Latest at the galleries

Robyn Stacey’s intriguing photographic compositions at Still’s Gallery Dark Wonder, comprise the outer worlds of rooms being projected into the rooms themselves. Using camera obscura, Stacey transforms and adds alternate dimensions to these spaces. They appear almost to flesh out the characters of the people whose rooms they relate to.                  8 October to 5 November 2016

At Martin Brown Contemporary, it is refreshing to see work from quite a different perspective. This is Vietnamese, Pham Luc‘s first exhibition in Sydney. He is one of Vietnam’s most important modern artists. Showing with him (but not shown here) is Savanhdary Vongpoothorn based on retelling of the Ramayana set in Laos rather than the Ganga. Till October 23, 2016

Jamie North‘s exhibition at Sarah Cottier Gallery, that just finished uses his now recognisable materials and ideas. He typically uses industrial waste materials with native Australian flora to create worlds within worlds.

At the group show at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, the artists are covering a lot of ground.From the rejuxaposed found object pieces by Bill Culbert and Jim Lambie to Dale Franks’s luminescent billboard-sized pieces, there is a lot to be absorbed in. What artists can do with plastic bottles, bicycle wheels and potato bags are spatially and aesthetically intriguing pieces. Till 14 October, 2016.

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barrangal dyer (skin and bones) at the Royal Botanic Gardens

40,000 white, shield-like elements placed across lawn, plants, overlapping, spaced out, random. Or so they seemed. Forming the outline of the former Garden Palace (1879- 1882), the artist, Jonathan Jones says that the Palace has “become a symbol for the repercussions of forgetting… a kind of cultural burn”. The Palace was burnt down in 1882 and with it material from the early Aboriginal collections and other ones including the NSW Arts Society, The Technological and Mining Museum amongst others. Central to the piece is kangaroo grassland where the dome of the Palace once hovered at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Kaldor Public Art Projects  have initiated numerous groundbreaking public art projects since 1969 and continue with this incredible installation.

 

Consumer edge at White Rabbit

Heavy Artillery was the recent show at WHITE RABBIT Gallery curated by David Williams. It was a full explosion of amazing and provocative work. The artists sought to, as ArtsHub writer says: “White Rabbit curator David Williams plays off Mao Zedong’s 1942 statement that artworks need to ‘operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy’”.

Most things were big in this exhibition including He Xiangyu’s hand-stitched leather replica of a tank – it could be called an over-sized hand bag. The fragrance of leather is quite ominous. And Liu Wei’s oversized geometrical paper forms are competitively scaled to urban ones and simple enough to be distinguished from them. There are gravity-defying rocks and blue bookshelves lined with identical books all telling of propaganda. China is competing with and making  everything including rubbish, the fake luxury goods market, statues, the past, and great art.

 

All photographs were taken by the author, 2016.

Linda Marrinon – last days

Both naive and highly sophisticated, these raw and poetic statuettes and sculptures captivate and explore. They have the quality of sketches except done in plaster, terracotta and bronze then some are painted in a light and gestural manner. Her characters are taken from Greek and Roman mythology, different periods of art history and narratives. Working from a base form, she adds, subtracts and brings depth, warmth, character and lightness to her pieces. Absolute joy to explore and engage with them.

 

Rosslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, ending 6 August 2016

Romancing with the new

Bringing together a spectrum of artists from Korea and Australia, in a range of extreme medias and then different ages and stages, New Romance does exactly that. New Frontiers at The MCA, Sydney, explores the edge of current/future humanness. 18 artists with a broad range of inspirations reflect on current issues such as hybridisation, science, environment, digital media and other sources. Bonbon Yang’s Species series (2012) touches a chord where he robotosizes  discarded items such as umbrellas, coffee cups and newspaper and has them moving around – you could imagine our detritus taking over the world!

Sydney University is streets ahead

Set deep within the campus of Australia’s oldest university, is the Sydney University Lawn Tennis Club. This seems a bit of an anachronism in these high tech days, but it is extremely popular amongst students there, alumni and anyone who wishes to join. It also anchors the place and reminds you that lawn tennis dates back to the late 19c when Sydney University was founded. En route to the Club though, you pass along the cross -axis which passes in front of the historic Quadrangle and lawn in front of it.

