Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize - 27 October

Wanting to see where my council rates end up I always get along to check out the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize.  This exhibition just opened today (yay, a timely post) so get down and check it out yourself - it is open until 11 November.  

So what is small anyway?  Well Woollahra says that "entries should not exceed 80cm in any dimension".  I will bring my tape measure next year.  I was hoping to see some familiar names but there were a few more unknowns (to me at least) this year.  I did recognise Maria Fernando Cardoso, Rodney Pople and Sherrie Knipe but everyone else will be a google affair.  There was a healthy mix of found object assemblages (something I always fancy myself having a crack at) to more refined production techniques in ceramics, glass and metal.  The winner was Thor Beowulf (really, that is his name) whose work "the carbon credit machine" was a bit of a steampunkesque piece that even incorporated a real bonsai plant.  Upon googling Mr Beowulf he is the proprietor of the bonsai shop on Queen Street!  Nice work, I have been there and good to see the money going to a local ratepaying business.  Fresh from seeing a pile of peanuts at the MCA more nuts were on show here, Julian di Martino's "do try the walnuts" (pictured top) will be hard to forget.  There is a people's choice award so without further ado let's reveal the winner of the Big Lamington prize ...

Points:  3 points for the nuts.  This really grew on me, and I am going to give it my peoples choice vote, you can vote online here. 2 points to Janet Parker-Smith for 'we are all earthly creatures' (pictured middle). 1 point for the Jeff Koons ripoff pony by Petra Svoboda ('Show pony', pictured above).  Also highly commended were the milkshakes, burgers and bacon & egg rolls at the Redleaf cafe!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Di Holdsworth at Damien Minton - 20 October

Last day for this show so if you are reading this you've missed it.  And it was pretty good too.  Again with all three junior critics in attendance although this time I think we had red jelly frogs as the bribes.

This show was called 'circus' and I found it on one of those iphone art apps (I use 2, artsguide and artsview sydney, they are both okay in a sense although I reckon there is some better functionality waiting to be developed).  I love the whole circus / fairground / sideshow alley aesthetic and I thought the junior critics would appreciate it as well.  And I was right, but this was also helped by the friendly gallerist kindly dimming the lights and turning the works on!  That's right, most of the works, which were kind of found object sculptural assemblages, were were kinetic in some way or shape.  The most common element was the wind up music box which made the kids dance about and shout the standard chorus of approval ... "again, again".  These were really quite affordable too.  I have misplaced my room sheet but I thinking some of the small ones were in the hundreds and the more elaborate ones were in the low four figures.  It must be my competitive instinct (or budding artist consultant in me) but I always think of what competition I would enter the work I am looking at in.  To me this was a lay down misere for the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize so I was surprised when I didn't see that on her resume, next year!

Points:  3 points for 'Misty', I think this was the one in the big old red cast iron letterbox, a real circus feel here.  2 points for 'just for fun', I realise it is a ventriquilost dummy but I kept thinking of the clown game at the show.  I think this is the image that led me to the show.  1 point for one of the old tin music boxes, 'tropical fish' (pictured above), which were great fun.  

Lindeman and Jinks at SSFA - 20 October

So with my better half away for the day and me with three junior critics in tow what were the chances of making the Michael Lindeman opening? After checking the cupboard for bribes and finding a bag of mixed lollies they were better than good!  Armed with a pocketful of jellybeans and plenty of patience we set off for Zetland to see some new work.

We raced upstairs first.  We have a Michael Lindeman next to our dining table and we love that piece.  The kids couldn't believe this was the same artist.  Michael has switched the text heavy ads for fields of colour.  He sticks with advertising but this time strips away the words to leave the pretty colours and shapes.  Sadly I think I recognised some of the source material (isn't that the Myers catalogue?).  This was quite subtle work in comparison to his previous stuff which really grabs you in bold faced text.  Surprisingly I think I liked the most subtle works, where the source was less obvious, the best.  Works like 'Best batch yet' (pictured top) and 'something's added to the air' were really great, though I wasn't really looking with an acquisitive air given I've blown my 2012 budget (more on that later).  The junior critics liked 'the call of things' which had a few balloons on it and to them it looked like a party invitation without the writing (and without the cake).

