Thursday, May 14, 2015

Noosa Regional Gallery - Ulrike Sturm

Ulrike Sturm spent her early teens living in Goroka, a town in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.  She describes the time as, ‘an experience that profoundly impacted me in many ways.  It is a place that just grabs hold of your heart and won’t let go.’  The stunning linocut prints in her exhibition currently showing at Noosa Regional Gallery document some of her memories from this period of her life.  Having visited the country only briefly myself I was touched by her images and their simple and powerful energy.

As part of Ulrike’s PhD at Central Queensland University she has been able to explore her personal narratives and memories of this time living in Papua New Guinea.  In this research she has investigated PNG artist, Mathias Kauage (1944-2003) and his vivid visual narrative works depicting the life and changes in the Country around the time Ulrike and her family arrived there.  This spurred her to make her own work based on her own memories and experiences.

Referring to old family albums and memory, Ulrike made sketches that she has worked into large-scale (up to 2.7 metres in length) vinyl artworks.  Each piece is painstakingly cut from a master template.  The ephemeral nature of the works could be said to be a metaphor for the transience of our memories. 

Also available for purchase at the gallery is a small book telling the tales behind each image providing further insight into her favourite people, going to market, the local tribes, and the seasonal tropical storms.

The exhibition continues until Sunday 7 June. Coffee and conversations with Ulrike will be held at the Gallery on Thursday 14 May from 10:30am to 11:30am.

Workshop Saturday 16 May, 10.30am -1.30pm Ulrike takes participants through the concept of creating dramatic black and white artworks using the hand-cut vinyl technique. Please note that sharp blades will be used for this workshop.
$20 per person includes materials. Ages 16 years plus
Bookings and pre-payment essential: (07) 5329 6145

Amy Clarke
Guest Reviewer

7th May - 7th June 2015

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Cementa 15 - Margot's Paddock - Georgina Pollard

Georgina Pollard is best known for her amazing woven paintings made from paint, but this new foray is even more gorgeous, if I could have I probably would have laid down under it and waited for it to drip into my mouth, minus the ants or attempted to lick it, but very carefully as to not rip my tongue apart on the ginormous thorns.

There was a similar work hanging from a tree in the Clandulla State Gallery, this work and the one in Margot’s Paddock scrape against the fine line between nature’s idea and man’s idea of a chandelier of temptation and contemplative musing.  A tree branch dipped into a vat of toffee and hung from a tree, it’s surface glistening in the sunshine tempting fate and overlooking the empty reminder of a once thriving Honey producer.

It’s beauty rekindles lost childhood memories of toffee apple eating and trips to the Dentist.  Toffee as a lure for the Bees or as said in the catalogue ‘an apology’.  We need to plant more flowers to convince the Bees to stay, suggesting they create an army of killer bees for companies like Monsanto.

Fleur MacDonald

9th April – 12th April 2015

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Cementa 15 - Scout Hall - Williams River Valley Artists' Project

On the edge of the bush and Kandos on the corner of Dabee Road and Campbell Street lies the Scout Hall where the Artist’s of William River Valley Artists' Project, Artist’s include Suzanne Bartos, Neil Berecry-Brown, Sue Callanan, Juliet Fowler Smith, Noelene Lucas, Margaret Roberts, Toni Warburton and David Watson.

‘Instruments of Democracy’ performance and installation, a piece to be reckoned with as it made me realize what the many courageous men and women fighting the coal, gas and logging companies face on a day to day basis. The big companies have been destroying our fragile environment for some time, defacing our beloved land and diminishing the delicate habitat of so many of our native animals.

The lengths that these brave people go to, the ingenuity in creating continual obstacles and stumbling blocks for the big companies and Police to overcome and see beyond the dollar is by far a relentless operation.

If you got to see the performance then you saw something amazing, only wish I had a spare memory stick with me as I would have recorded it.

On display there was an array of photographs of activitist’s attached to an assortment of vehicles, a collection of fauna silhouettes in black netting which was highly affective to demonstrate which ones are displaced and or extinct from the disastrous effects of mining and logging. A black board with drawings and descriptions of the many lock on devices which explain the lengths that these wonderful activists go to and brilliant bunting which covered the length of the hall displaying many backs of toy Koala’s. If only the animals could speak!

