Those of you who know Mia’s work know that she has in the last couple of years (more probably) taken to sewing parts of the canvas with relevantly-coloured cotton to fit with the otherwise representative image giving a textural feel to her oil painted views.
Because I generally assume there is little Mia can’t do particularly when she puts her mind to it I have fairly much taken this with my usual unimpressed impressedness because, while I know I couldn’t do anything like it myself, I know she has this amazing ability to negotiate an image and turn out something that looks, firstly, like the thing it is meant to look like, and secondly, uniquely hers. But, in the heat of a hot day, I was watching her listlessly from the side of the room as she sewed a new canvas with nothing but a few vague blue pencil lines and a reference photograph and I was struck by how incredible a talent it is to be able to manipulate a dumb machine on a square of canvas half-intuitively, half with concentration, and always aware if you mess it up you’ve ruined it. I was reminded by Marion Mahony Griffin’s silk paintings of the hypothetical Canberra where once again if she messed up once, she would have to scrap the whole shebang. Surely this puts more and more pressure on the artist as the picture builds in complexity. I don’t know if I could hack that complexity.
And, like all artists in this long and increasingly complicated age of reproduction, people like Mia and Marion know/knew they were up against those who could rub it out and start again in a second, that the visceral affect of the final product competes with someone using photoshop or whatever the 1912 equivalent of photoshop was (there was one in this sense, I’m sure) and it’s only those who care to examine the end product in detail – and most don’t – who can see what a built-up layered piece of art it is, impressive on that point only, and it looks beautiful as well, not coincidentally.
William Morris had his funny big schtick about taking pride in work and nurturing an innate but hidden artisinal sense in every human. I have yet to develop that sense in myself as yet, though I do draw a little now and then, rarely representatively. I have thought though about making our house decoration-unique, since it’s pretty unlikely we’ll ever sell it, certainly it seems that way now. Like the best artists Mia has the artisan-artist sense. Many members of my family have the artisinal part, my father, my brother though not so much now, my sister has been amplifying hers with her interest in sewing and textiley things. I am sure it’s the way of the future.
Meanwhile I bash away on various computers writing rewriting it’s never perfect and it doesn’t really have to be because it’s tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper or, in the case of the internet, tomorrow’s waste of electricity and that’s all. However I do not kill people or animals (not directly, indirectly I am as bad as anyone) so that’s what I give to the future.