Monday, 29 July 2013

GUEST POST: Kristian Pellissier experiences Shabbat Dinner at Bondi Feast

Shabbat Dinner

Bondi Feast
Shabbat Dinner
The Gallery Space: Tuesday July 23, 7-8pm, 2013

Having dinner with a friend’s family is a special moment. It’s when you gain valuable insight into the characters and rituals that shape your friend’s world view. It’s the moment when, if you’re presence is warmly accepted, you may be told the stories behind treasured family possessions – a fur coat becomes a beacon of hope and the presence of a deceased family member is signalled through a candlestick.

Shabbat Dinner is a moment of intimacy shared with an audience.  The audience enters a gallery space at the Bondi Pavilion,where two rows of chairs surround a lovingly set dinner table. Over a three course meal, food is shared, family history is explored and ritual demonstrated. Hebrew and musical accompaniment are sprinkled throughout, providing a sense of levity.

Family history is recited and customs explained by five roving versions of a single narrator, including writer and performer Jessica Bellamy. While at times the names of relatives and important figures from the Torah run together and can be difficult to follow, this feels exactly like the experience of learning about members of a family absent from the dinner table.  The lines between family and religion blur, yet a rich tapestry is woven.

Observing a group of strangers eating at a dinner table can feel oddly voyeuristic- like the stranger outside the dining room window rather than the guest. By the time desert is served and the gallery doors open, you feel like you’ve been accepted into the inner circle of someone’s most intimate life.
Shabbat Dinner
Kristian currently works as a dancer, dance teacher, adjudicator and Program Officer for the Australia Council for the Arts.

Images courtesy of the artist.

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Friday, 26 July 2013

GUEST POST: Elizabeth Little explores Australian Impressionists in France

Ethel CARRICK, On the beach (c. 1911) 
oil on canvas, 37.8 x 45.6 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Herbert and Ivy Brookes Bequest, 1973
Australian Impressionists in France
National Gallery of Victoria Australia: June 15 - October 6, 2013

Australian Impressionists in France at the NGV Australia (Ian Potter) in Federation Square is undoubtedly a chance for the NGV to capitalise on the crowds attending the current Monet’s Garden at NGV International, drawing them in with that all important word buzz word: Impressionism.

Australian Impressionists in France is a comprehensive and undeniably beautiful exhibition, full of charming paintings. It traces the development of Australian art through artists who travelled to France  to study and live in the then capital of the art world, between 1880-1915. The exhibition includes works by both Australian and international artists, and argues that the Australians were interacting with the international avant garde in Paris. It complements the NGV’s 2007 exhibition Australian Impressionism which focused on the art being created within Australia. This time the focus is on those who travelled to France and painted images outside the national obsession with the Australian landscape.  
John RUSSELL, Peonies and head of a woman (c. 1887) 
oil on canvas, 40.7 x 65.0 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The Joseph Brown Collection. Presented through the NGV Foundation by Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, Honorary Life Benefactor, 2004

E. Phillips Fox, Australia 1865–1915, lived in France 1887–92, 1901–13
The green parasol 1912, oil on canvas, 117.0 x 89.5 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Purchased, 1946 (NGA 46.13)

Some of the Australian artists in the exhibition will be familiar, including Charles Conder, Rupert Bunny, John Russell, Frederick McCubbin and E Phillips Fox; others will be new names but the style of art will be familiar. The aim of the exhibition is to show the extent of the Australian involvement with international art movements, and to this end it includes works by Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Pierre Bonnard and Auguste Rodin.  The best example of this interaction can be seen in the experiences and paintings of John Russell.

Russell was a young Sydney painter when he travelled to Paris in 1884 to further his studies. The exhibition includes a page of his drawings – head studies of a fellow student, who turned out to be Vincent van Gogh. Later in his time in France, Russell introduced himself to Claude Monet and was able to spend time with the older artist, watching him paint and learning directly from him. Later he befriended a young Henri Matisse, sharing with him Monet’s painting techniques.

