Saturday, May 25, 2013

Performance Space - John A Douglas

Body Fluid II (Redux)

I was first struck by the three videos of the Australian outback landscapes which drew me to the exhibition in the first place. Each high quality and large video had Douglas’ strange gold body form rolling, stumbling, dragging his dialysis bag and then flying, appearing and disappearing in deserted red earth, snowy mountains and salted pan spaces. It’s a collaborative master piece with a movement coach, Sue Healey and soundscapes by Naomi Oliver and Heath Franco.

In front of his projected videos, the large gold man could be found lying on a bench attached to with long tubes to dialysis fluid bags on a hospital trolley in Bay 18 of Carriage Works. He got up and moved around the room but was stopped because the tube was attached to his abdomen as if on a dog lead. I was later to learn that he really is on dialysis because he has kidney disease. He was stuck and I felt the frustration. The landscapes in the background gave the impression that he was hallucinating, his mind escaping to wide open spaces. They also gave me the impression of Dali like surreal dreams or a spiritual vision. Frida Khalo also painted herself like this when she underwent medical procedures.

He walked back and sat on the bench for some time. You are watching a slow moving artwork. I wanted to draw or paint him like I had learned at art school. The light and shade enhanced every contour on his shiny rotund body.

Later, as guest collaborator on the opening night, David Capra’s intercession performance interjected with John’s. Dressed all in white, Capra pranced quietly across the room waving a banner on a long stick. Was he an angel or some sort of Holy Spirit man? I have heard lately of a woman who believed she visited heaven and she saw people waving banners that were 40ft long. The banner seems to be an important tool in intercession.

Capra’s presence brought a joyful, peaceful spiritual atmosphere. He is hilarious but he seems very serious at the same time.

Capra lay on the ground in front of Douglas waving the banner and began to sing operatically in a strange spiritual language and repeatedly calling out “Give me ... John!”

He then invited people to collaborate in this strange ritual. He ushered them to lay their hands on John while David sang again. “ shana shaba badabba! Gimme .. John!” It was like a Catholic Priest directing prayers.

I felt drawn to join in and believe with this man or angel for John’s healing. I walked out hoping for his supernatural healing like I have witnessed in revival meetings before.

I am delighted to see contemporary art which is Australian and addresses taboo issues bringing them to light with light heartedness and humour.

In the next room is John’s new work, The Visceral Garden, consisting of more video masterpieces. John is now dressed in a red suit set against tall trees, amongst other sites of our beautiful Australian landscape.

These men dressed like clowns are very bold and Capra is hilarious! You just have to see it!

Dot Wilkin
Guest Reviewer for

24th May - 16th June 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Anita Traverso Gallery - Susan Buret

Walking into the exhibition For the Love of Vermillion is like entering a kind of delicious visual twilight zone. The works shimmer and ooze, going in and out of eye shot and focus while the viewer circles the room. They pulsate with color and energy, teasing with a kind of essential life essence.

On leaving the gallery I found myself searching – and finding – pattern in everything. It could be as simple as a row of cushions in your home. You constantly glance at them, consciously or unconsciously, and they register, time and time again, as a visual trigger for not only home, but community, culture, taste and warmth. We depend upon these patterns, these colors, to anchor us in some way - to our family, our routine and our identity. Like the patterns and colors of the seasons, or the architecture in the country in which we live, or the summer dresses our mothers always wore. Pattern as a recognizable visual can represent comfort and familiarity. Pattern as an unrecognizable visual can represent disconnectedness, unfamiliarity and perhaps even discomfort.

'Little Rocket' consists of a kind of arched patterning in varied hues of red. It has a subtle air of nostalgia, which is mysterious at first, until you realize that the repeated pattern evokes the tin rocket ship toys from the 50’s and 60’s. 'Inside' is the kind of work you feel you could fall into. It has a magnetic quality, appearing almost three-dimensional. Each square ‘space’ in the pattern is marked by four red squares, like columns viewed from above, flagging the multiple entrances like a visual version of a perpetual state of flux or confusion.

For the Love of Vermillion is a slight deviation from previous exhibitions Buret has produced, although the visual component – i.e. geometric color-filled patterns – remains a constant. In 2010, in the series Stolen Geometry form the Gardens of Love, Buret worked with map fragments, weaving them into her pattern work in order to explore displacement and the search for refuge. Shredded and reconstructed government documents such as visas and passports were used for her 2008 exhibition, Portraits of the Unknown, with the intention of bringing to light current international debates on border protection and refugees.

For the Love of Vermillion as a body of work is less political but more soulful. It resonates on an innate level, tapping into the subconscious, before urging a slide toward the conscious, slowly and gently - like dawn or dusk – enabling the registering of repeated and often emblematic patterns, which eventually leads to contemplation of the bigger picture.

Jo Salt
Guest Reviewer for

30th April - 25th May 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Scenic World - Sculpture at Scenic World

Traveling to the Jamison Valley in the new Scenic Railway with it’s fifty two degree incline was a bit of a hoot, took me back to my roller coaster days. Well not really but it was comfortable and a wonderful novel way to travel down the side of a mountain.

It was the opening of the Sculpture at Scenic World and a couple of my friends were exhibiting and I’d never been to Scenic World before except for the meet and greet the Artist’s dinner in April. So in total I have been there three times in one year. The opening with lashings of refreshments was a little warmer than we had anticipated, clearly we thought the weather was going to be a little more brisk and had rugged up too much. We rsvp’d for five pm to catch the last train to the valley floor and see the exhibit, sadly the light changed too quickly and my camera is not made for night time pictures.

