Redfern Biennale 2015

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Damien Minton, the curator of the annual event now part of Art Month, the ‘Redfern Biennale’, asked me to contribute this year. An exhibition with a difference, on the streets of the Sydney suburb, Redfern. Outside the commercial gallery context and on the streets of the NSW Housing Commission precinct; readymade objects, found materials, photography, all responded to the environment. I found it a liberating experience, placing art out of doors in an installation context. It made me realise it would be great to see more art in the streets without the accompaniment of commerce. The readymade exhibition was only held for one day, the 21st of March 2015.

“Be ready, again, to view for free readymades, sculpture, multi media, new media, painting, found object or even a cobweb on the street. This year, 2015, with the assistance of local community service centres, the Redfern Biennale will feature the display, on the street, of artwork by local NSW Housing Commission residents. The Redfern Biennale precinct is focussed around the fences and footpaths of Walker Street, bound by Cooper and Redfern Streets, Redfern.

The Redfern Biennale is an outdoor, eclectic, democratic free-for-all happening that will just happen on the day.

There is no Council approval, we are just placing the work on the streets for 7 hours.

Whether it is John Cage remarking ‘beauty is now underfoot wherever we take the trouble to look’ the notion of this show stems from the art dealer Damien Minton photographing readymade objects and clusters around the streets of Redfern and posting them on social media.” (Art Month, Yellam Nre)

As the internationally renowned contemporary curator Yellan Nre commented in his/her essay for the Redfern Biennale 2014, ‘Clusterfuck Aesthetics, the Radicality of Garbage:

“The nihilism of the readymade – both sneering and naïve, complete yet broken – defines our experience of contemporary art today. Objects umoored from the womb of the white cube are without referent or narrative, and yet generate narrative in their very abandonment. Art made in public space is an assault on the narrative of community, and complicates the periphery of our social engagement. But when the anti-establishment gesture of the guerrilla artwork is subsumed within the cannibalising assault of gentrification, how can the art object reclaim its radicality?

“In its democratizing gesture of a free-for-all pile of stuff on stuff, Redfern Biennale is a shot across the bow of government sanctioned social sculpture for the greater good. It places public art back in the hands of the public, where they are free to ‘engage’ with it as they wish. The utopian desire, imagined or otherwise, of a multifarious yet united society is thus enacted via the analogy of trash. The value of what we discard, conceal and detain outlines the border of our collective culture. Thus the artist’s gesture of displaying a work of art in public space becomes one of defiance and generosity. In doing so, it confounds Duchamp’s exhortation to indifference to the aesthetics or origin of an object – it enforces direct interaction with the situation of appearance and context. Destructions should take place more rapidly.”

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My work ‘Domesticity’ incorporated a collection of found materials that reflects my personal world at present. The stretcher frame without a painting except a small sketch of mother and child, signifying the amount of time you get to do your own work! The domestic world with its olive branch, acceptance, patience and love.

http://www.artmonthsydney.com.au/experiences/redfern-biennale-2015/

and More artists studios, Artisans in the Gardens 2014

The lovely ceramics of Katherine Mahoney and her group of functional porcelain and stoneware ceramic ware, ‘Flora Impressions’ created in her studio at home, at the bottom of the garden. Bowls, platters and vases are thrown and then impressed using materials gathered directly from the Botanical gardens, and glazes created to reflect the palette of a watercolourist. The ceramics are “inspired by the beautiful native seedpods and leaves that are bountiful in Australia”.

 

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Harriet Schwarzrock’s studio where she created work for Artisans in the Gardens using tinted blown glass and stainless steel. The sculptural glass blown forms, vases and tumblers, “speak of organic growth and transpiration cycles”, predominantly organically inspired “I am often drawn to the delicious form of the spiral”, “and seek to express a rhythm and cadence between individual, yet sympathetic forms”.

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Bev Hogg’s studio a converted garage, overlooking her front and back garden, created a collaborative work with Marianne Courtney, ‘Groundwork 1’. Using assembled cut and stacked eucalyptus sticks, taking essential elements of garden or bush land “and translating them into a semi-ritualistic meditative work that speaks of growth, wholeness, and also vulnerability.” The outdoor sculpture will weather over time reflecting the “natural cycles of birth, ageing, change and decay”.

