Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chinese Calligraphy[1]
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The word calligraphy is originally a Greek word meaning “beautiful writing”. Chinese calligraphy has been practiced for several thousands of years, originating from abstract symbols carved on cave walls, animal bones and tortoise shells. Only about 1,400 of the 2,500 known oracle bone script logographs (symbols) can be identified with later Chinese characters and thus have been deciphered by paleo-graphers.

Inscriptions on Oracle Shells.
Shang Dynasty (1600 - 1046 BC).
Courtesy reference[1].

Ancient "Official-Script" Characters Written on Silk.
Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD).
Courtesy reference[1].

In my installation Codes – Lost Voices I used the vagaries of the Kangi pictograms to suggest a lost message.

ArtCloth: Kangi Rendition (foreground).
Technique: Dyed, lino-block, screen printed and laminated motifs on silk and velvet.
Size: 1.4 meters (width) x 2.6 meters (length).

Calligraphy is embedded within the Chinese culture. With a newborn baby's first photo album containing congratulations written by relatives with a brush and ink to the calligrapher’s styled embroidered “double happiness” on the pillowcases of a married couple to the inscription on the tombstone engraved by a calligrapher - calligraphy interacts with all the important events in the lives of the Chinese.

Double Happiness – ABC Embroidery Design Sets.

Calligraphy is closely related to traditional Chinese paintings, both art forms using brushes but with calligraphy restricted to black ink only. A painting is thought to be more substantial if it is accompanied by a poem composed by the painter and scripted using calligraphy.

Qi Baishi (1864 - 1957).

Shrimp by Qi Baishi.
Note: The simple strokes and different shades of ink producing shrimps in an imagined water stream. Also, the red stamp at the bottom of the calligraphy is the stamp of the artist.

An important principle in Chinese painting is to display the world in simple lines and colors. Ni Zan (1301 - 1374) landscapes consisted of little brush work and very few figures in order to evoke in the viewer a hint of what is in his minds eye. The calligraphy complements this conciseness.

Picture of Six Gentlemen by Ni Zan.
Note: The simplicity enraptures a tranquility of sorts.
Courtesy reference[1].

The Cambridge University Press has and will publish a large number of monographs as an “Introduction To Chinese Culture”. Of interest to the readership of this blog are such monographs as:
Chinese Ceramics
Chinese Clothing
Chinese Bonze Wear
China’s Museums
China’s Cultural Relics
Chinese Folk Arts
Chinese Painting
Chinese Sculpture
Chinese Arts And Crafts

…just to mention a few!

This art essay focuses on Chinese Calligraphy [1] - one of at least 10 must buys in the Cambridge University Press series!

Chinese Characters
Languages based on alphabets have words that contain four basic attributes: the words are built from the letters of the alphabet; the words have a two-dimensional aspect – length and width; the words have meaning; the words suggest the pronunciation. On the other hand, Chinese characters only have two of these attributes: shape and meaning - with the latter slightly related to the character itself.

The shapes of Chinese characters are based on a square grid. For example, the Chinese character for “permanence” is “yong”. It has eight strokes that are written in a particular order.

Written Chinese Character - “Yong”.
Note: The eight basic strokes are illustrated, and they are written in order 1 to 8.
Courtesy of reference[1].

There are a total of 90000 Chinese characters that exist, with 3500 being the most commonly used, and they are constructed using thousands of combinations of shapes. In order to read Chinese you need to understand the context of at least 3500 set of the most commonly used Chinese characters.

Chinese Scripts
There are five different Chinese scripts, with the first three given below being commonly used.

Formal Or Regular Script
This script is more than 1,000 years old and is the fundamental style for Chinese writing and so is used for printed matter and is employed in computerized fonts. Therefore, it is the style that is common for shop names, on billboards, in newspaper headlines, for official documents and on tombstones etc.

Its standard strokes, rigorous rules, and slow writing speed, makes it easy to read. The "Regular Style" preserves the precision and modulation of line width and so is less formal and heavy in appearance. The horizontal lines generally slope upwards but do not have the final tilt at the end of the stroke. The vertical lines are kept strictly vertical and do not lean away from the center of the character. Students of calligraphy have traditionally mastered this style before attempting the others.

Regular Style.
Courtesy of Columbia University (USA).

Running Script
This style developed as a quick way of writing the formal script and sits between the formal (above) and cursive scripts. It is used for everyday writing such as in letters and postcards etc.

