Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Review Crossing The Roper Bar II

Bennets Lane hosted Crossing the Roper Bar last night.  An ongoing collaboration between the traditional music of Roper River Communities - particularly the strong in heritage Wagilak group from Northern Arnhem Land and the Australian Art Orchestra.

When I heard of this collaboration I immediately bought the tickets.  Buying tickets to an event like this can be risk as we never know what to expect with such a bold approach to cultural meetings.  On one hand the songs of the Young Wagilak Group from Arnhem Land, ancient stories and traditions and the avante garde sounds of the Art Orchestra.  Being that I like both of the styles I deduced that this would be a good concert, and happily I wasn't wrong.

The Australian Art Orchestra called the project a visionary one and this is a accurate call. It is not jazz and it's definately not traditional Aboriginal music or songs, to me it suggests of something much more than the sum of its parts.  The question of what reconcilliation can even mean on a scope of Australia's scale has always plagued me and perhaps some of the answers lie in the results of such a concert series.
The Australian Art Orchestra's standard of musicianship is brilliant at worst.  Directed by Paul Grabowsky, pianist and heavyweight of Australia's Jazz community he fronts a team maestros including; multi instrumentalist of reeds and wind Tony Hicks, Guitars and Effects Stephen Magnusson, Acoustic Upright Bass - Phillip Rex and Drums and Percussion by Niko Schauble.  And the Wagilak Songmen were Daniel Wilfred - Vocals and Bilma or Talking Sticks and David Wilfred on Yidakki or Didgeridoo.

Apart they stand in high regard and together they create something that seems to transcend simply music.  I expected the Art Orchestra to be simply supporting the Songmen but the creative exchange seemed to flow both ways and the performance was unified.  Jazz formats in places indispersed with the chants and storytelling and the punctuating rythym of the Bilma and the constant drone of the Yidaki.  Ebbing between the bursts of reeds and grace of Grabowsky's mastery of the piano and keyboards, passing between moments of time and then off and beyond where our notions of time dissolve.  Elements of world music and improvised jazz as well as the humour and earth centred spirit of the Wagilak's repertoire.

It is rare to find such events and even better when they manage to capture a great idea and release it gracefully.  Another case for arts as a constant forge in healing the divides.

Musical Director, piano 
Paul Grabowsky
Bilma, vocals 
Daniel Wilfred
David Wilfred
Tony Hicks
Stephen Magnusson
Erkki Veltheim
Philip Rex
Niko Schauble

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Corporate Brand Street Art

It's not new that corporate brands make their way into artists palettes or even that the monoliths themselves rouse a portent of their earnings to make some noise on the streets.  The streets, thanks to street art are in, and have been for some time and will probably continue to be as far as I can tell.  Youth culture and Art Culture is constantly reinventing and emerging with new angles and new perspective; and if you can crack these markets you can hock your wares.  

Ralph Lauren has acquired a trend status among younger writers and the polo horse insignia can be a tell tale sign.  The brands are probably well aware of fluctuations because of these trends and will cash in where they can.

Whether this piece was a corporate move or simply a pasters love of the brand I don't know.  It didn't last long before it was altered by taggers and scrawled across, like anything that appears to come from the established it is quickly relegated and critiqued by the undercurrents.

What Yves Saint Laurent would gain by pursuing a street campaign on a cow I don't know and I would wonder more that an image such as this one were not a creative juxtaposition on the source of YSL's raw materials. 

Or just a love of the design.  Established brands have access to the best in design minds, and arts masters, they are successful for a reason and reclaiming these images can be empowering though most of the artists could not even afford a pair of YSL socks.
Out of interest a YSL hoodie would set you back US$990 and a simple Tshirt and cool US$350 a pop.

When I see street artists in paint splattered YSL gear lugging wheat paste rollers and buckets of slag around the lanes I think I'll take up knitting.  

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Art War

With the recent cuts on the arts budget we can expect some changes in the arts in the coming years.  

Over 100 million axed in Liberals attempts to reign the spendings in, extra warplanes that are a nescessity aside this is a large amount ( the commonwealth budget being 417 billion )( 4 billion for the warplanes....)( one less and we would have a billion for the creative industry of australia..hmm).

Film industry got hit hard with 25 million axed from their budget and the other sector were also hard hit.  This doesn't surprise me with Abbott, despite not watching the news or even having a tv the small snippets I hear about him are enough to piece together the seemingly narrow agendas of this man.
I can imagine the cuts will restrict the grants schemes which seem to be the lifeblood of a lot of emerging artists and the Newstart allowance will now come with a six month unpaid standdown for new applicants: It is no secret to any of us in the industry or close to those who are the battle to maintain or even apply for the dole under any premise of being an artist.  

It hasn't surprised me and the affect Abbott would have on the arts was one of the first things I could foresee after he won the election.  I didn't think of it as a negative thing, lack of support in the arts seems to be in a state of constant flux and I think it will just change how artists will have to approach expenses such as mediums, materials and locations etc.  

With the loss to gentrification of inner city melbourne almost to what used to be zone 2-3, the emerging and struggling artist class are flowering out to the fringes and occupying the cheaper land and premises, areas like Coburg North, Preston, South Reservoir, Footscrat and anywhere with a lot of industrial zones able to be converted into studios and workspaces for the artist populace.  

Sharehousing is cheaper here beyond the easy reach of the city where bidding wars on the inner city property is the given.  Illegal warehouse living is overlooked by the realestates and the landlords in these areas ( mostly ), happy with the secure income that group shares can provide.  ( exceptions aside )

And having federal support axed will give plenty of grist to artists for protest.  I can remember some of the best street based art I saw in the mid 2000's in Fitzroy and the CBD was the protest art of the anarchists and punks against John Howard.  The loss of politically motivated art has been something of an irk to me and though I appreciate the colourful murals and street happenings of modern Fitzroy I can't help wishing it had a bit more discussion and argument, RAWNESS.

It's a mixed bag, there will be losses and many artists will be forced to take up jobs to support themselves, but the real ones will stay and with the thinning of the ranks perhaps new scope for style will emerge, a cusp time, the waning of the old and a dawning for whatever lies ahead.  

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

A Post A Day Keepeth the Wyrms Away

In the unintentional way that i usually go by i find myself again on this blogging thing.

As it seems to be again a trend to post i can move with the others and also throw in too sense.
community radio refunded, i'd say it would be more of a pay them to shut up, sinse the majority of the community radio listeners are ageing 60's and 70's protest generation and their offspring would probably find great joy in taking to the streats and dust off the banners and repaint them with the ignorant and consumerist slanted politics moderne.  So we got our radio back, wouldn't it be nice if it wasn't even a matter of contention that we must beg for it and complain in order to get it.  A mere drop in the ocean besides to the gross spending on the defense budget.  
Anyway, without a tv i have less to bemoan, one less happy machine to infiltrate my life and pour newsworthy garbage into my braine.  Happiness it seems is a return to simplicity. The zen of la vie moderne.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Southern Style

Floating mirrors on the sea of uncertainty.
A book full of ryhmes and a shelf full of dust.
Restrained from the halls and broken by the bin.
Call to the soldiers and soon from the sea.

Broken by the barley corn
every thing to be its own 
A laugh for none and one to say
Here is the poem and there is the day.