Hope and Optimism from Art Collective WA

Trevor Vickers, Breakfast Variations, Projection, 2016; image courtesy sno contemporary art projects, Sydney

Given the current climate of Sydney's art scene - closures of TAFE and university art programs, changes to the city's most dynamic art schools, shrinking budgets for museum acquisitions and the challenges of attracting new patronage to commercial galleries - the current exhibition showing at Sydney Non Objective (SNO) in Marrickville is very timely. 

The exhibition comes from across the nation and is brought to us by Perth group Art Collective WA, who featured in Art Monthly's April WA focus edition. The situation Sydney finds itself in was similarly experienced on the west coast some four years ago. Galleries closed their doors in financial hardship and Perth artists were left to flounder. This prompted the birth of Art Collective WA, taking inspiration from Melbourne's artist initiative Pinacotheca. 

The four artists showing at SNO are all members of the collective that works to support established WA artists. Helen Smith, Jeremy Kirwan-Ward, Trevor Vickers and Jurek Wybraniec are internationally exhibiting abstract artists with studios based in Fremantle and Perth. The SNO show invites audiences to see each individual's exploration in minimal abstraction. 

Ultimately, the show, which runs until 28 August 2016, celebrates hope and renewal in times of adversity.

Helen Smith, Reunification Series # 70 , 2016, Found image assemblages; image courtesy the artist and SNO contemporary art projects, Sydney

Much-Anticipated Parr Survey Opens at the NGA

mike parr: foreign looking, exhibition view, national gallery of australia, canberra, 2016

Mike Parr is considered to be Australia's most significant practising performance artist. He established himself as a controversial and provocative artist in the early 1970s and was formative in the development of conceptual art in Australia. The retrospective, opening today in Canberra, features a range of media from the prolific artist, including film, print, drawing, sculpture and photography.

Experimenting with poetry and the written word in his early work, Parr then found performance to explore his interest in memory, the unconscious, self and the image of self. He ruthlessly pushes his body to extremes to achieve the 'limit state'. Works show him slicing his belly, starving himself in solitary confinement, pushing pin tacks into his leg and wrapping his head in wire, in an often uncompromising confrontation with his audience.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the gallery has reconstructed the artist's 1974 'Information Centre', which will contain a large collection of archival material as well as a display of Parr's numerous journals, highlighting the artist's rigour in relentless self-analysis. It will also be a site for talks, workshops and performances throughout the exhibition, which runs until 6 November 2016.

Bronze liars (1996): parr constructed these portrait busts partially blinded

Information Centre is the site for early work as well as archival and reading material

NATSIAA Winner Announced!

Harold Joseph Thomas (Bundoo) with his work Tribal Abduction, overall winner of the 2016 Telstra Art Award

Tonight in the Top End, the 2016 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA) was presented to Darwin artist Harold Thomas for his work Tribal abduction. The annual event has run since 1984, hosted by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) in Darwin. Major sponsorship from Telstra has helped the continuing success of the award and a AU$50,000 cash prize for the winner. The awards celebrate the achievements and contribution of Indigenous artists across Australia: emerging or established, traditional or contemporary, and in all media. The judging panel that selected the winning works comprised artist Vernon Ah Kee, curator Kimberley Moulton and philanthropist Don Whyte.

The works of the 75 Telstra NATSIAA finalists, including this year's Work on Paper Award-winner Robert Pau and 2016 Bark Painting Award-recipient John Mawurndjul, will be exhibited at MAGNT until 30 October 2016.

Betty Kuntiwa Pumani with her work which won the Telstra General Painting Award

Nicole Monks and her performance piece, We are all animals, which won the Wandjuk Marika Memorial 3D Award (sponsored by Telstra) 

Two Stellar Exhibitions Open at Beaver Galleries

Detail of Storm from Mount Ainslie by Alicia Mozqueira; image courtesy the artist and beaver galleries, canberra

Canberra's largest and well-respected commercial gallery, Beaver Galleries, opened a double exhibition this week with 'Dawn and Dusk' from Alicia Mozqueira and 'Winter Drawings' from Lucienne Rickard.

Mozqueira is an emerging Canberra painter exploring the dark romanticism of the natural environment. The oil paintings in this series capture the richness of the ACT landscape in seasonal transition. The artist magnificently renders the qualities of light, air and sky with a tender hand and sublime colour. Mozqueira asks us to pause and absorb the heady beauty of our own environment.

Rickard is a Hobart-based artist who has refined her art-making to a meticulous method of graphite marking on drafting film. The repetitive process is executed with painstaking precision and results in vivid, textural works that command presence in the gallery space. Rickard deals with the interwoven themes of beauty, brutality, death and disintegration wrapped up with a fundamental reverence for living things.

Both artists are on show until 21 August 2016, and well worth feasting your eyes on.

