Art of the Skins is a significant cultural resurgence project that embraces memories, sharing and belonging. Rich with partnerships, it announces the re-activation of possum skin cloak making and wearing in south-east Queensland.
The beginnings of this project and contemporary possum skin cloak making can be traced to 1993 when a change to the Museums Australia policy provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with greater access to museum collections. The shift in policy aimed “to inspire, to reclaim and reignite cultural traditions”.
When Sally Molloy, one of the artists on this project, mischievously sent me this image, the coincidence was hard to put to one side. She knew that I planned to retire on December 23, 2016, and that this would be the last project I would undertake as a full-time artist/academic at the Queensland College of Art.
I began teaching at the QCA in 1980, after returning from two years travelling the ‘overland route’ between Istanbul and Delhi and back. The kind of travelling I’ve done since then has been different, but just as interesting. It’s been a long journey. The projects that have been most rewarding have been the collaborative ones, and this one - Drawing Water - is no different.
Projects like this can’t happen without buckets of goodwill and energy and the expectation that it’s very likely you’ll encounter more than a few shoals and shipwrecks along the way. Every profession has its scrapes, and mine has been no different. But if I’d ever been unlucky enough to be caught by the Umi Bozu doing the wrong thing at sea, I’d never have gotten away with it – I wouldn’t have been able to lie like Kawanaya Tokuzo. For this stroke of good luck, I have my colleagues to thank, and I have the artists – always the artists, to thank as well.
So many stories to tell. Being at the zoo, the vet clinic, the Animal Friends Jogja facilities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Hearing about cultural practices of abuse but not being able to understand the whys behind them, coming from another culture. Indonesia has its own rules and traditions; it has a heritage that involves rituals subjectively perceived as positive and negative. Or not? Is it subjectively wrong that dogs taken by the streets or abducted from their owners, end up being slaughtered in horrible conditions for their meat? If so, that which cannot be questioned is the disconnection between the humans and their animality. Tradition is not the only human condition normalising abuse. Seeing animals as commodities, a perception strongly influenced by a westernised reading of life allows people to treat them as waste, discard them when no longer useful to play, show off, own. Through a research process followed so as to discover the rationale supporting these understandings, status surfaced as an additional reason; dogs and cats and birds being symbols of wealth, trophies to exhibit.
The artist is no one’s lover. The artist is the world’s lover and art is the lover’s discourse – speaking in fragments, partial offerings, tenderly apologising for inadequacies that result from the knowledge that there is no total picture, no complete view, no full story. Perhaps this is never so felt as with the artist photographer with eyes full of evidence, wide for the world. The lover’s language is not one of explanation or justification or instruction. Art can’t tell us what to do. It mustn’t be boring in that way, treating you like an idiot or a child. It may tease and tickle, tug and twist ... inviting, always inviting … even in denial, the invitation to look elsewhere. The language of the tryst – meet me here!
Five to One was an exhibition of charcoal drawings, surfboards inlaid with images, and large digital prints. These works reflect on the beauty of our natural world as well as the mystery of the subconscious through hybrid images and marine forms designed to trigger the viewer’s imagination.
Experimental Thinking/Design Practices at Griffith University Art Gallery, Queensland College of Art (QCA), explores several themes integral to how artists and designers develop research. It is the third in a series of exhibitions, the others of which included Feral Experimental: New Design Thinking at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Galleries from July to August 2014, and Experimental Practice: Provocations In and Out of Design at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University Design Hub in May 2015. The exhibitions aim to provoke debate about the purpose of design in a format that is modified for each location. These iterations of the exhibition include practitioners from the communities in which they were shown, and were developed with co-curators in each city—Laurene Vaughan and Brad Haylock in Melbourne, and Peter Hall and Beck Davis in Brisbane.
Collaborations can yield exceptional results when participants bring their best to the partnership. Aware of the skills and temperament of both Japanese master lithographer Satoru Itazu and Australian artist David Nixon, I could foresee the potential in this unique collaboration.
Both these artisans work with meticulous care and have a strong affinity for their craft and materials. I had the pleasure of studying collaborative lithography with Itazu at the prestigious Tamarind Institute, USA, in the mid-1980s, and of teaching Nixon in his undergraduate degree at the Queensland College of Art in 2004–2005.
This exhibition features a selection of prints alongside the plates, blocks, or stones from which they were generated. Although it is uncommon to reveal the source or plate when exhibiting prints, such a strategy can be illuminating, as demonstrated by the recent Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration (2015) exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney.
Terminology related to the art of printmaking can be arcane and inherently ambiguous. For example, the term ‘print’ is commonly used to refer to both the collective sense of an edition and the individual examples that comprise it. In printmaking, what secures this notion of a work of art with multiple instances or manifestations is the expectation that the prints are produced by the same author using the same process type; that is, a plate or matrix.3 Today, the generic term ‘matrix’ is often used to refer to the plate, block, stone, screen, negative, or stencil that generates the printed image. Interestingly, this term has not yet been adopted for the memory cards or data files that carry the binary code for digital prints, despite the fact that the mathematical definition of ‘matrix’ as a numeric array would seem a perfect descriptive fit.
