19 Jul – 8 Sep @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Joan Johnson & Kate Hallen ·
Two new exhibitions on display at Mundaring Arts Centre from 20 July – 8 September explore the landscape of dementia from the perspective of a loved one. The distinctive solo exhibitions by local artist Joan Johnson and Brisbane based artist Kate Hallen underscore the impact of the condition on both the individual and their families.
These artists tell their unique stories with distinctively different outcomes, Johnson working with sculpture and Hallen paint; to present a multi-layered and emotive response to a condition which affects many.
Sitting at the intersection of art, design and academia, Penelope Forlano’s practice is diverse. With a portfolio that ranges from bespoke furniture to large scale sculptures in venues such as Perth Airport and various metropolitan secondary schools, this WA artist, designer and researcher evades simple definition.
With its multi-faceted surface, various angles and fragmented reflections, Forlano’s sculpture Counterpoints, Edition 1 of 3 has shades of its maker. Ahead of the work’s appearance at Sculpture by the Sea: Cottesloe, Nina Levy spoke to Forlano to find out what drives her multi-stranded work.
Nina Levy: Your practice spans three disciplines – how do you describe what you do? Penelope Forlano: My career has always been related to the designing the built environment and our experience within it, but my work started shifting more into the categories of sculpture and public art.
My job title has been a steady series of slight transitions as well. My art practice is grounded in this background and my PhD with took on anthropological perspective and methods to inform my creative works.
The academic experience has consolidated what I know from practice but also given me greater insights. I explore people’s engagement with the built environment and their experiences through design, which is academically referred to as design anthropology, but I think it just causes confusion outside (and sometimes inside) the academic world.
I’m interested in how our built environment shapes us and how we shape it. I see it as all part of the same work, but a job title to encapsulate the extent of it all is hard to pin down, so I tend to go with artist, designer and researcher. If anyone has better ideas for better job title, I’m all ears!
NL: Were you interested in the visual arts as a child? At what point did you decide to pursue a career in visual art/design? PF: I was always busy making something. I never stuck to one thing only. It was when my parents and teachers thought I was destined to be an accountant that I thought, I have to be more serious about art and prove I can succeed at something other than maths! I knew I loved creating and experimenting with ideas and ways of making things, but I wasn’t a natural illustrator. It was the three-dimensional arts that I was most interested in. Theatre set design, sculpture and places that felt like another world or change how you felt got me excited about spatial design and arts. So, I haven’t really moved on from that, now that I think of it in that way.
NL: How do the various strands of your career – design, art and academia – influence one another? PF: My design, art and research all meld into each other so it all influences each other, but I don’t tend to think of them in distinct categories. Even my PhD was through creative practice so that was definitely making the disciplines intertwined.
Sometimes I think my work, as a result, is all so diverse, but then when I really boil it all down, I see constant threads and similarities. Some people have commented on the scope or diversity as unusual, or that my works are all so different – mainly because of the various mediums – but to me the designs for production and the designs that are singular and large scale or small scaled art are all so closely linked.
NL: You made your Sculpture by the Sea (SxS) debut at Bondi last year with Counterpoints, Edition 1 of 3. What made you decide to exhibit at SxS? PF: I’ve been working on many large-scale public artworks in WA. Sometimes these projects can last for years. So, I decided to exhibit at SxS Bondi to test out a different market, in a different city and with a smaller work.
Personally, I also wanted the opportunity to watch how a diversity of people of all ages and cultures, interact with artworks in the landscape. So where better to do this than the beauty and allure of Bondi or Cottesloe?
It was wonderful to respond to such an amazing place with a significant history. It’s easy to have lots of ideas on how to respond to Bondi; it’s harder deciding on one. But ultimately, I knew this was a temporary exhibition location for the artwork and because my work is typically bound to site, this gave me the chance to create something that takes on different meaning and properties in various locations. So it was initially inspired by Bondi, but then started taking on other influences as well.
NL: Tell us about the process of making Counterpoints… PF: I had completed a public artwork at Fremantle College that references the school’s specialist maritime education programs and its location close to water. The work uses stainless steel and we had worked through a number of challenges with the maker and installer to achieve the desired outcome. I thought it would be great to use this process of making for another project. Sculpture by the Sea was an appropriate fit.
