Saturday, 30 November 2013

5 Questions With... the team from Sculpture in the Vineyards

Rebecca Holmes discusses the work of Ludwig Mlcek. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.

Sculpture in the Vineyards is an annual sculpture festival taking place in the Hunter Valley's picturesque Wollombi. The team from Sculpture in the Vineyards joined the Near and the Elsewhere for a chat about this years exhibition.

For those who don't know, what is Sculpture in the Vineyards?

Tara Morelos (Co-Director): Sculpture in the Vineyards is an outdoor exhibition of large scale and site-specific sculpture held each year in November in the Wollombi Valley. The exhibition continues for a month in the historic village of Wollombi and across several family-run boutique vineyards. I have been involved since 2006 and have seen the exhibition develop and grow into a festival of activities with a gala opening, artists closing picnic, bus tours and workshops for young people. Also of note are the twilight tours of ‘the map site’ at Finchley in Yengo National Park, led by Aboriginal guides from local cultural organisation, Ngurra Bu. The map site is a rock-engraving site used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years in traditional lore and ceremony.


Elissa Jane Smolinski, Holubic. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.

What sets it apart from other sculptural parks such as McClelland?

Todd Fuller (Co-Director): There are a lot of sculpture events popping up all over the country but Sculpture in the Vineyards definitely has some unique qualities. Our event brings together food, wine, people and great art. Each venue offers something different to the next meaning that we are essentially four different exhibitions in one. We work hard to foster a sense of community in our artists and facilitate a range of professional development opportunities for all involved. Unlike other Sculpture events, Sculpture in the Vineyards focuses on site specificity and values a response to location as well as the creation of an object. We also make a point of supporting the broadest possible spectrum of sculpture, we mentor young practitioners alongside to senior figures of the sculpture world. We make space for fibres, ceramics, installation, glass, grass painting, ephemeral works and a whole gamete of works which you may not see in other outdoor sculpture prizes.

I think the spirit of our event is Sculpture in the Vineyards greatest strength and point of difference, we are not a corporate entity, we are an artist lead initiative which has been founded on the generosity of our vineyard owners. They essentially open their homes to our team and our artists to make this event possible year after year.

How difficult is it to curate Sculpture in the Vineyards, coordinating all those different elements?

Danella Bennett (Curator): This was my first year with the team. Sculpture in the Vineyards features 71 outdoor works across 4 unique venues. Each location has a distinct set of characteristics to be taken into account. At the outset of this year's exhibition developing trust and understanding the key stakeholders needs were important considerations. Understanding each site and the environmental features that create unique experiences for audiences was another factor when considering locations for each art work. Acknowledging artists needs and ensuring they were supported in the delivery of their work was also important. Finally positively contributing to the audience experience so they would continue to support sculpture in the vineyards.

Catherine Kingsmill, untitled. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.

In your opinion what has been the most interesting work shown and why?

Tara Morelos: One of the most interesting works in this years exhibition for me is by Terry Hills - A Study in Brown. Undeniably a controversial work that manages to both confound the general public  and raise an eyebrow or two within the inner sanctum of exhibiting artists. The work throws into question the intrinsic value and hence stature of the artist statement in informing contemporary works while digging deeper still into our preconceived notions of the sculptural form. Its a real treat.

Todd Fuller: Sculpture in the Vineyards tends to feature a lot of reclaimed materials and responses to the environment but this year a work which has stuck with me is Elissa Jane Smolinski's Holubic. Its title is taken from the dutch word for hug. We have all come to know the work as 'huggy' for short. It is a large latex ambiguous creature with horns and a yellow fleshy surface. At two metres tall it stands out in the environment and has been curated as if scuttling from a nearby grove of trees. it lacks facial features yet implies different expressions from every angle. It is the perfect mix of beauty, the grotesque and intrigue. When you approach it it feels like a scene from Jurassic park and you wait for it to spring to life with anticipation. Holubic (or huggy) is is attractive yet repulsive, welcoming yet dangerous, vulnerable and fierce- it is a poetic metaphor for the complexities of love.

Danella Bennet: I had the pleasure of watching Dogswood install his work at stonehurst cedar creek. Witnessing the installation of the work was a very seductive. Dogswood spent hours tying elements of his work together, suspending them and wrapping intricate details throughout his installation. It was a privilege to witness him in the act of making.

Rebecca Holmes (Education Officer):It's difficult to decide what I think is the most interesting work, at any given time I could choose a different work for a different reason. Today however, I think I would say Akira Kamada's Full Circle. The simplicity of it's form, medium and construction possess a modesty that hands over responsibility to the viewer to interpret and engage in their own way.


Claude Jones, Endangered. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.

Any memorable moments?

Tara Morelos: The forces of nature have definitely provided some memorable moments over the years. Strong winds blew over Stephen Coburn’s five metre Hunter Valley Sun in 2006 and cows got up close and personal with Diego Bonetto Weedy Connection Tour that same year. Flood waters carried Nigel Helyer’s Spinner on a merry tour of one of the vineyard in 2007 leaving other sculptures standing while large stainless steel vats were tossed far and wide. Working in the outdoors is always fun and we have learn't a lot from mother nature.

