Wednesday, March 29, 2017
1. Can you outline how the Cementa festival has had a positive effect on the town of Kandos over the years since its inception?
In terms of a festival, the four years of our operation is a very small time frame and it is a little premature to make pronouncements about the ‘positive effect’ we have had on the town. The effect of a festival that occupies only four days over two years, will not really be known for a number of years yet. I can say anecdotally that at least nine people have moved up. How many have bought? ……. people have and bought houses in Kandos and Rylstone as a direct result of Cementa. I do also think that the festival has put Kandos on the map for a lot of people in Sydney and has promoted the natural beauty of our area as great reason to visit and even settle here. We have begun to shift perceptions about Kandos and given a lot of people a reason to come up and pay us a visit.
2. A key element of the festival is the invitation for the Artists to spend time in Kandos on a residency. However the word ‘Artist’ can be difficult to define for some members of the community.. How has Cementa engaged with the local residents to help break down any preconceived ideas?
I don’t think ‘artist’ is difficult for people to define. For people who aren’t used to contemporary art, it can come as a bit of a surprise to see installation, sound or video art when your concept of art prior to that is painting and sculpture. It will always come as a bit of a shock, but it’s really not that large of a leap and people here, like anywhere else, have made it easily. That doesn’t mean they are going to immediately like the new art, and they certainly don’t have to.
I think this kind of engagement can be the most interesting – at times yielding responses that are far more significant than the well rehearsed repetitions that circulate in the art world. An artist at the first festival reported my favourite anecdote. The artist had asked an older gentleman what he thought of the art. His reply was that he didn’t like the art very much, but he loved the ideas. It’s a response you just would not get out of the art world. Perhaps the other side of this question is to ask, how will the challenge of addressing art to a non-art audience change how we think about and make art?
Not to avoid the question, we have thought a bit about this. Asking artists to visit the town and make work that addresses the social, historical, cultural and environmental context of Kandos is central to our strategy for engaging the local and regional audience. It occurred to us that even if this audience is not familiar with the language of contemporary art, if the work addresses the town as its subject matter, this gives them a position from which to approach it. It gives them a way into the work, from an understanding and familiarity with the subject matter that means they do not need to depend on a familiarity with the conventions of contemporary art in order to feel comfortable or confident about their own experience of a work.
We have also hosted a number of art works that engaged directly with locals, like Karen Therese’s “The District” in Cementa15, which was a conversation between locals from different backgrounds that festival visitors could participate in. Cementa15 also hosted 3 projects that directly involved engagements from high schools. We have also hosted a number of workshops in the practices of visiting artists to local kids and as a part of the development of Cementa17 we had an exciting engagement between two artists with disabilities and kids from the special education unit at Kandos High School.
That said, we are aware that we are only scratching the surface and are working to further deepen our relationship and engagement with community. Community engagement will be a focus of Cementa19 and we are already planning a number of activities to better involve a larger section of the community but also to examine community engagement as an artistic practice. I think we have an exciting opportunity to look honestly at the role that community engaged art can take.
3. The number of Artists for each festival seems to be growing and growing and for 2017, includes an exchange program with artists in New York, but are local artists being invited or overlooked?
We have included as many local artists who have been willing to participate by hosting a local painting salon. We give this exhibition our prime venue at Kandos Projects and even host it with its own opening. This is a great event for us because it is where all the local artists and visiting artists get to meet and hang out on the first evening of the festival. We also have a number of local artists that have participated by contributing work to the general festival every year that it is on. We also endeavor to bring in as many regional artists as possible. Engaging regional artists is a priority for Cementa, which gives opportunities to artists living across regional NSW an opportunity to participate in a major, mainstream art event. This is one of the chief challenges that any artist living in the regions faces and we are proud to have helped so many brilliant regional artists connect to the broader arts community.
Beyond this, we have welcomed and promoted local ceramicist Debbie Stone to host her ceramics event, Ceramica at every festival and also the local painting group exhibition at the CWA.
4. Cementa is a free four-day cultural event and festivals like these cannot function without major financial support. Can you give us a little insight on where this festivals funding goes?
