Artists, Exhibitions, VANDAL Gallery

'Desert Stars' Exhibition Opening

Review by Melanie Booth

On August 10 ‘Desert Stars’ debuted at V∆ND∆L Gallery in Redfern. V∆ND∆L exhibited works from incredibly talented Indigenous Australian artists with a key focus on their connection to the land and the ethics behind exhibiting Aboriginal work.

All works originate from art centres in extremely remote desert communities within Australia, for example Martumili, which is located in the very heart of the Western Desert. The exhibition provides a platform for these usually inaccessible works to be viewed by an urban Sydney audience.

Nichola Dare, the guest curator and owner of Aboriginal Contemporary is one of the lucky few that has earned the trust of some members of these communities in order to gain an understanding of their practice and to form strong, supportive relationships.

The works all share a common theme in their connection to ‘country’, a vital concept for all Aboriginal peoples. According to Dare, “some of the works tell stories of country tens of thousands of years old, others are depictions of country, the locations of tracks, hunting grounds and waterholes.”

Specific care has been taken in the orchestration of this exhibition to engage in ethical practices in displaying the work of these artists within an urban setting. This is a crucial, positive step forward within the Australian art scene in its engagement with, and representation of, art created by remotely located Indigenous people who may have difficulty having their work represented to a city audience.

The event was opened by Sophia DeMestre on behalf of Art Pharmacy, the Welcome to Country was given by Donna Ingram, a Wiradjuri woman and active local community leader, while curator Nichola Dare gave some background on the artists and their works.

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

MCA X VANDAL Gallery: Ask An Artist Anything

Written by Louisa Tiley

The latest MCA Young Ambassadors event was much more personal than regulars are used to. Hosted by Redfern’s new kid on the block, Vandal Gallery, it was an intimate gathering of artists and art lovers - all curious about the relationship between creatives and their work.

On the night Vandal’s current selection of vibrant artists - Ariella Friend, Joi Murugavell and Marnie Ross - played an active role in a private viewing of their exhibition Somewhere Between.

It was a unique evening which endeavoured to break down the often impermeable barrier between artist and audience. To achieve this the three exhibiting artists were part of a speed-dating style session during which attendees could “ask them anything” about their practice, creative process, mentality or career.

A bell was used to signal three minute intervals, when guests rotated to the next artist. However many of the more sneaky patrons ignored it to stay for 6, 9 or 12 minutes, in order to delve further into compelling discussions.

Marnie Ross was the first artist I spoke to. Seated beneath a selection of her bright, graphic paintings, we chatted candidly about how printmaking and design inform her abstract compositions. She is closely influenced by the detail and movement inherent in nature - something strongly evident in the wooden textures of Every Night.

Ariella Friend’s work provided an interesting point of contrast, as three dimensional pieces which challenge the boundaries between painting and sculpture. I loved hearing about her sustainable approach - particularly the way she reuses discarded items alongside new materials to reflect the complexities of consumerism. This was most clear in my favourite of her works, Composition in Metallics.

Joi Murugavell completed the collection. She was wearing one of her signature outfits - a blazer, pants and hat combo printed with her own artwork. I was immediately drawn to her bold, witty paintings, with works such as Bad Art Day and A Small Plot Change cleverly playing with cultural iconography.

It’s interesting to note that all three artists began their creative careers with design backgrounds. Because of this Vandal’s exhibition subtly confronted the stigma against graphic designers which often influences contemporary art critique.

This was just one of many refreshing aspects of the night. Having honest, open conversations with artists brought up insightful questions about the future of the industry and how young artists can carve their own unique paths to success.

Art Curator, Art Expert, Emilya Colliver, Exhibitions

‘The Australian Art Curator Blog’ – Demystifying the Art Curator

We all love turning up to an exhibition and experiencing that buzz that tells you that this will be a good one. As you experience the exhibition, you absorb and reflect the emotions contained in the art and you are excited about what is around the corner or on the next wall. The carefully chosen moments interplay with your own values and memories to enrich your experience.

