Chris selected as the Australian Centre for Photography's 'Exposure Time' Winner.
'Waves - The Edith Cowan University Art Collection' by David Bromfield was launched on October 30, 2009 by the Vice-Chancellor of Edith Cowan University, Professor Kerry Cox. Two of the three images from drei that are in ECU's collection are included in this publication.
This year’s Print Award was largely overwhelming. The variation in artists’ praxis between works was so disparate they appear incomparable. Due to the nature of the award, a 'print' was always the final stage, however, the mode by which to get there and importance of printing techniques varied immensely.
... In this reviewer’s opinion, in order to fully appreciate the diverse range of works exhibited at the Fremantle Art Centre one should be in possession of two things; a Printmaking term sheet and subcategories by which to appreciate works that use similar methodology and technical skill. By not appreciating each work in such a manner attempts to analyse would equate to trying to compare, for example, the realist perfection of a pre-Raphaelite painter to the abstract expressionist work of Jackson Pollock, without knowing the art historical back story.
The first category I have fashioned for this analysis is the Digital Data Printing or as the Printmaking term sheet describes it, a plateless printing system, whereby a machine does the physical print for you. The most successful of these I believe was Christopher Young’s lightjet print entitled Five #08 (2008). He utilised the larger and more precise colour coding to his advantage when printing this work, which has a yellow hue present throughout the warm colour spectrum.
Though my categories are not set-in-stone they do provide a treasure map by which to navigate the exhibition. Without these sub-categories or at least knowledge of the process behind each print technique you may just miss the highly unique and complex technical work that has gone into some of the works exhibited at this year’s Print Award.
So, in its sixteenth year, is the Biennale still a pacesetter for the West? Not in the same sense perhaps. In fact it presents a moderately conservative view of current Western Australian art, safe, steady, almost totally object based and often a little retardataire. Nonetheless it remains, scandalously, the only regular review of contemporary art in our State.
In his opening speech Stefano Carboni, the Director of the State Gallery, made a joke that his home town Venice has had a slightly larger Biennale for some time. Yes, but why has AGWA not introduced a regular WA Review, a State Biennial of its own? It had at least a decade of the greatest boom in history to make a start, so what went wrong? This outrageous laziness is not yet Dr Carboni’s responsibility, but it soon will be. Perhaps now is the time to take on the task; the lamentable PICA will never do it, despite its over-optimistic acronym.
After a cibachrome-led boom about a decade ago, the use of photography by artists is in decline, but the Biennale has several examples of artists engaged with photography, such as Olga Cironis’ detached bird wing. Christopher Young is, however, the only artist to take on fully the idea of photography as process and art. He is fascinated by abandoned buildings and their contents, a kind of postmodern Pompei, in which broken furniture, sun-bleached curtains, useless files, fire extinguishers and floors covered with human detritus tell the tale of existence through trivial tokens. Through his work he asks, ‘What or who is there? What can’t we see? How do we overcome the helplessness of not being able to ground an image in a timeline?‘ These questions find an echo in the work and words of many artists in the Biennale. Perhaps, after all, it is a good summation of the dilemmas of our contemporary artists.
Valerie Kirk and some of the artists at the opening of Momentum.
Image: Tamworth Regional Gallery.
Elisa talking to Dr Belinda von Mengersen following Elisa's artist talk at Momentum. Louise Saxton (artist) is talking with Brian Parkes (Associate Director - Object) in the background and Cecilia Heffer (artist) is far-right. Image: Christopher Young.
These contain the full series of work, artist statements and essays by Paola Anselmi & David Bromfield.
The Strange Quiet of Things Misplaced by Paola Anselmi
Excerpt: The themes which chart the daily explorations into self are proof of someone’s presence in the world, a memory or a story, the smallest and seemingly insignificant details of recent and past existence which lead us to question who we are and how we relate to the world around us. Read more...
A Road Less Travelled... by David Bromfield
Excerpt: Markes-Young requires that one 'see' her strategies in making the work, quilt together touch and vision, so that as one meditates, a model of work, a mantra, grows in the mind. Read more...
