Art Pharmacy’s latest exhibition at VANDAL Gallery, INSIDE & OUTSIDE, opened last Wednesday nightRead More
Inside& Outside: Introducing three talented Sydney artists, who have come together to showcase the ways they use their art to change their relationship with the public and private spaces that they find themselves in.Read More
"In her Inner Western Sydney studio Spanish born artist Elsa Santos creates symbolic, layered multimedia works based on elements of nature..." An interview with Elsa SantosRead More
Writer Montana O'Neil caught up with the Sydney Art Pharmacy artist. See Bonnie's work here.
When Bonnie Porter Greene isn’t learning German, teaching her 13-year-old daughter the secrets of 35mm photography or editing articles for the collaborative website McPhee, she is busy in her studio with a paint brush and oil paints. We managed to catch up for a chat after her recent return from a creative retreat in California.
Bonnie studied Fine Arts at West Wollongong TAFE, majoring in painting in the late 1990’s and has painted ever since. After having children, she explored other creative processes including textiles and collage out of convenience.
However, she has always come back to oil paints as her medium of choice. The medium, as well as painting on board, allows her to be rough and energetic with her strokes adding energy and authenticity to the works.
In the creation of her large scale, vibrant artworks Bonnie says, “I am drawn to beauty in the everyday.” From natural landscapes, shadows on hills and rooftops to decaying and abandoned ‘forgotten’ places. Following a trip to New Zealand, Bonnie began painting mountain lines, explaining that she was left with a series of very dark paintings.
This darkness played on her emotional wellbeing as she said “[the experience] made me feel a little sad after being immersed in the dark paint for several weeks.” Since then she has produced artworks with vibrant and contrasting colour pallets which better reflect her state of mind.
Bonnie’s creative practice is very organic, starting with a few drawings in her sketchbook and growing into the finished product. She says that, “just getting my paints out and beginning is sometimes enough of an inspiration. I try not to wait for inspiration to strike but just to begin something.” As if the brush has a mind of its own and complete artistic freedom.
To keep these creative juices flowing, she never limits herself, working on multiple projects simultaneously, mixing with creative people and exercising and journaling daily.
“This festival will offer you the chance to get involved in your local creative community.”
How many times have you heard these enthusiastic words (or similar) from the latest culture festival? The words are true - a good festival offers “the uninitiated” an easy way into the art world. The supercillious gatekeepers - of being in the know and invited - melt into the shadows.
But is this message of welcome getting across? Sometimes, the buzzwords of ‘community’ seem so overused the sentiment behind it feels a little trite. Like any platitude worth its salt, simply telling us that it will benefit the community in some vague manner fails to remind potential festival goers why it is important to get involved in the first place.
Arts Festivals are about cutting through real and imagined social structures to bring everyone together to celebrate art. If we could get this message across meaningfully, can you imagine the results? Community engagement wouldn't just be a box on a form to tick, but a state of normalcy.
It’s hard to reach certain people when it comes to arts festivals.
‘But why?’ cries the overworked festival director, as they throw more money onto their increasingly boosted Facebook post.
Maybe they just need a bit of gentle coaxing. Art should be for everyone, but sometimes it’s easy to see why people might not feel welcome. For those “in the know” the reason behind going to all the events associated with arts festivals seems obvious. ‘Get involved, world!’ we yell over our shoulder, as we run off to another fantastic opening.
There’s the traditional argument that that museums - where art is traditional hosted - are elitist ‘private clubs’, or that only a certain ‘type’ of people go to art events. Or that even the structures (large, stonily imposing, heavy on the columns) are made to welcome some, and dissuade others. That money and class barriers are still an issue.
Musee D'Orsay, Paris and the Met Museum, New York, are two very traditional (and imposing) museum buildings
The more modern version of this argument might be that you have to wear, say or think a certain way to ‘fit in’ inside these establishments That you have to be an artist - or at least know the difference between oils and acrylics. The fear that, at any moment, you might be asked your thoughts on conceptual art, be exposed as the fraud you are; and consequently be chased out of the fashionable white cube gallery, by an edgily dressed mob, holding art-deco flaming torches.
To be fair, art festivals make an enormous effort to get new blood in (for example, Facebook events has been used to great success for reaching new crowds, and Sydney Contemporary shone focus on disenfranchised tenants at Waterloo, Sydney). And, once you’re there, you often find that the focus is usually more on the art, conversation and free nibbles than aggressively quizzing your neighbour on the pros and cons of a group show.
Yet, the feeling of exclusivity remains in the art world. It has gotten to the degree that some critics, such as Saksia Sassen, are arguing that art is increasingly being used as an "Art-washing" tool to gentrify and thereby increase rent in neighbourhoods.
Why is it important to keep trying to get everyone through the door? Well, firstly, an arts festival might find it hard to reflect society if all of society isn’t there, critiquing and examining. It’s sort of like Lisa Pryor’s recent complaint that an International Women’s Day Breakfast, populated by white, CBD nine-to-fiver females isn’t exactly in the spirit of the thing.
Secondly, it’s important to the economy of the artist to make people aware that supporting the arts in their community doesn’t always have to consist of buying that $30,000+ artwork. It can be as simple as turning up, and engaging with the work (although the odd bought painting would definitely not go amiss).
One way to engage midway is to get involved with artist workshops - and there’s always great ones around during festivals. From jewellery silversmithing, glass blowing and pottery making; to dominatrix life drawing, retro dancing workshops, and wine & watercolour evenings.
Not only is this beneficial for economic reasons (the artist gets a solid payment from all those taking part), but this active participation achieves what all festivals strive for - engagement with the community. People are interacting, getting to know their neighbours, all the while while learning about what is important to one of their local creatives.
For example, Sydney based collective Welcome Studio use their platform to introduce skilled artists (who are also asylum seekers) to the local Sydney community. 'Welcome' partner with the artists; empowering (and paying) refugee artists to run the workshops themselves.
