Touch - the best art installation you will never see!

Touch is an intimate sense we largely ignore in public. It can be dangerous to touch because of the risk being misunderstood. Watch a crowd in public and you’ll see that we very carefully avoid each other.

It is pushing boundaries to have an art exhibition that relays on touch - we may bump into another person unexpectedly, or trip and hurt ourselves, or break something. Welcome to the world of vision impaired people who have to deal with these issues every day!

On Wednesday evening, 2 July, I was invited by my friend, Leonie Pye, to the opening of Touch - an installation exhibition held at the Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre, Canberra. Touch is an initiative of Canberra Blind Society and Tuggeranong Arts Centre as part of Community Cultural Inclusion Project (CCIP) and facilitated by artist Tony Steel.

After the formalities of speeches and the usual mingling with friends, we were allotted into groups to go into the installation. What an exciting experience! We had to take our shoes off and put on hospital ‘booties’! We placed our belongings on a shelf (which was watched by a staff member), then we were blindfolded! Each group is allocated guides to aid us as we go through the installation. To find our way around, there is a rope on the floor that we feel with our feet. Each artwork is marked by a piece of carpet which we can feel with our feet, so we know to put out our hands to feel for the artwork.

It is quite disorienting to be blindfolded in a public place and to try to touch things. Experiencing the art by touch is new to me. So many galleries and exhibitions explicitly state ‘Do not touch’.

There were artworks on the walls, on the floor and suspended from the ceiling. Sometimes I walked into the art; slats of wood, strings of beads and pieces of textured cloth draped over me as I moved through the exhibit. Other times I had to reach out to touch the artworks or my feet crunched on autumn leaves, or sand or pebbles.

In my lack of experience with this type of ’seeing’, I found it hard to understand the ’story’ behind some of the pieces. Leonie’s artwork was an exception. She had a shell shape with a sand texture and a shell sculpture inside. When I put my head inside, I heard the sound of the ocean and I listened to Leonie reading from her children’s story, “The Little Shell”, complete with a blessing at the end. It was a beautiful immersive experience.

A little further on, I felt a shoe. Logically, as my hand traced over it, there was a foot inside and slacks. Further up there was a knee. At that point I wondered, “How far do I put my hand?” Do I reach up further? “Is this a man or a woman?” Then laughed to myself, I don’t really want to know! Although it was not a real person it was funny.

The exhibition had an amazing range of textures, shapes and contrasts including: soft and hard, hot and cold, wet and dry, stable and moveable. I could have explored for longer, but time didn’t permit. I’ll go again with another friend. The exhibition is on until 12 July 2014.

Leonie Pye and friends going into Touch exhibition_9914 sm

ABC 7:30 ACT, formerly Stateline

Tonight is full moon, but we cannot see it in Canberra because it is raining and overcast. The full moon is celebrate in one of my photographs which was displayed as the background for a local current affairs program on TV, 7:30 ACT, formerly Stateline. How exciting is that! It was wonderful to see one of photos on TV! It is a cheerful photo that reminds us of the beauty all around us despite the current inclement weather.
Museum and Moon Reflections is part of an exhibition I’m working on in collaboration with Hazel Hall and Australian Poetry that will be shown next year. Last year a photo from the same theme was exhibited in “100 Views of Canberra”. A book of the exhibition of the same name was published by PhotoAccess, as part of Canberra’s centenary celebrations. This book is still available at PhotoAccess at Manuka Arts Centre.

Museum and Moon Reflections_Margaret Kalms

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...