Monday, February 28, 2011

Art Express 2011

Another fantastic year at Art Express, the NSW HSC art students showcase. It's quite phenomenal to see 17 and 18 year olds creating such a jaw dropping selection of works, all while juggling at least another 4 or 5 subjects.
ALCHEMY - Amy Burgess, Pymble Ladies College

THE NATURAL SELECTION - Isabella Natasha Rich, SCEGGS Darlinghurst
I remember feeling so much pressure in my last year of high school, myself and many of my friends believing that if we didn't do well, the rest of our lives would be a barren wasteland of terribleness! It's truly amazing that such imagination, depth and life can be mined and created under such circumstances, that's what makes this exhibition a bit of a yearly must-see.
detail from above
This year, I was really impressed with how many works crossed the traditional boundaries of drawing, painting and photography - instead many works also incorporated a combination of video, performance and installation.
THE HAWKESBURY: IN MEMORY OF JOHN - Alexandra Judith Mitchell, Ku-Ring-Gai Creative Arts High School
detail from above

SOMETHING IN THE AIR - Jacob Zinman Jeanes, Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School
detail from above
MASKED - Joel Matarana, St Aloysius College
detail from above
THE GOOD WIFE'S GUIDE - Laura Wingrove, Ku-Ring-Gai Creative Arts High School
detail from above
video piece from THE GOOD WIFE'S GUIDE above
I was very happy to see two pupils from my old school, Ku-Ring-Gai Creative Arts High School exhibiting this year. I've got to say, it wasn't really so "Creative Arts" when I was a student there, so it's great to see that it seems to be more living up to the name now!

Art Express runs until 10th April 2011 at the Art Gallery of NSW

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beautiful food

Tasmanian gastronomic delights....
Top picture - brekky at Jackman and McRoss in Battery Point, Hobart. Bottom three, repeated visits to the amazing Lotus Eaters Cafe in Cygnet.

MONA OMG! (Part 2)

The delayed MONA post part deux!
As we descended down into the Dr Evil style underground lair and wandered amongst a gallery that is probably three times the size of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, (which utterly captivated us for a day and a half), two questions kept swirling in my head. Why and How? Why had this guy created this amazing museum (which is completely free to go to), and what had driven him to do it and how the hell did he get the cash to do it? To reiterate, the museum is full of his private collection, and what is currently exhibited is just half of what he owns thus far!

                           Bit. Fall - Julius Popp

For the answer to the "how" question - I turned to the impressive slab of a book that is essentially the catalogue to the current exhibition. The way he puts it, quite bluntly, David Walsh has made his cash gambling, which kind of astonishes me, I never thought it could essentially be a steady source of massive income!  Considering that many of the works in the museum would probably cost about half a million each, we're seemingly talking some serious money.

                                2 x stills above from "Secret Machine" by Reynold Reynolds

The "why" seems to be a much more complex question, that seems to be circled around quite a bit in the catalogue. At one point he seems to be directly coming to the point, but then veers away from it, and then appears to change his tune a bit. Various explanations offered for the "why" include...
- "because I could"
- "I'd like to tell you why but I can't because I don't know"
- "The history of our lives looks like intention, but it is really just doing the living thing and then, when the need arises finding a rationalisation".
...Still a bit of a mystery really.

                     A Curious Victorian Monkey Skeleton - Europe, probably England c.1860

                           Cholera. Seed. The Martyrdom of Saint Thomas - Damien Hirst

The mystery is part of the intrigue of the place for me. We actually went to MONA only 5 days after it's opening, and David Walsh himself was there, showing some people around. Being the intrepid sleuths that we are, we kind of followed him around, and listened to some of his introductions to a few works. From a surface impression, and not really following close enough to hear exactly every word uttered, I kind of got the impression that he was quite passionate, maybe a tad eccentric, and could equally be a gazillionaire (as he is), as he could be some crazy homeless dude. Probably quite a slanderous and inaccurate description, and I qualify again, one based on the scantest of information and of my own personal, and most probably skewed view.

                                     Untitled (Stool for Guard) - Taiyo Kimura

                                 Loop System Quintet - Conrad Shawcross

                                     Sternenfall/Shevirath Ha Kelim - Anselm Kiefer

                                 Bullet Hole - Mat Collishaw

This corridor signaled the way to the 'not suitable for children" section of the gallery. A lot of fuss has been made in the media about some of the works exhibited, how they're very controversial and borderline "art" etc etc. So much so, that before we went, I thought we were in for a bit of an overtly shocking curatorial experience. I really found nothing further from the truth. There was only one work that kind of disturbed me, and there was nothing in the group experience of viewing all the works together that made it at all shocking. Rather, I thought the placement of contemporary works next to ancient artifacts a brilliant curatorial device that enhanced the experience of both.

