Guggenheim vase

First of all, very sorry for my radio silence of late. I’ve been struggling to find time to post on here since I began my ceramics degree at TAFE, but I am hopeful things won’t be as crazy going forward. It is all a question of managing my time, and I am slowly learning to do it better. ANYWAY… I’m back! And what better than with a really interesting piece in progress I’m very excited about. I present you my Guggenheim vase, unglazed (can’t wait for the vibrant colours to show up and the pencil lines to disappear).

Guggenheim vase a

Guggenheim vase b

The vase is very tall, almost 40cm (biggest vase I have ever made). Being so big I just HAD to do something really special to it. Enter Pinterest! And this 1975 cover of the New Yorker by Laura Jean Allen. It was pinned to one of my boards over a year ago, probably waiting for the right moment to say “this could be a GOOOD idea”. I spent all of today researching the collection at the Guggenheim, designing the vase and having an absolute ball. Below is but one of the pages of my sketchbook filled with inspiration for today’s piece.

Guggenheim sketches

This isn’t my first museum-inspired piece (MoMA, MetPrado), but I think the reason why the Guggenheim has been in the back of my mind these past days is because of the current exhibition in NYC: Gutai: Splendid Playground. You must agree with me it looks absolutely brilliant. I love how certain ideas resonate and linger in my mind for a while until I do something about them. Sadly, I always have more ideas than time to carry them out… Ah well 😉

Queen Victoria Building

In the heart of Sydney’s central business district (or “CBD”, as it is known here), lies this sensuous 19th century shopping centre.  Queen Victoria Building’s interior design is wonderfully lush and romantic, just look at its lifts:

I had originally gone to buy ink for my fountain pen, but spent longer than expected looking at everything the place has to offer. From Aboriginal art galleries,

to a Viennese cafe, Klimt reproductions on the walls and Sacher torte included.


There’s also an abundance of jewelry shops – look at the size of the Australian baroque pearls of this necklace oh la la!

And believe it or not, there’s a shop that specialises in tin soldiers!

However, my biggest surprise came when I saw a Metropolitan Museum shop! With classic gifts and merchandising one would buy in New York, this shop was fully stocked.

And in case you missed my posts here and here, I do find a lot of inspiration in museums for my porcelain bowls. For a second time, the Met was subject of my work:

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo


Museo del Prado

I spent the last day of my Spanish holiday in Madrid. And a quick visit to Madrid MUST always include at least one trip to one of the top 3 museums: Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemizsa.

Above is an extremely bright picture of the Velazquez entrance to the Prado Museum. It was a very sunny day and someone (who will not be named) tampered with the settings on my camera. The result? EXTREMELY bright pictures which hurt to look at – this is the only one that sort of survived… ANYWAY, below is an image of the exterior of the Prado Museum bowl I recently painted.

Unfortunately I did not take photographs of the interior of the bowl finished (of which I am INCREDIBLY proud and feel equally stupid for not doing my photographic homework as this piece now lives somewhere else). The only snapshots are of the paintings in progress, as you can still see the pencil outlines that are normally removed when the piece is fired. When referring to the collection at the Prado (which originally belonged to the Spanish royal family), I had to include a Velazquez. And if one is to paint a Velazquez, one should go big: so Las Meninas it was! (Please note that I studied Art History in Spain and, therefore, in Spanish. So the names of the works will be in Spanish as that is the way I learnt them!) Another painter whose work is a must is El Greco and I chose his El Caballero de la mano en el pecho.

Below is an image of the other side of the bowl. On the left is Goya’s La Maja Desnuda and on the right El Descendimiento by Rogier van der Weyden. When I showed the finished bowl to my family and friends in Spain, they all guessed 3 out of the 4 paintings, except for van der Weyden’s piece. However, I can’t help but think which ones would be recognized by my Canadian friends. Particularly as the last time I put them to the test, all but one of them thought that the Matisse painting in my MoMA bowl was actually a Picasso… Snob? Me? No way!


I returned last night from an absolutely amazing trip to NYC. So much was done and accomplished that it can’t all be condensed into one post. So here’s the first installment, a visit to the MoMA. And what a better way to start off than with my newly-finished MoMA bowl:

The bowl would not represent the collection properly without a Warhol. And a trip to NYC with no references to Warhol would also seem flavourless. I’d already been preparing for the trip, and top of the list was Warhol’s studio on 57 Great Jones Street, where Basquiat spent the last months of his life and died of a heroine overdose. Here’s the front door:

On our way to Cafeteria for the first brunch in the city, we walked by the Chelsea Hotel. It was here where Warhol shot Chelsea Girls in 1966, a film about his Factory regulars and their lives at the hotel.