I always start by researching the history of the site and its character. The solid and static nature of the 300-million-year-old Hawksbury sandstone juxtaposed by the wild and rough ocean was hard to ignore. I wanted to create something that was stone-like and ancient in form (referencing ancient stone spearheads) and also referenced the water in terms of a drop. The polished stainless-steel material gives it an ephemeral surface like water but evokes longevity as a material.
1 – 18 March @ Cottesloe Beach ·
Presented by Sculpture by the Sea ·
Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, the annual outdoor sculpture exhibition, returns to transform the famous white sands of Cottesloe Beach from 1 – 18 March 2019.
Now celebrating its 15th year, the exhibition is one of Perth’s largest free public events, attracting an estimated 250,000 visitors to explore the art and create Perth’s own version of the Italian passeggiata.
More than 70 Australian and international artists are set to showcase their work across the 18-day exhibition. Some of WA’s leading sculptors exhibiting in Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2019 include: Anne Neil, Stephen Tepper, Alessandra Rossi, Miik Green, Ron Gomboc, Jennifer Cochrane, Tim Macfarlane Reid, Tony Davis as well as leading emerging artists Britt Mikkelsen and Jina Lee.
8 Sep – 7 Oct @ 110 Avon Terrace, York ·
Presented by Community Arts Network WA ·
Experience a different view of York.
A pop-up exhibition featuring hand built clay sculptures, animation and mixed media collages that share the history of Noongar farm workers and experiences of the reserve, river, land and town through the artistic hands of many generations.
We all know the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the contemporary romantic film. She’s that off-beat, mysterious one, that free thinker who enables the male hero to shake off the shackles of his dull, suburban life… and though she may seem carefree, she’s a problematic figure, defined and delineated by her relationship to a male protagonist.
In “Magical Woman”, an art exhibition curated by Aisyah Aaqil Sumito and Sophie Nixon, she’s being utilised differently, however. A platform for six emerging female and non-binary artists to explore representations of romance in film and popular culture, “Magical Woman” invites artists to use the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope as a starting point to produce a new body of work, while taking into consideration the intersections of racism, misogyny, queer exclusion and trans exclusion. Nina Levy spoke to Sumito and Nixon to find out more.
Nina Levy: I think most of us are familiar with the concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) but can you talk about who the MPDG is and what she represents?
Sophie Nixon: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a colourful and quirky character who exists to uplift, enrich and fulfil the
lives of white-male protagonists. Think of films like 500 days of Summer, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you pay enough attention you may catch these women encouraging the male protagonist to try new things and step outside of his comfort zone.
Manic Pixie Dream Girls are characterised as having bubbly and eclectic exteriors, often partnered with underlying poor mental health; this is often romanticised as being part of their “quirk” to add seeming depth, mystery and intrigue to the character – a plot device in the central character’s narrative.
Aisyah Aaqil Sumito: Referring back to what Sophie said about encouraging centralised male characters to “live”… these characters are infantilised by their inability to communicate their feelings, how they act, and what they enjoy – while simultaneously being granted the emotional capacity to teach these men how to live their lives (almost like mothering). It’s a harmful and unrealistic representation of women that is very ingrained in our ways of seeing things. In more simple terms, it affects the way that we interact, and the warped standards that women and non-binary folk hold ourselves to – even if we don’t fit into the mould of a trope that applies to a very specific demographic.
NL: What made you decide to take the Manic Pixie Dream Girl as the starting point for this exhibition? AAS: “Magical Woman” began as a means to vent about frustrations and representations of women in media. Initially we were only planning to respond to Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope itself – a small, spunky project that we would use to rock the boat. The longer we looked for a venue, the more time I had to actually think about this particular trope and how transgressive critiquing it would actually be, and how beneficial it would be for the artists. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a trope that only applies to white cisgender women. With that considered, I wanted to encourage the artists to go a bit deeper than the trope itself, critically engaging with intersections of racism, misogyny, trans exclusion, and queer exclusion, regardless of what kind of work they decided they would make. For me it’s really important that it is distinguished as a starting point, and that our exhibition is a small contribution to an ever-expanding conversation.
