Thursday, March 6, 2014

Collector's Space - 6 March


One of my favourite shows from last years Art Month Sydney, Collector's Space (read 2013 here), is back for 2014.  It is bigger (?) and better than last year.  Or at least better located, this is on William Street.  On the way from the City to the Cross - what more could you want?  Featured collectors this year include established collectors Andrew & Cathy Cameron, curatorial power couple Lisa Havilah & Glenn Barkley, youngish collectors James Roland & Becky Sparks, eastern suburbs brick pimp Gary Sands and an anonymous arts industry professional.


Thankfully most of the works are grouped together so you can get a sense of each collector(s) style.  I was very interested in the works that the young guns had collected.  I think these guys were described as being in their 30s in the AFR weekend article I read.  I nearly choked on my coco pops, as I was at uni at the same time as James (different college though), and if he is in his 30s he don't have very long left.  But then again, neither do I!  James and Becky are passionate about supporting young emerging artists and I am right with them on this.  What I liked best about their collection was that they collected 'big' pieces.  The Marco Fusinato was a massive 4 panel install.  I also liked that James had used a small inheritance to buy a piece of art to remember his grandmother as both my wife and I have done similar. I really liked their Christian Thompson photo (this pic, 'howl for your troubles' picked up my 2 points at the 2011 Blake Prize!) and their Nell enamel on pine that dominate the entrance of the space (photo above).  Moving round the room I started noticing the double ups of certain artists across collections .... 2 x Ben Quilty's, 2 x Nell, and 2 x Brook Andrew.  The Cameron's had one of each of those (their Nell and Brook Andrew are pictured top).  Nell's signature style appeals to me and I would love to add a ghost to my mantelpiece, especially with its phantom like name.  Gary Sands was another who collected big works and I liked his Lynne Roberts-Goodwin photo 'frankincense highway'.  Glenn and Lisa were a couple after my own heart as, like me, they seem to have a collection of lots of little bits.  A small Tom Polo here, a medium sized David Griggs there.  I really liked their Brook Andrew cardboard boxes but found the little cabinet up front particularly interesting.  Stuffed full of miniatures from Esme Timbery, Louise Weaver, Noel McKenna and others.  I will have to come back and take another look.  Agatha Gothe-Snapes' assorted badges (pic below) was my pick from it with their retro, almost easter show like aesthetic.  I will be back for some of the up coming art talks here, check out more Art Month info here.  See you there.


Points:  it's a tough one today as it was a very, very eclectic little show.  I am going to give the points for the works I would most like to have in the Big Lamington collection.  So it will be 3 to Nell for the Ghost Who Walks in bronze.  2 points again for Christian Thompson.  I remember reading some funny advice for photographers selling their works, if you can't make it big make it red and if you can make it big and red even better.  Christian ticks both those boxes here and it does stand out.   Agatha Gothe-Snape will take the 1 point for the badges.  Highly commended's to all those collectors who took part.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Daisy Chain at Marrickville Garage - 22 February


So turns out Marrickville Garage (web here) is an actual garage.  In the same vein as one of my favourite ever small gallery spaces (the Suite Gallery annexe in Wellington), the team behind Marrickville Garage have repurposed their off street parking into a tiny gallery space with the addition of a few pots of white paint (see below).  I'd heard about this space (and their current show 'Daisy Chain') because I stalk follow one of Maitland's finest exports, Nell, on facebook. She had contributed a couple of small works to the group show (if you follow Nell on facebook you'll see those images, I'll put one on twitter as well - go social media!).  I think the premise was that artists had to invite other artists to submit something.  Liam Benson was listed on their website so I was a little disappointed he was a no show (& I'd schlepped all the way out to Marrickville and the Jets weren't even playing).  Lionel Bawden made up for it with a piece totally removed from his pencil sculptures (image top).  Stood out amongst the mix of works contributed.


Points: well, it was very hard to work out who had contributed what.  Let's face it, a room sheet wouldn't have hurt.  That said Nell, Lionel and Schapylle Scragg made an impact.  I will give Nell the 3 for the repurposed record mailer that I would've loved to take off the wall.  Rainbows are very much favourites of my junior critics.  I'll give Lionel 2 for his cool t-shirt, he could do well with these at Paddo markets!  Schapylle Scragg (not her real name I am guessing) will pick up the 1 point for her portfolio of confronting bogan Australiana.  This place is open the first weekend of every month.  Now if they manage to co-ordinate that with some Newtown home games I might be back ...

