I’ve had some great news, The WAG or Warrnambool Art Gallery decided to purchase one of my works for their permanent collection. I did a little video about it which is up on their site and below. The full painting is below the video. Stay warm out there!
A week before day 1 of 20, I was so anxious about the project that my jaw felt like it was in a vice. if it weren’t for the M Collection ladies and their kind words I’m sure something would have broke!
The brief was this – Complete 20 postcard sized paintings in 20 consecutive days in Melbourne – rain, hail or shine – of Melbourne’s laneways and urbanscapes – with not a single day off. The paintings will be begun and executed in public allowing people to view the process and evolution of the works and encourage people to step into my outdoor ‘studio’.
I would walk around the city carrying all the gear I needed- sometimes for 2-3 hours looking for a spot where the light would be just right and then setup and get to it. Keeping in mind the light would forever be changing!
As you can see above I had more cameras than a film crew. Each day I would make a time lapse of the painting and the passersby – this was for those people who couldn’t make it to see the painting in progress.
Below is the epitomy of the whole project. Press play and listen to the sound. Children – the worlds best critics. Originally I had me speaking but the kids were better…
And the sound in this one too. Right at the end 🙂
As you heard the crowds reactions to my outdoor painting performance were what made continuing through 20 winter days possible. Strangely I learnt that I could hold a conversation – or two – and paint at the same time without breaking stride.
You can see the full series of these here on my instagram.
Even more impressive was peoples willingness to give to me, I had people get me chai lattes, pastries, coffees, all manner of food – and offered more than I took! Not to mention the lovely ladies who offered their balconies to paint from, the fine scarf from Sydney and the $50 which I passed along and bought warm drinks for the artists who were willing to brave the cold with me! Magic community!!! Everyone really got behind me on this one, and it made the project more rewarding than any exhibition I’ve ever done before.
I’m really looking forward to doing the next installment of the project with the latest piece of technology which is going to make things even more entertaining! But maybe when it get’s warmer… 🙂
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.
- 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
These are an interesting pair, it’s a little like spot the difference. I’m already seeing things I’d like to change… Again…
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.
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‘ 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/
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 🙂
Summertime, 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.
I 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.
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.
And 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.
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…
Looking for something to do next weekend? Well, I’ve just started wrapping up my latest exhibition and the few remaining pieces are going on a little drive to The Golden Plains, just west of Geelong in Victoria. If you want to see some of the works pop into 984 Winjeel Rd (from the Hamilton Highway turn South onto Wingeel Rd. Studio is First on the left) on Saturday and Sunday from 9am – 5pm.
There you will also see some phenomenal sculptural works by Lucy McEachern and Deb Chirnside.
As you can see if you click on the link above there are some very strong works by Lucy, well worth a look in their own right. For the full arts trail download this PDF or take a look at the Golden Plains Arts Trail Website
(apologies to anyone who missed the exhibition from my email ans subscribers list, apparently the transfers were made, then unmade – it was only resolved this weekend by wordpress, things unfortunately do happen. But don’t worry their will be more in the future)
I am so happy to announce that my solo show is now open. With the publicity generated through articles in The Age, news coverage by Channel TEN and Nine news as well as 3AW things are looking good. Not to mention all the pre sales that have clocked into the 5 figures.
Come and enjoy the show.
No Vacancy Gallery – 34 jane bell Lane (off Russel st. side) Melbourne. Tonight 6 – 9