Downstairs was Sam Jinks who makes these very lifelike sculptures, he even uses human hair.  Now I find them a little creepy to be honest, mainly because they are so realistic.  The junior critics were transfixed, although I did have to say 'no touching' about a dozen times.  There were only a couple of pieces in the show, a pair of half boy / half fox creatures (officially called 'unsettled dogs', unofficially called 'the fantastic mr. fox without his clothes on'), an embryonic creature and a pair of newborns ('untitled', pictured below, which I can see may also be a gag, some of our junior critics were untitled for a few days until we could actually agree upon a first name, so this is one of the rare times I will not rant about the inability to name a work).  Of them all we liked the newborns the best.  As my daughter said they were just like baby dollies.  That's right sweetheart, really really expensive baby dollies.

Points:  With the jellybeans distributed for safely getting through a visit without breaking / buying anything we can move to the points.  The 'babies' was the talk of the car ride, so it will get the 3 points.  2 points will go to Michael's "best batch yet", and 1 point to his "something's added to the air", which kind of looked like an iphone case.  Now there's an idea ...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ohnesorge at Pompom and others at MOP - 13 October

There is a lot to like about MOP and its commercial offshoot Galerie Pompom.  Their web pages are the only things I'd like to see them improve, mainly because I can never seem to find all the images of who they have on show.  This could all be a cunning ploy to increase gallery attendance.  And if it is, it works, as with two of my junior critics in tow we trooped off to get a gander at the works of Nana Ohnesorge, Tiffany Shafran, Maria Gorton, Marisa Purcell and Matthew Allen.

First up was MOP.  I really liked what Tiffany Shafran had on show.  There was a collection of about 30 pieces, each called "Adventure Sampler" with a corresponding number.  To make the room sheet an adventure in itself they were arranged out of order.  Construction wise they were "digital print and embroidery floss on archival paper".  In layman's terms Tiff has got a heap of old found black and white images that are presumably helpfully out of copyright and then punched some tiny holes and embellished the images with some random embroidery.  We all liked them, my 5 year old was liking the beards that had been added to some whilst my 2 year old liked the feather american indian headdresses that had been added to others (Tiffany by way of background grew up in the States but has done her uni work in Australia and is currently completing a PhD at USQ).  These were all quite small and quite affordable at $350 a pop.  Plenty of little black dots up.  Also selling out at MOP was Matthew Allen, although he only had one thing, admittedly a diptych.  This was similar to his work that SSFA has shown, all one colour running into another.  Interesting from a technique standpoint but a little too contemplative for my liking, although I could see it growing on me I think I need works to really grab me.

Next door at Pompom was Nana Ohnesorge latest efforts.  I had seen one of her Ned Kelly's on the cover of an art mag last year so was keen to see more of her work.  I was not to be disappointed, and what a diverse practice.  My junior critics were quite taken by some of the sculptures, including one that was probably a little parental guidance recommended.  There were a couple of Ned Kelly's which were great.  I mean, easily recognisable and iconic due to subject matter, I guess that's why Regan Tamanui also uses him extensively.  I quite liked the colonial themes that this german born artist referenced.  Lionel Bawden (who we would like to have represented in the collection by the way) did the essay for this show and explains it all much cleverer than I will.  I really liked the mixed media approach, her brave use of vibrant colours and some top notch collage work (is it collage month or something? I think nearly every show I have been to in the last month has rocked some collage somewhere).

Points:  I will give 3 points to Nana's 'Trophy (Bennelong)' (pictured at top) which looked great in the gallery.  2 points for the 'Play it your way' which was a fantastic bright collage and a little kitschy. 1 point to Tiffany Shafran for the samplers.  I cannot tell you which number it was but it was one of the two headress ones.  I might have to be back with iphone in hand to record it for posterity.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Twoone at Mick - 11 October

I do like getting to an opening when I can and loving a bit of street art I figured I would check out the latest in the very long (and growing by the day, did anyone watch that crazy abc doco on that melbourne cat who thought he was god's gift to painting?) of street artists to hit the fine art gallery space.

Twoone is Hiroyasu Tsuri's street art name.  You know given it is a gallery shouldn't it be Hiroyasu Tsuri (Twoone) and not the other way around?  Helpfully, MiCK informs us that is work is "informed by the Nietzshean dichotomy and Western psychology synthesised with Zen philosophy and aesthetics".  Really? Well I quite liked the skulls, and the skeleton. And he had quite a thing going with animals, yaks and whales and birds everywhere.  Shame he didn't enter the Sulman last year as Richard Bell would've gone for this stuff.  Anyway, one of the reasons you go to an opening is to earbash the artist of the moment. My questioning involved technique and what his favourite work was.  It was interesting to learn about how hiroyasu (sorry, I just cant call someone two one, I am just not that street) layers the papers for his work and then does spray and acrylics and watercolours.  Also interesting was the fact that his favourite work is always the last he has done in a show, something about the feeling from finishing a body of work.  In this case it was the whale that was the last completed here and so by default his favourite.  Not a bad way of looking at things.  This bloke may yet get to judge the Sulman ...

