Q + A with Tom Blachford
With just two sleeps to go until our next exhibition opens, we caught up with Tom for a chat about the making of Midnight Modern.
Tom photographed by his girlfriend Kate Ballis out the front of the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs.
Tom Blachford's new series of works captures California's famous mid-century modernist homes under the midnight glow of a super moon. The journey from one late-night discovery to a finished series has involved two trips to Palm Springs, quite a few late-night scouting missions and some amazing street light serendipity.
1030 West Cielo Drive. Photograph by Tom Blachford for his exhibition Midnight Modern.
When I think of Palm Springs, I think of harsh, bright sunlight. What made you choose to photograph these houses in the dead of night? Do you think the idea to shoot this way would have occurred to you in your hometown of Melbourne?
These houses have been around for 60 to 70 years and I imagined they had been photographed from every angle thousands of times. We were also pushed for time to see everything so we needed to squeeze in some shooting and exploring after a dinner one night. I guess that's how it originally came about. We lucked out and noticed it was a full moon and I thought it might be interesting to see how they looked under the moonlight.
After seeing the first few images I was hooked. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when the first image appeared on the screen after the 30-second wait. After experimenting with a few houses I found that the only shots that would work were when all the lights were off, except for perhaps one lamp inside the house. Curiously, all the older palm springs suburbs have no street lights, which also helped.
1133 N Vista Vespero. Photograph by Tom Blachford for his exhibition Midnight Modern.
What led you to making this collection of images? At what point did you realise you were working on a series?
I absolutely love the mid-century tract houses, and admiring them during the day on our first trip I was struggling to capture them in a way that felt unique. On the first trip I shot about six images and we were exhausted so we headed home. Returning to Melbourne I looked at them over and over and kicked myself for not staying up to shoot more. I knew I had to return so we (my girlfriend and I) checked out the dates of the moon and found there would be the first of three super moons for this year in July. We planned our trip around being there for the moon with a couple of days to scout beforehand and a few days to relax by the pool afterwards!
The sparseness of these images can lead the viewer to imagine their own narrative. Is there a feeling that you’re catching these houses when they are recharging, or in between scenes?
I love to imagine what is going on behind closed doors. These images of the houses raise so many questions and possibilities for stories. Even better is the thought of the scenes that have already played out behind these doors in their 60-plus years of existence. Every time I look at them I like to imagine something different going on behind the breeze-bricks.
879 N Monte Vista. Photograph by Tom Blachford for his exhibition Midnight Modern.
How important is the physical scale of these works?
I wanted to recreate these homes as large as I could possibly print whilst maintaining quality – but also hoped that I could give them a diorama effect by shrinking them into little boxes on the wall. There are a couple of images that I swear could be doll houses with little painted mountains behind. Even when I’m standing in front of them sometimes I swear those mountains are a painted backdrop – the slight haze over them makes them look so unreal.
What initially attracted you to photography? What attracts you to it now?
I’m obsessed with the way the camera is able to warp both time and perspective to capture the world in ways I was never able to see with my eyes.
This series is very much a renaissance for me. I initially fell in love with photography when I was playing around with long exposures and light painting. The first time the shutter closed and I saw a streak of light painted across the image I was hooked. I played around with it for a couple of years very early on but left it behind to explore other techniques and complete commercial jobs that weren’t interested in such magic. It was amazing to be back out in the darkness and using long exposure to create work again.
What kinds of images are you interested in making next?
I’m not sure what my next series is. I would definitely like to work with the moonlight again, potentially explore a new style of architecture - and I guess, in turn, a different unspoken narrative. I love the stilt houses of northern Australia and I have a fascination with the littered lawns of the suburbs in our urban sprawl. I might try to work up the courage to shoot four hours a month under the full moon somewhere a little closer to home.
I also became obsessed with shooting from a helicopter earlier this year and I'm hoping to get up a few more times over summer to put together some more shots in my Aerial Summer series.
MEET TOM AND CHECK OUT HIS INCREDIBLE LARGE-SCALE WORKS AT THE EXHIBITION OPENING THIS THURSDAY 2 OCTOBER, 6-8pm.
Midnight Modern – Tom Blachford
Today we announce our last exhibition for the calendar this year. On October 2nd we will unveil a collection of incredible images of iconic Palm Springs architecture taken by Melbourne photographer Tom Blachford, under the light of a super moon!
Tom's dark and dramatic photography series Midnight Modern is a big departure from our usual bright and illustrative offering. When I first saw Tom’s evocative depictions of mid-century Palm Springs architecture, I imagined sitting back in a Falcon Chair, admiring his spectacular Edris house image looming large over a Hans Wegner sideboard! I can't wait to see these haunting, modernist streetscapes exhibited in store alongside vintage pieces from the same period.
