Saturday, March 21, 2015

Art Month Collector's Space - 21 March

Here we go.  Collector's Space.  My favourite #artmonth show.  The third time it's getting reviewed on the Big Lamington.  Will it deliver again this year? Will Glenn Barkley ask me next year?  Will I find it?  All serious questions!

First up, some details you need to know.  This has moved.  Again.  The space is now downstairs at the Ray Hughes gallery on devonshire street.  Handy if you feel like a pork & fennel sausage roll from the bourke street bakery, although less handy for a midweek assignation. Hence I joined the crowds on Saturday.  Now, there are a couple of novelties for this year.  A nice touch was mixing up all the art between the collectors, previously it had been quite compartmentalised.  I see the itchy hand of the curator at work here.  Another great move was getting some artists involved.  Nell and Noel McKenna both sharing their collections.  Other collectors included this year are corporate type Sue Cato, random IT type Clinton Bradley and random collecting couple from the north shore Max & Gabrielle Germanos.

82 works are listed in the room sheet, and I only have a paragraph to spare so go have a look-see for yourself as this is only going to hit the high notes.  Well I usually like a big Danie Mellor, and Sue Cato's certainly ticks that box.  Actually a lot of her collection ticks the boxes despite the curators intro (saying that collecting is not box ticking).  Shaun Gladwell, Bill Henson, Guan Wei. Tick, tick, tick. I can tell by reading the names that Sue is a little older than me, this is a collection of a certain price range.  I thought the same when trying to piece together the Germanos collection.  Mclean Edwards x 3 and a Euan Macleod.  It does say something to collect in depth, and I respect that.  But in saying that they must really love Mclean Edwards!  My favourite non-artist collector was definitely Clinton Bradley.  Without the ability to play swapskis like Nell he has the collection that I could most empathise with putting together.  Loved his massive Michael Parekowhai (yes I can pronounce it!), pictured top (Cosmo McMurtry).  I can't believe he actually has this in his place.  I mean he can't have kids, they would love it, I just mean there would be no room for it!  It was great, and very timely given Easter is just round the corner.  I wouldn't have guessed Parekowhai, but maybe Parekowhai channeling Koons.  I also liked his Louise Weaver lithograph, recognised the Koji Ryui mini sculptures from Sarah Cottier and appreciated his collecting the 'harder' to categorise work like a powerpoint from Agatha Gothe-Snape.

Okay, I lied.  I could squeeze in another paragraph.  That's just because I'm now swapping to the artists collections.  I think Glenn had another reason to mix up the art on display this year.  If only to disguise how enamoured he was of the artists collections.  With 82 works from 5 couples you would expect about 16 works each. But Nell & Kylie Kwong have contributed 30 works and Noel McKenna has 26 (yes I counted the room sheet, that's the dedication it takes to make it as a quasi-anonymous art blogger these days!).  Now what I liked about the artist collections was the randomness of them. I also loved to look at a piece and try and guess whose it was.  To me, Noel's collection had a strong connection with his own work.  You could see a piece and think, that looks like Noel's.  Just look at that picture 2nd from the top, a grouping from Noel's collection!  The highlights of the McKenna collection in my opinion were the Rugby World Cup teapot by Alma Smith (pictured above) and what I think is an Ann Wallace piece (pictured below).  I also liked his XXXX bottle top curtain.  From Nell & Kylie Kwong's collection I enjoyed seeing what Nell has traded for, including a Lionel Bawden pencil work and a Laith McGregor bronze.  Nell has kept a few of her own works including a nifty igloo with eyes (pictured 3rd from top) but my favourite of hers was probably one of the smallest, a 7 x 3cm Philjames of Mr Freeze.

