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On Judging a Regional Art Award

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The Somerset Bendigo Bank Art Award – July 26, 2019

 

I spent most of the day at Esk in south-east Queensland judging a regional art award organised by the Somerset Art Society. The Awards attracted a diverse collection of 337 artworks ranging from re-purposed kitchenalia made into sculptures to delicate fine ceramics, to tapestries, photographs and the traditional oil on canvas. Decisions about what was the ‘best’ art in 4 main categories and 4 other special awards were required to be made with my judging partner Dr Beata Batorowicz, artist and Associate Professor from the University of Southern Queensland. The curator of the event and the judging process was LeAnne Vincent.

 

Beata + Doug Photo: Victoria Cooper

 

Let the judging begin

As a judge I have an interest and expectation that I will receive a story from each artwork. The communiqué could be about the artist’s insight or comment about some idea or issue and it must resonate in some way to transform or challenge my understanding of the world. After a judge’s briefing by LeAnne we individually reviewed the works that had been hung on moveable wall panels and plinths within the expanses of the Somerset Civic Centre. Works from each of the 3 2D categories of (1) painting and works on paper, (2) fabrics and (3) photography were grouped for easy viewing and comparison on the panels. The 3D works were arranged in the central gallery and front gallery areas.

At the end of our first review Beata and I met and discussed the work generally and looked at works that had left a strong impressions with us. We walked around the gallery again this time in conversation gaining an understanding not only about the works but also each other’s point of view, opinions and our perceived strengths or weaknesses of certain works. The selection of Beata and myself as judges brought together an opportunity to utilise the overlap of our individual arts practice and our understanding of artmaking processes and storyteling through art.

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Judges among the display panels PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

The regional artist and their role in community beyond the Awards

Over an afternoon coffee with my partner Victoria Cooper I reflected upon the role of the artist in regional communities. As the viewer of many artworks today I had received and been touched by so many stories and communiqués. I thought about the important role of artists in recording and documenting their lived experience. And how in a changing world these artworks come to be a history of place, a touchstone for the issues, moods and interests of that time.

 

Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery

Somerset Regional Art Gallery – The Condensery

 

Art tourism in regional Australia

In the afternoon Vicky and I visited the Somerset Regional Art Gallery at The Condensery in the small town Toogoolawah just north of Esk. Formerly a condensed milk factory it has been repurposed into an art gallery with two exhibition spaces.

I thought about how art tourism is a burgeoning catch cry in regional Australia. Fine examples include Toowoomba’s First Coat Street Art initiative that brings visitors to that community and the Silo art project in Central/western Victoria that has created a boon to local businesses. Tourists now don’t drive through the town; they now stop and stay to take in those large-scale silo mural projects.

Perhaps with this growing interest in art tourism and the wealth of artwork abundantly visible in this exhibition it may be time to consider the The Condensery as a major regional gallery space with the funding for and arts manager/curator to oversee the display and management of the arts facility.

The various sponsors of the art awards including the major sponsor the Bendigo Bank clearly support the artists and their community. The Hon. Shayne Neumann federal member for Blair, and Somerset Mayor Graham Lehman speaking at the awards event both identified and praised the importance of the arts to the community. So perhaps now is the time for the next step.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

 

The formal group at the Awards presentation night…… PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

THE AWARDS

We selected the 3D category first and reviewed personal favourites and their stories – sometimes guided by the title. We were also interested in the techniques employed and the way the artwork operated within the 3D space. A small bronze work entitled Swim Squad by Mela Cooke was selected as the First Prize. The sculpture represents a stilled moment of two figures by a pool. Swimming togs and bathing caps in a greenish patina clad the two young female figures their legs dawn up encircled by arms and clasped by hand.

(Photographs from the SASI website courtesty of LeAnne Vincent)

 

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Next we approached the textiles and I was interested in Beata’s insights into the range of materials and techniques presented. Works I this category included traditional tapestry, contemporary image-making through materials collaged together with extensive over-sewing. The First Prize winner and the inaugural Hetty Van Boven Textile Award was Elisabeth Czaia with her work Afternoon Shadow. The work was the representation of a room interior with the perspective flattened to resemble a two-dimensional space. The colour scheme was a riot of colour predominantly green with accents of purple and tangerine.