Anyone who has been to even a handful of art exhibitions is also familiar with that sense of disappointment and boredom that occurs when we turn up to a bad exhibition on opening night - guiltily downing your free wine and making a hasty retreat.

Putting on a good show may seem like an easy task but it is the product of an immense amount of work, knowledge and vision. Who is the person who does that work, contributes that knowledge, and provides that vision? The curator.

'The Lab' Exhibition Launch 2014 (Photo: Xavier Burrows)

'The Lab' Exhibition Launch 2014 (Photo: Xavier Burrows)

What is a curator? And what does a curator do? In light of Art Pharmacy’s upcoming exhibition ‘Desert Stars’ (an exhibition of stunning contemporary Aboriginal art, curated by Nichola Dare), it seems like a good time to try my hand at demystifying the role.

Firstly - and probably most importantly - why does a show even need a curator? Can’t the artist do it themselves? The simple answer: we need curators to give an exhibition direction and a sense of visual and conceptual coherency - to make a connection between the works. Yes, artists can be their own curator, but we need curators to add layers of coherency and connection between works when they are displayed together - whether they are all works by the same artist, or a collection of various artists or mediums.

The role of the curator is a considerably complex one, as they take on the job of balancing the many elements that go into an exhibition or collection - a great curator is great because they have honed this ability through years of experience.

Curatorship is not a new thing. The concept has roots in ancient history, but the connection to art and museums began more recently, in the eighteenth century. Modernism launched a wave of curators as the revolutionary art styles needed an equally exciting approach for their presentation.

Curators embraced the concept of the ‘white cube’ from the 1930s, turning the gallery space into an entirely white room, removing outside influences and showing the works on a clean slate. It was the perfect way to present the ideas of both curator and artist free of irrelevant context such as elaborate furnishings and staging. A white walled room places a viewer in a timeless void ready for a new experience.

In a similar vein, the fact that the work of the curator often goes without obvious attribution is not really a negative within an exhibition - the works, and their story told through thoughtful curation, is what should take centre-stage.

One of my favourite curators is Hans-Ulrich Obrist - I am a total fan. He is an incredible example of how great curatorship is not a vehicle for self promotion, but something that can support great art. He began his career at 23, curating a show of contemporary artists in his kitchen, of all places! His career developed rapidly, and he curated numerous exhibitions across Europe.

'Filter Bubble' - An exhibition curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist

'Filter Bubble' - An exhibition curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist

But what’s most striking about Obrist is that he has published extensive writings, most notably his interviews with artists, architects, curators and other creatives that span great lengths of time. These creatives not Obrist himself, are the focus of his practice.

“It was important to be close to artists and not subordinate their work to the curator's vision. I've realised that the curator's role is more that of enabler.” - Obrist

The steps involved in producing an art show followed by Obrist and other curators can vary but here are the basics:

The concept is an essential starting point. It is either decided by the curator or by a commissioning gallery.

Julie Rrap, Disclosures: A Photographic Construct, Central Street Gallery, Sydney, 1982

Julie Rrap, Disclosures: A Photographic Construct, Central Street Gallery, Sydney, 1982

Significant research is then conducted into relevant theories, historical precedent and previous exhibitions, which provides another layer of context to the selected works and give an idea of how the show will be received.

Art works are then sourced and acquired, often borrowed from collections, private collectors or the artists themselves. Their positioning, display method and lighting is then determined by curator to ensure both their ideas and the ideas of the artist is realised.

A single work of art can make me feel totally excited and can be so amazing in it’s own right, but I absolutely believe that a good curator can make you see art in a totally new and different way through their vision and expertise.

