Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Year of the Horse
Annual Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The Chinese - Year of the Horse - began on the 31st of January 2014 and will end on the 18th February 2015.

For those of you not familiar with Chinese Astrology there are twelve animal signs that cycle in the order: Rat (2008), Ox (2009), Tiger (2010), Rabbit (2011), Dragon (2012), Snake (2013), Horse (2014), Goat (2015), Monkey (2016), Rooster (2017), Dog (2018), and Pig (2019) - and this cycle keeps on repeating every twelve years.

Artist And Title: A. Tanzini - Horse.
Medium: Wooden Sculpture.

If you were born in the year of the Horse you are apparently active and energetic and you have got plenty of sex-appeal and dress suavely. Horses love to be in the crowd, maybe that is why they can usually be seen out on venues such as concerts, theaters, meetings, sporting occasions, and of course, parties. Horse people are very quick-witted and can easily anticipate what you are going to say before you say it. On the down side, they really are more cunning than intelligent - and they know that; that is why most of the Horse people lack confidence.

In fact, 2014 is the year of the Wooden Horse. Wooden horses are strong and stable and have a better ability to make decisions. Excellent at interacting with others, they are successful personally and professionally. Needless to say I was not born in the year of the Horse, let alone the year of the Wooden Horse.

Chinese character for a "Horse".

Now the stuff I did not want to read comes up next. Apparently this year will be a fast year full of conflicts, according to some astrologers, who see wood as providing fuel for the energetic horse sign. The later part of the year is “yin fire”, increasing the potential for heated clashes even more. Feng shui practitioner Raymond Lo told Reuters: “The upcoming Horse year is also a 'yang wood' year, when people will stick more to their principles and stand firm. So it is hard to negotiate or compromise as there are more tendencies for people to fight for their ideals.”

Luckily I do not believe in the "Stars" nor in Chinese astrology since the last thing I want is a whole year of conflict. Since becoming Co-Editor of Textile Fibre Forum this year there is always a tension between what is "best" for the magazine as distinct from what is "best" for an individual artist/contributor. I must confess I was pleasantly surprised how many contributors want the "best" for the magazine and so readily accept editorial decisions that may have curtailed their contribution. Thank you! Hence there is one further category that has been added to this blog spot and that is - Musings of a Textile Tragic - which is my regular column for the magazine. The number of categories on this blog spot are now as follows: (i) ArtCloth; (ii) Art Essay; (iii) Art Exhibition/Installation/Talk; (iv) Artist's Profile; (v) Art Resource; (vi) Art Review; (vii) Guest Artist; (viii) Guest Editor; (ix) Musings of a Textile Tragic; (x) My Students Outputs (Workshops and Master Classes); (xi) Opinion Piece on Art; (xii) Resource Reviews; (xiii) Prints On Paper; (xiv) Technical Articles; (xv) Wearable Art. Not all of these categories will be present in a given year. For example, this year disappeared so quickly I did not invite a Guest Editor or Artist to present their art. I hope to avoid that flaw next year!

I started this blog four years ago, on the 26th August 2010 - in part as art therapy and moreover, to inform, aspire and inspire others to get on with their own art. At the outset my commitment was simple: I would blog approximately 50 posts a year, including an annual summary of each year. This is my 200th post and we have had over 270,000 visitors to this blog spot in that time. For your convenience I have listed these annual reviews below:
It's Been An Exciting Year (2010/2011)
Another Cheer - Another Year (2011/2012)
Where Did The Year Go? (2012/2013)
Cold and Windy - But on the Dawn of Renewal (2014/2015)
A Time To Reflect - A Time To Select (2015/2016)
A Time to Remember (2016/2017)
To Be or Not to Be (2017/2018)
The Night Too Quickly Passes (2018/2019)

Gremlins continue to invade some of the posts and I especially want to thank those of you who have got in contact with me to highlight errors of fact. Thanks John Vaughan and Bev Lang for correcting my Australian Flag and Margaret Ann Field posts, respectively. It is greatly appreciated.