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The Photography category consisted of a variety approaches to the discipline from traditional pictorialism to contemporary digital montage. Gerry O’Connor won the First Prize with a portrait entitled Warren Palmer Artist. The monochrome photograph was large in size and was frank in its direct and powerful presentation of the subject.

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Painting/Works on paper was won by a mult-coloured woodblock print by Owen Hutchison entitled The Long Flight…and some stars fell into the sea. This large print suggested a mythical allegory that spoke of flight and a night journey.

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Youth Award was won by a large drawing by Aneldi van Wyck. Entitled My identity that was a self-portrait. The drawing was skillfully and carried out honouring the media of its creation.

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Sharon McKenzie with Woven Destiny 3 won the special prize category of Susan Cory Contemporary Award. Originally submitted in the fabric section this work exhibited a very contemporary use of various materials over layered with hand sewing. There is a feeling of the work being just put down as threads dangle as if there is more work to be done.

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The award of The Best In Show was won by Margaret Underdown with her painting Home Paddock. Though a representational landscape in style this large work captured the emotive spirit of place. For both Beata and I have driven down from Toowoomba that morning where the ranges were enshrouded in mist and the early morning light diffused – that may have contributed to our consensus on that decision.

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One prize was awarded by votes cast by attendees to the exhibition. The People’s Choice was won by Kathy Ellem with her painting of a male horseman entitled Edges.

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President of SASI Betty Williams thanks curator LeAnne Vincent PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

THE FULL AWARDS LIST: 2019 Somerset Bendigo Bank Art Award Winners

 

$5000 Best of Show – Margaret Underdown, Home Paddock

$1000 Photography Prize – Gerry O’Connor, Warren Palmer Artist

Highly Commended PhotographyLinda McPhee The Second Best Café in Town and Wayne Gillis Satin Bower Bird Male

$1000 3D Prize – Mela Cooke, Swim Squad

Highly Commended 3DRussell Solomon, Have They Always Been Here and Carol Forster, Love Not War

$1000 Painting/Works on paper Prize – Owen Hutchison, The Long Flight…and some stars fell into the sea

$750 Painting/Works on paper Prize – Charmaine Davis, Mountain

Highly Commended Painting/Works on paper – Clay Dawson, Ships in the Night and Odessa Mahony de Vries Sea view

$1000 Hetty Van Boven Textile Award – Elisabeth Czaia, Afternoon Shadow

Highly Commended Textile Wendy Houston, Dear Stag and Jodie Wade, Grass Trees

$500 Susan Cory Contemporary Prize – Sharon McKenzie, Woven Destiny 3

$500 Youth Prize – Aneldi Van Wyk, My Identity

$500 Somerset Artist Prize – Marcel Desbiens, Transition

People’s Choice – Kathy Ellem, Edges

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Somerset Bendigo Bank Art Awards sign

Photographs of the artworks are from the SASI website courtesty of LeAnne Vincent

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BEAUTIFUL FRUIT – Tilley Wood+Linda Spowart

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Beautiful Fruit Invite

 

Beautiful Fruit installation PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Beautiful Fruit installation in the Sidespace Gallery at Salamanca   ……….   PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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A Fruitful Place – a review by Victoria Cooper

 

Place, of course, as opposed to the more generalized ‘site’ or ‘land,’ is a specific collaboration between nature and people, constantly altered and inevitably defined by narratives from the contact zones.[1]

This exhibition is the result of a collaborative interaction between the artists, the cotoneaster tree and its environment. The intent was to create visual responses to observations of the tree and its rhythms over time that forms:

… a dedication to and recording of this tree. Its life is multifaceted, one that connects to and affects the space and people around it. Its vital and variable presence is what they are drawn to and present here. This exhibition is the fruit of the artists and subject together.

Tilley Wood artist with light 4 + light 5, 2019 Oil on canvas ………. PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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Although Linda and Tilley approached the project from two different perspectives both were influenced by the phenomena of light and wind to define the tree, its form and movement. Tilley’s paintings of the tree evoked a poetic place illuminated by memory. Linda’s prints were layered using cyanotype photograms[2] or inks in contact with parts of the tree and its surroundings, then over printed with gesso and drawings were full of detail referencing the visual language of botanical illustration and empirical scientific evidence gathering.