Hans Ulrich Obrist

Hans Ulrich Obrist

Art Pharmacy Consulting, Art Expert, Artists, Emilya Colliver, VANDAL Gallery

Art Curator Takeover: Birkenhead Point

Tuesday morning Art Pharmacy attended the opening of the new, revamped Birkenhead Point. A multi-million makeover that included players such as creative agency Vandal, Sweaty Betty PR, Michael Kors, Peter's of Kensington and Zanerobe; Art Pharmacy worked to head up the art curation strategy.

Over the year, Art Pharmacy will be showcasing a selection of  artists over the year from all over Australia. Each one will create bespoke work themed to our seasons whilst paying homage to what Birkenhead Point does best – premium fashion and lifestyle!

The art will sit in the giant window display and be interpreted digitally on a large screen, offering customers an almost parallel art experience using both traditional and modernised visual platforms.

First up to the plate is Sydney based paper artist, Jo Neville, who this week showcased a stunning bespoke paper floral installation, incorporating blooms and foliage inspired by a palette of muted pastels and dark colours. With her work often at scales exceeding 1,200cm per individual bloom, Jo will certainly open the project with a bang.

The inspiration behind Jo’s dark floral installation is the transition from Winter into Spring. The fashion seasons just as nature ebbs and flows - the once leafless trees burst their glossy buds into flower.  Jo’s artwork tells the story of trans-seasonal Sydney in both fashion and florals, a bare branch mounted with tiny paper buds that transform into giant burgeoning petals. The dresses evolve along the wall and the dark romantic tones are highlighted with glimpses of honest and sweet pastels. Made entirely from paper, this artwork is representative of the fervour and ever transient phenomena that is fashion, art and nature.

In addition, the new entry statement on Roseby Street showcases an impressive glass window display and state-of-the-art digital screen technology by Vandal.

As the year progresses, we will announce the four other artists set to work their magic at Birkenhead Point.

Art Expert, Artists, Exhibitions, Interviews, VANDAL Gallery

V∆ND∆L Gallery: Talking ‘Aboriginal Contemporary’ Exhibition

Interview with Nichola Dare, conducted by Jennifer Hesketh

V∆ND∆L Gallery will soon be celebrating the opening night of ‘Desert Stars’, an exhibition of Indigenous art to be guest curated by Aboriginal Contemporary owner, Nichola Dare. ‘Desert Stars’ consists of works from talented Indigenous Australian artists who live in remote communities.

‘Desert Stars’ will showcase the work of some of our finest living contemporary artists to an urban Sydney audience.

Jennifer Hesketh AKA Art Pharmacy artist Quirky Bones talks to Nichola about bringing remote indigenous art to an urban audience, sourcing art and ethics.

You’ve curated a very diverse selection of artworks and artists for this exhibition. What themes bind them together?
Nichola Dare: Essentially, two things link all the work in ‘Desert Stars’. The first is provenance. All of the paintings are from art centres in extremely remote desert communities. Some of them, such as Martumili, in the very heart of the Western Desert, is one of the most remote communities in all of Australia, many hours by 4WD from the nearest town of any significance.

The other thing that binds all these works is their connection to ‘country’, which is a profound concept for all Aboriginal peoples. Some of the works tell stories of country tens of thousands of years old, others are depictions of country, the locations of tracks, hunting grounds and waterholes.

The link between people and country is so complete in fact that there is a contemporary painting by Tjungkara Ken from Amata in the APY Lands in this year’s Archibald Exhibition, which, as you know, is a portrait prize, that is actually a representation of the land but submitted as a self portrait because of her connection to her lands. All credit to the Archibald curators for not insisting all portraits need to show eyes and a nose!

A big part of sourcing your art is travelling to these remote communities. How has your relationships with these art centres, artists and communities changed over time?
I consider it an extraordinary privilege to be able to go into these communities, most of which are totally off-limits to the general public and even some art dealers. Even though I’ve travelled to these communities many times, the raw beauty of the landscapes and the warmth of the people still fills me with excitement and awe.

