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.
Matthew Day Perez’s newest installation asks the viewer to consider where glass comes from. Does it inexplicably spring to life? Grow from a river of molten material? How is it made? Exploiting craft and a general unknowingness, Grow employs traditional glass making techniques and mixed mediums to mediate the relationship between utilitarian glass objects utilized everyday, and the process employed to make them.
Grow consists of two components. In one corner of the installation a video projection depicts a molten landscape, a garden of glowing material. At various moments within the video loop, glass vessels and vases inexplicably grow, just as a flower blooms, or a blade of grass thrusts upward through a mound of dirt; pitchers, cups, mugs, and wine glasses mature and are plucked from a glowing plot of soil. Opposite the video, situated in the center of the room, a glowing chamber houses a crucible of molten glass. The electric kiln is outfitted with a clear quartz lid allowing the viewer to witness the elements flicker on and off supplying the energy necessary to maintain a liquid consistency. This unit is a green house, an incubator, a nursery of sorts from which the molten material is transformed into useful and pragmatic objects depicted within the video.
The coalescing of these two components propose a suspicious and slightly misleading scenario where glass is not manufactured in the most conventional sense but is generated or “grown.” It begs the viewer to slow down and ponder where things, products, and in this instance glass, comes from.
Artists: Brenda L. Croft, Lyndy Delian, Tjanara Jali Talbot, Jonathan Jones, Gary Lee, Jenni Kemarre Martinello, Rachel Perkins, Kerry Reed Gilbert and James Tylor
First Light is an exhibition of work by Indigenous Australian artists conceived as part of a special program for the Canberra Centenary. First Light focuses on artistic practices guided by light, from natural light to the many kinds of artificial light or effects available to contemporary artists. These artworks shed light on the past century in the national capital from an Indigenous perspective. In acknowledging Indigenous sovereignty and the ongoing effects of colonialism, the show examines relationships of light and shadow, of day and night, of black and white, of colonized and colonizers. The works highlight a continuing relationship with light and the ways cultures and traditions have adapted to changing notions of light. First Light also reflects the influence of the city in shaping the artists and their works and the artist’s contribution to shaping understandings of the city and region. From a diversity of Australian Indigenous nations, the artists hold a connection to the ACT through their artistic and cultural practices.
Jonathan Jones, Unititled (sticks) 2008-2013, fluorescent tubes and fittings, tarpaulin, electric cables, dimensions variable, installation view, photo Brenton McGeachie
The CCAS Members Show provides all members with the opportunity to show their work at Gorman Art Centre. Each show has a theme to which members can respond and there are prizes for the best interpretations. CCAS invites a local arts figure to judge the entries each year and for 2013 it is Terence Maloon and the theme is Canberra. The title is a quotation from Prime Minister Robert Menzies described Monaro Mall as '…wonderful, immoral, tempting and terribly satisfactory’ in his speech at the opening on 6 March 1963. An estimated 15,000 Canberrans flocked to the mall on the first day alone and it became an integral part of the nation’s capital as the city grew rapidly throughout the 1960s.
Erik Krebs-Schade won first prize for 2013 while Jodie Cunningham was runner up.
Science Fiction provides an overarching framework for Monster and Kynic, two exhibitions that explore notions of scientific reality and its mutations within popular consciousness and media. Science Fiction brings together Erica Seccombe and Benjamin Forster, two artists who employ bona fide scientific methodologies for work that examines the tensions between science and its suspect appearances in popular culture. Both to some extent work in the “god” zone, albeit with tongues in cheek, using science to suggest the construction of creatures that exist outside the “natural world” and thus have the potential to wreak havoc upon humanity. They draw upon the familiar, common garden organisms and the family pet to produce alien objects and ideas. Their works critique and even mock the idea of artists being scientists and vice versa; blending empirical method with fantastic imagination their work reflects a divergent yet electrifying relationship between science and art.
Taking the common garden slater Porcellio scaber as her point of departure Erica Seccombe, in collaboration with Professor Tim Senden and Dr Ajay Limaye (ANU Department of Applied Mathematics and Vizlab), applied the notion of relativity to suggest that under magnification of the most extreme kind, this benign little creature takes on alien proportions. Using the latest technologies available to science, the ANU Department of Applied Mathematics has developed 3D Microcomputed X-ray Tomography (XCT) that enables scientists to see the material structure of an object as a virtual model. Seccombe has used the resulting volumetric data and digital visualisation processes to produce an exhibition of printed three-dimensional creatures and parts thereof, that are able to inspire fear and awe in an “alien” inspired nursery. Blurring the borders of film and scientific data the exhibition also includes a 3-D cinematic screening of the amplified isopod so that it appears significantly larger than life.
Adapted from catalogue essay by David BrokerErica Seccombe Monster (Sattva), 2013, 3D data projection, installation view
Artists: Julia Boyd, Jacqueline Bradley, Chris Carmody, Karena Keys, Trish Roan, Adam Veikkanen and Fiona Veikkanen
Backburning is an exhibition about how we perceive materials and the world around us. The seven artists included, who have all had work in CCAS’ Blaze exhibitions during the past seven years, share an appreciation for seemingly mundane materials and objects, and make them come alive in the context of the systems, spaces, and infinite universe in which they operate.
Originally intended to showcase CCAS Studio Residents’ work, Blaze has expanded to become an ACT emerging artist showcase. Over 45 fantastic artists have featured in Blaze exhibitions. Most are still practicing artists, and many are still based in Canberra as of this, our centenary year. This retrospective of the Blaze exhibitions focuses on the strongest thread running through them, spun by the artists who use everyday materials to create astonishing and enlightening work. For these artists everyday experiences and taken-for-granted objects provide ample impetus for creating art. In their work the mundane reveals the infinite and the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
Excerpts from the catalogue essay by Annika Harding.
Image: Universal Breakfast, 2013, wood, bronze, steel, silverware, ceramic, card, plastic and paper; 130cm x 130 cm x 70cm; photo Brenton McGeachie
Artists: Timothy Dwyer, Nicci Haynes, Gregory Hodge, Rosalind Lemoh, Brendan Murphy, Patsy Payne, Clare Thackway, Frank Thirion, Daniel Vukovljak, Jonathan Webster and Jo Wu
As Canberra’s first 100 years draws to a close several of the centenary curators - Alexander Boynes, David Broker, Anni Doyle Wawrzynczack, Janice Falsone and Annika Harding - continue to live in Canberra where they are able to consider its future from within. All five are thoroughly immersed in Canberra’s visual arts community and equally reluctant to say what the future might hold. Through CCAS and the Studio Residency Program, Australian National Capital Artists Studios and Gallery, arts writing and criticism they contribute as artists, administrators, commentators, advocates and supporters. As a curatorium, they bring comprehensive first-hand knowledge to the final exhibition of 2013 and each has selected two artists who delineate something of the future. Coincidentally, a number of the works selected for Future Proof have a futuristic feel in the sense of being appropriately apocalyptic, but more importantly, they represent artists whose practices have become inextricably integrated with their daily lives. As with the curators, the boundaries between art and life appear to have dissolved and in this way the future is not only set, but also assured.
Nicci Haynes, Body Language, 2013, posters and projection, dimensions variable; photo Brenton McGeachie