Thursday, 29 August 2013

Bastille Day at Slide

Blush Opera
Bastille Day: July 14, 2013 

I can't believe I forgot to mention this! A while back I attended Bastille Day celebrations at Slide Lounge. As usual there was no expense spared in transforming the venue into a little authentic piece of Parisian glamour, with staff decked out in berets and stripes, with patrons encouraged to do the same. Executive Chef Aymeric Saint-Lannes provided delicious French delights to keep you going and the eclectic mix of French electro swing music and more classic tracks was perfect.

Blush Opera performed first with their humorous and delightful operatic feats. Their not just about comedy - both women are incredibly talented and the banter between the two appears effortless. Of course, what would a Bastille Day be without some cancan dancers, whose ability to high kick had the crowd cheering. The grand finale was in the shape of a macaroon cake tower, a fitting end to what was a thoroughly entertaining evening.      

Highlights: Being taught some classic 70s dance moves by a ballet dancer, meeting a lovely Frenchman and German with whom we choreographed a routine to bad French electro pop, being fed macaroons by a Frenchman, being told by a French woman that I had to leave because I wasn't french and then being told she was joking. 
Blush Opera

Blush Opera

Shay Stafford

Shay Stafford

Shay Stafford

Shay Stafford

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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Gogglebox and Double Think

Byron Perry, Double Think
Gogglebox, described as ‘a romp for a short attention span’, acts like the support act to Double Think and warms up the audience for the first ten minutes. It jokingly explores the relationship we have no doubt all experienced with our television set and how, like any good relationship, it is often more a case of love/hate.
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. - George Orwell, 1984
Read the full article on the AU review.
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Saturday, 24 August 2013

5 Questions With... Artist Chanelle Collier

Chanelle Collier with the installation from Unique State at Mils Gallery 2013.. Courtesy of The Sydney Standard

What I love about your work is how it explores nostalgia, in particular how we attach this nostalgia to objects - how did you become interested in this theme?

My approach to the work is pretty intuitive in so far as the "what" part goes (the "how" part is clearly much more calculated) but when I first started doing this I noticed the intuitive part of the process and couldn’t help but wonder where it came from. Because the desire to work with one object over another is always very clear to me. And so far I think that has something to do with nostalgia. A theme which to me becomes more interesting the more I notice what other objects, aesthetics etc others (particularly other artists) are drawn to or cannot part with (regardless of their uselessness) due to this inextricable connection. 
Chanelle Collier, Forgotten Room, an installation for the 2013 Sydney Writers' Festival.

Chanelle Collier, Place of Worship, 2012 paper glass wood 26x18x4cm.

Chanelle Collier, Mondriaan and Psyche, 2013 paper glass wood 24x19x6cm.

At your recent show at Mils Gallery you carved out hardcover books and created these amazing miniatures - what is the process involved and just how long does it take to create?

I find the books and choose the compositions intuitively- it's either there or it isn't. Then figure out how I’m going to do it. Mostly. None of the books are glued shut which limits what I can do - but it is well worth working around as the incidental compositions that happen on each page are one of the best bits. After I’ve worked out a plan I sit down and cut for ages with a scalpel, by hand. I put glass in the cover, build the drawer plinth (my partner Joe helps me with this if I'm lucky) and prepare the page remnants. It takes about 4 weeks, not including finding the book or making the print. The prints are very important to me. They are linked to the process of each sculpture and depict each composition on each page in one image. All of the things that happen incidentally.

Chanelle Collier, Blackwells Mountaineering Library 2013 paper glass wood 21x14x11cm.

Chanelle Collier, Italian Alps detail 2012 paper glass wood 14x21x3cm.

When the whole world seems to be going online, why do you think there is a growing nostalgia towards print and written materials?

I think it's because we have slowly surrounded ourselves with mass produced plastic crap made by a machine with no soul. At some point enough is enough. and a desire for the tactile warmth of something hand crafted or gently familiar inevitably arises. Also, books smell better than laptops.

Where does your inspiration come from?

The object itself mainly informs the work. I am also often inspired to work by my fellow artists. I am very lucky to have heaps of excellent brains making things around me. I hope to collaborate with some of these next.

Describe your work in 5 words.

(or less?) hand cut book sculpture

All images supplied by the artist.

