dazzled. I wasn’t disappointed. There was a massive array of work on display, which attracted a large crowd. Seen lurking in the distance was Paul Borg, ex VU teacher, the enigmatic Louise Hall, current VU teacher but the mercurial Peter Burke was nowhere in sight! Perhaps still frantically installing the Graduate 2015 VU Exhibition?
The work was varied, innovative and skillful. Of particular interest were the large canvases, of either acrylic or oil paint, placed onto stretchers, displaying a variety of subject matter and painting styles. Several were figurative and realistic, but my favourites were abstract compositions, executed in a very painterly fashion, employing a bold colour palette. It is a method I have adopted in my own artistic practice in the latter half of the year, specifically following my Detroit field trip. My canvases were not stretched as I worked spontaneously off a roll of canvas I bought for my entry into the Basil Sellers Prize.
The end is in sight. It’s been two heady years at Victoria University, highs and lows, friendships forged and help given. I’ve loved it. I am eternally grateful to the chance I’ve been given, to return to my constant love, that of painting. Sometimes hidden in the background, but always on my mind, she is the constant nagging ache, that never quite goes away. I have embraced her these last few years after turning my back on her, for what I thought were more pressing demands on my time.
I’m loving what I do. Inspired, thankful, challenged, desperate, energised, I move onto the next phase of my artistic journey, hopefully receiving more brilliant tuition and networking opportunities with fellow visual artists.
The sleeping giant is awakened, but underneath I’m still a grateful, humble,
Today our Victoria University Artspace class, visited Paul Borg‘s studio. Based at home, in St Albans, he runs a workshop and studio out of his converted garage. The yard and surrounds are a plethora of found objects, recycled items and gathered paraphernalia. I got lost several times enroute, the VW’s nose not used to being pointed in a westerly direction.
Inside the studio boasts a cornucopia of work. Vast, skilfully executed oil paintings of his, and surrounding backyards, local landscapes, religious icons, and unique portraiture. An exemplary brushman, he taught at VU Flinders Campus for many years, and showed us a series of drawings he completed on his daily train commute. Application to his craft, long working hours, self discipline, and inspiration from unlikely sources, are all building blocks of his creative practice.
An informative Q&A session rounded off the interview, and we left his studio feeling privileged to be granted an expose to his work, specifically the family portraiture, which comprises a large part of his creative practice.
Graduating, studying, and past and present students, were asked to submit works to exhibit and compete for two prizes. Six honourable mentions were made to other exhibitors. The prizes, were for $1000 and $500 respectively and were won by students, in the Creative industries Course, at Victoria University. The major prize winner was an impassioned painting, of outback Australia, a mountain range, executed in thick impasto paint, and even included the artists paint brushes. The other prizewinner was a more delicate watercolour, with a photo image transposed over the top. Both were worthy prize winners as were the honourable mentions.
The indefatigable curator was Peter Burke, who did an excellent job of hanging works with the assistance of local, emerging artist, Sarah Hayes. Megan Culhane, graduating VU student is exhibiting two lino cut prints, as am I.
The day had arrived, we were to submit our final printmaking folio. Despite many instructions and warnings, last minute printing was still to be done, under the close scrutiny of our class mates, also anxious to use the printing presses. We scarpered from the Context and Culture Class, without a backward glance or word of apology to our teacher, as we raced toward the print room, to grasp our elusive final submission.
Work benches were cluttered, students clustered around any remaining, scant work space, and the queue for the printing presses peaked at six workers in tandem, churning the lino-cut relief prints out. Prints were spread over table tops, in drying racks, between drying boards and across benches. Exclamations of surprise, or groans of anguish accompanied each print as it rolled off the presses. The maker was either thrilled with the result, or in the deepest of despair with the outcome. The back of the room saw students curled over visual diaries pasting and writing, fulfilling the brief fastidiously.
The submission deadline grew steadily closer, with notes being scribbled frantically, prints collated, and half dry prints being wrenched from their repository. One of our number needed assistance, and we all banded together and collated his many prints. To no avail, as he confided later he forgot to submit his visual diary. Grr! Safely stowing our work, we exited the print-room gleefully, stumbling towards our homes or studios in a post production daze of exhaustion. A job well done we are now at the mercy of the assessors. Its now time to concentrate on our final folio submissions, for painting and drawing.
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 .