Sunday, October 30, 2011

Woollahra small sculpture prize - 30 October.

Family art outings usually require a bit of a bribe - the great thing about this show is that the family's favourite beach, Redleaf, is just down the steps. So with our bucket and spades, sunscreen and sun hats it was off to the Council to check on our DA and the small sculptures ...

The council building is a bit of a work of art itself, a really stunning setting for this competition that the council has been running for quite a few years. This was a really well run outfit, some child education person had grabbed two of our junior critics for their own little tour with pencils and worksheets as soon as we had walked in. That left the Mrs and I to check out the wares at a leisurely pace. Quite a few familiar names for Big Lamington readers here, Ken + Julia Yonetani, Penny Byrne, Huseyin Sami and Julia DeVille - all with work corresponding to their distinctive styles. The actual winner, Margaret Seymour's Pas de deux' was a tv screen on what looked like a moving trolley. You looked down on it to see feet dancing - it was quite dizzying. I liked the Donna Marcus work called extract, which looked like a sea anemone made out of orange juicers. Another great touch is the Viewers Choice award which the punters get to vote for. Keep your eyes out for the winner here, or vote here for your choice until 6 November.

Points: 3 to Donna Marcus for Extract, this got my vote for the people's choice. 2 to Ken + Julia Yonetani, I really like their work and would gladly have this piece in the house. 1 point to Lisa Roet for the golden ape, I think the curator agreed this should have been displayed a little higher (or I need to be a lot shorter). Special mention to Phil Cooper's mummy style statue which got the Mrs nod in the viewers choice.

Monday, October 24, 2011

MiCK the Gallery - 24 October

So the mystery posed by the question mark at 44 Gurner Street has finally been solved and 'Mick the Gallery' has been unveiled. I had read it was opening today and given I was back in Sydney for the weekend decided to enjoy the near 30 degree weather (a huge change from NZ) and stroll over and check it out.

They are kicking off with a group show which is always a great idea to give the punters a sense of what they can expect in the coming months. Pretty diverse group with a couple of names I've heard of (Archibald winner in 2003 Geoff Dyer, he had the really good portrait of David Walsh in the 2011 edition; taxidermist Julia deVille who I must've seen on art nation at some stage; and the somewhat ubiquitous Adam Cullen - although I think his work is a private treaty sale). Of the artists I'd never seen photographer Jessica Tremp looks interesting as does painter Amelia Disspain. Hopefully they go well in the old SSFA spot (which they are keen to point out has been an art gallery since the 1970's - don't mention the competition!)

Points: 3 to gallerist Megan Dick for pushing the go button on a new space within walking distance of Big Lamington HQ (I guess that is where the MiCK comes from, although my mate mIke frusc may have issues with their random capitalisations). 2 to Julia deVille for the ostrich skeleton with feathers and saddle - definitely catches the attention although not sure that would survive being ridden by my three junior art critics and 1 to Amelia Disspain.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Suite gallery annexe

Quick one here as my art outings are racing ahead of my postings. I finally saw the Suite Gallery Annexe on Oriental Parade (still in Wellington here folks) open the other day and got a quick snoop around the space (above photo taken at night obviously, dinner at Martin Bosley across the road is also recommended). Now on the eve of potentially another financial crisis and stories of art galleries closing (Vale GrantPirrie) I think this is a great model to replicate.

Okay, Suite do have a bigger space near a few of the other galleries on Cuba street but this annexe is my all time favourite small space. Originally a garage, then converted into a distillery (NZ's famous vodka 42 below was meant to have been invented here), it is now a fully functioning gallery with the requisite white walls and concrete floor. Reminds me a little of ecosse in Exeter but this is finished a little nice and definitely stands out on the road with its bright pink door. I'd like to see a couple of these in Paddington, especially with all the rear lane access around. I really wonder what Woollahra council would say if punters started opening their own kunsthalles around the place.

No real points today. I was in a hurry so Barbara Strathdee's show didn't really get my attention. I liked her use of painting shapes over an image. Kind of reminded me of Gerald Laing, except he is a famous 60s dude who used Bardot as the background and Barbara uses old illustrations of NZ. Highly commended ribbon to Suite for their Annexe. Which despite the rampant Britishness everywhere in NZ they spell as Annex. Go figure.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ryan Presley at Jan Manton.

I've been stuck in NZ for a little while with work and the world cup so wasn't able to get to see the new Ryan Presley show at Jan Manton which looked amazing online. What is an art collector to do? Well, when my mum said she was going to be in Bris Vegas for the day I made sure she put Jan's gallery on her itinerary. Jan runs a quirky little space in Spring Hill and has a good eye for emerging talent - she had Tony Albert on the roster years ago and he is really taking off now. The show has recently ended (I'm a little behind in my posts here, its harder on an ipad despite what the ads say) so you'll have to click on the link to see what all the fuss was about.

Ryan's work is basically counterfeit money. His latest show Prosperity, just like his first show Blood Money (which won the Griffith Uni graduation show), takes Aussie currency and updates it with more politicised aboriginal content. Funny that he doesn't use the old paper banknotes, which I think had a far greater proportion of dead white men. I guess it would have been pretty inconceivable at the time to have an aboriginal person on the decimal notes that were released in 1966. The new plastic notes (released in 1991) equalised the gender but only feature one aboriginal person - on the $50. Points if you knew it was David Unaipon, I did have to look it up. Ryan's current currency features Vincent Lingiari, Fanny Balbuk, Truganinni, Jandamarra and Gladys Tybingoompa. Again I'll double those points if you knew all these people, which I guess is his point that contemporary Australia doesn't really know much of Aboriginal history or didn't think it worthy enough for the official coin of the realm. These big works (75 x 1000cm) were pretty popular - red dots everywhere. The only question was whether this boyhood paper money collector would put one in the Big Lamington bank ...