925 Crescent Drive. Photograph by Tom Blachford for his exhibition Midnight Modern.
In this new series, Tom set out to explore "the relationship between the moonlight, the forms of the houses and mountains as a backdrop." Shot over two separate trips to Palm Springs (the second timed to coincide with the super moon) the photographs suspend California's famous mid-century homes in an eerie half-light. Deepened by shadows and dashed with stars, each image represents a 30-second exposure. The results appear both deserted and uneasy. (These buildings might be iconic, but in 'Midnight Modern' they seem to sit outside of time.)
877 Via Las Palmas. Photograph by Tom Blachford for his exhibition Midnight Modern
Tom's images go far beyond everyday architectural photography. The images resonate with the balmy night heat of Palm Springs and I find myself wondering who lives in these houses and what goes on behind those closed doors? The works make a fantastic statement, framed impeccably by United Measures and presented at large scale (around A0).
872 N Coronet Circle. Photograph by Tom Blachford for his exhibition Midnight Modern
As you can probably imagine, a midnight/moonlit shoot halfway across the world isn't easy. From historical research and home-scouting missions to last-minute cloud-cover dramas, there are some fantastic stories behind these works. Feel free to barrage Tom with questions at the opening from 6pm on Thursday 2nd October. We hope you can join us!
To receive a catalogue of works and pricelist prior to the opening please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
The Midnight Modern series will be available for sale on our website from 2nd October.
Opens 6-8pm, Thursday 2nd October. Sponsored by Coopers.
Exhibition dates 2nd – 19th October
Art, Modern Times News
Lisa Lapointe – Interview
With the opening this week of Sydney-based artist Lisa Lapointe's first solo Melbourne show, Behind The Sun, we're getting a little bit excited about seeing her large-scale, original pencil works up close.
In her own words, Lisa's drawings are "chaotic yet serene". They combine the primitive with the futuristic through bold colours, strong graphic elements and mythological references. Ahead of this Thursday, we asked her a few questions about her meticulous, labour-intensive process – and the Shamanistic stories that have inspired this particular series.
Sydney artist Lisa Lapointe's first exhibition in Melbourne opens this Thursday August 14.
How did you begin your journey as an artist – and what attracted you to drawing particularly?
My father tells me I was always an artist – that out of his six children I was the only one who always knew what I wanted to be "when i grew up". I was always furiously making and creating when I was a child, and would sit for hours on end on my projects – no time to go to the bathroom – no time to eat. After school I formally studied and did a bachelor of fine arts degree majoring in painting at CoFA, UNSW. I predominantly experimented with textiles, jewellery (and obviously paint) but it wasn't until much later that I discovered the pencil.
Soothsayer by Lisa Lapointe. Original pencil drawing on paper (1140mm x 770mm). To be exhibited at her forthcoming exhibition Behind the Sun
Can you explain a little about your process? (Do you experiment with materials other than pencil? Do you set which colours you will use before you begin, or do you change them as you draw if your mood or reaction to the work changes?)
I am currently very dedicated to the pencil. I imagine myself exploring other mediums in the future, but not for a while. I do small scale mock-ups of my drawings in colour – these sometimes go exactly to plan or change – I intuitively feel them and know straight away if a colour isn't going to work out.
Lisa at work in her Sydney studio.
The largest work in this show is almost two metres wide - how long does it take to hand-colour a piece this size?
Anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks – it all depends on the drawing – some are harder than others.
Lisa's labour intensive technique with colour pencil creates dramatic results.
What are some of the inspirations for the body of work you'll be exhibiting in Behind The Sun? Can you introduce us to some of the themes in the show?
I am most inspired by spiritual, religious and indigenous mythologies. I reference and explore the meanings behind these themes. I'm currently particularly interested in Shamanism, which is evident in many of my works, particularly the 'Panther', 'Hara', 'Owl', 'Valley of the Serpent' and 'Cajoling the Moon'. I focus on creating images of power and encourage the viewer to dream forward – into the future – not backward into the past.
Cajoling The Moon by Lisa Lapointe. Original pencil drawing on paper (1140mm x 1050mm). To be exhibited at her forthcoming exhibition Behind the Sun
Can you tell us a little more about the elements of Shamanistic folklore featured in the works?
The key themes I currently draw from Shamanism are healing, power and dreaming – ultimately our connection to spirit. I am particularly drawn to the connection Shamanism has with nature and the earth. How plants can be great healers and animals powerful guides. I like the idea of a Shaman being able to mend the soul with this great knowledge. The ability to read one's environment and understand one's ailments or discord through these signs and symbols.
Owl by Lisa Lapointe. Original pencil drawing on paper (1050 x 770mm). To be exhibited at her forthcoming exhibition Behind the Sun
What's next? Since focusing on your art practice full-time, have you worked on any textile or fashion collaborations or are you focussing primarily on your 2D work?