One such artist, Alwy Fadhel, taught participants to paint with coffee, focusing on achieving different colour tones with the grains. This was something he’d been taught by a fellow artist while he was in an Australian Immigration Detention Centre.
The low barriers to this level of involvement between artist, individuals and art, is real community engagement; each party learning each other stories.
A workshop at internationally acclaimed Venice Biennale festival has taken a similar approach, when it hosted the Olafur Eliasson’s Green Light Workshop in it’s 57th year. The workshop invited refugees, asylum seekers and members of the public to take part in a program of creativity; making green light lamps, intervention performance art and screenings.
In order for festivals to reach their full potential, and reflect society, they need to shake things up by being as welcoming as possible. This could be as simple as making it more in the open - think the spectatorship of Vivid Sydney - or by reaching out into different communities.
So start small and see what’s around you. You might learn a bit more about the people out there than you think.
Read more from the Australian Art Curator Blog here
Art Pharmacy teamed up with our good friends at Saint O'Donnell to bring together their first “Select Talks” a creative discussion series centred around supporting emerging creatives in Sydney.
St. O’Donnell is a music artist, event, creative and venue management agency.
This time Tom Huggett (Astral People), Alexander Franco (Future Classic) and Tessa Kerans (Stop Start Music) chatted about Artist Management right here in our Vandal gallery space, in Redfern!
Sponsored by the ever generous Jameson's and Young Henry's.
See more images below
So, in the spirit of wishfully holding onto summer, I thought it would be timely to look into artists in residence programs.Read More
2018 is on the horizon, and in the tradition of the good old New Year’s resolution, I am suggesting you make a commitment: to participating in an art prize!
Involvement is not limited to artists, as any art enthusiast can enjoy the opinions of others on cutting edge and thought-provoking contemporary art.
For artists, whether you are well-established or rising through the circles, merely entering a competition can be hugely rewarding. There is also the potential for gaining the prize to look forward to.
Global art prizes create big business, in Australia specifically the industry is worth around AUD$4 million. As some in the field would be aware, there can often be some questionable bureaucracy within the funding and judging processes.
However, when regarding an artistic career through the lens of a business, which we cannot deny is an important aspect, the rewards can definitely outweigh the risks.
The more high-profile institutional prizes are often well recognised and garner great exposure for finalists and winner (the Archibald Prize immediately comes to mind).
The subject matter in the prize is full of famous faces, from portrait subjects to artists and even the judging panel. The Art Gallery of New South Wales stands by the 96 year old competition, although the quick judgment calls at the beginning of the process have come into question.
Not everyone is suited to these competitions, and if the big leagues aren’t your style, then there are plenty of small prizes to fill the gaps for a wide range of practices.
The Stencil Art Prize is an example of a small-scale award that seeks to recognise the exceptional works of artists working with stencils in their practice. It includes a major prize of $5000, which was presented this year to winners Jana & JS.
However, artists should not be scared off by the sheer size of the art prize industry. So here are a few benefits to help convince you of the merits of this New Year’s resolution.
Get involved in some healthy competition and back your skills and message. It may be daunting placing your work in an arena to be judged, but this is the same as any time a piece enters the public arena through an exhibition with anyone open to make similar judgements.
Exposure is everything
In order to make a living off your work, building a profile is essential. Art prizes are a way of self-curating your brand through entering yourself into particular circles that suit your message and practice.
Just think of it as another exhibition - finalists are often shown publicly and through the guise of an art prize.
Friends in high places
Judges can arrange an invested party with academic experts or a fellow artists and if your work is memorable or even one of the winners you can grow a very influential network. Even if you don’t win the award this time, your new-found network is sure to play a role for you in the future.
Did I mentioned the cash?
Aussies love competition so you can bet that the prize pool for a winner can often be a substantial amount of cash to give you a well-deserved boost. The romanticised idea of the struggling artist isn’t quite such a romantic reality, so the money can not only help your practice but support a full-time career.
Don’t change, don’t give up
The golden rule for these competitions is not to back down from what you know and what you want your work to represent. Many artists say there is pressure to change your work to suit the prize or its judges, but don’t compromise.
As I mentioned before, there are so many prizes out there so it is possible to find one that already subscribes to what you represent.
If all this has convinced you of the merits of art prizes, then the next step is finding one to get involved in. There are heaps of websites and apps such as Art Prizes that keep a very detailed system of both national and international prizes for you to engage with.
For emerging artists, the John Fries award is the perfect platform, with applications closing mid-January. A bigger option for 2018 is the National Works on Paper Prize, which closes in April and has a prize pool of $50,000 (an amount that’s hard to pass up).
So, make your new year’s resolution to enter the next step in your career through one of the hundreds of art prizes in our country.
By Emilya Colliver
I’ve always stressed the importance of artists knowing the is and outs of running their own business. They may have one of the best jobs in the world, but there is still the need to put themselves out there and act professionally. A daunting task!
There are many different ways you can be involved in creative industries, but a very specific way you can make it financially sustainable.
I’ve put together a few tips and recommendations for any artists wanting to take their art to new places.
This article is adapted from a speech I did at a Georges River & Bayside (GRaB) Arts and Culture Network talk in October 2017.
How Are Artists Commissioned?
Firstly, I want to explain how I even choose an artist for a commission. Once I receive a brief from a client I start thinking about what artists might fit. I pick artists for jobs in various ways. One of those ways is through our detailed database - with artists categorised by their mediums and styles or locations, to help us to find artists to a specific brief. But how do you get onto this list? We enter artists that we come across into the database so we can find them later, and we can come back to them if something comes up that will suit. If you’re not on the database or we don’t know you personally, we’ll find you through researching on Google and instagram, or asking around. The easiest and quickest way to find artists is online.
For all you artists shifting uncomfortably in your seats at the idea of publishing an online portfolio for anyone to see, time to get over that! Just get in there and have a go - start an online portfolio, put up old work and anything you are creating as it is finished. It’s important to document your work as it is finished and to post high quality images of your work - more than one picture of the same work is great - an in-situ shot of the work in studio or hung on a wall is a great way to portray the art at its best.