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Sunday, 18 August 2013

Following the White Rabbit

Cheng Dapeng, Wonderful City, 2011
Confession time: In all my years as an arts writer I have never been to White Rabbit Gallery. I know, I know, don't judge me. So a few Fridays ago I went after work to see what I've been missing. The exhibition on was Smash Palace and the work was impressive. I love the space, it's open and spread out over several floors, ensuring that each work on display is afforded a fitting amount of space to shine. I can't believe, having heard the name White Rabbit bandied about so much over the years I had never attended. Primarily this comes down to not actually knowing where it was located and for some unknown reason thinking it was situated in the middle of nowhere. My bad. Anyway, now I know and I will be returning, not least of all because I heard that the Tea House in the gallery serves the best freshly made dumplings in the city. 

Below is just a sample of the work that really stood out for me.

Cheng Dapeng, Coral Landscape II, 2011

Yang Yongliang, Infinite Landscape, 2011

Shyu Ruey-Shiann, Traveller's Wings, 2011

Zhou Jie, CBD, 2010

Madeln Company, Under Heaven 20121018, 2012

Madeln Company, Under Heaven 20121018, 2012

Wang Guofeng

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Friday, 16 August 2013

Moonlight and Magnolias at The Pavilion Theatre

Rickard Roach, Paul Sztelma and Sean McDent in Moonlight and Magnolias. Courtesy of The Pavilion Theatre.

Moonlight and Magnolias
Cast: Rickard Roach, Paul Sztelma, Sean McDent and Annette van Roden
Director: Karen Miller
The Pavilion Theatre: 2 - 24 August, 2013

The Pavilion Theatre in the North West suburbs of Sydney dates back to the 1920s when it was known as the Taylor Pavilion. In 1966 it was re-opened as a new home for the Castle Hill Players who transformed the building into a community theatre which continues now, some forty-seven years later.

Moonlight and Magnolias is the fabricated tale of how Gone With the Wind was transformed from a book into a screenplay and subsequently a film. For five days Producer David O. Selznick (Rickard Roach), screen writer Ben Hecht (Paul Sztelma) and Director Victor Fleming (Sean McDonald) are locked in Selznick's office with nothing but bananas and peanuts to sustain them. With Selznick's secretary, the delightful Miss Poppenghul (Annette van Roden), holding all calls, what follows is a hilarious account of how one of the most well know novels of all time was turn into one of the most well known films.

Without over-emphasising it, this play was outstanding. Witty, clever and with a hint of the politics of the time, Moonlight and Magnolias is side-splittingly funny. The cast are perfectly placed, with the comic timing and chemistry between characters the driving force behind the production.

There needs to be a mention here on the set design which was exceptional. Given that the entire play is performed with the same backdrop, it is kept fresh and interesting with unbelievable attention to detail. As Act 1. Scene 2. begins, two days into their forced isolation, we see Selznick and Felming acting out Melanie's birthing scene from Gone With the Wind to Hecht who apparently is the only man who has not read the book. Strewn all over the office are banana peels and peanut shells, the men appearing increasingly disheveled. This sense of delirium is intensified in Act 2. as Hecht and Selznick continue to debate dialogue from the book and Fleming falls in and out of sleep on the couch.

It concludes as you would expect, the screenplay is done, the film resumes production and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Moonlight and Magnolias is one of the best plays I've seen in a long time. Thoroughly enjoyable, I would even go so far as to say for anyone not based in the area, it is worth the trip to the North West. You'll never look are Scarlett O'Hara in the same way again.    

Rickard Roach and Paul Sztelma in Moonlight and Magnolias. Courtesy of The Pavilion Theatre.

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Thursday, 8 August 2013

GUEST POST: Todd Fuller questions the future of street art with the work of Scott Marsh

Scott Marshall

Scott Marsh
Second Life
The Tate @ The Toxteth: July 24 - 28, 2013

By nature, street art is a tough game to play, unless your Banksy or Lister you're likely to be dismissed as a deviant, a thug, a vandal or a hoodie wearing teenager. For years we have been watching street artists move into the 'Art World' and in doing so we sometimes watch the demise of the rebellious heart which had made their street art appealing in the first place. For these artists their graffiti loving backgrounds become a selling point or even a polite notch on the CV. Thankfully Scott Marsh is not one of these artists. Second Life at The Tate (the one on Glebe Point Road above the Toxteth- not London) is an exhibition which explores Marsh's secret love affair with creating street art. More specifically, his late night rendezvous with trains, spray can in hand. Second Life is an exciting insight into dark tunnels, trespassing and love of trains that have become Marsh's very own secret life.
Scott Marshall
Now I know what you are thinking; Street art is a costly, dangerous affair. This exhibition doesn't necessarily challenge those notions but what it does do is asks you to consider the other side of the story and the process by which this occurs.