Points:  well, I know some people think art should be about ideas not money* but to the Big Lamington art is about points!  Now, don't take it personally collectors, but this is what I would swipe if you had an open house ... 3 points to the big bunny (not Nell, the Parekowhai.  2 points to Noel's teapot.  Shame it was 2003.  I'd love a cricket world cup version from 2007.  Maybe tiki mugs!  1 point will go to Nell, probably for the igloo (it kind of also reminds me of the Phantom's skull cave!).  I also love how she framed all these notes from folks like Fred Tomaselli and Dick Bruna as art. Again a great random show, as Glenn would say 'art is the winner today'*.  Looking forward to 2016 #artmonth already!

* art month have produced a lot of pastel business cards with Glenn Barkley quotes.  If you see them grab one, certain collectors items in themselves.

In the Still at Arthouse Gallery - 21 March

So the non-perishable items (that's jams and things like fruitcake) were dropped off at the Easter Show last weekend, and the perishable items (like Lamingtons and other baking categories) are due this Thursday.  What does all that mean?  Well it means I can go see some art this Saturday!  First up was a quick visit to Arthouse for their art month group show, 'In the Still'.

True story, I very nearly went to Still School at a whiskey distillery in Washington State USA.  So I was a little disappointed that this show actually meant 'still life' rather than say, bathtub gin.  I soon got over my disappointment by the great pieces that Leah Fraser has in.  I'm quite taken by her recognisable style. I can't really describe it, but I like it.  All blues, greens and creams, and a little boho / etsy feel to it. For some reason I think of interiors blogs when I think of Leah, that's probably 'cause she has featured heavily on the design files (which my better half likes reading).  What I really like about her entries here is that she has cross branded the mini sculptures into the pieces (top, A simple beautiful truth, 60 x 60cm; and down below you can pick some of the ceramics in the piece).  Its no surprise to me that both the painting has sold, as well as some of the key pieces in it (like the 'umal shaman' figurine). I like to think that a single collector picked all that up to keep it together.  Moving around the room I thought it was good to see Kirra Jamison not knocking off Gemma Smith's squiggles and actually doing something less abstract.  Her big piece, Morning Glory (200 x 170cm, above) was great and I liked the over the top pattern that recalled Reuben Patterson without the glitter.  I also like her titling work as the one with the dark background was called 'Evening Glory'.  I always prefer my glories in the morning but the dark painting was also quite striking.  Craig Waddell had quite a few flowers in here, which is playing to a strength of his but in my mind (& maybe its just because I am in Easter Show mode, where they take the brief very seriously) I don't reckon half of these are actually "still lifes".  Much more traditional were entries from Claudia Damichi (very neat) and Laura Jones (a little messier).  Laura's 'Flowering Gum' (below), was perhaps one of the most classical, also incorporating the textile casually dropped over the table.

Points:  I think most know where I am going here.  3 points for Leah Fraser.  Loved the painting and especially the interaction with the ceramics.  I will give 2 points to Laura for her traditional composition, and also 'cause she is from the Southern Highlands (I think I read a profile in Highlife!).  And what's the story morning glory? 1 point for Kirra for her massive flower piece (which given the grief I am throwing at Craig I is probably not really a still life either but you are not coming to the Big Lamington for consistency!).

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hayden Fowler at Alaska - 6 March.

Some bonus art month action whilst walking back home.  I had been seeing this random erection going up at Alaska and was wondering what the deal was. A couple of Hayden Fowler sightings gave the game away and I was lucky enough to walk past here the first night of the performance.  If you've missed it so far, there is still time.  The final show is Sat 21 March from 6-9pm at the Alaska office on William St.  See you there!