NL: You’re co-curating “Magical Woman” – how did you meet? And what made you decide to work together? AAS: Sophie and I met around February 2017, for an exhibition that I curated alongside Olivia Tartaglia at City Arts Space for Propel Youth Art’s 2017 KickstART Festival “KickstARTISTS: Symbiosis”. Beyond the work we do as artists and as curators, we are good friends. Working together to embody discussions we have on a regular basis, in the form of a curated exhibition, was really beneficial and a huge learning curve for both of us.
SN: Outside of “Magical Woman”, I’m working to complete my honours in Fine Art at Curtin University and hustling odd-jobs. As Aisyah mentioned, we met within the happenings of the “Symbiosis exhibition”. I was a participating artist in mentorship with Jess Day, and Aisyah was co-curator with Olivia Tartaglia in a skillshare/mentorship context. Shortly after that, I produced work for another show that Aisyah curated alongside Claire Bushby. I remember being so in awe (still am to be honest) of Aisyah, their dedication, professionalism and how they carried themselves as a curator. For both of us, this is our first time curating independently (outside the program of a mentorship/institution). Knowing Aisyah and I were in this together made the process of applying for shows and grants so much easier, I don’t know if I would have had the same amount of courage, ambition and motivation if they weren’t there.
NL: You’re both emerging curators as well as visual artists… what draws you to curating? What are the challenges/rewards of being a curator? AAS: My first curatorial project was “KickstARTISTS: Symbiosis”, since then I’ve curated “Borders and Transitions” (in mentorship with Claire Bushby) and “The Corsini Collection: Revisited” (in mentorship with Dunja Rmandić), all of which have been hugely rewarding learning experiences. Before I took on these projects, I was really interested in the role of the curator, and how that role fostered growth for emerging artists in a gallery context. It was something I started thinking about when I visited my first Paper Mountain exhibition “Stay/Keep” (2014), curated by Melissa McGrath.
I find working with artists, pushing their conceptual development, as well as their capacity to do and be better (despite inevitably recurring moments of doubt) incredibly rewarding. For the most part, balancing unpaid administrative labour within my curatorial practice, and setting my boundaries so that I don’t burn out from overwork, have been the most challenging aspects of curating. “Magical Woman” is the first show I have co-curated beyond a mentorship context, which is both nerve-wracking and exciting.
SN: During the last year (2016) of my Bachelor of Fine Art at Curtin, I was the student coordinator of the graduate showcase exhibition, which included organising several fundraising exhibitions. This experience gave me a taste for arts management and curating. After that I completed an internship at PSAS in Fremantle under the wing of their director Tom Mùller, which saw me curate an exhibition of their studio artists.
When it comes to the opening night I usually have this moment of stillness where I really take it in: reflecting on where it started and seeing a show in its resolution. It’s a very wholesome feeling. I think that’s what drives me to keep curating. One of the most challenging things about curating for me personally is managing my time between curatorial duties and honours research.
7-23 September @ Paper Mountain ·
Presented by Drug Aware and Propel Youth Arts ·
Opening Night: Co-curators Nixon and Sumito invite everyone to come along to the official opening of Magical Woman, and to meet each of the talented artists amongst an energetic celebration of queer and women art in Perth. Opening night event will be held Friday 7 September 6-8pm in Paper Mountain’s main gallery.
Exhibition open to public: Saturday 8 – 23 September, 10am – 4pm Tuesday to Friday, and 11am – 4pm on weekends
Curator & Artist Talk: A Curator & Artist Talk event will be held in Paper Mountain’s main gallery Wednesday 12 September 6pm. Facilitated by Megan Hyde (Adjunct Teaching Fellow, Cultural Precinct, UWA) and Carly Lynch (Artist), this event will offer an in-depth view into the motivations of the artists and curators, and a reflection on the outcomes of the exhibition.
Magical Woman is a public art exhibition set to be displayed in the main gallery of Paper Mountain Artist-Run Initiative. It has been developed to provide a platform for six emerging women and non-binary artists to explore representations of romance in film and popular culture. Taking into consideration the intersections of racism, misogyny, queer exclusion and trans exclusion — artists have used the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope as a starting point to produce a new body of work.
Emerging artists, Amy McGivern, Astro Francis, Sam Huxtable, Shannon Marlborough, Natsumi de Dianous and Pip Lewi have worked closely with Sumito and Nixon. Producing work across a variety of mediums including: animation, comic art, video, installation, textile soft-sculpture and ceramics.