Instagram is a great start, but it’s not enough. You also need a clear bio or information about yourself. One example of a real specific brief I have received recently was to find an Eora nation aboriginal female artist who specialises in traditional weaving. If you don't have this written down somewhere, how would I identify you as an option?
This is why it’s so important to have an online presence with clear specifications as to what you do and how you define or identify yourself.
Do a quick test - could you be found on Google if someone was looking for you?
- Google yourself - what does someone need to Google in order to find you - does your name return your website? Can you find you through other keywords?
- Have I invested in high quality photos of my work and myself and are they online - take an objective approach as if you were a stranger viewing your website - what impression would I get?
- Is my CV and bio up to date? - what kind of questions might a stranger have about me or my art? Are those questions answered in the copy on my site?
- Am I using Instagram to it’s full potential - what are other artists in my space doing, are there any artists out there that you could collaborate with or learn from?
A great example of an artists’ digital presence is Sydney based artist Joi Murugavell (a.k.a Oodlies) has a really well developed website, with lots of options related to working with her demonstrated on the menu bar across the top. She has lots of high quality images of her and her work, detailed biographical and other information, links to an up to date Instagram showing what she’s working on, and a clear way to contact her. Have a look at her website here - oodlies.com
What is your bread and butter in terms in earning an income from art? Be thinking constantly about how you can develop creative output that can be a steady stream of income (no matter how small). Although most artists would jump at the chance to do large, high profile commissions, those opportunities can be rare. But there are lots of other opportunities to make a living out of your creativity. That may come in the form of small ceramic items, or affordable prints, gift cards or design work. Two examples of artists that have diversified are Ellie Hannon and Gabby Malpas.
Diversify your output and your skills, so you can be flexible with clients and meet a range of criteria and demands during projects. Think of skills as tools in your box that you can apply to a range of projects. An online store is a great way to practice some new skills at a low cost while creating productive output. A range of skills also provides great opportunities for collaboration.
I’ll be following up with more tips for artists wanting to professionalise. In the meantime you can also email email@example.com if you want to find out more about getting onto Art Pharmacy as one of our artists.
Last night at VANDAL Gallery was the opening of a unique art exhibition mixing a touch of gasoline culture with Australian contemporary art. Art Pharmacy had the pleasure of collaborating with the guys from Sabotage Motorcycles to curate a show consisting of 20 DMD Helmets that have each been hand-painted by a hand-picked group of Sydney-based artists. With a truly wide range of styles, from renowned mural artists such as Scott Marsh, Sindy Sinn, Mike Watt, and Karen Farmer, to contemporary aboriginal artists Blak Douglas and Jason Wing, and the bold geometric styles of Nico, through to exceptional emerging talent such as Apeseven, Ingrid Wilson, Vincent Buret, Amy Roser, M-Lon and Skulk to name a few. The opening night saw well over 400 people through the door with Young Henrys and Sailor Jerry providing refreshments and some bids already placed!
If you want to own one of these wearable and truly one-off works, then now's your only chance. They are being auctioned right now through eBay - but be quick, the auction ends on 7th December. On top of that, 100% of the profits raised from the helmet auction will go to the incredible cause Movember Foundation, which funds research into men's health and prostate cancer. A huge amount of support has been given for this event, with DMD kindly providing the 'blank canvas' helmets, Smith Concepts have donated their time to clear-coat each one to ensure a shiny and durable finish, Vandal Sydney for the gallery space, and Throttle Roll for some great images of the night and also some of the artists working on the helmets in their studios.
VANDAL even put their own spin on the exhibition with an incredible showcase of a superb augmented reality helmet!
Special thanks to Pete Cangnacci for snapping away on the night!
VANDAL Gallery: 16-30 Vine St, Redfern NSW 2016
Open: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm
Bidding is live NOW on eBay, and closes 11.30am on 7th Dec!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to manage a collection of valuable, famous art works? Or about where famous works live if when they're not in a museum?
Last month, Art Pharmacy had the privilege of meeting up with James Birch - a well renowned English art dealer, curator and gallery owner, who is most known for his innovative support of British art. He is famous for exhibiting Francis Bacon in Moscow, in the then USSR, in 1988; Gilbert & George in Moscow in 1990, and Beijing and Shanghai in 1993. He studied Art History at the University of Aix-en-Provence, before training in the Old Master department of Christie's Fine Art in London where he later established the 1950s Rock & Roll department. In 1983 he opened his first gallery, James Birch Fine Art, on the King's Road, London and has since worked with impressive artists such as Grayson Perry and has collaborated on numerous projects with a host of other well-known artists.
Emilya Colliver paid a visit to James in London in October 2017, where she had a look at his collection. She was also lucky enough to have a chat to Mia Gubbay, who manages his art collection in London.
James Birch and Mia Gubbay in London
Tell us about yourself - how did you find yourself in this position of managing James Birch’s collection?
Istudied at Central Saint Martins' and at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. I've worked on independent arts projects, as an oral historian, and as an exhibitions officer for a public collection. For the past two years I've worked with James Birch's collection, and I've had the great experience of working on this recent exhibition of British Underground Press alongside both James and cultural historian Barry Miles.
Did you feel overwhelmed with the amount of art in the house when you started?
I did – but it was a good sort of overwhelmed because I think discovering how other people live is such a privilege. This discussion reminds me of the book A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit - which is about embracing the unknown. One amazing thing about this job is that it involves pausing to thoroughly examine everything around me
Do you ever pick up a piece and think ‘Oh My God it's a___’! Any specific occasions come to mind?
Once I had to transport a very long nail which was an artwork by Günther Uecker and a pink inflatable poodle by Jeff Koons to an auction house together - the realisation that one artwork could destroy the other was quite uncomfortable.
What’s your favourite piece of the collection?