Made a date with a friend to return before the closing date and managed to get some shots and footage, we had hoped that turning up early we may avoid the tourists, school excursions or families with small children but sadly no, which made filming a little difficult and missed taking some footage.

There are thirty five finalists in this exhibition and I think I may have missed some, but at the same time saw some great work and can only guess in awe how they were brought down the mountain.

The Winner Daniel Kojta with his ‘Reflect Phi (a moment)’ highly polished stainless steel played whimsical with the sloping location where this work was placed, the birds and wildlife took a fancy to it and interacted to the delight of the onlookers.

‘Resting Place’ knitted tinned and enamelled copper wire, stainless steel cable by Greer Taylor was a delight to view from below, a hanging enclosed tightly knit cage of wonder, just drifting in the the canopy minding it’s own business.

‘Ex/Enclosure’ moving image installation by Sarah Breen Lovett, one of my favourites was located inside the Miner’s Hut and offered a historical reference of a time gone by before Scenic World came to be. This work was thought provoking but at the same time quite relaxing with it’s sound and light projection. Sarah has the wonderful ability to extract ethereal remnants from the past and interweave them into the present.

‘Tiga Tiga’ vinyl inflatable sculptures and block digital printing by Dr Lisa Anderson is my other favourites, I love how this wonderful woman thinks as this work is perfectly fitting for this location, it floats between the trees and although it is a quiet work it’s very heart beats loudly as the legacy of the Thylacine is once again bought back to life. Extinction is a cruel word, it’s also a word that the majority of people take for granted that it wont happen, I feel with this work that Lisa is trying to remind us to not push, to take some time to think about what we are doing to our environment, to realize that our native flora and fauna are dangerously close to that very word and we all need to take a step back and reconsider our actions. Before the meet and greet in April I filmed Lisa talking about her work so make sure you watch that video too.

‘Apparition’ ply, mirror perspex, steel, exterior acrylic by Dale Miles is a window to the soul of the mountain hovering in one spot for you to catch it’s reflection. ‘The Brides’ recycled plastic bags, nylon fabric, wire, thread by The Winged Collective, like three brides gliding down through the trees, their dresses wafting in the breeze waiting patiently for their betrothed.

Christmas came early with these wonderful over sized Christmas decorations ‘Elimatta’ sealed glass vessels by Ann Russell dangling from a small tree, each telling a story of their own little worlds. ‘Serosa’ copper pipes by Darragh O’Calloghan blends in beautifully with the surrounding vines and tree scape, it just fitted perfectly.

At first we thought it was just found chains but on closer inspection discovered these ‘Left Behind’ by Penny Philpott were actually all ceramic, brilliant and well made.

Hoped on the Scenic Cableway and watched slowly as we climbed higher and higher back up to the top of the mountain beneath us disappear until next time.

Fleur MacDonald

24th April - 19th May 2013

Sunday, May 5, 2013

St. Luke Artist Colourmen - The Exquisite Palette Show 2013

St. Luke Artist Colourmen is a unique art materials store that specialises in professional Artist's materials. A serious place yet run with a good sense of humour as the owners and staff are all practising artists themselves. One night in 2008 over beers they were discussing how they could thank their loyal customers. In a Cliff Richards voice someone yelled out "Let's put on a show!"

They wanted it to be fun. Then they thought let's make it kitsch and fun. Let's take the cultural icon of an artist that seems almost redundant today and get everyone to make it into a work of art. There was only one rule everyone agreed with- There Are No Rules! Thus The Exquisite Palette Show was born. That was way back in 2008. This year marks the fourth show. Every year artists do the most crazy beautiful works- never having two the same- all unique. This year brings a a mix of Sculpture, painting, knitting , embroidery and even cremation. The artists range from top end galleries artists to first time exhibitors.

Two artist prizes were given out this year. One to Soula Mantalvanos for her beautiful puppet like self portrait palette that tells of her long on going recovery from chronic pain, you can read all about it here,

The other prize went to Simon O'Carrigan for his genteel approach of a palette within a palette, you can see more of his work here, 

Other stand out I would have to say is Noel Hourigan's hilarious wax sculpture titled "After The Opening." Dennis Chapman's "Lab Rat" brings back memories of art school, or is it a comment on today’s art market?

Ros Atkins diorama speaks of environmental issues with her beautifully put together work Titled "TIIMMBERRR!" "Bouquet." By Patricia Holleley conjures up images from spring in another time and place. Painstaking craftsmanship is invoked here. You just want to dive into it and have a nice cup of tea.

Robert Owen's "Palette" brings colour theory back into focus. As it should be. "The Bower birds Palette." by Deb Mostert is what I imagine an artist would collect if one was a bird. I'm sure many studios have these wonderful objects in them.

One of my favourites is the bunny palette by Kyoko Imazu titled "Surge." The most beautiful water colour I've seen for ages. Mark Ogge pulls out another great work from his on going circus theme "Half Man Half Woman." Nice to see rich dark colour paint, midnight blues deep reds, mmmm. Once again Dave Hagger produces something ingenious. He burnt his palette down to ashes and put them neatly into a tiny glass jar- where the hell do people get these ideas from!

I could go on and on as this year they have 178 palettes on display. All are for sale too. Price range is from $100- $500. What a great way to start that art collection you've always wanted! Hey, I just bought three!

Louise Blyton
Guest Reviewer for Melbourne

10th April – Mid May 2013