Tag Archives: Inspiration

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

#mrboxie

#mrboxie

Since getting to Sydney I’ve been getting asked a lot about the little box people, when I’m back in Melbourne I’ll write out the adventure that brought them about. But till then here is the Artist’s Statement from my last show which shows the evolution of my projected meanings onto them. As for what you see, it’s completely up to you.

If you have an Artshub membership you can view a journalists write up on them here. http://www.artshub.com.au/news-article/news-article/news/visual-arts/thieves-244806

Contained.

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Ever since we were kids cardboard boxes have been a thing to play with, a ‘toy’ that is enabled by endless imagination. The people in cardboard boxes within my paintings

have been used to explore isolation, self-imposed and dichotomised by technology. They have explored the urban pattern, the geometries of the cityscape and the ability to blend in and camouflage oneself into a man-made architectural environment. They have pinioned travellers and their experiences of the landscape second-hand filtered through their cameras and other technological devices. But these boxes are different. These boxes are exploring that kid’s toy used as a place of refuge, isolating and allowing the psychology to take over. The box becomes a mask to hide body language and emotions. Imagination gets taken over by personal narrative. Inside the box is a warm, your own body heat reflects off the inside and back at you. The outside distractions, of sight and noise are muffled by the absorption of the cardboard.

It is a meditative outfit, a quieter place in a quiet home. A safer place in a safe home – yet there is this little glow that sometimes escapes from the box, bringing the outside world in, waiting for that ping.

The box is anti-heroic, anti-masculine. It speaks to an interior life well explored. One thing that becomes apparent over time viewing the paintings is that they are self-portraits.

#createyourfuture

Spot the Difference

Much like a kid at the beach trying to save their sandcastle from the ceaseless rush of ocean – It is an almost endless process this painting thing.

But yet like most things, there is an end, or somewhere closer to the finishing line. I had a solo show open earlier this year and I had been playing catch up since returning from that seaside residency in February.

Out of interest I am showing you some of the paintings before (as they were in the show) and after, which I hope you will find as fascinating as I do.

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MANIFOLDharley (1 of 1)

These are an interesting pair, it’s a little like spot the difference. I’m already seeing things I’d like to change… Again…

 

120-Ping Ping Ping Ping Ping Ping I want to be Alone Oil on Belgian Linen 130x200cm 2015

Fascinatingly the older version (top painting) looks somewhat better on screen – I am however certain that it is much better in person, at over 6ft across it is difficult to get a real feel for it on screen… Isn’t it pretty to think so? Thank you Hemmingway.

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Hope you are having a great week so far! Feel free to come and visit the studio if you are interested in the paintings. There is always something interesting going on in here!

Or go visit my latest show of miniature paintings at ‘CONTAINED’  2nd – 19th September at Rubicon ARI, Level 1 – 309 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne.

Contained

Contained‘ at RUBICON Gallery, Level 1, 309 Queensberry St. Melbourne

September 2nd – Opening 6 – 9pm – September 19th – Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12-5pm

At the end of the last exhibition I was cornered(pun intended) by a few people who said they didn’t think the work was as intimate as it could be considering the situation, and that I was skirting around something and not facing it head on – although the works were dark, they weren’t intimate, they weren’t as engaged with the core of the exhibition as they could be. Considering that I had considered the title going from Close (as in closer) to Close (Closed) this was a bit of a painful revelation. The above paintings are the result of contained, don’t be surprised if the next exhibition is something completely different. After some recent close brushes I have a very new focus and it’s a subject I have not looked to before.

With my painting I am always trying to find the balance between happy mistakes through bold brushwork against perfection, I think there is a lot to be said for the ‘imperfections’ in paint, the little marks, scuffs and drag marks, areas where the medium has dripped – they are what I adore about it. It’s magic, you create an illusion for people to disappear. On this minuscule size, brush marks and dust can be the death of a whole painting.

The mistakes are like it’s life marks, that show that it’s been made by a human, who is not a computer, not a reproduction – and I like the idea that you can stand in front of the painting, and if you are close enough see where I have moved my hand. I love standing in front of paintings in the NGV and ‘feeling’ where the artist has moved – Next time you stand in front of a Rembrandt, take a second to remember that he stood in the same space you are…

To give the portrayal of an object without putting in every single detail of the object is my aim. If you go and look at some of Picasso’s later works, the abstracts, when you stand in front of them in person you can see the gouges as he has struck at the canvas with his brush and tore it across the surface to create not just a line but something more, an emotional outlet, a feeling, a strike. It is only in person that you can really, deeply appreciate a painterly art work. I hope you enjoy these works and get to see them in person. They are at RUBICON Gallery, Level 1, 309 Queensberry St. Melbourne VIC 3051 September 2nd – Opening 6 – 9pm – September 19th – Opening Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12-5pm

P.S. Don’t forget to look out for the little #mrboxie sculptures left around North Melbourne, you can find clues to there whereabouts through my Instagram https://instagram.com/harley_manifold_artist/

 

Sinking Ships Float

I am very fortunate to have been given a finalists berth in the ANL Maritime awards, which opens on the 4th of October in Melbourne at the Maritime Sea Farer’s Centre, Flinders Street.

The VesselsAbove is a very quick snap, before I wrapped it and sent it in! Let’s hope this one floats, excuse the pun.

New little studies

In the last two or three months, my technique feels like it has taken a giant leap forward – and then gotten stuck haha. But a leap forward none the less… They never reproduce on the internet as well as I would like, but I hope you enjoy.

White Shoes & Sunglasses.. going to need some sunglasses for this one…

Study
Study

 

So usually I don’t paint bright, nor do I use pure Cadmium Orange or Cadmium Yellow, especially not in the same painting… So this is a departure for me, a very, very bright departure… It will be interesting to see where this one ends up, It is making me SUPER ANXIOUS having all these colour things as well as tonal contrasts happening in one picture. I am trying to tell myself it’s like when I was young and had only worn black shoes ever then finally I got a pair of white and I couldn’t stop anxiously staring at my feet going ARGH! haha. It’s from a power station in Melbourne looking along the tracks, can you tell where?

…:::Plein Air:::…

Plein AirPLein Air

Managed to get some rare plein air time in this morning, was a bit smoggy. The clouds were less intense than the light on the ground. And I met the bottle man, who if you look at the second picture places bottles in rows on the ground in the same spot and everynow and then either smashes or replaces them…And here was me thinking it was a VCA arts student doing it… Which seems more interesting than the painting itself!