The motifs of modern life are present in the Australian’s paintings – images of leisure, portraits of French peasants, the French countryside with its fields of flowers and haystacks, cityscapes of the newly Hausmann-ised Paris, cafes and bars.  There are gorgeous paintings of long sunny afternoons, markets full of fresh cut flowers, fields of flowers, dramatic coastlines, women in flowing frocks taking tea or lying in hammocks reading.

Charles Conder painted the dancers at the Moulin Rouge and the hay fields of rural France, Hans Heysen painted the city of Paris in winter, with snow on the streets, Russell drew inspiration from the seascapes and coastlines in his home of Belle-Ile.

Curator Elena Taylor has included several women artists, demonstrating that it wasn’t just the men who were travelling to Paris to further their artistic endeavours. These include Ethel Carrick Fox, Iso Rae, Hilda Rix Nicholas, Frances Hodgkins, Kathleen O’Connor, Margaret Preston and Bessie Gibson. Hilda Rix Nicholas also travelled further afield to Morocco. Marketplace, Tangier and Morocco, market place with pile of oranges record some of her experiences there. Ethel Carrick painted the flower markets in France in riotous high keyed colour and short impressionistic brush strokes.

One of the joys of such a comprehensive exhibition is the chance to see unfamiliar work by favourite artists, and to discover new ones. I was unaware of the American artist Frederick Frieseke, but quite taken with his paintings of sunny afternoons. Frieseke is quoted in wall text accompanying his 1911 painting Breakfast in the Garden as saying, “My subject is sunshine, flowers in sunshine, girls in sunshine, nudes in sunshine…” And for me that pretty much summed up the exhibition. I came out of it wanting to buy armloads of flowers, to sit in the sunshine in a café on a Parisian street and watch the modern world go by.

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

John Russell, Australia 1858–1930, lived in Europe 1881–1921
Rough sea, Morestil c.1900, oil on canvas on hardboard
66.0 x 81.8 cm, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Purchased, 1968 (OA14.1968)

Ambrose Patterson
born Australia 1877, lived in France 1898–1910, United States 1917–66, died United States 1966, Le bar, St Jacques, Paris c.1904, oil on canvas
48.2 x 59.7 cm, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide , Gift of Mrs A. McCarthy Patterson, 1913 (0.404), © Ambrose Patterson Estate

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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

5 Questions With... Artist Sarah Elizabeth Martin

Sarah Elizabeth Martin

A lot of your recent work appears to reference wild animals - foxes, deers ect - what attracts you to this subject matter?

For a couple of years, up until recently I was living on the outskirts of Sydney where there is a lot of housing development going on. For the first time in my life I was seeing wild foxes in suburban landscapes. It was so surreal. There was one road in particular I had to take each day to get to Uni, each week there would be a fox or two that had tried to cross the bypass and not made it. I'm one of those crazy animal lovers who worries about cows being cold in the rain, so to see that was just so devastating, it kind of consumed my thoughts. From there I developed some concepts for works. On one hand, the animals I paint serve as metaphors for a number of contemporary dialogues and issues relevant to today. On the other hand, they are projections of myself and little insights into my own relationship with the world and people around me.

Sarah Elizabeth Martin,  Animus – mixed media on board, 18 x 18cm

Why do you choose to create small scale works?

I started working on a smaller scale when I hit second year at art school and chose painting as my major. I think I freaked myself out a little. I was surrounded by so many talented students, the more intimidated I felt, the quieter my artistic voice became. At first, I started doing small works and studies because I was too scared to present my ideas on a larger scale. I never intended to make a series of small works, but when I tried some larger pieces, the subject matter didn't translate as well and they weren't as honest. There was something about the small scale that worked and I've been playing with it ever since. I like the way small works draw people in. A delicate watercolor painting of an animal can be quite seductive, visually pleasant from a certain distance but on closer inspection, it can be a quite violent and contradictory scene. - the animal may be in a fight for its own survival. I enjoy the way the scale lets me play with the fragility of my subjects. It wasn't a conscious decision at first. 
Sarah Elizabeth Martin, Bipedality - watercolor and gouache, 9.5 x 8.5cm

Sarah Elizabeth Martin, Buzzard Meat – watercolor, 12.5 x 9cm

The detail you create is incredible - how long does a work take to complete? Do you have a specific process?