I will be doing an artist in residency in St Leonards, Sydney with Brand X as soon as I return from Melbourne. I will use this time to do another show – this time in Sydney. But I have no collaborations on the cards as yet…
MEET LISA AND CHECK OUT HER INCREDIBLE WORKS AT THE EXHIBITION OPENING THIS THURSDAY 14 AUGUST, 6-8pm.
Modern Times News, Art
Behind The Sun – Lisa Lapointe
We are very excited to announce our upcoming exhibition Behind The Sun, a collection of new drawings by Sydney-based artist Lisa Lapointe.
Opening on Thursday 14th August, this will be Lisa's first solo show in Melbourne—although you may be familiar with her amazing work thanks to her Instagram feed. You might also have seen her range of digital art prints we've had in the shop over recent months.
Maji, original pencil on paper by Lisa Lapointe (1700mm x 1140). The largest work to be exhibited at our forthcoming exhibition Behind The Sun. This spectacular work measures almost two metres across. Phenomenal!
While Lisa's work translates beautifully in her digital prints, I've been keen to get my hands on some of her originals which can measure up to almost two metres wide! Her original drawings reveal a fascinating, labour-intensive technique in which rich pigment is built up with fine measured pencil strokes, saturating the paper from edge to edge.
Lisa's labour-intensive technique uses coloured pencil to spectacular effect in her large scale drawings.
This meticulous process combined with Lisa's bold sense of design allows her to produce works that make strong graphic statements while also being full of texture and nuance. As she says, the results are "chaotic yet serene".
Panther by Lisa Lapointe. Original pencil drawing on paper (1100mm x 900mm). To be exhibited at her forthcoming exhibition Behind the Sun.
Drawing upon spiritual, religious and tribal iconography for her subject matter, her drawings have an obvious connection with the primitive, but this is contrasted with a futuristic colour palette. Describing the works she's made for Behind The Sun, Lisa told us, "I am currently particularly interested in shamanism, which is evident in many of my works, particularly the "panther", "hara", "owl", "valley of the serpent" and "cajoling the moon". I focus on creating images of power and encourage the viewer to dream forward - into the future - not backward into the past."
Valley Of The Serpent by Lisa Lapointe. Original pencil drawing on paper (1400mm x 1050). To be exhibited at her forthcoming exhibition Behind the Sun.
Since graduating from a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at CoFA, UNSW in 2002, Lisa has worked in the worlds of fashion and interiors—with labels and designers including Orson and Blake, Ksubi, Mark Tuckey, Pamela Makin and Romance Was Born. As of last December, she decided to focus on her art practice full time.
We’d love all of you to join us in celebrating the opening of Behind The Sun from 6pm on Thursday 14th August—with some delicious drops kindly supplied by McPherson Wines. Thanks guys!
Behind The Sun
Opening 6–8pm, Thursday 14th August
Exhibition dates 14th – 31st August
Modern Times News, Art
Botanical Calamity - Peaches+Keen
We have another exciting exhibition opening soon and we'd love you to come! Melbourne artists Peaches+Keen will be presenting their latest body of work Botanical Calamity opening next Thursday March 20 at 6pm.
Botanical Calamity is a series of original paintings on paper based on arrangements of plant-life collected on the daily wanderings of the pair Lucy Hearn and Lily Daley who work collectively as Peaches+Keen.
The botanical objects are then used as the foundation for chaotic yet controlled compositions reinterpreted in the bright colours they are known for.
Peaches+Keen describe the work as a combination of bright graphic colours and hand applied gold foil detailing, resulting in unique and tactile artworks. While they hang as a collective story, no two are identical.
Work in progress...
Botanical Calamity is the first exhibition for 2014 at Modern Times. We only have two to three exhibitions per year so it’s always exciting coming up to an opening. Peaches + Keen were selected to exhibit because their bright playful style perfectly reflects our philosophy behind the art we offer. We love to present original art that is light, bright and perfect for bringing a bit of fun and joy into people’s homes and Peaches+Keen do just that!
Join Peaches+Keen and the Modern Times team for a tasty Brewdog beer on Thursday 20th of March from 6pm to celebrate the opening of Botanical Calamity, which will run until Thursday 3rd April.
The gorgeous girls themselves photographed by Lauren Bamford
Art, Modern Times News
Ellie Malin – Interview
Thank you to everyone who has popped in to see Ellie Malin’s exhibition ‘Moonflower’ since it opened. If you missed all the pics from the opening check them out here. We have decided to keep the show up for one last weekend so if you haven’t visited already, you still have a few more days to do so.
