Tag Archives: contemporary art

What’s With the Guy in the Cardboard Box?

What’s with the guy in the box?

In conjunction with ‘W h i s p e r’, which is on now at The Lost Ones Gallery in Ballarat – I thought I would give a brief what and why about #mrboxie…

Boxie originated in Bali. I had been surfing a wild reef and on my third day there I was hit by a wave and then hit the reef. Fracturing bones in my hand and also lacerating my arm, shoulder and back as well – I got my ‘Bali Tattoo’. For the remainder of the trip I was unable to go surfing. The only thing I could do was sit by the pool and go and do touristy things.

It was during these tourist excursions that I noticed nearly every tourist was walking into the shrines, temples and anywhere in between – with their camera already in-front of their face – only to take an image and turn around and walk away without ever lowering the camera to view the scene.

I stewed on this for days and remembered similar scenes at the 12 apostles, near home. When I returned to Melbourne I had the idea in my head of people running around with cardboard boxes on their torso and a small glow emanating from the bottom, effectively cutting them off from the outside world.

I painted these figures angrily into the landscapes of Bali, until a designer friend came to visit the studio and said how much she loved the figures- which made me happy – and how happy they made her.  This stopped me dead in my tracks, happiness was definitely not the outcome I had seeked from Mrboxie. Yet later that night I realised what a gift it was, it turns out that nearly everyone is polarised by this little figure ambling through the landscape. A Rorschach blot Boxie has almost become. For my friend boxie reminded her of her childhood playing in cardboard box – as most will remember if someone were lucky enough to get something that came in a large box, the box would then become the centre of all play.

It was not until I ran out of friends willing to pose in the box trundling around the streets that I had to enter the box myself. Inside I found it warm and comforting – cocoon like – the sounds outside were muffled and my own body heat reflected off the cardboard and warmed me. I was self-contained in more ways than one. It reminded me of my sanctuary that I found when in the bathroom at home – the only room with a lock on the door – from there it became my armour and camouflage. What better shape to blend into a city than a vertical rectangle?

 

 

Selfies are most popular in AUSTRALIA.

 

  • Selfies are most popular in AUSTRALIA.
  • There are over 1 million selfies taken per day.
  • 36% of people admitted to altering their selfies
  • Selfies makeup 30% of the photos being taken by 18 – 24 yr olds
  • 50% of men and 52% of women have taken a selfie

(Mini) Monuments to now

Mirrors reverse realities, depending on the size of the frame through which you view an image of the mirror – it can seem real, or it can seem like a reflection. As the reflection is itself not a place we can enter. As such it is a good paradox that is reflective of how we use, view and sometimes compare our lives through social media.

““Me Me Me Generation, here are a few basic facts: the National Institutes of Health reports that the incidence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is three times as high for people in their 20s as for folks 65 or older; 58 percent more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982; 40 percent of millennials believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance; and the obsession with fame among the young is apparently so superheated that three times as many girls 11 to 13 want to grow up to be a celebrity’s personal assistant instead of a US senator.”

Why the Art World’s Raging Narcissism Epidemic Is Killing Art

In this series, I am not so much interested in my identity, but more the notion we have chosen to use bathrooms – private – to project a vastly public image into the world through social media. The way we construct ourselves in these selfies that we push out into the world is fascinating!  The self-consumed nature of it is referenced by the titles which highlights the world news – and arguably much more important – events that are happening while we focus inwards.

As my new series of paintings explore, sometimes it is hard to tell are we looking at a real space, or a space in a mirror – reality / reflection.

8800

In the above image, the viewer is uncertain as to whether they are looking into a room with someone photographing them – or are we looking at someone’s self portrait taken in a mirror within the room behind the subject? This question becomes even more confusing when standing in-front of the painting and taking a photo of it through a tablet, or smart phone similar to the one in the photo. The experience is unusual and reality bending.

3900

The works tackle identity, communication and alienation in a self-promotional era. The majority of the paintings being painted in Public bathrooms in front of the mirrors with the urinals, or as the laconic title “Pissers” is a tip of the hat to my tendency to take the piss – both out of others yet mainly myself – something which identifies distinctly as Australian and nods to my upbringing on a rural farm in Victoria. These works are serious, and seriously taking the piss. Again there is a duality.

SOLD Selected for the Salon Des Refuses of The Archibald

This series all started on returning from Africa, I broke my ankle and when I returned I aimed to start plein air painting the urban-scape of Melbourne, however I found after the injury heading out around Melbourne with crutches and a car that had been written off was impossible.

$720 Framed
This is the first bathroom painting I did, previous to the mirror series, it’s a miniature called “Carpet Diem’. #mrboxie is lying down to the left of the oversized bath.

So it began – For me, the bathroom is a private and cocoon like place. In fact, when I was young it was the only room in the house that had a lock, creating a quiet sanctuary for me to be without question or interruption. In this series, I am not so much interested in my identity, but more the notion we have chosen to use bathrooms – private – to project a vastly public image into the world through social media.

550
550

Like #mrboxie, we are connected yet disconnected. My face is deliberately not defined in the paintings. Yet as paintings, which are archivable, they juxtapose against digital selfies that are only valid till the next one is constructed, my paintings are a monument to now.