                                Untitled - Jannis Kounellis and Snake - Sidney Nolan

                                             Sternenfall - Anselm Kiefer

                                              Untitled - Jannis Kounellis

                           Cloaca Professional - Wim Delvoye
Cloaca Professional, was a funny piece. It is "fed" in the mornings, I think with food scraps from the cafe and restaurant, then at 3pm in the afternoon, it creates a "poo". Which if you showed up on time, you could watch it taking. It came out of the apparatus at the very right of the picture and released into a glass petri-style dish. It smelt very much like a poo. We didn't stick around to absorb the odours for long!

                                             Encyclopedia - Charles Sandison

                                 Queen (A Portrait of Madonna) - Candice Breitz

Queen (A Portrait of Madonna) consisted of a video grid of people singing acapella to an entire Madonna album. Some of them were really getting into it, you know with all the abandon of the hairbrush in front of the mirror style. Really amusing to watch!

                                     The Holy Virgin Mary - Chris Olifi

Holy hell, who knew this so incredibly controverisal work of its time was holed up in Tassie!

                                 (This one was a Mikala Dwyer, but I didn't get the title)

                                              Tracing Time - Claire Morgan

The piece above was an absolute favourite, it's a terrible photo, doing it no justice, but it was the most beautiful, evocative and slightly creepy piece of work. It consisted of hundreds of delicate strands that were threaded through with pollen and which suspended a dead bird amongst them in a sort of delicate trap. The painstaking work of all the threading and the absolute precision of how each strand lined up perfectly to create a pattern with the threaded pollen was incredibly impressive. I think I was quite attracted to the piece as it's something I would never, ever have the patience to do.

             Mummy and Coffin of Pausiris - Egypt - Ptolemaic to Roman Period c. 100BCE - CE100

Having visited the beautiful southern state of Tassie 6 times already, all I can say is that this museum is such a treasure, and further enhances my love of this beautiful land. I will definitely be returning, and I can't wait to see the next exhibition! In the meantime, I will satisfy my craving for all things Tassie with a new favourite - the gorgeous little glowing lights blog.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

MONA OMG! (Part 1)

 The Count surprised me for my birthday with a trip to Tassie as he knew I was busting to go and see MONA. We'd been in Hobart last year in January in time to catch the last two days of the Mona Foma festival, which I posted here. So it was from this trip that I found out about the plans afoot to create the Museum of Old and New Art. The things is, I had no idea of the incredible scope of the project, let alone the millions and millions that would go into it! And certainly never imagined for a minute that Mona would be a private gallery, owned and created by one David Walsh, with his private collection of the most vast array of antiquities, and modern and contemporary art.
We set off for Mona on a lovely clear morning from the docks at Hobart, taking advantage of the $15 return ferry fare, thinking, well, if the museum is a write off, at least we've scored a nice boat ride up the Derwent. The 'ferry' was a actually a schmicko-looking brand new boat complete with onboard barista and cafe selling yummo fresh pastries and wine and beer from the Moorilla estate that adjoins the museum. My croissant was devoured just in time for the boat pulling up at the pier, and those extra calories were welcome as we puffed our way up the many many stairs to the funny tennis court-style entrance. (Which I don't have a photo of!)

We milled around for a while in the entrance lobby area, as the museum didn't open until 11am, gawping at the shop, cafe and views. Most of all familiarising ourselves with the ipod touch that was to be our online guide to the museum. The ipod effectively is a replacement for those pesky wall mounted info panels next to artworks in most museums, that invariably are always blocked by someone standing right up next to it, as they've forgotten their reading glasses! 

 And with the subterranean atmosphere and dim lighting in the whole of the museum, I was really glad to have a guide that had it's own light source! Best of all, they allowed you to access as much info, or as little as you wanted. For example, the interface just synced with wherever you were in the gallery and presented you with a list of thumbnail images of the works surrounding you. You'd click on the relevant one, and you immediately accessed the title, artist, date and medium of the work. Then you had the options of clicking buttons below dubbed 'Artwank', 'Gonzo', 'Audio' for essays about the work, a personal opinion about the work by David Walsh or an audio interview with the artist about the work respectively.

Stay tuned later this week as we descend down the circular elevator, to the underground treasures, it really did feel that we were heading into a Bond villain's 'evil lair'.

Friday, February 4, 2011

2010 look back

I'm late, I know, I know. I'm really late!
It's not like the year feels all shiny and new anymore, and in fact, in this Sydney heat it's feeling decidedly wilted already! And I know it's been a loooooooong time between posts, and who's really reading anyway? (Thank you ever so much if you are!) 
But I think I'm back... Last year was damned hard, just kind of sucked me up and spat me out and I couldn't see the point of writing a blog about how crap I was feeling. I basically put any creative energy into the exhibition (at Gaffa gallery in Sydney in November) you see below. Once the exibition got up on the walls, I did actually start to feel better, and things around me got better too. So, I'm hoping in 2011 my photographic and film work won't look quite so....dark!

Stay tuned this week for photos and rundown of our visit to Mona in Tasmania...the most freakin' unbelievably amazing art gallery I've ever been to. A HUGE rap I know, but I was truly blown away.