As you say, the festival is free. We don’t charge money for entry, and frankly we aren’t really sure how it would go if we attempted to charge entry into a town, which is what we would have to do since the festival is held across the town. Thankfully, we live in a country where the arts are supported and the public funding we receive allows us to offer a vibrant contemporary arts festival in Kandos that is open to everyone, regardless of their economic situation. 90% of Cementa funding comes from State and Federal arts funding. This funding is earmarked for the arts and distributed through a highly competitive process of selection. It predominantly goes to the cities. Cementa brings some of this funding to our area. We endeavor to hire locals and use local services wherever possible. We also require artists to complete a residency at Kandos in order to make their work, which also means that all the artists contributing to the local economy while they are here.
We have recently begun to attract private funding contributions and are working to grow this part of our support base. In addition to these forms of support, over the last four years Cementa staff and artists have contributed in unpaid labour, almost as much as we have received in funding.
Thank you to Ann Finegan, Christine McMillan and Alex Wisser
6th - 9th April 2017
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Currently showing at the Wollongong Art Gallery is Visions of Utopia curated by long time artist, educator and commentator Andrew Christofides. The show comprises of work spanning over sixty years of Australian non objective art incorporating inspired and unexpected inclusions. The show bursts with the sense of purpose and commitment to exploring the formal elements of picture making orchestrating the aspects of abstract visual phenomena to create a purity of image that is evocative and poetic without the limitations of drawing reference from the physical world.
Colour, composition, pattern and texture all come into play as vital ends in their own right where decisions are made through a predefined process and/or an instinctive in the moment response the last mark made.
This show asserts that there is precedent and tradition within the chronology and a reverence to their historical predecessors.
From Ralph Balson, a stunning Grace Crowley and a scene stealing Hector Gilliard right through to an array of current non objective and reductive artists of varying profiles each work has a standard that showcases the form in an exceptional light individually and collectively. The breadth of the show illustrates the infinite options of visual elements that have been explored over the last half century.
Within the flow of the show works by Louise Blyton, Susan Andrew and Chris Firmstone are hung together to illustrate the possibilities of shapes as the works rather than just shapes within the work. John Aslanidis, William Rose and Leonard Crawford are grouped as works that have a sonic or musical /auditory premise. David Serisier and Suzie Idiens sit alongside each other emphasizing contrasting approaches to surface, density and application and along with Blyton’s the intense expression of pure colour.
The essential thing here is to approach this show with an open mind. Allow the visual interplays to engage you as you would an evocative piece of music. To feel and absorb the deliciousness of the orchestration of colour, tone, texture, shape and rhythm in an almost subconscious state of mind is as rewarding as art viewing can be.
A good selection of other currently practicing artists that I’ve known and followed over the years is here. Lynne Eastaway, Sandra Curry, Stephen Wickham, Virginia Coventry, Syd Ball whose practice links the generations from the sixties to the present and of course Andrew Christofides himself .
Visions of Utopia is currently showing at Wollongong Art Gallery till the 20th November before travelling to the Penrith Regional Gallery.
3rd September - 20th November 2016
Friday, September 16, 2016
Since moving to Kandos in June this year I have been fortunate to see some amazing diverse work by mid western artist’s and it’s quite exhilarating. So in continuing my trek through the region there is this amazing show by Leo Cremonese, a COFA graduate and a student of Charlie Sheard. We saw Leo’s work previously in Terry Burrows ‘In Bed Together’ at Kandos Projects appearing with his lovely wife Libby Varcoe. Although there was only one painting in that show that more so reflects the same energy as his current show it’s plain to see it’s vibrant and passionate and I’ve been a bit spoilt as I am currently working in the café ‘Coffee Concrete’ which shares the gallery space so I get to spend a bit of time with the exhibition.
My favourite piece is ‘From Death Springs Life’ oil on linen, sadly my camera didn’t do it justice but the colours really pop in this one, particularly the bright teal blue almost electric. Maybe I noticed that colour more as my sweater on the day was matching in hue.
Eye popping colour palette like something you would see traveling through space on a Starship.. I’m seeing mostly space infractions in this show, I can so imagine space to be like these paintings!..