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Marguerite Derricourt’s studio where she created  ‘Travelling Light 11’ using moulded Japanese papers. These sculptural wall pieces of moths, in particular the migratory patterns of Bogong moths, are made from moulded Japanese papers and laser cut powder-coated steel. The works speak of the moth’s nocturnal habits and self-destructive behaviour, a poetic and symbolic universal theme within

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Jan Howlin’s studio where she has created the work ‘Family Tree’ using ceramic, glazes and underglaze. “As a maker of sculptural works, I try to create forms that embody meaning; objects that suggest ideas”, “I am drawn to universal issues such as human relationships, foibles and experiences along with sustainability, the natural environment and the contemporary world”.

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Further artists studio visits for Artisans in the Gardens

A few more images of exhibiting artists studios for Artisans in the Gardens 2014.

Peter Anderson’s hand built stoneware ceramic, ‘Ruins and Relics’, “draw upon the power and complexity of all manifestations of landscape from scars of heavy industry and urban decay to notions of wilderness”

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Giselle Courtney’s studio where she creates her jewellery using flame worked borosilicate glass lustre, stainless steel and sterling silver. Her jewellery is inspired by the Botanical Gardens, the garden’s flora, and the surrounding harbour foreshore.

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Linda Davy’s studio, creating hand built ceramic sculptures with raku and stoneware firings. The works exhibited for Artisans in the Gardens, ‘Empty Pockets’ explores concerns about the environment, both societal and personal connections, focusing on rare and endangered birds as well as imaginary birds based on the Australian landscape.

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Artist studio visits with Artisans in the Gardens

Along with the Artisan in the Garden committee we have made several visits to artists studios that are exhibiting in this years Artisans in the Gardens at the Botanical gardens, Sydney, from 1th – 19th of October 2014. I have been posting these studios daily on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Here is a snap shot of some of the great spaces and work.

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Denise McDonald works in stoneware and cool ice porcelain, and creates her own glaze producing a range of functional tableware ceramics, ‘The Flannel Flower Range”. The bowls, jugs and vases are soft-slab and wheel formed featuring a vintage flannel flower design. The design is taken directly from her immediate environment in her home and studio, a source of inspiration and part of her family for three generations. “the range speaks of our relationship to our native flora and our use of decorative motifs of great longevity”.

 

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Dimity Kidston creates tapestry using wool, cotton and linen. The shapes and textures of the seeds, pods and flowers of the Botanical Gardens inspire a series of woven tapestries, printed aluminium and ceramic plates.

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Geoff Harvey is both a painter and sculptor, creating ‘The Garden Dogs’ series using laser cut steel and found objects which frolic in the garden. His extensive studio has built up a collection of  found materials that is a source of inspiration for many of his works.

 

Yoko Ono at MCA, Sydney

The retrospective exhibition of Yoko Ono, ‘War is Over!’ is on now at the MCA until the 23rd of Feb, which means there is now only this week to go! For anyone in Sydney if you havnt had a chance to get there, I would recommend getting down to see the show before Sunday the 23rd.

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The video ‘Cut Piece’ in the background of this image, and ‘Play it by Trust’ in the foreground. ‘Cut Piece’ is considered one of Yoko Ono’s most significant artworks today, first performed in 1964, Tokyo, Japan. The audience members are invited to cut pieces of her clothing away with a pair of scissors, as she sits impassively upon the stage. In this exhibition the film documentaries of two of the performances are shown, one in 1965 at Carnegie Recital Hall and the second, in Paris, age of 70, in 2003. “The relationship between the younger and older woman, as well as questions of venerability, dignity and audience response are touched in these films”. ‘Play it by Trust’, first installed in 1966 at Indica Gallery, London, has been repeatedly made over several decades. Customised boards and chess pieces are all white, once the game commences the pieces intermingle and it becomes difficult to know who controls which piece, the idea of competition founders. Ono says, “this leads to a shared understanding of (our) mutual concerns and a new relationship based on empathy rather than opposition. Peace is then attained on a small scale”.

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‘Windows’, 2009/2013, Another participatory work which is a great thing about her work, everyone can get involved. Here writing a letter to add to a beautiful original travel suitcases.

