John Wolseley – The National 2021: New Australian Art at MCA

John Wolseley is included in the current exhibition, The National 2021, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. The National 2021: New Australian Art is a celebration of contemporary Australian art. The third in a series of biennial survey exhibitions, it showcases work being made across the country by artists of different generations and cultural backgrounds.

Through ambitious new and commissioned projects, the 39 artists, collectives and collaboratives featured across three venues respond to the times in which they live, presenting observations that are provocative, political and poetic. The National is a partnership between the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA). This year, it has been curated by Matt Cox and Erin Vink (AGNSW), Abigail Moncrieff (Carriageworks), and Rachel Kent (MCA). Working in close dialogue, they have developed three distinct presentations of new Australian art that together highlight many of the ideas and concerns motivating artists in Australia today.

The exhibition including work by John Wolseley is on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art and is current until 22 August 2021.

Image above: John Wolseley  Termitaria: Indwelling I-IV  2020-21  woodcut, linocut, etching, graphite frottage and watercolour on cotton, Mino washi and Gampi paper. Click here to read more about this piece and to watch a video of John Wolseley preparing his work for The National 2021.

A statement by John Wolseley

I have spent a lot of time in the last 10 years in the company of the great Yolngu artist Ms Wirrpanda painting the floodplains and flora of the Blue Mud Bay region of North East Arnhem Land.  In 2017, the results of this collaboration were exhibited at the National Museum of Australia as Midawarr Harvest: The Art of Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley and formed the basis of a handsome book of the same name.

In late March 2021 I am exhibiting the 5th show in which I have collaborated with my sister, Ms Wirrpanda at the MCA. In February 2021 she passed away. This has been a huge shock to us all and a time of great sadness. Making this show has been, for me, a way of grieving and also a way of honoring this great artist who taught me so much and who I loved dearly.

This project began, for me, in 2019, when looking for plants near Gan Gan with her I found a huge termite mound which had collapsed; revealing what looked like a ruined city with all its halls, galleries and linking passageways exposed.  I could see the nursery galleries, the fungus gardens, and even what could have been the Royal cell where the queen had lived with her diminutive King.  I found remains of compost in the fungus ‘combs’. And I could see why scientists had described these mounds as bodies with stomachs holding the composting gardens where the termites farmed their fungae.

Lying there on the sand were the collapsed ventilation shafts and chimneys of the amazing termite ventilation systems, whose principles of fluid mechanics long ago were elucidated by Archimedes and since then have been incorporated into buildings by some of the world’s great contemporary architects.

As I looked down on this collapsed termitaria, I was surprised to find evidence of what Yapa had told me; how these mounds have various insect birds and other creatures living in them in a mutualist and even symbiotic way.  I could see quivering in the wind, feathers of djutuduman, the striated pardalote who choose these mounds as a favoured nesting site.

Later I was to discover that there was a symbiotic relationship between a moth, trisyntopa sp, the golden-shouldered parrot and termites.

John Wolseley  Magnetic, arboreal and subterranean termite nests on the savannah plains of East Arnhem Land  2020-21  woodcut, linocut, etching, graphite frottage and watercolour on cotton, Mino washi and Gampi paper

Click here to read more about this work.

Still Life – Lewis Miller

Celebrated painter Lewis Miller is featured in the new publication ‘Still Life’ by Amber Creswell Bell.

A rich survey of the work of more than forty contemporary Australian artists, this beautiful book presents the genre of still life in a uniquely Australian light and offers a mediation on human experience and the brevity of life. Alongside flowers and food – mainstays of the genre – the works within these pages also incorporate objects such as books and beer cans, birds and balloons, adding energy and intrigue to both the composition and the story revealed.

Lewis Miller’s paintwork is eloquent and expressive. The viewer can instantly sense the energy in his work; the fact that he always paints from life is translated into a palpable vitality in his paintings. Miller’s close observation of each of his subjects is masterfully revealed through bold linework, vivid colour combinations and gestural brushstrokes. His captivating images reveal his reverence for, and understanding of the demands of his materials as much as his sensitive observations of the world.

 

Geoffrey Bartlett – Maribyrnong Commission

Installation is currently underway of a major commission by Geoffrey Barlett for the Maribyrnong River. Geoffrey shares with us his concepts and images for the 11 meter sculpture, which is due to be completed in July.

Image above: maquette

Concept rationale

The Maribyrnong River has a long history of providing a maritime service. It is my intention to produce a work that pays homage to this once vital service.

