Australian Fine Artist

Archive for the ‘Exhibitions’ Category

Artist’s Showcase and Residencies – Heritage Hill, Dandenong

The Importance of Getting your Work “Out There”

Creating Art for the People

The depth of research, and explanation, must complement the setting and type of visitors attracted to the venue. The location at Heritage Hill, a listed residence including a restored homestead and buildings, acts as a base for the arts in Dandenong for residencies and exhibitions. 

It attracts tourists, and visitors wanting to fill in some time looking at the gardens and buildings. It follows, that an artist’s deeper meaning intended to inform and enlighten viewers, including art collectors, must be made evident by the resident artist.

According to Langer (1966), “The ancient ubiquitous character of art contrasts sharply with the prevalent idea that art is a luxury product of civilization, a cultural frill, a piece of social veneer”. She goes on to say:

“Wherever art takes a motif from actuality – a flowering branch, a bit of landscape, a historic event or a personal memory, any model or theme from life – it transforms it into a piece of imagination, and imbues its image with artistic vitality. The result is an impregnation of ordinary reality with the significance of created form.”

Assumption and preconceived ideas, such as the role of art in modern society, requires a catalyst to prompt discussions which a residency provides.

Consequently, the work space provided for a residency becomes a meeting place for artists, the art, and the viewer. In this modern context, the working artist illustrates to the public their skill, gained not so much by a ’natural gift’ or “genius”, as it is via practice, training, and education, and how art is relevant in modern society.

Art, therefore, now becomes a vehicle for the artist and viewer to connect on a very human level that predates written and verbal language.

Fine art, according to Kant in The Critique of Judgement (Kant, 1911), “has the effect of advancing the culture of the mental powers in the interests of social communication”. The pleasure from art, he goes on to say is “not one of enjoyment arising out of mere sensation, but must be one of reflection”.

Artworks typically capture a moment in time. The modern artist, due to current digital tools, can, however, create impressions of changes in the landscape. Such is the case in the sketches and paintings included in this book, that reveal how Dandenong grew from bush landscape, to a country town, and then to a thriving modern urban city with Heritage Hill as part of its historic centre.

The Residency Space at Heritage Hill

The residency space for artists is in Laurel Lodge, and for disabled artists, or those with large projects such as sculptors, the nearby outbuildings are also available.

The original bedrooms (upstairs) have plenty of room to draw and paint, and have tranquil views across the gardens. A small couch and seating was made available, along with a set of drawers, large table, and shelves in the master bedroom for this residency. Hanging space on the walls also made the room more inviting for tourists, and visitors to the property, who were welcome to come in to look at the work, and talk about the process of creating it.

The atmosphere of the property and the room itself encourages artists to concentrate on creating, researching, experimenting and producing artworks without the common distractions that can take them away from their work. Especially with a project in mind, it is possible to investigate and deepen artistic practice, and methodology, and pursue new subjects for substantial bodies of work.

As Heritage Hill was a part of the research I was investigating into the history and growth of the Dandenong area during my residency, it provided constant inspiration and a convenient location to base my research, and photography, sketching, and painting.

Research and the Artworks

It is thought by some historians, that the name Dandenong is taken from the indigenous word Tanjenong, meaning lofty mountain. This suits the nearby Mount Dandenong at 630 metres (2,066.93 feet) height, and its dominance of the landscape. As part of the Dandenong Ranges, it was formed more than 300 million years ago from volcanic rock, when a large area of sedimentary rock collapsed into an underlying magma chamber, creating ash flows along the vents.

This series of violent eruptions created four lava flows forming the mountain range, and leaving depressions called caldera, which have collapsed and eroded over time, to be hardly recognisable as the remnants of a volcanic event today.

It was this volcanic activity that laid the foundations for the lush soil, along with regular rainfall, that encouraged the growth of mountain ash, forest ferns and the proliferation of native wildlife like the superb lyrebird, honey eater and Leadbeater’s possum.

