15 Jun – 9 Sep @ Art Gallery of WA ·
Presented by Art Gallery of WA ·
A collection display featuring a range of (largely) ceramic works that showcase the way some of thenation’s and world’s best makers create sequences and clusters of objects. These works explore the idea that hand-making is so often about incremental and subtle shifts in focus and form, as a style and an artistic approach comes into being over time, and from form to form to form. In this mode, we might observe that singular entities in a maker’s output resemble “family groupings”.
The works selected to open this out are incredibly subtle and reserved and can be experienced as a series of the most delicate gestures and expressions of a material poetics that create, even quietly demand, a contemplative space around them. Other material looks at the ways seriality creates the conditions for meditative experience, while others still, are composed of various kinds of parts that speak to formal relationships within individual works whilst foregrounding their inventive (and often oddball) conversations with the larger world of modern and contemporary ceramic practice.
The display includes recent and older acquisitions by makers such as Ron Nagle, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Margaret West and Sandra Black amongst many others.
Ricky Swallow Fig. 2 2009 (detail). Jelutong (Dyera costulata), 82 x 38 x 25 cm. State Art Collection,
Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation:
6 Jul – 7 Oct @ Art Gallery of WA ·
Presented by Art Gallery of WA and Janet Holmes à Court Collection ·
This major exhibition explores the abundant beauty of the botanical world and the threats that assail it.
The Botanical: Beauty and Peril draws from the renowned collection of Janet Holmes à Court and the AGWA Collection to present a vivid, involving and sometimes disturbing journey through the diverse representation by Australian artists of the glorious kingdom of plants.
From wildflower rooms to bush fire photography, the show both celebrates the natural beauty of landscapes and plants, and raises bracing issues about environmental destruction and the land rights of Australia’s First Peoples. By turns immersive, stimulating, moving and inspiring, the exhibition is designed to stimulate conversations about our botanical world and how we live in it, and live with it.
A number of events will run in conjunction with this exhibition, including a climate change panel discussion, symposium, guided tours, collector talk, curator tours, workshops and much more. Visit the website to plan your visit.
Part of the What On Earth project at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery (opens May), Midland Junction Arts Centre (Aug), Mundaring Arts Centre (Sep) and Kings Park Festival (Sep).
4 May – 5 Aug @ Art Gallery of WA ·
Presented by Art Gallery of WA, TJYLLYUNGOO/Lance Chadd ·
Ibelongyoubelongwebelong presents a series of work that reflects the artist’s Aboriginal spirituality and cultural research on connection to country, in particular the Boorongurup (Porongorup Ranges), the oldest granite formation on Earth. Boorongurup is an important place for Bibbulmun Peoples and the most important Winartj sacred place on Country.
TJYLLYUNGOO/Lance Chadd is a Bibbulmun Nyoongar/Budimia Yamatji man, born in the south-west of WA. His work emphasises Aboriginal spirituality with its deep connection and unity of land, people, animals and plants. His work offers an easy access to reflect on how each of us belong and connect to all that is around us.
13 Feb – 28 Jul @ Art Gallery of WA ·
Presented by Art Gallery of WA ·
AGWA is home for the next few months to one of Australia’s iconic colonial-era paintings. Tom Roberts’ Shearing the rams on loan from the National Gallery of Victoria until late July, in return for the loan of one of AGWA’s much-loved paintings, Droving into the light, which features in the NGV exhibition Hans and Nora Heysen: Two Generations of Australian Art.
Shearing the rams hangs alongside AGWA’s own Down on his luck by Frederick McCubbin, and gives you a rare opportunity to see these two great nationalistic narrative paintings side-by-side. Both works take rural subject matter as the starting point for their images of Australian identity, but Roberts presents a positive vision of the pastoral industry, far removed from McCubbin’s image of a struggling pioneer.
Roberts based his painting on sketches made in a shearing shed in country New South Wales. The close observation of details and atmospheric effects, together with the sense of this being a snapshot of a fleeting moment, gives the painting an aura of ‘truth’, which has helped to secure its popularity for many generations. It is a great example of Roberts’ statement that if art is “the perfect expression of one time and place, it becomes art for all time and of all places”.