Thank you, it usually takes a couple of weeks, depending on how much I fuss over details! I have a little tremor which means I can spend ages just making the tiniest of mistakes and correcting them. It takes me awhile to call something 'finished' too. I tend to spend a lot of time sourcing images and photo-shopping them, there's no specific process, just a lot of drawing and contemplating takes place before I even think about painting.  

In 2009 you entered the Archibald Prize with a portrait of James Morrison. Why did you decide to enter and what was the experience like?

When I started studying fine arts, I was really all about portraiture. I was kind of scared to enter any competitions and I didn't really want to show anyone my work. I knew that my shyness might hold me back in the future so in a little moment of bravery I thought.. perhaps if I entered the Archibald, being such a massive deal, nothing else would seem so scary in the future. James is actually my Godfather. Having a subject I've known my whole life made me feel so much more confident in the process. It was a real challenge for me to work on such a large scale and put myself out there so early on in my artistic career. My goal was never to be selected, but just to be a part of the experience, gain some confidence, and to learn something along the way. And it worked, I had such fun and now the thought of entering competitions or putting my work out for the public eye doesn't seem so daunting. 

Describe your practice in 5 words.


Sarah Elizabeth Martin, Vulpes Vulpes - watercolor and gouache, 9 x 7cm

Sarah Elizabeth Martin, Obsequium – Mixed media on board, 18 x 9cm

Sarah Elizabeth Martin, Shedding Life – watercolor & gouache, 30 x 30 cm

Sarah Elizabeth Martin, Tiananmen Square – watercolor, 57 x 57cm

All images supplied by the artist.
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Thursday, 18 July 2013


I first saw BINGO Unit during the Next Wave Festival back in May 2012 in Melbourne so I was curious as to how Team MESS would adapt the interactive performative based work for Performance Space at Carriageworks. Over the last week Team MESS took to the streets of Sydney to film the pilot episode of BINGO Unit, an edge of your seat crime drama. The ‘Back – Lot – Tour’, of which I was a part, incorporated these scenes into various scenarios throughout the warehouse space. Different ‘scenes’ and locations were constructed, such as a car that you can sit in and watch the ‘Stake-out scene’ and a makeshift graveyard where you sit and watch the ‘Funeral scene’ unfold.

Read the full article on the AU review.

Read my review of BINGO Unit at Next Wave.

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Jeremie Bracka in Arafat in Therapy

 Jeremie Bracka in Araft In Therapy. Photo courtesy of NIDA

A one man political comedy parodying the Middle East peace process – this I had to see. Human Rights lawyer and one time UN worker Jeremie Bracka presents a mockumentary / biography of his life from early memories of childhood with his Polish mother and Egyptian father up until his time living in Israel and working for the United Nations. With more than twenty different characters thrown in to the mix it is sometimes hard to keep up with the fast paced monologue of Bracka, who seamlessly shifts from one persona to the other.

Read the full article on the AU review.

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Monday, 15 July 2013

Cheers to 20 Years of Lomography

Lomography is an analog camera movement that advocates creative and experimental film photography. Cheers to 20 Years of Lomography pays homage to the history of Lomography and showcases every model camera designed and produced since 1992.

Read the full article on the AU review.

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Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Vagina Dialogue

Gabriella Kennard, After Georgia O'Keeffe, 2013

The Vagina Dialogue
Curated by Georgia Saxelby
National Art School Library: June 17 - July 18, 2013

Bringing together forty third year female National Art School (NAS) students from across all disciplines, The Vagina Dialogue presents different interpretations and experience of the vagina. Despite progression in female empowerment since the 1970s, the vagina is still largely considered a taboo subject. This exhibition asks its audience to consider their own thoughts about this body part whilst reflecting on how these artworks make them feel. Uncomfortable? Empowered? Excited? Aroused?