For thousands of years this area, extending into the wetlands near what is now Carrum, was the home of the Wurunjeri and Boonerwrung tribes of the Kulin Nation. The clans in what is now the City of Greater Dandenong were the Ngaruk Willam Bunurong and the Mayone Bulluk Bunurong. Sadly, the indigenous population declined severely as squatters took over large areas, with little understanding of the cultures they were disrupting and displacing. It has only been in more recent years that areas of cultural importance to original inhabitants have been protected by legislation and heritage management councils.

Artists are not often offered an opportunity to publicly work in a dedicated place of creativity and reflection. In the studio, we are bombarded with emails, phone calls, domestic duties and other distractions. The broken concentration, and inability to dedicate time to a single project can prove overwhelming at times, and can certainly detract from quality time in front of the easel.

Contrary to the myth of the solitary genius creating masterpieces by inspiration, most artists work diligently on not only refining their methods and styles, but also on research into the history of a topic they want to work on, how other artists work and what they are doing currently, and furthering their education. It isn’t unusual to spend 80% of your time as a professional artist on office paperwork (research, study, accounts, grants, exhibitions, supplies, studio management etc) with only 20% actually enjoying what you do best – creating art.

To create good or great art requires dedicated hard work and practice, it is a profession, a calling, and a passion. With that said, the opportunity provided by a residency to spend time away from the office, and outside pressures, to commit to creating art is one with an importance that should not be underestimated. 

Authorities and organisations that provide artist’s residencies and exhibition space understand the need for artists to have the time to work on creative projects, and it is appreciated by artists when we are approved to complete them whilst collaborating with the public arts sector.

On a personal note my Artist’s Showcase, the result of my research project at Heritage Hill, is in the Benga Homestead and will run until April 2019. All the paintings are for sale and the venue provides EFT facilities.

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Glen Eira Art Collection

A Visit to the Old Caulfield Town Hall

The main entrance to the old Town Hall now leads to a dedicated art space. I haven’t been in the building for over thirty years, so after discovering that art is now within its walls, I had to visit.

Of main interest were the paintings by the Boyd family (or at least parts of it). Only a few paintings on view, but worth the trip. The ceramics were a bonus and a nice addition to the lovely water colours by Arthur Merric and Emma Minnie.

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The Ordinary Instant

Clarice Beckett at The Gallery @ BACC

There were other artists represented at the mid-winter exhibition in Brighton this year, but I attended to concentrate on Beckett’s paintings. This was my first opportunity to see a collection of her work in real life, in the one place. It was also the first visit I had made to this gallery space, so I was interested to see how the council had transformed the town hall space for artworks.

Beckett, as many may know was the prize pupil of tonal painter Max Meldrum. She was restricted by family commitments so most of her remaining paintings are based close to her bayside home. Beckett’s work sat in a shed for many years until rediscovered only just over forty years ago. Since then her work has become an integral part of the story of women artists in Australia.

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Geoffrey Bartlett

Artist Talk at McClelland Gallery

Geoffrey Bartlett has a retrospective exhibition at the gallery covering forty years of his work beginning with his early work from his years at RMIT.

Geoffrey came from a rural background in the Shepparton area. His parents moved around a fair bit as he was growing up due to his father’s work managing Maples department stores. The advantage of his work there was brining home pieces to repair or rebuild, giving Geoffrey the opportunity to learn how to build things and the interest that led to his career as a sculptor.

Family at the time of the early 1970s tried to talk Geoffrey out of a career in art, as in those days a young man was encouraged to get a steady job to help raise a family and supply a home. He was determined to follow his passion, however and after university was working with other artists in a rented space in Gertrude Street near the CBD of Melbourne.

Geoffrey used found materials and resourced materials wherever he could find them. His work was very large, seeming to grow as he kept experimenting. His travels to the USA and Japan informed his practice and he came home with new ideas on design and materials. These are evident in the changes in his work through his career.

Th incorporation of a different view from every angle in his pieces and careful placement to make the best use of light and shadow created by his pieces, has added new dimensions to his work. Moulding wax over a metal substrate and casting in bronze to add to the natural materials and steel constructs has given Geoffrey the opportunity to make works that seemingly float or flow. They have lightness and movement that defies the materials they are made from. There is also a delicacy to many parts of the work, nearly like the web of a spider, floating amid the sold wood framing around them.

