Artists, Exhibitions, Interviews, VANDAL Gallery

‘Somewhere Between': Interview With Ariella Friend, Joi Murugavell & Marnie Ross

In the lead up to their joint exhibition ‘Somewhere Between’, Art Pharmacy writer, Joey Hespe, sat down with artists Ariella Friend, Joi Murugavell and Marnie Ross. They talk what inspires them to create, alter egos, and what we can expect from their show at VANDAL Gallery late this month.

Ariella Friend

Ariella Friend

Have you always been interested in art?
Ariella: I was always busy making things as a child but didn’t really have a serious interest in art until adulthood.
Joi: Yeah, drawing is one of my earliest memories. I didn’t know it was art though. I didn’t know much about art, artists or the art world till I was in my late teens. I often wish it remained that way as outside influence can be a pain in the ass.
Marnie: I’ve always been creative and interested in art but I only started pursuing Fine Art seriously after completing a Master of Art, as a mature aged student. I previously had a career in Graphic Design.

Do you have an alter ego or do you moonlight as anything other than an artist?
Ariella: I am officially a full time artist these days. I balance this with being a mum to two young kids.
Joi: A studious geek, who on average only ventures out of her home once every two weeks.  
Marnie: I am a mum and I do the occasional Design job. I also run Little Things Art Prize which focuses on artists expressing gratitude and the little things that bring them joy.

Joi Murugavell

Joi Murugavell

Joi Murugavell

Joi Murugavell

What inspires your work?
Ariella: Anything from looking at the colours in the sky, to Instagram (is that bad?), to other amazing artists and creatives.
Joi: Human Beings and Music (both deserve capitalisation, one is definitely a lot more fun).
Marnie: My work is inspired by tiny details found in nature and evolving shadow patterns created by light, time and movement. Printmaking processes also have a strong influence on my painting techniques encouraging layering and activation of the surface.

Describe your artistic style in one sentence.
Ariella: Colourful, abstract expanded paintings that explore the relationships between found materials, paint and architectural spaces.
Joi: My style was in a marching band for 5 years, with white boots and a bright orange hat, played a snare drum but started out with the tambourine.
Marnie: Abstract compositions layered with vividly coloured organic shapes floating on a base of raw linen or wood.

Marnie Ross

Marnie Ross

Marnie Ross

Marnie Ross

All artists are storytellers, what story are you trying to communicate through your practice?
Ariella: I am interested in the dualities of the natural and human- how we value everyday materials and how consumerism is destroying the planet.
Joi: The rare moments when I see things as they are. And by sharing it, I may catch someone at the very moment they've seen the same thing. I feel more connected to all of the things that way.
Marnie: Although I have a clear concept in mind when creating the work I am very happy for the art to speak for itself, allowing the viewer to interpret the abstract work as it relates to them.

What is the favourite part or stage of your practice?
Ariella: I really love the initial ideas phase- researching, thinking, dreaming… I’ve always loved how you can think about something and then bring it to life with your own hands. I am learning that making mistakes is actually a really important part of the creative process- something you can’t control but ends up enhancing the work somehow.
Joi: All of it, I often play loud music and feel I’m at the best party ever when I’m painting or drawing. Even applying gesso to a canvas has its part in the party. I’ve been looking up battery operated disco balls on eBay, unsure how well they work during the day though.
Marnie: My favourite stage is when I am fully immersed in the process and able to experience ‘Flow' which positive psychologist describe as a “complete absorption in what one does and loses sense of space and time.”

Joi, Ariella & Marnie will be exhibiting at VANDAL Gallery 16-30 Vine Street Redfern from the 30th of June.

Current Exhibition: ‘Alchemical Spills’ by Tamara Mendels
Past Exhibitions: ‘Icon’ by Alun Rhys-Jones, ‘Rainbow Warriors’ by Sarah Beetson

Art Pharmacy Prescription, Artists, Interviews

Art Pharmacy Prescriptions Next Artist: Robert C Withers

Robert is the latest artist to assist Art Pharmacy in the manufacture (read: create) of your much-needed art prescriptions. Sign up and we’ll send you your quarterly dosage of artworks! The treatments we prescribe for the well-being of our patients are continuously changing and always interesting. For instance, one quarter you may receive an oil painting, the next; a hand-crafted vase. Interested?

