Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

Archive for September 2012

WOOLI NOCTURNE: a new project

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We are working on a new project whilst on retreat on the NSW north coast. A tentative statement for the work is as follows …

In the interstitial zone between day and night our everyday and prosaic surroundings begin to take on an appearance that is, for us, unfamiliar. Streets and houses, the spaces of our habitation, are illuminated by the afterglow of sunset or by the shaft-like rays from the occasional street light. In this space the homely becomes the uncanny. Perhaps stirring memories of cave dwelling experiences deep within the primitive brain where in the shadows of the coming night, monsters lurk – just beyond the fire’s warm flickering light.

Enjoy … Vicky + Doug

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In support of The YEAR OF THE FARMER ‘The CondaMINE Cow – Variety: Thylacine’

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‘The CondaMINE Cow Variety: Thylacine’ recto and verso

We, at the Centre for Regional Arts Practice, are about to contribute an artwork to a project that is intended to celebrate the Australian Year of the Farmer. The project is called, the Australian Year of the Farmer Cow Art, and is being organised by Wendy and Paul Blinco from Pacific Seeds, Toowoomba. Around 1,000 corflute cows were made and passed on to interested groups, artists and school kids across the Darling Downs Region to decorate. The plain white surface of the cows have been painted, collaged or worked on by a range of other artistic means.

For more information visit the Australian Year of the Farmer Cow Art Facebook site 

Named The CondaMINE Cow – Variety: Thylacine, our cow was created from a montage of texts and images from our Artists Survey book #12 Checklist of Signs That Extractive Mining Has Taken Over Your Regional Community (SEE the blog post Flying Arts Award for details). In this book, and now in this new variant (the Cow), we posit that a threat exists for farmers and farming land productivity by the extensive mining activity now taking place throughout this land. The farmer, like the Thylacine, may be an endangered species destined for extinction. We trust this cow will raise interest and promote debate on this issue.

Our Cow is at the beach where the makeover was carried out—next week she will be herded together with another 1,000 cows in Toowoomba for the main event.

‘CondaMINE_Cow’ artwork by Victoria Cooper + Doug Spowart

‘CondaMINE Cow’ in production

Vicky offering suggestions for the makeover

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September 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm

MEETING JULIE BARRATT@Grafton Regional Art Gallery

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Julie Barrett on the Big Chair @ Grafton Regional Art Gallery with Victoria+Doug

As part of her role as Arts and Disability Manager for AccessibleARTS Julie was visiting GRAG to review proposals for an exhibition that is designed to cater for people with a disability. The exhibition, scheduled for later this year will feature works from the gallery’s collection that will be reinterpreted by local artists with the twist being that the new works need to be ‘viewable’ by visually impaired people—sounds like an interesting project.

We did lunch at the gallery and discussed a range of topics—it has been a while since we’d connected (SEE Wotwedid post JUNE 2011). We shared updates on our art projects; Julie spoke of another amazing project working with Aboriginal women from Central Queensland working with textiles and print techniques on silk that stretch for many metres. She is curating a show of this work at the Rockhampton Regional Art Gallery. Julie has a work in the upcoming Democracy exhibition @ Grahame Galleries in Brisbane and recently she was the recipient of the Alumni Award for the Arts and Social Sciences Faculty at Southern Cross University.

Julie was presented with a copy of our most recent Artists Survey book that deals with the encroachment of mining on farming lands in Queensland. She opened our booklet, read a few of the ‘signs’, appreciated the irony of the text and put it aside to review at length later. She then recounted the story of her childhood in North Queensland where the family owned the Blair Athol Station. Well, the property and the school that she attended were mined, disappeared—a huge open cut mine. At school the students were warned of blasting by a siren. They would then go and press against the library shelves to stop the books being vibrated out onto the floor. This and other memories of this mining encroachment are still strong for her and are being somewhat relived by CSG activities that are gaining ground in Northern NSW.

She needs to make art about it. Maybe we all need to whether or not it will change anything. We’ve recently come across a quote from Gerhard Richter that alludes to the circumstances of being an artist—the words may have resonance for any artist in any medium. He states,

“Painting is consequentially an almost blind, desperate effort, like that of a person abandoned, helpless, in totally incomprehensible surroundings—like that of a person who possesses a given set of tools, materials and abilities and has the urgent desire to build something useful which is not allowed to be a house a chair or anything else that has a name; who therefore hacks away in the vague hope that by working in a proper, professional way he will ultimately turn out something proper and meaningful.”

