2007 HSC Analysis

2007 Visual Art HSC

Unpacking Section 1

Question 1a

The Blackstone Tjanpi weavers are a group of Aboriginal women from 23 different indigenous communities in Western Australia.
Identify the main characteristics of their artmaking practice as represented in the images below.

Source material; two images and the following citations

Plate 1: Blackstone Tjanpi Weavers, Australia. Tjanpi Grass Toyota, 2005
Grass, raffia and a discarded car frame
Plate 2: Kantjupayi Benson, Basket, 2005
Grass and raffia (plus non essential information about the artist)

This question asks you to ‘identify’ the main characteristics. Note that this is plural, it doesn’t say how many, but certainly you need to be able to identify more than one.

‘Identify’ in it’s simplest reading means to name or point out.

Collectively, the first clue identified in our lesson on unpacking strategies, was that the women are from 23 different communities in Western Australia and the logical inference to draw from this is that to work together, they have to travel. And since ‘practice/artmaking practice’ as separate from ‘material practice’  involves the sum of everything the artist does to sustain and enable their work, which includes their ‘material practice’, then traveling is a characteristic of their artmaking practice.
The second characteristic identified in the lesson was the use of traditional / natural materials, ( grass and raffia) and non traditional materials (discarded car frame).
A third was ‘collaborative practice’ as differentiated by the work of an individual member of the group in Plate 2.

Other inferences and summations were;

An awareness of Contemporary practice, appropriation of a discarded car frame to make a non utilitarian artwork as opposed to the utilitarian application of materials in traditional basket making practice.
An acute sense of irony conveyed through the juxtaposition of a functional basket; which in a traditional setting, would be used for gathering and carrying food etc and the use of a discarded car frame. A car can also be used to gather and carry things, including food; and wrapping the discarded frame, (throw-away) using traditional materials and techniques to produce a non functional ‘auto-basket’ was seen as very ironic and possibly conveying comment/critique about consumer society and the increasing usage of ‘throw away’ / ‘disposable’ goods in a culture that once wasted nothing.

Incidental information.
This work won the Telstra Art Award 2005.

On their website the work is titled “Tjanpi Toyota Dreaming” not the title given in the HSC paper.
Materials quoted are raffia, grass, jute string, chicken wire and steel. The women are from 28 different communities not 23 as referenced in the paper.

1stprize_telstra_05

Tjanpi Toyota Dreaming

images courtesy www.balnavesfoundation.com

Question 1b

“Explain how Jeffrey Smart and Glen Murcutt have responded to the world around them in these artworks.”

Source material: two images and the following citations.

Plate 3: Jeffery Smart, born 1921, Australia, living in Italy. Morning, Yarragon siding,  1982-4, Oil on canvas, 100×134 cm.

Smart painted this picture from a photograph he took of a railway station while traveling in country Victoria. A siding is a section of track off the main railway line. It is used for loading, unloading and storing trains.

Primary focus ‘Conceptual Framework’ / Artwork, Artist, Audience, World

Explain: reference cause and effect

Remember we discussed experiences that were pretty common to all….the time you are called to account for X. Common examples thrown around were when you were young and your parents would drag you in to EXPLAIN how ‘this’ happened. And you had to do the cause and effect routine…”well mum, James was running through the house and Mary was levitating the dog in the lounge-room, I was at the kitchen table with a big bowl of blue icing for the cake, James tripped on the mat and he flew up into the air and hit the dog which went spinning through the door, bounced off the fridge and landed in the icing. And then the dog went running down the hall, ‘cause James blamed it and chased it for tripping him, ‘cause he said if he hadn’t been looking at it floating in the air he would he would have seen the mat and then the dog jumped all over your your bed ‘cause its head was all fuzzed up, see, it wasn’t my fault at all.”

In this explanation you have to be mindful that a painter (Smart) and an architect (Murcutt) have very different sensibilities at work and that the ‘world around them’ can constitute significantly different things. An architect will be dealing with form, space, functionality, design, efficiency, materials, environment, client demands etc. A painter will be dealing with formal relationships of principals and elements, composition, content and the inherent qualities of the material being used, e.g., oil, acrylic, watercolour etc and the idiosyncrasies of their own practice.

In discussion the collective wisdom identified the following;

  • Smart, an Australian expatriate, lives and works in Italy. Could this have any bearing on the choice of colours used in the work.Australia; Green / Gold
  • Australian Flag;  Red, White, Blue
  • Italian Flag; Green, White, Red (in the image these colours appear in the reverse order, red box, white number 2, green panelling-far right, in vertical sequence) overlaid on the green and gold.
  • The number 2 possibly referencing Smart’s dual internal loyalties, Australia and Italy. Also note the figure, red belt, white newspaper, blue shirt.
  • These are all inferences of course, and one may well argue that these are structural considerations only; but the inferences are interesting ones and ones that can be used to explain how Smart responds to the world around him; because his multicultural influences are part of that world.
  • The work was derived from a photograph taken whilst traveling in Victoria. The citation says Smart lives in Italy, so a logical conclusion to draw is that the work was also painted in his studio in Italy, after the photograph was taken. This also brings up the issue of the response being one that is based on memory, and those who know Smarts working practice know that his images are composites based often on a number of photographs and or drawings, with elements extracted from each.
  • Response to light and the ambience of the image was discussed in the context of; that the light in Australia is very different to the light in Europe and capturing that quality is an integral part of Smart’s response.
  • Travel also figures as a significant component in Smart’s world. Whether, you deduce this from the fact that he had travelled in Victoria, and that possibly he would travel to be exposed to different vistas to feed his imagination and the up shot of that would be that his travels could be local, regional or international; and that aspects of that would have to be reflected in his work.
  • References to the Australian environment, change, stereotypical building materials (corrugated iron as the archetypal quintessence of the australian outback).
  • The lone figure resting against the siding platform, certainly not concerned about any  train shunting, with all the time in the world……Those familiar with Smart’s work will know however, that the figure in his images is purely a compositional device and is often based on a photograph of one of Smart’s many friends. He could also be referencing the pace of country life and the passing of time generally.
  • Interestingly, Smart wanted to be an architect prior to becoming interested in painting.

Plate 4: Glen Murcutt, architect, born 1936, Australia.
Magney House, 1982-4, Bingie Point, New South Wales.
Corrugated iron, steel, glass and brick

This house was commissioned by the Magney family to be built on the location of their favourite coastal camping site.

  • Firstly here you have a family wealthy enough to commission one of Australia’s leading architects to build a house on the their favourite camping site. The architect now has a responsibility to meet the clients needs as they are presented to him and this acts as a constraining factor for his creativity and innovativeness. This constraint to varying degrees is part of the architects world. Inside this constraint he must still be able to exercise his creative freedom and this is the challenge. This will also be informed by material, environmental and financial factors. So Murcutt does not have Smart’s option to respond  with relative freedom.
  • Secondly Murcutt must somehow make this commission work so that it fits into the body of his work as an architect and that it enhances his reputation and is consistent with, if not better than his previous creations and do all this and still ensure that his clients are happy.

Some other points brought up in discussion were;

  • The roof line of the building reflected / harmonized with the wave forms of the sea or iconic spaces like the opera house. Missing from that discussion were the probabilities that the roofline was designed to catch and channel rainwater in an area where there was no connection to a domestic supply.
  • The building was designed to maximize the use of natural light and the view to the surrounding environment.
  • Water storage was unobtrusive.
  • Use of primarily modern materials, steel frame, galvanized iron etc.
  • Possibly utilized a very energy efficient design which also did not impose itself on the environment.

read the full analysis here

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