I loved how there was so many ways to engage the younger generation in educating them, inviting them to paint clay cups to represent animals, birds, plants and water was one way of the many on display.

My niece Meret MacDonald is an Activist and stationed primarily at the Leard State Forest blockade. Hats off to her and her comrades and the Williams River Valley Artists' Project!!! 

Fleur MacDonald

9th April – 12th April 2015

Art in Newcastle April/May 2015

A review of the many exhibitions I’ve seen recently.
Although the greater populace of Newcastle are pretty much disinterested in the art scene going on about them this doesn’t deter the enclave of artists here producing and exhibiting quality work.  And the past couple of weeks I’ve seen so many exhibitions of high quality that it would be disappointing not to mention them.

My fortnight began on Friday 17th April when I attended the opening of “Insightful” at Four Point Gallery.  Cheridan Chard delves into the quirky side of photography making images that show strength in composition.  That mundane photos of everyday life become twisted and obscure via reflection or using opaque material as filters is exceptional.  Sticking to photographs of people and the urban environment yields a unique street photographer for the old Newy.

That same weekend I took a wander through the East end of town with a couple of the non-arty types of Newcastle so art viewing was limited.  I peeked through the window of Curve Gallery to see a menagerie of wire and hear a few disgruntled comments from my pals.  I’ll come back to this exhibition later.  Then I managed to convince the philistines to visit The Lock-up and become familiar with the layout of an old jail.  I let them peruse while I admired the work on display.  This exhibition titled “A Second Shadow, Prelude and Trail” brought together a variety of works with a conceptual base requiring lengthy viewing.  Needless to say I did not get the luxury of time however I couldn’t help being attracted to the paintings of South Coast artist Mignon Steele who builds layers utilising existing texture so a lumpy abstracted looseness is the result.  My art viewing was then unfortunately cut short. 

Not to be deterred I again ventured out Friday to see the last days of two great shows.  Back to Back Gallery was hosting “Fraternity Futility Hope” where art works were small and related to The Great War.  The gallery was filled with poignant pieces such as the stitched line drawings by fibre artist Tanya Matas who is able to capture hope and sorrow in the image.  I then dashed off to Art Systems Wickham where Shelagh Lummis was exhibiting “Of mist and illusion”.  The landscape of New Zealand provided the inspiration for these moody and lusciously painted oils.  Some had a dreamlike feel as of underwater worlds.  A favourite for me though was “Go with the flow” where the landscape was built up with broad strokes of strong colour completely succeeding in convincing the viewer of the presence of the scene.

Saturday saw the opening of Nanshe’s 3rd Birthday Exhibition which continues until May 23rd.  I’m an exhibitor in this show so am reluctant to comment on the overall feel however I will say that Barb’s gallery has that quality of down-to-earthiness which seems to reach out to those Novocastrians out there that still want original art but are just not into the art scene.  From Nanshe I crossed the road to see an exhibition titled “Sculptured Out” at what I would say is Newcastle’s newest gallery, Gallery 139.  I recognised instantly the abstracted mono types of Helene Leane.  Flynn Doran’s geometrical steel structures wonderfully brought the industrial into the gallery.  His wall mounted assemblages made of painted steel rod proved very successful.  This exhibition continues until 9th May.

I then went back to Curve Gallery to see “Wind Shear” by Joanna O’Toole.  What I saw through the window as a menagerie of wire a week before became on closer inspection a gust of wind harbouring an abundance of sculptured birds in flight.  The hours of labour that went in to manipulate the fine wire is astounding.  This exhibition continues until Saturday 9th May.

And so that concluded my fortnight of exceptional art watching.  I must say I’ve missed out on Ben Kenning’s exhibition and I haven’t been to Timeless Textiles or CStudios in a while.  Oh the many galleries of Newcastle.  Aren’t we lucky!  And I don’t say that facetiously.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

April/May 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cementa 15 - Dabee Road Nursery - Genevieve Carroll & Fiona Davies

Dabee Road Nursery located on the edge of Kandos outside an old rustic tin shed and on first sight contains a varied array of farm machinery which could or maybe hold the key to culturally significant agriculture history and or / an OH & S disaster but ideally situated for ‘Blood on Silk price taker, price maker’ by Fiona Davies.