As the name suggests, it allows for more freedom and fluidity in movement. The strokes and dots that are written separately in the "Regular Style" are joined together in a single sweep of the brush, thus producing a feeling of speed and fluency. It is looser than the formal script with more lines between the dots and strokes. Most characters have slanted shapes.

Running Script.
Courtesy Of Columbia University (USA).

Cursive Script
The cursive script is written at high speed and so the form of the characters is dissimilar to the formal script. The characters are irregular, with some of the strokes joined together, and parts of the strokes or whole strokes are sometimes omitted. This makes the characters more difficult to read but makes the appearance of the characters interesting.

Cursive Script of Wang Xizhi (265 – 420 AD)

Great Seal Script
The "Great Seal Script" covers a broad range of styles that came into use during the Chou dynasty (1122 - 221 BC) These characters are more rounded at the corners and show a mixture of thick and thin strokes. Many of the surviving examples of this style, such as the one below, come from inscriptions that were cast on bronze vessels. At the bottom of the first column is the pictograph (picture-word) for "house". The first word in the second column is also a pictograph. It shows "carriage" from a bird's eye view — a compartment with two wheels on either side, joined by an axle.

Although people today find the characters difficult to read, they are seen to be full of mystery and charm.

Great Seal Script.
Note: It contains few strokes, with no dots, hooks or turning strokes, and the lines are consistently thick.
Courtesy Of Columbia University (USA).

Small Seal Script
In 221 BC the first unifier and Emperor of China ordered that the writing system be standardized and established the writing style of his native state, Ch'in, as the model script of the empire. The round contours of this script, later known as the "Small Seal Style", make it similar to the "Great Seal Style". However, the lines are all of an even thickness and the characters are very elongated so that they might be imagined to fit neatly into a vertical rectangle.

Small Seal Script.
Courtesy Of Columbia University (USA).

Clerical or Official Script
During the Han dynasty (207 BC - 220 AD) the "Small Seal Style" was surpassed in popularity by another script, which could be written more quickly and easily with a brush. This style became known as the "Clerical or Official Script" because more samples of this script were found on official documents such as government records of taxes, census records, deeds etc.

The "Official Script" differed from the "Seal Scripts" in that the strokes were no longer drawn in an even thickness, and the pictographic and ideographic features of the "Seal Scripts" were largely diminished or lost. Notice the upward tilt at the end of the horizontal strokes, which gives each character a fluid quality.

Clerical or Official Script.
Courtesy Of Columbia University (USA).

Art Of Calligraphy
The outputs of the Chinese calligraphers have been prolific and still remains unabated.

Calligraphy is the first art that the Chinese people learn. It has been liken to “ …a painting without images, a piece of music without sound”. Its practitioners have been heavily influenced by “The Book Of Rights” (a Confucian classic) and by “Laozi” a classic of Taoism.

Part of the Inscription on the Tablet to Zhang Qian in "Official Script".
(Eastern Han Dynasty, 25 -220 AD).
Courtesy of reference[1].

"Running-Cursive" hand of Wang Xun (Jin Dynasty, 350 - 401 AD).
Boyuan copybook.
Courtesy of reference[1].

"Seal Script" of Li Yang Bing (Tang Dynasty, 618 - 907 AD).
Part of Record of Three Tombs.
Courtesy of reference[1].

"Wild Cursive" hand of Hau Su (Tang Dynasty, 618 - 907 AD).
Courtesy of reference[1].

Calligraphy was quickly digested in the Western art. Sir Herbert Read [1] claimed that abstract expressionism was an extension of Chinese calligraphy. It clearly influenced the work of Joan Miro and Paul Klee.

Paul Klee, Boats in the Flooded Waters.

What is not appreciated is the influence it had on more modern movements of art - such as Graffiti Art. Asian Graffiti artist Tsang Tsou-Choi (who passed away in July of 2007 aged 86) forged typography with thought and so brought both these streams to the fore into his contemporary Graffiti artworks.

Hong Kong's Graffiti King Tsang Tsou-Choi.
Note: He is seen here posing with a Daihatsu car he decorated with his calligraphy during the "Japan@Cool Expo" show in Hong Kong in August 2002.

[1] C. Tingyou, Chinese Calligraphy, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne (2010).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

ArtCloth Triptych

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc. - a printmaker collective (see below) - held a group exhibition of its members at the Newcastle Region Art Gallery (Newcastle, NSW, Australia. The exhibition was opened by Roger Butler, Senior Curator, Australian Prints, Drawings and Illustrated Books at the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra). The exhibition is no longer on display.

