Allan cites a display in the Melbourne Museum presenting moving images of the elegant creatures that inhabit depths never before explored. For Allan this proves to be an inspirational space where movement is unrestricted, a space that is like Space. In these gravity free zones, awe becomes the driving force for paintings that deal with the increasing accessibility of previously inaccessible spaces: deep sea and deep space. But this is no space of fear and Allan evokes Bachelard’s “intimate immensity” in which the vast becomes a poetic space of meditation, a “philosophical space of daydream”.
In Nada and the Whale Allan appropriates the story of Jonah and imbues it with a distinctive personal perspective. Consisting of a grid of small paintings/collages Allan explores the idea of a universal mythic journey that continues to have contemporary relevance.
Excerpts from catalogue essay by David Broker; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
There is an element in Hay’s work that is invested with emotion through which the audience’s consideration is elicited. This begins with modest seemingly uncomplicated materials that might be found or seen anywhere. Hay has the uncanny ability to pair the disparate in ways that suggest each component was made specifically for another. The classical Unprepared (2010) for example is a grand piano stripped of varnish, its front leg removed causing it to slide into the floor. Attacked; the lid is pierced by a hail of arrows evoking the incongruent genres of Western and (soap) Opera in a way that inspires simultaneous amusement and sadness. The arrow is a recurring motif in Hay’s work as seen again in Measure Once, Cut Twice, (2010) a bunch of caged walnuts pierced by a gigantic steel arrow. The arrow is a potent symbol of love and aggression.
As one struggles through Hay’s studio, stepping over a wheelbarrow with flight aspirations, avoiding a bent spike emerging from a fagot of sticks with red painted tips seemingly in dialogue with the red topped ladder from which grows a strange prickly copper protrusion – the barriers between found and made objects begin to dissolve. Hay makes objects that look as if they have been found and finds objects that appear to have been made by him. As he brings these together with objects that we know have been either made or found, a curious body emerges.
It seems almost unfortunate that Paul Hay’s sculptures must eventually leave his studio. This is not to say they should never be seen in public or they are unsuitable for a gallery, but rather, they reflect an energetic studio practice. In the nursery each work exists in relation to its siblings as well as to the tools of its making and an encompassing conceptual gestalt. Here, the eccentric objects of Hay’s imagination materialise from the vices, clamps, a gas cylinder, plastic bottles of toxic chemicals and the very benches upon which they were forged. The studio is a habitat, where everything fits and nothing, however odd, seems out of place. As one idea blends with another there are moments when individual works do not appear to have been separated. The curator who enters into this zone of cohesion with a view to making sense of the studio’s inspired chaos is immediately cursed. Hay’s work will not be easily evicted and will resist transportation.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by David Broker; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Debra Porch uses installation as a powerful catalyst to explore the visible and unseen ties that connect the past to the present. Her work draws attention to the way memory transforms the ordinary, emphasising the singular and exceptional in the everyday. Regards to the family begins from this premise, using specific objects and images as conduits for memory and the visual mechanisms of installation to re-orientate our sense of the familiar. The work refers directly to Porch’s Armenian heritage and to the way the work’s title communicates wider bonds with the filial appearing in and out of our memories. Porch grew up in the Armenian Diaspora — the dispersion of people following the 1915–18 genocide by the Ottoman Turks — and, like many of her generation, with limited connections to history and place. No one in her family had returned to Armenia and its traumatic history encouraged a collective silence. Regards to the family is in part a response to Porch returning to Armenia for a residency in 2010 and to the way these experiences made present a fusing of the self with memories recovered, retold and reinvented.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by José Da Silva; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Rubbish is a daily part of our lives. We buy, we eat, we consume, then we discard. We take our bins to the curb, the screech of a garbage truck wakes us up in the night, and then all evidence is gone and the cycle continues. Ask Keating is a Sydney based artist who is determined to alert us to the whole process, including the negative parts we tend to ignore, and the inevitable build up of waste which is kept out of sight and out of mind. In early 2009 Keating undertook a large-scale installation and performance project in Sydney’s Western district. Where it had a direct affect on the local population, Keating recorded the project in film and photography to reach a wider audience, and it is this work which will be the focus of Activate 2750 at Canberra Contemporary Art Space.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Alice Dickins
Activate 2750 is a C3West project, Western Sydney in association with SITA Environmental Solutions. C3West is a long term collaboration between the the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Penrith Peforming and Visual Arts, Campbelltown Arts Centre and Casula Powerhouse. The Project is supported by the NSW Government through ArtsNSW and by the Australia Council, The Australian Government's arts funding and advisory body, through its Community Partnership Section.
Artists: Julia de Ville, Jessica Herrington, Celeste Aldahn, Tamara Dean, Robbie Karmel, Marian Tubbs, Kate Rohde, Owen Lewis and Helen Shelly.