There are so many. At the moment I find myself constantly turning back to a very simple looking poster - a 1980’s blue monoprint in support of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. Greenham common was an RAF site where cruise missiles were stored and which, through the actions of thousands of women, became a place to think about the future.
The second is actually a whole body of work by Eileen Agar, who James exhibited in the 1980s. Agar borrowed Surrealist methods, she used found objects to make sculptures and collage. Although she never fully committed to the Surrealist movement, she depicted the everyday, believed in imagination - and in the power of just letting herself make things – unedited.
What is the most unusual placement of a work in the house?
There are a lot of unusual placements. When I sit at my desk I am surrounded by photographs and drawings. There is one on my left by the Soviet poet Mayakovsky. It is a very delicate pencil drawing of a softly smiling face - with claws!
FFrom your experience with James, what do you think the secret to a good private art collection is?
I think art can answer something personal for people and there are no rules for that, but generally, examining the social contexts of works, where you acquire them, and your own social agency in relation to those things is important so I'll try to explore those things a bit.
Firstly, you might not be able to own some works - a lot of the art I admire the most is process based - like the work of Tania Bruguera for example, but you may be able to support the artist, or share their work in other ways. So really, finding out what you are moved by is the first step.
James' collection has come together over many years and partly as a result of his support for artists early on in their careers (he gave Grayson Perry his first exhibition for example) – this is undeniably connected to his love of going out, meeting artists, calling people up, seeing smaller exhibitions and developing a feel for it all. It's also about nurturing a space that responds to the visceral.
Another aspect of James Birch’s collecting habit relates to movements and individuals who or which have been historically overlooked. Part of the fun is still having much more to discover than has been documented. This process also works in symbiosis with institutions, as such works have the potential to add new voices to historical narratives.
To support related approaches to collecting we have tried to make sure works are publicly exhibited. This benefits the collector, the artist, institutions who have more of a capacity to evaluate their audiences and engage with contemporary critical debate and thus to request and contextualise works - and of course it makes them accessible.
What is the difference between managing a private collection and managing a collection in a gallery?
It’s really different! All collections are different and the way they are maintained will reflect that. Because of the smaller scale of this organisation, I deal with all the aspects of exhibition work - perhaps more than I have when working for larger institutions. Aside from research this involves corresponding with press, collections documentation and care, consignments, recruitment, acquisitions, insurance, auctions, assisting with articles and catalogues, accounts, artist liaison, correspondence and anything else that crops up. On Wednesday for example, we transported some rare books, showed a curator around the British Underground Press Exhibition, had coffee with Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols and then I finished the monthly accounts. It's incredibly varied!
Art Pharmacy and Vandal Gallery are hosting a motorcycle helmet exhibition in conjunction with Sabotage Motorcycles with twenty of Sydney’s best artists decorating the helmets in their individual styles. The helmets will be auctioned for charity via eBay, with 100% of profits going to Movember Foundation. There will be a gold coin donation for entry (or more if you’re feeling generous!) and drinks will be supplied by the lovely Young Henrys and Sailor Jerry teams.
There's a broad range of styles from a long list of Sydney-based artists - Amy Roser, Sindy Sinn, Mike Watt, Chico @ INSACIOUS, Jason Wing, M-lon, Lauren Webster, Kentaro Yoshida, Vincent Buret, Skulk, Nev Sety, Scott Marsh, Blak Douglas, Karen Farmer, Ingrid Wilson, Nico, Ginger Taylor, Kyle Smith, Simon Lovelace, Apeseven, and Joi Murugavell.
When: 30 Nov, 6pm-10pm
Where: Vandal Gallery, 16-30 Vine St, Redfern
Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/294188104399528/
What does it mean to be an Australian artist? Chatting with painter Bernard Greaves
By Vanessa Ocansey
Bernard Greaves is a young artist from Sydney whose luscious oil paintings are reminiscent of Ben Quilty and Nicholas Harding with their thickly applied swathes of paints.
Having trained as an architect, Bernard is once more exploring the realm of painting, something that he first dabbled in when in high school.
When exactly did your love for art become obvious?
I loved art from an early age. My earliest memories of loving art was from getting up early on a weekend when I was 5 or 6 years old and sketching in a book when my sisters were watching TV. When I was in primary school and people asked what I wanted to be when I was older I would say "an artist". Both my parents enjoyed the creative arts and they pushed me to work on my drawing/painting at a young age when I had spare time. From that age I knew that I loved art more than most.
You are inspired by Australia as a whole, what does being Australian mean to you?
This is a very interesting question that I'm not sure I have a straightforward answer to. Having spent considerable time living overseas in a developing country, returning to Australia has given me a different perspective on my own identity as an Australian.
To me, being Australian means I have to recognise how extremely fortunate I am to be living in this country. By reflecting on this, I will understand that I have a duty to help others less fortunate than myself by firstly upholding values of respect, generosity and kindness to my neighbours.
I am inspired by the "great outdoors", the Australian landscapes that give me a reason to share these through art. I am inspired by the Australian people that fight for human rights e.g. Ben Quilty, one of our most well known artists who speaks out against social injustice. Being Australian means I should show gratitude for these landscapes, these people but also the opportunities and freedoms the country has given me to grow.
Being Australian means I must also question and criticise certain values that our Country can head towards, ideas that are fuelled by greed, fear and selfishness. Using Australia as a focus of my painting may hopefully help people reflect and discuss these ideas I've mentioned when viewing my work.
Which skills as an architect have you seen transcend into your art?
Probably learning rules of perspective, scale, composition, balance and ratios in building which can be translated to the artistic field. Architecture sits somewhere in the middle of science and art, and sometimes these principles can be easily transferred further to the artistic end of the spectrum. Understanding when something "works" is a skill that you slowly develop whilst learning these ideas. Creating iterations and pushing yourself to keep improving a design is another skill that can be transferred from the architecture/construction field to the canvas.
What skill do you want to master, that you haven't quite mastered yet?