The communities themselves are understandably cautious of strangers so it has been a long process of slowly earning their trust, listening to their concerns and always doing the right thing by them. Once you are accepted the relationships are very strong and need to be, as individual art centre managers move on and the communities of artists are also fluid. The work I sell through Aboriginal Contemporary in Bronte is one of the main sources of income for many of these communities so I feel a real sense of responsibility towards them.  A big upside of building authentic relationships with communities, art centres and artists over many years is getting access to some of the very best work that those art centres produce. I’m very lucky.

More and more people today are concerned about ethical practices in Aboriginal art. What role does this play in the way you select work and curate exhibitions?
Some of the stories of unfair and unethical exploitation of artists make my blood boil. People are right to be concerned and wary but at the same time it’s important they aren’t scared away from the category or both themselves and the communities who rely on art sales miss out.

My responsibility as a gallery owner is to ensure my customers can be confident they are buying work with impeccable provenance and can be confident that the artists are treated fairly, respectfully and ethically. The simplest way to do this is to work directly with the community art centres, who always issue certificates of authentication for every piece. Art centres also provide opportunities, training and career development for practising Aboriginal artists and arts workers and act as agents between artists and galleries, museums and institutions. Most art centres will sell directly to the public but as they are often in very remote locations it’s often more efficient for them to work alongside reputable galleries in urban areas, who are better placed to sell and promote the artwork.

Why is it important to bring regional Indigenous art to an urban audience?
It is not only important to bring remote community art to Sydney it is essential, for both the artists and customers.  Having worked with remote communities for the last seven years I know that people will look at this exhibition and be amazed at what they are seeing, this is as exciting for me to see as it is to sell an artwork.  It is also important for people to understand how scarce some of these works are, for example the only other works available in Sydney at the moment by Mabel Juli are held in the public collections by the MCA and the Art Gallery of NSW. My belief is that every home should be filled with art, as it is good for the soul, and when Australia has one of the richest art cultures in the world it makes total sense for that art to be indigenous art.

RSVP to event here

‘Waste To Art’: Children's Art Workshops

Jane Gillings will be the latest artist to lead an art-based children’s workshop at Green Square. Open to the public - kids (and parents) welcome!

Jane Gillings - Art Pharmacy

Jane’s workshops incorporate found objects; educating kids on how to use recyclable objects in creative ways. Her reluctance to throw anything away has developed into fantastic workshops that have enabled her to explore the possibilities of plastic as a sculptural material.

In an attempt to limit landfill, she collects our discards and fills her studio with them. Materials are meticulously sorted and examined for sculptural potential, eventually being cut, shaped, melted, wired, glued and presented as something else. Something that is unlikely to be discarded.

At the ‘Waste to Art’ workshop, Jane will be teaching children how to create art from found objects - creating works that they can then take home. Considering that children are so much more creative than adults we’re really excited to see what they come up with!

As well as exhibiting her smaller works in both public and commercial galleries, Gillings is regularly selected for a number of major outdoor sculpture exhibitions including, Sculpture at Scenic World, Sawmillers, Sculpture in the Vineyards, Willoughby Sculpture prize North Sydney Art Prize, and Sculpture by The Sea, where she exhibited for the tenth year in 2016.

Art Pharmacy Consulting is excited to work with Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW to be part of the strengthening of the local community at Green Square through art and collaboration.

When: Saturday 5th August: 12-2pm
Where: The Social Corner, 30 Ebsworth Street, Zetland NSW 2017

Artists, Exhibitions

Exploring Jenny Watson’s ‘The Fabric of Fantasy’

Written by Montana O’Neill

Artist Jenny Watson is an expert at transporting people into her world - something I learned on a recent visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney). The exhibition is curated to take audiences through the artist's career, beginning in the 1970’s. From the pastel colours on the walls, to Watson’s unique style of painting; the works evoke a childlike innocence - a theme that develops throughout the exhibition.

Artworks presented stem from major influences, including memories from childhood and stories shared - life in Melbourne, the St Kilda punk music scene, horses and travel. A treasure trove of memories, that exhibits as a personal narrative of identity. Watson’s featuring of mixed media collages of textiles, found objects, horsehair, text and imagery strengthens this feeling of narrative.