'Your Death' as this new performance installation project is called continues Hayden's practice of getting tattoos of dead birds as art.  Kind of like John Gould x Sailor Jerry.  He first got some huia birds inked in 2007 (we saw a print of these in his studio and they bagged 2 points back in 2013), then he got a massive swooping owl (or Wha'kau) in 2014.  And now?  And now it is the South Island Kokako.  Obviously a few different spellings and at first I was confused with the kakapo (which is a flightless parrot, and also quite endangered).  How do I know so much about NZ birds?  Well, Project Kakapo was the codename for a deal I worked on back in NZ back in the day.  Good times!  Anyhoo, so the Alaska blurb declares that the Kokako was officially declared extinct in 2004, and it was.  But in 2013 its status was reclassified as 'data deficient' and their are kiwis out there in the field looking for this bird!  [Go here if you want to donate to that cause]  What I love about Hayden's work is the contrast between the futuristic set / the clinical white costumes of the tattooist contrasted with the subject matter, extinct birds.  The maori style cloak made of feathers just sitting there for no reason is also pretty neat.  On the first night Alaska Director Seb Goldspink was stopping people and explaining the project.  It's a high foot traffic area so there were some punters getting their first dose of Fowler who were a little confused, my favourite was the group of irish construction workers who looked like they had a few tatts of their own.  They were fookin' amazed.  I reckon the junior critics would be as well.  I think we might have to swing by once more.  Oh, and I need some better photos!

Points:  tbd.  I want to see these new birds finished before I award the points.  It is going to take something special to get the 3 points off the huia birds!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sabbatical - December to February.

Alright art lovers and fans of random ranting.  Welcome back to the blog for 2015.  It's been radio silence for a little while the Big Lamington team has been catching up on other passions during what to be honest is a bit of a dead time on the art calendar - with apologies to all those that artist that did exhibit over Jan / Feb!

There was still some art on the agenda, stay tuned for some wistful recollections of my time at the Blake Prize in December and a visit to see the James Turrell exhibition in Canberra (the only must see show in my opinion). I will do my regular trick of backdating so I'll link from this page when updated.

I feel a little bad that I never got around to seeing the "blockbuster" museum shows but I suspect they'll be another one or two next year. Speaking of which, is it Art Month already?  See you soon.

Points available for anyone who manages to pick the above work.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Graduate Show at NAS - 28 November

How will I #react?  Well, my first reaction was, wasn't this the tagline for last years show?  I mean, I realise Saatchi and Saatchi are still the sponsors but they couldn't spring for some new banners?  I'll be #underwhelmed if this theme is rolled out again next year ...

Second up.  How good is it, finally, that NAS seems to have worked out a half decent online strategy?  The website they had (and I use the past tense as they've already taken it down!) was actually pretty good.  Sorted by all the disciplines you could actually see nearly 100% of the works online.  Which is pretty handy to get a good feel for the show before you actually go, because opening night when I swung by is always jammed packed.  The one downside of the excellent website is that I didn't take notes, thinking I'd just look it up at home.  Big mistake as I am writing this on 9 December and google is not helping out much.  Luckily I had taken a few snaps on opening night.  Pictured top are two of Hilary Sandeman's pieces which made the cut for the main gallery.  Smaller works but I loved them.  Hard to make out in the photo but the glass jars were filled with wax hearts.  I think I've mentioned before I have a thing for medical models of hearts and Hilary was bang on with these.  If I'd have been a bit more organised these should've made their way to Big Lamington HQ as the grad show is always very affordable and good to support young artists.  Other highlights were Bahman Kermani who made these persian rugs (pictured middle) out of train tickets.  Not bad, although would take up a fair bit of space in a Paddo terrace so you might need to think about different ways to display.  Maybe put a glass table top on and make it a coffee table?  Hey, just trying to help.  Lastly, I was really digging the linocuts of one grad whose name I can't track down.  But in trying to find this online I found Jake Morrissey's name.  And he did some cool prints of Fidel & Marilyn from memory.  Speaking of which, next time I will remember to post earlier!

Points:  Hilary Sandeman will get the 3 for Tried to Feel But Couldn't Touch.  Bahman Kermani will take the 2 for the ticket carpet.  And my unknown artist will take a point for these great linocuts above. The two alpacas in the bottom right were my favourite.  I think one was even from the Hunter Valley!  Have I mentioned before that I'm from ….

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Primavera at MCA - 20 November

Okay - apologies for the delay in posts readers but it was a busy November for the Big Lamington team with, well, other stuff happening! I am going to power through some quick thoughts on the shows I saw to get the blog up to date.  Here's my thoughts on Primavera, which if you need the backstory you should first read Frosty as I am going to just dive in.