The artwork Maribyrnong refers to sailing vessels that plied their trade along the river. The sails seem swept along with the wind, whilst the rigging (the black beams) support those sails. Here these forms appear to draw the energy of the wind to provide its river passage. It makes direct connections to the area’s maritime past, whilst communicating through its contemporary aesthetic to the area’s new and dynamic future.

Maribyrnong offers different viewing information from all angles and is intended to be seen in different aspects from Hopkins Street, Joseph Road, the pathway leading down to the river as well as the river itself. It has often been an important aspect of my work to create sculptures that appear to move, as if between A and B. A sense of movement that prevents the sculpture from looking static and still. Perforations will be made to the arc-shaped panel at top of work to infer the herringbone method of shipbuilding.

Materials, colours

The materials to be used for the construction are steel for the lower section (plinth) and also for the upper section of the sculpture.

The artwork will be painted using an industrial D & M Fluoropolymer coating (with an isocyanate hardener) with excellent colour retention and heat resistance up to 120 degrees (dry heat).

This product is a unique and environmentally friendly two-pack coating. It provides excellent chemical resistance, weathering resistance, UV resistance and anti-graffiti properties. The paint also has very good resistance to weathering in salt atmosphere locations and is resistant to fading. A satin coating with a 30 +/- 5%, gloss is preferred to minimise glare.

Manufacturing methods

The sculpture will be 11 meters tall, including the steel plinth base, and built of steel and copper for the upper sections of the work. Plinth and upper sculpture will take 12 weeks to fabricate, then will be transported from fabricator, Webb Welding to painter for industrial painting and coating. The work will be sand blasted and painted in industrial coatings to provide a long lasting surface. The copper section will remain unpainted. The paint surface is difficult to scratch; the required 20-year duration before recoating will easily be met.

Images above: Concept drawings

Cameron Hayes – Artist Profile

Image above: Cameron Hayes  In the South Pole the explorers were so afraid of not having enough food for winter that they starved to death in summer  2001-02  oil and glitter on linen, polyptych in four parts  188 x 254 cm

We are delighted to share that Cameron Hayes’ exhibition has been featured online with Artist Profile Magazine.

The scholar Thomas Jessen Adams, in an article for Overland, draws an apt line of connection between Cameron Hayes’s paintings and the open-ended dystopias of Breughel. Take the polyptych ‘In the South Pole the explorers were so afraid of not having enough food for winter that they starved to death in summer,’ 2001-2, for example. Across the work’s four frames, dimensions collide into each other, and the horizon constantly slips out from underneath the viewer’s eye. The picture is luscious with detail, painstakingly rendered – and Hayes’s works often take months, or even years, to complete.

This detail, however, is not so didactic as the work’s declarative title might lead us to believe. While many figures are recognisably human, disembodied heads and limbs also float through the space. The scale of the various figures also troubles an understanding of them as situated along the same plane, either of space or of reality. That is, there is a symbolic, metaphorical dimension at work in these works – and, yet, one in which meaning is never entirely resolved, or pinned down.

To read the full article, click here.

Cameron Hayes’ exhibition is current until Sunday 2 May, 2021.

Cameron Hayes’ Paintings Speak of Human Frailty and Insecurity

Image above: Cameron Hayes  She died in the child welfare tribunal, he died in an adult bookshop  2020-21  oil on linen, triptych  198 x 335 cm

We are pleased to share that Cameron Hayes’ current exhibition has been featured on The ReviewBoard in an essay by philosopher, Elizabeth Burns Coleman. Elizabeth discusses with Cameron his work, She died in the child welfare tribunal, he died in an adult bookshop, after which the exhibition is named.

Hayes’ paintings have been described as an exploration of “cultural power structures and contemporary political issues,” yet what I see is a profound ethical vision, and an existential absurdity. To me, Hayes’ paintings speak of human frailty and insecurity, the struggles for status and identity, hypocrisy, and hope.

‘She died in the child welfare tribunal, he died in an adult bookshop’ is structured as a triptych after Hieronymus Bosch’s (1503-4) The Garden of Earthly Delights. A Creative panel, Reality panel, and Consequence panel provide the structure of a moral narrative.

As in Bosch’s ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’, what emerges from ‘She died in the child welfare tribunal, he died in an adult bookshop’ is a moral lesson. It is a warning about the delights of shaming, and the epistemic uncertainty within which we make moral judgements. We cannot know “the truth” or sum up a person in terms of a moment of their lives. To do so is to perpetuate a profound injustice.‘ – Elizabeth Burns Coleman

To read the full article, click here.

Cameron Hayes’ exhibition is current until Sunday 2 May. For more information, click here.

