Travellers

A story about travelling to new places, new planets, and what gets left behind.

This story is part of the Stargazers project for which I am collecting stories about stars. If you have a story and you would like to get involved then get in touch!

Binary System

Stargazers is a collection of stories about stars. This is the first story that has been given to me in the form of a poem.

The story looks at the binary star system SS Cygni in the constellation Cygnus. SS Cygni consists of two stars orbiting each other; one large, cool red dwarf, and one small, hot white dwarf. As they orbit each other the denser white dwarf pulls matter from the red dwarf, absorbing it into it’s self. This kind of stellar relationship is called a cataclysmic variable system, a suitable name because they often end dramatically.

I met Christine in Berlin and we got talking about binary stars. Some stars orbit each other peacefully at a respectful distance, some get too close and collide. Some are unbalanced, with one star dominating the other, stealing its matter and leaving it drained. In many ways, these systems make effective analogies of romantic relationships. Christine put words to a situation that I think many of us have experienced, and I now have a new-found empathy for SS Cygni.

Star Stuff

This is the first of a series of short animations for Stargazers. Each tells a story.

Together, the animations examine how we, as humans, understand, interpret and experience the universe around us.

Inner Space

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I recently had the pleasure of exhibiting my Star Clouds in my home town of Canberra.

Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS), Gorman House, invited me to be part of an incredible show of work by artists who explore cosmic themes in an everyday context. You can find the exhibition catalogue on their website.

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DeMonstrable

Paper-skin

Claire Pendrigh, Paper-skin, 2015, rice paper, pen and watercolour

Rice paper feels a bit like skin, a thin and fragile covering which records its history in the layers of its surface. Just under the surface of this paper-skin is an implanted foreign body. A single circle, an ink and watercolour drawing of cartilaginous material, is sandwiched between the two sheets of paper.

Paper-skin is part of an artist book by Donna Franklin in her artwork EarMouse Such Sweet Music, 2015. This artwork is currently exhibited in DeMonstrable at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, curated by SymbioticA Director Oron Catts. In this exhibition, new work by a number of artists has been commissioned to commemorate, respond to, and reflect on the multifaceted cultural and scientific impact of the Earmouse.

DeMonstrable is open from 3 October – 5 December 2015.

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Donna Franklin, EarMouse Such Sweet Music, 2015

An Intimate Universe

Claire Pendrigh - photo Paul Webster

Claire Pendrigh, An Intimate Universe, yarn and aluminium. Photo: Paul Webster

My most resent artwork, An Intimate Universe,  is now on display at Bunbury Regional Art Galleries in the Bunbury Biennale. The work takes the form of a hanging mobile with woollen star-clouds suspended from each arm, slowly orbiting a central point. r1433624_20705557

Claire Pendrigh, An Intimate Universe (detail), yarn and aluminium. Photo: Sharon Kennedy

Nebulae are clouds of stars, dust and elements, drawn together and bound by gravity in a stellar family. Like a family, these environments create and nurture new stars and solar systems, and hence they are sometimes referred to as stellar nurseries. Our own galaxy, and everything in it, would have been created through this process. The elements required for stars, planets, life, and for our human bodies, were all forged from stardust. The DNA of my body has been passed down through generations of mothers. My mother taught me to knit, and her mother taught her; a skill, which like mitochondria, has been passed down maternally. An Intimate Universe explores the micro world of human relations and human existence, in the context of the cosmos. This work combines the internal and external, the familiar and the sublime, to make sense of our intimate relationship with stellar matter. You can read more about my work and the Bunbury Biennale in this lovely article by ABC South West. You can also download the online version of the Bunbury Biennale catalogue from the BRAG website.

Tea Seas

Invite

Tea Seas uses imagery of a primordial sea contained within a teacup to explore human existence, both in the context of the domestic and of the universe. This body of work has been created during my two-month artist residency with Studio Kura, Itoshima, Japan.

Tea is a very human beverage. It embodies society, community, hospitality and ritual – social elements that are key to our human existence. Tea is a way to connect with people and open conversations on a domestic scale, but tea can also present a connection to the human existence on far a greater stage.

The water in your teacup is one part of the finite quantity of water we have on Earth. This water changes form, but it is never replenished. The water in your teacup is the same water that flowed in the blood of dinosaurs, and it is the same water from a primordial sea, which may have nursed the first living cells on Earth.

Our natural environment is full of structured patterns, which swing between states order and disorder. Living organisms have the ability to organize. We order elements, arrange cells into complex patterns, build societies and construct rituals.

Just as the circle of your teacup echoes the shape of the cells in your body, it also mirrors the shape of this pale blue dot that we inhabit. Somewhere in the space between order and entropy, is the everyday existence that we know – our work, hobbies, families, and all the interpersonal relationships that we facilitate over a cup of tea.

Taking its cues from the Japanese tea ceremony, Tea Seas follows a ritualistic process of repetition and restraint in order to explore this precarious human existence.

Tea Seas will be exhibited at the Studio Kura Gallery on 28 and 29 March 2015.

Tea in Itoshima

Tea Seas (Red) detail.
Tea Seas (Red) detail.

It is nearly the end of February and I am now half way through my artist residency at Studio Kura in Itoshima, Japan. It has been an interesting and experience so far, and has pushed the boundaries my artistic comfort zone. I have set myself the challenge of working with a new set of materials – powdered pigments and rice paper. Having quizzed the very helpful but non-English speaking staff at the art supplies store, I now have a set of instructions, mostly in the form of drawings, for how to mix and use the pigments.

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All the beautiful colours of powdered pigments.

I am living in a traditional Japanese house, which seems to be built entirely from wood and paper. It does not hold the heat at all, and I often have to open all the doors and windows to let in the warmer-than-inside winter air. The residency is in a semi-rural area, surrounded by farms, forests and ocean. I have taken up weekly Japanese language classes in town, but am making painfully slow progress!

Working on a painting in the studio while one of the other residency artists films my paintbrush.
Working on a painting in the studio while one of the other residency artists films my paintbrush.

During the two months of my residency, I am exploring the theme of tea. Japan is renown through out the world for its tea culture, and as an avid tea drinker myself, I just had to come and find out more about what tea means to people in contemporary Japan.

I see tea as a very human beverage. It embodies society, community, hospitality and ritual – social elements that are key to our human existence. Tea is a way to connect with people and open conversations on a domestic scale, but tea can also present a connection to the human existence on far a greater stage.

The water in your cup of tea is just one part of the finite quantity of water we have on Earth. This water changes form, but it is never replenished. The water in your teacup is the same water that that flowed in the blood of dinosaurs, and it is the same water from a primordial sea, which may have nursed the first living cells on Earth. If this water could remember, it would remember all of humanity from the earliest living cells to the complex, tea drinking, societies that we have today.

My work from the residency program will be exhibited in the Studio’s gallery, housed in a converted, one hundred year old rice silo, in late March. I’ll keep you posted with the details!

"24 Cups of Tea" (detail)
“24 Cups of Tea” (detail)