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Debris 1 Linda Spowart 2019Ink, gesso and graphite on cotton .......... PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Debris 1 Linda Spowart 2019Ink, gesso and graphite on cotton ………. PHOTO: Doug Spowart

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As part of their investigation, the artists individually and collaboratively created through direct contact with parts of the tree: leaves, fruit and branches, they made more cyanotype photograms. These prints were more like impressions, rather than the detailed recording of scientific photographs. On one wall at the entrance to the main gallery there was an impressive installation of these blue prints creating a feeling for the tree’s blue shadowy and dappled light space.

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Beautiful Fruit Nos. 3-13 Tilley Wood+Linda Spowart 2019 Wet Cyanotype & gold leaf on cotton

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The cotoneaster tree was both subject and collaborator in this exhibition. As part of their investigations, the artists attached drawing devices to branches of the tree in order that it would self record its movement without the intervention of the artists’ hand. This is an important methodology for many artists as it opens up an inclusive space where the agency or ‘voice’ of objects and other life-forms as collaborators can present new and surprising perspectives. Australian artist, Cameron Robbins[3], presented the drawings that were formed through devices attached to a windmill to record the movement of the wind around Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Tasmania. Robbins intent was

… to connect to landscape, and to the greater dynamic of the whole climate system; how patterns move through a particular location. For me, that’s the most direct way to access the greater energies and forces around us.’ Cameron Robbins[4]

 

Tree Drawings #0001- #0026  ………. PHOTO: Doug Spowart

 

Art when made in collaboration with both human and non-human entities involves a corporeal, sensate empathy that evolves over time spent in contact within their space and place. These are dynamic contact zones where human and nature interaction can stimulate the development of alternative views and knowledge to bring fresh ways of understanding the changing world we share with Others. Both Tilley and Linda have engaged with the Place that is the tree, not to objectify or imitate, but to wonder, imagine, transform and be transformed.

 

Dr Victoria Cooper

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NOTES:
[1] Stuart, M & Lippard, L 2010, Michelle Stuart, Sculptural Objects: Journeys In & Out of the Studio, Charta, Milano, page 11.
[2] The Cyanotype process was developed by Sir John Herschel in the 1840’s and at this time 19 th century botanist Anna Atkins used the process to document her plant specimens. The process: water colour paper or cloth is coated with a chemical made by the light sensitive combination of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate. After drying, objects placed on the material and then exposed in sunlight. Ultra-violet light is required and exposure times may be 8-10 minutes although times may vary depending on the time of year – or day. Many photographer also expose enlarged contact negatives of photographs onto the cyanotype emulsion.
[3] Cameron Robbins, Field Lines, MONA see https://mona.net.au/museum/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/cameron-robbins-field-lines
[4] ibid. an in-text quote from the article by the curators, Nicole Durling and Olivier Varenne

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2019 PHOTOBOOK ROAD TRIP BEGINS – HOBART

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The 2019 Photobook Road Trip

PHOTOBOOKS @ TOPSPACE STUDIO/GALLERY IN HOBART

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Ilona Schneider and Doug Spowart

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The 2019 Photobook Road Trip began last night at the TopSpace StudioGallery in Hobart. The Australia & New Zealand Photobook Awards (ANZPA) exhibition was installed by Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart. Visitors to the Gallery were welcomed by the gallery Director Ilona Schneider.

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Vicky setting up the dispaly

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On show were the 12 Finalists and Award winners of the 2018 Australia and New Zealand Photobook Awards sponsored by MomentoPro Photobooks. The books were:

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Winners 2018

Finalists 2018 from 117 entries:

SEE More about the ANZPA HERE
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The event as attended by around 30 participants including representatives from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the Allport Library, members of the AIPP and representatives from the Hobart Camera Club.
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To cover costs associated with the gallery hire a raffle was conducted with books by Cooper+Spowart and ANZPA catalogues and MomentoPro’s ‘Publish Your “Bloody” Photobook‘ booklets.
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Looking at the Cooper+Spowart books

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COOPER+SPOWART presented a small selection of the concertina photobooks including  YOU ARE HERE and QUESTIONING+KNOWING.
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Around 6.00pm Doug made a presentation about the awards and the current state of the Antipodean photobook. A lengthy Q&A session followed and private conversations and continued book viewing took place well after the intended finish time.
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Doug presenting his talk

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THANK YOU!