Detail of Tribute by Lucienne RIckard; image courtesy the artist and beaver galleries, canberra

Speculating 'Imagined Worlds' at Melbourne's Town Hall Gallery

imagined worlds, Installation view; image courtesy Town Hall Gallery, melbourne

Located in the redeveloped Hawthorn Arts Centre in Melbourne, Town Hall Gallery's most recent exhibition, 'Imagined Worlds', smudges the lines between reality and the imagined. Exhibiting the work of nine established Australian artists, the show raises questions around what the imagined landscape can do for artists and viewers. The artworks explore dreamlike representations of place that compel and captivate, allowing the imagination to consider what life could be in these new worlds.

Curated by Mardi Nowak, artists comprise Kevin Chin, Ara Dolatian, Connor Grogan, Tony Lloyd, Andrew Mezei, Kate Shaw, Ben Taranto, Christie Torrington and Alice Wormald.

The intriguing speculations of 'Imagined Worlds' continue until 21 August 2016.

imagined worlds, Installation view; image courtesy Town Hall Gallery, melbourne

MPavilion 2016 Design and Writer Announced!

Model of MPavilion design by Bijoy Jain; image courtesy Studio Mumbai

Melbourne's MPavilion in Queen Victoria Gardens will again be transformed into a design and cultural hub later this year, from October through February. Bijoy Jain, of architecture firm Studio Mumbai, has been appointed to build the temporary pavilion by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, which will be home to a massive series of talks, workshops, performances and installations.

Jain is a leader in sustainable and ethical architecture and has been described as an architect who thinks like an artist. He explores ideas around the role of craft and the handmade in architecture and works alongside skilled artisans and craftspeople to construct his buildings. The Indian architect is interested in the human element of what he calls the concept of 'lore', when local techniques, materials, traditions and knowledge are passed on and shared. In engaging with 'lore', Jain hopes the pavilion to be a 'symbol of the elemental nature of communal structures ... a place of engagement, and a space to discover the essentials of the world and of oneself.'

The 12-metre-high building will be constructed from the most basic of materials: bamboo, earth, stone and rope, and will place the visitor at a point between earth, ground and sky. Once the program ends, the pavilion will be allowed to continue its legacy when it is moved to a permanent home in the city's vibrant architectural landscape.

And newsflash!: To coincide with the design's launch, Art Monthly has once again collaborated with MPavilion and the National Association for the Visual Arts to present the MPavilion/Art Monthly Writing Award of AU$3000. The award aims to support writers in the field of interdisciplinary practice within art and design. This year, Tess Maunder is the worthy recipient and will develop an essay to be published in the December 2016 issue of Art Monthly. Currently a Curatorial Collegiate for the 11th Shanghai Biennale, Maunder will also appear as part of the official MPavilion program. 

recipient of the MPavilion/Art Monthly Writing Award; image courtesy tess maunder

Incredible Craftsmanship in Takeyoshi Mitsui's Sublime 'Sense'

Japanese artist Takeyoshi Mitsui was invited to spend a six-week residency at Canberra Glassworks and his exhibition 'Sense' shows the results of his stay. Moving away from his background in production work, Mitsui is interested in how the closed vessel may stand as a representation of the summation of life. As this is his first Australian exhibition, Mitsui was also keen to explore how glass is perceived as an artform in Australia, in contrast to Japan where ceramics is considered the dominant medium.

Mitsui uses a method of blowing into moulds to achieve his immaculately crafted vessels. The artist is a recipient of the Arts ACT-supported Asialink reciprocal residency program run between Canberra Glassworks and Toyama Glass Studio in Japan. 

For those in Canberra, head down to the Kingston foreshore to check out these beauties before the show closes on July 25!

NGA Announces Summer Blockbuster, 'Versailles'

These mesdames and messieurs showED off the pomp and ceremony of the French court

These mesdames and messieurs showED off the pomp and ceremony of the French court

A harp player and a handful of frilly French aristocrats helped announce the summer blockbuster 'Versailles: Treasures From the Palace' at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Opening December 9, the exhibition will showcase the astonishing luxury of French high society with a number of personal items belonging to King Louis XIV-XVI and Marie Antoinette, lent by the the palace museum, Château de Versailles

Addresses were given by the French Ambassador Christophe Lecourtier, the President of the Versailles museum Catherine Pegard, and Director of the NGA Dr Gerard Vaughan. All three distinguished speakers reflected on the timeliness of the exhibition and the recent terror and political disquiet seen in France. The exhibition aims to celebrate what Versailles represents for France: strength, creativity, innovation. But Vaughan also promises a healthy dose of sex and passion to balance the politics. 

This will be an exhibition to book early; it's sure to seduce!

Gerard Vaughan, Beatrix Saule, Catherine Pegard, Andrew Barr and Christophe Lecourtier

Gerard Vaughan, Beatrix Saule, Catherine Pegard, Andrew Barr and Christophe Lecourtier

Drill Hall Gallery Reopens After Extensive Refurb

Visitors at the 'Streets of Papunya' exhibition showing at the Drill Hall Gallery, canberra

Canberra's heritage-listed Drill Hall Gallery unveiled its recent AU$2 million face lift last night. The military training hall turned slick art gallery installed a climate control system, state-of-the-art lighting tracks and a purpose-built exhibit dedicated to the hero of the ANU Art Collection, Sidney Nolan's Riverbend

The renovation has truly transformed the building and maximises the Gallery's new potential as an acclaimed contemporary art space. Freshly polished dark wooden floorboards reflect the crisp white partitions that stretch to the ceiling high above. The space is elegantly broken up by the exposed brick of the building, a reminder of its entrenched history.

