Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Province: Of The Brave

Anne-Louise Dadak & Laura PikeProvince Of The Brave
Foley & Crown Street, Darlinghurst: Thursday October 25, 2012

Province was established in 2011 and to celebrate their first year the creators,Anne-Louise Dadak & Laura Pike, hosted an exhibition of their latest work. With the aim of creating a space, a province, for experimental and collaborative design, Of The Brave demonstrated exceptional skill and initiative. A hybrid of geometric shapes and patterns of varying colours, the hand printed silk scarfs suspended from the ceiling were a definite highlight.

This was a beautifully curated show. The mural wall dominated the space and the largest, most commanding wall. The A4 pieces of paper hung from wires by clips were perfectly executed, and even the space under the stairs was utilised. Choosing to display the white based geometric prints on the darkest wall provided a fantastic contrast and served to enhance the details of the work.

If this is the result of Province's first year I really look forward to seeing what else they intend to produce.     

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Sunday, 28 October 2012

GUEST POST: Elizabeth Little checks out the Nikon Walkley Awards for Photojournalism

Currently on view in the foyer of the State Library of New South Wales are the finalists of the 2012 Nikon Walkley Awards for Excellence in Photojournalism. Presented as part of Art and About, these photographs are a slice of Australian life, and display a world class standard of visual story telling. These are images of sport and recreation, politics and politicians, ordinary daily life and individual dramas. Sam Ruttyn’s photographic essay ‘Josh Carter’ takes us into the life of a small boy and his father, as the child undergoes surgery for a brain tumour. David Kelly finds beauty and grace in synchronised swimming. Brendan Fastier gives us a slice of daily life as seen through the Manly Daily, while Graham Crouch shows us the horror & lasting effects of war.

These days it seems that everyone armed with a smart phone is a photographer. And it’s probably true that most of us have taken the odd great shot, but to do so consistently takes real skill. And to put yourself in places that are not always safe, or normally open to photography, takes real courage and the ability to engender trust in your subjects. 2012 has seen a huge number of jobs in journalism disappear; many of these are the jobs of the photographers. The loss to the recording of Australia’s cultural life will probably be felt for years to come.

You can view the finalists here or at the State Library of NSW til 11 November.

Elizabeth Little has a B. Art Theory (Hons)and M Art Admin, COFA UNSW. She lives and works in Sydney.

All images supplied by the writer.
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Friday, 19 October 2012

A bit of Art & About: Part II

Now I had high hope of seeing more of Art & About -  in particular there was a lot of night things I wanted to see. Unfortunately (& this is my own fault) I didn't read the website close enough to realise that some of the things I wished to see had actually ended. So last night I decided I would see the one thing that was still screeninmg: Last Drinks: One More Round at the Hotel Australia.

'Opened in 1891 to coincide with a tour by French actress Sarah Bernhardt, its first guest, the Hotel Australia continued to play host to a stream of esteemed visitors, including Dame Nellie Melba, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich and Shirley Bassey.' Last Drinks pays homage to this bygone era, with the Hotel Australia demolished in 1971 to make way for the MLC Centre. I loved the nostalgia behind this work and the sense of history. That is, I would have loved it,had it been functioning.

Again, now I'm not sure if this was my fault but I wasn't aware that there was an end time for the artwork, and I certainly wouldn't have thought it would have been 8.30pm, especially given with the advent of daylight savings it doesn't get dark until about 7.30/8. Plus, according to the website, it should run from 6-11.30pm. Imagine my disappointment when I saw this.....

With a flashing icon that meantthe DVD player was on, it just wasn't working. Excuse me a moment for feeling this was slightly unacceptable. I understand that these things do happen with public art and technology but really, what are the odds. Perhaps it should be blamed more on my bad luck than the creators of the work who didn't seem to have a Plan B. 

In other news... on my way to Martin Place I came across this on Elizabeth Street...

There were several quite beautifully framed photographs hung over billboard posters and graffiti on a boarded up old store. The backdrop of the posters really added to the work and I loved that it seemed to rebel against this concept of the clean, white walls of the gallery context. 

