Thursday, November 13, 2014

Eumundi Sculpture Prize - Discover Eumundi Heritage and Visitor Centre

Queensland artist, Hew Chee Fong’s impressive stone piece, ’Sustainable' has been awarded the inaugural $15,000 Eumundi Sculpture Prize, which pays homage to the town’s historical timber industry.

‘Sustainable’ is a steel-like, totemic granite sculpture conceived to celebrate and commemorate methods and systems that won’t deplete resources or harm natural cycles. Ultimately the piece tells the story of regeneration and coming full-circle. Hew Chee is well-known for his use of stone as a preferred medium. “Stone is more than simply an aggregate of minerals,” says the artist. “It universally connotes all things of an enduring nature – stability, dependability and the passage of time.”

The prize is an exciting development in the cultural life of the town which is known nationally and internationally for its unique markets. It is anticipated that the sculptures will add a dynamic cultural element to the village as each winning sculpture is installed for permanent display in Eumundi’s public spaces.

Other 2014 finalists include Pamela Lee Brenner and Johannes Muljana; Stephen King, Antoine Bruinsma, Shane Christensen, Meg Greer, Kim Guthrie, Ian & Audrey Gunn, Gleny Kohnke and Scott Maxwell. All of the Marquette's are on display at The Eumundi Heritage Centre.

You can vote for the People’s Choice Award by logging on to

Amy Clarke
Guest Reviewer

14th September 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fresh Licks - The Lockup

Given the number of art festivals thriving in Newcastle it’s apparent the pretty picture on the wall just won’t cut it these days.  With a combination of youth, vigour and big brained intellectualism contemporary art is plugged-in and working its muscle.  This louder form of creativity is revealed to full effect currently at The Lockup, an exhibition that is part of the Look Hear festival including the “Hit the Bricks” street art phenomenon.  “Fresh Licks” is a compendium of text, graphics and grand imagination and with a quick scan it’s not long before the music theme becomes obvious.

The warren of rooms that make up The Lockup welcomes a plethora of diverse images incorporating colour saturated photography such as Deluxe by James Mauger to precision painting such as Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo by Matthew Bourne.  For me the brilliant screenprint featuring a nesting eagle atop a chockfull of too much fun skater by Sam Shennan and UD3 was a highlight and had me wandering the gallery humming the mix Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat.  That is until I came to Hydro74’s poster for the fantastic gig by Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age happening about our great land earlier this year.  The poster triggered reflection but unfortunately I thought the image was a bit hackneyed.  A skull perfectly executed replete with caped meandering vines just seemed so “been there done that”. 

With the beard brigade on tap The Lockup is indeed in the happening end of Newcastle.  There’s a crush on fresh stimulus oozing from the gallery’s pores and this current exhibition is no exception.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

31st October - 23rd November 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Woodford Academy - Michael Herron

If you found yourself up for an afternoon on a weekend to wander around the grounds and take a gander at the colourful history and past lives of the amazing Woodford Academy then please do so. 

Well worn sandstone pathways that you do need to take note of where you put your feet or it may end in tears. Cramped living quarters, low door frames for those once height challenged ancestors and an unending collection of artifacts.

Woodford Academy is haunted and if you don’t believe me then check it out for yourself. In a past life of the museum it served as an Inn and word has it that some of the regular brawls ended in deaths and to add to the drama I was informed that some of these deaths resulted in the ghosts being known by name. Spooky!

I had a lovely afternoon talking to Michael Herron about his exhibition and the Woodford Academy itself. I’ve been following Michael’s work for more than a couple of years now as there is something about them I really love. Could be the sweeping trowel like gestures, the lathered in love thickness of the paint or the fact that none of these works were half arsed. Each stood alone strong and proud. As the landscapes had a strange effect on me thankfully the ones I really loved were under glass as I probably would have wanted to touch them.

The Academy’s grounds are wonderfully portrayed in this series of paintings as it gets very windy here on the mountain and the blustery cloudy skies are well represented. Thick oceans of grass with shadows gracefully dancing across the ground, the full exuberance is there, transporting you to feel calm and refreshed at least until you stand in front of ‘Spirit, Tree, Academy’ oil on linen, the ghostly figure watching you from the unearthly realm causing a slight chill to fill the air.