I still have a long way to go as a painter before I am confident in my skills. I would like to be able to paint with more precision, paint with more flare and create my own identity as an artist. Because of the way I use the oil paint medium in thick strokes, I need to get better at showing finer detail on a smaller scale to avoid looking too messy and amateur.
Also, I need to perfect different colour palettes to suit colour themes, so working on mixing certain types of paints, understanding different combinations and what works together is an important skill as a (thick) oil painting artist that I would like to develop.
What are your top three sources of inspiration to fix a creative block?
I always try and take photos on my phone when I am out and about. If ever I am struggling with ideas I might go through my phone, see something that I liked and try and paint it or some part of it. Could be landscapes around Sydney, people, objects or anything that I think would look cool hung up on a wall.
Music is a great way to inspire me to get up and paint. Because of my style of painting is based heavily on movement and quick, short sessions in front of the canvas, music offers a great source of energy to get up and into a rhythm where I can start to "feel" the process a bit better. I will try and play something energetic, Hip Hop or some House tunes that get me moving around my space and bopping my head. It builds confidence and stops me from pausing and over-thinking my next move, which creates indecision and that shows up in the artwork.
I always try and study my biggest art influencers. Ben Quilty, Guy Maestri, Nicholas Harding, Paul Ryan and Craig Waddell just to name a small few. All of these artists have reached great success in the Australian art scene and they all paint in the thick stroke/palette knife style of oil painting. Looking at their work closely and doing my best to understand their work always inspires me to pick up the knife and start slapping paint on the canvas.
You can see all of Bernard’s available paintings here
Talented emerging Sydney-based artist Jaimee Paul has an upcoming exhibition at Suki & Hugh Gallery, “All that you’ve become”. Featuring a body of watercolour paintings and drawings, she hopes to “foster memories in each of us; a story of family, of childhood, of connection, of loyalty and being proud of where we come from”. When she lost her father earlier this year she made the decision to channel her grief into her art to create something positive.
Her father, Chris Paul, was a champion bull rider, dog whisperer and horse man. Jaimee who is a self-proclaimed environmental warrior herself often uses her practice to create awareness around endangered species.
Jaimee believes: “Art has the power to evoke emotions from audiences not usually partial to stare inside the eyes and soul of a furry being. Fostering personal connections between human viewer and animal subject I hope to fulfil my purpose of creating meaningful art leading to positive changes in today’s global climate”.
Exhibition opening 18 November 2017, 3-5pm
Continues until 17 December 2017
Suki & Hugh Gallery
38A Gibraltar Street
It’s a fact of life that’s so obvious it sounds vaguely unhelpful: people avoid some places, but not others.
You’ll take the longer route through the sunny park where your friends hang out, rather than go the quicker way that would mean crossing two roads of busy traffic.
But have you ever asked yourself what is it within these spaces that give us these impulses?
Public placemaking asks these questions and attempts to heighten our positive associations with place. It’s is a fascinating practice that has in recent years taken the design world by storm. It can incorporate elements of design, architecture, artworks and events planning.
Celebrated by some as a creative way to reinvent and reconnect the community, and condemned by others as a method of gentrification, placemaking can be divisive.
But just what is placemaking?
Placemaking is an increasingly popular term for the holistic practice of designing and capitalizing on the character of public spaces in order to promote inter-connection, interaction, wellbeing and social identity.
It intrinsically relies on local identity and what is already there, and is a holistic practice. You must consider the space as a whole; not just focusing on one part.
Yes, you could plonk an art installation into the centre, but it needs to interact with the elements already in the space, particularly the community that is already there.
But it can be used to deter antisocial behaviour in certain spaces, like local hotspots known being a drug dealer hangout: an action that alienates others from the community from the space
One notable work that was undertaken to reduce crime rates was undertaken by Project for Public Space at Bryant Park, New York. A park once known as a drug dealer hang out became much more sociable after placemaking efforts. Taking a holistic approach, the space was opened up by removing hedges that were contributing to constricted viewpoints, while food kiosks were added to encourage socialising.
It’s this consideration of the dynamics of the space beforehand that is vital. Placemakers should ask themselves, what do people come to the space expecting, and should this be changed.
For example - does the space itself already feel safe? Are there an equal amount of women and men in the space? What are the interests of the demographics of the area? And perhaps most importantly: how can we address this in a sustainable and ethical manner?
Sometimes the best approach to placemaking is simplicity. Or at the least - the placemaking doesn’t have to be overly complicated.
While recently attending a Placemaking conference in Europe, I was walking down a quiet Utrecht street with some relatives, when we came upon a group of children going to town with utensils on some pots and pans. They had been hung up by in the square by an artist on a metallic structure as part of a community engagement project.
Provided with utensils, the kids had a freedom that terrifies me as a parent - to make as much noise as they could! The effect (besides an almighty din) was that children and by extension, their bemused parents, had a welcome opportunity to loiter in the sun.
While the swarming and excited children were distracted, parents were relaxing: talking to each other, and getting to know their community that little bit more.
Groups of people stopped and interacted within the space, rather than passing through it; providing a rare and unexpected opportunity for ‘play’ in a world that is all too serious.
The simple addition of the pots and pans made the street not a thoroughfare - but a destination!
Which leads me to my next point: placemaking doesn't have to be expensive. As The Project for Public Spaces points out, less costly options can make a placemaking project not only just as good, but better.
Less costly, temporary and/or smaller scale installations can act as community research; gaging what works for larger projects down the track.
This temporary work was not only sustainable in terms of recycling, but in terms of ensuring the vitality and effectiveness of placemaking attempts by allowing budget for future projects.
If done well placemaking has the power to bring once disconnected people together on common meeting ground in what is an increasingly disconnected world.
This could even be needed in spaces that already have a strong cultural heritage. For one placemaking project I worked on in Five Dock, Sydney, we drew heavily from the large Italian community already living in the space.
Alongside the artist Marta Ferracin, we decided to use the Italian oral storytelling tradition to highlight the heritage of the area.