Thanks to Ilona Schneider and the AIPP coordinator Matt Palmer for their assistance with the presentation and Momento Pro for making the books available.
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CANBERRA is the next stop in the PHOTOBOOK ROAD TRIP on July 20 at PhotoAccess where the books will be displayed, Doug will present a talk about photobooks and Doug+Vicky will present a workshop on photobook forms and the photobook narrative.
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D+V Coming to Canberra

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#MomentoProBooks #ANZPhotobookAwards #PhotobookRoadTrip #Photobookjousting
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MAKING BLUEPRINTS TODAY–Our World Cyanotype Day Australian Submission

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Making cyanotypes in Tasmania

 

We created some cyanotypes yesterday to contribute to the Australian World Cyanotype Day (WCD) travelling exhibition. Setting up a coating studio inside a friend’s house in Cygnet Tasmania we exposed the sensitised material on the front veranda and washed-out on the shadow side of the house. It all sounds rather an impromptu affair and in some ways it is, as travelling artists we have encountered these challenges before making-do with the site-specific needs of each art-making opportunity.

 

But what is difficult in Tasmania right now is the weather. We’ve been ready for weeks to make cyanotypes and yet the pervading conditions have been overcast or scattered heavy clouds between sunny gaps, rain or fog. And as cyanotypes work best with clear, bright and directly overhead sunlight it has been difficult. Added to this mid-winter’s low angle of sunlight at 43°south means exposure times have to be extended 3-4 times that commonly achievable up the east coast of Australia.

Making cyanotypes is a process that takes place over time. Chemicals are mixed, the substrate coated with a brush. On this occasion we were printing on cloth and due to the ‘flow-through’ the material we coated a few sheets sitting on top of each other. These super wet sheets then needs to dry. Cloth takes quite a while to dry due to the large amount of chemical absorbed in the fibers although drying can be accelerated by using a blow heater or hair dryer.

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Coating the material…

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Next a series of test exposures may need to take place to know, in the specific sunlight conditions you may be working in. After exposure the material is washed-out in running water – we add a little citric acid. And for an accurate density check the sheet needs to be dried a little. Then you can make your first exposure. At the moment in Tassie we’ve been working with 15 minute exposures!!

 

BOM – looking for gaps between the clouds

All this means that you may start out with sunny skies, do your tests and then start you exposure and the clouds come in – the Bureau of Meteorology website is regularly monitored to make sure that you have an adequate time over which to work.

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Making the exposure…

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Washing out after exposure…

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Finally it’s hung up to dry …

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10 starfish that are an invasive species with 8 bones of a Tasmanian wallaby by Victoria Cooper

Vicky’s work is a response to contemporary land and sea issues in Tasmania. The image is a double-sided cyanotype – shown here is the transparency of the work with the blending of the two images.

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Swatches of blue: a colour of Tasmania by Doug Spowart

Doug’s cyanotype continued his experiments in direct light-strike on cyanotype sensitised materials. On this occasion the folding and refolding over the duration of the exposure creates a pattern of different blue densities. These emulate, like colour swatches, the different hues and tints of blue in the Tasmanian landscape. This is also a double-sided cyanotype that in this photo is still quite wet and yet to dry down.

Both cyanotypes have been made on linen material and are about 30 centimetres square. The linen was purchased at a local charity shop as second-hand white pillowslips. The A Smith Gallery presentation of these fabric squares has them pegged to lines running across the gallery ceiling where they appear like flags.

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In The Maud Street Photo Gallery

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The cyanotypes that we have made will be included in an exhibition of Australian cyanotypers at The Maud Street Photo Gallery in Brisbane during August 2-15. The exhibition is being co-curated by The Cyanotype in Australia team Gail Neumann and us (Vicky+Doug), and will bring together works from all over the country. It is a follow-up exhibition to the WCD exhibition In Anna’s Garden’ curated by Stephanie Richter, Gillian Jones and us at Monash Gallery of Art last year.

