Monthly Archives: August 2014

3, 3 and 3: Miles Lowry, visual and sound artist, writer, director

UnknownThis month’s 3, 3 and 3 guest is one of the most abundantly creative people I know. Miles Lowry lives and works in Victoria BC, Canada, but I met him in Ireland, where we were both in residence at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. I vividly remember the day I had the privilege of visiting his studio. Swallows flew around the walls from painting to painting, or so it seemed to me, so beautifully had Miles captured their mercurial essence.

Miles has been exhibiting paintings and sculptures since 1981. His exhibitions Two Tribes and Rites and Passages and his series of cast fibre figures, Crucial Fragments, have established him as one of Western Canada’s most versatile contemporary artists. After receiving the People’s Choice Award at Artropolis in Vancouver, his work received national television coverage on CBC Artspots. He has been creating a collection of paintings based on travel and sanctuary and specifically his residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig.

He wrote and co-directed Opium, for Bravo! CHUM Television, inspired by French poet Jean Cocteau, and in 2007 introduced the film at the Lincoln Centre, New York. His Bravo!FACT dance film Aisling: We Saw A Vision is based on an award-winning poem by Irish poet Liam Mac Uistin, and he is currently preparing Saint Cloud, a multimedia collection of his works on Cocteau.

A founding Artistic Co-Director for Suddenly Dance Theatre, Miles works in digital arts, sound design and new media. His second Bravo!FACT short, Guthrie Swims the Lake, based on famed theatre director Tyrone Guthrie, premiered on Canadian Television in 2010, and he is currently creating sound and visual design for Suddenly Dance Theatre’s Art of War.

As a painter, Miles recently presented Marks of Devotion, a collaboration of painting and text with calligrapher Georgia Angelopolous, and Saints of Circumstance, an ongoing collection of cryptic portraits.

DSCN5430Miles’s book Blood Orange (2008), based on the life of writer Paul Bowles, sits on my desk with a clutch of poetry collections that I love and dip in to from time time.

And now, over to Miles…

3 things you love about your work

1. I love how my artworks travel over time into people’s lives and hold meanings that I will never know. Occasionally I receive messages from people who have acquired my work. I also get emails with photos of my paintings over fireplaces, sculptures in specially built niches, and sometimes in isolation as the sole artwork in a room. These photos sent from afar connect me to the new world my pieces now inhabit. I imagine how the light may travel over their surfaces. I am reminded by these messages of how some works come back after a long absence and I have to get to know them again.

Mojique

Mojique

2. I love to experience the process of transforming materials into something surprising. My new series of painted sculptural figures are covered in tiny optical beads highly sensitive to variant angles of light. This allows for both a reflective and transparent surface, where the painting beneath becomes illuminated. The effect is transformational and suggests to me an alternative dream-body. There is no subject more significant for me because we have no other way to exist than through our bodies. We embody ourselves. I learned that we average about 2000 dreams a year. In dreams we rarely see ourselves but we recognise the presence of ourselves in others. Sometimes we experience  the dream-body as ourselves. We are free to become both object and idea. With this new work I am considering the human body as a vehicle for dreams and as a potent symbol of our times, reminding us that our bodies are the vulnerable housing we are given.

Dream-body

Dream-body

3. I love to challenge the idea that an artist must be exclusive to a particular medium. I once thought I wanted to be a stone sculptor. I experienced the satisfaction the sculptor has of picking away at something until it is revealed. However, I have made only a half a dozen stone sculptures. Upon calculating the time, energy and risk of working in such a way, I then expanded into the world of clay—the giving and receiving medium that helps shape our functional lives and lends itself so well to the sculptor’s hand. Later I found the simple versatility of casting paper as both a painting and a sculptural medium. Now I am creating three-dimensional paintings. I change licence. I create in new ways. I feel free to create in any medium including ones yet to be discovered.

3 journeys you would like to make

1. I have always wanted to journey to Skellig Michael in Ireland because it sounds terrifying and beautiful—an island of stone rising straight out of the Atlantic, 630 rough-hewn steps climbing from the sea, a cluster of ancient dwellings at the top. It is terrifying because I fear heights but I long for the beauty of its isolation.
2. I hope to visit Morocco to experience now the world I wrote about in Blood Orange, my book about writer Paul Bowles. I wrote about Morocco as I experienced it through the lens of his writings and not my own experiences. Now I would like to experience the reverse. I want to walk where I imagined.
3. I would like to visit Rome, as I have only been there in the movies.

Above and below

Above and below

3 favourite places

1. Gustave Moreau Museum Paris, France
2. Dali’s house at Port Lligat on the Costa Brava, Catalonia
3. Annaghmakerrig at Newbliss, County Monaghan, Ireland

To see more of Miles’s work, go to his website

Previous 3, 3 and 3 guests:
Michael McCall, director/actor/writer/teaching artist
Pearse Buchanan, marine scientist
Debi O’Hehir, visual artist
Emily Mann, Perth Writers Festival program manager
Ian Parmenter, TV cook/writer/broadcaster
Ash Gibson Greig, music composer
Amy Wiseman, dancer

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An August photo-reminder…

about the art of looking down…

DSCN3606

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2, 2 and 2: Brooke Davis talks about Lost & Found

brooke! _114I met Brooke Davis some time ago at one of my favourite local indie bookshops, Beaufort Street Books. She was working there, and still is—but probably not for long, as Brooke’s debut novel, Lost & Found, has become a bestseller in Australia since its release last month and is to be published in twenty-five international territories in 2015.

