Celebrating Creativity

Hi I'm Kadira Jennings, welcome to Unfolding Creativity, a portal to Abundance Through Creativity.

I am a creative artist celebrating and encouraging the creative in all of us.

My blog is a discussion, and creativity resource. Please take your time, look around and join the conversation if you would like to.
It is my passionate belief that we all have deep within us a creative genius just waiting for half a chance to get out no matter what field we work or play in.

''There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.''
Martha Graham

The Archibald Prize

Archibald Prize,Archibald_winner_2017,Mitch Cairns,Agatha Gothe-Snape

Winner Archibald Prize 2017 – Artist: Mitch Cairns, Subject: Agatha Gothe-Snape

Have you been to see the Archibald Prize yet at the NSW art gallery? A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the Salon des Refuses. Today let’s take a look at some of the works on offer at the Archibald, Wynne and Sir John Sulman prizes.

Do you know what the different prize categories are? The Archibald Prize is awarded for the best portrait painting and the Sir John Sulman Prize is awarded in one of the following categories: the best subject painting, genre painting or wall mural project by an Australian artist.

A genre painting is normally a composition representing some aspect or aspects of everyday life and may feature figurative, still-life, interior or figure-in-landscape themes. A subject painting, in contrast, is idealised or dramatised. Typically, a subject painting takes its theme from history, poetry, mythology or religion. In both cases, however, the style may be figurative, representative, abstract or semi-abstract.

A mural is a picture fixed directly to a wall or ceiling as part of an architectural and/or decorative scheme.

Established within the terms of Sir John Sulman’s bequest, the prize was first awarded in 1936. Each year the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW invite a guest artist to judge this open competition. Finalists are displayed in an exhibition at the Gallery (although in the early years all entrants were hung).


One of the most eagerly awaited awards is the Packing Room Prize.  This year it was won by Peter Smeeth with his portrait – Lisa Wilkinson AM.

Archibald Prize


The winner of the Wynne prize for 2017 was Betty Kuntiwa Pumani with the painting Antara, pictured below.

“Antara in South Australia is an extremely important site for Betty Kuntiwa Pumani and her family. Antara is her mother’s country. This place and its significant maku (witchetty grub) tjukurpa were a constant in the paintings of her mother, the late Kunmanara (Milatjari) Pumani. Today, Betty and her older sister Ngupulya Pumani are proud custodians of this country; they map its significance and hold its stories strong in their paintings.”  Quote from NSW Art Gallery.

archibald prize


The Sulman prize was awarded this year to Joan Ross, with her work ‘Oh history, you lied to me.’ This is what Joan Ross has to say about her work.

“This work continues my interrogation of colonial collecting and of Australian colonisation. I imagine history is an unfaithful lover, in his own bubble with his lies, seduction and manipulation, only seeing from his position. Recreating the Leverian Museum, a catacomb of curiosities including those from Captain Cook’s voyages, and using my signature hi-vis as a metaphor for colonisation, I am critical of the collecting mentality as an ongoing disease fuelled by superiority and greed.” 

Archibald prize

As always the Archibald is always worth a look. 

Your Creative Genius

This week I want to bring you some thoughts about creativity from someone who is not an artist, but a writer. You may be familiar with Liz Gilbert the author of Eat, Pray, Love. Below is a video, her TED talk, on the subject of your elusive creative genius. She covers many ideas that all creatives grapple with. Enjoy


Among the ideas she discusses is that creativity always leads to suffering, depression, anxiety etc, and she questions whether we really want to maintain that view of creativity. It’s really the whole view of artists that society has adopted, that of the starving artist syndrome.

artists painting photo

Why do we have such a negative view of the creative arts as a lifestyle and career? And I would also question, why does society not support their artists to a greater degree. What is so ironical is that if you stop to think about what are the most important and valuable things in the world.

What has sold for more money than any other commodity – that thing would be a painting. It’s amazing how artists are often vilified, and certainly not encouraged in their career choice, and yet the product of their labours are among the most highly valued things on this earth. Somehow to my mind that doesn’t quite add up.

Pix Credit: orijdotson (Pixabay)

The Sydney Contemporary

The Sydney Contemporary Art Fair 2017


The Sydney contemporary celebrated five days of curated exhibitions and ambitious programming which appealed to the serious collector, the art lover and those curious about contemporary art. The 2017 program presented a showcase of the very best visual art, current trends and emergent practices, as well as a cross-cultural dialogue. It was the premier event on the Sydney art calendar for 2017, with more than 90 galleries from Australia and overseas showcasing their art. There were hundreds of artists represented, cutting edge music, and live performance art.

People often find visiting galleries and art fairs intimidating as you often have to contend with the Art speak, the snobby curators and the feeling that one is inferior and floundering in a sea of confusion. The Sydney contemporary attempted to showcase the current art market, in a way that was approachable for all, whether you were a well-heeled collector, galleries looking for new artists, or just somebody who loves art and wanted to see what it’s all about. There was something for everyone in the program and an emphasis on learning and inclusion.

The image above Is a detail from a very large piece by New Zealand Evan Woodruffe, (which you can view below.)  You can see the complete painting below, which is massive. The work is Acrylic, fabric, gold leaf and paper on linen and measures 300 x 300cm, 9 paintings 100 x 100cm.The detail in this work is quite extraordinary.

the sydney contemporary,Evan Woodruffe

As you can imagine, there was a  huge variety of artworks in all different mediums. The photos included here are some of my favourites.

the sydney contemporary Art Fair 2017

 Unfortunately, I failed to take note of the artist of this work. The light in it is quite extraordinary I love the fine edge between real and surreal in this work.


