Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Shock of the Now (with apologies to Robert Hughes)

So astute readers (my mum mainly) will notice that it occasionally takes a few days for editors of Big Lamington to get around to posting about a show.  Given we actually visit more galleries than we have time to blog about (blame apathy or three kids aged 4 and under) we thought another technology (in addition to the relatively user friendly would be helpful.

So to scratch my art critic itch in an instant Big Lamington has joined twitter.  Yes folks, you will now be able to get my barely informed opinions in 140 words or less in real time.  Don't ask me how to actually read these tweets, that is what the intrawebs is for.  If you manage to work that out, then try and find "@BigLamington".  Armed with my tweetbox and a couple of rugrats I think we might even check out a gallery or two this afternoon ...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gallipoli Art Prize - 27 April

I do like going along to this show.  All the ingredients were present from last year, the scruffy premises of the club adds a great deal of sincerity to this show which is open to amateur and professional artists alike.  The terms of reference are a little vague so you get a real mixed bag on display.  The Gallipoli club says the art prize will be awarded to the artist who best depicts the spirit of the Gallipoli Campaign as expressed in the club's "creed".  The creed is: "we believe that within the community there exists an obligation for all to preserve the special qualities of loyalty, respect, love of country, courage and comradeship which were personified by the heroes of the Gallipoli Campaign and bequeathed to all humanity as a foundation for perpetual peace and universal freedom".   Is that all clear?  Okay, let's check out the 2012 entrants ...
The winner this year was Geoff Harvey for his 'Trench Interment'.  It was an interesting work focusing on all manner of implements buried in a trench but probably not one of my top picks.  I did like Kerrie Lester's 'Lest we forget' (pictured above) which featured a number of vintage badges, but then again I am an ebay tragic for that sort of ephemera.   Robyn Sweaney's 'Last Light' of a soldiers memorial hall draped in poppies was a nice entry, and to my mind was right on brief.  Craig Waddell's big waratah painting was really nice (and quite pricey) but I didn't really see how that fit in with the theme.  I think its great that this prize can attract quality artists like Craig but I would prefer he did a work especially for the comp rather than (as it appears) just mail one in from his most recent body of work.  Paul Ryan, fresh from winning a point from Big Lamington for his Sulman effort has a work in here that I didn't mind although the Quilty paint slathered on digger did have a queer look on his face which will keep him out of the points this week. 

Points.  I will give 3 to Kerrie Lester.  Despite the fact that her work presents a few conservation issues (some of the badges are already falling off) I am a sucker for a collection of vintage ephemera.  The photo doesn't really do it justice, you need to see this in person.  I'll add my 2 points to the judges Highly Commended to Bill Nix for his Memorial (pictured left, yours for $7k) and give one point to Craig Handley for his budget friendly Cenotaph.  I'd usually post links to all the images on the Gallipoli Club website but it appears they are a little behind as of writing. Give it a couple of days and am sure you will be able to track down the show somewhere around here if you can't make it to the club before May 11.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Please exit through the Sulman - 19 April

I guess it must be that competitive Australian nature but I do like a good art prize.  So with just one of the junior critics in tow the Big Lamington team was off to check out this years Archibald, Wynne and of course Sulman Prizes ...

The Archibald gets all the headlines but usually disappoints, and this year was no exception - I hated the winner (but then again I don't really like much of his stuff so we'll move on).  I quite liked the idea behind Luke Robert's portrait of Richard Bell.  He has done it as a coin with Bells head in profile on the obverse (that is the 'heads' side obviously!).  I've seen something similar from photographer Darren Siwes in the not too distant past and I reckon his version was a little better.  Currency featured in some other highlights, my 4 year old listing Martin Sharp's 1000 dollar bill of David Gulpilil as her top pick (she was lucky that this was one of the few postcards carried by the gift shop).  I really liked Reko Rennie's portrait of Hetti Perkins.  He has done a single colour on raw linen and made it look like a stencil (I thought it was until reading his little spiel which implies it is freehand).  I am not sure I approve of portraits of AGNSW trustees given they are judging the comp so I would have sent Kate Beynon's portrait of Lindy Lee up to the Salon des Refuses.

