June 5 - 11, 2016: Issue 266

Pittwater Artists Trail Winter Exhibition 2016 Opened with A Giggle Courtesy of Jim Pike

Teeming rain didn't keep guests away from the opening of the 2016 Winter Exhibition of new works from the members of the Pittwater Artists Trail on Friday, June 3rd. With feasts for the eyes and senses arranged in wings off a central display of ceramic sculptures, all leading towards Geoff Searl's sculptures from native seeds and pods, or a colourful side of Robyn Parks brilliant silks to the west and Penel Bigg's glass works to the east, the space was well curated, allowing people to view without feeling closed in, even when the room became full with latecomers.

Brilliant new works by Julie Hickson, a stunner by Nada Herman, native flowers by Wendy Grainger, Claire Armstrong's fish that mesmerises, Elfriede Bartnitzky's textured depths, the peace in Jacqui Giuliano's paintings, the layers of glaze and shape melded in Willi Michalski's works, the list goes on and makes you wish for a more bountiful cheque book so you could have them all!

The annual Pittwater Artists Trail Winter Exhibition is open through to 3pm, Sunday 5th June. Treat yourself to something beautiful and stroll through these great new creations then sit back and watch the swell predicted for today while sipping something cool or having a snack at The Avalon on the Beach. Bliss!

In 2016 the Pittwater Artists Trail have an event planned for the first weekend in each season. All studios are open in March, September and December and the group exhibition, held again in June this year.

If you miss out this weekend, the next opportunity will be visiting the Artists in their studios, first weekend of Spring 2016 - September 3rd and 4th.

MC and local musician Jim Pike set a wonderful tone with offering up a few wonderful words in opening this year’s Winter Exhibition.

Jim was the 'Instant Poet' on Channels 9’s Midday show with Ray Martin for 8 years, and pioneered lifestyle TV, first as a writer and then reporter on Burke’s Backyard for 13 years. He’s also written satire, comedy and documentaries for stage, screen and TV with over 300 hours of syndicated comedy for radio alone.

Jim is married to Pittwater Artist Trail member Karen Pike. Karen makes individually crafted jewellery designs, unique works infused with Art, healing, mystery and the magical that make you feel you're giving yourself something ancient even while it's brand new. Beautiful. Jim quietly set down his guitar after an hour or so of playing and took up his pages to share his own brilliant insights on being an artist who is the other half of another artist as uch as what Art has been and is to him.

Our thanks to Jim for letting us share his words:

Winter Exhibition Opening night: by Jim Pike

Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words on this opening night. I've been a writer, among other things, for most of my working life. This means that I started with a manual typewriter so I'm well aware of what it's like for any artist to stare hopefully at a blank space while waiting for something meaningful to happen. The trick is of course that you have to make it happen. As a songwriter a title will sometimes pop into my head and I have no choice but to write the thing so I can find out what it’s all about. 

This process applies to pretty much all the arts unless you were Andy Warhol where you just pumped out soup cans for the gullible. That's one of the important aspects to being an artist... you have to live with the fact that everyone's a critic. I'm afraid I'm one of those Philistines who goes to the national gallery, looks at Blue Poles and thinks "I could do that". OK I probably couldn't, but for me it has no magic and that's what I personally need from any kind of art. Magic. I need to look at a work in wonder at how it was done... what were the thought processes involved... how did the artist catch that light or mood... but at the same time, I don't want that magic ruined by ever finding out. I love that the most important indications we have of ancient civilisations come to us through art. There are places on the planet where you can look at a 40,000 year old painting and have the same reaction as the very first people who saw it.

Art is timeless in all of its many forms. I did stand up comedy for 7 years and in amongst the acts were some jugglers and close up magicians and whatever they did always worked. I shouldn't have been surprised because it worked for the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans and every other civilisation that needs to believe in a little magic. No matter how high powered and corporate the event might have been, when an artist like the great Fingers Demain pulled a dove out of a hankie people who could control a nation's economy with a tap on a lap top would go: "Did you see that? How did he do that?" He did it because it was magic and that's art.

No matter how long you've been working, the big scary event for any artist is the day the creation leaves the safety and comfort of the studio and goes out to be judged by the world...to me its one of the great unsung acts of courage. In stand up comedy, as in the exhibition here tonight you'd be baring your soul to lots of people with different tastes and different expectations. I recall one carefully crafted half hour routine, that had worked perfectly well many times in the past, failing miserably in a room that featured 20 drunken Rugby chummies with condoms on their heads. Everyone's a critic, even those who can't spell it.

Fortunately it's much different in the polite side of the arts. The worst reaction you'll get here is someone going "hmmm" and cleaning their glasses in an attempt to see something they never will. But it's all the same... in any act of creation there's a leap of faith. I'm not saying that everything an artist comes up with is perfect. Some will refer to their work, especially favourites, as their children. I've never been able to do that. With music or comedy... or more importantly words written for others to perform, you can only bring out the handsome kiddies and so leave the others back in the forest for the wolves and the weasels.