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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The 24 Hours Series: Harriet Body

Harriet Body, Dots, watercolour on paper, 2012

Harriet Body
The 24 Hour Series
Firstdraft: October 3 - 20, 2012 

Time based artist Harriet Body's recent exhibition at Firsdraft explores the act of creation by limiting her creation to 24 hour periods of time. With a body of work fundamentally concerned with process, The 24 Hour series imparts the importance of conceptually driven work. Dots presents two sheets of these tiny markings, these seemingly ends to a sentence, that continue endlessly. But it's not endless, there is a very definitive end in sight which signals the conclusion of the 24 hour period allowed for creation. A sheet is left half undone, the eternal 'dot, dot, dot'. The painstaking process performed to achieve this work is as important as the finished work itself, arguably more so.
Harriet Body, Dots, watercolour on paper, 2012
Harriet Body, Egg, egg yolk on paper, 2012
There is something about Egg that reminds me of a Rorschach Test, also known as the inkblot test, where you are asked to described what your perception of the inkblot is and this gives an insight into your psychological state. Perhaps for this reason it's very easy to stare at Body's work for extended periods of time and always uncover something new. This work gives an insight into the eggs which the artist cooked and ate over a 24 hour period and in turn provides an insight into the artist herself.   
Harriet Body, Egg, egg yolk on paper, 2012
In an interview I did with Body back in December last year she emphasised that it is the act of creation that is most important to her and that the work that is produced as a result is "purely documentation". The shifting and moving paper in the video work Paper, perhaps demonstrates this notion of the documentary art work. Its strangely beautiful patterns and movements are perhaps symbolic of the artists movements during this 24 hour period. In a sense the work shown in The 24 Hour Series is documenting her.
Harriet Body, Paper, HD digital video, 16:9, 2012

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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sex with Strangers: Sydney Theatre Company

Sydney Theatre Company presents
Sex with Strangers
By Laura Eason

Starring Ryan Corr and Jacqueline McKenzie

Olivia is a reclusive writer who has escaped to a writers retreat to get over the failure of her first novel and put the finishing touches on her next. The three reviews of her first novel have left Olivia with a crisis of confidence and a desperate need for approval. The last thing she wants is a does of reality. Enter Ethan, a young, technologically savvy writer whose over confidence is strangely endearing and never seems to cross over into arrogance. 

Ethan is a successful writer whose New York Bestseller List book, Sex with Strangers, is about to be made into a film. They are polar opposites, with Ethan a master of the techno world and Olivia barely able to work her email yet there is a chemistry that builds between them and as Ethan praises the merits of her first book, which he insists is the only book he's read twice, she throws herself into his arms and thus begins their somewhat unconventional relationship. 

Ethan convinces Olivia to put her first book up online under a pseudonym to prove to her that those three reviews were wrong, that she really is talented and that she should release her second manuscript which he read while she was sleeping. While skeptical at first the temptation to redeem herself, even if it is only within her own mind, is too appealing to resist, not unlike Ethan himself whom she finds herself becoming closer and closer to. 

After the writers retreat Ethan leaves for L.A for a week while Olivia returns home. While apart, she makes the mistake of googling him, or rather the name women had given him - Ethan Strange - and becomes consumed with doubt as she reads about his sexual antics online. On his return this forms a rift between them which escalates and Ethan accuses her of using him to further her career which is blossoming, in part, thanks to his guidance. 

There is a beautiful moment where the wall of bravado that Ethan maintains so well falters slightly as he talks about his mother. It seems even she believes the things written about him and the look on Ethan's face as he recounts this is slightly heartbreaking.   

Ryan Corr is brilliant as Ethan and the chemistry between him and Jacqueline McKenzie is an enticing mix of apprehension and lust. The comic timing between the pair is perfectly pitched and both actors were undeniably believable. 

The simplicity of the set design is engaging without being overwhelming and the attention to detail really makes this play come alive. In particular the quotes about writing which are projected onto the set between scenes is genius. Sex with Strangers is in intelligent, funny, moving and incredibly well written play. Corr and McKenzie keep you thoroughly entertained from the very first scene, with an ending that leaves you captured in it's spell.  

And if that still isn't enough to tempt you to see it, Corr spends a large part of the first half with his shirt off in a pair of boxer shorts. Genius.
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Saturday, 6 October 2012

GUEST POST: Elizabeth Little talks Pat Brassington

Pat Brassington
A Rebours
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art: August 11- September 23, 2012

Joris-Karl Huysman’s 1884 novel A Rebours caused a scandal with its anti-hero and his dedication to a decadent lifestyle.  The novel became associated with the Symbolist movement in Belle Epoque Paris. ‘A Rebours’ translates into English as ‘against nature’, and it is this unnatural element in Pat Brassington’s current exhibition at ACCA that makes it uneasy yet compelling viewing.