Whispers by Paola Anselmi
Excerpt: ... It is often challenging and always a privilege to be invited into someone’s private inner world, to be able to identify with a body of work by way of its original intent, to be privy to the reasons that fuel the initial investigation of a topic or a theme. drei as a series of works is as much a portrait of the artist as a detailed inquiry into the relationship between image, perception and meaning. Read more...
Stains by David Bromfield
Excerpt: ... Photography has exceptional status in the visual arts. It has been stigmatised as an avatar of absence, darkness, death, things which are not, most notably by Susan Sontag who at times seemed to regard every photograph as murder. Read more...
Elisa Markes-Young will be showing new, large-scale artworks from April 18 to May 4 at the Breadbox Gallery in Perth.
Elisa is a textile/mixed-media artist whose work truly challenges the boundaries of art and craft. The Strange Quiet of Things Misplaced deals with memory and the unreliability of recollections. She was born in Poland and moved to Australia from Germany in 2002. Her work is modeled on old Polish laces, tablecloth inserts, tapestries and other ornamental needlework. These are her ultimate symbols of memory, as they lie furthest in her past.
‘Memory is a mystery. We imagine it as being some sort of a cupboard where things are stored and pulled out when needed. But sometimes things are misplaced and it’s only then, when our memory has failed us that we brood over its nature,’ she says.
The patterns she creates are intensely intricate, geometrical and repetitive, hinting at our perception of memories as a tidy, reassuring archive. These are then disrupted to illustrate the uncertainty and inaccuracy of our recollections. They dissolve, disappear and re-appear altered.
This challenging and intimate exhibition is the culmination of over two year’s work. It is open from Wednesday to Friday, 12-5pm and Saturday to Sunday from 2-6pm.
Dates & Times:
April 18 to May 4, 2008. Wednesday to Friday, 12-5pm and Saturday to Sunday from 2-6pm.
These large-scale prints of urban scenes, objects and intimate black & white portraits address various aspects of his personal life and creative practice.
‘Images are, for me, loaded with stories. When I see a broken door or a crumpled piece of paper I look at these further than simple observation. ‘Why’ and ‘how’ are impossible to ignore. Using very limited information and my emotional responses I fill in the gaps and create myths,’ he says.
He is interested in what or who is not there, what he can’t quite see and the helplessness of not being able to define a story behind a particular image.
By pairing artworks, a deeply personal and confronting but at the same time, completely fictional narrative is created.
This challenging and intimate exhibition is the culmination of over two year’s work. It is open from Wednesday to Friday, 12-5pm and Saturday to Sunday from 2-6pm.
Dates & Times:
April 18 to May 4, 2008. Wednesday to Friday, 12-5pm and Saturday to Sunday from 2-6pm.
A visitor to one of Elisa Markes-Young’s earlier exhibitions – The Slow Infinity of Dreaming – remarked that the series reminded her of Polish folklore. The comment surprised her as the series essentially dealt with the Australian landscape.
She had to think of this comment whilst working on What I Am – a series that looked extensively at her identity and sense of place.
Elisa has now been in Australia for over 5 years, but she still continues to feel a stranger, an outsider, not understanding and not understood. Although geographically at home in WA, it’s the Poland of her childhood – as she remembers it – that is most comforting.
This realisation comes somewhat unexpected, as after living in Germany for over 20 years she considered herself more German than Polish.
“The German reservedness comes more naturally to me than the Polish sentimentality. The Polish language is beautiful, emotive and highly onomatopoeic but the precision of German is unsurpassed. I love (and miss) the proverbial German efficiency and the cool methodic approach.”
But as the feeling of homelessness continues, it’s her nostalgic memories of Poland – its landscapes, colours and pictures she associates with it – that define a true sense of home.
Her origins seem to increasingly influence her work, most noticeably Long Departed Landscapes.
These Landscapes are not necessarily a physical space although “the mountainous countryside I grew up in with its weeping willows, streams, lakes and fields of poppies play an important part in my memories. The countless old churches are an inseparable part of this picture. As are the tiny chapels by the roadside populated by sorrowful Jesus figures, decorated with paper flowers and candles…”
The artworks are instead much more about a time and a place where hospitality and the celebration of food were at the centre of all things.