9 Mar – 13 May @ Art Gallery of WA ·
Presented by Art Gallery of WA ·
The Tom Malone Prize is a highly respected national event within the Australian glass art community. Glass is one of the most exciting and dynamic art forms in this country. It is a uniquely captivating medium, capable of almost endless transformation. Glass provides a perfect vehicle for the exploration of a range of themes, from the personal to the observational, and Australian makers are some of the world leaders in the medium.
Each year, the Tom Malone Prize presents new works by many of Australia’s best glass artists. In 2019, the exhibition features the work of Lewis Batchelor (SA), Clare Belfrage (SA), Matthew Curtis (ACT), Liam Fleming (SA), Mark Eliott (NSW), Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello (ACT), Marc Leib (WA), Jeremy Lepisto (ACT), Nick Mount (SA), Stephen Skillitzi (SA), Anne Sorensen (WA), and Kayo Yokoyama (NSW).
The Tom Malone Prize has played an integral role in the Gallery’s acquisition of works by Australia’s most inspiring, innovative and accomplished artists in this medium. Capturing some of the diversity in the approaches to glass in Australia, the Prize showcases key trends in glass art and the incredible skills of the makers. Now in its 17th year, the Tom Malone Prize continues with the support of Ms Sheryl Grimwood, AGWA Foundation Benefactor.
Tom Malone Prize 2019 will be on display at AGWA 9 March – 13 May 2019. The winner of the $15,000 acquisitive prize will be announced on 12 March 2019.
Perth Festival review: Art Gallery of WA, ‘Desert River Sea’ ·
Art Gallery of Western Australia ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·
Step into the world of “Desert River Sea”, at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, and the expansiveness of this Perth Festival exhibition is striking. Delve further and you will discover that this sense of breadth is about much more than installation choices.
“Desert River Sea” is the culmination of an extensive six-year research and development project between the Art Gallery of WA (AGWA) and Aboriginal artists and art centres throughout the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Documenting, commissioning and exhibiting works expressing the cultural and artistic life of the area, the project bridges the distance between the Kimberley and Perth, and – in turn – between art centres and artists working throughout the Kimberley, who are often just as isolated from one another. The resulting exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of the art practices and important cultural narratives embedded in the Kimberley region and spanning the past half-century of Aboriginal art centre production and individual creative practice.
This spirit of collaboration and the establishment of networks between art centres, language groups and geographic locations permeates the exhibition itself. Whilst “Desert River Sea” is divided into separate galleries titled Commissions (works made especially for the exhibition), Legacy (works selected by Indigenous curators for their cultural and historical importance) and the State Collection (works drawn from AGWA’s existing collection as well as some private collectors), stories and images thread their way throughout the exhibition and between the galleries.
Passed from generation to generation, these stories often date back an untold number of years. The Wandjina (spirits) float through the skies in new works by the Kira Kiro Collective, a collaboration of works by artists Betty Bundamurra, Mary Punchi Clement, Mercy Fredericks, Mrs Taylor, and Valerie Mangolamara celebrating the seasons, animals and spiritual practices of the artists’ Country. In the State Art Collection, this Wandjina figure appears again, in Alec Mingelmanganu’s ochre on bark piece from c.1972-74. Wanjina images are present, too, in much of the ancient rock art of the area. As I traversed the exhibition, I saw that such conversations abound between the separate galleries, with stories, artists and locations arising multiple times, refusing to stay firmly in the past or present.
As the curator’s introduction reminds us, whilst art from the Kimberley does not conform to any one medium, subject or style, what unites all work from the area is the synthesis of artwork, story and Country – Kimberley art is what it is because it carries the essence of the Kimberley itself. It is no surprise, then, that many of the works are made through collaboration or by collectives, with the act of making or developing the work as much a part of sharing cultural knowledge as the presentation of the final works.
Central to the exhibition is the stunning installation by Waringarri Aboriginal Artists, which takes as a starting point the cultural practice of Wirnan, or exchange. Comprising video projection as well as an installation of important artefacts used in the ceremony, the work provides an insight into the particularities of the ceremony for viewers, whilst also successfully synthesising old and new materials – paperbark and stone, through to metal, wood, and film.