Second favourite is ‘Untitled’ oil on linen, 76x66cm it has the blood red chunky eye of a supernova star confronting it’s not so future self and imploding to form a black hole, but showing a glimpse of it’s former self in the bright yellow glory of futures end.
And reluctant third is ‘Untitled’ oil on linen, 122x90cm, reveals that luscious dark green which is present in some of the other works pushing darker base colours to come alive and I would like to hope, in creating new planets and or star systems.
3rd September – 30th September 2016
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Gus’s subject for this series of photographs is a wild and wonderful creative spirit in Peter Brooks.
It’s what one man can produce out of accumulated stuff and turn it into art, changing one’s whole perspective of art from stuff and making into his life surroundings.
Gus has captured Peter Brooks at his best, recreating his character into this amazing series of photographs, challenging us to view his persona and himself as his life work.
14th August – 29th August 2016
Gallery 47 Rylstone 47 Louee Street, Rylstone
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
The gallery was packed to the rafters on the night of the opening, a brilliant turn out for such a sweet little town. Coming back from a trip to Sydney one night I glanced at the shop front of Kandos Projects and then glanced again as something caught my eye, the door sized work of Mr and Mrs Brown, ‘Zygosis Hyperacumulator: Phase 1-4, mixed media installation was glowing in the dark, so so cool!!
‘Adventures Unknown’ chalk & graphite on paper, dimensions variable by Libby Varcoe & Leo Cremonese, I found this work strikingly gorgeous, it attached itself to the softest part of my heart and I fell head over heels in love with it. I’m a big softy and gush for realist work but don’t get me wrong it’s not the only one I gushed for in this show. Intimate snapshots of a beautiful landscape captured perfectly in graphite and chalk, with hints of blue sneaking into the cloudscapes creating moments of rapture. Takes up a big chunk of wallspace but needs it as they are intersperced with fragments in word to help the viewer see through the Artist’s eye.
Absolutely loved ‘Drawing Through the Picture Plane’ A, B, C & D, ink & chalk on cotton rag by Georgina Pollard & Alex Wisser where they spent the day in the Clandulla National Park and created these 4 fabulous musings of the natural environment. I found myself transported to a place of natural quiet.
Ok, so the work ‘Untitled’ by Kat Brown, acrylic and aerosol on board was suppose to hang horizontal but you didn’t hear that from me, although I kinda like it vertical as it has a more ergonomic floral approach to it, an alien flower floating against a colourful mist. The choice of colours help it to pop right off the canvas leaving a lasting impression in the viewers subconsious.. Which works beautifully with ‘Dancing In the Wild’ scraperboard by Na Lan, a delicate piece of creative wonder. Next to it was a joint effort by Na Lan’s partner Reginald Buckland, ‘Cradle’ mixed media. Another work of wonderment breaming with life as we know it!
‘He is and we are
It’s not the whole story but then it is.
Each word within it must fight its way
and once out it may not sound the same.
Formed soft or hard depending on its destination.
There is a moment when we are all joined.
We can begin or end to begin again.
It’s a race.’
I love this, this moment of clarity, the words from the work ‘Work Follows Form, Form Follows Work’ acrylic on canvas by Virginia Handmer & Geoffrey Payne. It follows through to the beginning to the end, offering a chosen silence and putting up a wall to procastination. I guess ‘Ven. Choden’ was the perfect choice to hang next to Virginia and Geoffrey’s work as it follows through to the affect of being one with the work. It’s a wonderful painting of a young monk, his serene face offering calm and serenity to all.
Love Damian Castaldi and his enthusiaism for movement, he and Solange Kershaw make a great team.
And last but not least the wonderous shimmering beauty hanging in the window ‘Lightly’ acrylic glitter on pvc by Georgina Pollard tempting you to look upon it’s loveliness while it shimmers in the moonlight!
But before I head off there is also a mention to Terry Burrows who put this show together and if you are ever to find yourself in Rylstone while Gallery 47 is open then pop in and check out his Back Book, pretty damn awesome!
5th August - 28th August 2016
Kandos Projects, 18 Angus Avenue, Kandos, 2848