Artist Profile: Mona Khizam

This month local artist, writer and filmmaker Mona Khizam is hosting the workshop, ‘Identity, Memory and Place’ at Gallery 1855. We spoke to Mona about her pursuits and the experiences behind them.

Can you start by providing an introduction about yourself and your artistic background?

Well, my academic background is in Social Work, teaching and human rights. My family is from Lebanon so that means like other ‘ first generation Australians’, I was privy to both Australian culture and another culture growing up. You’re born here but you see things differently. You’re Australian but you also have another understanding of how family, business and community can work. This is cultural diversity in a nutshell and it is what makes pluralistic societies like Australia, Canada, Venezuela etc. the vibrant societies that they are.

Since coming back to Australia in 2014, I have had the opportunity to work with Indigenous filmmakers and I have learnt a lot about Indigenous knowledge, politics and cultures. What I think is that these Indigenous cultures, combined with Anglo-Australian and Australian immigrant cultures, make Australia an extraordinary country, which isn’t to say we don’t have fundamental problems in the areas of racism, equality and social inclusion but we are getting there…

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What or who has made a great impression on you?

My dad, Ramez Khizam ( Ronny ) was a self-made man, an immigrant success story if ever there was one, but he was also very humble and modest. He died in 1998 but I still think about him most days. I think his legacy was in his natural curiosity about things, in teaching us the importance of education and the importance of conducting yourself with integrity. He was a very decent man, quiet, self-educated and kind.

My mother Inaam Khizam ( Anna ) also taught me a lot of things, including that you have to take a chance in business and then work very hard to realise your dream. She is the greatest networker I know and she still influences me in her exceptional organisational skills and her tireless work with various community groups.

My son too, has taught me a lot about life and the importance of family.

Living abroad for 30 years also had a huge impact on me. Perhaps the most important things I learnt are:

  • There are more ways to do things than the way you happened to be brought up doing them
  • You should take the opportunity to learn what you can from cultures that have mastered certain things i.e. the Swedish way of planning and organising and the Lebanese way of seizing the day and enjoying life, since you don’t know what tomorrow might bring…
  • At the end of the day, life is all about building community

Each of the places I lived in – Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Manila, Beijing, Hong Kong, Beirut, Dresden and Stockholm – gave me the opportunity to learn new things. Even before I went abroad though, I was a devotee of life-long learning. Living overseas provided me with a great education. Although there were a ton of challenges, I felt it was a privilege to be able to dip into other languages and experience so many different ways of life. I have thought and also written a lot about this, these cross-cultural issues that both bind and divide us as humans.

As for my artistic background, well, I have always written and been interested in images and cinematography. I trained to be a literacy teacher while first abroad and later, in Sweden, I re-trained as a documentary filmmaker. Filmmaking, whether my own documentary films or those made by community groups I teach, is a wonderful thing because it allows people to say what they want – and need – to say. Film is the great equaliser and one of the most effective ways to contribute to public debates. For example, I am just at the tail-end of a project called North Eastern Girrrls Film Bootcamp in which young women chose to make two films: one about domestic violence in Australia and the other about the importance of language and culture for Uyghur people in China. As with my other community film work, I do not set the theme. The participants choose the topics that are important to them, topics close to their hearts, you might say. And this is exactly what democracy is – being able to express your opinion without retribution. It’s something you are grateful for when you have lived in places where democracy isn’t that highly valued.

So, in a nutshell, my artistic work includes things like:

  • My own documentaries,
    • ADHD, anarchy, music, fatherhood, refugees, ‘the immigrant experience’ and stories of identity and belonging, or not
  • My own community art installations,
    • like Gardens don’t lie…
  • Collaborative arts and cultural projects,
    • the 2BEACHES, OneIslandNation democracy project with Open Space Contemporary Arts
  • Community film teaching,
    • North Eastern Girrrls Film Bootcamp
  • Community film events,
    • Tea Tree Gully Stories
    • Gallery Yampu Open Mic Film Cafe which I ran earlier this year at Port Adelaide
    • SAGA : Stockholm International Women’s Film Festival that I founded in Sweden in 2013
    • Writing ‘Sahara Libre !  Freedom, Human  Rights and Colonialism in The Western Sahara’
  •  Photographic exhibitions including moving images.
    • There but for the grace of God, go I…

In terms of artists that inspire me, there are many but I would name Shirin Neshat (Iranian), Lara Baladi (Lebanese) and Nan Golding (American) and Pipilotti Rist (Swiss).