As you enter the space you pass through a wire fence, instantly Marsh is asking us to leave 
behind our conceptions of the subculture and come behind the scenes on a late night adventure. He almost hands you a can and persuades you to have a try yourself. As you progress through the exhibition you cant help but encounter a life sized train emerging from a wall. Utilising the unique character if the Toxteth's Inner West charm the train does not feel out of place. The timber structure is covered with Marsh's loose and fluid style which transforms it into the object of his desire. A creepy sinister police head pokes out a window which is itself tagged with red demonic eyes. It is a
necessary flip of the bird to Marsh's adversaries. Marsh wields a style which clearly results from years of honing his skills with the brush and spray can.

The long wall of the show is covered by a meditation on the train motif. We encounter it over and over with subtle variations and gain insight into the obsessive nature of this activity. For Marsh and his colleagues the tagging of trains is not a game or a hobby, it is a passion which has gripped their lives and this exhibition is an homage to this.On the final wall, positioned behind a fence itself is a screen displaying Marsh's documentary material. It is here that you come to understand his world and his motivation. As you watch he and his team drop down to rail level your heart starts to pound, adrenalin rises as the hand mounted camera bounces down a darkened tunnel, and then it happens.... a train slows near by. The footage quickly challenges your expectations of the practice of graffiti. Before the train has even stopped Marsh's crusaders are trotting alongside the carriage and the work has begun well before the train halts. Like a well choreographed performance the artists move effortlessly across the surface. They each contribute components to the new image being born. It is finessed and well rehearsed. In what seems like no time at all the trains side is adorned and the team disperse.

Standing there, you cant help but be mesmerised by the process. Others around me find it entertaining and amusing and no one in this crowd objects. There's a sense of collegiality and respect present across the masses. Sure it's dangerous, yes it's illegal but you leave those thoughts behind and respect the art behind the action. Not simply in the execution of the artwork but also the art of the trespass and the teamwork and planning that goes into a hit.

I suspect that Marsh may have had problems with the law on this matter, but regardless of where he makes work or if he has had permission, it is clear that the man can paint. I hope that Marsh keeps making his own trains rather than commandeering those of cityrail, although that video was mighty powerful...

Todd Fuller is a graduate of Sydney’s National Art School and is represented by Brenda May Gallery.

All images supplied by the writer.

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Friday, 2 August 2013

Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake

Photo: Jeff Busby. Courtesy of The Australian Ballet.
Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake
The Australian Ballet

I must confess at the outset that this was my very first ballet. A shocking admission, I know, so it was with no small amount of expectation that I went to see Graeme Murphy's version of Swan Lake in Melbourne. Inspired by the love triangle of Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, Odette, played by Amber Scott, is doubtful of her betroths love for her on the eve of their wedding - and with good reason. Prince Siegfried, played by Adam Bull, is caught in the spell of past love Baroness von Rothbart, played by Lana Jones and their deceit becomes so apparent that it sends the fragile Odette insane with doubt and she is committed to a sanatorium.

Devastated by her one true loves deceit, Odette's only solace comes in the form of a dream world with swan maidens and where she herself was a swan. The costumes of the swans is stunning with the traditional tutu replaced with feather-like drapery. 

After her release from the sanatorium Odette attends a party, uninvited, held at the home of the Baroness who now firmly has the Prince within her hold. Captivated by her poise and sel-possession the Prince falls deeply in love with his former bride, much to the vehement anger of the Baroness who, in turn, attempts to have Odette re-committed. She flees and is discovered later by the Prince, their love seemingly restored and perfect if only for that brief moment. Realising the third person in their marriage will never truly be in their past, Odette throws herself into the lake surrounded by a bevy of black swans. The Prince never loves again and for the rest of his life mourns the loss of his one true love.    
Photo: Jeff Busby. Courtesy of The Australian Ballet.
Now, no one bothered to let me know how tragic the ending to this love story would be. It is a testament to the cast that I was filled with a sense of loss and epic sadness at its conclusion. The sets were beautiful in their simplicity, in particular the sanatorium was incredibly clever, with none of the trimmings detracting from the performance. Swan Lake was as magical as I'd expected and I was swept on a wave of emotions and a resplendent feast of visual delights from start to finish.   
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