Sunny and Hilly at Minerva Gallery - 22 February


New year, new galleries.  There's been a bit of noise about a few galleries closing recently but a lot of news on new ones opening.  One new gallery in the Cross Elizabeth Bay, is Minerva Gallery.  This space has taken over the old James Dorahy Project Space.  To me, Minerva seemed to blur the line between artist run space and commercial gallery.  But they are just getting started so it will be interesting to see how it evolves.  Their first show, fittingly, is a group one.  Showcasing all the artists that will be getting a solo gig at some time over 2014/15.


I swung by mainly to check out a firm favourite of Big Lamington in Jonny Niesche.  His signature glitter work ('Her love sticking out like stars', image below) couldn't be missed.  The install was a little questionable, sitting precariously in a pile of recycling right by the front door.  Lucky it wasn't council clean-up day or I might have swiped it!  In the main room you also couldn't miss Hany Armanious' adhesive vinyl installation (it was untitled but spelt out 'Eggs').  This was a massive 1,140 x 330 cm.  Helpfully the gallery sheet noted that the work can be scaled to any size which will determine price.  I like the way Hany does business, what can I get for a pineapple? In the middle room I quite liked the cut of James Deutsher's gig.  He had two works, 'North West' in iron and 'Red Nation (I can't tell you what's good but I can tell you what's not)', combined image above.  I quite liked the explanation of the dimensions of these works in the room sheet.  The iron sign was based on Kanye West and Kim Kardashian foot length (and for those that don't keep up with the gossip rags, North is their spawn).  The Red Nation was "Kirsten Stewart standing height x Dries Van Noten medium scarf".  This work made me deeply think ... gee, she's short.


Points: hmmm, I think Jonny will take another 3 for the glitter (above).  I'd really like one of these but I am running out of wall space at HQ so friends and family will be getting recommendations here.  I am going to give 2 points to James' Red Nation, which I thought was a clever way to get a fairly minimalist sculpture to comment on celebrity / consumer culture.  1 point will go to Jonny's 'Untitled' (top).  I've seen a few of these mirrored works of Jonny's now and they are starting to grow on me.  His solo show at Minerva is slated for March/April.  Get along and check it out.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Art of science at NAS - 15 February


So the National Art School currently has an interesting little exhibit going on right now courtesy of the Museum of Victoria.  Called the art of science it is concerned primarily with natural history illustrations, both historical and contemporary.  Even better, the public programme included a drawing class by multiple Big Lamington points winner Angus Fisher.


We started first with a walk around the exhibition.  For the fans of natural history illustration out there, rest easy, the big names were front and centre.  John James Audubon, check.  John Gould, check.  I like them both, just a shame the Vic Museum didn't have any Walton Ford's to go with.  Audubon's works really do set the benchmark and they are the pride of place here.  He was an interesting character who did most of his own shooting for specimens.  Perhaps a little too well as a few of the examples here are now only known to science such as the ivory billed woodpecker shown here.  I like how he includes other species such as the fish in the Fish Hawk (image top), the rattlesnake with the Mocking Birds and the rabbit being caught by the red-tailed hawk.  By contrast Gould is much more restrained.  Illustrating the birds and a little bit of flora.  I have a massive soft spot for this type of illustration (and even collect old Gould League membership cards from the '30s and '40s).  My favourites were the Cassowary and any of the parrots (the Blue cheeked parakeet, now known as the blue cheeked rosella is pictured middle).  The contemporary works included showed a variety of techniques from old school pencil and ink to modern photomontage (with masses of details on a close up of a beetles head for instance).  Enough inspiration already.  It was time to break out the pencils for ourselves.  A group of 20 punters retired to the NAS chapel to try our hand at illustration.  NAS had busted out the taxidermy for our reference and I had settled on an owl when Angus suggested that birds are hard and maybe try the fox instead.  Well, that was pretty tricky as well and our two hour class went by pretty quickly.  My poor fox didn't get any legs!