Your current group exhibition at Gallery 1855, There but for the grace of God, go I is a series of revealing photographs you shot while on a research trip to Algeria, to explore human rights in a Sahrawi refugee camp. Can you tell us more about why you went there and details regarding your trip?

I went to Algeria and The Western Sahara to do research for my human rights/ journalism/ filmmaking studies at Jakobsbergs Folkhögskola in Stockholm. I was there for 6 weeks in 2009. I was interested in finding out what it’s like to be a refugee, sitting forgotten in desert camps for decades. To my surprise, I learnt that the Sahrawis’ situation is actually quite well-known and their struggle for freedom is strongly supported in many European and South American countries. What I found was a thriving community actively building an effective, sophisticated government-in-waiting (Polisario), working with the UN to end the illegal occupation of their country, shoring up their language, culture and identity and educating their kids for the day they regain their independence.

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The Western Sahara, known as Africa’s last colony, was doled out to Spain in 1885 when unimaginably greedy European colonial powers carved up Africa between themselves at the Berlin Conference. Ninety years later when the Spanish were on their way out, the Moroccans decided to invade, so the Sahrawis know a lot about occupation.

Since that 1975 Moroccan invasion, some 200,000 Sahrawis have been stranded in refugee camps in the middle of the Hamada ( the desert called ‘The Devil’s Garden’ in English) where it can get up to 50 degrees in the middle of the day and down to zero at night.

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There but for the grace of God, go I…  is a photographic narrative of this fight for freedom. Each picture offers an insight into the lives of ordinary people struck in the middle of the politics of colonialism. The 19 images are supported by a film of the same name, shot in Semaphore and in The Western Sahara, which highlights the impact of colonialism on our lives.

Through images, text and video footage, the exhibition examines the randomness of dislocation, be it through politics, war, climate change or in the case of the Sahrawis, occupation by an expansionist neighbour. I wanted to investigate if this was important and if so, why? After all, what has it got to do with us? Why should it matter? What I found was that it does matter, not just morally but also because refugees remain refugees because their resources are being plundered. Their country being occupied means that they do not have control over their own assets. In The Western Sahara, these assets are considerable and valuable. They include huge quantities of high quality sand (taken for the beaches of the Canary Islands, for instance), solar and wind power diverted to power Moroccan cities, the best fishing stock off the coast of Africa being exported all over the world (while the Sahrawis eat cheap, imported tinned sardines), phosphate (critical in agriculture as fertiliser) and finally, oil and gold being dug up and spirited away without a cent going to the economy of The Western Sahara.

Many companies, including Australian ones, are involved in this (needless to say, illegal) plundering of resources. In short, what we do over here, matters. The standard we walk past is the standard we accept. The politics of war, occupation and colonialism are random and harsh. Anybody could, through circumstances beyond their control, become a refugee and it’s a soul destroying situation to find yourself in. It could happen to anyone, it could happen to you and it could happen to me but for the grace of God…

In fact, if the Dutch had thought their reception more along the lines of what they were expecting when they landed in Shark Bay in 1616, they might have stayed and colonised Australia. Then we would be having this conversation in Dutch ! That’s how random colonialism is. We should know this, being a colony, but we forget. There but for the grace of God, go I… is a reminder that had things gone differently for us as a nation, we too might have been fighting for our language, culture, identity and freedom as many refugees do, not to mention our own Indigenous communities…

What do you hope people take away from seeing your work?

I hope people see that refugees are just people like you or me, people just trying to raise their kids and live their lives in peace. They do not choose to be refugees and all they want is what everyone wants: freedom.

 Your work reflects extreme conditions of humanity and existence… Is it hard for you to keep the momentum up in your work, as you bear witness to terrible emotional suffering, as well as environmental suffering?