“The importance and sacredness of food was reflected in the blessings of the fields, grain wreaths and food.
At Christmas one place was always set and left empty for an unexpected wanderer. Both stranger and friend were always welcome and never let go without a meal.
Food was at the heart of every celebration and guests were welcomed with the holiest of foods – the bread.”
The work is an attempt to reconstruct the place as Elisa remembers it and, more importantly, how she feels about it.
Christopher Youngs’ ongoing practice – in particular, the series drei – has had an almost forensic attitude to approaching a scene.
He comes to these places after emotional connections have supposedly been severed. The associated ‘decisive moments’ have passed – catalogued or otherwise.
The protagonists are long since gone and the scene has often begun to decay. That which is left behind is the disposable and the unimportant – at least in the minds of those who have left these things.
This new series of work however addresses the pre-decisive rather than post-decisive moment.
vier explores a particular series of personal contemplative moments. Where a deep breath was taken, decisions were made and new processes begun.
This deals with the balance between observational study and manipulation within a scene. Not only in the choice of view point, lighting, digital manipulation and other visual devices but in content of the scene itself.
This is not to say that manipulation hasn’t previously been a component in his practice. The manipulation has simply moved from selective imaging – ie. what is (not) photographed – and context to the content within the image itself.
He has begun to instigate that which is being imaged rather than merely document what he finds.
As an American turned Aussie transplant, Gail Leidich was surprised at how easily she slipped into the Australian way of life. She came to Australia for an adventure and never expected to stay for more than 1 or 2 years. The decision to migrate resulted in a 20 year love affair with the country.
The move to Australia wasn’t one without challenges and frustrations, however. Trepidation about fitting in and bouts of sadness at what was left behind were counteracted with the joys and excitement of creating a new life.
In this series, Gail is exploring the tensions, the movements and the fragmentations that were created by the process of relocation. It was a life changing experience that has shaped the way that she views everything. Her art addresses these issues, revealing her struggles in dealing with displacement, adaptation and identity. The idea of total assimilation and of finding ‘home’ is complex, as they may be things that don’t even exist.
Colour, texture and personal symbols are used to suggest the complexity of Gail’s feelings. The paintings (boxes) are close ups of her emotions and observations. They are almost snapshots of the hopes, fears and discoveries. The work depicts her journey, often using land and sea as metaphors. Colour, space and texture work together to convey these small chapters of her life.
“Although my focus has been on finding home, a connection to the community and a sense of belonging, I realise that fully belonging anywhere is impossible, as I will always be caught between two worlds. The underlying tensions will probably always be there, but this does not affect my life. I love where I live and am as close to finding a home as I will ever get.”
The creation of this new body of work has been both exciting and challenging for Gail. She invites the viewers to bring their own associations to the works... or to simply just enjoy them.
The BankWest Prize is primarily an exhibition featuring a who's who of local oil and brush fame and this year's winner is Lisa Wolfgramm for her piece suitably titled Painting #218, an intricate work of horizontal and latitudinal splodges that build up blocks of patterned colour.
Most of this year's entries on canvas use composition in a symmetrical and rhythmic way.
If this show is an example of contemporary painting in Australia, then the days of rupturing space on canvas are over and we are well entrenched in a phase of lulling the eye at a slow, controlled pace.
Next to Wolfgramm's winning piece is Loongkoonan's Bush Tucker in Nyikina Country. I found it hard to keep my eye on the winner with this incredibly vibrant and overpowering work dancing on the periphery of my vision. On four panels, Loongkoonan's piece is a lesson in compositional and colour elements with the added allure of personal narrative.
Nearby, Ngarra's A Visual Autobiography is a knockout work built on nine panels which use a fantastic symbolic language to engage the viewer in the life and travels of this Kimberley elder.
Hanging nearby again is Christopher Young's seductive lightjet prints drei #4-5. Showing indoor snapshots of doorway and chair, these 'painterly' works have an Australian suburban timelessness embedded in the hues of pinks and greens.