Marie Le Lievre,Keeper (Sentimentals)

The work above is by Marie Le Lievre, Keeper (Sentimentals) 

It is oil on cardboard 64 x 64 cm

The Salon des Refuses


The Sydney Observatory – near the HS Irving Gallery


If you sometimes go to the Archibald and end up shaking your head and wondering if there weren’t perhaps some other, better entries that could have been hung, then take time to go and visit the salon de refuses at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney. In my experience, it’s always well worth the visit. To encourage you to go this year, I would like to share some of the paintings that are on offer. The exhibition is on until the 15th of October so there is still plenty of time to see it.


The first one below is by GUY MAESTRI a self-portrait as a still life, oil on linen 61cm x 51cm.  I really liked the sculptural quality of the work, the broad brush strokes and the concept of painting a bust.

salon des refuses,Guy Maestri,salon_des_refuses


Next up is a painting of Colin Friels, by the artist Christopher McVinish. There is a great rendering of this shirt as you can see in the detail.


salon des refuses,Colin Friels by Christopher McVinish


Shirt Detail

salon des refuses,Colin_Friels_detail


One of the most interesting portraits was done using a very unusual technique utilizing stencils, as seen in the detail below. This work is a self-portrait by Sally Robinson. 


salon des refuses,Sally Robinson - self portrait


And here is the complete portrait…..


salon des refuses,Sally Robinson - self portrait

And of course, there were many others works that were just as interesting as these ones.

What Is The Biggest Dilemma of Beginning a New Series of Works?


When beginning a new series of artworks, there are actually several different challenges that one faces.  And depending on what challenges you the most, will determine which one rates has your biggest dilemma.
Here are some of the things that come up, not in any particular order.

  • The most obvious one is content. The content for a series of works needs to have a broad enough range and depth to it so that you will not run out of things to paint before you’ve completed enough works. The number of works will vary, if you are working towards a solo exhibition, for example,  you will need a minimum of around twenty works.
  • Also related to content is the cohesiveness of that content. Are you going to base your series around subject matter or stylistic content, such as colour palette, brush strokes, your unique artistic fingerprint?
  • new_series,fingerprint
  • Usually, the reliance on your fingerprint alone is not enough, particularly if you are fairly new on the art scene.  People won’t yet recognise your signature brush strokes or palette, so you will need something else to hold it all together.
  • You can create continuity through telling a story in some way. This is what I did in my solo exhibition last year. The story was based on the plight of refugees, a current, relevant, issue worldwide, including Australia’s shameful track record in this arena. My intention was to bring greater awareness to the subject through my exhibition and to encourage people to think about this issue in a different way.
new_series,Exhibition,The wall of Prints,Kadira_Jennings.refugees,artist,

The wall of Prints

  • One of the bigger challenges is remaining fresh with the material. What do I mean by remaining fresh? Over the course of twenty art works, it is relatively easy to become stale, running out of ideas for the next painting. This is why it is important to map out at the very least a rough plan of what you intend to accomplish. If you can’t come up with ideas for at least ten to twelve paintings then it’s going to be pretty difficult to reach twenty.
  • Even if you are an abstract artist, your exhibition still needs to have something that holds it together. Abstract artists often achieve this through their colour palette.
  • Another thing that will come up during any extended creative project, is burnout. This often occurs about three-quarters of the way through. One begins to run out of oomph. At this point, it is often a good idea to take a break, step back and regroup.
  • And the last thing, although there are probably others, is that you can run out of ideas for the later works in your series. This, in turn, leads to sometimes inferior quality work, in both concept and execution. It is important to try to maintain a constant standard throughout the whole series.

So these are just a few of the things to look out for when beginning a new series of work. As they say, forewarned is forearmed.


Pix Credits: Photo by  qimono (Pixabay)

Photo by    Kurious (Pixabay)

A New Series – Beginnings

As I introduced last week, I have begun a collaboration with my friend using Georgia O’Keeffe as our muse.

The exhibition will take the form of photographs, Prue’s, and paintings, mine. We thought it would be interesting to make the works both the same size and each subject will be hung next to its partner. The first subject we have chosen is a black cabbage and the photos you see here are mine, which may or may not become a painting. At this point, I am just playing around with ideas and images.


Black Cabbage

The current title of the new series is Revealing the Unseen and contains a couple of concepts within it. There is the idea of going deeper within ourselves and in the process of creating these works of art, revealing greater insights and creating work from a deeper place than before.

This idea also fits with the concept of Light and Darkness, that is, moving from the Dark into the Light in a pictorial sense as well as from a conceptual space. It is a process of revealing to ourselves things that were hidden before. All creative work is also a journey of self-development to a greater or lesser degree.

Of course contained within the light-dark paradigm, there is always an element of mystery. For what is within the dark is hidden and we wonder about what those things might be. Then as they come into the light they are slowly revealed.
What beauty is revealed when I combine the elements of Light and Darkness with a black cabbage. Some quite startling results, I must say. Then it is a matter of taking those results and pairing them down into their essentials, to create a liquid beauty of essence, line, colour, tone and form.

The photographic images here are mine and as yet I have to do some working studies with them.  I’ve hardly scratched the surface of the essence of this plant.  Although I do have to say that while I was taking the photos using the elements of light and dark, the cabbage revealed some secrets to me that I would not have come across without using these techniques


Black Cabbage II

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