In a word, no. Looking away is harder. Mind you, there were times in the camp when I wondered what the hell I was doing there… The work is important, I think because it is too easy to see the refugee as ‘the other’, to diminish them by lumping them all together, instead of seeing they too are people like you and me. These days there is a lot of fear and cruelty in the ‘treatment’ of refugees. As a nation, our track record has gone from the woeful White Australia policy to positive post-war immigration, to something where we now focus almost entirely on the cost of taking in refugees and the ways it can all go wrong instead of seeing the benefits of immigration. We have become very frightened and as a result, very careless in our terminology, whereby ‘refugee’ by default is only a hair’s breadth from ‘terrorist’. If this were the case in 1948 when my father applied to migrate to Australia, he wouldn’t have stood a chance and I wouldn’t be here now. Of course, taking in people is complex and takes resources but it also makes us a stronger, more diverse, more resilient and more international player on the world stage.

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Here are some lines from the Introduction of ‘Sahara Libre!’ to answer your question about bearing witness to terrible emotional suffering.

‘Some days I wanted to stay in the camp my whole life. Nothing else existed, it was a world to its own. Life was good. I had what I needed – company, work that made me happy, time to laugh. I was who I wanted to be. Other days, especially at the beginning, I wondered what on earth I was doing there. And what the Sahrawis were doing there. What the hell was wrong with these people, sitting in some God-forsaken refugee camp in the middle of nowhere? Was this it? Was this as good as life was going to get for them? Didn’t they want a better life, if only for their kids? Was it enough to sit suspended in time and space, miserably waiting out their days, hoping against hope that the world might one day sit up and notice their plight?’

Polisario, The Western Saharan government’s mass release of Moroccan prisoners of war in the 1980s and since then, more than 80 United Nations resolutions supporting The Western Sahara and condemning Morocco’s illegal occupation of it and yet still nothing changes… There they sit, freezing by night, sweltering by day and always battered by that cursed wind – wind strong enough to pick up your spit, coat it with a shell of flying sand and send it smashing to the ground 3 or 4 metres from source. Bone-jarringly cold nights, daytime temperatures of over 50° and nothing but desert as far as the eye can see, day in, day out, year in, year out. No wonder they call it the Devil’s Garden, God himself could not get anything to grow in this most savage of environments.

Add to that, no institutions of higher learning, no jobs, no economy to speak of, ‘no nothing’. The Sahrawis, colonised by the Spanish, invaded by the Moroccans, have been to war, laid down their arms, talked nicely with the United Nations and still they are living in refugee camps. They have done everything conceivable to wrench their lands back from an aggressively expansionist Morocco but to no avail. They remain an occupied country.

Imagine it, some 200,000 people huddled together in a handful of camps, cut off from those parts of their family living under Moroccan occupation, a 3rd generation of children being born into these camps, 41 years and counting… What do people do ? How do they cope ? The answer is that they do as anyone else does – they live their lives, as best they can. They grow up, get married, raise their kids. They do their utmost to hold the community together, to survive but what, I wonder, do they dream of in the quiet moments in the day, these people that don’t officially exist, these people supposedly without a future?

 Welcome to The Western Sahara

There were a number of projects that our group from Jakobsbergs Folkhögskola, Stockholm chose to work with – making a documentary comparing Sahrawi teenagers with their Swedish counterparts, compiling a picture reportage of life in the desert, investigating methods of food/ water/ aid distribution but beyond this, what captivated me was the question of identity; Who are these people, these Sahrawis?

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And who do you become when your country is occupied, when you have lost a sizeable chunk of your land and have sat in refugee camps for four decades ? When I first saw pictures of Sahrawis, I was a bit daunted. They are a tough looking people. They stand somewhere between Europe (being Spanish-speaking, thanks to Spanish colonialism), the Middle East (their culture sharing much with Arab cultures) and Africa (their lands being situated in the north of that continent). How then, have they managed to maintain their identity, against all odds ? That is what I wanted to find out and this book is my attempt to do just that.

What have been some of your career highlights?

It is always the latest thing. I am very pleased with the North Eastern Girrrls’ work because filmmaking is not easy. It is by far easier to give up than to finish a film. They didn’t give up. They have made two interesting films that speak passionately of identity, community and the right to live safely, without violence.
I am also very pleased to show the images in There but for the grace of God, go I… Niki Vouis and the staff at Gallery 1855 are extraordinary in the way they support emerging and established artists. As a local artist, I really appreciate this. I think that Gallery 1855 is a very fine gallery with a fantastic range of exhibitions, talks and courses and reflects the Tea Tree Gully Council’s progressive and positive approach to culture and the arts. They do a lot to bring culture and the arts to the community and I am glad to live in a council area that does that.