Points from mum (these were originally reversed as she didn't get the whole 3, 2, 1 thing but that has all been explained now). 3 to $100 note, good detail and nice black cockatoos. 2 to the $20 note (ed. note: big red works usually sell well so no surprise this has gone) and 1 point to the $10 note. Also an honourable mention (does Mum think she is judging at the show? We don't hand out highly commended ribbons every week you know!) to the set of 4 hand coloured actual bank note sized etchings ( 7x13 cm) fine detailed work! Yours for $1200. These aren't on the website but Jan is really great to deal with over the interwebs so drop her a line if interested.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scott Eady at the Dowse - 15 October.

We were looking for an outing for my three junior art critics and I had read a good review of a show at the Dowse which made it sound fairly family friendly. So with the co-ordinates of Lower Hutt plugged into the GPS of our rental we were off for a little weekend art adventure ...

The Dowse is about a 20 minute drive north of Wellington. It is a small little regional gallery but despite its size managed to have about 5 different shows on. Top of our list was Scott Eady's '100 Bike Project - Part 1'. Scott has tracked down a heap of old bikes from council tips around the country and then done them up (and in a few cases totally pimped them out). They are all shiny and new looking and it is a great message of consumerism and waste that you look at all these fantastic bikes of varying shapes and sizes and think that they had all been turfed out in their former lives. It is an interactive exhibition so the kids are encouraged to grab a bike and have a ride which all of mine did. You had to use a loaner helmet although we had planned ahead and brought our own (which also avoided the line that formed). Scott had literally put bells and whistles on most of the bikes so it took my art critics a little while to find appropriate rides. Duly installed in the riding ring I was able to take my littlest critic for a gallery walk. Tiffany Singh's collection of wind chimes 'Knock on the Sky and listen to the Sound' is installed here (I had seen bits of part 1 at the Enjoy gallery back in Wellington so nice to complete the experience) and we saw some more Ani O'Neill fabric work. Best other exhibit was the colour spectrum show designed for kids. Top pick here was the Reuben Paterson blue glitter work 'Perrier Jouet'. Yes those champagne label flowers in blue glitter - pretty striking. Next door to this exhibit was a kids craft centre which again kept the troops entertained. Props to the Dowse for having a nice intellectual approach to getting families to come and see art which goes to my own personal thesis that you shouldn't have to dumb it down to get the punters in. A really well put together place - would love to see some NSW councils do something this good.

Points - 3 to Scott Eady. Great work, the kids loved it. Only complaint was that the horns on the trikes were hard to blow as compared to the bells on the bikes. Also a nice little hat tip to iconic American photograher William Eggleston in the promo photos. I was trying to emulate that shot myself of one of the trikes. 2 to Reuben Paterson for more of his great glitter work. I am seeing his stuff everywhere (City Gallery, NZ art magazine cover) and liking it more and more but am afraid to find out what it would cost! 1 to the cafe. An often overlooked part of any gallery outing but the Dowse's offering was top class. Actually the food in Wellington is of a high standard across the board but this place (and the cafe at the City Gallery) puts the AGNSW and MCA in the shade. Honourable mention to the kids collecting thing I read about in their propaganda. If I understood it correctly they get leading NZ artists to do prints and editions and then put them in the room and you pay $65 for your kid to go in and pick out a piece of art. Love it. Hey kids, if there is a sparkly glitter work in there grab it for Daddy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RWC edition - 13 October

The team from Big Lamington is still over in New Zealand and fresh from cheering on the Wallabies in a thrilling quarter-final at the Cake Tin was able to snoop around a couple of Wellington galleries today. On the agenda were Bowen Galleries and Suite Galleries from our last outing and a new location in the Peter McLeavey Gallery.

First up was Suite who are showing Roger Boyce's show 'Painter Speaks'. This is a series of landscape paintings with a ventriloquists dummy head transposed over the top. Roger is trying to comment on the man made nature of art but I did find it a little creepy. The landscapes themselves were quite majestic, especially the mountains (they have big mountains here in NZ). Luckily for the friendly proprietors at Suite the public are eating it up. Plenty of red dots everywhere. Next up was Peter McLeavey, the entrance of which is tucked up under the stairwell to Suite. I can see why I missed this one last time - blink and you miss the door which opens up into quite a bright little white room where Nick Austin is showing 'Interesting Chewing Gum'. Interesting name. These are real minimalist works and you have to get that genre to get at the prices. I know plenty of punters who would see that and say $2k for a bad drawing of a cup? Final destination was the Bowen Galleries who always seem to have a handful of artists up on show. My top pick here was the window piece with Gregor Kregar's 'Matthew 12:12 Cup 2011' which are little sculptures of sheep wearing various international rugby jerseys. They come in all sizes and look great in a big group but you can buy big ones individually or small ones in sets of 15 at prices from $600 to $4k. There was a nice Australian #6 available and if the Wallabies can get past the ABs this week then the ovine Elsom may be another great little souvenir.

Points. I think you can guess where I am going here. 3 to Gregor and the sheep. I am a big on the use of iconic images and the sheep is iconic in Aoteoroa. 2 to McLeavey's based primarily on the friendly proprietor who provided a good overview of Nick Austin and gave a great heads up about a show at the City Gallery that is now on our agenda. 1 to Suite, whose next show on Ans Westra looks like it could also get a run here.