Tuesday, November 15, 2011

FONAS plate auction - 15 November

I really enjoyed this event last year and was keen to return and check out the entries. Alan Jones officially opened the night with a nice little speech and then it was straight into it. The Friends of the National Art School (hence FONAS) have a live auction of their really big names who have donated work and then a silent auction of some familiar names and students etc who contribute hundreds of plates. Let's see if there is another plate winging its way to Paddo ...

As with last year it was a real mixed bag. Some spirited bidding on the live auction side with all plates going for over $1k. Now the auctioneer says this is a bargain as their canvasses go for many times that. True, but it is much easier for one of my junior critics to smash a plate than a canvas so we sat on our hands during this phase. The top dollar (over $3k) went to a plate by Reg Mombassa in his recognisable mambo'esque style. On the silent auction side I noticed the bigger names had slightly bigger plates, Guy Maestri (a landscape of hill end, like his recent show at Tim Olsen), Alun Rhys Jones (a monochrome skull, like his recent show at Iain Dawson) and even Deborah Marks (a figurative scene, like her recent show at Charles Hewitt) ... you get where I am going here. I put in a bid on the skull but was quickly outbid. On the smaller ones I liked Adrienne Richardson's lamb chop and Troy Emery's rainbow lion (above, which looked like it was wearing a rasta style tam o'shanter, kind of similar to the fake taxidermy he does) and placed a small bid on each as the Mrs and I were off for quick dinner on Oxford street. Upon return it became apparent 2011 was a little slower than 2010 as I had just made a $240 donation to some FONAS scholarships and picked up 2 plates!

Points: 3 for Reg Mombassa, again the best plate on the night (Reg took BL's 3 points at this gig last year). 2 to Alun Rhys Jones for the skull - I do like skulls but at the end of the day would've preferred it on paper rather than porcelain. 1 point to Adrienne Richardson for the lamb chop (left) - pass the mint sauce. You know I think I should do a plate for next year, maybe I'll offer my services to FONAS ...

Primavera leftovers / Artspace performance - 14/15 November

It was great to have a working week in Sydney to catch up on some admin and see what the city has an offer at the moment for the punters keen to see some arts. On the agenda were the leftovers from the MCA young artist show (primavera) and a trip to artspace to see a piece of performance art that sounded a little weird.

By the dates I had actually missed primavera, however, the MCA staged it outdoors this year as they don't actually have a gallery at the moment and I correctly gambled that they wouldn't have taken down the Eric Bridgeman posters by Monday lunchtime. There are 2 posters printed diptych fashion side by side (image above). Commenting on racism in rugby league one features Eric as an aboriginal player and the other as a white coach. It is meant to be influenced by the Andrew Johns / Timana Tahu incident of a few years ago and the text "Joey I'm not angry anymore" certainly had me humming that 1990 hit by Concrete Blonde for the next day. If it wasn't the middle of the day I would have tried to souvenir one!

"Expulsion" at Artspace was a test of endurance. Both for Fiona McGregor and the viewer. For 24 hours she would sit around, drink water and urinate into a fountain. Well for the punters who may visit I would estimate it is 97% sitting around, 2.8% drinking water and about 0.2% for the activity that gives the work its title. I think it is meant to shock but if you have (a) small kids, (b) been to the zoo recently, or (c) ever been associated with a rugby club then you should find the thought of it pretty tame. The venue had a sign outside warning against nudity but they perhaps should've warned against boredom instead. I hung around a little while and didn't see any 'art' being made ...

Points: Bridgeman will get the quinella here, 3 for the Timana Tahu (on the left) and 2 for the Johns (on the right). That leaves 1 point to be awarded and I will give this to anyone who can spend more than 20 minutes waiting for Fiona to make art!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Postgrad show at NAS - 5 November

I may have a very tenuous link to the National Art School given my 1 week of studies there but I am always keen to get back as often as I can to see what goes on there. Last year at this time we took down Kate Shaw and the NAS postgrad show on the same day so we had to keep the tradition alive and swing past Darlo on our trip back from Waterloo.

The main show is in the NAS gallery, one of the former main cell blocks and it is an interesting show. I knew a couple of people in the show, former teacher Deborah Marks and honors student Fiona Lanigan. Deborah was exhibiting some collages similar to the ones from Charles Hewitt earlier in the year. I liked Fiona's etchings in the main space but thought the digital ones in the print studio were my favourites. The students studios are only open the first weekend so you get to see about 4 times as much as in the main gallery. You can also take some sneakier photos that way if you have a blog to write for! Overall the sculpture didn't really do it for me, and the ceramics likewise. Painting was probably my top pick of the disciplines on show. Lots of talent there. Zoe Tweedale had some great animal portraits - a big squid in the main gallery that the junior critics fell for and a big pig in the studio that I liked (then again given I played a few seasons for the hogs I have a soft spot for everything porcine). Bridgette McNab had some cool portraits inspired by glossy womens mags (and a fully functioning website, students these days!). And Carlone Karllson had some Syd Ball'esque abstract geometric shapes (her Tripod sculpture was the kids top pick).

Points: 3 to Zoe (can't decide if it is for the squid or the pig, is that a form of surf and turf?); 2 to Bridgette and 1 point to Wally McGregor, my top pick from the drawing faculty. I did like his data flow (pictured upside down on the NAS website - perhaps as an homage to deceased alum Norman Hetherington of Mr Squiggle fame but more likely an unintentional piece of art criticism about contemporary drawing). Still, if I was him I would be filling out the Dobell entry form right now ...

Kate Shaw and Alex Seton at SSFA - 5 November

A couple of familiar names at Sullivan and Strumpf brought the whole crew out early on Saturday morning. Alexander Seton had the bottom floor (unsurprising given I doubt there were any volunteers to schlep blocks of marble up the stairs) with Kate Shaw taking the top.

Alex's show continued from the pieces he had when I visited his studio with the young ambassadors - all flags of varying designs. The Mrs was really impressed with these works and unluckily for her the whole show was sold out prior to the opening. I sympathise with her as it is a common theme - you only ever want what has already sold. Our favourite was probably the flag that had the twist in it, some very skillful work in solid marble. I also liked the folded up flags that he does in honour of the Australian casualties of war (pictured on the studio visit post). Kate's current show looks like her last one but on steroids, in that everything is bigger. Smallest piece here clocks in at 60 x 120cm and the big boys are hitting the tape at 120 x 240cm. That is a lot of acrylic and resin so you are probably getting some value for money here. That said, I do think her style works on the small scale as a few of the leftovers from her last show in the stock room attest to. Great shows to drag the junior critics out to (marble being less fragile than the porcelain at the last show). Think the kids favourites were the colourful Kate Shaw's as she still goes for the odd bit of glitter although disappointingly none of these ones glow in the dark.

Points: I am going to give the 3 to Kate Shaw for Contro Natura (pictured). Really like her style but these pieces were too big to take home to ours, maybe we should frame the announcement card instead. 2 to the twisted marble flag. Also 1 point to Laith McGregor out of the stockroom (of which pieces seem to be on regular display given they now have a spare room for it) for Holy. It is permanent marker on a huge 2.5m x 2m blue poly tarp. I guess it could do double duty in an emergency if you broke the window.