White on White ( Extended )

jute work in progress

I was invited of be part of a group show called “White on White ( Extended )” as part of the Twenty Year Anniversary of the Fiona Myer Victoria University Art Prize. 

Monochromatic Variations
Monochromatic Variations

I and seven other artists participated. Jodie Flugge, Lin Tobias , Lauren Kennedy, En En Noelani See, Sunygoele , Karryn Argus, and Sophie Shingles. We were all past winners of awards and were grateful for the financial support allowing us to pursue our travel plans. I made a trip to Detroit, Michigan, USA where i studied the post industrial landscape of the former car manufacturing industry. An inspirational journey allowing me to explore an area of my practice and from which I produced an extensive body of work. These works included a vast folio of photographs, watercolours, paintings, drawings and found objects.

stiffened jute
stiffened jute

 

The theme for the Anniversary Show was to produce a piece of work in any style as long as it was predominantly white . In response to the space and history of the area I produced a sculptural installation of corrugated iron, stiffened jute, and pewter, plaster and wax cast reels, all placed on a discarded industrial dolly and embellished with talcum powder. It was a challenge to work in white as i usually work with a brightly coloured visual palette. I wanted to reference the former garment manufacturing history of the area of Cremorne, a former industrial working class suburb of inner Melbourne , home to factories and using migrant labour in the 1950’s.

stiffened and embellished jute dhonan

 

I was grateful for the opportunity afforded me by FIona Myer’s generous support and my time at Victoria University was marked by intuitive teaching, excellent facilities and great opportunities. Peter Burke , Lisa Cianci and Robert Mangion provided inspired instruction. It was a foundation for my return to study and became a support for my subsequent successful application and completion of a Bachelor of Fine Art at Monash University.

Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space

Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space
Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space

Ronnie Van Hout, Gertrude Contemporary Gallery, September 2016.

“You”, smaller than life size figure dressed in a onesie holding a microphone.

I attended a talk by Ronnie van Hout at MADA earlier in the year in May 2016.

I was intrigued to hear him talk about his creative practice and the work he does at MADA as I find him and his practice irreverent, fun and enjoyable. He puts the childish, high spirited and delightful playfulness into a serious artistic journey.

The front room exhibition space faces the street and has a large vista from the street and visibility for foot traffic, passers by in cars, and tram passengers. His diminutive figure is a self portrait or parody of the adult Ronnie dressed in a child’s batman onesie holding a microphone. The caption is YOU reinforced on a timber laser cutout board placed in a direct behind his head at the back of the front room.

His legs as placed in a spread eagled stance, one hand clutching a microphone, gaze directly ahead, a rather confrontational pose with the body protruding slightly forward. From distance the body looks childlike but is a grotesque self parody of the young Ronnie with the current older head. The hair is reddish hue, the eyes sea like blue, but steely. It implies a sense of fun with this small figure claiming attention by shouting YOU but its very presence in an obvious space. I laughed. It made me feel great. Its inviting you want to approach the figure and see why he is so angry, then you get a shock when you realise its an old persons face and mannerisms on a young person’s body.

The textile language is a strong piece of the work, in that the batman onesie reinforces the stereotype of what a juvenile might wear but the old head juxtaposes this young imagery.

Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space
Ronnie van Hout at Gertrude Contemporary Art Space

Brilliantly executed the gallery space is a clever and appropriate placement for the work and attracts much attention and garners interest from passers-by. When I went a young woman who was caring for a child walked at the front of the gallery stopped, and exhorted the child to visit it as deserving of closer attention. A walk in and inspection incited her curiosity and and invited comment from the child. She talked to me about the work, asked the child her reaction and offered to take my photo with it. I believe the successful curation made the work engage more fully with the public and made this work address and achieve the desired purpose of the maker as signified by the title “YOU”. It was a bit of whimsical fun in a hectic, part of town and made scurrying city folk stop and embrace the work.