This week I caught up with Ellie and got a bit deep with her about her work and current exhibition. Thank you to Ellie for answering my questions with such thought and generosity. Can you believe her works take 1-3 months to complete! It’s fascinating to get a deeper understanding of what goes into Ellie’s work.
Ellie mixing inks in the studio.
How did you begin your journey as an artist and what attracted you to print making particularly?
Working in a creative field was something I always wanted to do. I loved to create. It always felt like the most natural place to be. Whether it was exploring the city through the lens of a camera or making objects out of clay, even when I wasn’t actively creating stuff I would be observing my immediate surroundings, absorbing and collecting bits of visual information along the way.
I particularly liked observing the world of architecture and nature and how we move through it. I’m fascinated with the impact and importance they have on our lives and had this idea that if I could translate the beauty and vulnerabilities that captured me and communicate them back to others, that would be the ultimate challenge and somehow, it involved becoming an artist! Printmaking seemed to offer the right kind of environment to explore those themes.
Other than loads of day dreaming and philosophizing life I went to school where I completed a Cert IV in Visual Arts at Holmseglen TAFE and went on to complete a B.A in Fine Art, majoring in printmaking at Monash Uni... there were a few other courses along the way whilst ‘trying’ out different careers. Ultimately and thankfully the art is where I was at!
Ellie's preparations in the studio. It looks fun doesn't it!
Can you explain a little about your process and methods or technique you use?
All my prints are created with traditional printmaking techniques and equipment and are unique states (one offs’). The work is very much process driven and mostly developed whilst working at the press. I like to experiment with colour and tend to work spontaneously and respond to whatever’s happening on the page. Images are built up in layers over time where I’ll revisit any one print numerous times over time (generally 1-3 months, depending on the scale of the piece). I have a couple of favorite presses that I love to work on, particularly the large Hilton etching press. I’m willing to travel near and far to work on these machines. More recently I was fortunate to work in Canberra at Megalo studio and back home I’m usually printing at the APW on Gertrude St.
The printmaking process (in a nutshell) involves mixing colours, rolling up woodblock plates with inks, setting the press, laying out shapes on the press bed according to whatever configuration feels right at the time, paper comes down and then roll it through the press… There’s a whole lot of clean up that follows not to mention lots of experimenting and developing ideas!
Ellie at the press working on one of her smaller geometric series.
What are some of the influences hat inspire your work, and the themes which you have drawn upon?
I’m influenced by the everyday, streets I walk in, people I meet, design, architecture, travels, plus a good dose of daydreaming.
My process is spontaneous yet reflective at the same time. I tend to think a lot about colours and almost meditate on it before taking a print to the next state/layer. I present myself with a ‘problem’, which needs to be resolved. It’s so easy to make mistakes, but over time I’ve found that through the mistakes I also make the greatest discoveries.
Some artists and designers that I love in no particular order are: Kiki Smith, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, Scholten and Baijings, Marimekko, Mirka Mora, Tadao Ando, Fornasetti, Japanese woodblock artists, … should I keep going?
Ellie making magic with one of the smallest presses she uses.
What is the inspiration for this current show "Moonflower”?
Moonflower is an exhibition of colourful woodblock prints depicting an inspired landscape of ‘other worlds’. The beauty of nature, the man made, and a fascination for impurities within it sparks the imagination.
In this body of work offcut shapes of paper are the starting point and are transformed into woodblocks for printing. These shapes become centre stage as the relationship between them is explored through layers of colours and textures.
Remnants, which once would have been discarded are now the stars, moon and sky and are telling a story about what might exist beyond the familiar.
Soft tones of blues and grey speak of a cirrus sky while painterly gardens of aqua marine greens and citrus orange speak of growth and light. Stories unfold over time and new discoveries made between the layers of tones and negative spaces.
Detail of one of Ellie's most recent works currently on exhibition at Modern Times.
What collaborations or projects outside your usual practice have you worked on?
The most significant collaboration to date would have to be with my all time favorite (and I’m not just saying it) fashion label gorman!
Lisa Gorman came across my work online and before I knew it we were sitting together with the gorman crew talking about art and fashion. The collaboration seemed like the most natural thing to do. I feel that we have complementing sensibilities and I wear her clothing all the time! I love that my art can be carried through into new realms of every day life and that my prints wouldn’t be confined to a frame but possibly a floaty dress.
I think there’s a lot to be said about the collaboration process. It’s an inspiring process that combines different skill sets and allows for creativity to evolve and be transferred into new realms and I can’t wait to do more of these working in different fields!
Ellie at work
Ellie's current exhibition at Modern Times, 'Moonflower', is on until Sunday.
Ellie’s first solo show ‘Moonflower’ is on at Modern Times until Sunday 8th Dec. It’s a must see!
Interviews, Modern Times News, Art