We tried to have a super fabulous ice-cream sundae at Serendipity 3, which Warhol frequented before he was well-known, but unfortunately the queue overflowed out to the street…

But back to the MoMA… and to my favourite painting there: Matisse’s The Dance. Here it is hanging majestically:

The BBC series of Modern Masters shot an entire episode on Matisse, which I couldn’t recommend more, and you can watch here:

Although not on view at the MoMA, for reasons I cannot understand, Robert Indiana’s 1967 LOVE screenprint is part of the museum’s collection. The colours, composition and cleverness had to make it to my bowl. Curiously enough Manhattan as a city recognises the brilliance of Indiana’s work and a sculpture of the piece can be seen on the corner of 6th Avenue 55th Street. Perpetually crowded by people, if I may add…

To make the trip to the MoMA even more memorable, there was live music being played in the Sculpture Garden. But not just any live music, it was bossa nova, magical and perfect  for a warm summer night:

Mauricio Pessoa was the genius behind the end to this magical night. And each time I listed his song Boca no Lodo, I am literally transported back in space and time…

NOTE: All photos by Araceli Robledo

Planning for New York

In a little over 4 weeks I’ll be on my way to New York City for a much-needed 5 day mini-holiday. Three days will be spent here, but the other two days – and every night – will be spent exploring the city. Rather subconsciously I have found myself drawn towards all things New York lately.

One of my recent bowls depicts Central Park surrounded skyscrapers:

The music I’m listening to lately is the soundtrack to Woody Allen’s Manhattan – can there be anything more New York than Gershwin paired with Allen?

I have watched a couple of documentaries on artists who lived in New York. One is The Radiant Child, a stunningly beautiful documentary about the even more beautiful artist Jean-Michel Basquiat:

And the other is Alastair Sooke’s take on Andy Warhol as part of his BBC series Modern Masters:

It’s thanks to this documentary that I have found out that Andy loved going to a place in Manhattan called Serendipity 3. When he was broke, he’d swap his drawings for pastries and ice creams there – his favourite being the “Frrrozen Hot Chocolate with Lemon Ice Box Pie”. This is Andy outside Serendipity:

Obviously, this image has gone straight to my NY trip board on Pinterest.

I know it’ll be hot and humid, packed, expensive… and it’ll be amazing. T minus 22 days and counting.

NOTE: If you wish to know the source of each of the images uploaded, simply click on the image itself.

Artists’ studios

Whenever we think of artists and their studios, the first thing that comes to mind is a loft-like interior, big windows, high ceilings, very messy, etc. But this is not always so. My father, I remember, used to sometimes paint in the living areas of our house, although he had a huge studio to himself. I think he craved family life and there’s no better place for that than gathering around the dining table, cooking, doing homework, drawing, painting. We were a very creative lot. Actually, we still are in a way. This is where I am perched for the day. I am subletting an apartment overlooking Toronto’s High Park until my visa is approved and can move to Montreal.

Through the wondrous Pinterest I recently came across the fantastic photograph below of Alexander Calder in his studio at home.

The other artist who sprang to mind rather instantly was Matisse. But the image below is of no ordinary studio, it was his bedroom in the latter years of his life. He was in a wheelchair, but that didn’t deter him from doing what he did best.

And here’s Mr Picasso himself in his studio in Cannes. I do love the fierce look he carries, more than a painter he resembles a boxer.

NOTE: If you wish to know the source of each of the images uploaded, simply click on the image itself.

Salon des Refusés

From the mid 18th century until the end of the 19th century, every year or so the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris would take place in what was called the Salon. Seen as a preserver of traditional French painting standards of content and style, the Académie’s authority on art was undisputed as the works exhibited were selected by a jury of awarded artists. This inevitably meant that there were many works of art that did not make the cut. And so, sometime in the 1830s exhibitions displaying these works started popping up across Paris: Salon des Refusés – Exhibition of Rejects.

In 1863 the most famous Salon des Refusés took place. In that year, artists protested the Salon jury’s rejection of more than 3,000 works, far more than usual. “Wishing to let the public judge the legitimacy of these complaints,” said an official notice, Emperor Napoléon III decreed that the rejected artists could exhibit their works in an annex to the regular Salon. Among the works exhibited were Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (above) and Whistler’s Symphony in White no 1 (below).

While many viewers came only to laugh, the Salon des Refusés drew attention to the existence of a new tendency in art and attracted more visitors than the regular Salon. That new tendency was Impressionism.

Now, in my own way, I too have created a Salon des Refusés. But I like to think that mine are legitimately rejects. I cannot even begin to explain how painful it is to see a bowl not turn out at all as I had hoped it would. Pottery is such a long process… takes ages to finish each piece… Although I normally try to focus on the positive – it’s all a learning curve, etc. – it still is bloody annoying when things just don’t work out as I had expected them to!

Egon Schiele

This should have been a very short and concise post about my self portrait.

But then I thought I’d write about artists and their self portraits. Maybe even curate a collection of my favourites. The first one that came to mind was Egon Schiele.

He has a brilliant collection of self portraits that span many years.