Gerhard Richter Notes1985 in The daily Practice of Painting edited by Han-Ulrich Obrist and translated by David Britt. London, 1985 p121 (note from 18.5.1985).

Written by Cooper+Spowart

September 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

Imagine you know: Emerging artists in your community

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Imaging you know, the 2012 Toowoomba Biennial Emerging Artists’ Award

Awardees names and works are listed at the end of this post…

September 16 – October 14, 2012

At the Biennial Emerging Artist’s Award

It is hard to measure the vitality of a community’s emerging art practice. For Toowoomba, the Biennial Emerging Artists’ Award provides a survey creates an opportunity to see the artists and their work. And from this year’s exhibition it appears that Toowoomba’s art scene is truly alive and vibrant. Eighteen artists were selected as finalists and at the award opening 11 artists had 20 of their works selected for purchase by the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery.

TRAG – Emerging Artist Award panorama

The title ‘emerging’ implies the younger artists however this show provides evidence of the ‘older emerging’ artist.

9 of the awarded artists

A detailed catalogue accompanies the show with an essay by Sue Lostroh and artist’s statements and images. From my point of view considering the ubiquitous nature of photography that few photographs were in the show. The selected works will form part of a travelling exhibition that tours the region under the title of Crates on Wheels Travelling Schools Exhibition.

Evan Hollis opens the Awards

Elysha Gould with Award letter

Yseult Taylor with her selected photographs

Ultimately, what is exciting about the award is the diversity of approach to the process, media and visual communication that art is and can be. Significant to this is the role that the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery plays in providing the vehicle by which this work can be given a space for it’s appreciation and enjoyment.


Doug Spowart

17 September, 2012

Eleven Artists and twenty works selected for the Crates on Wheels Travelling Schools Exhibition in 2013.

 (Information supplied by TRAG)


Miles ALLEN  2 works

Marrakech 4

Stacking carrots


Elissa BELLERT 1 work

Red elephant


Elysha GOULD 1 work

Nuclear power plants


Sandra JARRETT  3 works

Objects of worship series 1

Shifting sands #1 and #2


Nicki LAWS 3 works

A rich industrial past

When the mining boom ends

Old buildings are full of stories


Ian McCALLUM 1 work

Beyond seeing


Kelly-Marie McEWAN  3 works

Fairy-ring, Emergence part 1, part 3 and  part 5

Tarn McLEAN 2 works

Topography #9

Topography #9—Globe


Chelle McINTYRE 1 work

Rash analogy


Donna MOODIE 1 work



Danish QUAPOOR (The Alter ego of Daniel Qualifchefski) 2 works

i am my hair

hanging by a moment

ReNEWSing the Newspaper: A group exhibition @ Futures Gallery

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An exhibition in which the local newspaper has been reinterpreted by 5 artists and reconstituted as a statement of a regional community in Australia.

‘ReNEWSing’ was opened by press photographer Bev Lacey. Bev has lived the life of a dedicated photographer commenting on her local community of Toowoomba for nearly 30 years. As an photographer and artists book maker Bev has participated in previous shows with SQIT. Her comments on the show provide an insight into the nature of the newspaper in a regional community as well as an interpretation of each artists books. Bev’s opening address follows after the images of the event.

The ‘ReNEWSing’ exhibition panorama @ Futures Gallery

Bev Lacey discusses one of the books

Artists: Kylie Noakes, Bev Lacey, Jess Martin, Yseult Taylor, Angela Moar and Doug Spowart

Exhibition visitors: Tina Wilson and Sue Lostroh

Sandy Pottinger, Bev Lacey + Victoria Cooper

Doug + the book ‘Have you got your Chronicle today’



Interestingly, as I attempt to write something tangible about the works produced, I am finding it difficult to disassociate from the production of the newspaper.

Each day the focus of my time in the office is spent on production of images for the next edition.

Or as in recent times, the production of images and video, for immediate release online and also for the printed edition.