While some works border on the humorous, others touch on the serious aspects such as topic can evoke. In particular, an anonymous work, hidden away in the corner of the library, written in child-like script, outlines a painful account of child abuse. This is an uncomfortable and awful reminder that sometimes a woman's first encounter with her vagina is not a pleasant one.

Credit needs to be given to curator Georgia Saxelby who managed to successfully curate forty artworks in a very limited and awkward space. Loved the comedic curation of the embroidered tampons near the toilet sign and it seemed not a single space was left bare.

Strangely the only awkwardness I felt was as a result of the ridiculous amount of people in the space. My claustrophobia almost detracted from my appreciation of the artwork. I couldn't help but make comparisons to Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro, Barbra Kruger, Jenny Holzer and Carolee Schneeman - some of the key artists in the second wave of feminism during the 1970s in America. As long as inequality between the sexes exists (and it does) exhibitions that empower women and give them a voice are not only welcome, but necessary. 

Hannah Toohey, C is for Cookie, 2013

Eloise Rankin, Lady's Things, 2013

Anonymous, 1 in 4, 2013

Ellie Gifford, Vagina-Envy, 2013

Liz Hogan, Tea Party with Meret, Judy and Marina, 2013

Liz Hogan, Tea Party with Meret, Judy and Marina, 2013

Jan Handel, Accidental Womanhood I, II and III, 2013

Georgina Bonner, Inside Out, 2013

Georgina Bonner, Inside Out, 2013

Inge Berman, Urensbushels, 2013

Inge Berman, Urensbushels, 2013

Marta Ferracin, Behind the Barrier of Stillness, 2013

Marta Ferracin, Behind the Barrier of Stillness, 2013
Anonymous, 1 in 4, 2013

Corrine Bowden, The Agony and the Episiotomy, 2013

Ebony Jennings, For Every Flower Forced to Bloom, 2013

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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Hollywood Costume's at ACMI

Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI
Hollywood Costume
Australian Centre for the Moving Image: April 24 - August 18, 2013

I have long been enamored by the glamour of old Hollywood - Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Vivien Leigh - so naturally I was eager to see Hollywood Costume at ACMI. Organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and celebrating 100 years of cinema, the exhibition acknowledges the impact and significance of the costume designer in a characters development. Hollywood Costume is divided into three 'Scenes' with the costumes in each scene categorised.

Scene I: What is costume design? Looks at the importance of costumes in defining the character. Subsections; Designing the Character, Serving the Story, Character and Composition, Deconstructing Character and Royal Romance demonstrate how costumes are not simply about the clothes and have heavy implications on the narrative and visuals of the film. Costumes in Scene I included the stunning green gown Vivien Leigh wore in Gone With the Wind, 1939 when she visited Rhett Butler in jail, the gorgeous green skirt and top which Kim Novak wore in Hitchcock's Vertigo, 1958 when Scottie see's her on the street for the first time after Madeline's accident and the wedding dress from the 1967 film Camelot that has pumpkin seeds sewn into the train.

Scene II: Creative Contexts looks at the relationships that exist between costume designers, directors and actors. Subsections encompass Collaborating with Directors, Changing Contexts and Collaborating with Actors. Hitchcock knew the importance of colour when selecting the Tippi Hedren's wardrobe in The Birds, 1963 and her green suit is the perfect demonstration of this. In this section there is a focus on the work of Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro with costumes spanning their careers. Screens are incorporated where the actors discuss their films and the importance of the costume to their performance.      

Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI

Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI
Scene III: The Finale presents some of the most celebrated and iconic costumes of all time. Subsections include Gunslingers & Blades and Virgins & Vixens. To stand in front of Marilyn Monroe's white dress from The Seven Year Itch, 1955 and Audrey Hepburn's black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961 was an indescribable feeling. There was a sense that this was the closest I would ever get to the actors themselves. 