 

The campus is being developed on a precinct basis so each area has its’ own character and plan for it. The redevelopment go the Chemistry and Carslaw sites on the City Road side of the lawn are the most innovative and interactive  aspects of the development in this area.

 

20th Sydney Biennale finale

The Art Gallery of NSW is hosting a large part of the Sydney Biennale this year with some very moving works. The artists in ‘Embassy of Spirits’ are exploring the “intersection between the spiritual and the philosophical, including works concerned with personal and religious rituals”. These manifest in quite different ways from the subtle work of Johanna Calle and Taro Shanada, Abstraction of Confusion where pieces of plaster/paint randomly fall off in the silence of the room.

Sydney Biennale 2016 – MCA

The 20th Sydney Biennale is the largest contemporary visual arts event in Australia. With the over-arching idea, ‘Embassies of Thought’ it is showing at 5 venues across Sydney. Art Gallery of NSW is one of the more engaging collections, although Cockatoo Island is a rare experience. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is serving as the Embassy of Translation, bringing together “a selection of works that contextualise historical positions, concepts and artefacts, alongside contemporary concerns and working methods. While relying on a range of different strategies, each work considers history as one material among others, restaging and reimagining it as part of the process”.

 

The work of three artists’ gives an idea of what the Biennale is about this year. The work of  Dayanita Singh and her self-named mobile museums, is an intriguing insight into Indian rituals and culture.

From Cairns, North Queensland, Daniel Boyd, opens up a dialogue between colonialisation and  its programmed narrative that has conditioned so much of white Australian history. Using the familiar dot pattern, he expands on it by using acrylic glue on a large scale.

British artist, Helen Marten, combines an eclectic collection of elements with high precision screen printing on leather. Much of her work is very in your face; she combines details of pea pods and mapping overlays with other very precise ephemera into a cohesively intriguing piece.

At the Art Gallery of NSW there are more artists represented in the Biennale.

 

 

A students life – Melbourne University campus

 

Located a 5/10 minute tram ride from the CBD, Melbourne University is a densely packed and rich educational environment. The University ranks first  Australia and number 33 in the world (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016). The degree programs have also been recently restructured – it’s been stream-lined with fewer overall study areas but still includes a great diversity of areas to major within those bands. This is more consistent with many international, educational approaches.

And it’s a great place to walk around, it’s so densely built but managing to squeeze in, or allow for pockets of outdoor spaces. The diversity is as much in the people that you see there as in the physical environment. One of the more recent additions

is the John Wardle Architects. “The design by John Wardle Architects (Melbourne) and NADAAA (Boston) has received numerous awards in testament to its commitment to sustainability and green architecture”. There are so many intriguing glimpses through, around and into different parts of the building and glimpses of innovative use of materials abound. There are also numerous classic, 1960’s and 70’s retro landscape spaces as well as ones from the original Victorian period of the university’s establishment in 1853.

Callan Park in limbo

With buildings and grounds designed by some of Australia’s foremost park/landscape and 19c architects, the 60 hectare site of Callan Park is a place of limbo. Sited on the Parramatta River so that mentally ill patients could arrive by boat (as they weren’t allowed on the Kings Highway) the lunatic asylum was originally several parcels of land purchased “by Crown Solicitor and Police Magistrate John Ryan Brenan. In 1839 he bought what he then named the Garry Owen estate”. Nowadays the site is fragmented with many buildings compounding the site’s infamy for the state’s lunatic asylum. Parts of it are still leased/used by art, educational and health institutions and markets.

 

Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis, may have been the architect involved in the first stage of the site’s development whilst Colonial Architect James Barnett worked with Inspector of the Insane Dr Frederick Norton Manning for the design of the lunatic asylum in themed 1880’s and wiht the design of some twenty neo-classical buildings. Adding to a list of extensive parkland design, Director of the Botanic Gardens, Charles Moore, also did the design of the parklands.