Perhaps it all started with the skull thing. On one hand peaking with Damien Hirst’s diamonds, and on the other with the skull printed scarves, t-shirts, underpants, umbrellas for a sale at every two-bit chain store in town. The esteemed tradition of the Vanitas, the revered motif, now a grotesque cartoon grin, hollowed eyes mirroring hollow production. Then came the feathers, the jewelry, the headdresses. The how-can-it-be-PC appropriations of ancient cultures. North America, South America, any but the Modern Day America. Leather and tassels and fringing and beading. There were crystals and circles and triangles and orbs. There were trees with skeleton leaves reaching out to stars stretching out across the sky and full yellow moons, artificial fluorescent white moons, sailing over owls and hawks and wolves and deer. But why and what do we want of them? Aside from their teeth that is. Aside from their teeth and antlers and pelts and plumage. To wear, draped over shoulders, hung around necks, tied up in hair. To wear in lieu of getting closer, in place of mud, or blood, in absence of fire and ritual. To prove we are not card-carrying members of the consuming, sprawling, asthmatic allergic 21st century. We are spiritually connected creatures of the universe, tied to the land, the sea, the sky, unarguably belonging just like someone out there was once. Nostalgic for a time we can’t remember, searching for the shard of someone within us - someone who shared our genes in the millennia before we were born, in a time of being free in the world. No job no money no need. Everything pregnant and humming with meaning and purpose. Is that what we’re looking for?
Excerpt from essay by Yolande Norris; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Resurrection represents both the ending and the beginning of an intensely personal journey for John Johnson. Creating these works has been a rebirth for the artist, after years of personal struggle he is confronting his past experiences through his artwork and looking forward to the future.
John Johnson is descended from the Warramunga and Wambya peoples of the Northern Territory but has been living and working in Canberra for the last 25 years. Primarily a painter, he has also worked as an installation artist, performer and art teacher.
His work is strongly political, addressing social issues such as the treatment of Indigenous Australians since colonial settlement, displacement of peoples, the Stolen Generation, deaths in custody and the environment. Resurrection is a collection of works that explore these highly charged topics. The title reflects not only a personal resurrection, but suggests the continued resurrection of these social issues which directly effect Indigenous people yet continue to be disregarded by white Australian.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Vanessa Wright; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Jenni Kemarre Martiniello is undeniably an artistic force to be reckoned with. She is a writer, poet, academic and a visual artist who works with textiles, printmaking and photography as well as glass. Her background is as diverse as her artistic practice, she is of Arrernte, Chinese and Anglo-Celtic descent and her Aboriginal heritage strongly informs all her work.
Entrapment is comprised of all new works, created during a residency at the Canberra Glassworks in 2011. These works explore the ties between country, tradition, family and history through the delicate yet powerful medium of glass.
By reworking traditionally woven eel and fish traps in glass, Martiniello encourages the viewer to refocus on the subject of these works. Striking objects in their own right, woven traps are often sidelined as simply women’s craft, yet they are highly intricate and sophisticated works of art in addition to their practical application. These traps in glass are purely for display and reflection, which highlights not only the beauty of the object, but also questions the removal of Aboriginal people from their traditional lands and the increasing rarity of previously essential traditions such as weaving.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Vanessa Wright
Jenni Kemarre Martiniello would like to thank the Canberra Glassworks and the Thomas Foundation
In the relatively short amount of time since she graduated from the South Australian School of Art in 2004, Yhonnie Scarce has made an impressive mark on the Australian art scene. She was the 2008 South Australian recipient of the Qantas Foundation Encouragement for Australian Contemporary Art Award, as well as being a finalist in the 2006 Telstra Aboriginal and Islander Contemporary Art Award. Scarce belongs to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples from South Australia.
For the first time, Canberra audiences will be treated to three of Scarce’s most iconic works in Ectopia. Each of these pieces explores the history of persecution of the Aboriginal culture as a result of colonization. Her work is highly political, but these views are often expressed through the personal, as Scarce uses her own family history and lived experience to expose larger cultural and social issues within Australia.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Vanessa Wright; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
The Australian landscape is full of paradox: colonised land and wild bush; droughts and flooding rains; serenity and danger. During a residency at Bundanon, Jacqueline Bradley started making sculptural objects that respond to these paradoxes and explore her own relationship with the land in a humorous and light-hearted way. Just like The Lemonheads’ song ‘Outdoors Type’ that the exhibition title alludes to, Bradley thinks an outdoors type is a great thing to be, but is under no illusions about her comfort or prowess in the wild.
Accordingly, The Outdoors Type features wearable art - in the truest sense of the words - that intends to help the wearer (and by proxy, the viewer) engage with the environment in novel ways. Boat Dress opens up the possibility of using rivers for transport and recreation, without fear of being swept away and drowned like a father and daughter in colonial times at Bundanon. Another of Bradley’s marvels, Ladder Shoes, intends to keep the wearer safe from snakes whilst traversing a grassy plain.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Annika Harding; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Nomophobia is the fear of being without your mobile, or being out of mobile or internet reception. The fact that this phobia even exists shows something very important about our relationship with technology. We have now got to the point where we rely on our mobiles, computers, ATM’s, and other electrical devices so much that we would be completely lost without them. Andrzej Zielinski is from the USA and is currently visiting artist at the Painting Workshop at the ANU School of Art. His exhibition Prototype at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space explores our strong relationship with technology and the constant desire to upgrade to the new model.
Prototype is a collection of bright paintings which walk the line between abstract and representational. Electronic devices that we depend on everyday are simplified. Represented in glossy paint, and removed from their ability to function, we see them for what they really are: modern day icons. The shine of the paint changes from different angles, like computer screens or the gold background of early Christian paintings. Following in a long history of icon painting, the viewer will be mesmerised by the magic of objects which we interact with everyday, but never really understand. As each new electronic device is released we are drawn to the shine, the thrill of the new, and the growing mystery of their inner workings. The mythological pull of these devices is made screamingly apparent in Zielinski’s paintings.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Alice Dickins; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.