitted to a certain amount of naivety but she surely deserves admiration for refusing to conform to the supposedly ideal body image of ultra thinness.

Most films and television programmes do unfortunately still portray this ideal image that for most women is unattainable. Contemporary creative art and photography can play a role in promoting positive body images for women by avoiding the airbrushed super slim images so common across the popular media.

Young Australian women plagued by body image issues

It is crucial that young women and girls are exposed to as many positive representations of female bodies as possible given the worrying trend in eating disorders and body image issues. According to recent reports 
eating disorders affect as many as one in 10 Australian women. The research suggests that body image issues are presenting in younger children, especially girls, and around half of all 10 and 11 year old girls are unhappy with their body.

It’s a shame most young women and girls are more likely to see skinny models in magazines and painfully thin actresses on the big screen than read about how Jessica Brown Findlay admitted to eating burgers and drinking pints the night before shooting nude scenes. This is not always the headline news. The actress said she would never succumb to Hollywood pressure to be a size 0 and that she thinks it is terrible that women are criticised so much because of their bodies.

Brown Findlay admires strong women and recently enjoyed playing a strong female role in the television adaption of Kate Mosse’s best-selling novel Labyrinth. There certainly aren’t that many roles out there portraying strong women that go beyond the objectification and sexualisation of 
female body image but a few serve as interesting examples. Rather than eating burgers and not worrying about the consequences, Angelina Jolie trained for months and months and lived on a high protein diet to bulk up her muscles and strength before she filmed Tomb Raider. This was a role that was never going to have an idealised or realistic body image - instead Jolie went for powerful and worked very hard at attaining it through diet and exercise. Hilary Swank reportedly relied on protein supplements and shakes all day in addition to hard core training to be super fit and strong for her role in Million Dollar Baby. Strong, even powerful female role models on the big screen can only have a positive effect on young women but it would be great to have more realistic characters with equally realistic bodies that normal women can relate to. Young women should be able to recognise normal bodies up on screen or in photographs that aren’t the result of extreme fad dieting or hard core physical training.

Reality check for mainstream culture please

Cinema and television can sometimes be a great art form, but it does not work hard enough to help promote a healthy and positive female body image and sometimes it is guilty of doing just the opposite. Women and young girls are constantly bombarded with unrealistic and unattainable female bodies and images that rely on objectification and mythical ideals.

Art and photography can and should be used on a wider scale to reach more mainstream audiences with a positive message for women. Going beyond art galleries and niche exhibitions, art needs to be out there in the public arena portraying women as they really are.

Cultural and advertising imagery should not be relying on the safe Hollywood ideal of women that is ultimately so damaging to the self-esteem and body image of thousands of young women and girls. Only by changing the way women are portrayed in all cultural and artistic mediums can we hope to let young women and girls know that it is ok to normal.

Jennifer Amos