Truly is a glorious place to visit and there really should be more attention paid to the wondrous museum. My tour continued upstairs and as soon as I got to the top of the stairs I could feel the heaviness in the air, walked briefly through the pokey rooms and felt the air on the back of my neck stand up so time to head back downstairs. Restoration has revealed the layers of time and paint, Sir Henry Parkes comfy sofa chair sits waiting for him in the sitting room. Relics from time past are vast and well kept, it’s one big history lesson as while you are studying one of Michael's paintings in walks a figure dressed head to toe in period costume, if you saw her from the corner of your eye you would most likely assume it was a ghost.

Fleur MacDonald

16th August
13th September - 14th September
20th September - 21st September 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

The University Gallery Newcastle - George Gittoes

Regardless of the bombardment of warfare imagery present in our lives it’s apparent that distance leads to dissociation and therefore ambivalence in the greater populace. Until threat, whether inflated by propaganda or not, confronts us we are gratefully naive. The Australian artist George Gittoes threatens that torpor we celebrate. Recently at The University Gallery Newcastle, a survey exhibition of Gittoes work allowed the audience to experience the challenging reality of war.

Etchings dating back to 1971 reveal characteristics typical of teen angst and generational drama. A world exists within these images of turmoil and disillusion in which insects and humans collide. There is an analogy here that is interminable; dominate or die. To exterminate the irritant therefore becomes meaningless. A Kafkaesque style dominates exposing the tendency of the artist to identify with the underside of establishment. Nightmarish scenes, akin to the etchings of Spanish artist Francisco De Goya, are exquisitely detailed and establish early this artist’s skill.

Atrocities abundant and repugnant are rendered in appealing swathes of thick oil paint. The beauty of vibrant colour deftly handled mocks with delight as the conflict between admiration and repulsion collides. In our hyper-civilised world where social dilemma amounts to “how to cut down a bit of stomach fat” or is same-sex marriage uncivilised, carnage as depicted in the painting “Kibeho” is confronting. The Rwandan genocide reminds us that humanity is unhinged when mutilation and death are the requisite actions for differing belief systems. This image so graphic and disturbing, so beautiful and terrifying repeats undeterred.

In a parallel universe Gittoes could be the graffiti artist bringing alleys and lanes of the dreary end of the city to life. His enunciated depictions of humanity, affinity with gesture and realism and masterful use of hyperactive colour would assure him standing within this community. But for this artist acknowledging the absurdity of war and thus communicating that absurdity to an audience presently and pleasantly isolated from such carnage is his endeavour. The intriguing phenomenon of the exhibition is that while offering insight into the brutality of the human it conjunctly celebrates humanity. The essence driving this life of acute meaning to deliver what most are happy to never experience is recognition that we are human. Not white, black, Muslim or Christian but human.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

1st October - 25th October 2014

Mick - Clara Adolphs

Clara Adolphs is a young figurative expressionist painter having her second show with Mick. She works with a broad thick impasto technique favoured by a number of Sydney’s more successful artists. Clara is no exception selling out her first and current shows by opening day.

What distinguishes her from her gregarious counterparts is to employ this usually larger than life technique in a way that is spare, sensitive and reflective. Her palette is muted combination of pinks, blues and tertiary greys allowing her manipulation of tone to make them sing.

Her work evokes a fascination for the universal human condition. It is more about the inherent aspects of humanity that endures regardless of time and place. She portrays the casual relationships and camaraderie that seem to be under threat in today’s fast paced anxiety driven existences.

This show titled The Man in Me is her intimate observation of men and the social/emotional machinations of the gender. There is not an academic psychological analysis but rather an organic human response to existing as a young woman making sense of the male psyche.

As with the first show her source materials are old photos often attained from various markets or family connections. The anonymity and age of the images give the works a sense of nostalgia as does her deliberately restrictive palette.

Glenn Locklee
Guest Reviewer

10th October - 26th October 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Front Room Gallery - Headway

Artists: Mel Baldwin, Meg Corcoran, Alex Genetzakis, Lynda Gibbons, Erin Reid, Jonathan Gilbert, Johanna Lynch, Kimberly Minto and Emilie Tseronis.

