24 Feb 2017
On Wednesday 22nd Feb I attended the memorial service for Peter Travis, renown ceramist, visual artist, textile artist, educator and revolutionary designer, held at the main lecture theatre of the University of NSW School of Art & Design (formerly COFA) I was shocked actually when my neighbour Yiorgos Zafiriou dropped by to tell me of the event; I had not heard of Peter's passing in Nov 2016. The Sydney Morning Herald carried an obituary Dec 20th 2016 (lately I've been reading The Australian)
Peter Travis graciously opened my solo exhibition at Knot Gallery in 2002. The exhibition was my first for 10yrs and an umbrella event of the Sydney Gay Games. As Peter had some association with the members of Knot Gallery and was a well-known & respected figure in Sydney's gay community it seemed entirely appropriate, although I didn't really know him until that time.
We had actually met many years prior: Travis was a guest lecturer while I was a student at the National Art School. He was the first man I had seen who wore his hair in a pony tail! -being only 19 at the time it made quite an impression (though I realised much later of course that men's hair styling has gone through many fashions over many hundereds of years -but ponytails in Sydney in the early 70's were never seen).
The Memorial Service was well attended and included many VIP's of the craft arts industry. I had the opportunity later of chatting with Roger Leong, Senior Curator at Sydney's PowerHouse Museum, Grace Cochrane, a former Senior Curator at the Museum, and being introduced to Pamela Griffith, a print maker who's work I have admired for many years. The service itself was not a sad affair at all but a celebration of a gigantic talent. Travis has made a huge contribution to the arts scene of Australia and indeed was recognised internationally. His exploration of colour and movement through the construction of gigantic and decorative kites led to many commissions throughout the world, with some installations in hotel lobbies up to 10 stories high.
At home Travis was engaged as the chief colour co-ordinator for the entire colour palette of the new Parliament House in Canberra. Perhaps his most famous creation of all is the men's swimming costume known as Speedos. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2008 for his work as a designer, sculptor, ceramist, kite-maker and teacher.
In her address at the Memorial Service Grace Cochrane revealed that Peter's first studio was in the choir loft of a Church in Potts Point; he paid rent by playing the organ at services. Erudite and charming, a keen conversationalist and politically engaged, Peter Travis was a true Renaissance man. There is another interesting obituary you can read on the National Gallery of Australia's website
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.
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
11 Nov 2014
I missed the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition this year, being rather busy finishing and then installing my window for the Bowral Presbyterian Church last Friday. I always enjoy the show: such beautiful location, always interesting and artistically stimulating and invigorating. And its wonderful that this exhibition is so well attended: many thousands of Sydneysiders make the walk from Bondi to Tamarama (or in reverse), not only to look at the view, but to look at Art!
However this is not the only sculpture show in town. Running more or less concurrently, in the beautiful old Waverley/Woollahra Town Hall on Old South Head Road, is the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize. A strongly contested, selected exhibition, the Small Sculpture Prize is an intimate show, similar in many ways to the Ranamok Glass Prize. While the latter tended to favour plinth-based works, the former is exclusively such, with each work restricted to a maximum size of 80cm x 80cm x 80cm.
The diversity of ideas represented in this show always amazes me. What this means is, being such a small show with only 40x sculptures, it almost doesn't work as a cohesive exhibition. The observer bounces from one extreme example of creative thought to another. There are some links however, some threads to follow and works to compare. In this year's show there were quite a number of figurative pieces, each one of them very powerful and expressive. Henry, for instance, by Miraslav Kratky is almost talking to you. He stands there full of attitude and wisdom, espousing his particular philosophy on Life. Stephen Bird's Ancestral Figure, by contrast is almost impregnable, teasing you with so many unrelated symbols and references (like English Toby Jugs) that the artist seemingly defies you to make sense of the work, delighting in making something both arcane and beautiful.
Several of the works are laden with humour, some of it quite wry. The winning sculpture for instance, Form for Modern Living #2 by Natalie Guy, is a suavely tongue-in-cheek dig at Interior Design, the mores of contemporary fashion, Modern Art and sophisticated consumerism. It somehow encapsulates all of this in a pithy statement of bronze Barbara Hepworth.
And with an hilarious take on Jeff Koons' giant Puppy, Natalie Thomas takes us back to those ultra-kitsch souvenir shops of the 1950's and 60's beachside holidays where you would find all manner of artefacts made of seashells.