Collecting local stories, the artist made recordings in Italian and English that were looped from speakers inside tall, coloured, clustered sculptures.
The setup was designed to encourage people to sit in, interact with, and take a moment of rest in Fred Kelly Place where the speakers stood. Here, strategic placemaking gave the community a rare moment of rest and reflection.
But like anything, placemaking has its critics. Some placemaking efforts have been likened to ‘Art-washing’, which suggests that that cultural development via activities such as public art projects leads to financial gains by developers through gentrification.
While to some, gentrification is welcomed as a ‘cleaning-up’ of suburbs, to other it is simply a sign that rent is about to go up and minority groups will be forced out by rising costs of living.
Clearly this is a complex issue, as encapsulated by urban critic Matt Yglesias in this ‘Project for Public Spaces’ article - “[While concerns about people being priced out are not] crazy, it is crazy that this is the kind of thing people need to worry about in urban politics. ‘Your policies will improve quality of life in my community’ should never be a complaint about a policy initiative.”
It leads to the question, just who does the public space belong to? As people move more and more from their roots, community lines can become more malleable; individuals more isolated in unknown environments.
I would argue that this should give greater incentive to strengthen community ties in the areas. Instead of always trying to create new culture, great placemaking projects are the ones that strengthen the existing culture as well as foster new ties and being socially inclusive.
As placemaker Cara Courage says, ‘Conversations happen in hyperlocal’. It is well thought out placemaking that has the power to trigger these conversations.
By Louisa Tiley
Artist Kate Robinson talks the complex paper designs that feature in her installation Couture in Bloom for Birkenhead Point Shopping Centre.
It's a rainy Saturday and back in the studio finishing off butterfly dresses. . . @krcreative @birkenheadpoint @artpharmacy @vandal.sydney @sweatybettypr . . . #paper #paperartist #paperengineer #artproject #art #sydney #sydneyprops #visualmerchandising #butterfly #butterflies #windowdisplay #paperbutterflies #australia #krcreative #birkenheadpointartproject #birkenheadpoint #artpharmacy #vandalsydney #sweatybettypr #colorplan
This summer the Art Pharmacy team are bringing Birkenhead Point Centre to life through exciting installations by a number of established Australian artists, including Jo Neville AKA Paper Couture.
Launch of Birkenhead Point art window box curated by Art Pharmacy. Our first artist Jo Neville @paper_couture with her stunning autumn florals. We teamed up with @vandal.sydney for the digital content to marry with the window artwork! Another four more art window boxes to be curated over the next year #birkenheadpoint #artpharmacy #artcurator
This week writer Louisa Tiley spoke to paper maestro Kate Robinson about her elaborate contribution to the Birkenhead Point space. A spacious window display will house Robinson’s intricate, paper-based dresses - a body of work titled Couture in Bloom. They’re dramatic and oversized, with butterfly laden skirts draping up the walls in a fan-like way.
Read on to find out more about Robinson’s unique artistic approach, motivation behind her recent works and ongoing evolution as an artist.
What are the steps in creating each piece (and how long does the process generally take)?
I always start with a mood board. I collect images that I have sourced online from web searches and Instagram etc. I normally do this over a couple of weeks. Then I will narrow down my images to a moodboard of colours, textures and shapes that I think will work well.
While I am collecting images I will be thinking about my own designs and shapes that I want to work with and this will determine the final moodboards. I will make some initial sketches and doodles on paper but I will mainly put my concepts together on the computer.
For this project, and previous paper outfits I have made, I don’t make final sketches of how the pieces will look. I find it easier to have a rough concept and then create the final design as I make the outfits, this allows me more freedom.
How crucial is the butterfly symbol to this work?
The butterfly is the key symbol in my outfits, they are symbols of transformation and growth but also of fragility, and paper can be such a fragile medium to work with.
By not having a finalised sketch to base these pieces on I can adapt and change them as they come together. I think this element of the outfits growing into their own creation as I add butterflies reflects the symbol of the butterfly and metamorphosis.
What’s the motivation behind your vibrant colour palette?
As my work will be displayed in the warmer months, and the colour palette for Birkenhead Point was called bright summer, I wanted to make sure I used bright colours in my art project. Spring and summer are times for new life and growth and I thought that a rainbow of colours would reflect the season change and also reflect the new development for Birkenhead Point.
What materials do you use? And where do you source them?
For this project I am working in mainly in paper. It's so tactile and it comes in so many textures, thicknesses and colours. I enjoy working out how paper can be manipulated to form different shapes, and that it can be beautiful flat as well as 3D.
I liaise directly with paper houses to source my paper, as it means I can buy the sheets in a larger format and have access to a wider variety of thicknesses, finishes and colours.
For the base construction of Couture in Bloom I have also used different bodysuits and an actual suit to adhere the paper butterflies to. The skirts of the butterflies are made from fishing line.
How do you view the relationship between fashion and art?
I like the concept of fashion as art and I do not feel that art needs to be only hung on walls or shown in an art space. Fashion, like art, is about people having something to say and a way to express themselves.
Have you encountered many challenges in the fashion space?
The only fashion pieces I have ever created have been in paper, which can be quite a challenge in itself - but it’s the challenge I enjoy most. Working out how I can make paper into a material that can be draped like fabric really interests me as paper has a much more rigid fibre structure than most fabrics.
When, how and why did you get into art making?
I have always enjoyed drawing and creating art. I studied fine arts at university but ending up working in graphic design once I graduated. Since I started working fulltime in graphic design, I have created artworks in my own time through the medium of drawing, painting and papercuts.
I saw a paper artist present at Semi Permanent in 2013 and decided I wanted to do that for a living. I have had some great opportunities over the past 4 years working in paper, and most of my paper works are commercial commissions.
My next plan is to create a collection of personal paper pieces over the next 12 months, inspired by travels from the last few years - particularly the Moorish patterns and architecture from Spain, Morocco and India.
Who is your art idol?