Art of course is the principle reason for taking a stroll about the west end of Hunter Street. Us arty types know that but the addition of a good dose of sunshine quickens the step so with time on my side I ventured that little bit further and traipsed to the art school to see the latest offering from those dedicated students. And I’m sure glad I did.

What I love about art schools is the willingness to take art that step further out of the comfort zone and away from the notion of the safe and saleable.

In the foyer a collection of strange sculptures by Melissa Baldwin echoed the primitive. A sense of Stone Age tool meets Dada crept in here. Around the corner her oil painting “Dapple” had more conservative dynamics. Emilie Tseronis continues her exploration of the mark with jaunty brush strokes delivering expressive results. The print makers were also in fine form with Jonathan Gilbert holding the fort. A keen sense of the ludicrous was achieved with his drypoint etchings. It appears that whips, chains, piercings and pursed lips were strutting their stuff. On a softer note the images of Kimberly Minto titled Velvet Lace were delicate, subtle and a nice diversion. In the upstairs gallery I enjoyed the screen prints by Erin Reid titled “Acid Cats”. The simple line defined the elusive quality of that barbed beast. Also noteworthy is the naivety of Alex Genetzakis’s art. The woodcut prints contained simplicity of detail pertinent to the subject being explored. Her acrylic on canvas painting titled “Fernleigh” revealed an uncomplicated composition and technique that smacked with atmosphere and tension. 

They’re a group of emerging artists evolving and exploring, willing to travel the uncertain path that is art. The students are to be commended on an exhibition well done.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

14th October - 24th October 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spiro Grace Art Rooms - Sue Beyer

Brisbane artist, Sue Beyer’s current solo show at Spiro Grace Art Rooms (SGAR) draws from the artist’s intriguing mix of interests – painting, roller-skating and motor biking.  Sue uses the familiar vocabulary of cartography as a platform for her artworks and layers them with dynamic blocks of colour and abstract forms.  The paintings reflect on how we navigate our urban spaces providing a refreshing take on place and our personal connections to it.

‘Betwixt and Between’ is designed to surround the gallery space and immerse the viewer so that they feel part of the continuous meanderings of the Brisbane River.  Viewing this show online will not do it justice for this very reason.  The relevance of the physical gallery space appears particularly pertinent for this exhibition.

Personally, this show invited me to consider Brisbane from a new perspective.  I had the sense that the artist has created some sort of ‘other world’ between lived and imagined observation – perhaps a new language and way of seeing place – compelling.

The exhibition continues until October 25 at SGAR, 255 Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill, Brisbane (entrance via Union Street).

Amy Clarke
Guest Reviewer

9th October-25th October 2014

Art Systems Wickham - Mandy Robinson & Ed Rush

Snappy colours and a fondness for the surreal give a hint at the art on offer currently at Art Systems Wickham. But however bright and jovial this work appears there is certainly depth involved. Mandy Robinson and Edwin Rush create a dialogue that coupled with insightful titles reveals the curious soul of each artist.

Industrious application to the practice of art is evident as Robinson pursues various techniques to delve ever deeper into the imagination. Shapes repeat and echo, fine line develops into wonderful labyrinths and collage introduces bold colour. The ‘lumpen objects’ located centrally in the art space are sculptural forms made from fabric and found objects. The source and life of these organic forms sprout from core pieces such as old jugs and mixers. It’s a bizarre yet effective concept. The pen on paper drawings mirroring the ‘lumpens’ were a favourite. 

The paintings by Rush require contemplation. Although not as prolific as Robinson his work is obvious in it’s profoundness. Letting a laid back approach to paint application become dominant in his work could be his mantra as his earlier work is unknown to me. This relaxed approach is quite meditative to view. Patterns emerge behind layers of opaque paint and meaning and essence can be garnered from the random titles of each work. In fact both artists seem to have a penchant for the obscure moniker. 

This exhibition is a pleasure, perhaps a tad too busy, but a real exploration of both artists’ work. There seems to be a ‘need to purge’ approach to the pricing of the art and it’s questionable. However for the sake of each artist I hope it works.

All hail the red dot!

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

3rd October – 19th October 2014