This use of traditional and new technology features strongly throughout the other commissioned pieces in “Desert River Sea”. Warmun Art Centre’s commissions are both paintings and new animations based on paintings, celebrating the multiple ways in which stories can be communicated and voices heard. This is also an inter-generational act of knowledge exchange. Many of the paintings are by senior artists, whose stories of living on stations and experiencing first-hand the effects of violent frontier colonialism – such as Kathy Ramsey’s emotional Mistake Creek Massacre (2018) – are passed on to the younger generation, not only through their paintings and stories but through experimentation with digital media. This combination of traditional and contemporary forms of art-making continues, from luminously bright and colourful acrylic paints on cow hide of the Mangkaja artists to the pool salt used in Daniel Walbidi’s installation Wirnpa (2016-19).
In a similar manner, the concerns and local issues presented throughout the exhibition traverse time, from massacres and slavery to life on colonial cattle stations, and into present concerns about the impact of environmental disaster, land grabs by mining corporations, and native title settlements. This responsiveness to the present as well as the ongoing impact of past trauma is, perhaps, typified by curator Lynley Nargoodah’s selection of works on paper by Mangkaja artists, all of which address the importance of water as a life-giving and life-saving resource that is increasingly threatened by the environmental impact of fracking, mining and agriculture. It is not just the recently commissioned works that look to the future of life in the Kimberley, but historical and legacy works as well.
The stories and art practices in “Desert River Sea” gesture towards not only the vibrancy of the region, but the strength of spirit and survival of Aboriginal artists and art centre workers seeking to ensure this living and responsive cultural legacy continues into the future in a generous and thoughtful exhibition that is an honour and a privilege to witness.
Pictured top: Helicopter Joey Tjungurrayi, “Wangkartu'” 2017, kiln fired glass, 31.2 x 21.7 cm, courtesy Warlayirti Artists.
Review: Andrew Nicholls, “Hyperkulturemia” ·
Art Gallery of Western Australia ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·
The Grand Tour was an exclusive educational holiday, primarily undertaken by sons of the aristocratic class in Britain, to “finish off” their education, escape the repressions of British society and assert themselves as the cultural, political and social elite. Andrew Nicholls’ “Hyperkulturemia” at the Art Gallery of Western Australia takes this narrative, with all of its implied debauchery, experimentation and excess, and slyly pokes fun at its over-the-top, camp style, whilst imagining and enacting the kind of pleasures these men may have experienced whilst touring the classical sites of Europe. It’s tongue-in-cheek, camp and slyly humorous, but also reflects deeply on the narratives of masculinity and its connections to culture and power, both in the past and present.
A combination of drawing, ceramics and photography, the exhibition takes as its starting point the affliction of its name – “hyperkultumeria” translates to “too much culture in the blood”. This affliction was thought to be a cause of the possibly-fictional Stendhal syndrome, named after the 19th century French writer Stendhal who spoke of the ecstasy he felt when faced with the immense artistic beauty of Florence’s city and museums – so much so that he collapsed into a faint. As recently as 2018, a tourist suffered a heart attack in front of a Botticelli, an occurrence that is echoed in the photographs that guide the viewer into Nicholls’ exhibition. Both images show the artist overcome with beauty in the middle of sites of Italian cultural heritage. In these images, the groups of camera-laden tourists, the reflection of a colourful information sign, and the sunglasses comically resting on the floor a few feet from the artist’s prone body make it unclear whether he has collapsed due to the overwhelming beauty of the art or the hordes of tourists, queues and selfie-sticks that have become the modern affliction of cultural tourism.
Straddling the past and present, Nicholls expertly weaves historical and fictional narratives of the Grand Tour whilst refocusing themes of cultural capital and fraternity in his present reality of the WA art world. A further layer to the show is the series of collaborative ceramics, made with local artists whilst Nicholls was in residence in Jingdezhen, China. This collaboration resulted in several intricately decorated Etruscan-style ceramic vases, referencing dramas from Ancient Greek mythology, including the tragic drowning of Hadrian’s lover Antinuous, Zeus and Ganymede, and Theseus and the Minotaur. By placing these vases at the centre of the exhibition, both the ancient Romans’ cultural appropriation and the dominance of Western art in our current (and historical) memory are centred, reminding the viewer of the many other historical centres of art-making that have been overlooked, appropriated or discarded.
