Last week I collaborated in a Group Show at Intermission Gallery on the Caulfield Campus at Monash University . It is a new ground floor gallery space in the recently renovated D Building which is part of the MADA, Monash Art Design and Architecture School.
My piece ” Dress ” was a Wedding Dress found in an Op Shop several years ago. I deconstructed the dress and treated it with a chemical stiffener laundry product sourced after much trial and error and experimentation with various products.
It addresses a narrative tale based on the discovery of my mother’s 1950’s wedding dress I found hidden in a cupboard after my mothers demise to dementia. The dress was in a rather dishevelled state replicating my mothers frail and unravelling health of her later years.
As a homage to this memory I recreated a rather visceral, evocative piece. Her original wedding dress remains in my safe keeping, one of the few tangible possessions I have of my mum and something I will perhaps gift to my three daughters.
The work was hung in a small, seperate room of the gallery, strung by wire from the complicated pipe system overhead. Six small beads from the bodice were placed on the floorboards beneath. A brightly jewelled, delicate chrysalis of a bloodwood sap ball was placed on the wall above.
Spotlit and extended the ” Dress” occupied the gallery area filling the space successfully. Only two of the beads remained at the de-install. Were they collected
or had they attached themselves to the sole of a viewers shoe ?
I saw this exhibition of 38 finalists work which delves into the myriad different ways that paper can be employed in making art. In 2017 the conceptual theme
for Banyule Council’s Arts and Culture Program is ‘water’. The award features a wide assortment of works on paper and various techniques of production. Extensive printmaking processes feature including linocut, screenprint, mezzotint, etching, intaglio, letterpress and woodblock. Other making techniques include drawing, painting,photography, digital prints, artist’s books, and paper sculptures.
I took my sceptical self to the VCA Open Day, and was most impressed by what I saw. Having already visited MADA, and RMIT, I thought my mind was firmly made up, as to where I might hope to continue my further study.
A brand new ceramic and sculpture facility mightily impressed, as did the Painting studios. Whilst not expansive, they boasted good natural light, due to the beamed and skylight, old factory ceilings.
The model of mixing in all year levels together, appealed, offering fostering, and cross pollination of ideas. The 9 to 5 work ethic, promoting a 40 hour working week of studio practice, struck a cord in this old proletariats heart.
I freely conversed with a sculpture student, an administrator, an academic, a lecturer, a painting teacher and an artist, John Campbell, one of my favourite Australian painters. I garnered factual information, insider tips for interview, and appreciated the positive, can do attitude. It gave me much to think about, and contemplate, and I admit I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw, who I met, and how it takes its place as a valuable training facility, in the visual arts field.
To complete my plan of further visual arts training in 2016, it will be necessary for me to deftly negotiate the VTAC site, surmount my growing horror in an interview situation, amass my huge body of work, and retrace my steps back to Southbank aka South Melbourne, the familial home of my misspent youth. The VCA is housed in the old factory where I began my working life as a staff clerk at Telecom Workshops. I can stride through the old costing area, above the sheet metal workshop and know that 35 years later I have made a triumphant return feeling more at home with a paintbrush in my hand, than I did with a P66, and an annual leave bonus.
Glen Eira Gallery, in the base of Glen Eira Town Hall ,has had a face lift . Supposedly . It was closed for two weeks ” for renovation ” . Walls have been whitened , floors polished and new art work hung .
Tonight was the re-opening of the gallery . It is exhibiting Loretta Quinn and Annette Cook . The former a sculptor, the latter a printmaker .
The gallery space appeared deserted, particularly compared to my last outing here, for the prestigious Silk Cut Award . The self opening swung open and I saw a group of people clutching wine and cheese, and staring at the expanse of a striking print pinned to the wall . The work was Annette Cook’s . It was a combination of stencil, and collage, comprising seven uniform sized panels, pinned to the wall with thin dressmakers pins, along the wall in a sequential, horizontal format, all prints abutting each other as an assembled piece .
The monochromatic black and white colour palette was lifted by the use of a striking olive green . Subject matter appeared to be horticultural representations of native seed pods .
On an adjacent wall was a distinctive, green tinted etching ,aquatint, stencil , and linocut . It again seemed to depict botanical matter with black and white magpies perched randomly at its edges . A large piece took up most of another section of wall . It was made from earthy tones, depicting leaves, made by lino cut and stencil . Printed on thick paper, pinned to the wall, it extended onto the floor of polished boards .
Other pieces by Cook included torn digital prints of native birds, and animals collaged onto a background of delicately carved lino prints.
The other half of the gallery space was devoted to the work of Loretta Quinn, a sculptor . Her pieces included whimsical child like figures made from resin, paint, sealants and plaster . With the cherubic faces of angels, they were dressed in rust coloured, fabric outfits dating from the victorian era with a proliferation of frills, flounces and ruching . The feet were rusted into place and some of the outfits were adorned with bird feathers, providing a disturbing contrast to the perfect faces of the cherub child .
These figures were grouped in a semicircle in the thoroughfare of the gallery and were confronting and demanding of your attention . Metal sculptures of layers of leaves, also formed part of her body of work . Several resembled large Faberge eggs, a pedestal arrangement with a gold metal egg on top constructed of many layered leaves . Continuing the child theme Quinn placed a turn of the century child’s gown or christening robe in a clear oval resin block, with stalks of wheat assembled around it .
Both exhibitions worked well in the space . The clean white walls and subtle lighting in the sculpture exhibition enhanced the spooky , mystifying atmosphere surrounding the strange , miniature humans of Quinn’s work . Their placement was pivotal to the exhibition and commanded attention . The sculptures placed around them were more brilliantly lit, and were strategically placed to stand alone, in their own right but also complemented the figures .
Cooks work was innovatively hung, with the majority of the work being directly pinned to the wall . Only two prints were framed in the traditional way. A nice touch was a vertical line of “Remnants”, several pieces of discarded prints, lined up at the edge of the exhibition which worked most effectively .
Cataloguing was simple, instructive and clear . Wine, cheese, fruit, and beer was on offer, as a pleasant accompaniment, to the gallery viewing . A small crowd where in, but as the exhibition progresses, it will almost certainly draw a greater crowd as the work is definitely worth a look .
The finishing VU students could benefit from a look at the hanging and display techniques, deployed by the artists .