Despite the common misconception that Brooke is a Perth girl (I think we’ve all been encouraging that!), she is from Bellbrae, Victoria, and moved to Western Australia to do her PhD in creative writing at Curtin University. While there, she was awarded the 2009 Bobbie Cullen Memorial Award for Women Writers, the 2009 AAWP Prize for Best Postgraduate Paper, and the 2011 Postgraduate Queensland Writing Prize. Before this, she had completed her Honours degree in writing at the University of Canberra, winning the Allen & Unwin Prize for Prose Fiction, the Verandah Prose Prize, and the University Medal. So her ‘overnight success’ comes on the heels of a substantial and distinguished apprenticeship.

Brooke doesn’t mind people knowing about the first novel she attempted to write, at the age of ten: a genre-busting foray into the inner-workings of a young teenage girl’s mind—Anne of Green Gables meets The Baby-sitters Club meets Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. It was titled Summer Sadness. Fortunately, she says, it remains unfinished, as she quickly realised she didn’t know the first thing about sadness, or being a teenager!

Brooke was featured on a recent episode of Australian Story (ABC1), and you can view that here.

Here is the book blurb:

At seven years old, Millie Bird realises that everything is dying around her. She wasn’t to know that after she had recorded twenty-seven assorted creatures in her Book of Dead Things her dad would be a Dead Thing, too.

Agatha Pantha is eighty-two and has not left her house since her husband died. She sits behind her front window, hidden by the curtains and ivy, and shouts at passers-by, roaring her anger at complete strangers. Until the day Agatha spies a young girl across the street.

Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven when his son kisses him on the cheek before leaving him at the nursing home. As he watches his son leave, Karl has a moment of clarity. He escapes the home and takes off in search of something different.

Three lost people needing to be found. But they don’t know it yet. Millie, Agatha and Karl are about to break the rules and discover what living is all about.

Over to Brooke…

lost and found cover

2 things that inspired my book

Two major events in my life that inspired Lost & Found happened to the two most important women in my life: my mum and my nan. They’re both dark moments but they were moments when I was pushed to think deeply in ways I hadn’t before.

Mum died in a freak accident seven years ago, and before she died, I had never felt the kind of grief where you don’t know if you’re going to be okay or not. After she died, I was trying to understand how to live without her, and how to live with the knowledge that this was how life worked: that anyone I loved and depended on could die at any moment. The novel became my way of working through my own thoughts on that, and holding them up against how I saw these dark things being dealt with in society.

About two years into the writing of the novel, my nan was put into hospital after suffering a stroke. She was in hospital for a few weeks, and I flew home to Melbourne, and sat with her for a lot of that time. She was old, and sick, and when I spoke with her, you could tell she felt worthless because of that. And some of the staff at the hospital treated her like she should feel that way. That really bothered me, and it struck me as strange that they couldn’t see that one day, if they were lucky to live long enough, they too might be in this position. It made me think about the wider problem we have with our attitudes towards the elderly and ageing. It was around this time that my character Karl the Touch Typist found his way into Lost & Found. He wasn’t supposed to be there—I wanted a story with two female protagonists, and didn’t want a love story—but after Nan’s stroke, I felt an urgency to add this element to the narrative, to give Karl that feeling of invisibility that I could see my nan was enduring. It seemed natural to feed this into the novel, because I think our negative attitudes towards ageing have a lot to do with our fear of death and the silences we put on grief.

2 places connected with my book

The south-west coast of Western Australia is one of my very favourite parts of Australia—it reminds me so much of my home in Victoria, but is far less populated! I think I set my book there just so I could have an excuse to go visit.

Travelling by train has always been my favourite way to travel (as well as by bicycle!). I particularly adore really long train rides, like the trip from Melbourne to Perth. I find trains so relaxing—the rhythmic sound of them, and the way they force you to slow down a bit—and I love that you get to see parts of a country you might not see any other way.

2 favourite secondary characters from my book

Secondary characters are always a little difficult to nail, I think, because you as the author have to know them as well as you know your protagonists in order to present them as well-developed, three-dimensional characters, but they don’t get a lot of time on the page. So essentially you have to spend quite a bit of time with them for not much pay-off! Having said that, here are a couple of my favourite secondary characters in Lost & Found:

Jeremy Jones is a bit of a nod to one of my closest friends, also called Jeremy, who also kind of thinks he’s a super hero (the main difference between them being that Jeremy in Lost & Found is seven years old, and Jeremy in real life is thirty-three years old).

Helen the security guard is a character I feel a lot of empathy for  because she’s constantly saying things about herself out loud that she doesn’t really believe but that she hopes, by saying them, will become things she believes. I think we all do that sometimes.

At a recent reading at Beaufort Street Books

At a recent reading at Beaufort Street Books

You can follow Brooke on:
Twitter @thisisbrooked
Facebook

Lost & Found
is in bookshops now and you can find out more at
Hachette Australia

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Book club baking!

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Amy Wiseman baked these Elemental-themed treats for her book club’s discussion of the novel today. Don’t they look delicious! Meggie Tulloch would never have seen this much jam as a fisher girl in the north of Scotland, where ‘jeely pieces’ consisted of no more than a scrape of watery jam on a chunk of dry bread. And I doubt there was anything so luscious and generous made in the Mills & Ware biscuit factory in Fremantle, either. 🙂

Beautiful, Amy!

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