The Other Mother-Rebecca Hastings

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sucker

‘Sucker I’ 2014, oil on board, 70 x 70 cm.

REBECCA HASTINGS

The Other Mother 25 November – 19 December 2014

Flinders Lane Gallery

Essay by Marguerite Brown, MAArtCur

Transgressing the traditional image of mother and child, Hastings charts the complexities and contradictions of motherhood, where emotions see-saw between ambivalence, affection and aggression.

Hastings was a finalist in this year’s prestigious Archibald Prize, as well as being a finalist in the Sulman Prize. Her first exhibition at Flinders Lane Gallery in 2013 ‘Disquiet,’ was a sell-out.

‘It is difficult for those of us who haven’t experienced motherhood to understand the complexity of the emotions it engenders. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation go hand-in-hand with profound, selfless love and the powerful instinct of protection. Yet these widely discussed and socially accepted parts of the role are much easier to express than the anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, anger and guilt that most mothers face at one point or another. Rebecca Hastings’ work speaks of the uncomfortable and often conflicting emotions that can accompany motherhood, employing humour and a generous sense of play to diffuse darker themes that permeate her paintings.

Are these yours?

‘Are These Yours?,’ 2014, oil on board, 30.5 x 30.5cm

In The Other Mother, Hastings paints her children, herself, and even the family dog posed in a strangely dislocated space. The artist reveals a keen sense of theatrics in the way she goes about composing her pictures. Strong directional lighting casts deep shadows, as seen falling across her face in the self-portrait Are These Yours? Isolated from any surrounding context, Hastings stages herself and her kids against a plain backdrop, looking out at the viewer with wide eyes and blank expressions. Delivering silent monologues from an artificial stage, these unconventional family portraits resound with an uncanny tension.

This is partly because despite the artist’s highly realist approach expressed through fine surfaces and perfectly modeled three-dimensional form, there is an unnatural quality to the works that is essential to their subtext. In meditating on the complexities of motherhood, a role that is traditionally perceived as the most natural of female occupations, Hastings has removed the familiar signs of spontaneous energy we naturally associate with images of children. Conversely she has staged them – with great care and sensitivity – to give voice to a spectrum of experience devoid of the usual sentiment. It takes some courage to depict an ambivalent and emotionally detached side to the universal mother archetype.

sticky fingers

‘Sticky Fingers,’ 2014, oil on board, 70 x 70 cm.

Yet there is an element of fun in these works that provides a welcome counterpoint. Drawing upon that common childhood experience of playing dress ups, Hastings poses herself and her two children wearing a variety of accouterments; flower hats, white gloves, lego and other domestic detritus all appear.

Their significance varies from piece to piece, yet the most amusing use of a prop appears in her painting of the family dog, posed wearing a pair of frilly underpants looking over his shoulder sheepishly to eyeball the viewer. Titled Because He Can, Hastings was inspired to paint it after witnessing her daughter dressing up their new family dog in her own clothes. It perfectly reflects those random moments of chaos and hilarity that kids so easily conjure.

In this and other works in the exhibition Hastings introduces bold, flat areas of colour. Large dots appear, as do circular portals within broad fields of colour that frame her figures. This serves as a vivid and decorative contrast to the illusionistic representation of figures in earthy flesh tones, as seen in She left us at Ikea and went off to find herself (green and pink). In this work the dots also refer to the play areas at Ikea that are filled with coloured balls, where parents can drop off their kids while they shop. Peering out from this artificial space a boy addresses the viewer with a sidelong, accusatorial stare, one that appears in many of Hastings’ works as she deals with notions of maternal guilt for craving time alone.

She left us at ikea

‘She left us at Ikea and went off to find herself (green)’ 2014, oil on board, 100 x 100 cm.

It is this multifarious territory that Hastings painstakingly depicts in The Other Mother. Laced with beauty and humour, unsettled by a silent angst.’

Essay by Marguerite Brown, MAArtCur

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Robert Dickerson

An Art Auction with a difference…

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By Celeste Hawkins

With a decade in the art business, CEO of Menzies Art brands Justin Turner is excited about his new venture in the art dealing world; joining with Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria (A &OV) for an auction with a difference. I had a quick chat with Justin to gain a bit more of an insight into the auction that will take place in December.

