Congratulations to all the artists!
Congratulations to all the artists!
The Fringe Festival is around the corner and we are about to launch our bi-annual ceramics exhibition Hills Edge Clay. We’re presenting the work of 20 Adelaide based artists, including Lauren Abineri, Alison Arnold, Amelia Castellucci, Anna Couper, Jo Crawford, Nikki Dowdell, James Edwards, John Feguson, Helen Fuller, Philip Hart, Marie Littlewood, Sunshine March, Sophia Phillips, Sami Porter, Alison Smiles, Merrilyn Stock, Silvia Stansfield, Samone Turnbull, Mark Valenzuela and Angela Walford.
Tea Tree Gully has a certain affinity with clay – historically (in terms of porcelain clay mining) and creatively (in terms of the local community’s interest and engagement in ceramic art). Since Gallery 1855 opened, we have worked towards deepening this affinity by connecting South Australian ceramic artists with the community through Hills Edge Clay and other creative development activities.
Exhibition launch: Sunday 5 February 2017 | Opening speaker: Klaus Gutowski, ceramic artist | Exhibition continues until Saturday 18 March | Images: Alison Smiles, Koala Jars, 2016, South Ice porcelain, glaze, gas reduction fired; Sophia Philips, Seed and Wreath, 2016, porcelain, wire; Merrilyn Stock, Diving on coral, 2017, Celadon glazed, southern ice porcelain; Helen Fuller, Vide poche, 2016, Terracotta, slip, oxide; Marie Littlewood, Tri pods, 2016, raku clay, glaze.
Gallery 1855 is currently featuring two paper-based exhibitions by two Adelaide artists:
I heart paper by Ellen Schlobohm, is a ‘love letter’ from the artist to her chosen medium, reflecting on the true beauty of paper & Ink works by Cathy Gray, a collection of intricate pen and ink patterns on paper.
Both exhibitions demonstrate an intuitive approach to design and to the materiality of paper, but in very different ways. Cathy has focused on abstract black and white pattern designs, while Ellen’s approach to her intricate paper cuts is more relaxed and conceptual.
More about the artists and their work:
Cathy Gray (in her own words)
My pen is my constant companion. It has enabled me to express myself freely over the various periods of my life.
So, with only pen and paper I begin with a dot. My work is rarely planned. I prefer to let each piece evolve and guide me. This approach gives me freedom from expectations. The majority of my work takes the form of a circle. For me the circle transcends time, cultural boundaries and evokes harmony and peace. It reflects wholeness and our interconnection to the world around us. In the beginning is the end and in the end is the beginning.
I draw exclusively in black and white. In all of the complexity of my art, restricting the colour palate to black and white brings with it certain stillness and simplicity. While a coloured palate enables you to glance at a picture and see the colours, black and white forces you to stop and look deeper into the piece; allowing you to see the story behind the art.
Ellen Schlobohm (in her own words)
‘I heart paper’ is a love letter from a paper artist to the medium in which I work.
My skills have been tested as I’ve pushed the boundaries of practice to reveal the true beauty of paper. Several of my pieces include thread or other intricate 3D elements.
Other works acted as skill testers, challenging me to see just how small I can cut.
My work is created by meticulously cutting away paper by hand to leave behind delicate tableaus. I’m drawn to paper as a medium for its simplicity and strength. I also delight in watching this humble material come to life as I make each cut and the image is revealed.
I have expanded my arts practice to include other artistic avenues such as screen-printing, installation and mixed media works. This year I’ve taken part in several exhibitions and was a finalist in the Emma Hack Art Prize with my work The Eyes – a papercut photograph featuring my sister.
Cathy and Ellen’s work is on display at Gallery 1855 from now until Friday 24 December.
Adelaide designer Margie Kenny’s illustrations at Gallery 1855 are vibrant, charming and yet thought provoking.
Her latest exhibition Connected explores the idea that all creatures and nature are connected and that life is an incredible force.
A childhood spent in the Adelaide Hills impressed on Margie a love for nature and a passion for conserving native habitats and species. Her illustrations aim to capture nature in a way that brings joy to viewers and an awareness of the role we all play in preserving the environment.
Tell us about your artistic background.
I always loved art and design in school, and went on to university to study a Bachelor of Education specialising in Design. I then worked as a graphic designer and illustrator in the areas of health and education, and began teaching design at UniSA. I have exhibited in several group exhibitions, and this is my first solo exhibition.
What is your current exhibition at Gallery 1855, Connected about?
Connected is about how nothing happens in isolation on our planet – all creatures and habitat have an effect on one another. Creatures are so closely connected to their habitat. It’s a celebration of the beauty of nature – from wildlife across the world to a ladybird in the backyard garden. The exhibition also highlights a connection we may not be so proud of – the rapid loss of habitat and wildlife through deforestation to feed our consumption of palm oil in processed food and household products.
Why is the natural world so important to you?
My love of nature goes back to my early childhood growing up surrounded by scrub and native wildlife in the Adelaide Hills. The natural world supports the life of all creatures including humans, and without it we could not survive.
What concerns you about the world we live in?
There is an alarming rate of change in the natural world primarily at the hands of the human race, and I believe as individuals we can have a more positive influence on change. For example, there are critically endangered species losing their habitat and lives through rapid deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations – while we continue to consume palm oil which is hidden in a high percentage of supermarket products and processed food. It can go completely unnoticed to many of us, even to those who are nature lovers.
Where and how do you make your works?