Unfortunately I was overseas during the exhibition and so this post sadly will only concern itself with my contribution to the group exhibition, namely an ArtCloth triptych entitled: “Playground”.

A Vignette of the History of the Newcastle Region Art Gallery
Newcastle is the third oldest and sixth largest city in Australia. It is ca. 158.8 kilometers north of Sydney. It was first established as a penal settlement, and when coal was discovered, it quickly developed in order to supply other Australian settlements with fuel. It is still one of the largest coal exporting ports in the world – exporting in the vicinity of ca. AUD$18 billion dollars per year.
The indigenous inhabitants of the region - the Awabakal and Worimi people - lands spread north of the Hunter River and south to encompass Lake Macquarie. Awabakal and Worimi people are united by a common language, strong ties of kinship and survived as skilled hunter–fisher–gatherers in family groups or clans scattered along the mid-North coastal region.

Awabakal Elders’ Aboriginal Art.

In 1945 Dr Roland Pope, an ophthalmic surgeon from Sydney made the promise of the bequest of his art collection of some 137 Australian paintings to Newcastle, conditional upon the construction of a gallery to house them. Pope’s collection was held in storage for 12 years awaiting a gallery.

In 1957 Newcastle City Art Gallery, as it was then known, opened on the second floor of the War Memorial Cultural Centre adjacent to the gallery’s current home. Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Australia’s first purpose built regional gallery was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Friday 11th March 1977. The building is also an important example of early 1970s architecture with its geometric forms and brutal aesthetic.

Newcastle Region Art Gallery.

Today the Gallery has in its collection over 5000 works of art and can display only a small percentage of its renowned collection. The earliest works in the Gallery’s collection are by convict artists. Joseph Lycett’s paintings of early Newcastle, or Coal River as it was known in the early nineteenth century, gave central prominence to Nobbys headland, the quintessential feature of Newcastle harbor. Lycett’s early views of Newcastle also document the Indigenous inhabitants of the region, namely the Awabakal and Worimi people.

Nobby's Headland and Lighthouse, Newcastle (NSW, Australia).

The city has also produced its share of artists. William Dobell, John Olsen, William Rose, Tom Gleghorn, Ross Morrow, John Molvig were all born and bred in the city, while artists including John Passmore, Royston Harpur, Stanislaus Rapotec, Matthew Perceval, Shay Docking and Margaret Olley have been drawn to the city, to its architecture and industrial vistas.

Margaret Olley: "After the rain looking towards Stockton" 1970. Oil on canvas. Stockton is a suburb of Newcastle.

A Brief History of The Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc.
The "Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc" in Australia began in 1983 with a grant from the Office of the Minister for Arts, The Community Arts and Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council and the Newcastle Trades Hall Council. It is still a very active group in the new millennium. It largely arose from the community art and the working life movements of the 1970s. The eclectic coalition of the initial funding agencies clearly emphasizes a broad-based and agenda-less community cooperative. It is a cooperative in the sense that it is largely designed to share equipment, exchange ideas, develop and encourage some common experiences. For example, they regularly exhibit as a group, encourage ad hoc partnerships between painters and printmakers or sculptors and printmakers etc. It is what they do not do or share that clearly delineates it from other collectives such as the Earthworks Poster collective.

The Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc. is a community based group of printmakers who work in a variety of printmaking media (e.g. solar print, intaglio, relief, lithography and screen printing). It is the longest running workshop in Australia.

The social engagement of the Newcastle Printmakers Workshop is restricted to the printmakers themselves. They have no agendas in raising the consciousness of community groups on any other issues except on the artistic and technical aspects of printmaking. They are not attempting to define or develop a common voice in their collective art.

PLAYGROUND by Marie-Therese Wisniowski
This triptych is an investigation of Newcastle’s role as Sydney’s "Playground". Due to its ever-expanding population and the introduction of fast transport systems, Sydney-siders will look to Newcastle to cater for their leisure time activities. The third oldest Australian city will, within this century, metamorphose into an exciting playground.

The work is a series of monoprints, silkscreened, stenciled, stitched, digital and transfer processes on cotton. It size is 2 meters high x 1 meter wide.

“Playground” - Full View.

Newcastle's natural environment is highly valued by its community as it boasts estuaries, ocean beaches, local waterways, wetlands and magnificent bush lands. Nearby is Lake Macquarie, a salt-water lake – the largest salt lake in the country. It is three and a half times larger than Sydney Harbor. A modern city on the sea, Newcastle embraces its maritime, industrial and cultural heritage and has a rich indigenous history. The earliest Aboriginal reference to the naming of Newcastle is Muloobinba (meaning Mu-lu-bin - edible sea fern, ba - place of). Below is a snapshot of some of the panels in the piece, which articulate the somewhat deconstructed imagery.

