Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

Archive for January 2012

PHOTOGRAPHY: 5 Years From Now

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I’ve just asked 6 prominent Queensland Professional photographers “What will photography be like in 5 years from now?” Their answers I’ve assembled into a YouTube Video.

Their answers give us a crystal ball glimpse into the future. As the clouds and mists swirl and part in the orb what emerges are visions that may just help us prepare for what’s in store.

The photographers were: Jan Ramsay (AIPP Queensland Division – President and Eyeon Photography), Ian Poole (international professional photography judge and presenter), Gary Cranitch (Photographer – Queensland Museum), Stephen Jones (Photography – Arana Photography), Tony Holden (photo-equipment representative – C.R. Kennedy), Mark Schoeman (wedding and portrait photographer – Brisbane).

SEE THE VIDEO: Click Here!!

This project was supported as a SQIT Release to Industry activity and the Photographers of the Great Divide.

Thank you to the participating photographers.

Concept / words / photos / video:  Doug Spowart

Written by Cooper+Spowart

January 23, 2012 at 10:37 am

FLOOD DONATION: ‘Toowoomba Water’ book to SLQ

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Helen Cole + Doug with the book 'Toowoomba Water'

At a time when all Queenslanders were reflecting on the first anniversary of the devastating floods of January 2011 it was fitting that I was able to make a presentation of the book Toowoomba Water to the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland.

The book features a response to flooding in Toowoomba that took place on January 10th. The book was designed to be output using Australia’s premier print-on-demand supplier – AsukaBook using their Book Bound Hard Cover 10″x10″ format.

On the studio step + our 'rainforest' backyard

Water came within 20cm of our studio and a brown torrent flowed into our garden and under the house.  At the bottom of our street a massive flow of water along East Creek took the lives of two people.

East Creek in flood at the bottom of Burns Street

The book makes a commentary on the flood by responding to an aspect of the event that was ‘sampled’ and then brought together to form the book – it is an unusual approach to the documentation of place. Reference for this methodology comes from the work of Marcel Duchamp‘s Paris 1919, Sol LeWitt’s colour grids and Bruce Nauman‘s L.A. Air.

The donation was accepted by Helen Cole, Senior Librarian, Australian Library of Art, State Library of Queensland.

SEE THE BOOK: http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/2_PLACES/OtherBooks/Twba_Water_Flip/TwbaWater-Flip.html  (Note: This link is to a Flash Flipbook that may not play on all viewing devices)

VISIT: Georgia Hutchison & Beverley Bloxham – daughter & mother artists/designers

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Georgia, Beverley and Victoria with the book

We had a visit from Beverley and Georgia, we shared ideas and methods and secret knowledges on the art of simple binding for handmade books, referencing the notable texts and work of Keith Smith.  Georgia showed us her submission for her degree in Bachelor of Design, Industrial Design at RMIT, which she had only recently been awarded as First Class Honours. This unique state handmade book , Wild Order was beautifully designed – its simplicity belied the complexity of the content. Georgia utilized, Riso print, to produce monochrome images, diagrams and texts: black and white some were pale shade of colour eg yellow or green. These delicate and grainy images were astutely placed with texts and diagrams to tell the narrative of the major project the Georgia produced. See www.georgiacharlotte.net

Beverley, is an artist, designer and curator of note and substantial experience you can check her work on http://www.behance.net/BFBloxham  She has worked hard to establish local community arts organizations and networks and is now working with others to establishing online presence for an NGO community in India.

IAN SMITH: “On and Off the Road” in Toowoomba Regional Gallery

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On Sunday January 8, Ian Smith presented an artist’s talk to accompany his exhibition On and Off The Road, a travelling exhibition from the Gold Coast Art Gallery, at the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery. Attended by around 60 local and visiting artists from the McGregor Summer Schools, Smith spoke about his life and work. The follow are a few comments and observations inspired by the man and his talk.

Ian Smith is like the Australian version of one of those characters straight out of Jack Kerouac’s 1950’s trans-American crossing, On the Road. He is the kind of person who would give you a lift as a hitch-hiker and keep you amused with every kind of story you can imagine, embellished with obtuse observations of life, art and doin’ what you need to. And if the narrative about Smith can stretch that far, his art is as big and crammed full of life and insightful opinion. Just by standing before it you can have a conversation with it where it tells you its story and you will not get a word in yourself.