 

This article was first published by The ReviewBoard and is reproduced with permission.

Andrew Antoniou – Interview with Richard Morecroft – ‘Theatre of Dreams’ April 2021

Above image: Andrew Antoniou in his studio

Richard Morecroft recently met with celebrated artist Andrew Antoniou, to talk about his current exhibition with Australian Galleries Sydney ‘Theatre of Dreams‘.

We hope you enjoy this thoroughly engaging interview, as Andrew talks about his process and sources of inspiration from his studio in the South Coast of NSW. The full video can be accessed via Richard Morecroft’s YouTube channel ‘EXHIBITION‘ – of follow the link below

Interview – Andrew Antoniou’s exhibition “Theatre of Dreams” April 2021

Andrew Antoniou wants visitors to his exhibition to feel they are stepping into a theatrical production. His characters exist in a world of dreams – of created stage sets and mysterious tableaux. As Andrew explained to Richard Morecroft, the characters lead him on their journeys, from dark underworld shadows to an idealised heaven.

Visit our Sydney Gallery to see Andrew Antoniou – Theatre of Dreams from 27 April – 16 May 2021. The official opening will be held on Tuesday 27 April, 6pm to 8pm, 15 Roylston Street Paddington.

Andrew Antoniou, A Measure of Certainty, 2020, oil on canvas, 153 x 122 cm.

Pressing Matters Magazine – Danielle Creenaune

Cover image courtesy of Pressing Matters Magazine

Danielle Creenaune has recently been featured in the print making magazine, Pressing Matters, in which she discusses the connection between her studio space and her artistic practice.

We are pleased to be able to share the text from Danielle’s feature, courtesy of the artist and Pressing Matters. To purchase a digital copy of the magazine, click here.

 

1. What Attracted you to your current workspace?

I felt heartbroken leaving my spacious studio in Barcelona which formed part of my soul and creative well-being. I stumbled across a little house with a separate garage shed in my hometown Wollongong and knew straight away it had a good vibe even though it’s smaller. That was six months ago following my move back to Australia in 2019. I like solitude when I’m working and the studio is on the edge of a nature reserve with a flowing creek. I find that having my studio at home is the best use of my creative time and over the years I’ve developed the discipline to separate work and home life. I need to have the work process in my mind and at my fingertips so that I can just dive in there and hence I’m always creating, making and moving forward.

I especially love my Torculo Ribes press made in Catalonia. It has a special history for me and runs like a dream, I will never want for a better press so I brought it here in a shipping container with the rest of my studio.

 

2. Does your workspace influence your work?

The place is so green and abundant with birdlife and I’m often called outside while printing, intrigued by the new calls and sightings. The roller doors open to the bush and almost by a process of osmosis, outdoor and indoor become one and the same. This is perfect because my work involves observing changes in nature and I have it right there. Often when the weather is good, I work on large plates outside on the ground and in some new works I allow nature to intervene on the plates for new textures and forms.

Flow is a big part of my process and I have many things on the go at different stages both large and small. The challenge for me now is working on large scale works in a smaller space. All my previous studios grow and change over time depending on the work I’m making, so the layout is formed by the needs of the work. Working here has taught me that I don’t need much space at all and how I feel in the space and surrounding environment is what makes it more conducive to work.

 

IN THE STOCKROOMS

To view more of Danielle’s beautiful work, visit our stockrooms. You can also view a selection of work online, click here for more.

Image of the artist’s studio, courtesy of Tobias Rowles

HOLDING GROUND #savearthursseat

The work of 76 leading contemporary artists comes together in HOLDING GROUND, an online art exhibition fundraiser to help stop a massive quarry being blasted into Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula.

Of the 76 artists, a number of artists represented by Australian Galleries are featured in the exhibition, including Rosalind Atkins, G.W. Bot, Philip Davey, Graeme Drendel, David Frazer, Kate Hudson, Martin King, Barbie Kjar, Rick Matear, Sarah Tomasetti, Deborah Williams and John Wolseley.

The featured works are related thematically to ideas of connection, identity and the natural world. Organisers aim to raise $100,000 with all proceeds going to support the community campaign Save Arthurs Seat, including increasing efforts to convince the Ross Trust/Hillview Quarries to withdraw their proposal.

It’s very exciting to bring art to the centre of the fight to Save Arthurs Seat, the support and generosity of the participating artists is inspiring. HOLDING GROUND aims to help shine a light on the Ross Trust’s plans, and what we all stand to lose if the quarry goes ahead.”