Next up was Wynne, which I have a real soft spot for - just the name conjures up that classic 'Across the Blacksoil Plains'.  Stepping into the back room my first thought was that I had been transported to deepest darkest Zetland as it was a Sullivan and Strumpfest back there: Juan Ford, check; Kate Shaw, check; Michael Lindeman, check.  Just as I am sure a Kate Shaw will adorn a wall of mine one day I believe she will win the Wynne eventually.  I guess the trustees, like myself, are just waiting for the right one to come along.   I liked Louis Pratt's wavy sculpture but did think he picked the wrong year to enter.  Since 2008 the Wynne has gone painting, sculpture, painting, sculpture so the conspiracy theorist in me thought a painting was a good bet for 2012.  I was right.  Imants Tiller's Waterfall took the chockies this year.  It was my favourite winner of the three separate prizes but my top Wynne pick was Lindeman, whose 'attractive painting of Bega' got my attention.  I haven't called the mobile phone number listed in the painting ... yet, but would encourage all to give it a try as last year it was actually his real number.  I also love the combination of the text with the referenced image above. Strangely enough that is the exact combo I have running in my dining room, so who says familiarity breeds contempt?

Finally the Sulman, which is always a mixed bag.  My picks here included Kathrin Longhurst's Grenade Girl, but then again I have a fondness for retro kitsch (she has painted it in that communist realist style) and will always look twice at a half dressed girl with a hand grenade; Angus McDonald's bull (with sash!) and Pamela (could that be Bundle?) Horsley's Out at Tidbinbilla (I thought at first that a nutjob objector had actually attacked the work and hence the surveillance note plastered in the top right but then I read the blurb!).  My Sulman would've gone to Paul Ryan's Welcome to Wollongong (pictured) which was accompanied by the best artist statement of the day: "Governor Arthur Phillip arrives in Wollongong. For his first visit he comes as a black-and-white minstrel. Those Wollongong natives, they love a good joke. Strangely nobody seems to be laughing. This work asks questions. It does not provide answers."  Points coming for this guy.  It did also remind me a bit of Daniel Boyd's pirate first fleeters which is an all time favourite.

Points.  I will give the 3 to the Wynne this year and that means Michael Lindeman.  He deserves a big call out as in the last three years he has gone 2010 Sulman (winner), 2011 Archibald (finalist) and now 2012 Wynne (finalist). That is pretty impressive.  2 points will go to Reko Rennie for his Archibald (although I guess that means his already unaffordable stencils won't be getting any cheaper!) and 1 point will go to Paul Ryan for the beautiful randomness of Welcome to The Gong.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter Show 2012: 5 - 18 April

It is art prize season at the moment in Sydney. But before we go and check out the Archibald we have an even more important contest to review, yes it's the Easter Show! It is the last day tomorrow so if you haven't made it to the show yet now is your last chance. I think the post on this last year gave a good summary on the longevity of this contest so maybe refresh your memory and then we will dive right into the points. But first some answers to all the big questions:
Q. Are lamingtons involved?
A. Yes. Both in the perishable cooking category (class 372) and in the print making (class 8).
Q. Did anyone from Big Lamington enter?
A. You bet. And quite a few categories as well (including the two above).
Q. Any ribbons?
A. Yes! Although sadly no blue ribbons this year we did manage a 2nd in the preserves and a highly commended in the arts.
Points - 3 points to Michael Lodge who took out the figurative category (class 4) with his Man from Snowy River (pictured above). A nice 'over & under' framing approach although, as with shotguns, I'd probably like this better 'side by side'. Not only did Michael get the blue ribbon in his category (and the 3 points here) but he managed to get one of those special purple ribbons of excellence handed out by very special show people. 2 points to Ken Dessaix for his untitled in the drawing category (class 7), he got a red ribbon from the RAS to go with those BL points. 1 point has to go to the lamingtons in the print category which were sadly overlooked by the judges but did get the tick of approval from an RAS councillor I spoke with on the opening night. Again a really interesting and diverse show (but I think that should be expected from amateur artists). In the spirit of the show I would 'highly recommend' going out to the arts preview they have before the show itself opens. A nice way to see the arts and crafts without the need to spend $150+ on ride tokens for the kids, which we did later anyway!

New acquisition - Ryan Presley's Gladys Tybingoompa Commemorative

So "new" is being used loosely here as I am a little behind in my posts. Long time readers may recall I was deliberating about Ryan's Blood Money show at Jan Manton back in October but truth be told I had already pulled the trigger on this work before it had even been finished! Yep, a first for me but the iphone shots of a half completed work looked good and the finished work looks great (and even better now framed by my friends at Matrix in Paddington). But don't just take my word for it, see it for yourself! The team at Big Lamington is lending this to some mob down in Melbourne for a show in July.

Points - 3 to Ryan, I really enjoy watching emerging artists developing their career and am keen to see what's next for this talented guy. 2 to Jan Manton who is great to deal with and 1 to the Counihan Gallery for giving Ryan's work some greater exposure.