Polish-born Perth artist Elisa Markes-Young laments the fact that definitions of art are too often limited to painting, drawing and sculpture. "I hear people say, 'oh, my wife is doing stitching too'. I think some work needs to be done to make the general public aware that other things are art too."
Elisa also lived in Germany for a time, married a New Zealander and settled in Perth. Not surprisely, issues of identity and landscape pervade her art.
"I'm not doing what is usually understood as textile art," she says. Instead, the work comprises delicately stitched forms and patterns on a base of painted canvas or linen.
Subject matter ranges from themes of germination, growth and decay to cultural displacement.
"I'm not a fan of figurative work," she says.
"I don't think you should see straight away what the inspiration was for a piece. I try to show what I feel when I see these things."
As a tribal species humans define themselves through memberships to groups and comparisons to others. We identify ourselves with the things that surround us and the things that we possess. We need to join a group. We feel comfortable when we fit in. We need to conform. Conforming signals: I am like you.
At the same time we all inherit values, norms and ideas. We are free to interpret these in the establishing of the Self but the possibilities to ignore ones history in this process are limited. Distinctive differences are considered a fundamental part of ones sense of identity. By conforming are we losing part of our identity? Or is it merely a variation?
We constantly remake our identity. It is a never-ending process of reformulation and alteration. We re-examine, re-adjust and redefine boundaries. And never more so than when departing.
Departure means potential isolation as old networks are being altered by the geographical distance or cease to exist completely. On arrival new networks first have to be established. In order to do so we have to be accepted. To be accepted we have to conform to rules we dont know, often dont understand and sometimes dont agree with.
Many marginalised individuals and groups see assimilation as the key to acceptance and power. But the result may be destruction: You become increasingly invisible as a consequence of integration.
With her cross-cultural biography (born in Poland, grew up in Germany and in Australia since 2002) Elisa Markes-Youngs identity is punctuated by the question of how Polish or German she really is. It is also very much defined by the feeling of being caught between two worlds.
The excitement of living in a foreign country is accompanied by an intense feeling of displacement. Being a stranger and different, having to master another language and the mentality of a new place creates a feeling of insignificance and inadequacy.
Trying to navigate between the Polish origins, German influences and Australian surroundings, Elisa recognizes that self-reflection is crucial to her identity: It is a reflection on the variations of her handed-down identity. Elisa feels that because of this she is in a constant process of destruction and restoration.
The basic need to belong and fit in competes with the fear that the differences will be lost and with the need to defend and preserve the uniqueness, the culture and the history that shaped her.
On the other hand, if she defines her identity in relation to her past and holds on to it she faces isolation.
Christopher Youngs work explores a self-perceived lack of identity and the struggle to either establish or discover some form of I. There is a fine balancing act between creating an idealistic perception of self and acknowledging any factors that predefine this I.
It is an engagement with a heritage long ignored and looks at the parallel feelings of fascination and loss.
When my paternal grandfather died I got a brief insight into a history that Id essentially ignored.
He was a carpenter and I discovered a very extensive antique tool collection upon his death. These all seemed extremely foreign to me as stark as words and sounds from another language.
I remember as a child going with my father to a Saw Smith who used to sharpen his tools. There was a fascination with this magical old man who mysteriously (I wasnt allowed in his workshop) reinvigorated these often very old and precious instruments. Even then I was aware that he was a rare breed of individual.
There were tools that my brother and I could play with but also those that were strictly forbidden. This was not only because they were dangerous or expensive but also because, in hindsight, they had genuine sentimental value. They are, as with many men, an essential part of what defines him.
Chris is very much aware of the lack of a motif library in his creative life. A person with Celtic heritage, for example, can draw on a broad and extensive range of symbols, history and language. In a similar vein, people who subscribe or belong to various sub-cultural groups or have had, for example, some form of traumatic experience have this luxury as well.
He, however, doesnt consciously subscribe to any particular social, gender, racial, sexual or any other sub-cultural grouping. Even fundamentals like being a man, a heterosexual or a New Zealander are void as he finds himself having almost no affinity to those definitions in a popular sense.
A study of a personal genealogy or tool box is a purely intellectual exercise and he instead finds himself looking for an emotional response to external stimuli.