This panel highlights water sports such as sailing, wind surfing, water skiing and other boating activities that occur on the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie coast year round.

This panel depicts the popular surfing culture as Newcastle has an abundance of beaches and surf breaks. Newcastle hosts the annual international surfing contest “Surfest” on the world professional surfing tour.

The Hunter Valley was the first area in Australia where grapes were planted for wine production.
This panel depicts the soils and trellis structures needed to produce the famous wines from this very popular Australian wine district.

Newcastle has a thriving arts scene, which boasts a rich and varied cultural life with a wonderful selection of theatres, cinemas and concert venues which includes the popular Conservatorium of Music.

Creative and artistic pursuits abound throughout Newcastle and the region via an expansive array of contemporary and prestigious art galleries and public street art.

Newcastle has the distinction of being the site of the first coal mine in Australia and was significant in the development of the New South Wales mining industry. The Port of Newcastle is a major player in the NSW mining industry being part of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain, which is one of the world's largest coal export operation. The industry in turn supports the various "Playground" activities that Newcastle is blessed with!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

In Pursuit of ArtCloth:
Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing Workshop
Two Day Workshop@EFTAG, NSW

Tutor: Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This blogspot exhibits many of my students outputs from a variety of workshops. There are one, two and five day workshops as well as workshops that have a different focus. Nevertheless, it always surprises me how much I learn from my students and how enthusiastic they are to learn and so for your convenience, I have listed the workshop posts below.

Visual Communication and Design (The University of Newcastle Multi-Media Course).
The University of Newcastle (Newcastle and Ourimbah Campuses, NSW, Australia) 2008 to 2010.

In Pursuit of ArtCloth:Improvisational Screen Printing Workshop
The Australian Textile Arts & Surface Design Association Inc. Sydney, NSW.

One and Two Day Disperse Dye Workshops
Various Textile Groups (Australia) 2008 - 2011.

Five Day Workshop - In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
“Wrapt in Rocky” Textile Fibre Forum Conference (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia) 29th June to 5th July 2008.

Five Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
Orange Textile Fiber Forum (Orange, NSW, Australia) 19th to 25th April 2009.

5 Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
Geelong Fiber Forum (Geelong, Victoria, Australia) 27th September to 3rd October 2009.

Two Day Workshop - Deconstructed and Polychromatic Screen Printing
Beautiful Silks (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 20th to 21st March 2010.

Five Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
“Wrapt in Rocky” Biennial Textile Forum/Conference Program (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia) 25th June to 1st July 2010.

Two Day Workshop – Improvisational Screen Printing
ATASDA (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 28th to 29th August 2010.

Two Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth (Day One)
”Stitching and Beyond” Textile Group (Woodbridge, Tasmania, Australia) 2nd to 3rd October 2010.

Two Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth (Day Two)
”Stitching and Beyond” Textile Group (Woodbridge, Tasmania, Australia) 2nd to 3rd October 2010.

Advance Silk Screen Printing
Redcliffe City Art Gallery Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia) 10th April 2011.

One Day Workshop - In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
The Victorian Feltmakers Inc. (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 14th May 2011.

One Day Workshop - In Pursuit of Complex Cloth (Felted and Silk Fibers)
Victorian Feltmakers Inc (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 15th May 2011.

Five Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
SDA (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA) 13th to 17th June 2011.

Five Day Disperse Dye Master Class – Barbara Scott
Art Quill Studio (Arcadia Vale, NSW, Australia) 15th to 19th August 2011.

Five Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
Fiber Arts Australia (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 26th September to 1st October 2011.

One Day Workshop – Improvisational Screen Printing
Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc. (Newcastle, NSW, Australia) 5th November 2011.

One Day Workshops – Low Relief Screen Printing
Various classes within Australia.

Two Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
ATASDA (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 23rd to 24th June 2012.

MSDS Demonstration at Zijdelings
(Tilburg, The Netherlands) October, 2012.

Five Day Workshop - Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
Fibre Arts@Ballarat (Ballarat, Victoria, Australia) 6th to 12th April 2013.

Two Day Workshop - Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
EFTAG (Tuross Head, NSW, Australia) 13th to 14th April 2013.

Two Day Workshop - Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
Zijdelings Studio (Tilburg, The Netherlands) 9th to 10th October 2014.