I don’t have one art idol, but there are several artists that inspire me (although my own work doesn’t necessarily reflect their styles).
I really like the graphic, bold style of both Andy Warhol and Meggs, an Australia graffiti artist. I have worked in graphic design for the past 15 years and I can see similarities between their use and choices of colour in my own graphic design work.
Other artists and their work that inspire me include John Lennon’s illustrations and paper artist Matt Shlian’s geometric pieces.
You can view Robinson’s Couture in Bloom at Birkenhead Point from 3rd November 2017.
Written by Jennifer Hesketh AKA Quirky Bones
Art Pharmacy artist and COFA graduate Luca Goczey creates works that are a meditative reflection of her personal experiences; with her dramatic black ink and watercolour creations create depth and a breaking of space. Being surrounded by art her whole life, Luca talks to Art Pharmacy about how her burgeoning body of work places an emphasis on symbolism, and why emerging artists motivate her.
Growing up surrounded by art - what specifically drew you to art playing a role within your day to day life?
Art was always a loveable habit of mine when I was younger, but continually throughout my life it became more of a conscious and necessary activity. Everyone has input and output channels which one uses to interact with the world. While for others this might be sport or even work, for me my most important outlet was drawing and creating.
Your work presents strong systems of symbolism which reflects your experiences - how is this represented throughout certain aspects of your work?
The symbolism within my work is present through various aspects such as colour, pattern and size each representing different people, places; and times. The colours in which I use within my practice play a huge role in referring to my different moods and times.
For me I can see clear parallels can be drawn between my use of colour and periods of my life where as patterns usually represents people while as the use of size; and repetition visually portrays my mental states.
Your artworks are bold and heavily feature a black and white colour scheme - what other art styles or artists have influenced your work?
Many of my pieces I have at Art Pharmacy hold an appreciation to the clean and bold nature of black and white. By taking colour out of the equation my works become more focused on the subject matter. The use of black and white makes my drawings feel almost naked in a sense.
In regards to my influences I wouldn't say that my art is heavily influenced by any particular artistic styles or any certain artists. But when I view my work I can definitely tell that I draw throughly from surrealism, romanticism and often oriental art as well.
I know that I am following various talented artists on different social media platforms whom are all in a very similar career position as myself. For me it is very nice to be able to follow their progress; watch them grow and succeed. I find this motivates me more than any viewing any other famous artists progression.
With a background in studying Painting and Philosophy - what connection do you feel exists between the two subject matters?
When reading this question I can't say for sure that all philosophical themes have a connection to art, but the body of work I create and the philosophies I enjoy do go hand in hand. On the one hand, philosophy stands as a source of inspiration for me; reading topics such as consciousness; and metaphysics have inspired such imagery that over time for me. I have seen it slowly develop into my artworks.
Whereas on the other hand, art has it's own individual department in philosophy, wherein that the aesthetics often explore the very nature of art.
What projects do you have coming up or would like to work on in the future?
Lately I have actually worked on quite different projects recently - one called 'The Bar Series Sydney Edition'. This series is comprised of ten black and white watercolour; and felt tip pen illustrations which are to be showcases within a range of small bars located in Sydney.
Another project I have been working on is quite different - cocktail menu illustrations. I’ve decided to carry through my black and white, intricately hand-drawn style to these pieces.
You can see all of Luca's works for sale here
Written by Montana O’Neil
Inspired by the everyday magical moments, as well as climate and human driven catastrophes, artist Kevina-Jo Smith sets to work transforming everyday items of waste into works of art.
“I try to process and translate my thoughts into a more positive outcome.”
“I am a total bowerbird, I collect with the intent to turn the mess into something eye catching with a million details.”
I recently had the chance to catch up with the artist to discuss sustainable living, her unusual art practice and her upcoming Vandal exhibition, Magic and Mayhem in Sydney.
What does sustainable living mean to you, and how has it affected your life and art practice?
I try to make thoughtful choices in my everyday life, sustainable living to me basically means to limit my contribution to the waste of energy and raw materials needed to produce cheap, single use products. Also to give back, contribute rather than use up and throw away.
This is what led me to the challenge of using up-cycled and found materials, so as not to create more waste such as chemicals and single use packaging. It can get really frustrating and messy, sometimes it feels like a huge burden. I dream of being able to paint again, sometimes I cheat by collecting mis-tints and old paint, they are technically waste.
You mentioned you used to paint: has the shift to your current use of found materials affected the motivation, focus and subject matter within your works?
I think it did to begin with, because I focused more on figuring out how to use the materials and in what ways I could use them that were different to other waste art projects; I didn’t want to fall into that category.
I guess, for a time I was more concentrating on the materials, but my original subjects definitely came back. I’ve still been working on those and just going deeper with them.
How has your move to the Blue Mountains affected your art practice?
I moved to the Blue Mountains six and a half years ago; immediately I was inspired. I was high on fresh air for a while… I became addicted to the high rate of production within my practice.
More recently, I appreciate that my practice still exists because I can afford to live here. I truly appreciate the headspace, but I always liked the idea of celebrating other artists achievements - we work hard!
I do miss the creative communities I have had previously in Melbourne and Sydney, but I have an incredibly supportive community up here. In many ways being outside of a city makes me think more about being part of a broader, global artistic community. I have to work harder, but it’s ok, it’s all I want to do.
Is there a theme or a particular idea you explored in creating the works for Magic and Mayhem?
I always work to a theme. I get a bit lost in creating a world for the work to belong to. In the lead up to Magic and Mayhem I have been thinking a lot about trying to appreciate balance.
Our everyday lives are full of distress and anxiety, we are consumed by social media and news platforms that are streaming natural disasters, humanitarian disasters, equality issues, climate and environment extremes, mass extinctions, domestic violence… there is no end.
I guess I am trying to find balance and shift focus to some positives, such as new species being discovered and the rise of renewable energy support. But not just big things - tiny magic moments, rainbows, collecting and eating food that you have grown, laughing with loved ones. Celebrating the small stuff to give you energy to deal with the big stuff.