I have never been guided by popularity, since if I was so inclined I would not have tackled a lot of art projects that I did. Although I have my favourite posts, I am always shocked by what the democratic process throws up. Naturally the statistics are always worse for those posts that are near in time to the annual review (i.e. number of page views, visitors, length of stay etc.) As for those posts in the various categories, some I would have predicted would be popular, but others are a complete surprise to me. The biggest surprises always resides with my artwork, since we believe that we know our artwork the best and so think we know what works and what doesn’t work with the public. Re-think!

The Year of the Horse
I have opened this category to include all posts that has been labeled as ArtCloth and some in the Art Review category. That is, there are a number of posts in this category this year ranging from aboriginal batik on cloth (ArtCloth) to Hawaiian quilts (Art Review) to fabric lengths etc.

The most popular post with respect to my ArtCloth was My Place...Your Place...Our Place.

Artist: Marie-Therese Wisniowski. Title: My Place...Your Place...Our Place.
Technique and Media: Dyed, discharged, lino block prints, stencilled, silk screened, stamped, mono printed, hand painted and rubbings employing gel, pigment and charcoal on cotton.
Size of Artwork: 1.4 metres wide x 3.5 metres long.

Nevertheless, the most popular in this category by a country mile was Woven Textile Designs in Britain (1750 to 1763). In just one fortnight it attracted over 1200 visitors - most of them from the UK!

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a damask, 1751.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat: 54.4 x 27 cm.
Inscribed with the name of the weaver, possibly John Phene to whom it was sold.

Art Essay
There were a number of posts this year in this category. My art essay on the Total Art Context was read by people from more countries than any other post in this category. However, the most popular post is not necessarily a post that strikes a chord with the international community. This was really evident in this category since my art essay on Navajo Rugs was viewed by twice as many people as the former - with more than 95% of the visitors originating from North America. Regional interest does generate international traffic.

This table runner is a fringed textile of Germantown yarn in design dominated by a multi-hued, eight pointed star; ca. 1890.
Size: 25 x 39 inches.

Art Exhibitions/Installations/Talks
There were few posts in this category this year. Of those When Rainforest Glowed at Eden Gardens was by far the most viewed. It continued my theme of producing environmental art using my signature technique of MultiSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS) on delustered satin. A number of the images from the exhibition were posted by various people on pinterest sites. It is always pleasing to know that people from around the world can view your artwork and enjoy it, without having to travel 10,000 miles to see it!

Artist: Marie-Therese Wisniowski. Title: Shadow Play.
MSDS using delustered satin.

Artist's Profile
This year I have added a new category titled - Artist's Profile. I have two entries in this category The Art of Erté and Margaret Ann Field, with the latter viewed by more visitors. Luckily for me, a relative of the latter artist I profiled got in contact with me and has corrected some of my mistakes. I am not perfect and so I welcome any corrections. Thanks to Bev Lang, I was able to correct my post on Margaret Ann Field in order to make it more accurate. It is always satisfying to inform families of the importance of their relatives. We all celebrate their art but if you have a family tie to them, the joy is so much more gratifying.

The young Mrs. Edwin Field (nee Margaret Ann Lang) with baby.

Art Resource
Of course, the Glossary of Terms and Fabrics still attracts a sizeable audience - and this year was no different. However, of those posts eligible, the Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff, which was posted in January 2014, won this category. There is already a large number of back links to this post, which illustrates its educational nature. Large data bases tend to attract large audiences.

9000 BC - 3000 BC: The domestication of sheep, goats and dogs dates from 9,000 BC in the uplands of Zam Chem Shanidar and from 7,000 BC at Jarmo in the Zagros Mountains of north west Iran. In Israel and south Turkey it occurred from the 7,000 to 6,000 BC. Sheep rearing became major industry in Sumeria between 3,500 to 3,000 BC, by which time both hairy and wooly sheep were known.

Surprisingly this post was not without a challenge. Protein Fibers - Speciality Hair Fibers received a large amount of attention. Perhaps there are a lot of textile artists, who work with these fibers and so want to know more about their physical and chemical properties.