This work explores the continuation of the Blood work that we have all grown to appreciate and expect.  A wall of polystyrene boxes containing what we think is Blood for sale, slotted into the front of boxes are some monitors showing blood types and ICU readings and a catalogue of labeling.  The market caller was given a small script as Fiona says but has added brilliant ablibing to make it all the more real.

Thankfully there is no physical evidence of the sacret red stuff for this squirmish reviewer but the idea was confronting as it created the scary illusion of Blood sold on the Black Market.

Out through the somewhat exotic or ideal indoor/outdoor plants for sale nursery and around the corner to the other side of this rustic shed lies the work of Hill End artist Genevieve Carroll. ‘We Just Want to Throw Flowers At The World’ boldly proclaimed from high up on the front of the shed.  It’s pink frontage with red shadowing set against the weathered exterior summons rose petals to soften the constant depressing blows from the daily onslaught of reported bad news.

Fleur MacDonald

9th - 12th April 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kandanga Country Club - Meaghan Shelton

Meaghan Shelton won first place in the Portraiture category of the Kenilworth Trophy Art Prize last year, and exhibits throughout Australia.  Shortlisted for the ANL Prize in Victoria as well as the Clayton Utz Prize, in Queensland.

Also a graduate of RMIT majoring in painting, and now works from her Imbil studio and is the newest committee member of Mary Valley Arts Link, the cultural group which coordinates the artspace at Kandanga Country Club, and will curate a program of on-going exhibitions at the club.

The two piece cigar box blues arrangement Eb n Flo created the perfect backdrop for the opening which was on Friday 17th April.

A two-pronged move by Mary Valley Arts Link - to make art accessible to the general public and to promote the works of its member artists.  The renovated club provided the perfect backdrop to the original artworks and offered a professional hanging system to make it a great local exhibition space.

If you are an artist and would like to feature in an exhibition, contact Meaghan Shelton on
0428 645057.

17th April – 15th May 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Lovett Gallery - Anzac Illustrated

Yet again the Lovett Gallery is showing a fascinating exhibition. Appealing to children on an illustration and story book level is a phenomenon this gallery has achieved before.  But the artistic integrity of the works on display makes the exhibition a very worthy addition for the gallery wanderers out there.  There is much variation in the realm of book illustration which is a lovely way to expose children to artistic difference.  In this exhibition titled “ANZAC Illustrated” the assortment is outstanding demonstrating the diversity and integrity of art that children’s picture books reveal.  Craig Smith is a much loved illustrator whose pictures are fun with their comic roundness.  Smith’s illustrations are the accompaniment for “I was only 19” by Redgum’s John Schumann which is an apt combination of talent.  And what a wonderful way to introduce children to these mesmerising lyrics that although not strictly ANZAC, are a powerful testimony to youth and its defencelessness when it comes up against the commanding doctrines of the state.

The working drawings and research behind the scenes is an important part of this exhibition.  Being able to flick through a portfolio displaying rough drawings, snippets from newspapers and magazines and brief notes is an example of the depth required to comprehend and effectively communicate pictured responses to a scribe.  The working drawings by the artist Greg Holfeld for ANZAC Tale by Ruth Starke show how the pictures are worked up into the final stage drawing.  But the highlight for me was the ink and pencil drawings by Brian Simmonds for the book Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer.  Quick yet with precise tone and contour these little sketches demonstrate the skill required to illustrate.  Another favourite for its atmosphere and enigma was The Poppy by writer and illustrator Andrew Plant.  A verdant valley warm and welcoming is shrouded by a menacing sky while a single poppy petal floats in the manipulative dance that is fate.

Certainly this picture says it all.  ANZAC Illustrated is a beautiful exhibition for children and indeed adults.  It’s pertinent and sad but also reflects the wonderful attributes of artist as illustrator.

At Lovett Gallery above Newcastle Library until 2nd May 2015.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

13th March - 2nd May 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Gaffa Gallery - On The Horizon

Alexander Cooke, Amelia Toelke, Bridie Lander, Helen Mok, Jose Marin, Melinda Young, Rachel Timmins, Regina Middleton, Rhonda Dwyer, Teresa Milheiro.

This exhibition will put forward scenarios and propositions regarding possible futures.  It raises questions about how our bodies, our society and our environment will change as we continue to develop advanced technology.

