Gorman Arts Centre

There’s something about photographs that makes people trust them. Clem Baker-Finch questions this inherent believability by exploring and exploiting the use of photographs in trashy magazines. In these magazines- such as OK, Women’s Weekly or New No Idea- photographs are often provided as evidence. Evidence of celebrities’ rocky marriages or lovers’ quarrels, disordered eating habits and potential ‘baby bumps’.

Baker-Finch appropriates an image cropped from a magazine cover, and lets the words speak for themselves through the image. It’s all in the process: a computer program that he devised picks out the average colour of where a letter will go and writes the next letter in that colour, so that the words are woven tightly into the image. Even though these images are from cuttings, you can’t escape their magazine context- headlines, bar codes and inset images all push their way into view.

Baker-Finch also significantly enlarges these small cuttings from throwaway magazines, further highlighting the gravity, tragedy and also the humour in these modern relics of celebrity culture. But Baker- Finch isn’t being polemical; he is just making an observation, and like the readers of trashy magazines, the viewer must choose what they want to believe.

Excerpts from essay by Annika Harding; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

Artists: Kate Barker, Dean Butters, Bettina Hill, Helani Laisk, Ishak Masukor, Dan Lorrimer, Joanthan Webster and Fiona Veikkanen

It’s always a challenge to curate a cohesive exhibition when bringing together the best emerging artists working in a particular time and place. At a glance, it appears that the ties between the works in Blaze 6 are tenuous, but then it becomes apparent that space—between the works and as a central ide—links the works together.

There are many ways to define the spaces these artists engage with- domestic spaces, virtual spaces, remembered spaces, rooms, galleries, streets, personal space and the body. Spaces can be finite or infinite; sometimes they are explored and sometimes merely noticed. This preoccupation with the idea of space may have something to do with the uncertainties of the age that we live in, in which people are turning back to the tangible realities of human life. And maybe this preoccupation with boundaries, or lack thereof, is also a way for these emerging artists to locate themselves and their work within the broad context of contemporary art.

Photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

I’ve heard it argued that it doesn’t matter if Gina Reinhardt has editorial control over the remnants of Fairfax newspapers because no one is compelled to read them anyway. But what if Gina was to offer something so delicious, so delectable and so salacious that it was impossible to resist?

It is the explosive cocktail of megalomania and human frailty that Yesterdays’ News is concerned with. Media saturation has been a recurring theme in the work of Natalie Thomas possibly because there is no point of satiation in sight. She does not take an academic approach to Yesterdays News being an artist who works from the content rather than as an observer or bystander. From this place Thomas invites her audience to share her experience, ironically, an experience in which they are already profoundly immersed but would not have considered in quite the same way.

Yesterday’s News is a personal audit of media consumption that explains why Thomas often makes poor consumer choices. It is an intimate look at her “diet” although a diet it is not. “I try to be well informed, to read quality, well-researched, current journalism” she says” but more often than not I find myself clicking on links leading to a gallery of Hollywood's shortest weddings, or cosmetic surgery procedures gone bad. It's a real dilemma.” The material that Thomas uses is so seductive that it impossible to ignore.

Adapted from catalogue essay by David Broker; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

Belinda Toll believes there are always new ways to see. It’s like finding shades of purple and blue in the black night sky. Or a glimmer of sunlight reflected on a shiny car bonnet. The transient nature of light constantly creates new visions, sensations and emotions. Holding Light is about the power of light and how it alters the way we look at things.

Toll is known for her clever use of glass that plays with optical perception. She embraces the unique capacities of this medium to structure and extend sight. In Holding Light, digitally manipulated images and objects are placed behind glass domes. Toll uses the inherent qualities of light in the glass, but also LED lighting to abstract our perception. She transforms the contents of each light box, encouraging us to see from new angles.

Everyday objects such as a feather or straw embody new life. Toll plays on the dimensions and scale of these objects to alter our thinking about them. Lighting a net from behind, it is filled with euphoric colours reflecting off the glass. It becomes a multi-dimensional abyss; a small universe. The humble net becomes something bigger, alluding to realms beyond human experience.

Toll’s sculptures investigate how “optical devices can probe the gap between reality and imagination”. They obscure our original understanding of everyday objects, pushing us beyond our usual capabilities to see. Toll goes beyond the mere materiality of the object, visually suggesting new possibilities of perception. These objects no longer have their usual function or meaning, but are catalysts for larger ideas about time and space. Toll’s work invites the viewer to open both eyes and mind wider; to think about how we perceive the world - all that is inside and outside it - in new and exciting ways.