My work has always been about different forms of protection and shelter, I began by looking at it from a very selfish point of view… a lot of self-portraits and self-analysis which developed into struggling with how to protect everything. Clean water, forests, oceans, animals. Everything. Most of my works are abstracted forms of shelter, such as clothing and structures.
What feelings would you like the exhibition to inspire in its audiences? What messages would you like them to take away?
I was thinking about this actually. I guess a sense of comfort, the way I try and represent the feeling of protection or the idea of shelter. I want to make people feel secure and comfortable but also more aware and conscious.
Within the growing awareness, but making it approachable. It seems like a lot of people are afraid to make changes, so I guess making it more approachable and making people more aware.
Your works are very impressive! What tools and materials do you use most? Which are your favourite?
Thank you! My main tool, at the moment, is my hands. The materials are predominantly rubbish. It’s hard to have a favourite. I have a few people in my life who collect incessantly.
For me, my lifestyle choices don’t really produce much waste, so I enlist people to save bits and pieces for me. I guess I observe materials for their texture, colour and availability. For example, I was recently making beads from straws and lollipop sticks because they are everywhere on the ground, at the beach etc.
I guess when I see something on repeat I start to formulate ideas through the frustration. I remember at one point my partner and I were buying a lot of oranges at the fruit market, so I was making various things with the fluoro plastic string bags: sewing them together, weaving through them.
I did a series inspired by the Japanese art of Kokedama. Instead of wrapping the root ball in string, I nestled plants into the string bags and strung them up. I guess my tools and materials evolve depending on what is being wasted around me. I look for solutions.
If you know anything about art you probably have some awareness of the great movements in the art world - Impressionism, Surrealism, Dadaism, Postmodernism … too many to name here! More recently, it's Post-Internet art and artists who have surfaced from ideas into the common consciousness.
Post-Internet Art has emerged from the awareness that we live in an image-saturated world, with methods of capturing, reproducing and editing developing more and more each day. The surveillance of our society is at an all-time high.
In this art movement, the artists reflect on the impact of the internet on our world, and the way we now live in it.
The term was coined in academia in 2008, and drew a clear line of difference from net-art of the 1990s.
Whereas Internet/Net Art from the late nineties and noughties consisted of digital art disseminated online, artists that work with Post-Internet concepts address the interesting and odd cultures that have sprung out of the internet’s complete infiltration of the human experience (think along the lines of Netflix’s speculative fiction series, Black Mirror).
Awareness of surveillance has led many artists addressing this theme. Canadian Jon Rafman’s ongoing 9 Eyes project takes advantage of already implemented surveillance infrastructure to curate hundreds of photos sourced from the internet.
He demonstrates how surveillance captures the entirety of contemporary human experiences - including the cute, the scary, and the downright odd.
Rafman scoured Google street view to present his audience with the most bizarre, fascinating and sometimes confronting scenes captured by the cars driving streets of the world with their nine lenses.
The images confront the viewer with small moments of human interaction and nature; the innocence of children skipping, a man holding a weapon in a rabbit mask, a near naked woman screaming at the Google car, a beautiful composition of sunlight streaming through a forest.
In a similar vein, artist Jenny Odell’s work also trawls through the “stifling sea of instantaneity” that she calls the internet. But while Rafman focuses in on the micro, Odell does the opposite.
Using images found through Google Satellite Images, the artist creates recognisable imagery from the alienating, sky-down perspective landscapes provided by the web. One such project, Burn, saw Odell collecting images of coal repositories across the world; using the internet to remind audiences of repetition of circumstance across the world.
Playfully creating social critique, Odell also took herself on a ‘virtual road trip’; in which she used Google Street View and other online sources to map a fake photoshopped journey across the country. Realistic to a T, Odell factored in elements such as petrol, food and distance.
Eventually published as a book, ‘Travel by Approximation: A Virtual Road Trip’, false photos of the artist in situ were accompanied by a narrative and references to places learned about through sites such as TripAdvisor.
While Odell said the final work emphasised, the ‘flatness and deficiency of my virtual experience’, to I think it also comments on the virtual vicariousness we experience today through social media.
We watch others on Instagram and other platforms travel through photoshopped and orchestrated images of happiness - but how accurately does that reflect reality?
Post-Internet art is still an evolving movement. It shines a mirror back on ourselves and our sometimes thoughtless participation in pervasive and invasive online environments.
To some, post-internet art may still seem like a vague term with dubious meanings and applications. But with critique and artist involvement growing almost as fast as our ways of interconnecting online, these ideas are not going anywhere in a hurry.
It was a tough search, but Art Pharmacy Consulting and FACS finally found our photographers!
Alongside Family & Community Services (FACS), Art Pharmacy are preparing for a groundbreaking new photographic exhibition to be shown in NSW Parliament House early 2018.
Art Pharmacy Consulting was engaged to choose five talented regional photographers to create photographic artworks for the Art of Ageing Exhibition 2018.
Tayla Martin (Wagga Wagga), Tim White (Mudgee), Tina Milson (Yarra) Julie Slavin (Taree) and Kerri Ambler (Orange) are the talented regional photographers who made the cut. They have begun researching local stories and characters that break ageist and normative visual stereotypes.
With a growing ageing population in NSW, this exhibition will aim to challenge the stereotypes surrounding the ageing population, with a series of 30 images by the photographers. It will show the unique and diverse ways in which older people can contribute to, and enhance communities.
Each photograph will be accompanied by a short story, highlighting the subject’s experiences and reflections on ageing.
Through social media and with the help of various regional galleries, we’ve confirmed a group of regional based photographers for the exhibition.
The goal will be to show a variety of cultures and backgrounds; covering topics which support the NSW Ageing policy. This includes intergenerational experiences, elderly people living with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, connecting with Art & Culture, life in rural & remote areas, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, transgender or otherwise LGBTIQ+ identifying.
Stay posted for more updates on our photographers throughout the year!