In the past 50 years we have seen advances in technology that are incredible and previously unimaginable.  And in all likelihood we will see in the next 50 years a continuation of these advances. We move towards the use of cloning, genetic modification, nanotechnology, robotics, computer augmentation, environmental engineering and so on.  Some of these technologies are already being used or are very close to being implemented.  There may be other technologies afoot that are as yet unknown.

It is not clear yet whether the mood of this exhibition will be dark or light.  Perhaps it will be a combination of both.  Perhaps this uncertainty in mood is a reflection of the greater uncertainty that looms over us regarding what is going to happen during our life times and beyond.  We are often hearing tales of doom and gloom about the future, particularly with respect to climate change and environmental destruction, as well as weapons and conflict between nations.

Despite this, we continue with our lives and things seem to go along pretty well as normal.  As a crisis point is reached, will there be a motivation to transform the way that we live using transcendent and amazing solutions?  As time continues on, will we see disintegration and disaster OR new beginnings and ways of living?

Curated by Michelle Genders

Sponsored by: A & E Metals and Eckersley’s Art and Craft 

19th March – 30th March 2015

Forsight Gallery - Gina McDonald & Carolyn Phillips

Closing this weekend is an exhibition by two accomplished printmakers at Newcastle’s Forsight Gallery.  Both are graduates from the Newcastle Art School and both produce work sophisticated yet accessible.  The natural environment is sensitively portrayed in the show making contemplation imperative.

Reflection is central in Carolyn Phillips body of work.  The serenity emanating from the delicate landscapes is created with an abstracted quality.  Colour is central producing the softness and beauty inherent in the work.  Complimenting these artworks are Gina McDonald’s mesmerizing etchings.  The haunting delicacy of the nest is a study of isolation and uniqueness.  Not surprisingly her work was recently selected for the 43rd Muswellbrook Art Prize.  There is definitely a disarming complexity being explored at present in her practice.  An inclination for the punchy is generally my preference but as a visitor to this exhibition, aptly named “A Deeper Silence”, I have been made aware of the allure of stillness.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

6th March – 22nd March 2015

Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre - The 43rd Muswellbrook Art Prize

On Saturday I took a journey to the Upper Hunter enjoying the rural scenery occasionally dispersed amongst the great gaping bowls of dirt that at present are allowing our economy to limp along.  Despite my torpid reverie at the lengths humans will go to annihilate an environment I was very much anticipating the selection of fine art that would greet me at the 43rd Muswellbrook Art Prize.  And after the 2 hour drive disappointed I was not!

The three sections in the prize allow for a diverse exhibition which challenges the curator I would think. Works on paper hang easily beside paintings permitting a varied and stimulating show.  Ceramics are randomly placed throughout the space.  My only criticism would be that some works were hanging forward which certainly didn’t permit easy viewing.

To begin with I’ll explain that in an exhibition such as this making the cut is of significance so the artist is somewhat of a winner from the outset.  Some standouts though include artist Dorothy Wishney’s work on paper titled “Watagan Cliff”.  The dedication to detail in a medium so rewarding for its ability to create great loose drawings makes Wishney’s ability to subtly gradate charcoal acknowledging the varying tones in the natural environment a skill to be recognised.  Helen McCullagh’s oil on board titled “Fleuriste” demonstrates that beautiful and enviable quality paint, brush and a great quantity of talent can achieve regardless of the subject matter.  A simple vase of flowers is given freedom of movement and luscious colour exemplifying technique.  Kristen Lethem also intrigued with a very different style of painting using mixed media titled “Orange”.  In sepia tones the hillside is made an object of wonder. I achieved a similar sense of awe when viewing Joseph Rolella’s ink and charcoal on paper titled “Careel”.  The ceramic section had me admiring Anna Culliton’s “Blues in the bottle” however Vicki Hamilton’s “Party Animals” were tricky and humorous and I declared this piece the winner of the section.

These selected exhibitions are a platform for recognition and for the viewer such as me a means for discovering new talent and watching careers progress.  The choice of finding that one exceptional talent is an unenviable task but to choose a winner is necessary.  Especially when capitalism prevails and money in this industry is of the slim picking variety.

The 43rd Muswellbrook Art Prize is on exhibit until the 19th of April.

Just as an aside and not at all related to art I thought I’d add there is a great restaurant located up the road a bit in Denman called “Gerrard’s Place” Yum!

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

1st March - 19th April 2015