Sign up here

About Robert
Robert C Withers comes from a long line of New Zealand artists, with his father teaching him to paint, himself a landscape painter. After undertaking design school in Wellington and several jobs, including playing bass in 'art school punk bands’ he and his wife moved to Auckland, then to Sydney. There he spends his time both pursuing art and a design career.

His work draws from not only the New Zealand landscape tradition, but also from cubist influences, such as Edward Hopper, Colin McCahon and Jeffrey Smart. Although in the past he has used oils commonly associated with the landscape tradition, he is currently using large sheets of extremely heavy GSM watercolour paper, ink and spray paint for 2D work. his 3D work uses found materials, heavy card and all sorts of paint.

Interview With Robert

Your series for Art Pharmacy Prescriptions varies from works we’ve seen from you before. Whilst your previous works depict singular, object like buildings and skylines, this series fills the surface of the page in a centrifugal-like manner. Was this a deliberate decision?
Normally my approach would be to create smaller vignettes of local areas as each artwork exists on its own. The decision to try a different approach was based on the idea of a series - that if everyone who received these artworks got in a room together they could join them all together and make one large cityscape. So, I made one large cityscape built from an aggregation of lots of details captured in and around Marrickville/Sydenham, built on a grid that gave me enough single artworks from the larger single piece. This is the reason that each piece goes to the edge instead of being framed by the paper. They are in fact pieces of a giant cityscape jigsaw puzzle.

What was this subject matter for the APP series? Was it a specific structure, or more of an abstract observation of the landscape?
I see myself as a landscape painter, it just happens that my landscapes are light industrial areas around Marrickville, Newtown and Sydenham. There is something Hopperesque about these areas that I love, the harsh shadows created by the street lights in the afternoon and evening that turn these areas into semi abstract studies in form. They are pure functional buildings and environments with little thought to decoration or beauty.

Can you describe your art-making process for this series?
I am very traditional in my approach. I spend a lot of time drawing and photographing the environment around me and I have specific things that capture my attention. These realistic studies go into my sketchbooks and become the library I use to begin a process of stylisation. This process is the way I have worked since I was a teenager (although I only recently recognised it) - I end up with a visual language that that I use to compose imaginary street scenes that are still representational and very much portraying the environment I live in.

For the lucky prescribers receiving your artwork, how do you recommend it be displayed? Are you particular about whether it is hung portrait or landscape, framed or unframed or even about the surface it is displayed on?
I don’t have any strong feelings about how they are framed. But as they go right to the edge it might be nice to have the artworks sitting up and free in a box frame (see attached scribble).

Looking more broadly at your art-making practice, how important is colour? Have you ever been tempted to expand on your current colour palette?
My focus seems to be on form and that’s probably why I focus on black and white. I use the fluro orange to emulate a bright light in a dark or dim evening light. I do use other colours but black/white and fluro orange seem to work for me.  

See more from Robert here

Art Pharmacy Consulting, Artists, Interviews, VANDAL Gallery, Exhibitions

VANDAL Gallery: Tamara Mendels 'Alchemical Spills' Launch

Opening night for Tamara Mendels ‘Alchemical Spills’ exhibition at V∆ND∆L Gallery attracted a diverse crowd of artists, media and creative industry patrons from the local precinct and broader Sydney city.  In collaboration with Vandal, exhibited eleven artworks in total from Mendels’ new collection. Created from acrylic, epoxy resin and pigment on canvas, the works included four with tactile and protruding features.  

Mendels was quite pleased with the attendance for the exhibition, although mentioning, “[at least] 20% of the crowd were some of my friends [who came to lend support]!”.  

All White Ceremony (2017) a large canvas painting made from acrylic, epoxy resin and enamel will have a new wall to hang on in a couple of weeks, as it was sold just prior to the official opening of the exhibition.  As early as her third year of art school, Mendels has been selling her works -0 so it’s not surprising this work was snapped up so quickly. However, it continues to receive an impressive amount of attention.  

“My process is quite thrilling, I have only a few minutes to make my marking with almost no room for adjustment as the painting is decided in minutes…”

Read our interview with Mendels here

Stay tuned for announcements regarding next month's Vandal exhibition!

