Saturday, April 26, 2014
Redlands Art Prize 2014 - 26 April
As I said last year (and I think even the year before), this show is an education. Very eclectic and a reasonable survey of some established artists and some emerging artists, half of whom I have never heard of! The premise is that some guest curator picks a dozen or so established artists who then pick an emerging artist to also be in the prize. They give out $25k to the winner of the established category and $10k to the winner of the emerging. Sadly the organisers obviously didn't read the Big Lamington review last year where I gave the eminently sensible suggestion that there be a new category for the 'team event' of established and emerging artist. This creates a vacuum, then we fill that vacuum. As popular war advances, peace is closer. What?
On the ground floor of the National Art School gallery you first come across (or are confronted with, depending upon your views) a massive Tom Polo installation. I read that Tom won the emerging category. Tom's style is divisive, you either love it, hate it or couldn't give a rats. I'm always confused to which bucket I fall in, so at least he gets you thinking! My junior critics were excited by the prospect of voting for a people's choice award so were busy hunting for their favourites. On the ground floor we lingered at Tim Maguire's lightbox (Kinglake Panorama) and also Tully Arnot's inventive 'Bottle Song' where he has upcycled some old plastic soft drink bottles into an whistling orchestra with some micro fans blowing in the mouth of the bottle. The eco propaganda message at primary school must be working as the kids thought this very clever and useful. Round the corner I came across a great selection of works by Ian Milliss. His works combine coal and flowers (pictured top, 'Homage to Tatlin'). Growing up in the Hunter Valley I have a bit of an appreciation of coal for both its economic benefits but environmental costs. I would've loved this even more if it was a native Australian plant (at first sight I did think the ornamental ginger was a rock lily orchid, dendrobium speciosum, which is native to Sydney and the Hunter Valley). It was only after reading the catalogue that I see he is referencing censorship. Hmmm. Next to him is Alex Wisser who is digging a hole. The work has a video on the wall and a photo on the floor of the artist in the hole. Very Castle. The work is from Hill End in NSW which was once a gold mining town. So I like how Ian and Alex are both referencing mining. Nice to see artists working as a team! Upstairs the junior critics liked artist pairing of Pip & Pop (who scooped a Big Lamington point back in 2011!) who included a pastelly print of lollies (image left below) and Amy Joy Watson (Split, image below right) whose helium balloon sculpture had everyone transfixed. I like the inventiveness of this sculpture, the helium must present some issues for collectors no? Do you have to keep a tank of helium at home and inflate the artwork when guests come over? Nearby Alex Seton's marble sculpture of an a deflated pool toy needed to bring out the reminder of the no touching rule as it is so lifelike the junior critics couldn't believe it was made of stone. Alex does very fine sculpture work and he is on good form here. It is a shame that the curators didn't manage to put this work near his invitee Tully Arnot as together it is a strong pairing. What else? I liked Scott Redford's 'Proposal for a Gold Cost Public Sculpture' (pictured middle) and more so since he is so outspoken of late. Keep speaking your mind Scott! Interestingly the catalogue has the Kylie Minogue version although Scott has Heath Ledger in the comp. Last name check goes to Greg Weight for his photo of paint splattered boots which are virtually camouflaged against a similarly splattered floor. Nice. You can see the full catalogue online here.
Points: The points here are all team based. 3 points will go to Ian Milliss & Alex Wisser. I gave my people's choice to Ian as well. 2 points will go to Pip & Pop and Amy Joy Watson, Amy also collected the people's choice of one of the junior critics. 1 point will go to Alex Seton and Tully Arnot. Please email your postal address if you would like your certificates mailed out!