Words by Isabelle Webster; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

Flutter is a multi–channel sound installation exploring the dynamics of communication between individuals in physical and social space. Comprised of an array of 16 speakers, the work presents several thousand recordings of individuals aged from six to sixty playing the children’s game ‘Chinese whispers’. Messages are passed from one individual to the next, progressively evolving over time as a diversity of interpretation colours the transmissions; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

From bedtime stories to legends, tragedies, chronicles and rumours, we all love a good story. They make us laugh and cry, they teach us lessons and morals and they even sometimes give us wisdom and new ways of seeing. Whatever their purpose they are everywhere we go. Spoken out of mouths, written in books, lying in the abyss of our imaginations. Inspired by the Seanchaí, a respected Irish storyteller and bearer of folklore, Andrew Moynihan explores the oral story. Handful of Stew transforms the oral legend into a visual experience that surrounds the viewer. Linking this curiosity in his Irish heritage with his interest Australian Indigenous oral storytelling, Moynihan creates his own ancient tale. A tale of a troubled teenage boy rescued by a shark and brought to solid ground. Mystified the viewer becomes immersed in the story, amongst the dark shadows and blotched shapes revealing themselves in the monoprints. Although the events of the story seem impossible, one can relate to the boys feelings and in this respect Moynihan imports his ancient tale into the present. One can connect with the story, even though its events seem mystical and impossible. Moynihan therefore reminds us of the role of the story in our lives. He celebrates the simple presence of the story and leaves it up to you to decide what you do with it.

Adapted from catalogue essay by Isabelle Morgan; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

In our world today, culture and nature have never been further apart. Although we use topological Google maps and iphone GPS applications daily, it is these technologies that epitomise our disconnection with nature. The hustle and bustle of the nine to five, the constant connection to technology, the business of the “real world” has extracted us from our native environment. Us humans, so carried away with never-ending “progress”, have left the natural world in a dire state of crisis. Incompatible Elements by Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski at CCAS addresses this relationship between culture and nature. By digitally manipulating aerial landscape images of threatened landscapes, this collaborative team encourages us to consider our relationship to these places. Poetic words hidden amongst mountain ranges and winding waterways bring new perspectives to life concerning the relationship between culture and nature, brining us to question whether the two need be seen as separate? The phrase “ A Living Body” reveals itself in the dunes of the Coorong, an area that faces the harsh fate of drowning under rising sea levels. These words of Tom Trevorrow, a Ngarrindjeri elder and custodian of the Coorong remind us that a different nature-culture relationship can exist. We see nature as separate from our everyday cultural life but here, Starrs and Cmielewski project a relationship which melds them together.

Words Isabelle Morgan; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

There is a new kind of reality manifesting itself in the galleries of CCAS Gorman House. Ladders and hammers you may think, but its all an illusion. Rachel Bowak’s stainless steel creations bend our perception in striking new ways changing the way we think of the object. Trained in gold and silver smithing, Bowak has a unique take on object making by creating objects that are in fact a shadow or an outline of what they appear to be. A sledge hammer appears to have smashed a hole in the wall, but upon closer inspection, one finds that this is in fact not a sledge hammer at all. It is a ghost hammer, the outline suggesting the mass and form of what a sledge hammer is expected to be. But in itself, this sculpture is but a two dimensional outline. The interaction between the object and its surrounding environment illuminates an extraordinarily creative new way of looking and thinking about objects. Their uses seem obvious: a ladder to climb on, a broom to sweep with. But, no this is not what you think, these are only ghosts that haunt us as we are confronted to realize the way our expectations of what an object should be clouds the possibilities of what an object can become.

Adapted from catalogue essay by Isabelle Morgan; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

Tell them I said something is a show about the occasionally poignant and sometimes humorously apt final last words uttered at the cusp of life. Singh has memorialised quotes of famous last words of a variety of artists, performers and historical figures into a sculptural format. Using the peaks and troughs of the soundwaves Singh solidifies the ephemeral characteristics of sound into a sculptural existence. This body of work continues Singh’s exploration of the conundrums in representing intangible and ephemeral elements as sculpture.

Francisco “Pancho” Villa was a fighter and leader in the Mexican Revolution. After his military retirement he began a political career for which he was assassinated in 1923. Pancho was regularly misquoted by the newspapers, however on this occasion his inability to surmise his thoughts and communicate to his supporters got the better of him and he was quoted as pleading: “don’t let it end like this, tell them I said something.” Unfortunately for Pancho this was quoted word for word for political gain, hence becoming his famous last words.

The artist wishes to acknowledge and thank Luke Ommundson and the team at Evostyle for their support and assistance with this project.

Roh Singh is represented by dianne tanzer gallery Melbourne; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

Sisterwives are Shellaine Godbold, Helen Braund and Tiffany Cole.

Oh! How once upon a time fairy tales did please and thrill us. Mystical stories of evil teeth collecting witches, talking frogs and pumpkin carriages filled our imaginations with the possibilities of what could be, enlivening our reality. These were the magical elements our dreams were made of. The reverie in which we speculated about our future selves and life. But what happened to all those dreams? If your life didn’t go in the ‘happily ever after’ kind of direction you once expected then you are not alone. In When Wishing Still Worked at Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Sister Wives explore these tales and their connection with our reality. As Shellaine Godbold puts it ‘What happens if you never meet your Prince Charming? What happens if you don't get your happily ever after and what is happily ever after anyway?’

In their first show together, Sister Wives draw you into their enchanted circle where they dwell upon the female identity in these stories. Inspired by portrayals of evil stepmothers and vulnerable princesses always in need of a knight in shining armour, Helen Braund, Tiffany Cole and Shellaine Godbold all look in their own way at how these fairy tale stereotypes influence our expectations.

Adapted from catalogue essay by Isabelle Morgan; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.

 

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