These ceramics continue as a “memento mori” motif throughout the photographs and drawings, in the form of bones and skulls, framing some of the works in a morbidly decorative manner that beautifully reflects the numerous crypts, catacombs and graveyards scattered throughout European cities – particularly the heavily Catholic ones.
Whilst I understood the contrast between the fragile beauty of the youthful male form shown in the works and the reminders of death and decay surrounding them, I felt that the detailed handiwork of the collaborative ceramic vases and intricate drawings was a little overshadowed by the vast richness of this juxtaposition of bone and photographic image.
Exquisitely detailed with multiple narratives, high drama and wicked humour, The Last Judgement, a homage to Michelangelo’s iconic work of the same name, takes the original work’s imagining of the second coming of Christ and, using some of Nicholls’ friends and colleagues as models, reimagines this conversation between the damned and the saved souls of Heaven and Earth as, presumably, taking place in the male homosocial relations of the Perth art world. It’s a beautiful and surprisingly funny work, as the familiar faces of my colleagues and friends emerge from the campy drama of fleshy torment – and pleasure.
Similarly Via Appia Antica (after Piranesi), a composite image of Nicholls’ favourite sites of Italy, rewards a close look. Nicholls worked on this piece throughout his travels, over the course of two years, adding to it whenever possible. It’s an elaborate study of the architecture, landscapes and people of Classical antiquity, many of which are instantly recognisable as the iconic buildings, streets and bridges of today’s Italy. The work is again framed by ceramic bones, which, whilst striking individually, distract slightly from the intricacies of the drawn work. In this way, the exhibition as a whole provides a little of the overwhelming feeling of intense visual stimulation that presumably provokes Stendhal syndrome, with its robustly rich themes of flesh, decay and beauty. The drawn mountain-top of Vesuvius emerging at the centre of Via Appia Antica is a more subtle yet more chilling reminder of the inevitability of death than the “in-your-faceness” of the bones encircling richly-hued photographs of the muscular male form.
“Hyperkulturemia” is a study in contradictions – overwhelming and unsubtle in its glorious celebration of the relationship between masculinity and cultural capital, yet critical of this relationship, aware that other, more delicate narratives can emerge between the cracks.
9 February @ Art Gallery of WA ·
Presented by Art Gallery of WA ·
Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley is the highly anticipated culmination of the Art Gallery of WA’s six-year Kimberley visual arts project, supported by Rio Tinto. This landmark exhibition showcasing the vibrant and contemporary creative talent of Kimberley artists opens with a cultural celebration on 9 February 2019 from 10am to 5pm.
Join AGWA for an unmissable celebration of Kimberley art and culture with artist talks, art demonstrations, cultural performances and family activities. Learn about the art of pearl shell carving with the Sibosado brothers – Darrell and Garry, and bush-dying with natural materials with Eva and Ivy Nargoodah. Hear from Mowanjum Arts on ochre crushing and Wandjina Rock art education, or watch Mervyn Street of Mangkaja Arts carve and shave a cow hide. Waringarri Aboriginal Arts will demonstrate boab nut carving.
AGWA and art centre curators, along with artists will talk about their experiences across the day. Listen to live music by David Pigram and browse handmade items including carved pearl shells, dyed silks, textiles and jewellery at the AGWA Shop.
9 Feb – 27 May @ Art Gallery of WA ·
Presented by Art Gallery of WA, various artists
and Kimberley art centres ·
Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley is the highly anticipated culmination of the Art Gallery of WA’s six-year Kimberley visual arts project, supported by Rio Tinto. This landmark exhibition showcasing the vibrant and contemporary creative talent of Kimberley artists opens with a cultural celebration on 9 February 2019.
New works from six Kimberley art centres and three independent artists will be presented alongside a selection of legacy works from art centre collections. Together with works from AGWA’s collection, the exhibition offers a rare experience of the land, artists and art of the Kimberley.
