Thursday, January 3, 2013

JENNY SAGES, FROM THE HEART






'Artists are magical helpers. Evoking symbols and motifs that connect us to our deeper selves, they can help us along the heroic journey of our own lives'  
Joseph Campbell

It is that time of the year when we reflect on the year past and make some plans for the year ahead. Last night I was thinking about things from the past year that were  experiences that moved me in some way. The Fred Williams Retrospective was a definite highlight of the year. The Renaissance Exhibition in Canberra, the airing of the tribute to the late Australian painter Margaret Olley ' A life in Paint' Attending an open day at 'Yarralumla' the official Canberra residence of the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. The residence contains Australian art sourced from the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. To my absolute delight I came face to face with my favorite Margaret Olley painting 'Katie's Quinces'  One of the most moving documentaries that I watched last year  was a program on Artscape 'Jenny Sages, Path's to Portraiture'  The incredibly moving story behind her self portrait entry in the Archibald Portrait Prize. You can see part of the documentary here on the National Portrait Gallery website, along with many of the artists drawings. This part of the documentary talks about a previous self portrait, 'Each morning when I wake up I put on my mother's face'  I am certain that all women of a 'certain age' have experienced this emotion! It was the self portrait of the grief of losing her husband that speaks from the heart. The painting was runner up in the portrait prize but won the 'People's choice Award' The documentary is well worth watching, not only for the intimate look at the artists emotional response to her subject.
Jenny works in encaustic, a labor intensive but fascinating combination of using a wax mixed with damar varnish as the base and scratching back and impregnating the wax with pigment to build up the image. Strangely enough when I was in Canberra in March I found myself standing next to JennySages at the counter of the bookshop in the National Gallery. Had I already seen the documentary I am certain that I would not have been able to stop myself commenting to her how moved I was by it. Grief and dealing with it is something that we all have to endure at some point in our lives.
The documentary 'Jenny Sages, Path's to Portraiture' by Australian filmmaker Catherine Hunter is available to purchase here.
A week spent in Melbourne at the Australian TapestryWorkshop was a highlight and a great break away from life at home.
As a Victorian and an Australian like so many others, I was moved by the passing in December of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at the wonderful age of 103. An incredible woman who gave so much of herself to over 100 charities and changed the lives of so many people. Words cannot do justice to such a warm witty and caring  woman, you can watch the moving eulogy given by her son Rupert Murdoch here. Or the entire State Memorial Service held in her honor here. Without the vision of Lady Delacombe and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch tapestry in Australia would not be what it is today. Their vision of an Australian tapestry workshop has forever changed the visual arts in this country. Former State Premier Jeff Kennett described her as being 'always optimistic' When interviewed at the time of her 100th birthday she stated that she 'did not plan on wasting one minute' of the time she had left. Her son Rupert Murdoch said that his Mother had lived a life in 'full bloom'
Many good qualities that are worth taking with all of us into this year ahead. Looking back, my experiences thought the year have ticked all the boxes in the beginning quote by Joseph Campbell   

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