Points:  I quite liked some of the contemporary pieces, Mali Moir's shark was my top pick and will give it the 3 points.  One of the big names needs to get the 2 points and this former Gould League of Bird Lover's member is giving it to John for the Blue Cheeked Parakeet.  Angus Fisher (check out his website here) will pick up a point for running a great little class.  I will also post a photo of the birds we commissioned of Angus a few years ago.  It's a fantastic little work and now that I know how hard this type of illustration is will appreciate it even more.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Young Artists Initiative at .M Contemporary - 2 February


Off to a cracking pace in February, here we are on the 2nd and diving into another exhibition.  This one is the Young Artists Initiative 2013 at .M Contemporary.  I gather the '13 references the graduation year of these artists from COFA, NAS and SCA.  Now having seen two out of three these grad shows, which as Meatloaf will tell you ain't bad, I was interested to see who had made the cut.


The accompanying publicity claims Barry Keldoulis, Joan Ross, Lisa Corsi, Michael Reid, Prue Gibson, Sebastian Goldspink, Michelle Paterson and Louise Rush as the judging panel!  It is a wonder how they ever made a decision with 8 different opinions but here we are.  I recognised Abbey Swinn (who took the three points when BL went to the NAS show).  She has updated the titles as here the work is called 'in a barbie world' whereas at nas it was simply 'Silvy'. In addition to her grad show work there is another set of photos that replicate the same system of plain vs make up (image top).  I recognised the set of embroideries (example of one, below) from the cofa grad show but couldn't recall the artist.  It is Joy Ivill Long and you certainly know a lot more about her life from reading the stories in these embroideries (Joy certainly takes the theme of over-sharing to the next level).  Despite the questionable content (I don't really need to own stories about Joy's ex boyfriends) I overhead quite a few had sold which is proof that the images were quite striking in a rough, folk art way (I don't think Joy is winning a ribbon at the Easter Show for technique here).  I quite liked Mia Middleton's video 'homecoming' (still image above).  Mia is one of the cofa grads and I must have missed her in the show there.  In the quieter gallery space this meditative work really draws you in.  I was also trying to work out where she is from, great scenery.  Apart from these guys Vilma Bader's "ism's" made an impact, but then again any set of two works that are 117 x 97 cm are going to stand out.  These were text based works but had a little bit too much of an word processor feel here (I think a custom font is needed).  I didn't note the artists name down but one person had an installation of blown up freezer bags which looks great but is entirely impractical for a commercial gallery, I think Joan or Seb's pick there.  All in all a great initiative but over in 3 days and no images on the web?  I guess beggars can't be choosers.


Points: I am going to go straight back to Abbey for the 3 points.  Looked great at NAS and looks great in a commercial gallery.  2 points to Mia Middleton (who needs to get herself a web presence, especially with all the other Mia Middleton's out there according to google).  1 point to Joy Ivill who has a great little website, click here for more.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

OUI we at The Commercial - 1 February


Happy new year art lovers.  The Big Lamington team has taken a nice long summer break and is just gently dipping the toes in the arts for 2014.  I happened to be running an errand around Alexandria way and so managed to sneak in to catch the new years group show at the Commercial.  Some play on words going on with the oui we, not sure what I am supposed to get but I am in above the waist here.