If something moves him is it something more than social conditioning? Is there an innate aspect involved? Can he subscribe to something across cultures, without some historical basis?
Chris also tries to convey the sense of reverence and quiet that he experiences whilst shooting his location images. These places are abandoned or deserted and are going through a process of decay, destruction and regeneration.
He comes to them after the emotive connection to place has been severed. Just as the aftermath of the decisive moment is silent, all participants have long since departed. All they leave behind are scars, broken glass and ash.
These, like all photos, are ultimately death masks and tombstones of lost people, places and moments.
Beginnings, Series II is a new collection of 16 artworks by award-winning artist, Elisa Markes-Young. The works explore themes of germination and growth, fragility and decay. Elisa says that all her artworks are as much about subject matter as they are about visual and emotional experiences - a parallel and emotive response to the environment around her.
The translation of experience is not tied to the actual form. By combining realism and abstraction the artist creates ornamental yet still organic forms. These abstracts derived from elementary natural forms result in a simple visual language.
Closer inspection of the works reveals multiple layers of colours, textures and motifs. They are very intricate and play with ideas of perception, depth and surface, blurring and challenging the traditional boundaries between art and craft, textiles and painting.
The imperfections and rawness of the execution bring a quirky uniqueness and timeless beauty to seemingly regular structures - a slightly unhappy leaf, gnarled branch or broken limbs are all characters in an endless cyclic narrative of creation and destruction.
As a result of the abstraction of the subjects the exact interpretation of the artworks stays open. We see plants, buds, seeds and pods, human forms, floating, shifting, beginning and ending, blooming and dying. The simplicity and repetition of the forms create a rhythm focusing on the mysterious beauty of the processes and transformations they describe.
The exhibition also shows Cotyledons and Capsules, a small collection of textile vessels.
This completely self-taught artist has recently won the northern suburbs double by taking out both the 2004 Wanneroo and Joondalup Art Awards.
The Slow Infinity of Dreaming is the culmination of six months intensive work in which the artist has completed some twenty new artworks. The series was inspired by the Australian landscape, its colours and shapes as well as the changes that constantly take place in nature.
Elisa uses mostly natural fibres, textiles, techniques and skills that are at least in cultures of European origins traditionally attributed to the female field of experience. The aim is to recreate not so much figurative works but rather the mood which this constantly moving landscape radiates.
The forms used are often beautifully dangerous and inviting at the same time much like the landscape in which we are immersed.
The series also deals with issues of growth, the urge to create, and the process of producing the artwork itself, which is very time-consuming, mediative and work-intensive.
The Contemporary Gallery of the Whangarei Art Museum in Water St has its second exhibition after its opening with the notable Classic Pat Hanly show.
Space is given over to younger artists Chris Young, Andrew Trott and Sam Houghton, and the prestine white white walls of the rooms contrast with the subdued tonalities of the sharp, clean lines of the very trendy installations sprawling off the walls and across the floor.
Consisting of fashion design, interior furniture design and photography which can hardly be said to be that alone, the show is a must-see exhibition featuring works and ideas which are just as much part and parcel of the contemporary cultural psyche of middle-class New Zealand as Shortland Street. The difference is that you do not often go to an art gallery to be entertained.
On the contrary, Chris Young's comments that his works are at times possibly inspired by excremental figments of his abdomen could mean some visitors may end up being quite disgusted.
On the other hand, it could be argued that provocative art is on a par with A-grade porn or horror movies at the cleft between practices aimed at select audiences and the works of valiant moral barrierpushers voluteering to become martyrs at the hand of conservative fundamentalism.
Be that as it may, the works of Young are aesthetically above other futile contraptions aimed at shocking an audience, such as the recent invitation to trample the national flag in the precinct of the New Auckland Contemporary Art Gallery.
The sad thing is that we also learn in this show that Young, a recent graduate of a particularly good crop of students from the Northland Polytechnic applied arts course, has now gone to live in Auckland.
One can only hope that with a better cultural infrastructure such as this particular civic amenity willing to show us buckets of shit if necessary, this emigration of bright young talented Northland people to the metropolis will, if not come to a halt, at least abate.