Watson has an ability to capture the viewer and draw them into the stories being portrayed. In many cases, there is a sense of vulnerability, connecting the viewer through an experience they can resonate with. Offering a playfully creative style, she incorporates scribbled words across the canvas of her art.

“I made a beautiful cake, heart shaped, for a party”

“We had a few drinks and were mucking around with a Singstar set up.”

“I found it difficult to believe that the youngest girl had not heard of Spandau Ballet.”

This art practice seamlessly conveys Watson’s thoughts, creating artistic purity through her works. Allowing the subconscious to flow through her work, naturally and unedited.

I personally found the Jenny Watson: Fabric of Fantasy exhibition to be engrossing and inspirational. Showing at the MCA, until October 2nd 2017.

Art Pharmacy Consulting, Artists, Interviews

Elyssa Sykes-Smith interview: School Holiday Workshops

This school holiday, local Sydney artist Elyssa Sykes-Smith, graduate of NAS and Sculpture By The Sea prize winner, will be leading workshops in East Village Shopping Centre for some artists in miniature (alongside their parents).

The arts and crafts activity will involve the creation of designs on timber letters, to later be installed on Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW’s hoarding at Green Square Town Centre. Mini artists and parents are invited to come see their handiwork once the artwork has been installed and grab a free hot drink from The Social Corner.

Why are kids so great to work as an artist?
I think the biggest reason why kids are so fun to work with  is that they’re not controlled by what is wrong, and what is right, and they’ll join together dots that we would sometimes stop ourselves doing as adults. So they can come up with amazing , creative combinations and ideas that just flow so naturally. And you can see that just with the artworks they made today. They approach it completely differently than I would and it’s really refreshing.

Do you try and incorporate this approach into your practice?
I think the more you’re around something, the more it rubs off. So that approach means I’m learning from it and it's an exchange. I think people often get too trapped into thinking we’re teaching kids things - but really we facilitate experiences for children and then we learn from them.

Any breakthrough creative moments when working with children?
Sometimes. Sometimes we’re just having a little chat about something and I’ll suggest they draw something - like a flower. And they’ll be like , “What?! Flowers? That’s so yesterday”.  Or they make the flower into something else that we were talking about, like a dragon, and they go on a creative journey.

Artists, Exhibitions

Exhibition Review - When the Sky Fell: Legacies Of The 1967 Referendum

Showing at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, 2nd July - 20th August 2017. Written by Karl Sagraab - a young writer from WA - tells Sydney based Art Pharmacy about what is happening in the Perth arts scene this NAIDOC week, and why art can address current issues of Indigenous recognition.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Federal Referendum, a catalyst point in the consideration of Aboriginal affairs in Australia, the exhibition at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, When the Sky Fell: Legacies of the 1967 Referendum, is poignant of current issues of recognition and acceptance.

Including works from artists such as Sharyn Egan, Mervyn Street, John Prince Siddon, Rammey Ramsey, and Kathy Ramsey. When the Sky Fell, explores consequences (or non-consequences) of the referendum, 50 years on. While the referendum removed discriminatory clauses from the constitution, it is often viewed as a grand failure toward Aboriginal Australians.

The works
Sharyn Egan’s work, The Nullians (2017), makes a commentary upon the diversity of Indigenous Australians - whose individual needs and rights were not considered by lawmakers. Each exquisitely sculpted piece in The Nullians is different from the others; bearing unique inscriptions, with each distinct within the mass of objects.

Sharyn Egan, The Nullians, 2017

Sharyn Egan, The Nullians, 2017

Mervyn Street’s works focuses heavily upon the droving days prior to the referendum - days hardly influenced by the referendum changes. Prior to 1967, many Aboriginal Australians worked on cattle stations and were paid not in wages but in rations of flour, sugar, and tea. Following the referendum, many Indigenous Australians lost their jobs due to the reluctance of white Australians to pay them a wage, let alone a living one. Street conveys this frustration in her works, consisting of illustrated saddles.

