Exhibition opening @ Carriageworks: Photo by Alex Kufner
I just got some photos from the opening of the exhibition – Windows On Pain - at Carriageworks so I thought I would ‘re-post’ the story with a few small changes. As I noted a couple of weeks back, I was able to stand in front of the portrait Tom Carment did of me – called ‘Bashed Critic’ – which he painted after I got mugged on a train. I’ve put it back up mostly to encourage you to come see the show out a Riverside Studios – where it opens on 1 June. And also to show you how good the ‘work’ was that I got done at St Vincents (my new cheeks are made out of my old bum!)
William Yang said I look like 'rough trade' in the portrait: Photo by Alex Kufner
I should admit that I have never personally lived with pain for great stretches of time: my body is more like one of those old cars out the back paddock that’s been trashed by its delinquent owner and his friends, consequently ravaged with faulty parts and dings. So guess I am more a ‘recreational’ pain sufferer! Anyway, you all know what happened – if not you can do some back reading! Many people liked Tom’s painting, some holding the view that I looked handsomer in the picture than in real life. William Yang, who also had a work of art in the exhibition reckoned I looked like ‘rough trade’. That was a first!
Artist: Chia Moan - "Shrinking World" Pastel, ink on Italian canvas, 180 cm x 110 cm: Photo by Alex Kufner
“This picture is inspired by conversations with pain patients, one in particular,
who said she felt like Alice disappearing down the rabbit hole, with the aperture
at the top growing smaller and smaller.
People who live with chronic pain deal very literally with shrinking options in
their lives. If and how I can work, exercise, socialise, travel? Usual activities
are affected, all subjected to scrutiny: what is possible, what is not? People
speak frequently about not being able to communicate their pain, wearing a mask.
In this scene Alice has taken a pill that makes her grow and grow, finally
pressing her head against the ceiling to prevent her neck being broken. She is
trapped inside the house of the White Rabbit. Cramped and desperate though she
is, underneath, Alice’s experience is that reality is constantly being transformed.
Likewise many people move through and with their pain to re-cast reality in
amazing ways with imagination and determination.”Artist
Anyway, alongside the celebrity adrenalin rush, there had also been chance for me to write a little bit about pain on the project website: This is what I wrote:
“I was amused by Tom’s timing, and it was great for us to have a ‘work’ excuse to spend some time together. I bought paintings from Tom when he was just starting out – from his second and third exhibitions. They have both withstood the test of time. As have both Tom and I and our friendship.
Tom Carment - Self Portrait
“One year his family joined mine – a large horde at the camping grounds at Yamba. It was the best summer holiday ever: especially when one of the kids found a bottle on the water’s edge with a message in it in verse by me, with burnt edges, revealing the location of possible treasure on a little sand island facing the camping grounds. Tom rowed many of the kids across in his little boat, before they set off following clues we had laid: until they stumbled, sticking out of the earth – ‘THE DEAD MAN’S HAND’
Yamba: notebook sketch by Tom Carment
“This was a tarry old glove I had found near an abandoned workshop for repairing small fishing boats. Some of the kids were excited, a couple burst into tears – and warned not to dare dig! What is life without risk? Buried underneath was indeed the promised treasure. A box crammed with glassy jewels and shells, trinkets etc.
“Such moments are what makes life great and all are carried on the wings of community, family, friendship, love and imagination. These moments are what you rely on to get you through hours, days, weeks, months, years of pain. Whether physical or emotional – or both.
“I have had much illness in my life: first given the ‘last rites’ at 6 weeks old. My life story is a litany of poxes, bugs, fevers, wounds and dings; and many stays in hospital – three times in just the last year!
Illness, especially serious illness, alerts your senses to what is good in life: especially those higher human qualities of loving-kindness and compassion. And the gift for laughter.For me – art at it best discovers pure joy – even when it looks into the darkest of subject matter.”
Artist: William Yang – “Journey 3#”
Silver gelatin print, 50 cm x 62 cm
“This photograph was taken in 1980 at a performance piece by Brandon Cavallari
in the small gallery above Exiles Bookshop, now The Bookshop, in Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, and it is part of my documentation of the underground performance scene in Sydney at that time.
The image was published as part of three “journey” works in my book Sydney
Diary 1974 – 1984 and was shown at an exhibition of Sydney Diary in 1984,
so it’s a vintage print. It languished in the “don’t scare the horses” section of
my collection until Windows on Pain put out a request. I had it reframed with
the shattered glass which is a story in itself – getting the framer to shatter
the glass. He couldn’t, so eventually I had to do it myself.” Artist
Portals by Shiela Annis: Photo by Alex Kufner
Many people liked Tom’s painting, most holding the view that I looked handsomer in the picture in real life. William Yang, who also had a work of art in the exhibition held the impossible view that I looked like ‘rough trade’. Well that was a first even for me, who has very few firsts left!.