This month you will host an art and writing workshop, where participants will write a story and then interpret it to create a piece of art. Are you a writer yourself, who also loves art?

I am both a writer and an artist. The workshop, Identity, Memory and Place, is an opportunity for residents to explore their own identity in writing and then transform the written word into an artwork of their choosing. I am co-running this workshop with Catherine Buddle and we are both really looking forward to it.

Does this give people who love both artistic pursuits the opportunity to make something to bind their interests?

It will do exactly that through various artistic processes and it will be equally interesting for the reluctant writer as the accomplished writer, the novice artist and the practising artist.

Will you be hosting similar workshops in the future?

I do hope so.

What would you love to work on in the future, or who would you like to collaborate with?

Well, I should begin by telling you what my other current projects are ;

  • Tea Tree Gully Stories which is an oral history documentary film. The Red Carpet Screening is on Friday the 14th of October at 6pm at Tea Tree Players on Yatala Road, Surrey Downs. The event is free and everybody is welcome. RSVP Tea Tree Players.
  • Gardens don’t lie… is a photographic and video installation that will also include a 6 x 3 metre garden of South Australian natives. It will initially be held at Adelaide Airport and then hopefully in Tea Tree Gully as well. This project explores the stories our gardens tell about us. Regardless of the way we present ourselves to the world, regardless of the income bracket we fall into, our gardens tell the truth about our values and about how we spend our time and our money.

As for 2017, there are a number of community film projects on the boil. I am currently seeking organisations interested in partnering with me on projects to do with:

  • Hoarding
  • Teenage computer gaming addiction
  • Girls’ Film Bootcamps
  • Open Mic Community Film Cafes

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about art, culture and There but for the grace of God, go I…

 

Artist profile: Talia Dawson

Gallery 1855 is currently celebrating the work of six South Australian artists with five distinct and dynamic exhibitions.

Two of these exhibitions feature paintings by Jason Cordero and Talia Dawson.

Among all the works, there seems to be a common theme, or curiosity in nature, and exploring that curiosity, whether real or imagined.

Talia has kindly agreed to be profiled. Her paintings are colourful, cheery and yet delicate. South Australia’s native flora is her inspiration and she continues to travel around her home state to discover plants and flowers for new works. Talia is currently working towards becoming an art teacher and is in her final year at the University of South Australia.

We hope you can see Talia’s paintings at Gallery 1855, on display from now until Saturday 24 September.


Talia Dawson 

Can you start by providing an introduction about yourself and your artistic background? What or who has made a great impression on you?

My love of art; of painting, drawing and creating stems from my childhood, a passion inspired by my mother at a very young age. Over the years my mum has watched my artistic talents grow, constantly teaching and encouraging, allowing my abilities to bloom.

I am now pursuing an artistic career in teaching – a pathway that’s been seeding in my mind for years – currently completing my final year in a Bachelor of Visual Arts at UniSA.

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‘Equally Beautiful’, Talia Dawson, 2016. Acrylic on canvas. 91cm x 60.5cm.

Your current exhibition at Gallery 1855 features several of your contemporary floral paintings. How did you begin this collection? Was there something in particular that triggered its development?

I’ve always been inspired by nature, influenced particularly by our beautiful South Australian landscape. So naturally, I was drawn to the flora our state has to offer, amazed and intrigued by the patterns, colours, workings and general organic abstractions of nature. There are so many hidden gems, the individual details of the landscape often more intriguing than the land as a whole. Exploring this beautiful state that I call home, I have gathered a compilation of fascinating photographs; photos that greatly influence my final creations.

What do you hope people take away when they see your work in this exhibition?

Through my work I aim to encourage others to observe the often overlooked, to be puzzled and captivated by nature’s abstractions, and to discover for themselves the beauty hidden within the South Australian landscape. I wish for people to look through my eyes, to see the ordinary in an unusual way, and to appreciate these obscurities like never before.

Purple and pink features strongly in your work. Why is that?
The colour theme just seemed to happen naturally. I guess I want to bring happiness and joy to people’s lives, and the bright pinks and purples allowed me to do this, while also tying my body of work together as a whole.

What have been some of your career highlights?
I’ve exhibited in a couple of exhibitions prior to the current Gallery 1855 exhibition, however I consider my career to be only just starting! At the conclusion of Year 12 I was involved in the SACE Art Show. That was probably when the addiction first started, the hunger to continue painting and creating, to further exhibit my artworks for others to see and appreciate.