Smith was born a brought up in Cairns. He didn’t ‘discover and fall in love’ with north Queensland as so many artists have. He is a self-confessed ‘Tropicale snob’ and wears his regional slant on things with all the swagger of a true regional artist. Smith is a figurative painter but somehow landscape gets in the way, although these landscapes have figures and life-signs of humanity.

VIEW THE ALEX CHOMICZ VIDEO of the exhibition and the artist: Ian Smith Paintings On and Off the Road


Ian Smith presenting an artist's talk @ the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery 8 Jan 2012

Ian Smith and crowd @ Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery

Watching the Alex Chomicz video "Ian Smith Paintings On and Off the Road"

Ian and I had some connections from the past – He exhibited in my Gallery (Imagery Gallery) in Brisbane in the 1980s and we shared teaching experiences at the Queensland College of Art in the 1970s and friendship with North Queensland photographer Glen O’Malley. So he came over home to my garden for a few beers (Ian) and coffees (Vicky and I) and a chat.

Ian Smith talking

An animated Ian Smith makes his point!

BOAT and BIRD – Craig R Cole + Alister Karl : MADE Creative Space

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Boat and Bird invite

A tale of two types of gallery exhibition

The gallery, the artist, the exhibition and the audience have been around for a couple of hundred years where a common expectation is that the exhibition operates as a vehicle for the selling of art. There is a commercial reality that ‘selling’ art funds the process of art-making, on the part of the artist – and staying in business and generating income through commission, for the gallerist. There has always been an anathema or disinterest in the making of art as commodity against the creative free place that artists see themselves in a community.

In the 1960s, artists rebelled against the commercial gallery structure by making art in the landscape (land artists like Robert Smithson) or making ephemeral conceptual works (Fluxus), which were not the saleable commodity like the painting in the frame. Later, performance art and video artists created art that was often unpalatable to the art purchasing (investor) clientele by the nature of both the content and the medium itself. Artists want to just do their own thing but can art exist outside the mercantile frame? And were does fit within the contemporary artists’ community?

An exhibition by Craig R. Cole and Alister Karl in Toowoomba’s MADE creative space may serve to provide some insights. Entitled Boat and Bird the exhibition is a collaboration project by the two artists that features subject content as defined by the title – boats and birds. The two artists have a creative friendship that goes back over 14 years and for much of this time they claim the subjects of boat and birds have permeated their relationship.

The MADE space is multi-roomed, with wooden floor and black and white walls and the two artists have drawn, affixed and assembled found and collected objects. There is no catalogue, no erudite didactic panels, no pretence (or perhaps – all pretence) and no ‘in your face’ message the viewer to be burdened by. Drawings are fixed to the wall, and in some cases, they have been allowed to leap from the paper onto and into the gallery wall itself. A collection of delicate feathers appears to have settled on one part of the gallery wall where its embryonic bird shape morphs into a boat sail. In a mini installation space around 20-feathered shuttlecocks sail through the air before a framed print of the game being played.

Some collaborative boat works utilise nautical themed things rescued from junk shops and car boot sales. In the context of gallery these objects take on new meanings by the interaction of the viewer. Juxtaposed in the gallery space are boat models, a photo jig-saw, consisting of a harbour full of boats, is presented as a DIY for viewers to attempt to assemble, and a set of coded nautical message flags is presented for deciphering.

In one corner a collaborative piece consisting of things like ship models a bird covered cuckoo clock, a metre or two of fishing net, steel mesh, a pair of crutches and ancient surveyors strings and ropes. The collaged objects seemed sometimes bird-like and yet at other times maybe even boatish.

In viewing the works one may take clues and cues from the art works and then connect them with personal lived experience. Sometimes there is a moment of instant delight at discovering a hidden joke or glib message. Other times there is and enjoyment of the beauty of the simple line and outline or the whimsy of the extension of the artwork into the space.

The exhibition Boat and Bird presents art at its best – free, fresh and fun with enough take away visual memories to stir further thought and reflection. Here perhaps is the ‘other’ form of the exhibition, the hors commerce one. Perhaps this form is where the true he(art) is.


Is it a boat? or Is it a bird? A collaborative installation by Cole + Karl

Birds drawing: Cole + Karl

Feathers morphing into a sail: Cole + Karl

"Float on": Cole + Karl

Boat harbor jig-saw: Cole + Karl

Birds escape from page

Alister Karl @ opening of Boat and Bird

Craig explains the viewing alignment of boat and painting

Craig's photo of boat and painting

Craig R Cole and the author Doug R Spowart

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