Todd Fuller: There have been so many over the few years, I was recently proud to watch a local indigenous artist named Adam Drylie give his first Artist Talk at our Art Gallery of New South Wales Bus Tour. He created and exhibited his first sculpture with support from our organisation. To see him share his 'soul story' with the group was inspiring and humbling for us all. 

Danella Bennett: The feeling of synergy from our team especially as it was the first time we'd worked together and the realisation that each site was successful individually and collectively.

Rebecca Holmes: My most memorable moments would have to be from the first day of school group visits. 45 Year 1 students from St Philip's Christian College in Nulkaba came to the Wollombi Village Vineyard for guided tours, activities and workshops. Watching students bathe their hands in blue shadows under Emilia Krumm's La Foglia and talk about how it was like being under the sea was definitely one of them.

Sculpture in the Vineyards runs from November 2 - December 2, 2013.


Dogswood, regeneration 1, 2 and 3Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards. 

Rae Bolotin, seed form. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards. 

Terry Hills, A Study in Brown. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.

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Saturday, 16 November 2013

Australian Glamour: Model, Photographer, Magazine

Maide Hann in Henderson’s Hats advertisement, 1946, Rob Hillier. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Australian Glamour: Model, Photographer, Magazine
State Library of New South Wales: August 10 - November 10, 2013


This exhibition highlights Australia’s fascination with glamorous fashion pictures from 1900 to now. Local fashion photography is illustrated through the pages of iconic women's magazines and advertisements. The exhibition highlights the pioneering work of Sydney photographer Rob Hillier and presented alongside Helmut Newton’s striking images of Australia’s top model 1960, Maggie Tabberer.

Due to me not-so-secret love of vintage fashion, specifically the fashion of the 1940s and 50s, I loved Australian Glamour. The timelessness, the classic tailoring, clean lines, and effortless beauty of this time fascinates and enthralls me. As did this exhibition. 
Dorn Fraser models imported hat for cover, Fashion and Society, October 1945, Rob Hillier. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.  

Model in ‘New Look’ fashions, shot for an advertisement for Sydney department store Mark Foy’s. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Cover, September 1946 issue of Fashion & Society, c.1945. Photographed by Rob Hillier bound volume Portfolio. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Brochure, Maggie Tabberer models Autumn/Winter 1960 Cardin-Lucas designs, 1959 photographed by Helmut Newton for Lucas & Co (detail). Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

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Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography

Wendy Whitelaw, Park Avenue. Personal picture taken on American Vogue fashion shoot, July 1981. Arthur Elgort. © Arthur Elgort / Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Selling Dreams: One Hundred Years of Fashion Photography
State Library of New South Wales: August 10 - November 10, 2013

On loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, 60 iconic images of glamour document the evolution of fashion photography. Featuring work by photographers such as Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon, the exhibition draws on photographer Irving Penn’s comment describing his work at Vogue as ‘selling dreams, not clothes’.

It is fascinating to see how the focus of photography has shifted over the years. In the 1940s and 50s (possibly my favourite period)the focus was on the clothes and how to show them off to their best advantage but by the time the 80s and 90s rolled around art had infiltrated the landscape of fashion photography and it appeared to be more about the perfect shot and less about the clothes in the shot. 


The exhibition has some beautiful images. Personally I am all about the clothes so I love the photography of the 40s and 50s, the classic lines, elaborate and opulent fabrics are exquisite. 


Model and Mannequin, American Vogue Cover, 1 November 1945. Erwin Blumenfeld. © Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld / Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Mainbocher Corset. Pink satin corset made by Detolle for Mainbocher, American Vogue, 4 March 1939. Horst P Horst. © Horst Estate / Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Skater wears a Digby Morton fur trimmed velvet coat, city gentleman Michael Bentley in the background, London. Daily Express, 1955. John French. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Simone wears fashion by Venet, River Seine, Paris. American Harper’s Bazaar, March 1963. Melvin Sokolsky. © Melvin Sokolsky / Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Twiggy wears Twiggy Dresses Battersea Park, London. Unpublished Fashion Study for British Vogue, Young Idea, July 1967. Ronald Traeger. © Estate of Ronald Traeger / Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

GUEST POST: Elizabeth Little takes a wander through Sculpture by the Sea

Carl Billingsley, red center 

Sculpture by the Sea has hit the foreshores of the eastern suburbs. This year there are again over 100 artists exhibiting works that range from serious to the seriously funny, and everything in between. There are works with environmental themes, such as Alison McDonald’s ‘blanket’ Flow made from plastic bottle tops and Marina DeBris’ Aquarium of the pacific gyre which displays in a glass case on Tamarama a variety of ‘sea creatures’ fashioned from litter found on the beach. Sally Kidall makes a political statement as well as an artistic one in  Nomadic City : Lest we forget, a collection of small tents on bamboo rafts.