The process is more in keeping with what other people’s expectations are and what they envisage as the final product.

This attention to a set formula –  i.e. go to job, get back, quickly download and move onto next job –  often narrows the thinking.

In the past when I have browsed through the work produced by the art students taking The Chronicle and creating an artist book, and this is an exciting interpretive assignment, I have been amazed, inspired, envious and a little in awe of the works produced.

I am always in awe of “the artists mind” the ability to see, the ability to transform often unobscure pieces into works of art that I cannot draw away from.

So I thought, taking about the works would not be a challenge at all. But in an attempt to say something worth hearing I am at a loss.

No not really……….

THE BOOKS  – an artist book for me needs to be a tactile experience……

As I looked through the books on YouTube I found myself longing to turn the pages and feel the textures.

Does that make your books successful?? that I want to touch them, and experience more than flipping through them on a computer screen – yes  I think so.

Yseult Taylor:

Sadly I found the interpretation on what was published on May 10, similar to what a lot of people think that The Chronicle is about; depressing stories about loss of life, jobs  and accidents.  We, the media do have a tendency to focus on the negative and in creating a book about what was published in the paper on that day  May 10 – yes ….you have successfully captured the essence of our storytelling in that edition.

In saying that though, a new perspective was put to the viewer – a rather blunt and interesting division between the headline and advertising.

Jess Martin:

The constant, barrage of text and information which we all have in our lives at the moment,

Information – some useful most not.

Entering though the door of the commercial world, being given light relief , in cartoons and then the barrage again.

The page that I found most fascinating is the blank one – it stopped me in my tracks and you can feel your whole body just breathe out that sigh of relief – time out from the information overload.

Angela Moar:

As a reader , certain words or phrases mean more to one person than another,  I found your isolation of the phrases that affected you, an interesting concept.

It make me think of how even in conversation; each individual’s interpretation of even, what I am saying here tonight, can be perceived differently.

Each person hears on a different level of understanding, all totally dependent on our individual life experiences , personal circumstances, and what we think of the person retelling the story.

And the stick men, the little soldiers that represent whom we all are, representing a formula, a set idea of what is news and the storyteller.

Klyie Noakes:

Kylie has isolated happier moments; selecting from the social pages. The moment in time, often totally set up where a photographer captures a moment in a social event.

The quotation, the who am I really, the what is that person thinking at that precise moment is often lost on the viewer as the person is represented, flat – not whole in three dimensional perspective, but as a “happy snap” of people out and about enjoying a moment .

But their real lives are still there, their thoughts their own we just don’t see beyond the smile, a mistake we make even when meeting other people.

Doug Spowart:

The multi layering effect of what is  “The Chronicle” is I am sure what Doug is telling us.

A more sceptical self – realises the focus on advertising of cheap deals could be the reality.

But no – I am convinced Doug’s layering, is about a more in depth view of how production of a newspaper happens. The many people, the many processes, the many facets of a life in the office that create a product.


Each of the books has that wonderful inviting appeal.

that “what is the artist trying to say to me, what was the artist thinking at the time of creating” ,

and I believe the success of these books lies simply in that – the questions that it asks the viewer, the simple fact that the viewer will ponder the questions,  and the answers they themselves come up with –  long after they put the books down.

Written by Cooper+Spowart

September 5, 2012 at 7:09 pm

‘TAKE 3’ @ Block Work Gallery (Toowoomba)

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Block Work Gallery – Take 3 Invite

We visited the Block Work Gallery on Saturday for the opening of the exhibition TAKE 3 featuring paintings from three Western Downs artists – Carol McCormack, Catherine Rose & Patricia Hinz. The gallery’s ‘white box’ walls were laden with the colours of the landscape, abstract forms and quirky stuff that artists just happen to see and then share with us through their work. The gallery was filled with supporters and well-wishers, and hopefully a few interested in purchasing work.

Gallery Director Sally Johnston has once again shown her gallery’s support for the regional artist and their vision – congratulations on a great show.

Here are some images of the event, the artists and their work…



Felicity Rea, Victoria Cooper and Deb Beaumont @ Take 3

Take 3 exhibition, Block Work Gallery

Take 3 exhibition Block Work Gallery

Block Work Gallery IMAGE: Doug Spowart

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