Expect the unexpected

Sketchbook page Sept 2018, Jan Allsopp

Not what I expected. That is my summary of this week, even though it included a trip to Sydney to see family and I was pretty sure I knew what to expect there. Here are the highlights and unexpected theme(s).

Is there anything better than family?

I had 5 days in Sydney with my daughter and her family, including my 4-year-old grandson. I don’t get to see them very often and I was really looking forward to it. And I wasn’t disappointed at all.

Is there anything better than looking at art?

Exhibition sign for William Kentridge's That which we do not remember exhibition on at the AGNSW

I made two visits to the Art Gallery of NSW to see the William Kentridge exhibition, yes two. He is just about my favourite artist and I’ve seen many of his exhibitions before. The second day I took my grandson and he really enjoyed the videos, especially the stop motion ones with the coffee cup and saucer being uncooperative, and the ones played in reverse where it appears Kentridge is putting pieces of paper back together and they have a self-portrait on them.

Detail of William Kentridge drawing at AGNSW

Detail of William Kentridge drawing, AGNSW

Detail of William Kentridge drawing in exhibition at AGNSW

Detail of William Kentridge drawing, AGNSW

However, in spite of my great love for Kentridge, his exhibition may just have been outshone by Yona Lee’s In transit (double-function form), or at least in my grandson’s eyes. The stainless steel railings, barriers, ladders, double bunk and especially the exit that is actually an entrance had him captivated. All recognisable barriers used to prompt and control our interactions were reversed to disrupt it and interfere. Both of us were initially quite uncomfortable, not knowing how to react in this strange space. But then we got the hang of it and fun ensued!

Is there anything better than new friends?

While I was there I managed to meet up with some online friends, meeting them in the flesh for the first time. It’s always great to meet other artists and it’s always a surprise how universal our issues seem to be. We are all uncertain, not knowing what to do next and not knowing if what we are doing is ‘ok’. I did a bit of casual coaching and reassuring. It’s always easier to help others than it is to help ourselves, or so it seems.

Is there anything better than being organised?

I’ve been struggling with time management and general organisation since I went full-time as an artist. The ‘next thing’ is not always obvious when there are thousands of contenders all with merit. Since getting home I’ve been doing even more planning, making schedules, lists and charts. While I still don’t expect to have it perfect yet, I do now have a structure to work within. Ahh, the beauty of constraints to make us more creative and effective.

Is there anything better than checking off items on the to-do list?
This week’s video was released more or less on time, which is extra noteworthy because I skipped last week’s. I talk a little about that in the video as well as that uncertainty and not knowing we experience as artists, and of course, I talk about my issue with time. I plan to stop talking about that soon! But not until I’m ready.

Is there anything better than a weekend?

One of the things I’m enjoying most about being a full-time artist, as opposed to trying to be one while carrying on other jobs too, is I now get weekends again! I’m catching up with more friends this weekend and even thinking about going to the movies. What will you be doing this weekend? I know I’ll still be in the studio painting as well though. I just love it.

Sketchbook page Sept 2018, Jan Allsopp

Can you do better than me?

If you’re in Sydney and you can visit the William Kentridge exhibition at Annandale Galleries. While I did love the AGNSW exhibition, I had seen quite a lot of it before. Annandale Galleries always exhibit Kenfridges latest work and the exhibition Right into her arms has work from the past couple of years. It’s all very Kentridge but, in true Kentridge style, there are surprises. How do I know this? Well, I’ve looked hard at the website and the videos posted on Facebook because when I was there it hadn’t opened! It opened only days after I left. Do better than me. Go and see it!

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