Several of my pieces are detailed and realistic in tone and form and are produced in my studio by hand, using graphite pencil or biro with my own photographs as reference when drawing (e.g. Turning tide, Nature’s fine line and Microclimate).
Some of my most recent pieces (e.g. Habitat and Uncertain future) begin with an idea that is drawn roughly on layout paper then progressed to a final accurate line drawing. These drawings are then scanned onto the computer, and hand drawn/painted colour textures are also scanned and cut to shape and combined with the line work in Photoshop software. The final illustrations are then printed at a high resolution onto cotton rag paper for a high quality finish.
What you hope people take away from seeing these works?
I hope the work brings joy and inspiration to the audience, and perhaps a renewed awareness of the role we all play as consumers. Informative bookmarks are available to take home to enjoy and to help identify palm oil in products we buy.
What are you working on next?
I’d like to further explore the idea of habitat and endangered species, focusing on the concerns but also on the positive work being done in Australia and overseas on rescuing and reintroducing wildlife into habitats. In the process I will also be exploring illustrative styles for my own development as an illustrator.
Connected is a Gallery 1855 exhibition at 2 Haines Road in Tea Tree Gully, from 12 October until 12 November 2016.
Paper and multimedia artist Catherine Hewitt recently exhibited her work in Remnant Formations at Gallery 1855 during SALA Festival 2016.
Hewitt’s interest in geology and love of nature walks prompted her latest work, part of her ongoing investigation into how landscape formations are interpreted by tourists, collectors or purveyors.
Both natural and manmade materials are used for clash and harmony in her works, to depict ancient landscape formations. Soft and yielding materials like seagrass and cotton rag are used as a foil against grittier elements like copper, steel and rust.
What or who has made a great impression on you?
I have always had a keen interest in art since I was a child – my father in particular encouraged me to paint- he bought me some paints and took me with him when he was out painting (painting for him was a hobby). Whilst studying graphic design in Tasmania I also took courses in photography and printmaking and enjoyed being able to combine these related mediums. I’ve worked in freelance design and for a number of years had a stall at various markets in Tasmania. I moved to South Australia at the end of 2004 with my two children.
The following year I started working at the Hahndorf Academy where I met Regine Schwarzer with whom I am currently exhibiting. We both did the Masters by Coursework at UniSA at the same time and have exhibited together over the last few years.
Your current exhibition at Gallery 1855, Remnant Formations references mineral and rock formations. Is geology a personal area of interest of yours?
Yes! Actually, I would say that science in general is of interest to me – it often provides the grist for my mill! I like to walk and when I do, sometimes I find things of interest and I like to find out what these things are – where they fit in the ecosystem, what role do they play.
For example the group of handmade paper lanterns in the exhibition titled of a gorgeous nothing are a result of finding a seagrass ball (then hundreds more!) on Goolwa beach.
Likewise the embossing titled Lithos is my interpretation of limestone rock formed from marine particles. Once while walking on North Keppel Island, I found a small disc with a hole in the centre – then I found many more and many years later I found out what they were – Foraminifera.
I do like rocks and the whole geological interconnected process – how mountains are formed, the different types of rocks, the layering, the colours, the erosion that results in beaches.
A few months ago Regine and I both went on a hiking trip to the Flinders Ranges. I had never been there. Walking through the various gorges and seeing all the striping in the rocks was wonderful. In fact, the oxides that I have used in some of the work come from there.
How did you begin this collection? Was there something in particular that triggered its development?
This collection of work is a continuation of previous work. I am really interested in how our landscape is formed and how we define and delineate that landscape. I find maps and mapping very interesting. Previously I had used digital photography to represent this and for this exhibition I wanted to leave the computer and return to something more hands-on.
You say the production processes mimics the natural, in terms of how you have interpreted minerals, rocks and sand in your work. Is this easier to do than it sounds?
It was not something that we set out to do, rather that it was something already happening within our processes.
In nature nothing is wasted, everything is used, transformed, merged; there is erosion, heat, and reforming of materials. As artists we do the same, working with the materials of our choice. Metals are shaped by applied pressure, cutting and heat; stones are cut and shaped and placed with the metal; paper from plant matter is broken down and reformed.
What would you love to work on in the future, or who would you like to collaborate with?
I will continue with what I am doing at the moment knowing that one thing always leads to another, even if there is a break sometimes. I always enjoy working with Regine and love the way our work sits together. Another artist I would like to collaborate is metal sculptor, Astra Parker.
This month local community artist, writer and filmmaker Mona Khizam is co-hosting (along with artist Catherine Buddle) 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…
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:
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:
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 work 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.
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.
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.
‘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?
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 visual arts facility with a fantastic range of exhibitions, talks and workshops 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 co-host an visual art and writing workshop, where participants will explore their own stories and then interpret them using visual art. Are you a writer yourself, who has a serious interest in the visual arts?
I am both a writer and an artist. The workshop, Identity, Memory and Place, is an opportunity for participants 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.
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 ;
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about art, culture and There but for the grace of God, go I…
Talia Dawson’s paintings are being shown at Gallery 1855 as part of the 2016 SALA Festival.
Colourful, cheery yet delicate, Talia’s works celebrate the native flora of South Australia. Flowers and plants are her endless inspiration. She regularly travels around her home state to see native species up close and record their features for new works. Talia is in her final year at the University of South Australia, as she works towards becoming an art teacher.
Talia’s paintings will be on display at Gallery 1855 until Saturday 24 September 2016.
What’s 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.
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?
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 paintings, 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?
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.