Bride in Pink

ARTHUR BOYD (1920-1999) Bride in a Pink Landscape oil on canvas 91.0 x 105.0 cm

 

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How and why did Menzies Art Brands become involved with this project?

Jodi Harrison contacted us and she told us about A & OV and what they do. We took the view that these are health conditions that affect a huge number of people and therefore judged it to be a worthwhile and very relevant commission. It’s exciting to work with people who are passionate about what they do and they have been very good to deal with. We felt that we could offer them some significant fund raising assistance and a wonderful environment in which to hold a fund raiser. Menzies Executive Chairman Mr. Rod Menzies has kindly opened the Historic Stonington Mansion for a private A & OV event in the lead up to the auction and was happy to support the cause.

A sunlit mountain

ARTHUR STREETON (1867-1943) A Sunlit Mountain 1907 oil on canvas 76.5 x 51.0 cm

What main styles of artworks can people expect to find at this event?

The focus of Menzies auctions is the sale of high end Australian & International paintings and sculpture with special attention paid to the Australian modern artists such as Brett Whiteley, Sidney Nolan, Fred Williams, John Brack and Albert Tucker. Our auctions also feature many contemporary works such as those of; Jasper Knight, Adam Cullen, Ben Quilty and Del Kathryn Barton. Traditional and colonial works by artists such as Eugene Von Guerard, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Charles Conder are also well represented in a Menzies quarterly auction. Menzies has to date sold 41 Australian paintings for in excess of $1 million and has set numerous new auction records for Australian works of art so our auctions offer members of the public the opportunity to view the very best of Australian art.

Backs and Fronts

JOHN BRACK (1920-1999) Backs and Fronts 1969 oil on canvas 115.5 x 163.5 cm

Do you think these kinds of auctions help to generate even more interest and revenue, because of the altruistic reason behind it?

Art for Arthritis

I think that functions such as ART FOR ARTHRITIS definitely do expose more people to the world of art and in particular – art auctions. I find that most people are motivated to support philanthropic and charitable events (The Menzies organization being no exception) so for that reason, I see a partnership between Menzies and Arthritis Victoria as being a perfect fit. Sellers at our December auction will have opportunity donate a percentage of the money they receive from the proceeds of sales to Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria and buyers will have opportunity to donate a fixed amount also.

As an example of getting into the spirit of donating; Justin tells me that the Dickerson Gallery in Sydney has kindly donated a work from their collection, a Robert Dickenson original pastel worth approximately $8,000. This work will be auctioned on the night of the 4th December with all proceeds going to ART FOR ARTHRITIS.

Robert Dickerson

The matron Robert Dickerson AO Pastel on paper 38cm x 30cm

Is this something that Menzies will look into doing on a more regular basis?

It is certainly something we will look to do well into the future. We have four auctions a year, alternating between Sydney and Melbourne. We have a full week of viewing in each state prior to each auction, so we see ourselves as having a lot to offer. We have developed a great relationship with the team from Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria and are hoping to help them generate some much needed revenue.

Art for Arthritis
Wednesday 12th November 2014, 12midday
Stonington Mansion
336 Glenferrie Road
Malvern, VIC

Your chance to photograph and video some of Australia’s most significant paintings, including Sidney Nolan’s Kelly and Horse, oil on board estimated to auction for $450,000 – $550,000.
The auction will also include John Brack’s Back and Fronts, 1969 estimated to sell for $1.5m – $2m.

flume

Babes at Sea- Meg Cowell

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Babes at Sea- Meg Cowell

Essay by Laura Skerlj

“A being dedicated to water is a being in flux.”

Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter

The Mast

‘The Mast,’ 2014, giclee print on gold fibre silk paper, edition of 5, 133 x 92 cm

Shakespeare’s infamous Ophelia—broken-hearted, grieving the death of her father—drowns slowly in a river in Denmark. In a state of spiritual collapse, she has fallen from the bough of a tree while collecting flowers. Now submerged, the young woman’s hands puncture the river’s surface like lilies. As she welcomes in death, Ophelia sings, her flaxen dress turning lavender as the water exchanges its initial offering of buoyancy for debilitating weight.