What would you love to work on in the future, or who would you like to collaborate with?
The future daunts me. I think it’s something I will just have to wait for and see what happens. I believe I will however always centre my practice around nature, immersing myself in the ‘art world’ of SA and beyond and bringing beauty to all that appreciate my work.


Gallery 1855 is open from Wednesday to Saturday, from 12-5pm and is located at 2 Haines Road, Tea Tree Gully. 

 

Artist profile: Jason Cordero

Gallery 1855 is celebrating the work of six South Australian artists with five distinct and dynamic exhibitions.

Two of these exhibitions feature paintings by Jason Cordero and Talia Dawson.

Among all these works, there seems to be a common theme, or curiosity in nature, and exploring that curiosity, whether real or imagined.

Jason has kindly agreed to be profiled. His gigantic sky landscape paintings are bold and spectacular – including his 3m-long painting, Bridge of Shadows.  Self-taught and painting from his imagination, they invite the viewer to imagine the story behind the image.

We hope you can see Jason’s spectacular paintings at Gallery 1855, on display from now until Saturday 24 September.


 

 Jason Cordero 

Can you start by providing an introduction about yourself and your professional background? What or who has made a great impression on you?

I am an Australian painter who lives and works in Adelaide and studied at the South Australian School of Art. I don’t really consider any one person a particular influence, but have just looked to my innate love of the natural world. I essentially taught myself how to paint; I haven’t ever had any “this is how you paint” lessons. University was about thought; technique was not considered. I do, though, have a love of 19th century history painting – I have an interest in people like Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, Leighton. I also have particular interest in ancient history and architecture. These influences are more obvious in my most recent work.

Currently on exhibition at Gallery 1855 are several of your landscapes. Can you tell us more about these paintings? Are you referencing a particular place?

These works have been developing over a few years and were first shown together at BMG Art in an exhibition titled The Mountain. I was interested in the idea of wilderness and the sublime; not place as such but the narratives and sensations places can generate.

The sky is a major feature in your landscapes. A lot of your focus is on the expanse of sky, the light, the shadows and its dominance over all other elements. Is this intentional?

The sky is indeed the major feature. I’ve always been fascinated by the atmosphere and its emotive power. Just from a physical point of view it fascinates as it provides such an amazing display simply from the diffraction and diffusion of light through colourless gasses and liquid. I do intentionally draw attention to the sky and its dominance (certainly as far as scale goes) over the other features of the landscape; after all a mountain top can be an inviting place one moment and deadly the next depending on the movement of the air. Of course, all is intertwined as mountains often create the conditions for dramatic atmospheric phenomena. For example, just this past week has seen here in Adelaide some beautiful orogenic clouds along the hill face – at Tea Tree Gully we had a prolonged heavy down pour with the sun streaming in from the cloudless west. Very beautiful.

Everyone is talking about your colossal painting, The Bridge of Shadows. It looks like a glacial dreamscape. Does it all come from your head? Or is it a combination of places you’ve seen and then reimagined?

The Bridge of Shadows is in form entirely imaginary. It started as gestures in a little sketch with the sweep of the clouds and the impossible peak. Though not a real place, it is none the less playing with memories and experiences of my travels in Australia; just expanded and developed to create something else. Like most of the work from this series, it suggests a narrative, that something is about to happen – what, I can’t say.

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Jason Cordero, The Bridge of Shadows (detail), oil on linen, 122 x 305cm.

What have been some of your career highlights?

My highlights, I suppose, were the winning of some prizes – the John Leslie Art Prize being the most significant. I also enjoyed the opportunity of having a solo exhibition at the Gippsland Art Gallery – indeed, Bridge of Shadows had its first outing there. It’s been reworked in the meantime though. Of course, I mustn’t forget this year’s three-month Redgate Residency in Beijing; that was an extraordinary experience and I do intend to go back.

What would you love to work on in the future, or is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?

As for the future, I’ve started to incorporate figures and the built environment in my work. My most recent exhibition presented work very different to any I’ve done before. I also want to start producing some sculpture. On a different tack, I’d love to collaborate with the State Opera of South Australia in stage design and there has been some movement in that direction. In the same vein, I’m also exploring the possibility of stage design with the State Theatre – I think it would be a fascinating collaboration.