Contact us here for purchase enquiries

Art Curator, Art Expert

'The Australian Art Curator Blog' - Understanding The Changing Face Of Street Art

As I walk through the suburbs of Sydney, leading my Culture Scout tours, I often reflect on how the value of street art has changed from its baby psychedelic steps in the sixties, to the F-Thatcher/Reagan man of the eighties, to the prized public aesthetic of today.

Street art as a movement was wholly a response to the socio-politics of its time. It was art as activism, social commentary, and freedom of speech. Illegally painted and plastered on bare city walls, it became synonymous with, and later symbolic of, degenerate and poorer areas of the city. 

Over the last ten to fifteen years, as urban areas have sprawled, the gentrification of dilapidated suburbs has seen street art become valued for different reasons. Historical, aesthetic, community and cultural value, just to name a few.

Of course, when it comes to art, monetary value is hard to ignore. It’s difficult to put a price on ephemeral art, but this hasn't allowed artworks by famed street artist Banksy from escaping the dollar value of the art market.

There have been cases of the dismantling of walls where his work has been painted so that the work can be sold at auction. People have also fixed perspex to walls, to protect the work of street art. This suggests a rejection of the historic, and slightly romantic notion to street art: the work is visible only as long as the elements allow.

Needless to say, the linking of street art and graffiti to poverty to ensure its removal, has dramatically changed.

Local councils now realise the value that street art can add to communities, and create cultural policies to implement the commission of and protection of street art.

These policies include a Street Art Register, which serves to catalogue and monitor works of art in the community – attempting to stop the illegal removal of sanctioned works of art.  

There is also the inclusion of local walking tours (if you’re in Sydney, check out the Inner West Open Studio Trail), which serve to engage and educate the public on street art.

What better way to communicate the issues of today than to have them in your face on the daily commute? Who wouldn’t want to be living in a city surrounded by beautiful colours and intriguing street art; works that may stop and make you think about the heritage of the land you are walking on?

While emerging Art Pharmacy artists such as Bafcat, Silly Pear, Akisiew, Aquaman,Jumbo and Skulk have been able to capitalise on this newfound popularity and acceptance of street art, there are plenty of unknown artists out there.

Creating works gives them the chance to have their work seen by thousands of people on a daily basis - giving them exposure unavailable in a traditional gallery.

So eyes off your iPhone and out the window! Who knows - you may spot the next Banksy.

Like some guidance? Book a Culture Scouts Street Art tour today

Artists, Exhibitions, Interviews, VANDAL Gallery

Interview With Tamara Mendels

This month is the launch of Tamara Mendels' exhibition 'ALCHEMICAL SPILLS' at V∆ND∆L Gallery. We caught up with Tamara to find out more about her art and her inspiration.

tamara mendels - art pharmacy

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I always knew that I would do something creative. It wasn’t till I went to art school that I began to study other artists and take painting seriously. When I started selling artwork in my third year, I knew that making paintings could be a real possibility as a career path and it felt really encouraging that people responded to my art in a positive way.

How would you describe your artworks? Are there any particular themes you have in mind when you're working?
I am creating non-objective markings by pouring resin onto a pre-painted canvas.  Some of my pours are loose and uninhibited, violent spills produced out of a rhythmical physical act. Other pours are carefully predetermined as I rehearse the physical act of the marking to play it out like a performance on the canvas. I am always trying to create a marking that is completely new and to do this I try to get to a place of stillness within my mind. My process is quite thrilling, I have only a few minutes to make my marking with almost no room for adjustment as the painting is decided in minutes, its those few intense minutes that keep me coming back to my practice again and again excited for what I might do next.

In addition to being an artist, you are also a curator. Which came first? Has one influenced the other?
I started helping to curate art shows during art school in order to exhibit my own work alongside my contemporaries. With fellow artists Nicholas Pike, Israel Adams, Conrad Ross-Smith, and Sardar Sinjawi we became a small group of artists exhibiting together in artist run spaces in Sydney. In 2009 Nicholas Pike and I moved to New York where we started The Jon Frum Art Foundation, a gallery focussed on exhibiting Australian emerging art to international audiences. With countless exhibitions and participations in art walks and art fairs, we moved to Los Angeles and continued the gallery in downtown LA.  We returned to Sydney and started the first “20/20 art shows” 20 art shows in 20 days, held at the Damien Minton Annex space (2011 and 2012). Curating shows has always been something I do in conjunction with my art practice and with other artists working and playing through ideas together.