Mervyn Street, Barcoo Stock Saddle, 2017

Mervyn Street, Barcoo Stock Saddle, 2017

John Prince Siddon creates marvellously vivid etchings of life in Australia before the arrival of Europeans, making commentary upon the theoretical and flawed notion of the “Australian People”. Siddon’s work reflects the distinctly negative impact that the arrival of Europeans had upon the welfare of Aboriginal Australians - an impact manifest in the Referendum, despite all its good intentions.

John Prince Siddon, Australia, 2016

John Prince Siddon, Australia, 2016

Rammey Ramsey’s vibrant art speaks of connection to place. Working in ochre and acrylic pigment on linen, Ramsey’s pieces form a figurative and literal connection to the land, whereby the ochre both represents and is a part of the landscape it serves to paint. Kathy Ramsey’s work is, like Siddons’s and Ramsey’s, an incredible evocation of place. Painting her ancestral country, incorporating old Ngarranggarni stories and new tales of station life, Kathy combines country and history in canvases created with strong compositional narrative and use of negative space.

Rammey Ramsey, Untitled, 2008

Rammey Ramsey, Untitled, 2008

Kathy Ramsey, Bow River Country, 2016

Kathy Ramsey, Bow River Country, 2016

The Ceremony
The opening celebration, celebrating both the opening of the exhibition and the launch of NAIDOC week, was beautiful and moving, as befits the exhibition of this calibre. A wonderful welcome to country, performed by Nyoongar Elder Rev. Sealin Garlett, was followed by a dance performance from Moorditj Moort, and talks from the curator, Clothilde Bullen, and artists Mervyn Street, John Prince Siddon, and Charmaine Green.

In addition, Mervyn Street created a live sand-animation throughout proceedings that was projected onto the big screen in the Perth Cultural Centre to lend an air of grandeur and fascination for all to the occasion.

But perhaps the Hon. Paul Papalia MLA, Minister for Tourism; Corrective Services; Defence Issues; Gascoyne; Goldfields-Esperance, choice to suggest that the inherent value of Aboriginal Australian culture is purely for tourism benefits, was not the best addition to what was otherwise a great night.

In my view, this seemed to underline a lack of interest by the government in Indigenous affairs; marking the need for such a prescient exhibition.

Art Curator, Art Expert, Emilya Colliver

'The Australian Art Curator Blog' - Mass Produced Art And Where We Sit

The hyper globalised time we are living in is full of fantastic opportunity. With the growth of technology and communication, possibilities are limitless in terms of all the products available to us.

Mass production in the 20th and 21st centuries has a lot to do with our ever-building consumer culture. So many goods available are cheap, of reasonable quality and ready for us to purchase in an instant.

The work of artists often lies well outside these conditions, meaning many perceive them as unattainable to the majority. It is not unusual for a snap taken by a celebrated photographer to go into the triple digits, or champagne to be as associated with artists as easels.

Retailers and producers understood this issue from early on and decided to employ techniques of mass production to create affordable works, of limited artistic merit, to brighten up any space quickly. From reproducing masters to ordering blown up prints of a family snap, art is now accessible to everyone. But what is the price of this for the arts as an industry?

Although many products you find in department stores and other retailers will say they are ‘hand painted’, it isn’t specified how many hands were used. For example, the city of Dafen in China is the leader in wholesale oil painting, with thousands of people employed in the trade.

Giant industrial buildings house all these workers and their reproductions. Set up in rows are hundreds of canvases, and the painters make their way down the lines adding one or two simple strokes that they repeat again and again. Eventually, a whole work is produced after thousands of workers have contributed their small part. The result often is a well-done reproduction of the classic masters.

Desirable for consumers - not so for the workers. Like fast fashion, fast art can have its negative consequences.