18 August 2018 – 7 January 2019 @ The Art Gallery of Western Australia ·
Presented by: International Art Space, various artists ·
Organised by the WA-based International Art Space, spaced 3: north by southeast brings together 11 artists from Australia and the Nordic region.
Artistic explorers of a different kind are celebrated in spaced 3: north by southeast. Six Australian artists completed artistic residencies in the Nordic heartlands of Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden and five Nordic artists find their place in Western Australia’s rural and remote communities. Using sculpture, video, photography and installation, this show is an enlightening series of windows onto the world we know, and the world we have yet to understand.
The decision to place artists in regional and remote locations is motivated by the fact that even small and seemingly isolated towns are affected by global economic, environmental and social forces. The interplay between the strong sense of local identity, which is typical of these communities, and the effects of globalisation provides a fertile ground for artists to explore.
Robyn Backen (NSW), Michelle Eistrup (Denmark), Gustav Hellberg (Sweden), Deborah Kelly (NSW), Danius Kesminas (VIC), Tor Lindstrand (Sweden), Heidi Lunabba (Finland), Dan McCabe (WA), Linda Persson (Sweden), Keg de Souza (NSW), Sam Smith (NSW).
6 July – 4 August @ Turner Galleries ·
Presented by Turner Galleries ·
Opening 6pm Friday 6 July.
Artist talks 3pm Saturday 7 July.
Exhibition closes Saturday 4 August
Frontier, by Melbourne based artist Richard Giblett, is a suite of new and recent artworks consisting of meticulously hand painted works on paper and two sculptures. Drawing inspiration from advertising, luxury goods, architecture, city lights, refineries and urban networks, the artist both questions and pays homage to the needs of our city based lives.
Review: “Sensual Nature”, various artists ·
Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Review by Jenny Scott ·
Featuring works by twelve Australian artists, “Sensual Nature” explores our sensorial engagement with nature, considering the ways we perceive, interpret and project onto our natural environment.
Developed from an idea by Lia McKnight and curated by Dr Ric Spencer, the exhibition examines our participation in nature through the lens of personal bodily experiences, whether it be the common impulse to collect stones or fallen flowers, or our role as hosts to internal parasites.
The skilled craftsmanship of all participating artists encourages our sustained contemplation, with the majority of the works featuring a fine, sometimes hypnotic level of detail, from the delicate stippling technique used in the drawings of Tane Andrews, to the carefully stitched face of Nalda Searles’ life-size Hay Skull.
With an emphasis on materiality, the small-scale sculptural works each have a directly relatable physical presence – it’s easy to imagine running your fingers over their surfaces, or fitting the objects neatly into your hands (but remember, don’t actually touch the art).
The sensuality of “Sensual Nature” sometimes involves eroticism, although without an “ecosexual” explicitness – there is the playful innuendo of Julia Robinson’s strange gourds, and the camp beauty of Andrew Nicholls’ reclining male nudes.
Other works simultaneously inspire a sense of mild repulsion, such as Juz Kitson’s Life and everything in-between (2017), a seductively lush yet disturbing pastel assemblage of scrotum-esque blown glass, fox pelt, porcelain scales, boar tusks and more. For an exhibition encouraging “sensory immersion”, the addition of an audiovisual work or similarly lavish large-scale installation would also have been welcome.
There is a subtle corporeal intimacy to Spellbound (2018), Holly Story’s suspended line of banksia flowers. Wrapped in silk organza, the flower heads have been tightly sewn into bulging packages, with their stems pressed down like coarse hair under stockings.
In another mixed media work, Sixteen chambers with velvet upholstery (2014), Nalda Searles has used finely stitched velvet to clothe semi-hollowed roots found in the process of bardi (grub) collecting by Aboriginal women. Such a decadent fabric highlights the sinuous forms of the roots, endowing the natural debris of food gathering with a higher significance. Once temporarily valued for their now-eaten contents, these remodelled roots become established as “artefacts”, and encourage new associations with ritual and the uncanny.
The works of Sarah Elson similarly elevate and transform organic matter as she collects soft, fragile plant materials before casting them in molten metal. In Elson’s exhibited works the pollinating lips of orchids are collated and reborn in a spine-like chain, while a series of wilting flower buds are transformed into durable, sharp weapons designed for a “new ecology”.