Gallery 1855 is open from Wednesday to Saturday, from 12-5pm and is located at 2 Haines Road, Tea Tree Gully. 

ART IN OUR CITY

Our Arts and Culture team have been working with a number of artists to develop a range of temporary and not so temporary outdoor artworks for Modbury. Look out for woven fences, urban jewellery, turf drawings and a number of murals. Over the next few weeks, we’ll publish project updates.

Here’s a few examples

Urban jewellery by Jessamy Pollock and Tea Tree Gully Youth.

Outside the  Library, City of Tea Tree Gully Civic Centre, 571 Montague Road Modbury.

Jessamy is a contemporary jewellery and object designer/maker with a broad practice that includes community art and small public art projects. For this skills development and public art project she taught local youth to create and install a range of jewellery pieces for the outdoor environment.

Here’s some images from the workshops at Gallery 1855 Studio

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Here’s the install and the artwork

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Artist Profile: Niki Sperou

Gallery 1855 is celebrating the 2016 Adelaide Fringe Festival this year with bioartist Niki Sperou, who is exhibiting her work in the show Matrix: the body as scaffold for the methodologies and metaphors of science.

It’s the first time Niki has displayed her work at Gallery 1855 and the first time we have featured a bioartist. By definition, Bioart  incorporates living organisms or their parts.

Since 2006 Niki has been the resident artist at the department of Medical Biotechnology, Flinders University in South Australia. She draws upon observations from her academic environment, her Greek heritage and art training to conceptualise and complete her artworks.

Her work in Matrix is colourful, unpredictable and most of all thought-provoking… there is a skeleton constructed entirely from Borax crystals, lab-grown bacteria placed in a Petri dish and a neon-coloured quilt depicting works by Australian and international bio artists, a well-known bioscience experiment and more.

All of Niki’s works look at the three-way juncture of art, science and culture, and the common threads. It’s a show that Gallery 1855 habitues will love and one that is bound to entice newcomers.

We caught up with Niki just prior to the exhibition launch on Sunday February 7, to discover more.

Tell us about Matrix – what is your exhibition about? Can you expand on bioart and what it entails?

The term Matrix comes from the Latin and translates to womb or mould; it suggests the facilitation of becoming. I chose Matrix as the title of my exhibition as it speaks to the intersection of art, science and culture. My interest is in the body transformed via recent technological innovations and as such transverses some cultural boundary or norm. Allusion is toward an augmented body, one that achieves some new potential. This is reflected in artworks which have undergone some form of transformation in their production.

Bioart incorporates living organisms or their parts. The biological realm is subject to change.

Including several sub genres Bioart encompasses; genetic art concerned with the coding of life; interventionist art which creates disturbance toward multinational corporations and their products; ecological art and the impact of the anthropocene; art which examines the future potential of biological innovations and the resulting physical, ethical and cultural impacts; the do-it-yourselfers or hackers who enjoy the freedom to utilise materials for applications other than they were designed for.

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Image: Niki Sperou, Matrix (detail), 2015, pipe cleaners, crystallised salts, dimensions variable.

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Image: Niki Sperou, Matrix (detail), 2015, pipe cleaners, crystallised salts, dimensions variable.

 

Why the interest in the field of science? Do you have a background in the field?

I have been the artist in residence at the Department of Medical Biotechnology, Flinders University since 2006. My work satisfies a curiosity toward the nature of living things as well as the language, ethics and culture of science. Art and science have much in common, they are mutually dependent on experimentation and research.

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Image: Niki Sperou, Trust, 2016, glass Petri dish, agar media, E coli bacteria, antibiotic, paper, dimensions variable. Photo: Sam Sperou


What type of artworks do you create and what about this visual medium appeals to you?

The nature of biology is mutable; this provides inspiration. Further to this, much art is to do with mimesis, working with living things creates a new form of realism. For many years I have worked with living organisms or their parts; blood, bacteria, plants, plant tissue culture. These are usually augmented with scientific media; gel growth media, hormones, antibiotics etc. However traditional art media; drawing, sculpture, textile, photography and items from the domestic are also materials with which I communicate.

I will reference some works in this exhibition; The Ode to Bioart (memory quilt) is a tongue in cheek nod to the seminal works of Bioartists I have met or written about. These images include rabbits, flowers, frogs, pigs and other forms you might see on a domestic quilt, however a second look reveals things more intriguing. It is an attempt to bring the complexities science into the domestic realm.