I read somewhere that the consensus was curator Mikala Dwyer had crammed in too much work into a small area of the gallery and it was an incoherent hang.  Unkindly, my first thought was how could they tell?  That is not to say the MCA always crams random art together, they usually do leave more room.  It is just that my abiding memories of previous Primavera exhibits is that it is always random and incoherent because of the nature of just selecting a couple of young urgers (its like contiki, they have to be under 30 or something) to have a crack.  There was only one real star in my mind, Paul Yore.  Those textile works were, to quote the Chemical Brothers, out of control.  Way out of control.  I loved them.  Maybe a few too many cocks for home display but the fact that the middle one (apologies as I can't find my notes, is that 'Welcome to Hell' or 'This moment is Critical'?) was such an amalgam of random thoughts, like a art school patchwork quilt.  My favourite element was the rainbow eureka flag (pic above).  This was from memory a scaled down version of what he had at Sydney Contemporary.  What else?  I thought the pvc and can sculpture of Sean Peoples was pretty cool and I liked the randomness of his telepathy project with Veronica Kent.  Not so much the art but the fabric on the chairs was cool in a Yinka Shonibare knock off kind of way (image below).  Maybe they should've been inspired by Australia's own Utopia Goods

Points.  3 for middle tapestry (pictured top) and 2 for the ejaculating tapestry (not pictured top).  That's 5 points for Paul overall.  I would say keep an eye on Paul as his works were quite affordable at Sydney Contemporary.  Not for long if you ask me.  Finally, for those who can count backwards you can guess Sean will pick up 1 point for his sculptural effort 'Ouroboros Centipede'.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Postgrad show at NAS - 30 October

Five years in a row for me checking out the NAS postgrad show.  That has to be some kind of record.  The new innovation this year is the online catalogue!  Finally.  These kids are racking up the HECS debt so the least the school could do is help out with some online promotion.  Here's a link to the site.  It's a little old school as they sort by major but give them time.  The better thing about the web presence is that the shop feature is fully operational.  Take that COFA and SCA!  Anyhoo, enough on the marketing, let's see the art ...

So the great thing about opening night, and the first few days, is that it is open season on the studios.  So you get to see a little more than the supposed highlights in the main gallery.  Quite often my favourite works are out in the studios and again I wasn't to be disappointed.  Out in the side gallery were some fantastic installations.  Elena Tory-Henderson's Big Yellow (plastic strips hanging across the gallery) and Liya Mirzaeva's Pink Rocks (pictured above) were memorable. In the painting studio a couple of artists seemed to have developed a signature, both Sarah Fitzgerald's geometric works (especially the big X) and Kylie Barber's broken down canvasses (the image I tweeted was her Gold Fold).  In the photography space the Mrs gave her tick of approval to Sarah Dugan for her iconic Australian rural scene (and I recognised her from last years grad show, congrats on the honours).  The main space seemed more cluttered this year, but maybe that was just due to the crowd milling about Jeff Wood's interactive toothbrush painting machine contraption (had to be seen to be comprehended). Certainly no artist seemed to pull away from the pack in my mind.  I liked Steven Latimer's still from Asphalt Dingoes (pictured top).  But then again you are talking to someone who has a pinterest board called 'cars with racing numbers'!  And who could miss the big happy portrait of Ian Thorpe, covered with sequins, by Murat Urlali. And on checking him out online I see he did a Tony Abbott in smugglers as well.  Bit of a swimwear theme, come down to North Bondi at 6am on Friday and you might just see the Big Lamington in his budgy smugglers! Now that is art.

Points:  I am going to reward making a statement, so 3 points to Elena Tory-Henderson for the Big Yellow installation.  I didn't take a good photo of it and sadly, as it is NFS, the image on the NAS site isn't very big, which is a long way of saying apologies for the bad image below!  2 points for homo-erotic mad maxness of Steve Latimer's car 69 (top).  1 point will go to Sarah Dugan for Encounter from the Badland series (above).