I thought I’d write about him, his brilliance, his rejection by his contemporaries, his very graphic nude portraits.

His muses, of which there were many, but mainly Wally and Edith, who would later become his wife.

How they both died of Spanish flu while still in their 20s. First, the six-month-pregnant Edith, and three days later, Egon himself. How he drew portraits of her during those three days.

But that would make a very sad yet beautifully moving post. So to add a bit of colour I’d also show one of my favourite of his paintings, Seated Woman with Bent Knee.

And how it inspired Peter Lindberg in his 2008 portrait of Julianne Moore.

NOTE: If you wish to know the source of each of the images uploaded, simply click on the image itself.

Louvre Museum

It’s been over 10 years since I first (and last) visited the Louvre Museum. I was in Paris with my best friend at the time. We were on a bus tour of Paris and Brussels…we got there by bus too, from our hometown in northern Spain. It was dirt cheap – and it included hotel accommodation and meals as well. The catch? Well, the trip was organised by a certain political party my best friend was a member of. For me to go, I’d have to pass as his girlfriend. This was easy because we’d known each other for 6 years by then and were obviously close. We also had lots in common, which made things easier: we both loved Madonna, his grandma’s jewels, putting on high heels and learning to roller-blade! Need I say more 😉

When we arrived in Paris, we were on a mission: see as much as we could in the 8 hours we’d be in the capital. There wasn’t a moment to lose, sit-down lunch was for pussies as we could walk and eat at the same time. Genius. And so we walked like no other tourists have I don’t think… fueled by our insatiable appetite for Paris in every possible manner. As for the Louvre, we also economised our visit: we’d arrive late enough that tickets would be cheaper AND we knew our 3 stops: (1) the Mona Lisa (2) the Victory of Samothrace (3) the Raft of the Medusa. They were all near each other so it was very easy to be in and out of the Louvre in approx 30 minutes.

The rest of our bus had agreed to meet up for a group dinner before heading back to Spain. But my friend and I decided not to go and do our own thing: walk to the Pont de l’Alma, where Lady Di had found her tragic end. By the time we got back to the bus, everyone felt betrayed that we’d decided to ditch dinner plans with them [And that’s why going on political organised trips is such a dumb idea]. But things got even worse during the overnight journey back home… You see, they’d all had a severe case of food poisoning from the Parisian dinner they’d had, and practically everyone ended up throwing up in brown paper bags all the way back! Everyone that is, except for my friend and I. And we probably have never felt more smug in our entire lives. MWAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAA!!

You may wonder if our little lie was uncovered… Truth is, it wasn’t. But it was painful to see the women in the trip talk about the signs they’d seen, but not be able to add 2 and 2 together. “You know, relationships are hard”, one would tell me, “but it looks like you have a lot of trust in each other”. This comment was uttered after my friend was outrageously flirting with the driver of our bus. “He’s practicing his French very well, don’t you think?” said another, when my friend (who does NOT speak a word of French) was chatting up the bellboy of our hotel in Brussels.

The complete spot paintings

I had never really liked Damien Hirst, nor appreciated his “art”. Giant preserved shark in a vitrine? Diamond-studded skull? Nope, not art in my humble opinion. More like a massive piss take, catering to the artistic pretentiousness of the very wealthy who not always have the culture and education that one expects to go hand-in-hand with their wealth. If you are curious to see how the rich and dumb have affected the art world (for the worse), click here to watch Robert Hughes’ brilliant documentary, The Mona Lisa Curse.

The image above is that of one of the many spot paintings by Damien Hirst. I really like everything about them: colours, simplicity, and how they actually match my favourite necklace! Mwaahahahaaaa. [By the way, you can buy it here ;-)]

What I also like is the fact that Hirst only painted five spot paintings, claiming that he “couldn’t be fucking arsed doing it”, and that “the best person who ever painted spots for me was Rachel. She’s brilliant. Absolutely fucking brilliant. The best spot painting you can have by me is one painted by Rachel.” He also apparently told another painting assistant, who was leaving and asked for one of the paintings, to “‘make one of your own.’ And she said, ‘No, I want one of yours.’ But the only difference, between one painted by her and one of mine, is the money.” Not only is the whole story hilarious, but brilliantly honest and made me (a) warm up to Hirst and appreciate his way of producing art by way of a “factory” setup, akin to Andy Warhol’s or a Renaissance studio, and (b) produce a spot painting of my own:

Until March 17th, Gagosian Gallery, who represents Hirst (as well as Lichtenstein, Koons, Warhol, etc.) is holding the exhibition “Damien Hirst: The complete spot paintings 1986-2011” in its eleven gallery locations worldwide. A brilliant feature is that if you are lucky to visit all eleven galleries – and fill in the registration card – while the exhibition is taking place, you receive a signed spot print by Damien Hirst, dedicated personally to you.

NOTE: The images of the original spot paintings by Hirst and the registration card for the spot challenge, are from the Gagosian Gallery website.