01 May 2016
Ausglass, AGDA and GLAAS Inc member Mark Brabham died 7th April, having sustained a serious injury to the head and remained in an induced coma since 9th March. Mark was a respected and loved member of both the glass and ceramics arts communities as well as highly regarded and active member of his local community of Richmond, Victoria. He was the founding Director of Albert Street Gallery and the long-established firm Australian Combustion Services. ..
On Saturday 30th April I attended the Memorial Service held at the Albert Street Gallery premises to commemorate Mark's life, along with over 150 guests. Donna Kennedy of GLAAS Inc delivered the eulogy, and then introduced Mark's lifelong friend and colleague Nick Wirdnam.
Mark Brabham was very involved in his local community and particularly supportive of the Richmond Primary School. Tracey Hammil, Principal of the School and one of 3x speakers at the service, spoke glowingly of Mark's commitment to his children's education and development and his unstinting support of the School. These attributes were echoed by another speaker, Malcolm Munro, who had some years ago furnished a report on the potential for Australian Combustion Services to expand Internationally, only to then convey Mark's desire to "spend time with my kids" and his decision to actually down-size the firm's operations.
After a moving service, the many guests broke off into several groups; those from Richmond Primary School gathered together for their own commemoration while many of the glass artists attending gathered in a room at the local library provided gratis by Richmond City Council. Later still I joined Stan Hawksworth, Liz Coleman and Dr Bronwyn and David Hughes for a light meal in Church Street before flying back to Sydney that night.
22 Apr 2016
The other exhibition in Glebe Point Road that I wanted to discuss is Sydney Re-Versed, an exhibition of reverse painted glass in fired enamels by Wayne Pearson and wood block prints by his partner Marina Bishop. I've know Marina since the late 1970's: we worked together as artists at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Wayne and Marina have been partners for many years now.
Wayne Pearson was awarded his PhD in Glass from Sydney College of the Arts in 2012 with a wonderful exhibition of reverse painted glass portraits of notable glass artists as his thesis. I was lucky indeed to have been included in the series. For each portrait Wayne recorded an interview with the artist while Marina took photographs. Some of the results were exceptional.
For this small exhibition "Sydney Re-versed" Wayne is showing a series of more intimate images of Sydney wildlife and landscape
Complimenting the glass works, Marina Bishop is showing her collection of delightful lino-prints illustrating Sydney's Harbourside Pools, of which there are many. This is a second viewing of her very well received exhibition last month at the Lane Cove Art Gallery. There is a strong synchronicity between the two bodies of work; they hang together very well indeed.
The exhibition closes this weekend but the Gallery is always worth a visit: Gauge Gallery is the ground floor rental space of the Glass Artists Gallery, which has moved upstairs. Director Maureen Cahill is more than happy to take the visitor up to the next level and guide you through the very extensive collection of studio glass.
14 Apr 2016
Jeff Manning is an accomplished painter, working primarily in the magical realist style. He has collaborated with well known leadlighter Greville Wilton on several occasions to produce stained glass windows for local Churches in the New England region and in this instance the two have produced a charming suite of stained glass panels illustrating acrobats, dancers and other figures from Jeff's oeuvre.
Manning has learned much from his association with Wilton and their experience with Church stained glass work, clearly evident in the painted decoration deployed in these quirky glass panels. I particularly enjoyed the exploration of 19th Century floral backgrounds: these locate the contemporary, stylised figures within a traditional stained glass canon creating an interesting juxtaposition. Whereas the fisherman and the waitress are to my eye not as successful, harking more toward the naive style of 1970's leadlight revival which occurred throughout the USA. Merely my opinion, of course. The small detail of a bowl of spaghetti in "The Waitress" however is brilliant.
14 Feb 2016
This year's masters of Glass exhibition at Paddington's Sabbia Gallery features work by Tim Edwards, Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, Lisa Cahill, Emma Varga and Brendan Scott French. These artists were invited to exhibit work based on the concept of HOME.