You have worked and exhibited all over the world. Is there one city in particular that you enjoy working in?
I have loved showing work in New York, the enthusiasm of art audiences is so encouraging. There are so many people engaged and interested in art, there seems to be an openness where people see that your doing something interesting and they want to be a part of it, we had many artists and writers offering their time to assist for free just to experience something cool. Some of my best paintings came out of a tent inside our loft in Brooklyn, I could barley make more than two works at a time inside a completely air tight dust free tent, my studio was a space in side a space, the limitations of this space saw fewer works being made but I loved those pieces. I loved L.A for the same reasons, L.A was more like Sydney so I felt a sense of familiarity, with great beaches and warm climate, I could live there again if the opportunity presented itself.

Are there any other artists or creatives that you are inspired by?
I am inspired by artists all the time, I feel such excitement when a piece of art moves me to feel a sense of wonderment, this happens when I feel encapsulated and entranced by the work stunned in amazement. My earlier influences came from the Lyrical and Abstract Expressionists such as Sam Francis, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline and Morris Lewis. A handful of my contemporary influences are artists whose works seem to transport me to another dimension such as; Dan Colan, Stearling Ruby, Dale Frank, Katarina Grosse, Markus Linnenbrink, Jonathan Lasker, Gerhard Richter (abstracts) and Anselm Kieffer.

To see Tamara's exhibition, visit V∆ND∆L Gallery at 16-30 Vine St, Redfern from 8th June - 26th June, open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm

Artists, Exhibitions, VANDAL Gallery

V∆ND∆L Gallery Presents: The Bottles by RCM Collective

Exhibiting: 30 May – 5 June 2017

Photo by Clyde Yee

Photo by Clyde Yee

For an excitingly brief interlude, Vandal Gallery will be host to the RCM Collective’s kinetic sculptures, The Bottles (2015).

The Bottles by RCM Collective is a kinetic posse of enlarged squeegees. Showing at Vandal are two pieces from a series of seven, first exhibited at Sculpture by the Sea Bondi, in 2015. 

With a spin on the quintessential Spray and Wipe product, the bottle forms are dubbed with life-like qualities. Designed and sculpted by hand, The Bottles hold anamorphic shape, with figurative proportions and a sympathetic inclination of the bust and nozzle. 

At Bondi, each animated character was built to spit; with a manual push of their red triggers misty sprays and fountain-like squirts are released from the nozzles.

The work was inspired by a photographic series by one of RCM’s members Megan Hales, which involved portraits of commercial cleaning agents from supermarket shelves. 

RCM is a collective of three Melbourne and Sydney-based artists: Corey Thomas, Roger Mitchell and Megan Hales. With diverse backgrounds in public sculpture, painting and film, RCM’s members are involved in multiple avenues of the arts and have exhibited nation-wide. 

THE BOTTLES (2015) by RCM Collective. fibreglass, steel armature, automotive paint, water/pump system

16-30 vine st redfern 

Artists, Interviews

Interview With Candice Cameron

Growing up with a heavy artistic influence from a young age, Candice Cameron has progressively formed a distinct and intriguing artistic sensibility, combining her background in graphic design and illustration to produce detailed, and intriguing artworks.

We caught up with Candice, to gain further insight into her fascinating background, inspiration and how she typically unwinds from a busy day.

Artists, Exhibitions, VANDAL Gallery


On Thursday night we (literally!) rolled out the red carpet for a buzzing crowd of art lovers, advertising heavyweights, and everyone in between to celebrate our newest exhibition at VANDAL Gallery! After the launch of our first permanent, physical gallery space last month we were very excited to welcome Sydney-based artist Alun Rhys Jones presenting his new exhibition, entitled ICON.

Art Curator, Art Expert, Artists, Art Pharmacy Prescription

'The Australian Art Curator Blog' - Getting Your Collection Started With A Prescription

As I‘ve mentioned before, one of the questions most frequently asked to me is, “What is your advice to people wanting to start their own art collection?”. And my advice is always follow your instincts, choose something you love, and more practically, set a budget.

If you’re nervous about starting, the first thing to remember is that anyone can start an art collection if they know where to look.