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Reviews/Visual Art

Refreshing insights found close to home

14 July 2021

From the footy field to the backyard, Cool Change Contemporary’s four thought-provoking July exhibitions explore local experiences, discovers Belinda Hermawan.

Makuru/July 2021 exhibitions at Cool Change Contemporary; Naomie Hatherley, Tyrown Waigana, Phoebe Kelly, Azadeh Hamzeii ·

It’s the little and local things that are at the heart of four exhibitions currently showing at Cool Change Contemporary.

The gallery’s Makuru/July 2021 program invites audiences into hidden and quiet histories. The result is a refreshing selection of multidisciplinary works that encourage us to appreciate how seemingly small, localised experiences may offer great insight into the way we view ourselves and the world we inhabit.

“Keeping Score”, Naomie Hatherley ·

Rubibi/Broome-based artist Naomie Hatherley celebrates the tenacity of women in Australian rules football by casting a spotlight on the oft-overlooked history of the women’s game.

Tin score plates once used on regional scoreboards are utilised as a unique canvas in each of the five Keeping Score artworks (2020-2021), the plates hung up over collaged newspaper articles. The players are depicted in action, their bodies bursting forth from the numbers in joyful, monochromatic colour. Whether the numbers are dates or tallied scores, these athletes transcend any suggestion that they are less committed or physical than their male counterparts.

It’s a point also made in The Granny (2021). The frenetic paint strokes depict speed and distance in this series of four panels that Hatherley painted in real time over four quarters of the 2021 AFLW Grand Final. Paired with the installed audio in Gallery 1, the quadtych evokes the feeling of being in the crowd; you’ll want to cheer for these women, and all women, to be awarded the same respect as men.

Tin score plays hand in rows and columns, each with a single digit number and an image of a woman playing football superimposed on top. Behind the plates are what look like newspaper articles.
Joyful monochromatic colour: Naomie Hatherley, ‘Keeping Score- Her Rules, Her Game (West Kimberley Football League, Women)’. Installation View. See bottom of page for more info. Photo: Courtesy of Rose Kingdom-Barron

“Morality Isn’t Relevant”, Tyrown Waigana ·

Wadandi Noongar and Ait Koedhal artist Tyrown Waigana offers us his take on the surreal, with a playful collection of colourful paintings and sculptures in Gallery 2.

Acrylic painting More People Have Worms Than Dogs (2021) contains a multitude of differently styled cartoon creatures placed in, around, atop and through each other. While the sunny yellow and cobalt blue give the impression of binary night and day, this world is unlimited by traditional ideas of uniformity, scale and perspective.

Similarly unexpected is It Must Be Hard to Take the Piss Dickhead (2021), a cheeky portrait of a monster in a suit and tie, its head a pale pink phallus with four legs and a barbed wire halo.

It’s hard not to smile at the long-limbed, potato-like character in the sculpture Be Scared and Laugh (2021, pictured top) and its forlorn expression while driving a jeep a third of its body size. In portraying the improbable and fantastical through cartoon faces, exaggerated limbs and appendages, and a distorted sense of scale, Waigana positions us to consider how we interact with reality – perhaps we are bigger or bolder than we think we are.

Deeply nostalgic: Phoebe Kelly’s ‘Light Marks’, 2021. Installation View. Photo: Courtesy of Rose Kingdom-Barron

“Light Marks”, Phoebe Kelly

In Gallery 3, Phoebe Kelly’s sculptural and photographic works act as mementos with a quiet but deep nostalgia.

I found the most affecting piece to be the bronze cast Turning in dusk (2021), wax, bronze, silk, steel frame, installed on the wall in a black arm bracket as if it is a signpost or a book to be taken off a shelf. The cast is a literal slice of personal history – three family members gathered in a private moment on the banks of the water – as though an old sepia-toned photograph has been set in a sheet of candlewax, illuminated by sunlight in the present day.

In contrast is the installation and small scale of the seven bronze cast leaves of Sage from my backyard (2020) which sit inconspicuously on the window sill. It was surprisingly easy to overlook, my eye drawn to other artworks despite the metallic sheen and preserved detail, a metaphor, perhaps, for the way our recollections may be permanent or transient, regardless of how meaningful the original experiences were.

A captivating rediscovery of traditional practice: ‘A Tool is a Tool’, digital video, 2021. Commissioned by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in collaboration with Metro Art (Brisbane). 7min56sec. Photo: Courtesy of Rose Kingdom-Barron

“A Tool is a Tool”, Azadeh Hamzeii

In the video artwork A Tool is a Tool (2021), Azadeh Hamzeii’s subject is a cotton fluffing tool originally used in Iran. The video cleverly intertwines two storylines: Hamzeii’s mother searching for the tool among local bedding vendors and manufacturers in Tehran, and Hamzeii’s quest to build a cotton fluffing tool in cooperation with her local Men’s Shed in Brisbane.

The result is a captivating rediscovery of a traditional practice and the relationships we can forge through creating something together. Largely made redundant by machinery, the cotton fluffing bow is reminiscent of a large scale version of a violin bow and is used to fluff up dense clumps of cotton. The Men’s Shed participants and Hamzeii document their progress with footage of choreographed movements – action of materials being positioned and power tools in hand. This echoes footage from Tehran, in which Hamzeii’s mother and a worker remark on how the cotton is “dancing” as the worker uses a mallet on the bow string. The same striking motion is then replicated on the other side of the world, in Brisbane. 

Whether looking back or forward and beyond, Cool Change Contemporary’s thought-provoking July exhibitions are well worth checking out.

These four exhibitions continue at Cool Change Contemporary, until 24 July 2021.

A closing event will be held 6-8pm, Friday 23 July at Cool Change Contemporary.

Pictured top: Tyrown Waigana. 2021. ‘Morality Isn’t Relevant’. Installation View. Photo: Courtesy of Rose Kingdom-Barron.

More info about photograph of ‘Keeping Score- Her Rules, Her Game (West Kimberley Football League, Women)’:
Left: Keeping Score: ‘Her Rules, Her Game (West Kimberley Football League, Women)’. Oil on recycled tin plates, paper on ply. 120x90cm Growth in teams (left) and players (right) from 64 players in 2016 (bottom), to 347 players in 2021 (top)
Right: ‘Keeping Score: WA Participation (West Australian Football League, Women)’. Oil on recycled tin plates, paper on ply. 120x103cm. Women’s participation from approximately 300 in 1988, 4650 in 2012 quintupled in a single year to 22,599 in 2013, 72,388 in 2016 and 109,647 in 2019 prior to COVID-19.

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Author —
Belinda Hermawan

Belinda Hermawan is a graduate of UWA Law School (2009) and a fiction writer whose short fiction has been published in Australia and the United States. She is a summer school alum of Parsons, The New School of Design in New York. Favourite piece of playground equipment: playground car on springs!

Past Articles

  • A triumph of scope

    Fremantle Arts Centre’s annual ‘Revealed’ exhibition of works by new and emerging WA Aboriginal artists is an exciting and engaging collection, writes Belinda Hermawan.

  • Paper Cut draws blood

    Against the backdrop of rallies for an end to violence against women, the agitation for change in Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery’s ‘Paper Cut’ is at once historical and timely, finds Belinda Hermawan.

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