Interview With Bernard Greaves

What does it mean to be an Australian artist? Chatting with painter Bernard Greaves
By Vanessa Ocansey

 Bernard Greaves, Buy Art, paintings

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

Art Curator Takeover: Artist Kate Robinson at Birkenhead Point

By Louisa Tiley

Artist Kate Robinson talks the complex paper designs that feature in her installation Couture in Bloom for Birkenhead Point Shopping Centre.

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.

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.

  Early concepts for  Couture in Bloom .

Early concepts for Couture in Bloom.

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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.

 A close up of Kate Robinson’s paper butterflies.

A close up of Kate Robinson’s paper butterflies.

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.

 Paper samples from Couture in Bloom.

Paper samples from Couture in Bloom.

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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.

Getting To Know: Luca Goczey

Written by Jennifer Hesketh AKA Quirky Bones

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Pressure Sensitive - Interview

V∆ND∆L Gallery will soon be celebrating the opening night of ‘Pressure Sensitive’, an exhibition by artist Joel Dickens

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“Children unleash scribble in a moment of uninhibited, spontaneous, emotional expression - subconscious, absent-minded and pure.

This is not that.

Here, childlike and spontaneous gestures are constricted by the neuroses of adulthood. The paint never reaches the boundary; staying within the lines. Identity is restricted by the adult ego, and passions are sacrificed to the day-to-day realities of life. Good intentions meet their limitations. A nervous breakdown that you’re not allowed to have.

The paintings are created by laying many layers of paint, before meticulously chipping away to create a calculated expression of hi-key emotional outburst.

The gestural works encapsulate a tension between the modern adult’s state of freedom and imprisonment. Taking flight in a cage.”

Over the past couple of years Joel has experienced a number of confronting events which have both inspired and hindered his practice.

‘Pressure Sensitive’, is a series of works made around these events, the title alluding to this period in the artist’s life. This exhibition at Vandal Gallery will be the first time these new works have been shown as a series, showcasing his new approach and marking a new period in the artist's career.

Art Pharmacy writer, Karl Sagraab sat down with Joel to discuss how he came to create ‘Pressure Sensitive’.

What made you decide you wanted to be a painter?
I saw a photo, when I was about 15, of Guernica hanging at the UN which made an impression on me. It suggested to me, that painting could make a difference in some way, and that's what I wanted to do. It turned out that Guernica was a tapestry copy and that the UN is less than perfect, but at the time it pulled two things together in my mind, art and wanting to make the world a better place. I'm a bit more cynical now but I continue to believe that art can make a difference to people's thinking and that the ripple-effect from one person's interaction with an artwork or book, upon society, can be significant.

Can you describe your practice, your use of medium and material, for the series of works in Pressure Sensitive?
Like most artists I struggle to find the amount of time I would like to paint. I have a family, a house and a day job. In this way the work has a performative aspect to it, inasmuch as it is created within and in reaction to life's events. Time to paint is snatched from the jaws of everyday responsibilities and the work is, in no small way, inspired by this predicament. In terms of medium, I use both acrylic and oil; a number of layers of acrylic underpainting and then an oil layer which I extract the gesture from. The title refers to both the technique of the production and the environment the work is painted in.

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Did you have an underlying theme in mind when creating the works or did they come about individually and come together in exhibition form in the end? In other words, was there a particular inspiration for these works?
The inspiration for each work can differ dramatically. As with previous work, they are painted in reaction to events, be they personal, political or environmental. With this work now, however, there is a greater emphasis on the language, the motif,  which I've spent a few years developing and arriving at. The individual works are painted in their own space and time and in response to a particular event. But the exhibition might be read as a series of diary entries, scribbled utterances, or a cross section sample of one person's existence.

This exhibition is in Sydney but do you have a favourite place to exhibit your works?
I had a couple of exhibitions in Buenos Aires which was exciting. There's a vibrant painting scene there and, for some reason, my work went down well. In terms of where it ends up, my work has been bought for display in foyers and restaurants. It gives me a kick when the work can be seen in public spaces, where the viewers are many and constantly changing.

Are there any painters or artists that inspire or influence you and you work?
The work I'm influenced by is the work that has had the greatest emotional impact on me. I'm a fan of anything that investigates the human condition. There are many artists I like but I have been inspired and influenced by; Pablo Picasso, Franz Klein, Willem De Kooning, Ernst Ludvig Kirchner, Edvard Munch, Kathe Kolwitz, Helen Saunders, Bram van Welde, Graham Sutherland, Alexander Calder, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Sylvia Plath, Hermann Hesse, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. I sometimes feel embarrassed that my influences aren't more obscure, but there you go...

Vandal Gallery will be hosting the opening of Pressure Sensitive on Tuesday 5th of September.

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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.

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

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.

‘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 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

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

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

Interview With Candice Cameron

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

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

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