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In Anna’s Garden

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This year’s show is entitled ‘Land/Sea/Sky’ and the show at The Maud Street Photo Gallery is just the beginning as the works will be forwarded to the A Smith Gallery in Johnson City Texas for showing on World Cyanotype Day along with other works from across the world. At the end of the A Smith Gallery show the works will be sent on for exhibition in New Orleans at the PhotoNOLA Festival.

Participants in the exhibition will make a contribution to the costs of the Maud show as well as courier delivery to the U.S.A. and back home to Australia.

 

AN INVITATION TO ALL AUSTRALIAN CYANOTYPERS

An invitation has gone out through various networks inviting cyanotype makers to participate in the Australian WCD Travelling exhibition. If you make cyanotypes please consider being a contributor to the show. If know someone who does please let them know about the exhibition and pass on to them the AUST_WCD_SUBMISSION.

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For information about The Cyanotype in Australia and to join the the group’s FACEBOOK page: CLICK HERE

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To Download a PDF copy of the catalogue for the MGA exhibition click the link: In_Anna’s_Garden-CATALOGUE-FINAL-INT

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HEAD-ON Exhibition in SYDNEY to include Victoria COOPER + Ruby SPOWART

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Headon Logo

I’m excited to announce that the two women in my life VICTORIA Cooper and my mother RUBY Spowart have both been selected as one of the LOUD and LUMINOUS curated 100 AUSTRALIAN WOMEN PHOTOGRAPHERS exhibition to be shown at the 2019 HEAD-ON PHOTO FESTIVAL. It is an amazing and powerful exhibition of contemporary photography brought together by the dynamic duo Hilary Wardhaugh and Melissa Anderson.

#knowmyname @nationalgalleryaus

 

Here’s the story…

 

ABOUT LOUD & LUMINOUS – from the web page

The Loud and Luminous mission is to recognise and celebrate the contribution of contemporary women in the photographic arts in Australia. We believe this project is unique and important in identifying the extensive cultural contribution women photo-based artists and photographers have made in this country. This project is designed to empower the girls and women of today and tomorrow to chase in their dreams. This is a timely project and one that hopes will help educate and inspire many women of all ages.

 

Vicky’s photograph is based on an important Tasmanian issue…

Listening …

 

VICKY’s ARTIST’S STATEMENT

My ancestors are European…. but I am removed by generations from these origins and have always sought to understand my place in this altered land. Over recent years I have spent time in Tasmania. I have come to know of Aboriginal stories that tell of women that lived and survived through the colonial invasion of their land and the resulting massive change to their lives and the future of their culture. I found Putalina, in Palawa kani, a place for reflection on the story telling that has highlighted the strength and power of past Aboriginal women including Truganini and Fanny Cochrane Smith.

 

Ruby’s work related to where she now lives and a reflection on her mother’s amateur painting…

My mother painted floral arrangements

 

RUBY’s ARTISTS STATEMENT:

My mother painted floral arrangements.

Before getting married and having children on a farm in central Victoria in the early 1900s my mother painted in oils. I never saw her paint – having children and the hard life on the farm meant that there was no time for art. Her paintings, mainly of floral subjects, however lived on and now are cherished by the family generations that followed.

If there is an art gene then my mother passed it to me. In my life I have practiced many art mediums from enamelling to china painting and ceramics as well as photography. Despite having three children and working with my husband in a family business I persisted with my art making. It has rewarded me and enriched my life.

Now in my 90s I photograph with my iPhone and these flower photographs come from the gardens that my neighbours and I nurture. In this work I feel that I am making the flower ‘paintings’ that my mother was never able to…

 

Venue / Date / Times

 

 

From the Headon website

 

 

 

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THE HIDDEN ART OF DRAWING – REVEALED: JADA 2018

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Artists fill notebooks with drawings using a range of mark-making methods from burnt sticks (charcoal), lead and coloured pencils to ink pens and colour washes. These can be renderings that replicate the subject in ways that a camera might. They can be of details and juxtapositions of elements. Or they can be quick-made glimpses full of emotion and movement that come not so much from the subject itself but rather from the artist’s response to the inspiration created by what they witness.