I love a good group show and the Commercial doesn't disappoint.  I was instantly drawn to Archie Moore's 'Today we celebrate boat people' (top).  He is still running with the flag theme he showed back in December 2012.  Those were just paint, this one is acrylic painted over the back of an upside down sewn cloth Australian flag (flying the flag upside down shows distress, I got that from the Robert Redford flick, Last Castle!). Aesthetically I really like it, although politically I am a little closer to Scotty Morrison on the issue of shutting down the smugglers for the good of everyone involved (which I am sure would be a rarely held viewpoint in the art world).  That said, you should always be open to both sides of the argument and I like how Archie is doing it here in the colours of green and gold (and so close to Australia Day).  Another noticeable entrant was Mitch Cairns' 'Wet Painting' (pictured below). I'd seen the gallery PR that they had picked up Mitch (from the carcass of the shuttered Breenspace).  A pretty nice inclusion to the roster as Mitch is well favoured at the moment (& won the Brett Whiteley travelling scholarship in 2012).  I quite like his minimalist style but would probably rent on his works from artbank (from memory a $200/year rental for one I liked) rather than drop $4k on this one featured.  That is nothing against this work, just a comment on opportunity costs.  Speaking of opportunity costs I reckon I'd have a crack at recreating a bootleg of Agatha Gothe-Snape's 'Every Artist remembered with Elizabeth Pulie' before dropping 6.5 large on this one.  That said, again, I really liked it.  I spent quite a while reading through the artists, noticing some of my favourites (like Liam Benson, Nell, Textaqueen) and trying to work out who was missing (like half the artists in this group show, whoops).  It was quite thought provoking and as a record of a piece of performance art works pretty well as documentation as well as decoration (although I do like a bit of text in art).  Certainly got me thinking. Hmmm, hand me a posca pen!  Clare Milledge had a nice work where she paints oil on the back of tempered glass although the title, 'Antropocene Solar Anus', could do with a little revision.  As much as I hate 'untitled', I think it works better than that one!


Points:  I will give 3 points to Archie's flag.  I wouldn't mind having this back at the Big Lamington HQ, certainly having me second guessing!  I will give 2 points to Agatha's artist list.  Mitch will take the 1 point, welcome to the Commercial.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Same Same at Artereal - 5 December


I'd been looking forward to seeing this show.  Some new work by Liam Benson in a double act with Lucas Grogan.  Even more interesting was that they were meant to be "borrowing from each other's visual language, aesthetic and experience".  I needed to head over to artereal just to check out what that meant.


Regular readers will know that I have a bit of a soft spot for Liam's practice.  I love his exploration of the australian identity and especially his overuse of symbolic australiana like the coat of arms and native flowers.  He continues that theme here with a number of works.  My favourite was the hand beaded 'Original_2013' (pictured top).  This is reasonably small (20cm diameter) but with the gold sequins really packs a visual punch with the very recognisable map of Australia.  The 'original' is designed to get you thinking, which is what I like about works that incorporate text.  Is Liam referencing native Australian's (ab)original?  There is a separate piece in the show that explicitly does.  Is he identifying himself as an original?  Is he questioning the derivative US / UK nature of some of Australian culture? etc etc. Other similarly sized embroidery works include the words "new", "I know" and "thank you".  These were all great works and very competitively priced for those whose art budgets are nearly done by December so clever also in a merchandising sense! In addition to these Liam is working on a much larger map of Australia that depicts all the different tribes of aboriginal Australia.  Punters can come in and sew different coloured sequins into the different regions (I tweeted a photo of this, so follow @biglamington not to miss out!).  What I loved most about this piece is that artereal had listed this for institutional acquisition only!  Looks like it is time to start my own mona!  I'll see if I can't head back and get a shot of this work as it nears completion.  I hadn't seen Lucas Grogan back in Sydney since his former dealer (the infamous Iain Dawson) blew up and went underground.  Lucas is based in Melbourne (has his own website, yes) and is represented by galleries in Melbourne, Brisbane and even Adelaide so it is nice that he is having a guest spot in Sydney.  Some controversy over Lucas' use of aboriginal style caused two artists included in the Big Lamington collection (textaqueen and ryan presley) to quit some of those very same galleries in 2012 so it is interesting to see if that has had any impact on his style (there is a reference to this incident in the catalogue essay by Lisa Corsi).  I think it could be just that he is being more experimental here with some embroidered text works, which the gallery appropriately describe in the form of "off-beat-gay-bush-poetry", like his 'Sex, Drugs and Kylie Minogue'.  He does include a diptych called 'We was here (billabong / swimming pool)' which continues with his established style.


Points: The 3 points will go to Liam's original.  I really am a sucker for a good bit of Australiana and this one will be coming back to the Big Lamington HQ in the new year.  2 to the flag, which should be expected from someone with such an interest in vexillology.  1 point will go to Lucas' for his Branxton sign.  Like Lucas, I also grew up in the Hunter.  I like the quote by Matthew Johns when he was asked if he was a former Hunter boy (as he now lives in Sydney) and he responded that being from the Hunter is like being a maori, and you can't be a former maori.  So there it is, once a Hunter boy, always a Hunter boy.