Chris Young's large black and white images, attached with gaffe tape of various widths and angles, exude a kind of sado-masochistic flavour through the interaction between the violent white walls of the gallery and the human flesh slapped thereupon.
Strapped and skewered to one convex corner, jutting out into the room, is an untranslated Asian phrase with the fine trembling outline of the pictograms whipped up by a thin start length of tape. In a concave corner, crumpled pieces of paper like so many intellectual debris attesting to an inner rage having its musical correspondent in grunge and other symphonic rip-offs lay about at the expense of that very raw energy which created them.
Visual perfection is somewhat absent from these works, which lack a little sympathy for their victims. But they are certainly not lacking in seriousness of intent and purpose.
The ability to express feelings of contained anger and frustration is, in creative terms, hard than what it may seem on the surface.
While no doubt many will not bother trying to comprehend the fine emotional balance Young is trying to achieve, his is a balancing act well worth following.
Andrew Trott is another graduate from the Northland Polytechnic who has gone to Auckland to seek fame and fortune something the several-times winner of fashion awards has had a taste of already.
His Oceana garment exhibit features a dress and short top made of his popular hand-made fabric loosely based on tapa cloth texture and design.
An interesting detail is that this primarily Polynesian concept is layed with very Palagi acid-free tissue-paper. Like a fox's paw dipped in flour, the garment is both stylish and cunning.
Sam Houghton is also based in Auckland but graduated from the Wellington Polytechnic.
The most interesting of his by-now classical, post-modernist pieces may well be the Engineering Table Lamp on the left as you enter the space.
The recent Henry William Kirkwood small collection of paintings haved joined the rest, the district art collection is well worth checking out, in particular the somewhat august if not unusual sunset of Preservation Inlet.
An award-winning clothes designer and textile artist, a furniture-maker and a photographer are presenting examples of their work in an installation for the new Whangarei Art Museum's second exhibition.
The show will be previewed for Friends of the Museum and others on Monday and open to the public from 10am on Tuesday. It runs until August 30.
The exhibitors are Chris Young, Sam Haughton and Andrew Trott. All are in their 20s, have Northland connections and live and work in Auckland.
Andrew Trott is showing his winning entry in the 1996 Smokefree Fashion Design Awards a paper gown made of waxed tissue layered on brown paper along with two complementary wall-hangings.
The gown is printed with the limpit motif he used so successfully on his winning entry in the New Zealand finals of the 1994 Smirnoff International Fashion Design Awards. His entry made the final six at the international finals in Dublin and was later bought by the Auckland Museum.
Photographer Christopher Young learned his craft at the applied arts course at Northland Polytechnic. He graduated 1994 and worked at the school for six months as a visual communications technician and then went to Auckland for work in desktop publishing. He says that the six large photographs he is exhibiting are an expression of the tumult in his digestive system as he built a new life in Auckland.
His work has previously been seen at the 1994 graduation show at the Geoff Wilson Gallery and at two group shows in Whangarei last year.
Sam Haughton, originally of Kaiwaka, trained as a jeweller at Wellington Polytechnic. A six-month spell spent working in steel with a Northland engineer generated an interest in furniture-making, particularly in steel.
He now works as a furniture-maker (Bass Design), manufacturing on commission with range of about 10 pieces.
The works he is exhibiting are new, one-off works based on the concept of furniture as art.
Haughton says he is interested in bringing a number of materials together in designs suited to the materials and based on minimalist construction principles.
He aimed to produce "something functional, useable and attractive the attractiveness being the emotional element that makes it art, as opposed to being merely functional".
The three men will create a unified installation from their separate mediums.
Curator Scott Pothan says: "These people deserve to be in the art museum because what they are doing is very much more than just manufacturing furniture and textiles.
A real treat is in store this week for those starved lovers of large spaces for contemporary art. On the second floor of the North 10 building in Cameron St, Whangarei, they can indulge themselves in vast uninterrupted spaces of white walls which here and there feature rather superb artworks.