PCA - Celebrating 50 Years in 2016
Art Quill Studio 2016 Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Image Dreamings: Basic Silk Screen Printing Workshop - Part I
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Image Dreamings: Basic Silk Screen Printing Workshop - Part II
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of: Improvisational Screen Printing Workshop
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of: Low Relief Screen Printing (LRSP) Workshop 2016
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Art Quill Studio 2017 Workshop Program
2017 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of: Low Relief Screen Printing (LRSP)
2017 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of Complex Cloth: Layered Printing Approaches
2017 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Melding Experiences: New Landscapes Using Disperse Dyes and Transfer Printing.
2019 Art Quill Studio Workshop (NCEATA, Newcastle, Australia).

This two day workshop was held at "The Pines" in Tuross Head, which is on the south coast of NSW (Australia).

Tuross Head is a seaside village on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia.

Tuross Head is surrounded by water on three sides; with Coila Lake to the north, Tuross Lake to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the east. To the west are the mountains of the Great Dividing Range. The area is well known for fishing (including fresh oysters), water sports and in particular, its wildlife (e.g. whales and birds). Tuross Head has a thriving shopping village with food outlets ranging from take-outs to restaurants. The award winning Tuross Country Club has bowling greens and a golf course.

Picturesque Tuross Head.

The workshop was held at a facility called “The Pines”. "The Pines" provides accommodation, and conference facilities in an idyllic setting in Tuross Head. It is centrally located being only 200 meters from Lake Tuross and the ocean and a short stroll from the shops and boatshed. "The Pines" is available for smaller sized groups to attend textiles and art workshops. It is run by Saint Edmunds College, Canberra (Australia) - a Catholic school and so it has a Chapel and outdoor altar for the use of visitors.

View from "The Pines".

This workshop was organized by the “Eurobodalla Fibre & Textile Art Group” (EFTAG) from the South Coast region of New South Wales, Australia. It was held on the 13th - 14th April 2013 at "The Pines", Education and Retreat Centre at Tuross Head, New South Wales. My thanks to Deborah (Mandira) Currie for her outstanding organizational skills in ensuring that the workshop was a huge success.

Two-Day Workshop Synopsis
This workshop was an introduction to the dye sublimation process (transfer printing) and melded participants experiences as valuable resources to create new artistic landscapes using disperse dyes.

Participants created their own custom dyed fabric using disperse dyes via direct imaging, experimental and layering exercises. They applied painted, textured, printed imagery onto papers with disperse dyes and then transfer printed them to polyester and blended synthetic fabrics to create a suite of color and pattern studies via an iron or heat press. Participants were also introduced to the tutor's signature MultiSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS) technique featuring multiple layering and resists employing flora as "the thematic" experience. The MSDS works imbue richly colored, textural and vibrant 3-dimensional imaging to the cloth surface.

In summary, it was a fun and exciting workshop, where instruction and experimentation forged the potential of each participant. With these new skills the participants could then include additional techniques such as collage, layering, applique, hand and machine embellishments to their newly made fabrics to create truly unique artistic expressions. All levels were welcome to this two-day workshop.

Workshop Participants and Their Workshop Output

From left: Jenny Jud, Ruby Berry, Susan Curran, Gillian Wolff, Jenny, Nola Helmore and Sharon Whittaker.

Ruby Berry.
Batik style-resist, texture and color study - version 1.

Ruby Berry.
Batik style resist, texture and colour study - version 2.

Ruby Berry.
Multiple resist, texture, layering and color study.

Susan Curran.
Batik style resist, texture and color study.

Susan Curran.
MSDS technique employing flora.

Susan Curran.
MSDS technique employing flora and ghost printing.

Resist, color wash and texture study - version 1.

Resist, color wash and texture study - version 1.

Texture, overprinting, stencil and color wash study.

Nola Helmore.
Batik style-resist, texture and color study.

Nola Helmore.
MSDS technique employing flora - version 1.

Nola Helmore.
MSDS technique employing flora - version 2.

Jenny Jud.
Texture, overprinting and color wash study.

Jenny Jud.
MSDS technique employing flora - version 1.

Jenny Jud.
MSDS technique employing flora - version 2.

Sharon Whittaker.
Resist, texture and multi color study.

Sharon Whittaker.
Multiple resist, hand painting, texture, layering and color study.

Sharon Whittaker.
MSDS technique employing flora.

Gillian Wolff.
Texture, overprinting and color wash study.

Gillian Wolff.
MSDS technique employing flora - version 1.

Gillian Wolff.
MSDS technique employing flora - version 2.