And it seems that each artist has pushed their ouvre that little bit further, creating an exciting exhibition of new work.
Jenni Kemarre Martiniello is well known for her interpretations in glass of traditional Indigenous fish traps. For HOME Jenni has shown pairs of wall-mounted slabs of glass titled Layers of Place.
Emma Varga has ventured into new territory with a tour-de-force of Pate de Verre work, also displayed on the Gallery wall.
Lisa Cahill, who is well known for her beautiful wall-mounted fused and slumped glass sculptures has also produced a series of thick glass slabs infused with multiple layers of illustration
And Brendan Scott French, one of my favourite glass artists, does not disappoint with his semi-abstract landscapes of fused and surface worked panels of glass mosaic.
This is a small sample of the beautiful contemporary glass art on show at HOME. You will find much better photographs than mine on the Gallery website. But the work is even more seductive in-the-flesh: the exhibition continues until February 27th so get along and see for yourself.
22 Jan 2016
In the second week of January I flew to Adelaide, with a stop-over in Melbourne to visit friends and view the Warhol/Ai Weiwei Exhibition at the NGV. Brilliant! In Melbourne I met up with Dr Bronwyn Hughes and Donna Kennedy of AGDA and GLAAS Inc for lunch and much conversation. Also met with Sharon Harrison and Helen Kelly, both current members of the Ausglass Board, at Federation Square. I really enjoyed seeing the exhibition Virtuoso at Kirra Galleries, which was fortunately still showing at Fed Square.
But my main objective in flying to South Australia was to visit pioneering contemporary stained glass artist Cedar Prest, OAM. Cedar, now 76, is preparing for retirement and consequently is divesting her impressive collection of primarily mouthblown ('antique') glass.
I selected about 100x sheets in all and The Glass Emporium of Adelaide will pack and ship them to Sydney. Much of the mouthblown glass is destined for use in six double lancet windows to the clerestory of the historic St Peter's Anglican Church in East Maitland. Having visited her old studio in the church at Kensington, SA in 2005 (during the Ausglass/GAS Conference) I knew Cedar had a big range of beautiful greys, olives, browns and many unusual colours that the regular suppliers just don't stock.
Now in her 76th year, Cedar is preparing herself for retirement. Her interest has moved away from the business of glass and even the making of labarynths, a consuming passion of more recent years, has now become physically too difficult. I stayed two days with Cedar, who was the perfect host. We swam at Maslin's Beach and walked the labarynth that she built at nearby McLaren Vale with partner Robyn Hunter (who died two years ago) and 30x members of the local community.
During earlier correspondence Cedar had agreed to be interviewed to record her life story as an oral history, so most of our time was spent talking! For me it was a fascinating insight into a strong and energetic woman who has single-mindedly dedicated her life to creative endeavours both here in Australia and Internationally. Having come to know Patrick Reyntiens on a personal level, Cedar Prest was in the right place at the right time to bring about the dessemination of post-war German design sensibility in stained glass first to England, then the United States and Australia.
Arguably Cedar Prest's most important contribution to Australian stained glass has been working with groups of volunteers to bring into being many significant community based projects in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Her fiesty response to this blog, via text from the hospital bed post-op: "Not quite retired! Artists don't".
06 Dec 2015
Opened by Bob Hawke, a former Prime Minister of Australia, at Nanda Hobbs Contemporary 66 King St Sydney, Louis Pratt's new exhibition of sculpture is a cracker. Dealing with issues of greed and corporate arrogance, it was described by the Director of the Gallery as their most important to date and pulls no punches in its political statement about the mining and export of coal.
Pratt uses coal itself as the medium for his sculptures, pulverised and reconstituted with resin, then overlaid with gold leaf to create a visually potent work heavily laden with metaphor and meaning.