If you enjoy these there is an exhibition in the Central Goldfields Gallery in Maryborough, Victoria, Australia from the 10th of September. Previews are available in Melbourne starting today. The online preview is here www.harleym.net

#tmacm

I Dream in Music

Gallery is Pricing

Oliver Sacks Musicophilia:

“musicians dream of music more than twice as much as non-musicians [and] musical dream frequency is related to the age of commencement of musical instruction…Nearly half of all recalled music was non-standard, suggesting that original music can be created in dreams”

Fascinating isn’t it. See I dream in music, at least two mornings a week I wake up with a song in my head, sometimes something I’ve never heard…

Now the reason I bring this up is my most recent solo exhibition, which opens very soon, comes from a much darker place than my normal work. These however, are the darkest and most united group of paintings I have produced to date. And music plays an integral part of my art practice – with many hours alone, it literally can drive me or break me. The lyrics are always interesting, and sometimes pertinent – but after a few repeats tend to blur in and out of shape, or poke me straight in the chest.

This exhibition drew on every ounce of energy and concentration that I had, and there were a handful of songs which were on repeat for  hours and h o u r s – they then became the names of  paintings. They are both deeply personal and moving to me – they might not serve as the best soundtrack to open the paintings to you – but they are what got me through creating them. They start dark but as we go along you will see they get lighter, there is always hope in my paintings – even if it’s the smallest glimmer of light… From underneath a cardboard box…There is always hope. But right now this is raw and vulnerable.

There are 3 ways of listening to the music associated with the paintings. if too hard, enjoy the paintings as this is their first preview!

1.  Youtube- Use a  computer (possibly easiest way) click on a painting below and the song and full playlist will open in a new window. Once the window is open you can just click next or close it and click on the next painting.

2. Soundcloud – Free and easy. Press play and then scroll back up to switch.

3.  Spotify – Press play (the paid version of Spotify works best The free version is frustrating if you try and do anything other than let it play) … Then navigate back here 🙂

 

 

116-Summertime Last Hyland Tea Oil on Belgian Linen 86.5x130cm 2015Summertime, and not just any version but Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – This painting has more to the title as it is a little more complicated “Summertime Last Hyland Tea”. A song both beautiful and sad.

 

119-Fixed Fourth Wall Oil on Belgian Linen 130x160cm 2015I cannot imagine how many times I have heard this song on repeat “George Maple – Fixed” It is such a dense, and large painting, the Bass was needed to push through. ( Funny story first few hundred repeats I thought George was some unknown crooner like Cee Lo Green before he became famous – but with a phenomenal androgynous voice – I was a little suprised to find out years later she is a Sydney talent with some amazing great new songs – Perception is Reality). This song is always a pusher, and I love the clip where the two enormous Earths keep closing in on each other but never touch, great stuff.

 

114-Go Oil on Canvas 28x36cm 2015“Go” by Grimes. Even just for the opening few lines on the Youtube version…

 

117-Under Stars Oil on Belgian Linen 86.5x130cm 2015“Under Stars” by Aurora.  This is a very dynamic song in many ways. Another of Aurora’s songs was more pertinent but the title  “murder song” maybe not so (warning tear jerker with that on repeat).

 

113-How Did I Get Here Oil on Canvas 12.5x18cm 2015“How Did I Get Here” by Odesza. A tad bit on the obvious side, but hey I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to be deep.

 

120-Ping Ping Ping Ping Ping Ping I want to be Alone Oil on Belgian Linen 130x200cm 2015“I Want To Be Alone – Jackson C Frank” which played a few more times than “I wish I was alone” by another great Australian band The Grates. Unfortunately not on YouTube

The title for the actual painting is a littler denser too “Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping ping, I want to be Alone” This is a massive painting at 2 meters wide it’s a little hard to get the feel of it not in person. Again, don’t miss the bright side, that orange is like heat.

 

115-Blood On The Motorway Oil on Canvas 28x35cm 2015“Giving up the Ghost” by Dj Shadow. And with this peace begins to return – slowly to the bright side. (note these last two paintings are being errr FINISHED still )

 

118-You Can't Always Get What You Want 97.5x130.5cm 2015And where all darkness is, there must be light to cast it. And something that brought me much light is listening to this record with my brother and my dad when I was young – on repeat, everything is on repeat.

“You can’t always get what you want” by The Rolling Stones

Lastly – “Open Eye Signal” by Jon Hopkins. Singly the most repeated track I have ever listened too. When I paint, and when I need to forget and focus this is what I put on. Again and again and… And I am gone, in the zone, paint flows and I feel like I’m in a trance. To me this song is inexhaustible. This track blankets the paintings as at some point i guarantee it was used to pick me up and get me focused. It also has a great film clip that seems like something I would paint,

My painting show opens on July 11th at 2pm in Gallery Smith’s Project Space 170 Abbotsford St, North Melbourne. I hope to see you there.The paintings are much more impressive in person.

Click HERE to be taken to the facebook version of the invite

And if you found the music interesting you may enjoy the extended playlist on youtube which I will update with a few more songs in time. One which is a gold track by Lapalux…