The exhibition provides people with a powerful opportunity to purchase art work by renowned contemporary artists and at the same time help save a precious part of our state,” Penny Gebhardt – Exhibition Curator

HOLDING GROUND will run from 23 April to 14 May. To view the full exhibition, click here.

Image above:  Rosalind Atkins  Yammacoona II  2019  wood engraving  edition 20  10 x 20 cm

Image above:  Martin King  Provocateur indigo  2019  etching  67 x 88 cm

Image above: Sarah Tomasetti  Outer Kora, Kailash series  2019-20  oil and incision on fresco plaster  80 x 100 cm

S.H. Ervin – Tree of Life: a testament to endurance

Above Image: Mary Tonkin, ‘Madre, Kalorama’, 2008, oil on linen, 244 x 508 cm.

 

Australian Galleries Artists G.W. BOT, Mary Tonkin and Richard Goodwin are amongst the exceptional list of artists included in S.H. Ervin’s exhibition ‘Tree of Life: a testament to endurance’, curated by Gavin Wilson.

“Following from the powerful 2019 exhibition River on the Brink: inside the Murray-Darling Basin, curator Gavin Wilson brings another thought provoking exhibition to the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Tree of Life.

As we cautiously emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, humanity is faced with a stark reckoning. The concept for Tree of life is the central motif that signifies the challenges we face. What remains of the natural world is the one beacon in a perilous age of drought, fire, floods and plague, exacerbated by the constant reality of climate change. The recent horrific fire season experienced across the country will go down as the greatest extinction event for Australian wildlife and habitats since Colonisation.

To temper an already dangerous over reaction to the vexed issues of hazard reduction, tree thinning and further rampant land clearing, this major exhibition led by First Nations artists will generate a fresh, positive energy towards the reclamation of diminishing natural resources. Threads woven through Tree of life will recognise the deep spiritual and physical associations that connect all forms of life.Life that must be nurtured as we chart a course of action through this perilous age of climate change, pandemics and wildfires.

Exhibiting artists include – from the APY Lands, Adelaide Studio Women’s Collective  Josephine Mick, Rhoda Tjitayi, Katie Curley, Barbara Baker, Margot Brown, Inawintji Williamson and Margaret Richards – together with Allana Beltran, Rob Blakers, GW Bot, Nicholas Blowers, Nici Cumpston, Tamara Dean, Rachel Ellis, Louise Fowler-Smith, Richard Goodwin, Nicholas Harding, Janet Laurence,  Idris Murphy,  Andrew Merry, Euan Macleod, Mathew Newton, Peggy Patrick. William Robinson, Shane Smithers, Mary Tonkin, Emma Walker, John R. Walker and Joshua Yeldham.”

Tree of Life: a testament to endurance

S.H. Ervin Gallery

Sat 10 April – Sun 30 May

G.W. BOT, Tree of Life, 2019, bronze and ceramic, 84 x 320 x 3 cm.

Winsome Jobling – Artist Feature

Image above: Winsome Jobling  Listen  2021  handmade papers with ochres and stitching  55 cm x 48 cm

Darwin-based artist Winsome Jobling works primarily with handmade papers and experimental printmaking. She uses many local plants to make her papers, such as Spear Grass, Banyan Fig and the declared weed Gamba Grass.

With her paper forming the ground for her prints, Winsome’s work is a haptic collaboration with the natural world and a response to our impact on it. As she describes, ‘These images meant to at once complement and complicate the ground of handmade paper. The works become an interplay between the method and the message about the nature of the human impact on the world around us.’

 In anticipation of Winsome’s first exhibition with Australian Galleries, we discuss her life in the Northern Territory, her artistic engagement with ecological issues and her unique practice of working with hand-made paper.

The images featured throughout depict her local study area of 15 years: six hectares of bushland on the outskirts of Darwin sitting between National Park and the Darwin Speedway. The terrain shifts from savannah forest, into mangrove and into low wet pandanus swamp.

Here, the artist researches, collects dyes, earth pigments, plant fibres and re-seeds and regenerates. The works depict sand palm (Livistona humilis) one of the species used for making dilly bags and baskets and age-old cycads that grow under a canopy of Stringy Bark trees (Eucalyptus tetrodonta). Increasingly this “magical place” has become a place to despair as the invasive weed Gamba grass (Andropogen gayanus) extends further, or another fridge or pile of building material is dumped.

Image above: Winsome Jobling  Balance  2021  handmade papers with drypoint and stitching  168 x 90 cm

 

You have an upcoming exhibition at Australian Galleries, Melbourne. What have you been working on recently, and what can we expect to see in the show?