The use of the concept of a frame reappears in his work over and over, a constant theme which Geoffrey bases design on and then branches out from with the addition of other design aspects such as winding staircase themes.

Although based on a style of painting that I personally am not too attracted to, the Abstract Expressionists, I find Geoffrey’s work engaging, interesting and very creative. I love his use of colour and the beautiful shadows that are cast from many his works. I enjoyed engaging a couple of school groups in discussions about his work and what they could see in it. They were able to introduce me to fresh ideas from young minds about what was displayed.

Geoffrey was a polished and interesting speaker who didn’t mind talking about himself and what motivated him as an artist. His work will be on display at the McClelland Gallery for a while yet and I encourage art students, artists and art enthusiasts to have a look at the exhibition, especially if you have a passion for sculpture. There is a very well presented catalogue book about the exhibition and Geoffrey’s story available which is also worth considering. I am currently reading and enjoying it.

“5” Exhibition at 45 Downstairs

Cathy Drummond, Philip Faulks, Bill Hay, Kristin Headlam and Richard Stringer

February 3-February 14, 2015

I was honoured to be one of the many guests that attended the opening of the most recent exhibition by these very experienced and admired artists and teachers. The city location of 45 Downstairs makes it a venue well suited to the artworks that these five artists produce. They speak about the human condition and our society. They prompt us to think about the world around us. The reflect who we are as a nation and as people.

With a variety of mediums in the gallery space, I found a lot to look at and many stories covering the experiences, thoughts and lives of each artist. They openly reflected on who they are and what they care about.

On a personal note it was fun to catch up with so many art teachers from my own studies over the past three years at the event. Support from peers, respected mentors and fellow artists shows a strong community in the arts that is still flourishing in Melbourne.

This is another exhibition I recommend a visit to. The works are available to purchase and would make a great addition to any art collection. You would also be supporting local living artists in their careers.

A few views from the opening night.

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Alex Seton

Artist Talk at McClelland Gallery

Sculpture Exhibition: Last Resort

Alex grew up with parents who, even though in the technical profession encouraged him in his interests in books, art, science fiction and philosophy. At the early age of eight he picked up his first sculpture materials. He went on to study art at college and studied photography as well as his main interest which was history, as he was unclear about what he wanted to do as a career.

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David Chen Exhibition at Without Pier

Opening Night at Without Pier

I was one of the honoured guests to be invited to the opening night of David Chen’s exhibition at Without Pier Gallery in Bay Road Cheltenham.

For those that know of David, he is a highly qualified and experienced artist and teacher. His formal training in China before moving to Australia in the early 1990s set him up as not only an internationally known painter, but also a teacher qualified to teach at university level. His understanding of the medium of oil paint alone sets him apart from many artists in Australia and overseas.

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McClelland Survey 2014

Official Opening

Sunday 23rd November was the day for the official opening of the 2014 McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park Survey. This exhibition of open air sculptures showcases some of the most inventive and creative works I have seen in ages. This is only my personal opinion from a first visit, but I felt that on the whole the work this year surpassed those of previous years, which is saying something.

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Waves & Water: Australian Beach Photographs

Art Chat at McClelland Gallery

Speaker: Daina Fletcher,
Senior Curator
National Maritime Museum, Sydney

The National Maritime Museum holds collections of everything from ships and maritime objects from war and immigration. The museum is working on expanding and upgrading to hold video, artworks, literature and photography covering Australia’s history and love with the sea, the beach and all things “water” related. Efforts are being made for the near future, to start diving to record, preserve and document shipwrecks.

The Exhibition of photographs on loan from the museum documents Australia’s love of the beach from approximately the 1930s through to the last few years. Of major interest are the iconic prints of photos taken by Max Dupain, one of which has become famous world wide.

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Camberwell Art Show

Some Rough Statistics for Artists

The Camberwell Art Show has now finished for another year. At the end of an event like this I feel it is a good idea for us as practising artists to have a look at how the show went. This helps us plan for next year. We may want to change the subject, style or presentation of the work we enter depending on what we see in the sales figures.

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