Chris Young, Hana Ott and Jolene Irving have combined to bring a serious contemporary art show to town. And the extra large space illustrates the need for vast expanses of wall space to properly set off contemporary art.
The more mature works of Young and Ott reek of the serious stuff of life for both young and old. While very Western and white majority culture, the idioms expressed through the work of these relatively early career pieces speak of the emerging consciousness of geographical and cultural values of which this country could well be at the forefront.
Ott bases many of her fine jewellery work on ecological and environmental awareness of the changes affecting the natural order of life on earth. In this show she has taken the ocean life as a subject and displayed on a bed of sand, so so many pieces of sculptured driftwood, a number of brooches echoing the shapes and creatures of the deep waters of the ocean as well the textures of crustaceans.
Some pieces, like Elegance, are simple one metal compositions reflecting the way natural forms can spontaneously throw up the most shapely flights of fancy through the transient medium of, say, seaweed. Or, as in the case of Ott's Follow Me Home Where It Never Rains, through the strains of tentacular arms and feet of a sea anemone. But the most interesting works are those which combine several metals, precious and semi-precious stones. Without being ostentatious, these carry purity of creation with classical zeal and a dash of high society sumptuosity.
Chris Young's Silence series, now entitled Biblia Pauperum or the poor man's Bible, unfold a dramatic odyssey in photographic form strangely allying elements of pop romantic cartoons with highbrow Victorian decadence. This is the third instalment in a series of five revealing a very talented young artist who needs all the encouragement one can get from a provincial town often denied the sophistication of larger centres.
Jolene Irving is showing works publicly for the first time. While this shows in most of the works exhibited, things like NWO TV Co are quite okay. The show runs for only another week so be quick.
At Reyburn House the China Clay Pottery Awards are showing until October 26. One of the better, albeit unpreten tious pots is James McFarland's Raku Vase, glowing with a matt texture in reds licked by oxide green flames.
The winner, Rick Rudd, shows a bowl made to look like a fragment of a Chris Booth sculpture. . . clay made to look like two small boulders, the upper one having a portion scooped out and smeared with a chocolate mousse type of glaze.This piece certainly tries to life pots beyond the traditional practical vessel, but does not get very far in doing so.
Towering heights dominate this weeks offerings on the gallery scene.
While the Community Arts Council came to a grinding halt, tertiary colleges such as the Northland Polytechnic and its Geoff Wilson Gallery slowly woke up to the fact that the holidays are over.
The year has started with a bang at the polytech's applied arts department, with its tutors putting on a show worthy of the highest accolade for the quality of the works, their presentation and the insights they provide into the inner workings of our art tutors' artistic minds.
At the risk of repeating myself, I can only say that Richard Tarrant is a talented sculptor who has been forced to turn to jewellry and the teaching thereof in order to afford the warrant of fitness on his car, and that Chris Young has to pretend to be an ad man when all he really wants to do is create meaningful pictures.
Tarrant's series of Tools My Father Never Made may incorporate a little Dennis O'Connor and Daniel Clasby. But they are quite remarkable for their straightforward plastic presence.
His are larger-than-life reminiscences of ancestral tools to which every child clings with fond memories of jobs donw for the pleasure of it. They sit very comfortably within the framework of our growing cultural awareness.
For those of you who still grapple with the concepts of modern art and intellectual installations type of works, this show is compulsory viewing. You may come away reinforced in your beliefs that some people are totally nuts, but at least you will have been challenged into asking yourself why.
However, you would have been wise to stay away from the preview. As if these occassions are not stiff-upper-lipped enough, in this case participants in the show walked past you with a supercilious air clutching their secretly gotten wine goblets while you were left pondering the wisdom or prosperity of helping yourself to some lemonade.
They height of arrogance may come at a price, but this writer is unwilling to chastise, and is led to believe that in the name of economy and in order to justify being mean, one keep's one's feelings to oneself.
Fortunately this is not the case of Chris Young, who lets forth a charge of emotions some of which might even be quite disturbing.
In the first instalment of Silence No. 1, the buttock image in this giant black and white mural riddle was rather discreet. Here, in the second of a series of reworkings of the presentation, it is given prominence with the result that while the work is still hard-hitting, it has gained something of a luscious bite.