This body of work titled International Travel falls within my ongoing series Fully Exploited Labour, which has continued through a number of iterations for over thirty years. During that time, a range of materials and approaches—including performance, video, installation, embroidery, billboards and painting—have been used to explore changing ideas about what constitutes work, and to simultaneously ask how this is reflected by, and in, the practice of what we call art.
William Platz’s essay here, “Works on Paper”, continues and extends the enquiry through his consideration of just what might or might not ‘work’ on paper. Or, to be plain: how can works on paper work? And, in the case of this particular body of work, how can works-on-paper-about-work work?
This - bitter earth Well, What a fruit it bears What good is love Mmmmmmmm That no one shares
This Bitter Earth, Dinah Washington
Writing an essay on repair and share cannot be based on scholarly papers. These practices cannot be chronologically defined or separated from intrinsic activities such as breathing and eating. Sharing was the basis of creating the first habitats of humanity along with repairing or fixing what prevented survival from happening, such as behaviours, practices and a progressing model of interaction with nature. Nonetheless, the contemporary understanding of repair and share is limited to seeing these practices as ghosts of a devalued past. A past of labour. A past of pain.
For me, a work of art is a piece that captures your attention and demands that you connect with it. Its demand might be a rigorous shaking of your consciousness or a soft whisper in your ear that compels you to engage. It was with a soft yet insistent voice that Catherine Large’s Strange Objects spoke to me.
I am not usually a purveyor of jewellery, but a particular piece of jewellery within Strange Objects invited me to further explore this collection. It is not just a random collection of jewellery, flatware, and objects, but a congruity of pieces that are rich in meaning, signifying delicious moments from times past that draw you in for closer inspection.
In his book Visions (1998), Michio Kaku imagined a USA in 2020 in which microprocessors are as cheap as scrap paper, and the surface of the earth is an intelligent membrane: Smart bathrooms provide constant feedback and checkups on our health, and traffic jams have long been eliminated by computer-controlled cars driving in unison six feet apart.
In his novel After London (1895), Richard Jefferies imagined a future, post-disaster England, in which roads were overgrown with greenery, fields overtaken with thorns, briars, brambles and saplings, and in place of London, an oozy black water swamp, from which exhaled a vapour so fatal that no animal could endure it.
from the deep: Block Books by Tim Mosely George Petelin, Griffith University, June 2014
Tim Mosely’s works address three issues: the tradition of the book, the nature of the print, and the haptic experience of these. Curiously, the earliest form of book—that of Assyrian cuneiform impressed in clay tablets— employed relief, just as classical carving into stone tablets subsequently did. However, half a millennium passed before someone applied ink onto that relief in order to make a print. The emergence of pictorial relief prints, rather than that of moveable type, was judged by William Ivins Jr., founding curator of prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to have been the greatest advance in civilisation since the invention of writing itself.
A Queensland College of Art, Griffith University and University of Southern Queensland visual art research project. Co-curated by Beata Batorowicz and Sebastian Di Mauro.
The well-known children’s novel Alice in Wonderland, by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pseudonym Lewis Carroll), begins with a seven year-old girl, Alice, and a White Rabbit.
Dressed in a handsome waistcoat, the White Rabbit is running out of time, hastily scurrying about and panting to the sound of each tick from his elegant pocket watch. Alice, in her curiosity, eagerly chases after him. Caught in the intrigue of the chase, Alice has no time to hesitate as she falls down the rabbit hole …
Public art often evokes bronze men astride galloping horses or intimidating Third Reich eagles staring down on the diminished citizens below. Not only has the approach to commissioning public architecture shifted significantly from the last century but so too has the commissioning of public art. As one of the state’s most important expressions of democracy, the new QEII Courts of Law seeks to express its public transparency in the built form. Like the building itself, the public artworks articulate democratic values in their public expression of different perspectives. It is this inherent link between democratic values and artistic expression in the public realm that forms the focus of the curatorial rationale for the new Courts’ artworks. To shed light on the context of the new commissions, recent public art practices in Queensland and the discourse linking democracy and public art will be traced before culminating in a more specific discussion of the artworks themselves.
For thirty years Queensland artist Russell Craig has pursued a career that explores image-making through printmaking and drawing allowing for “free "ow” of his creativity. For while the substrate of paper is always maintained, the possibilities of mark-making upon it are diverse and testify to a talent that refuses to stick to a signature style.
The scope of this distinguished artist’s work ranges from lithographs, monoprints and digital prints, to wash drawings and large-scale charcoal images. The lineage of them covers the 1970s through to the 2000s and they are informed as much by his conceptual concerns at any particular time as his experiences as a master printer and teacher, his travels and cross-cultural engagements. While his personality is quiet and unassuming, it recognises the richness of dialogue with other cultures and the lessons that can be learned from them.
Court buildings can be austere structures. As architecture, they often have incorporated ‘cold’ polished black or white stone in highly formal designs, with imposing steps rising up to a foreboding entrance. Similarly, commissions for law courts have traditionally produced such symbols of state authority as statues of liberty or justice, as well as scales and crests. In comparison, the Brisbane Magistrates Court has provided the opportunity to commission contemporary art work and design that humanises the built environment, while creating powerful statements of enduring social significance for Queensland’s civic life.