Trust is a work I created for Toxicity, the first major Bioart exhibition in Canada. By recreating a common experiment for the testing of antibacterials, referred to as ‘Zones of Inhibition’, outside of the laboratory and within a cultural context, the long term effects of imprudent antibiotic use becomes a subject for debate. Highlighted is a need for mindfulness as well as consideration toward the common good with regard to capitalist goods. Within both science and culture power struggles occur as bodies are subjugated and territories are colonised.

Included are photographs of white carnations infused with human blood from my Chimera series. This series is one of my seminal works and speaks to the interconnectedness of living things. At the time of its production there was much hype associated with the mapping of the gene code. We now know that the genetic difference between all living things is quite small. To some this extends to the notion of a collective consciousness.

Matrix, is a skeleton composed of a scaffold of pipe cleaners upon which Borax (a common cleaning product) crystals have been grown. The work is inspired by a lecture series I attended at an AusBiotech convention. The focus of the lectures was a desire to move away from the modernist industrial model of high heat and metal for the production of structures. Instead the soft power of low heat and organic growth was preferred. The structure of bones, a combination of flexible protein and rigid minerals was a suggested model. Since then I have witnessed a trend toward various models of biopolymer matrices to mediate the body.

What do you hope people take away from seeing your works?

I want to bring science into the everyday, to make it accessible and to subject it to critique or contemplation.

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Image: Niki Sperou, Ode to Bioart, 2016, cotton on wool, 150 x 150cm.

I hold a Bachelor of Visual Art and applied Design (Drawing), AC Arts Adelaide and Honours First Class (Sculpture), University of South Australia. In addition to this I have an Advanced Diploma in Dress Design and Garment construction. I have tutored in Art theory at UniSA and have conducted BioArt workshops since 2006 in Australia, Europe and Canada. Art and science has been the focus of articles I have written for publication. I have exhibited with and attended conferences and workshops with renown bio artists.

Can you tell us a bit about your art background, your education, previous exhibitions?What inspires you and your work?

Inspiration often comes from my cultural background; emergent are chimerical works which link Greek culture and biotechnology; fixed classical ideals clash against the fluidity of future potentials.

Dream project?  Dream exhibition?  Dream venue?

To work in collaboration with talented and inspirational artists and scientists toward a touring international bioart exposition.

Matrix officially opens at 2pm on Sunday 7 February at Gallery 1855, 2 Haines Road Tea Tree Gully. All are welcome.

Niki will also deliver a talk at the Gallery explaining Bioart and her exhibition from 1:30pm, Friday 4 March (allow approximately 1.5 hours). If you are interested, please register here

Matrix exhibition will be held at Gallery 1855 from 10 February until 19 March 2016. Opening hours are Wednesday to Saturday, noon – 5pm.

Fringe Festival Exhibition opening soon at Gallery 1855

Matrix – the body as scaffold for the methodologies and metaphors of science

Bioartist: Niki Sperou

Exhibition launch: 2pm Sunday 7 February 2016

Opening speaker: Brian Oldman, Director South Australian Museum

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Matrix, (installation detail), 2016, crystalised salts, pipe cleaner, dimensions variable. Photo: Sam Sperou.

Bioart 101

Introduction to Bioart and exhibition floor talk by Niki Sperou Gallery 1855 Studio, 1:30pm, Friday 4 March

(allow approximately 1.5 hours)

REGISTRATIONS ESSENTIAL

To register visit: http://www.teatreegully.sa.gov.au/gallery1855

 

 

 

Artist Profile: Angela Walford

Artist Angela Walford is well-known throughout the South Australian art world for her beautiful homemade ceramic pieces. Many will know her from the monthly Stirling Markets, where her gorgeous stall and big smile greet hundreds of customers coming to pore over her ceramic and pottery wares.

Angela is a regular exhibitor with Adelaide art galleries, including The Urban Cow Studio, ‘The Terrace’ in Eastwood, Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, our very own Gallery 1855, and until recently she was based at the Tea Tree Studio in Golden Grove.

This year Angela was appointed a tenant at Adelaide’s JamFactory, which supports the careers of talented South Australian artists, craftspeople and designers. Angela is currently working from the JamFactory’s Seppeltsfield base in the Barossa Valley.