Retailers make use of cheaply made oil paintings and simpler designs appropriated from artistic movements that are easily reproduced in print form. Ikea has a whole section dedicated to rolled up art prints ready for purchase. The majority is photography but there were also more ‘creative’ prints, one being an undeniable op-art design reminiscent of Bridget Riley, with no mention of its inspiration.

Ingrid Wilson

Ingrid Wilson

Joi Murugavell

Joi Murugavell

Simon Lovelace

Simon Lovelace

There’s clearly a market for affordable art, and it's no secret that I run my online art gallery, Art Pharmacy as a way to fill this niche in the Australian market. I want people to easily buy from local artists, ensuring not only the purchase of an original high quality piece that supports creatives, but something that doesn’t rely on the sweat of others.

While no one can resist a bargain, searching past cheap mass-produced works can be a gratifying experience. Go and have a stroll through local markets (or a scroll through our online gallery) and see all the amazing and original works available. Don’t start your art collection with an unethical mindset.

Artists, Exhibitions, VANDAL Gallery

VANDAL Gallery: ‘Somewhere Between’ Launch

Written by Kelsey Neumann

Thursday night saw the opening of ‘Somewhere Between’ at VANDAL Gallery. Presented in collaboration with Art Pharmacy, the show is the first group exhibition in the space; a collection from Joi Murugavell, Ariella Friend and Marnie Ross. The works connected effortlessly while still retaining individual styles that portray their experiences of the world around them.

Joi Murugavell’s paintings are a whimsical experience of bold colours and quirky characters.  All her works are annotated with parts of dialogue and inverted sayings that combine to show, “rare moments when I see things as they are” (Joi). An interactive performance piece set the mood for the event as Joi enthusiastically invited people to sit across from her and engage in conversation in ‘Ask me Anything’.

The works from Ariella Friend inject further variety to the show. Through her architectural installations of recycled wood, Ariella has combined the natural, through her materials, and the effects of society. Hanging low from the ceiling is ‘Playful’, 2017, with striped blocks of bright colours that catch the eye as the wooden planks splay out.   

Marnie Ross’ works highlight small moments in nature, particularly interactions of shadows and shapes. Marnie describes her works as, “abstract compositions layered with vividly coloured organic shapes” which, when clustered together, create a generous appreciation of small moments.

Well done to the artists, and thank you to those who supported them through purchasing works! They will be displayed at Vandal Gallery, 16-30 Vine Street, Redfern until the beginning of August.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for our next exhibition…

The remaining works for sale can be found herehere and here.

Art Pharmacy Consulting, Artists, Exhibitions, Art Curator

Calling All Future Espo’s: School Holiday Workshop For Mini Artists

Art Pharmacy Consulting is excited to work with Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW to be part of the strengthening of the local community at Green Square through art and collaboration.

Friday 14th July: 9am-5pm
Saturday 15th July: 9am-5pm

East Village Shopping Centre
4 Defries Ave, Zetland NSW 2017

As part of Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW’s creative hoarding initiative, there will be exclusive art making workshops for the world’s top creative thinkers... kids!

This school holiday, local Sydney artist Elyssa Sykes-Smith, graduate of NAS and Sculpture By The Sea prize winner, will be leading workshops in East Village Shopping Centre for some artists in miniature (alongside their parents).

The arts and crafts activity will involve the creation of designs on timber letters, to later be installed on Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW’s hoarding at Green Square Town Centre. Mini artists and parents are invited to come see their handiwork once the artwork has been installed and grab a free hot drink from The Social Corner.

Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW have opened The Social Corner at Green Square Town Centre. This new community meeting point is a space to relax, grab a coffee, collaborate and be inspired. There’s free Wi-Fi too.

The letters will spell out:

We want the creation of this artwork, as well as the final product, to reflect the importance of coming together, and getting to know each other. In short, the transforming nature of community in Green Square.

Read here about the giant rooster we created with Mirvac & Sykes-Smith for Chinese New Year

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