Artists and art centres represented in the Desert River Sea exhibition
include: Darrell & Garry Sibosado (Lombadina); Daniel Walbidi (Bidyadanga);
Kira Kiro Art Centre (Kalumburu) and artist collectives from Mangkaja
Arts Resource Agency (Fitzroy Crossing); Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture
Centre (Mowanjum); Waringarri Aboriginal Arts (Kununurra); Warlayirti
Artists (Balgo); and Warmun Art Centre (Warmun).
The exhibition has been shaped by the people and the places of the Kimberley. Artists and art centres have embraced the opportunity to share their stories of country and lived experience through innovative contemporary art practice.
Opening Weekend Cultural Celebration | FREE
10am-5pm, 9 February 2019
Join AGWA for an unmissable celebration of Kimberley culture with artist talks and art demonstrations, cultural performances, and family activities.
On Sacred Ground Screening & Talk
6pm, Sunday 24 February | FREE
Perth Cultural Centre Screen and Northbridge Screen
Attend a special screening of the 1980 documentary On Sacred Ground with a keynote introduction by the film’s original narrator Ribnga Green Snr.
Q&A at 6pm
Film at 6.30pm
Concludes at 7.30pm
Politically censored by the Federal government for several years after its production, the film explores the importance of Country to Aboriginal people and investigates the well-publicised Aboriginal struggle to stop mining at Noonkanbah Station, an Aboriginal owned cattle station in the Kimberley, during the late 1970s. On Sacred Ground captures a particular moment in time for the Kimberley, however, echoes contemporary political negotiations.
On Sacred Ground is also screening at AGWA from 9 Feb – 20 May 2019, as part of the Desert River Sea exhibition.
Review: ‘Beyond Bling!’ ·
Art Gallery of Western Australia ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·
The Art Gallery of Western Australia’s “Beyond Bling!” exhibition is the third iteration of its Culture Juice series, which aims to explore aspects of contemporary culture including sneakers, Heath Ledger; and now, jewellery and body adornment.
I must admit that I am probably not the correct target market for this series, as I am not particularly enthusiastic about jewellery – I don’t even have my ears pierced. However, I am prepared to have my mind changed. After all, an important aspect of contemporary culture is thinking about how a small part of something (such as jewellery) can be used to comment on wider cultural trends, such as how we present ourselves, respond to our environments, source our materials, and remember our loved ones, and “Beyond Bling!” goes some way to exploring these themes throughout the exhibition.
The works are sourced from the State Art collections, and most are rarely on display, and never in an exhibition solely concentrated on jewellery as an art form – making these works, as the curators state, “hidden treasures finally getting the attention they deserve”. Thematically organised, the exhibition spans the historical significance of certain pieces of jewellery, such as religion, or mourning, the natural environment, larger trends in art and design, and the particularities of Australian, Western Australian, and European work. The exhibition focuses on the Western history of jewellery and adornment, which is, presumably, due to the Western focus of the collection itself.
The themes help to navigate the exhibition, with specificities of style, form, and function grouped together to create a journey through the ways in which jewellery-making has developed and changed throughout the years. Thinking about the works as tiny, individual sculptures made for an interesting journey through major art and design trends of the 19th and 20th century. The question of wearability also made for some fascinating insights – for example, how the weather has impacted WA jewellery-making trends due to the simple fact that it’s hot, and metal works will burn the skin. More subtle ways that wearability has impacted design include the need for more personal space, with jewellery used as an armour-like object to create a shield between the wearer and the world. Other works are completely unwearable, creating an interesting dynamic between form and function and questioning the nature and purpose of adornment itself.
I must admit I was a little unconvinced by the curators’ emphasis on the universality of jewellery – is it really something that we all wear, love and appreciate? Or is it a mark of status, of wealth, and exclusivity? However, their insights enrich the very beautiful works in the exhibition, allowing for a more expansive definition of jewellery and the art of making wearable design.
Pictured top: Sally Marsland, “Necklace”, 2006, found wooden objects, paint, string, 47.5 x 12 x 6.5 cm, State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the Peter Fogarty Design Collection Fund, 2008.