Later in the artmaking process the artist retrieves these references and in the studio space with the grander media of canvas, metal or expanses of paper the drawing’s trace is carefully made and through the application of pigments applied by brush and palette knife or engraved, etched, inked and pressed. Here a ‘real’ artwork is made. Yet, underneath the final artwork the reference drawing resides – hidden.

 

The secret hidden ‘art’ of the artist’s drawing has for 30 years been the focus of the biennial Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (JADA) at the Grafton Regional Gallery (GRG). In this award the drawing is revered not as an aide-mémoire for the artist’s later work but rather as the product of a deliberate creative and expressive artmaking activity.

 

The gallery has as it’s rationale for JADA and the GRG Drawing Collection the following statements:

The award seeks to encourage and promote innovation and excellence and plays a vital role in fostering Australian drawing practice.

The … collection exemplifies the developments and changing parameters of contemporary drawing since 1988. The collection explores the way that drawing resonates as a contemporary medium, demonstrating the relevance and strength of drawing. Works in the collection offer a varied and extensive overview of drawing ranging from highly resolved articulate works to spontaneous expressive works that are mostly retained on the conventional support of paper.

… the collection has attractively developed through the tastes, opinions and approaches of the various judges into a collection that is compelling, thought provoking, innovative, exuberant, and diverse.

 

JADA 2018 Grafton Regional Gallery installation

For those interested in artists in their practice of drawing a visit to the GRG will reveal all. In 2018 fifty-five artworks were selected from 498 entries by a pre-selection panel of suitably qualified persons. The selection of the major JADA award as well as acquisitions for the gallery’s drawing collection were adjudicated by Anne Ryan, Curator of Drawing, Prints and Watercolours from the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

 

What is surprising in the JADA selection is the way in which the techniques and media of drawing the can lead to such a diverse and stimulating variety of artworks. There are works that:

  • Emulate photographs in their fine detail and tonal rendition
  • Are exquisite in the draughtsmanship expressed
  • Show the artist’s use of the drawing to ‘find the edge’ and give shape and form to the subject
  • The emergent use of computer software, digital output, and digital media animation screen presented time-based artworks
  • Express the textural nature of the drawing media on the receiving surface
  • The passing of time in a stilled framed work
  • Explore caricatures
  • Play with simple gestural lines and equally simple ideas

The winner of the $30k 2018 JADA award was Todd Fuller, a Sydney based artist with his work titled Ode to Clarence as described in the Gallery’s website as: a hand drawn and painted animation, created during a residency at Grafton Regional Art Gallery.

The work deals with the current issues in Grafton associated with the building of a new bridge connecting the city with the highway. Through a digitally presented narrative relating to the disruption to the community caused by the terraforming, street changes and house demolitions caused by the bridge building. The work is created as a continuous drawing in parts.

 

 

Some may question how this work is classified as a ‘drawing’ as we usually encounter a drawing as a static artwork in a notebook, on paper or in a frame. As such time-based digital media presentations and other such works present a challenge to the traditional paradigm. These digital media ‘drawings’ may be documentation of drawing projects or of performances commenting on the concept of drawing. As we know there is a significant history of animated drawings presented as moving picture films. It should also be acknowledged that documentation by video might also make visible a drawing work in transformation. Though it might be asked how do these works ‘fit’ with the term ‘drawing’? And when does a drawing cease being a ‘drawing’ and become a work in the discipline of animation or digital media?

Interestingly Fuller’s drawing work uses a technique similar to that used by the artist Blu in his famous street graffiti video documentary MUTO. Blu describes his work as:a seven minute animated mural.

Thoughts such as these will no doubt occupy the minds of many visitors to the JADA exhibition as it travels around the eastern seaboard over the next two years. Whatever the outcome for such thoughts ultimately JADA has provided an important biennial review and space for critical commentary and reflection on the discipline and has stimulated this enquiry. The award also reveals and makes visible the work of artists, it shares their stories and ideas through the discipline of drawing – perhaps the oldest of all human creative endeavours.