A constructivist steel sculpture which caught my eye was Triplex by Morgan Shimeld. I know of Morgan as a stand-out graduate in glass studies from SCA, making really interesting work. Clearly he has pushed on to great heights and moved beyond glass.
But Freja Jobbins' Anthropomorphism #1 surely takes the prize for Absolutely Creepy. Is it just me? I find these conglomerations of baby doll parts very disturbing (while also, admittedly, decidedly funny). There are unexpected echoes here with both Bird's Ancestral Figure but moreso with Thomas' shell-encased Puppy. All three share a strong sense of the absurd.
My personal favourites were Yusuke Takemura's Ho-Zuki and Seraph by the Peculiar Annes. Totally unrelated and appealing to completely different aesthetics, yet both works share a highly developed sense of finesse in both craftsmanship and concept. Take's work celebrates the beauty of materiality and technical virtuosity while the Annes' magical figure possesses such power and spirit that it can transport the observer to another place entirely. And that surely is the achievement of Art.
23 Oct 2014
The 2014 Sydney exhibition of the last Ranamok Glass Prize drew to a close on Sat 18th October with 5x of the 28x finalists presenting talks about their work: myself, Ben Young, Paddy Robinson, Mark Elliott, Lee Howes and Yusuke Takemura.
07 Apr 2014
Over the weekend of 28th, 29th, 30th March I took part in the Designers On Show exhibition held each year in the Turramurra Masonic Centre on the Pacific Highway at Turramurra. The centre has two exhibition halls accessed via a common entry foyer. It was my task to design and hang the entry foyer exhibition and then play host over the weekend, meeting and greeting visitors as they arrived.
The entry foyer was my exhibition space; I didn't have a display stall in the show as did the other exhibitors. In this way I was able to integrate my work into the building and take advantage of discreet spaces not otherwise utilized. It made for a strong impression when entering and also when leaving the Show.
Other exhibitors in the Show included Mark Jones [leather], Carol Page [bespoke shoes], Alice Leda Pettirosso [merino woollen garments], Denise Smith [lampworked glass beads], Jane Stapleford [watercolours], Bob Taber [jewellery], John Hablitschek [jewellery], Jane Slicer-Smith [hand-knits], Lyn Hart [ceramics] and many other former exhibitors from the former Australian Craft Show run by Bibby and Shields from 1984 thru to 1999 at variou svenues but primarily the old Sydney Showgrounds at Moore Park. We were also supported by Craft Arts International who had a stand displaying their magazines in the foyer.
14 Nov 2012
I managed to catch the very last hour on the last day of the Small Sculpture Prize this year and I'm so glad that I did. It's always a fascinating show, with such diverse work from all round the country and this year I found it particularly inspiring.
One is immediately struck on entering the exhibition with the textural variety, the tactile intensity of the works. I think there is a heightened awareness of form that comes about as a result of so many interesting sculptures on a small scale displayed so close together. It would be an etremely challenging task to 'hang' the show but the organisers did a splendid job. The result was stimulating and very satisfying.
There were three glass artists selected for this year's show: Tavita Havea, Kayo Yokoyama and Jessica Tse. Without a doubt Jessica's tiny glass tear was the smallest, simplest and yet most profound sculpture in the exhibition. I had been enjoying the poignant whimsy of Kerrie Cannon's old lady putting on make up in preparation for her departure from this world when I came upon Jessica's metaphor for Time, "based upon Kant's crystalisation theory: Time is the intent and the intent is crystalised in a tear. It is the symbol for love... the contemplation of someone, the waiting and beholding of .. romantic fantasies."
A good exhibition should leave the observer in some heightened state of awareness and this small sculpture exhibition did precisely that. I slowly wandered out into the sunshine and stood for quite some time watching the ocean, contemplating the pinecones on the large conifer silhouetted against a clear blue sky.... and spent the next hour or so lost in Christopher Tsolkas' "Dead Europe". Gold.
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
- Successful Installation at Nowra Presbyterian
- VALE Peter Travis AM
- And now back on deck
- Work in Progress -but taking a break
- But Wait, There's More!
- New Installations
- Transfiguration:L An Exhibition of Icons by Michael Gallovic
- Vale Mark Brabham
- Wayne Pearson & marina Bishop @ Gauge
- Jeff Manning at Shopfront Gallery, Glebe