Points:  I am going to get all memento mori here, 3 for the watercolour skeleton ('King of the Journey', pictured on top), 2 for the skull ('drink more milk and get stronger' - does hiro read phantom comics? that would be a big plus by the way) and finally 1 point for the owl. And it didn't look anything like a Joshua Yeldham because I have heard artist say they hate it when you say their work reminds you of someone else.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012


So after absolutely loving the last 'halls for hire' event from Performance Space I think I was one of the first to check in to the Sydney Trades Hall for their latest bit of performance art, The MAKING OF THE FLAG (yes they do it in all caps, who is little old me to buck the system).

Anyway, I had no idea what I was in for when I sauntered in on Tuesday lunchtime.  I actually thought they would be doing australian flags, or something like that, but Sussi Porsborg was all about union banners.  And the punters had to make them.  Well I love a bit of audience participation so I was right in there.  Now those who know me would suspect this might have been my first trip to trades hall, and you would be right.  You might also think I am not really a collectivist at heart, and again you would be right.  But the big thing I look for in art is "sincerity".  Seriously, to me it is all about whether the artist is sincere.  And Sussi was really into it so that made it all okay.  But I needed to come up with a slogan for my banner so thinking quickly to an article I read in the Economist a few years ago that said the US workplace had not actually become any safer, they had just outsourced the dangerous jobs to China I dutifully composed a banner (see above picture).  Sussi even had me on the janome sewing a few hems, and I wasn't too bad.  I was really looking forward to the weekend to see what else had been made.  To be honest, I was a little shocked.  It looked like following my visit they had a busload full of retired welsh coal miners through here on a organised tour.  Lots of references to Thatcher of all people which I didn't get.  And quite a few political ones about Tories being pricks, and richer, and smarter, and better looking.  Okay, maybe not the last three.  Anyway, I was a little disappointed that something that promised so much delivered so much old stuff rather than look to the future.  Even more disappointing is that this young lib actually knows a little bit of the history of organised labour and appreciates the fact that Sydney was the first place in the world to organise the 8 hour day.  Thank you Sydney stonemasons in 1855.  The 8 hour banners festooned around the place and all the old union banners from the federated pastry cooks, and the pressers union (seriously, guys with irons, pressing) looked regal in comparison.

Points:  I will give 3 to Sussi for organising this.  Probably not the same turnout as the CWA event but still an interesting location and subject matter.  2 points to the Pressers Union (above) a great 8 hour banner.  1 point to me for turning up, twice.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Art and about - 1 October

Art and about certainly is a mixed bag.  We packed up the junior critics and went for a look see at a little bit of it over the long weekend.  Here are the findings ...

a. Reko Rennie rocks.  I was actually asked a great question by one of the gallery peeps at SSFA on Saturday about what artist is next on the collecting hit list.  I reckon Reko is right up there.  This work is called 'Always was, always will be' (pictured above) and really shows off his graffiti heritage to great effect.  Loved the bright colours and the diamond pattern and am a sucka for little bit of neon illumination.  
b. The windgrid is kind of interesting, but I think I am missing something if I haven't seen the windwalk?
c. Those banners are pretty cool, what are they doing with them at the end of the show?
d. The raining house smells.  Quite badly.  This was the conclusion of my three year old critic who refused to enter and conducted his review from the door.  His older sister braved the rainy indoors and thought it was a bit silly.  Their top pick from this area was actually the bubble guy busking near the fountain.  I agree, that was art.  This? I am not sure, it got me thinking for one thing.

Points: 3 to Reko.  The more I see of his work the more I like it.  That is a good thing.  I really want one of my walls done like this and will be in touch when I work out which one!  2 for the banners.  Seriously Clover, call me.  I have some propaganda ideas for you.  I will give 1 point to 'I wish you hadn't asked' (that is art name for the raining house by the way) as there was a lot of effort here and that should always be rewarded.