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‘My Mommy is Beautiful‘ 2004/2013, Participatory artwork, writing a note to one’s mother. “Ono has long been interested in the complexity of gender and the feminine through her art…a participatory artwork which takes the form of a wall upon which audience members are invited to pin or tape private messages of love, hope, forgiveness and reconciliation to their mothers…elicits a spectrum of responses from love and thanks, to anger and sadness.”

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A selection of mothers in front of the art work.

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‘Imagine Map Piece’ 1966/2013, Participatory artwork, where the viewer is invited to stamp ‘peace’ in differing languages on maps of the world.

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‘Mend Peace’ 1966/2013, Participatory artwork, an invitation to select broken ceramic pieces and put them back together again in a morphemic new form.

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Displayed on shelves, the public’s mended pieces of ceramics ware, complete with string and glue.

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Helmets – Pieces of Sky‘ 2001/2013 Participatory artwork, “Ono witnessed the physical and economic devastation of Japan as a young girl living through World War 11…. she has written about her war time experiences, describing the hours that she and her brother  spent watching the sky and clouds drift past….Images of the wide blue sky with drifting clouds have become a recurring theme within Ono’s art works ever since”. In ‘Helmets’ World War military helmets hang upside down from the ceiling, filled with pieces of blue sky jigsaw puzzle. Gallery visitors are invited to take one piece of sky away with them “in the hope that, one day in the future, they will return with their pieces to build a beautiful new sky together”.

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‘touch me 111’ 2008, Participatory artwork, “Ono has often addressed the quiet undercurrent of violence done to women and their bodies through her art”. This theme is expanded in this work, with individual parts of women’s bodies, in silicone, are placed in small wooden boxes upon a platform. A bowl of water is at one end, with the instructions for the viewer to wet their fingers and gently ‘touch’ the body. “The depressions and gouges left by the gallery visitors when this work was first shown in New York caused Ono’s gallery to recommend taking it away from view. Ono declined, leaving the damaged body on display as a reminder of the violent treatment that so many women endure in their daily lives'”

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Doors and Sky Puddles’ 2011, this work was exhibited at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, with multiple upright doors that appear to float in the gallery space. The wooden doors are old and peeling, flecked with the passage of time. If you look closely at the doors surface, Ono has written tiny messages as well as writing haiku poetry directly on the gallery wall using Japanese calligraphic ink. Clouds and sky are inverted in the sky puddles that sit upon the floor. Ono wroye in 1968, “Doors are just a figment of our imagination’, suggesting that barriers exist in our mind, as much as reality, and that we need strength and courage to pass through them.”

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We’re All Water’ 2006/2013,

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‘Balance Piece’ 1998, “Much of Yoko Ono’s art is affirmative, reflecting the desire to wish for a better, more peaceful world. In some works, however, there is a equally an undercurrent of violence – for in keeping with Buddhist principles of universal balances, harmony cannot be expressed without its opposite state”. In ‘Balance Piece’ an ordinary kitchen is “literally suspended in a precarious balance, with a large magnet visible on the other side of the wall.” (all quotes are from the MCA gallery catalogue)

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And the cafe after for sustenance, view from window! Not the harbour but an ocean liner!

Joshua Yeldham at Art House Gallery, ‘Surrender Tree’

Joshua Yeldham was the last solo exhibition at Art House Gallery for 2013 (I also exhibit at the same gallery), dates from the 20th November to 14th of December, at 66 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. His works are a virtuoso in paint and carved pigment print on cotton paper, the colours, textures and surfaces are beautiful and seductive. The work is inspired by his home and studio setting, along the banks and on his boat, at Pittwater, (above Sydney), along the mangrove and inland water inlets.