The gallery launched with travelling exhibition 'Streets of Papunya'and artists Linda Tjunkaya Syddick Napaltjarri and her sister Martha McDonald Napaltjarri were at hand to see it open. Curated by esteemed Papunya scholar Vivien Johnson, the show seeks to frame contemporary work against the historical establishment of Papunya as an epicentre for Aboriginal art. Women artists feature more conspicuously across the current generation. The show presents a number of visually stunning painted works as well as video, sculpture and collage.

The gallery has extended its hours and will now be open 10am-5pm Wednesday-Sunday.

Linda Tjunkaya Syddick Napaltjarri and her sister Martha McDonald Napaltjarri, both around 80 years old, at the opening of 'Streets of Papunya'

'Tough and Tender' opens at National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

Robert Mapplethorpe, Sebastian, 1980, silver gelatin photograph, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1980

The National Portrait Gallery, Canberra has opened their most recent exhibition, 'Tough and Tender'. Curated by, and emerging from the doctoral research of Christopher Chapman, the exhibition examines the complexities of youth, masculinity and gender. The works poetically reflect on the inherent vulnerability of innocence and beauty to corruption. Guest speaker Christos Tsiolkas (author of 'The Slap') launched the show with these insightful words: "Toughness is being brave in the world as you are." 'Tough and Tender' runs until 16 October.

Entry and title wall to exhibition

Christos Tsiolkas toasting with artists Warwick Baker and Rozalind Drummond

A.C.T. ‘Grants In The City’

Activate Canberra! Australia’s capital has launched a funding program calling out for ideas, from anybody, to help shape and enliven the CBD. ‘Grants In The City’ aims to activate Civic through citizen-based place-making. Make the city yours.

There are three grant tiers available: Public Grants (anyone may apply for up to $2000); Popular Ideas (proven deliverable projects may apply for $2000-$10,000); and Professionals (wide impact projects coordinated by professionals may apply for $10,000-$50,000).

For more info, visit the website. http://www.inthecitycanberra.com.au/grants-in-the-city/

Caitlin Seymour-King

Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award

Image credit: © Justine Varga ‘Marking Time’ (2016). Type C hand print, 122 x 98.5cm Courtesy of Stills Gallery, Sydney and Hugo Michell Gallery

Image credit: © Justine Varga ‘Marking Time’ (2016). Type C hand print, 122 x 98.5cm Courtesy of Stills Gallery, Sydney and Hugo Michell Gallery

A big congratulations to Justine Varga for her second win of the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award, hosted by the Gold Coast City Art Gallery. Varga created the spectacular photogram without the aid of a camera. Check out Stills Gallery and Hugo Michell Gallery for more of the artist's work. Justine was also featured in our April 2016 issue.

Caitlin Seymour-King


Behind Your Eyes, Between Your Ears: Neurofeedback portrait project

Image: Behind Your Eyes, Between Your Ears: Neurofeedback portrait studio, George Gnut with David Morris-Oliveros, Performance Space, Carriageworks, 2015. Photography Amanda James

Image: Behind Your Eyes, Between Your Ears: Neurofeedback portrait studio, George Gnut with David Morris-Oliveros, Performance Space, Carriageworks, 2015. Photography Amanda James

Head down to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra and watch this amazing interactive artwork being made by UNSW Art & Design researcher, Dr George Khut. 'Behind Your Eyes, In Between Your Ears' is an ongoing digital portraiture project where Khut experiments with biomedical technology to visualise the brainwaves of his subjects. His interest is in mapping the space between thinking and being, through light and soundscape. On display until 17th July!

Head to the website for more info on the project. http://www.georgekhut.com/behind-your-eyes-between-your-ears/

Caitlin Seymour-King 

Colonial Imperialsim and Indigenous History

Greg Semu, The Arrival, diptych, 2014–15 type-C photograph, 126.5 x 168.7cm (image and sheet); Collection of the artist, Sydney; image courtesy Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne; © Greg Semu

Greg Semu, The Arrival, diptych, 2014–15
type-C photograph, 126.5 x 168.7cm (image and sheet);
Collection of the artist, Sydney;
image courtesy Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne; © Greg Semu

Check out Greg Semu's 'The Arrival, Diptych', at the National Gallery of Victoria, on until 11 September. In this large-scale photographic series, Greg Semu explores issues of colonial imperialistic representations of indigenous histories. Semu poignantly re-positions two hallmark works: 'The Arrival of the Maori's in New Zealand' by Louis John Steele and Charles F. Goldie of 1898, and its predecessor, 'The Raft of the Medusa' from Théodore Géricault in 1819. Read Dylan Rainforth's interview with the artist in our current June/July Pacific issue.

Caitlin Seymour-King