Along the same lines but not quite as successful is Ellies Smith's Nursery Neurosis. The theatrical component of the work is not as profoundly thought out as in Young's piece.
On the subject of theatre, Alan Palmer presents a series of photographs of his stage productions with Northland Youth Theatre well worth a cursory glance, despite their small size.
Anne Philbin shows large illustrations of Irish folk legends with the intricacy of lace work, and Janinka Greenwood presents a series of short stories, Sistergirl, the jacket of which is slick and very chic.
At the PGA Arts Promotion Centre in First Ave, Simon Smythe is showing is very own interpretation of towering heights, namely paintings representing large city skyscrapers. I have said before than Smythe still has a long way to go. This still stands, but trying is the only way to go.
The Geoff Wilson Gallery is presenting the work of third-year graduating students of the visual communications and craft design courses offered at the Northland Polytechnic Applied Arts Centre.
Despite the course's emphasis on practicality and the marketplace, it is heartening to discover that most of the students treat it as an alternative to art school, enabling them to spend their formative years in Northland.
Thus it is that the medium of graphic design has been highjacked by high art militants in search of creative expressions of the soul. This is not to say that advertising cannot be creative or divinely inspired, but a degree of suspicion is a healthy element in the critical analysis of the motives behind producers of art.
With a brilliant display of technical bravado, two students in particular have come up with works that sit very comfortably within the hallowed space of the contemporary art temple.
Andrew Johnson and Chris Young both present black and white compositions based on typesetting and photography, but each reflect a very different sensibility.
Johnson manages an early Russian minimalist approach to Dante's Dvine Comedy in the framework of the Christian triptych format. A cool and calculated examination of human modes of perception, his work invites the eye to play a sort of mirror-image ping-pong game.
Intellectual confidence and serentity are echoes by his swift and assured drawing skills that introduce just enough of the natural into the computer generated imagery.
Young, on the other hand, produces what must be doubting Thomas's worst nightmare. Wild passions are unleashed with a scream. We can only be thankful that his picture does not come with the integrated audio component.
It is not careful-with-that-axe-Eugene from Pink Floyd's Saucerful of Secrets here, but Careful with that Scimitar Salome from the pen of a yet-unborn composer that springs to mind.
The photography is superb and the imagery disturbing, introducing a romantic element into an otherwise competent, but with the usual squalid touch, postmodernist work.
Silence No. 1: Death of the Innocents draws simultaneously on traditions as apart as Judaism, Katherine Mansfield, Michaelangelo, Andy Warhol, and Chinese Classical Theatre, not to mention Henri Cartier Bresson. Let's hope that the Young Turk keeps at it, perhaps a little Gerschwin might be the appropriate track to lighten the burden of a stripling's existentialist stress.
Douglas Pearson completes a trilogy of viscom men working in two dimensional skills by successfully attempting to throw in that extra spatial depth in his untitled black perspex box. Summoning up a mountain of flesh from the bowels of the earth, Janine Tito sheds no tears over the loss of innocence. In the mammiform recess of her clay piece Ko Tangihua te Maunga hides a slivering snake. Her hangi plates would be perfect in the formal setting of a Maori restaurant dining room.
Formality of the religiious kind goes down the drain with Tricia Treloar's Funky Crucifix, the chain of which is that of a sink plug. Her Heart and Sould jewellery set feature the unusual dyed bone ornamental and spiritual material in another cross design of clover leaf.
Trust, love, respect, sacrifice and aggression are all words featured in the tantalizing You and Me Choker of Lea Henderson. Sacrifical figurines in a wierd back twisting position make up her Rhythmic Form Necklace.
Craig Ramsay shows some very thorny broaches, of which No. 90 embodies the most poetry. Bevan Taka's glassware has some out of the ordinary shapes and colours, as in Apricot Bowl and Black Bowl.
Selwyn Thomas's imposing sculptures brood in their corner and Mark Brockies's Axes stand guard at the entrance of the gallery, but the most beautiful piece in the show is quite probably his Blue Bowl II No. 15.
Claudine Edwards photographs and document the students at work and posing.