Delving into ideas of environmentalism, decolonisation, and anthropocentrism, “Sensual Nature” presents our natural environment as evocative and fertile grounds for artistic contemplation, and encourages us to examine our subconscious associations with, and sensuous experience of, the living world.
Finding sensuality in organic objects is one of the central ideas behind “Sensual Nature”, an exhibition that opens at Fremantle Arts Centre, March 29. It’s a concept that comes from one of the 12 artists whose work is featured in the exhibition, WA’s Lia McKnight. A curator as well as an artist, McKnight tells Seesaw’s Nina Levy more about her career in the arts and the ideas that drive her work.
Nina Levy: Is it challenging being a curator but also finding time to make your own work? Lia McKnight: Yes, it’s very difficult to find the creative energy and the time to do both. For that reason, I made a choice many years ago not to take on projects as an independent curator – it was just too hard to have a family, a job, curate shows AND be an artist. I have been fortunate to be able to curate (or co-curate) three exhibitions over the past few years as part of my role as collection manager at the John Curtin Gallery. I do find that I tend to work less on my own creative projects during these times.
NL: When did you know that you wanted to be an artist? And how did you find your way to making a sustainable career in the arts? LM: We always had art materials in my home when I was growing up – my mum was an art teacher and very creative herself. After I left school I went straight into a teaching degree as it didn’t seem at all possible to be an artist. I ended up changing courses a few times and doing other things until I finally went back to do a visual arts degree when I was 22. I knew then that I was in the right place and it was wonderful. Being an artist in the “real world” is much harder than art school though and it was a long time until I was in a position to really prioritise that. At the end of the day, it’s a lot of hard work and persistence.
NL: Your bio states, “Privileging lived experience and emotional geographies as areas of intrigue, [Lia McKnight’s] work seeks to speculate on the shifting parameters of identity and context.” Tell me more! LM: This is a rather convoluted way of saying that I am interested in the everyday – what we feel and experience, as well as the objects and environments that we live with. This includes psychological states, dreams and the unconscious. You could draw connections to an artist like Louise Bourgeois who created work that directly referenced her own internal reality and memories or experiences of her childhood. In this way, aspects of life that have traditionally been framed as feminine (and therefore lesser), such as emotion, domestic realms and so on, are provided equal status to, or primacy over, intellect.
I am interested in the ways in which we identify ourselves and the things around us and how this is constantly changing depending on a vast range of factors. To give an example, the sourced imagery and collected objects that I reference in my work have been found around the bushland and coastline where I regularly walk: places close to my home outside Fremantle. They are humble and everyday objects but placed and arranged in my studio, they become precious. This particularly became the case last year when some of the places I walked were bulldozed as part of the Roe 8 project. The banksia nuts, balga resin and sticks I had collected became like artefacts or sacred objects. To cycle back to that original sentence, my drawings and sculptures find inspiration in collected objects from the natural environment, while also revealing the darker, uncanny world of the psyche.
NL: “Sensual Nature” has been developed from an idea that is credited to you. What was the original idea? How did it land up being developed into this exhibition? LM: I proposed a solo exhibition to Fremantle Arts Centre and there were a number of themes and ideas described within my proposal that resonated with curator Ric Spencer. I spoke about the sensual experience of objects and ways in which imagery of natural or organic forms can connect to the subconscious, the erotic and the uncanny. There were also connections to broader environmental concerns. Ric and I are both interested in the writings of cultural ecologist and philosopher David Abram who describes the possibility of an active participation with nature, saying, “Perception is a kind of improvised dance with the world, a dynamic interaction between my sensing body and the sensuous landscape.”
Ric could see the potential for this to be broader than one small personal story and there are now eleven other amazing artists on board.
NL: Tell me about the work you have made for “Sensual Nature” LM: I have created a series of ink and graphite drawings that interweave imagery of collected findings from the natural environment with a kind of process-driven “stream of consciousness” technique. I have also created a number of sculptural works that combine ceramics and textiles that I describe as “uncanny assemblages”. There is a dark humour to many of these works and they all shift between the real and imagined.
NL: What is your favourite playground equipment? LM: Ooh I love a good slide. Or if it’s an extra cool playground, the flying fox!