 

Dr Doug Spowart

With thanks to Dr Cooper for editorial support

 

JADA 2018 Grafton Regional Gallery installation

 

FOOTNOTE:

Other works acquired for the Grafton Regional Gallery Collection with their $10k allocation are:

  • David Fairbairn Portrait of T.J.K No 1, 
  • Kedal Gear Haze, 
  • Nicci Haynes Drawing Dancing (an animation),
  • Noel McKenna Silent Assassin and
  • Claire Primrose Assembled Landscape 3.

 

An illustrated catalogue of the JADA entries can be downloaded here: 2018_JADA_Finalists_Catalogue

Apart from the Gallery exhibition in late 2018 the JADA will tour regional galleries over the next two years to the following venues; Manning Regional Gallery, Hervey Bay Regional Gallery, University of the Sunshine Coast Gallery, Griffith Regional Art Gallery, Latrobe Regional Gallery and the Tamworth Regional Gallery.

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Text ©2018 Doug Spowart  Photographs of gallery ©2018 Doug Spowart. Copyright of artworks is retained by the artist
Many artworks have been photographed to show the nature of the framing and matting of the work.

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Slowing time in the temple, the darkroom and in the gallery

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KEIKO GOTO’s Zen in 35mm

Tacit Art Galleries 7 November – 2 December, 2018

 

In the contemporary society all aspects of life are on hyper speed, every human endeavour is intensified and condensed into sound bites, vision-bites, 3D, in-the-moment, hyper-experiential consumeristic bliss. In this space the photographs by Keiko Goto are a complete anathema. Goto’s photographs don’t shout at the viewer, they don’t profess to demand a political viewpoint and they don’t leave us with demands for us to feel concerned or ambivalent for the subjects in the pictures.

 

Tacit Gallery installation: Zen in 35mm

 

Keiko Goto’s photographs are viewed in the context of a white walled gallery on entering the room they appear as small darkly toned windows. When approaching the photographs, perhaps with knowledge of the accompanying artist’s statement and the eloquent catalogue essay by Kerrilee Ninnis, an enveloping quietness descends, and a story is revealed in a sequence of low key black and white photographs.

 

 

Embraced by Soft Spring Light

 

The exhibition is entitled Zen in 35mm and presents a series of vignettes, each a moment in the life of a Japanese monk in the Kichijyoji temple in Tokyo. The view that each photograph shows is from a distanced viewpoint – she is a trusted observer in his space. Her photographs are nearly all quite dark with a spotlight delineating, by chiaroscuro the shape of the monk’s form, a head or a profile, from the dark ground. Other images are of the temple place and the monk’s sparse accoutrements.

Silent Chanting

 

Goto is in tune with with the ways of Zen through her Japanese cultural background and the experience that comes from her attendance at the temple over many years to learn and practice calligraphy.

All photographs are made on film and carefully printed by the author in gelatine silver fibre paper. Some images have been printed using enlarged negatives on platinum-palladium hand-coated paper with Goto’s distinctive calligraphic styled brush strokes. Adding perhaps to the following of traditions in photography is the fact that she uses a Leica IIIb camera from the 1930s.

 

Ouryouki

 

The monk concentrates on his devotion and to the rituals of his observance of Buddhism. Goto observes the scene silently waiting to receive the distilled moment. Later in the darkroom the film is process in strict accordance with a codified ritual. Quiet meditations continue in the stillness of the safelight-illuminated darkroom. The simple rhythm of the rocking tray and the beauty is revealed as the image develops in the tray. In many ways the use of analogue capture and printmaking could have some sympatico – a mutual commonality with the performance and commitment of Zen philosophy.

 

Back in the gallery the presentation reflects Goto’s experience. It is as if the gestural movement of the brush on paper has been transformed into these walls – each image a monochrome fragment becomes a calligraphy pictogram. Time is slowed in viewing these images and in this reflective quietness the photographs reveal the monk’s story through Keiko Goto’s own meditative work – like visualised haiku poems…

 

In the darkness – light

A head bowed, a murmur inside

Photographer’s eye

 

Doug Spowart

December 27, 2018

 

Perfect Garden

Meditation 4

Meditation 3

Meditation 1

Lustrous Robe

 

 

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Written by Cooper+Spowart

December 28, 2018 at 4:31 pm

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