I enjoy living with art on the walls or enhancing tables and spaces... having said that I confess to loving a big shed full of rusting machinery and things that need fixing even though no human is left alive that knows what it is they do. That's just in case, for a moment, you thought my artistic opinion might be worth something; because you see... I went to a GPS school where art wasn't exactly encouraged. It was way down the list below performing with the Drama Society and running the school branch of the bank... both of which I did. Painting.. was what happened to the ceiling of the Level 3 maths classroom when it could no longer safely carry the weight of all the spitballs.

My parents were both musicians but the proper "artist" in the family was allegedly my Uncle Bert. On one trip to the NSW Art Gallery I was shown his enormous Victorian style painting of British Redcoats heroically defending their cannons against natives waving sticks. It was very impressive and I was very proud. I was also very confused that it wasn't signed by Uncle Bert but someone else. He was a nice old man and he still worked in the tanneries at Botany at the time and I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I still think he did it.

Today, and for the last 40 years, I've been living with an artist and I thought it might be interesting to give you an insight into what that's like. My wife was going to be away for this exhibition which is why she's not entered but she had to come back to Sydney for a few days and hasn't had a chance to read any of this. So if I'm struck by some flying object during this next bit, her lawyer will call it artistic expression.

So here's a little about what its like to be the spouse of an artist. Well it all began quite innocently enough at our place when my wife began to design and make necklaces. This was very good because it didn't take up much space. Little drawers of beads and antique pieces, and clasps and more beads and wire and silver and tools, lots of special tools... and the little drawers began to expand and then you need more light... and another table on which to erect a new suburb of bead home units, then some cabinets and you'll need a new laptop and a printer that can do full colour brochures and next thing a spouse knows they are no longer welcome in that room unless something central to the creative process needs repairing. But it's a wonderful attractive space creating beautiful things and that's fine.

Then your spouse artist might move on to lets say, painting. You need a bit more room with painting… all those canvases and an easel, maybe two... paints... somewhere to put the paints… an apron or simply just some of your big T shirts you weren't using anymore, now. More light… maybe a hole in the roof. Now I'm not saying that a female artist might require more space than a male, I haven't checked this with any of the artists here tonight but I'm just saying history tells us that all some of the greatest artists in the world ever needed was a bottle of absinthe, a seedy garret awash with rainwater and rats and some bread and cheese once a week... just thought I'd mention it.

The other thing about with living with a painter is that you rapidly run out of walls. I'm pretty handy at that sort of thing but I refuse to put them up without say... a room involved. "Put one here"... "I can't"... "Why not"? "We're in the hallway". But the most crucial tools an artist's spouse needs are a fine sense of diplomacy coupled with perfect timing. For instance when asked: "What do you think?" Don't ever reply: "I've never seen baby blue rocks with yellow stripes on them". 

Artists see things differently to the rest of us. Their world is what they want it to be so the answer to the "what do you think" question is...."Hmmm, interesting" and this is where timing comes in. Too small a gap between the ‘hmm’ and the ‘interesting’ means you're not all that interested... too big a gap could look like you've been watching a wrestling match in your head between truth and divorce. But just the right sized gap says you're pondering it deeply and need to take it all in, preferably from several angles as you cunningly open a bottle of wine. If you happen to be the partner of a sculptor, similar rules apply. For instance on the first day of a new creation, never walk in and say... "it looks a bit lumpy". Very bad form indeed.

My wife is currently working with bone and antlers which require many fierce, sharp tools, grinding wheels and tenaciously permanent glues... so everything is FANTASTIC.

All the work here tonight is from home studios on the Pittwater Artists Trail. If you've never been on the Trail, there are brochures and trail guides on the table that can set you on your way to see their studios and meet the artists. The next Trail is over the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of September and there's something about actually spending time in those creative spaces that makes you part of the process. Artists do what they do because they love it, but it’s being able to share it and talk with people who appreciate their work in the place where it was created that makes the Pittwater Artists Trail so special

Thank you to the surf club and the restaurant and everyone for coming.

Karen joins husband Jim for a song


Pittwater Online News has loaded a small album of the PAT's Winter Exhibition Opening for those who would like photos for their Family Albums HERE

A few of these run below and in this week's Pictorial - 'Social Pittwater':

Pittwater's Kylie Ferguson and Julie Hegarty

 Julie Hickson – to her left is 'Red Waratah II'

 Fi and Tim Rae, Robyn and Gordon Lang – PBSLSC members come south for the night!

 Willi Michalski with Bottle - Yellow; Springtime stoneare, chrome yellow glaze and Platter in stand - Venice stoneare, cobalt glaze with decoration

Pittwater Artist Trail's Vicki Ratcliff and Penel Bigg with Jim Pike 

 Paul Ratcliff, Pamela Pauline (Pittwater Artists Trail member - beautiful photographs)

 Nada Herman with new work 'Pittwater'

 Mark and Poss Keech 

 Wendy Grainger between her 'Hanging Gum' and 'Flannel Flowers'

 Lisa Heath, Jacqui Guliano (Pittwater Artists Trail member), Christine Hopton - in front of two of Jacqui's works

 Artists Svetlana Panov and Lorrie Morgan with Janice Tynum - Peninsula Music Club

 Claire Armstrong and her granddaughter – who clearly loves her work!

 Sheridan and Allean Hudson

Geoff Searl's 'Ficifolia Versus Climate Change'

 Geoff and Collette Searl