I admit that the floating heads above the costumes was slightly disconcerting and I would have liked to have seen a full length image of the actor wearing the costume. While the incorporation of video was a fantastic addition it was difficult to see and subsequently made moving around the space difficult as people attempted to catch a glimpse. I would have loved if these films were screened in a separate room where you could sit for as long as you pleased without feeling as if you were in other peoples way. While I'm sure the lighting was adjusted as a result of conservation, in parts it was so dim it was difficult to see the detail on some of the more intricate costumes which was a shame.
Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI

Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI
Admittedly I wasn't too interested in the more contemporary costumes such as Matt Damon's jeans and jacket from the Bourne Ultimatum, 2007. I was there to see the costumes that had shaped my idea of cinema as a child, to see Dorothy's ruby slippers and remember the first time I saw the Wizard of Oz, 1939 and dared to dream outside of the reality I was living. To see Marilyn Monroe's stunning dress from Some Like it Hot, 1959 and be reminded of old Hollywood glamour and of a time when women knew how to dress and style was timeless. In the end I guess that's what I was searching for when I went to Hollywood Costumes - that timeless beauty and iconic glamour that is so infrequent in society and to an extent cinema today. It's a cliche but they really don't make films like they used to and while the plot fades it is the costumes that live on long after the credits roll.   
Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI

Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI

Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI
Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI

Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI
Photography Mark Ashkanasy, Image Courtesy ACMI

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Monet's Garden: The Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

Monet's Garden: The Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
National Gallery of Victoria: May 10 - September 8, 2013

What can I say about the work of Claude Monet that has not already been said a million times before. He is known as the father of Impressionism and the driving force behind the movement having maintained many of the fundamentals until his death. Monet's Garden: The Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris encompasses more than sixty works dedicated to his garden at Giverny that trace the evolution of his beloved garden through his work over a period of twenty years. Primarily as a result of his declining eyesight, we see his practice become increasingly about colour and less about form.

A highlight of the exhibition is the glass case which contains Monet's spectacles and painting pallet. To actually be able to stand before the pallet of arguably one of the greatest painters of the nineteenth century was humbling. With this he created some of the most iconic paintings ever made.   

Henri Manuel, French 1874–1947
Claude Monet (1840-1926) in front of his paintings ‘The Waterlilies’ in his studio at Giverny 1920, gelatin silver photograph, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
© Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, © Bridgeman-Giraudon / Presse

My favourite part of the exhibition was the final room. A large screen curves around the darkened room and we are taken on a tour of Monet's house at Giverny. Last day at Giverny is oddly calming and undeniably engaging as we are taken through the kitchen, the bedrooms and the extensive gardens. I was fortunate enough to see Monet's house back in 2009 and it is easy to understand why the artist was so drawn to this place. It's difficult to believe that while World War II raged on in France Monet was here, painting, separate from what was occurring but somehow intrinsically involved. During this period he painted and sold his work in support of the war effort.

Monet's Garden is a exquisite glimpse into one of the biggest influences on the artists life. One that he so often referred to as his reason for painting. 

Claude Monet, Waterlilies (Nymphéas) 1916–19
oil on canvas, 150.0 x 197.0 cm
Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, Gift of Michel Monet, 1966 (inv. 5164)
© Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, © Bridgeman-Giraudon / Presse

Claude Monet, Waterlilies (Nymphéas) 1903
oil on canvas, 81.5 x 100.5 cm, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo
Ishibashi Foundation, 1961 (F.P.22), Photo: Bridgestone Museum of Art

Claude Monet , French 1840–1926 
The bridge over the waterlily pond 1900 , oil on canvas 
89.8 x 101.0 cm , Art Institute Chicago, Illinois 
Mr and Mrs Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, 1933 (inv. 1933.441), Photo: Art Institute Chicago, Illinois

Claude MONET, Vétheuil (1879) 
oil on canvas, 60.0 x 81.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Felton Bequest, 1937, 406-4

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