Other works take inspiration from the ocean and surrounding cliffs. These include the Coral Collective’s Coral which consists of interlocking pieces of the cliffs that mimic the formation of coral, Lucy Humphrey’s Horizon, which appears to be a giant crystal ball that reflects and upends the view of ocean and sky; Maggie McFadyen & Griffen Lim make the most of the stunning view with Time Frame, a series of yellow metal frames that draw attention to the natural environment. Carl Billingsley’s Red Center  places what looks like hundered (if not thousands) of  red & yellow survey flags in a  large circle on Tamarama beach. These flags are immediately recognisable as miniature surf life saving flags. And as every Australian knows, the only safe place to swim is between the flags. In A Shared Weight Elyssa Sykes Smith has created two figures from wooden offcuts, who help support the weight of the cliff at Bondi.

In St Mark’s Park there are whimsical works, including Chen Wenling’s Rainbow, a red man doing an impressive back bend, and Qian Sihua’s Bubble no. 5, a large red head that blows an equally large red bubble. The Drapes’ Room Without A view made me laugh out loud. The piece is a typical portaloo with a not so typical soundscape. The portaloo has been locked from the outside (every Australian’s nightmare?) and  we overhear the one sided telephone conversations of the person trapped inside, as they try to contact friends and family in a vain attempt at escape.


As always, Sculpture by the Sea exhibits a range of figurative and abstract works, from Australian and international artists. It would be hard not to find something that you liked here, even if it is only that spectacular view. 
Carl Billingsley, red center 
Lucy Humphrey , Horizon 

Mikaela Castledine, East of the Mulberry Tree – the legend of the ten red crows 
Sally Kidall , Nomadic City : Lest we forget 

Keld Moselhelm, tryptich  

Orest Keywan, Provincadeserta  

Phil Price, Snake  

Coral Collective, Coral  

Coral Collective, Coral 

Margarita Sampson, The great Bondi Sharehouse  

Elyssa Sykes Smith, A Shared Weight  

Alison McDonald , flow  

Alison McDonald , flow  

Robert Barnstoe , Once Removed 

QianSihua , Bubble no. 5 

Andrew Rogers, Folded 3, 2012

Chen Wenling , Rainbow 

Marcus Tatton, husk 

The Drapes , Room without a View 

Lucy Barker , What Once Was 



Marina DeBris, Aquarium of the pacific gyre 

Maggie McFadyen & Griffen Lim, Time Frame 
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, 11 November 2013

2013 National Art School Post Graduate Exhibition

Yang-En Hume, Collector's Addiction 


National Art School Post Graduate Exhibition 2013: November 1 - 9, 2013

I love the National Art School end of year shows. There is always such a high caliber of work on display and it instills me with a sense of hope for the future of the arts in Sydney.

Here's a few of the stand-outs.


Yang-En Hume, Collector's Addiction
The work of Yang-En Hume is quite off-putting.  Dolls heads stare vacantly back at you, some illuminated by lighting, a strange sense of life apparent even though there is no life to be seen. Reminiscent of a collectors dusty, old study with specimen jars, you might think a work like this can't possibly be considered beautiful. Perhaps it's not, not in any traditional sense anyway, but it's intriguing and and a bit unnerving, which is a beautiful thing.  
Yang-En Hume, Collector's Addiction

Yang-En Hume, Collector's Addiction

Montana Maree Miller, Once Upon a Suburban Rum and New Year's Eve

Montana Maree Miller, A Trotter In a Bottle Equals Two on a Tall Ship


Meredith Birrell, Archive
Perhaps my favourite work, Meredith Birrell's documentation of her Grandmother demonstrates skill and an attachment that cannot be forged. The table full of old photographs map out a life while the large scale paintings attempt to represent it. The blurred and obstructed quality of these paintings alludes to an inability to see the past clearly, of ideas and people being just out of reach. I love the sense of nostalgia and family. Of lives lived and more importantly - remembered. It's documentation and preservation taking the form of a visual archive. 
Meredith Birrell, Grandmother Series-Untitled 4

Meredith Birrell, Archive

Meredith Birrell, Grandmother Series-Untitled 4

Meredith Birrell, Archive

Meredith Birrell, Grandmother Series-Untitled 4

Meredith Birrell, Grandmother Series-Untitled 4

Meredith Birrell, Grandmother Series-Untitled 3


Ruth Li, and the sea parted
The colours in Ruth Li's ceramics are exceptional, as is the perfect finish and smooth lines. The unique shapes transform functional items into works of art. In particular Experiment IX is brilliant. The test tubes are clever and strangely beautiful. The dark blue tones in Matthew 5:14 are stunning. Li's work is incredibly tactile with the urge to run your hands over its smooth lines almost too strong to resist.  
Ruth Li, Experiment II

Ruth Li, Matthew 5:14

Ruth Li, Matthew 5:14

Ruth Li, Experiment IX

Ruth Li, Genesis I

Ruth Li, Psalm 18


Mason Kimber, Sill 96

Mason Kimber, Sill 90

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