One of the paintings in the show I liked was this very simple response to the recent fires in Victoria. I gather the artist lost his studio in the inferno and that his partner has a serious illness. I love the tenderness and solidarity in this image.
Artist: Andrew Sibley - "Survivors of Flowerdale" Oil on Belgian linen, 100 cm x 95 cm
I know there are lots of worthy causes out there but I guess what has drawn me into this one is the opportunity it gives us all to just stop for a moment and think about pain. Pain and drama or course go hand in hand – even in comedy where the very best laughter ‘hurts’. While all the great tragedies are, in some sense, studies of pain and/or suffering.
Artist: Mika Utzon Popov – “Untitled”
Lithograph, 76.5 cm x 57 cm
“This work follows the spinal cord through the back with all it transmitting of impulses, energy and stimulus. It is inspired in part by my own long-term spinal problems since the age of 15 and my fascination with the mechanisms of this structure within us.
Until we experience pain to where it debilitates us, we are unaware of the incredibly delicate and complex workings of our own bodies. It is in fact through pain that we become aware of not only the body but also of self, as it forces us to reform our lives around or with it.” Artist
Anther subject spoken about on the night is that ‘no one else can ever truly feel another person’s pain’. We can be empathetic – but oain, by its nature, is a very isolating experience. And while the great dramatists take us into the realms of emotional and spiritual pain, it appears visual art comes closest to actually ‘capturing’ individual pain. There were a number of people at the exhibition launch who suffer chronic pain – meaning physical pain, in some instances, which simply never goes away. This can be caused by illness or injury. There are, we discover, vast numbers of people who suffer pain – in many ways the most vivid outcome of their predicament or diagnosis. The Pain Institute at the Royal North Shore Hospital (where I was put back together after my big fall in 1979), is special in that it is looking – not so much into diseases and illnesses with which pain has an association- but the causes of pain itself. The science of course is increasingly sophisticated – and so along with increase in knowledge about the nature and origins of pain is this new campaign of public awareness.
Daniel Kapitzke (on wheels) with Yasuko: Photo by Alex Kufner
But in the instance of a delightful young man called Daniel, who was there with his Japanese partner Yasuko, it is simply pain. No amount of poking and prodding by doctors has revealed a cause. But since his sporting teens pain in his legs and lower back has slowly accrued to the point that he is now bound, mostly, to a wheelchair. Interestingly his favourite work was a sculpture. The one below:
- Artist: Denese Oates – “Pain Shadow”
Copper sculpture, ironwood base, 190 cm X 78 cm x 60 cm
“Pain may be emotional or physical, but whatever form it takes it is usually not immediately visible from the outside.
Pain Shadow is an abstract sculpture, yet has an element of anthropomorphism. The internal contours of pain have taken on a spiky, brutal persona whilst the outward appearance manifests as a fragile vine-like sheath of calm protectiveness.
The internal and external shapes are interrelated with a rhythmic subtlety which recollects the relationship of pain with the sufferer.” Artist
WHERE TO SEE THE SHOW
Gosford Regional Gallery (Studio Gallery)
36 Webb St, Gosford
20 – 30 May (inclusive)
Opening night Wednesday 20 May – 6.30 pm
- Artist: Peter O’Doherty – “Living Alone ”
Acrylic on canvas, 56 cm x 66 cm
“Living Alone depicts a typical Central Coast fibro cottage. It’s about loneliness
and depression. The occupant may have no partner or family, or could be an
elderly person living out their last years alone in the house.” Artist
Or for Sydneysiders – you might be heading out that way for something – your best option is:
Riverside Theatres, Parramatta
Church St, Parramatta
1 – 10 June (inclusive)
Opening night Monday 1 June – 6.30pm
Nathan Hindmarsh (Captain Parramatta Eels) will officially open the show. (Nathan has had a couple of dings so he will know what the show’s about)
Artist: Ian Smith – “October, Young Women Going In”
Oil and acrylic on canvas, 120 cm x 115 cm
“This is painted from a momentary image that stayed with me, seen while
touring various historic buildings for entirely different reasons. Originally a
hospital, I guess the building is now a hostel for young women. Yet the moment
suggested women in need, in pain, going in. Maybe it is a clinic or a respite
haven. The image inspired me to paint (what I think is) a beautiful painting
of a living situation of young women, the complex lattice of life and I guess,
it is October – the jacaranda is blooming again – life beyond pain springs eternal!”
HOW TO BE INVOLVED
Friday 5 June
Windows on Pain Day
Badge selling across Sydney CBD and beyond All northern NSW and Sydney CBD ANZ bank branches will sell Windows on Pain badges.
120 pharmacies across NSW will also sell badges
Contact Campaign Office on 9926 6375 for box of $4 badges to sell in workplace
Friday 12 June
Windows on Pain Fundraising Dinner and Auction of Artworks
7pm Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Road, Sydney
Tickets $250 per head
Table of 10 $2500
Corporate Table of 10 $3500
For more info go to the website: http://www.windowsonpain.org/home.