We caught up with her to congratulate her and ask her a bit more about the new gig.

Congratulations on your selection as the Jam Factory’s ceramics resident at the Seppetsfield Barossa site! Can you tell us how this came about?

Cheers. I was invited by The City’s Jam Factory Ceramics Creative director Damon Moon to consider the studio and a possible move to the Barossa and after seeing the studio, it was a fairly quick but considered yes!

Now that you’re based in the Barossa Valley, what opportunities and advantages do you have for the work you do?

I think the Seppeltsfield setting presents a very unique opportunity. The space is rather large and I look forward to establishing my workspace and running many workshops here, including Raku, handmade and surface decoration.

Ang Walford

Shino bowls – by Angela Walford

What are your Seppetsfield digs like? Describe the views you have!

My space is part of the original barn, it is a heritage space and I even have an old horse tying bracket on the wall outside (whatever that thing is called!!). The space has very high ceilings and exposed beam work, complete with rustic cracks and stained walls!

What kind of ceramic works do you like to create?

My work is varied and is quite often led by the seasons. One of my faves is an oriental glaze called Shino, which I use to make stoneware fired tableware, teapots and all kinds of food presentation wares. I make decorative wall tiles and mid-fired slip decorated wares from our local terracotta clay. In the summer I make a series of white wares – ‘lil birdie’ is a favourite – and more coloured,  brightly glazed and underglazed functional wares.

Shino bowl

Shino bowl – by Angela Walford

teaset-shino

Teaset – Shino – by Angela Walford

 

Shino bowl glaze overlay

Shino bowl glaze overlay by Angela Walford

How long have you been a practising ceramic artist? What initially drew you into this type of artwork and what keeps you going?

I was drawn to ceramics in my very first year of uni and spent all of my free time in the ceramics studio – so much so that my lecturer invited me to switch streams (I was studying Fine Art at the time).

I did switch to Design but went to the Graphics studio with a future business in mind. I returned to ceramic studies at the North Adelaide School of Art, which moved to Light Square and finished my studies there. I don’t think I will ever tire of clay, its plastic nature provides a huge array of possibilities, along with the alchemy fascination.

I think there will never be enough time to make what I want to make!

You say you are inspired by the seasons. How does this affect your works in winter vs. your works in summer? Autumn vs spring?

Yes certainly. Because a lot of my work is food driven, in winter I’m drawn to make all kinds of baking and serving wares according to what you might want to cook – say curries and soup in rustic shino bowls or tagines for slow cooking.

tagine

Tagine nouveau by Angela Walford

What are you currently working on?

I just completed a round of stoneware Shino noodle bowls and dip bowls and this week I am starting on the White series and getting back into the summer range.. And as always I’m working on a few things at once!

dip-bowl-celedon-and-chun

Dip bowl celedun and chun by Angela Walford

Can you tell us something people don’t know about working with ceramics or something a bit surprising about it?

I think that clay has the imposed character of the maker, I look at the handmade wares on my kitchen shelves and I can tell you something about the personality of the maker. The handmade object brings so much more than functionality to the daily experience. It brings warmth and humanity to breakfast or dinner, it bring stories of friendships and connection. I think that is the thing with handmade, with the slow food movement too, we are realising the importance of place and ecology and how we all connect.

the-new-breed-shino

The new breed Shino – by Angela Walford

What’s the best thing about doing what you do and what would be your dream project/creation?

Well, of course I think I have the best job in the world and am so happy that I can do it and that I love what I do. I can get my day’s work done and have chats and a cuppa with my studio pals! Nothing better than watching other people make either!

Ooh dream project – more collaborations around the very things I love, handmade in clay, food and celebrating with friends and family… even something on a larger scale… I’ve just sent off work to The Cup Collaboration in Melbourne and am very much looking forward to seeing the show. Such a great idea by my friend Adriana Christianson to bring people together across the globe to make the cup in partnership – the vessel that we all enjoy.

Related Links – Check out Angela’s work at the Cup Collaboration this October:

adrianachristianson.com.au/page/the-cup-collaboration

www.facebook.com/The-Cup-Collaboration-968685596526166/timeline/

Links to Angela’s websites and Facebook page:

angdesign.com.au

angelawalfordceramics.com.au

facebook.com/angwalfordceramics

Jam Factory at Seppeltsfield