“Yeldham’s work is a mapping of multiple realities. It charts the artist’s travels among the mangroves, the disused oyster leases and along the salty foreshores near Pittwater. Yeldham’s cartography moves within this world and without. He is not limited by the materiality of reaching tree limbs of the muddy matter of swamps. His paintings and photographic works move beyond the human-perceived environment. Instead, he deliberates on the fragile spaces in between, the liminal places in his heart and mind where imagination soars and intellect sings. He says,’the space between two lines is what connects us’.
Yeldham has been preoccupied, for many years, with the intersection of cultures, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, indigenous Australia….
Yeldham works as spiritual journeyman. He swoops, like his constant daemon-spirit or guardian owl, across these paintings which have been carved and caned, indigo-incised and marked, in time with his heart beat, in tempo with his private prayers…”
(excerpts from Prue Gibson’s catalogue text)
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‘White owl n/8 and n/7’, carved resin with cane and wire, and painting, ‘Temple of  Forgiveness – Morning Bay’, oil and cane on carved board, 152 x 204 cm.
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Detail of painting , ‘Temple of  Forgiveness – Morning Bay’, oil and cane on carved board, 152 x 204 cm.
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‘Yeoman’s Bay – Hawkesbury River’, oil, resin and cane on carved board, 200 x 244 cm (and details)
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‘Eagle Rock – Cottage Point’, oil and cane on carved board, 204 x 152 cm (and detail)
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(detail) ‘Sway – Mud Island’ shellac on unique carved pigment print on cotton paper, 160 x 150 cm
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(detail) ‘Falling water – Yeoman’s Bay’, oil and cane on carved board, 200 x 244 cm
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‘Surrender Tree – Morning Bay’, oil on carved board, 204 x 152 cm
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(details of ‘Surrender Tree – Morning Bay’)

‘One Night Stand’ at Damien Minton Gallery, night 9, Connie Anthes, night 11 featuring Rachel Burns and Ulan Murray

Damien Minton Gallery has created a great new initiative , ‘One Night Stand’, over 14 nights, 14 consecutive shows are held within the gallery space, 583 Elizabeth Street, Redfern, Sydney, running from 9th December to the 22nd December. I have managed to make to two of them so far, night 9, Tuesday 17th, ‘Low Relief’ curated by artist Connie Anthes, and night 11, Thursday 19th December, the works of Rachel Burns and Ulan Murray. It is really great to see such a range of artworks, artists practices and creatives from all fields and spectrums all exhibiting in such a whirlwind affair. Contributers to ‘One night stand’ range from the South Sydney Multicultural Community Center, Art Teachers, performers, Paul McDermott and Paul Livingston, the cooperative and pottery studio ClayPool and muscian, Robert Moore. Such contributers, often lying outside the traditional commercial gallery scene, has created a dynamic and energizing series of eventful nights.

http://damienmintongallery.com.au

Tuesday 17 December 2013
Low Relief, curated by Connie Anthes

“Inspired by two sets of gun-metal grey plan drawers acquired by artist Connie Anthes when Sydney’s last map shop closed in 2011, Low Relief explores the possibilities of shallow space and its relation to mapping place, time and ideas of perception. Twenty artists have each responded to a drawer with its original label intact, with the work to be displayed in situ and experienced one-on-one by the audience.

20 drawers/20 artists, including: Matthew Allen, Sarah Breen Lovett, Catherine Cassidy, Criena Court, Michaela Gleave, Sarah Goffman, David Haines, Janet Haslett, Greg Hodge, Leahlani Johnson, Anna Kristensen, Abbas Makrab, Noel McKenna, Ian Millis, Eric Niebuhr, Peter Nelson, Madeleine Preston, Peter Sharp, Floria Tosca, and Paul Williams.”

Thursday 19 December 2013
Rachel Burns + Ulan Murray

Rachel Burns
“This series of paintings deals with the Australian culture of the road trip. Living in such a vast and largely vacant land we often find ourselves travelling long distances, in our cars, at speed. As we drive through the landscape some things attract our eyes and others just become a blur of colour and form.

‘My works never attempts to be a realistic interpretation of the landscape but rather a jumble of remembered and imagined forms’

Ulan Murray
The sculptures celebrate the beauty and intricacy of nature. By altering the scale and abstracting the forms the works reflect nature’s mathematical structures. They look at the fragility and complexity of life forms reflecting the care needed for our ecological systems.”

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Rachel Burns paintings are all oil on canvas, and Ulan Murray’s sculptures (that also featured along with my ceramics at this years ‘Artisans in the Gardens’) are all recycled copper and steel.