Over the past few weeks The Northcote Penguins have been on several field trips while discussing the life of an artist. The Penguins have discussed and debated how to deal with the expectations of being an artist in today’s world. Personal expectations can often drive an artist and there are several confronting perceptions placed upon an artist’s career such as exhibiting and not exhibiting, selling work and not selling work.
Artists discussed whether this affected the value of their art and the value of their practice, agreeing that artists should not simply make artwork exclusively for selling. There is genuine meaning in the creating and making of art alone. The Penguins spoke of how the professional life of an artist is a marathon, not a sprint and rewards come in all shapes and sizes.
One afternoon was spent in a productive group tutorial with Arts Project artist Mark Smith’s folio looking at his last six months of work. The Penguins made observations, discussed common themes and Mark expressed his ideas and thoughts for his future direction as an artist. A lot of fun was had with the whole group contributing their opinion and supporting Mark with his long-term goals. The round table group session was dynamic, lively and proved very productive.
The long-term goal of The Northcote Penguins will be their end of year mural project at The Northcote Uniting Church on High Street. Artists involved in the project are currently developing their ideas surrounding the issues that they have chosen, reflecting today’s societal concerns. Examples of issues which have been highlighted are hypocrisy in religion, the authoritarianism of public transport ticket inspectors and being underestimated as a person.
Artists recently visited Monsalvat in Eltham, one of Australia’s oldest artists’ communities. Set amid unique grounds and buildings, Monsalvat is a place where art is made, taught, exhibited, performed and celebrated. The Penguins visited former staff artist Jessie Imam’s work which was recently awarded The 2015 Nillumbik Prize celebrating artists and works from the Nillumbik region.
The following week The Northcote Penguins visited the Victorian College of the Arts to view the first year’s Master of Contemporary Art group show, Joy to the Other World. Staff artist Elyss McCleary’s work was featured in this exhibition and a stand-out!
Stay tuned for all of the future developments of the Professional Practice Programme for artists at Arts Project Australia!