Recently I have been working on some smaller handmade paper and print works for a September group show in London “Ecologies of Change: Grief and Hope in a Changing World.” The show will coincide with the official naming of the Anthropocene geologic period by the International Commission on Stratigraphy.

The works in the Australian Galleries show are a series of loose handmade paper and print combinations/sketches begun during the last dry season. I regularly explore the patches of bushland surrounding Darwin and record the impact we are having on the plant communities through introduced weeds, fires and clearing. The iconic Top End Sand Palms and Cycads are resilient survivors and are a common motif in my work.

Next I want to look at current intergalactic explorations taking place and the intention of plundering new worlds.In 1982 you relocated to Darwin after having grown up in Oberon and Sydney. What is life like as an artist living in the Northern Territory?

I love the laid-back relationships with other local artists and the closeness to Aboriginal art and culture.  The feeling of being closer to the rest of the world and the opportunities that come from being part of a smaller ‘pool.’

I have been able to work in amazing places with great people such as; an eight week residency in West Timor teaching papermaking, a month in the Philippines as well as being part of projects with Aboriginal artists; spinifex paper workshops across the Barkly, Replant – cross cultural botanics and specific paper commissions for Aboriginal artists.Throughout your career you have been drawn to engaging with the natural environment – in a political, social and physical sense. Can you speak to the ways in which these ecological issues continue to inform your artistic practice?

I have sourced and harvested plants from across the Northern Territory and keep detailed records and samples for each. I also grind ochres from across the NT to use in the papers as well as charcoal from bushfires.

In a way the ground becomes my ground. The substrate I work on is made from my country/environment so the concepts become literally embedded in the artworks.

It becomes a complicated interplay between the method and the message about the nature of human impact on the world around us.

Often when transforming these natural materials into tactile images I may choose something specific to add another layer of meaning, such as hemp mooring rope to make the chin colle sail for Marrnyula Mununggurr’s print Bawa.

I like to think that my work reflects Indigenous cultural and natural heritage through a philosophy of sustainability and respect.What other inspirations do you draw from in your practice? 

The most powerful piece of paper I have held was a petition to the US Government to stop using land-mines. A note at the bottom explained that the paper was made from the clothes of land-mine victims. I dropped it instantly!

My papermaking always challenges the medium and I love inventing new ways to add layers of imagery and meaning into the paper that is integral to the process. I am part of a very active group of International papermakers and continue to expand my knowledge through residencies.

I love to experiment and am constantly playing with materials in new ways. At present I’m using recycled photocopy toner to draw dead birds.

The printing techniques I use are similarly inventive using solvents, sand blasting and engravers on plastic plates to build a library of re-used images to develop a continuous story.

Image above: Winsome Jobling  Porous  2021  handmade papers with drypoint and stitching  58 x 55 cmIt was while working at Belyuen that you first experimented with making paper from plant fibres and working with natural dye. Can you briefly discuss your experience in this community and how it influenced the development of your practice?

My time at Belyuen was life changing and I am so grateful to the community and the women especially, for their friendship, teaching and generosity. They instilled in me a deep respect for the natural world and the interconnectedness and balances within it.

At Belyuen I started experimenting with plant fibre papermaking with little real knowledge of the process. The women were teaching me basket and dilly bag making as well as the local botany. The first papers I made were from sedge and sisal, dyed with natural purple and yellow and the outcome was fairly rough. I persisted in experimenting with lots of plants using the knowledge shared by the women.How does using your own hand-made paper affect the visual qualities of your work? And what kind of natural materials do you work with most often?

The process of sourcing and making my raw materials to start with sets the tone for the ensuing body of work. The same plant can produce different results depending on its growing conditions so the forces that act upon and within the environment have to be considered. My bio-cultural knowledge of the Darwin ecosystem continues to grow in accordance with the ebbs and flows of the seasons and the plants each season yields. I have extensive records and samples of papers made from about 70 different plants.

Gamba Grass is a favourite as it is a declared noxious weed and makes beautiful paper. This African grass introduced as a cattle fodder is now a threat to native habitats, firstly by overpowering native grasses and secondly by creating a massive fuel load that feeds very hot fires up into the bush canopy.

I also use Abaca a lot, a non-fruiting banana fibre from the Philippines as it is strong, stable and takes colour well.

Image above: Winsome Jobling  Equilibrium  2021  handmade papers with ochres, dryoint and stitching  43 x 50 cm

 

Winsome Jobling’s upcoming exhibition opens on Tuesday 11 May at Australian Galleries, Melbourne. Winsome will be presenting an artist talk in the gallery from 2 – 4pm on Saturday 15 May. For more information, click here.