There is nothing overtly horrific in Brassington’s work, yet a feeling of unease & horror pervades the exhibition, which is 30 year retrospective. The curators have eschewed a chronological hang, going for something far more moody. The tone of the exhibition is set with the multi piece Cumulus Analysis (1986-87) in which 18 silver gelatin prints are hung in a grid like pattern. Like a collection of film stills, the individual elements of clouds, statues, tensed hands, a fish, cropped faces, fragments of bodies, all observed by the watchful eyes of a woman, suggest a larger story.

Brassington is a photographer who works in both digital and analogue. Her photographs are predominantly black and white, with some washes of muted colour. These photographs have soft edges and blurred tones rather than the clinical sharpness that often characterizes digital imagery. Soft and faded reds and blues create areas of tension in the otherwise monochrome images. In early analogue photographs Brassington hand coloured her printed images using food colouring dyes. More recent digital images are manipulated on the computer to include soft areas of colour.

Brassington focuses on images of the human body showing us extreme close-ups of faces with protruding tongues, necks with strange gashes in them, a woman whose head has been replaced with that of a child’s doll, a doll whose head has been replaced with a lightbulb. The protruding tongue in Bloom (2003) could be stained from raspberry ice-blocks or something more sinister altogether.  Red bubbles emerge from a mouth in Font (2007), and red lace obscures yet another  mouth in Forget Your Perfect Offering (2008).These are images that are uncanny, familiar and yet unsettling.  Empty rooms,  with mid century period furniture, in the Cambridge Road series, made me think of film noir and crime scene photographs. Just what had happened in that motel room? And why was a pair of legs sticking out from underneath a coffee table? In Untitled (triptych) 1989, a trio of large photographs showed a woman in old fashioned dress, a palm tree swaying in the wind and a naked young girl, whose hands obscure her face. Undeniably a story, but what story? It’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ I overheard someone say. While her companion shook her head and suggested another interpretation, another narrative. 

Elizabeth Little has a B. Art Theory (Hons)and M Art Admin, COFA UNSW. She lives and works in Sydney.

All images supplied by the writer.

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Monday, 1 October 2012

A bit of Art & About: Part I

James Dive & The Glue Society,  I Wish You Hadn't Asked

Sydney Art & About
Art in unusual places
Various locations around Sydney: September 21- October 21, 2012

This time every year art starts materialising in unexpected places around Sydney. This is Art & About. I love the premise of this month long festival and its ability to not only bring art into the everyday and to people who would ordinarily not get involved but to turn seemingly mundane areas of the city into works of art.

I Wish You Hadn't Asked by James Dive and the Glue Society is fantastic. A makeshift house that looks ordinary enough but step inside and it is a different story. Donning a bright yellow raincoat, as you step through the door the first thing to hit you is the smell. The repugnant,overwhelming smell of decay and mould is like a slap in the face. Inside, it's not just raining, it's pouring and suddenly I'm grateful I took my shoes off. The bath is overflowing, the bed is sunken with an abandoned sewing machine giving the house a sense of life.        
James Dive & The Glue Society,  I Wish You Hadn't Asked

Representing that moment in a relationship when things are said that cannot be taken back, I Wish You Hadn't Asked presents the decay of a relationship and how quickly rot can set in. If you get the opportunity this work is definitely worth a look. I doubt very much I will ever have the opportunity to experience rain inside a house ever again. 

James Dive & The Glue Society,  I Wish You Hadn't Asked

James Dive & The Glue Society,  I Wish You Hadn't Asked

Louise Whelan, By The Pool

The quality of photographs in the Sydney Life exhibition is of an exceptional standard this year. It's always interesting to see what images are chosen to portray life in Sydney and there is quite a diverse group on show this year.

Sally McInerney, Shark in pool, Dover Heights

Ann-Maree Moodie, Bunnies on the line

Hyde Park

Analiese Cairis, The Banner Gallery: In Colour

I had high expectations of the Banner Gallery this year, given last year’s installation, and while I fully understand the concept behind it, I'm not convinced. Inspired by the work of Johannes Itten, a pioneer in contemporary colour theory, who wrote about the importance of colour in nature, art, science and technology. They're vibrant but easily dismissed.  

Paired Gold, Wilmont Street

I head to Wilmont Street expecting to be amazed by an alley way transformed by gold, 'shimmers with gold' the program promised. As you can see, it really didn't. Not even when you squint and cock your head to the side.

There's still more to see but a great deal of Art & About is only viewable at night so keep posted for part two.

Analiese Cairis, The Banner Gallery: In Colour

Analiese Cairis, The Banner Gallery: In Colour

Analiese Cairis, The Banner Gallery: In Colour

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