Musings of a Textile Tragic
In any given year, there will be only four contenders for this gong due to the number of issues of Textile Fibre Forum that ArtWear publishes within a given year. Of the four - "Of Fires and Flooding Rains" - was the most viewed. It is difficult to second guess why this would be the case since the demographics of who viewed the Musings category is difficult to unpack in terms of search engine statistics. Perhaps it was the power of the images (e.g. image searches) or the sentiment of the Musings that centered on loss (e.g. geographical location of the visitor) - either way this Musing was by far the best received.

Musing: Of Fires and Flooding Rains, TFF, Issue No. 113 (MARCH, 2014).
Artist: Dianne Firth. Title: Deluge.
Medium and Technique: Machine stitching/quilting, reverse appliqué, viscose felt, cotton. Vest lined with black wool. Padded heart applied, acrylic fibres as ‘flames’, red jewel hearts, wrapped beads, found brooch, painted rattan cane, hand painted canvas.
Size: 139cm h x 71cm w.
Photograph Courtesy of Andrew Sikorski.

Opinion Piece on Art
This is another new category. I wanted to separate Art Essays - that usually entailed a more factual base - from an opinion piece on art, the latter of which could be disputable. For example, the boundary between what is mimicked or what is appropriated art could vary depending on a person's worldview. Arguments starting from a different set of axioms can lead to different conclusions. Hence the need for this category.

It is not surprising that the most viewed post in this category was The Art of Blogging. Many of us want to know how we can get people to visit our web site/blogspot, read our tweets, or become our friend on FaceBook. Basically, we want followers, we want to be known and appreciated. In fact, some of us make a living by convincing others we know how to get people to your site (Search Engine Opportunists I call them). Unfortunately if you read this post you will realize there is no magic formula. What makes a site go ballistic can be as simple as - I want to have more followers than Justin Beaver - help me! Its clear that this blogspot is all about my art therapy.

My art therapy - the logo I designed for ATASDA (Australian Textile Arts & Surface Design Association) when I was Vice-President of this not-for-profit organisation.

Prints on Paper
The blogspot mainly concentrates on all things fiber. However, from time-to-time there are posts which focus on prints on paper. I have opened this category to all posts that are concerned with prints on paper. The two posts that were vying for the title of most popular in this category were: Contemporary Aboriginal Prints and Federation On Hold - Call Waiting. The former was published in November 2013 and the latter in August 2013 (one week after the yearly review). Both are quintessential Australian topics, yet both were viewed by visitors from every continent. Federation On Hold succeeded by the thinnest of margins!

Artist: Marie-Therese Wisniowski. Title: Federation on Hold - Call Waiting; Press Four - Refugees.

Resource Review
The two most popular Resource Reviews were: Eden Gardens and 2013 Australian Craft Awards - the former is where I held one of my ArtCloth Exhibitions and the latter concentrated on a competition in which I was a finalist. Clearly I am unashamedly self promoting! Although since the naughties, it has always been - "Look at me! Look at me!" - I promise I will never post a "SELFIE", since my ego needs to be contained! Nevertheless, this ego driven section was dominated by my post about the Australian Craft Awards.

Wearable Art
Wearable Art is such a hard category. There were so many excellent posts in this category this year. The two most viewed should not be a surprise for you: Costumes of the Tsars and Fashions from 1907 to 1967. The latter had 30% more visitors than the former. What is more pleasing is the time visitors spent viewing the post. The average time for the winning post was 5 minutes. Clearly people were reading it rather than just getting there, viewing a few images and then bouncing away.

Left: Mini Dress (1966-1967).
Description: Red-purple wool trimmed with white jersey.
Designer: Mary Quant.
Center: Coat Dress (1965).
Description: White wool twill bound with navy grosgrain.
Designer: Andre Courreges.
Right: Day Dress (1965).
Description: Wool jersey made of geometric segments in white, red and blue, separated by bars of black – a la Mondrian.
Designer: Yves Saint Laurent.

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