Its not only environmental issues discussed however; Pratt lays it on the line where corporate culture is concerned, leaving the viewer in no doubt as to where his politics lie on the Green-Capitalist spectrum. With works such as "Snake Skull", "Business As Usual" and "Retirement" he comments eloquently on the hypocrisy embedded within the business community. And of course the irony of these works being for sale at not-insignificant prices cannot be ignored. A detail I found particularly appealing was the gold lapel pin COAL attached to one of the garments.
Many of these works are actual high-fashion corporate garments recently purchased, soaked in resin and coated in gold leaf. The nails pinning the three elements of "Retirement" to the wall are shiny brass-plated nails; likewise the knife thrust into the leather jacket of "Business as Usual", metaphorically stabbing the wearer in the back. Not everyone in the large audience on opening night would see that those ties hanging on the wall are also nooses.
Not all the works in this show are as successful of course; I found the bucket of gold-coated coal nuggets in "Fools Gold" rather twee with its rotating coloured lights. I got the reference to an imitation coal-fired heater, but it just didn't work for me. However I did particularly enjoy the graphic work, a set of four prints in black and gold leaf. As they are framed under glass, the reflections prevented me from photographing them successfully. So do get along to see the exhibition, which is open until 18th December; this is one not to miss.
21 Nov 2015
Every year many thousands of Sydney-siders, both local and visiting tourists, make the pilgramage from Bondi to Tamarama and back again, taking in the collection of over 100 site-specific contemporary sculptures from Australia and around the world. Sculpture by the Sea now has its own Wikepedia entry; it really has revolutionised the way Sydney embraces art in public spaces. This event, almost single-handedly, has brought Sculpture as an art form back from the margins and into the public arena.
This year, the 19th year of continuous exhibition, there was a very strong element of irony running throughout. The Curatorial Panel went so far as to include a well-known feature of the Bondi landscape as a work by Unknowable from the N.A.S., the Natural Art School, completely in its natural state. Materials: Sydney sandstone. Dimensions: constantly changing. Price: priceless. Artist Statement: "Here sits a large stone. It has been here for eons and it will remain here long after those who view it have come and gone."
Richard Tipping's Speed Trap is also priceless (although you can buy them for $3,300 or less). Reduce Need is so good you almost miss it. And I found a lovely synchronicity between Video Surveillance, beaming images of viewers to the internet, and Tipping's statement that PHOTOGRAPHY IS EASY AND ALL ART IS THE SAME.
Motion was also a common theme throughout the exhibition. Being an outdoor show, this is almost unavoidable, and there are always great kinetic sculptures which play with the wind. But this year motion and interaction seemed to me to be particularly emphasised, as you will find by viewing my short videos of various works, the way they move (or don't) and the way people interact with them:
30 Oct 2015
Took time out of the studio last week to catch the 2015 Small Sculpture Prize exhibition before it closed on Sunday 25th. I try to see it every year because I enjoy the show so much and while it couldn't be called the best ever I certainly wasn't disappointed.
Two sculptures I particularly enjoyed were the abstract aluminium construction by Yioyios above and the very whimsical ceramic totem by Stephen Bird, a regular contributor to the show. Another work I found particularly beautiful was Lines by Titania Henderson
Father's Pencils by Wendy Black struck a particularly strong emotional chord with me. Probably the smallest piece in the whole show iot definitely had the most profound impact. WEndy explains that while her father constructd modest dwellings, the work alludes to skyscrapers, but it was her acknowledgement of communing with him while making the piece that resonated so strongly with me
12 Jul 2015
The Internationally significant Powerhouse Museum or MAAS (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) is to be moved to Parramatta, the building demolished and the land sold off to developers for residential accommodation. I consider this nothing short of State-sanctioned vandalism. My opinion is shared by many of my colleagues and friends.
NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the move in February this year as a political stunt (I believe) to garner votes in Western Sydney. Now I'm all in favour of a new Museum in Western Sydney, where over one third of Sydney's population resides. Definitely, let's build more museums and art galleries. But it is patently absurd to demolish a fully functional world class institution for a return of maybe $500M, no matter how dire the need for more residential accommodation in our burgeoning city. A city is soulless without its cultural institutions. And to claim that the demographic centre of Sydney is Parramatta while building more apartments in Ultimo is completely misleading.
Alex Greenwich, Independent member for Sydney is hosting a petition (scroll down to PLANNING) requesting a Parliamentary review of the decision. If we can gather 10,000 signatures, on paper, with a NSW residential address (no email addresses) then the NSW Parliament will be forced to debate the issue. Democracy in action. the tally stands at 3,000 so far; Greenwich is wanting to submit the petition to Parliament this October, so downlaod and sign it now. Take it to your workplace, encourage your family members to sign. Let's keep this dynamic, historic and architecturally significant building.
Interstate and International residents who would like to add their voice in supporting the Museum can sign one of the several online petitions.. these will definitely add weight to the cause. Jamie Parker, Member for Balmain, is hosting an online petition to save the Powerhouse Museum.
JEWELLERY & IDENTITY
For almost twelve months the MAAS has been hosting a spectacular exhibition of jewellery with over 700 exhibits drawn from public and private collections, beautifully curated by Eva Czernis-Ryl, Senior Curator at the Museum. Craft Arts International magazine's current issue #94 carries an impressive review of the show
In the ante-chamber to the main exhibition was a selection of work by students of Jewellery and Design Colleges around NSW. Classes were invited to view the Museum's collections and to make work somehow inspired by or related to a particular piece.
UPDATE NOV 1st 2015:
Over 10,000 signatures were presented to Parliament during question time mid-October, petitioning the State Government to revere=se the decision to move the MAAS to Parramatta. Consequently a full Parliamentary debate will be held, although it is unclear exactly when that will be. for more information check Alex Greenwich's website
13 Jun 2015
Last weekend I attended an opening of a group show by my friend Di Holdsworth at Stella Downer Fine Art in the Dank Street complex in Waterloo. Di has two delightful new assemblage works in the show, along with two shown at the Museum of Sydney exhibition "City of Shadows"
While there I was captivated by an exhibition in the Depot Gallery by Merrick Fry, an artist of whom I had heard but remained unfamiliar with his work. I found a strong empathy with Fry's debris and found object constructions. Although I have such little time spare to indulge my passion for constructionist art these days, it is heart warming to see the genre being embraced with such enthusiasm and indeed gaining ground. Merrick's work is truly a tour-de-force of assemblage/found object/bas-relief/constructionist sculpture.
As you can so easily apprehend from the above images, Fry's body of work is full of dry humour, whimsy and wit whilst remaining rigorously eloquent. His neat execution withstands close scrutiny yet he is by no means precious about what goes with what or for that matter how his materials may have been manipulated. The glass artist purist may well throw up their hands in horror at mixing slumped glass with formed perspex but in context it works, and here context is everything.
The exhibition continues until Saturday June 20th, with the artist attending 11am - 6pm Tuesday to Saturday. The Depot Gallery, 2 Danks Street Waterloo.
Portrait photos by Tony Grech
The Latest Happenings in my World
This blog is where you will find my latest news. It can range from posting images of progress of the current commission to art crit to political or social commentry, both national and international. Anything, basically, that's commanding my attention and I feel is worth sharing with you, my reader. Enjoy. My previous blog can be found at jeffreyhamilton.blogspot.com
- Vale Mark Brabham
- Wayne Pearson & marina Bishop @ Gauge
- Jeff Manning at Shopfront Gallery, Glebe
- 2016 Masters of Glass @ Sabbia Gallery
- Travels to South Australia
- BLACK GOLD by Louis Pratt
- Sculpture By The Sea 2015
- Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize 2015
- Save the Powerhouse Museum @ Ultimo
- Merrick Fry: The Charmer's Picnic