Melbourne based artist, Meg Cowell, photographs undulating feminine garments in, what appears, a vacuum of infinite space. The dresses, rich in hue and excessive in their skirting, are handpicked for their unique and romantic character: “Each garment has to speak to me in some way, to tell me what its wants me to do with it, as cosmic as that sounds.” The chosen articles of clothing are then photographed in a 1000-litre pool Cowell has installed in her inner-city backyard.

Flume and Night Garden

‘Night Garden’ 2014, giclee print on gold fibre silk paper, edition of 5, 133 x 92 cm.

Ritual dress accompanies many important rites of passage. For women, white wedding gowns and Victorian mourning attire are iconic artefacts that carry their wearer from one stage of life to the next. In turn, it is not beauty, vanity or a political reading of fashion that concerns Cowell’s practice. Instead, it is the moment when a woman dons a costume for her transformation that is of interest. For the artist, such occasions elevate garments beyond their materiality to become an embodiment of female ritual.

Cowell’s exhibition, The Sea, The Shore, presents a series of large-scale photographic works that illustrate this shift from garment to artefact. Through sophisticated direction, the artist creates vignettes of unique gowns, lingerie and couture as they bloom into new forms: for example, dresses appear flower-like, floating in the abyss. She describes the satisfaction when clothing abandons its inanimate physicality for a sense of agency: “I think an image is successful when it shows metamorphosis. Good images require a kind of imaginative collaboration from the viewer to interpret what they are seeing.”

flume

‘Flume,’ 2014, giclee print on gold fibre silk paper, edition of 5, 133 x 92 cm

 

However, it is the body of water (literally, metaphorically) filling each gown that encourages spiritual transformation. Water—as a passage between shelves of land—is inherently connected to transition: mortals and immortals alike have cleansed, purged and even re-birthed here, moving from one tangible or metaphysical place to the next. Although the actual water is not visible in Cowell’s images, it acts as an agent for movement and a deep, almost cosmic, setting for the garments. Inspired by scenes like Ada’s drowning in The Piano and Ophelia’s watery demise, the artist explains, “It’s the Romantic idea of the psyche unanchored and adrift in deep water that fascinates me.” In this way, aqueous infinitude becomes a chamber for the memorialisation of female transition. As woman and outfit are separated, they alight one another, passing through the rigor of ritual toward transcendence.

 

Laura Skerlj is a Melbourne based artist and writer.

www.lauraskerlj.com
MEG COWELL at Flinders Lane Gallery
The Sea, The Shore 25 November – 19 December 2014

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everydaymonument-5

MoreART

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By Celeste Hawkins

 

MoreART public art Show is in its fifth year. I recently had the chance to chat with Dan Mitchell, Moreland Council’s Public Art aficionado (the creator and producer of the project) ; to get some insight on the projects evolvement over the past five years and to guage how these varied styles of artworks are received by their audience.

What inspired you to take on or create this project?

The dynamic and evolving nature of contemporary public art inspired me to find a way to facilitate a project that gave artists access to a diverse range of sites and extended possibilities for realising and exploring their practice. Moreland – Brunswick, Coburg, Fawkner and beyond is a crowded urban environment. MoreArt aims to introduce both artists and the community to the ‘spaces in between’ – the unusual, the industrial, the unloved and the odd.

Reflecting back on the past five years, what have been some of the highlights and what might you have done differently?

Each year there is has been some minor controversy – it is always difficult to predict these as each year artists will throw up all sorts of challenges be they practical or philosophical. Highlights have been many over the years and I loath to single out. I personally have enjoyed artists who are in situ and bring a performative or interactive element to their work.

Roseanne Bartley

Roseanne Bartley

Why is Public art so important to you personally and do you think it resonates with the community?

I think it has many roles to play and it varies, especially regarding context i.e. particularly sites, municipalities and communities. Artists are very good at generating debate and/or introducing new and revitalised ideas. They are good at identifying the beauty in the most unusual ways, encouraging the community to have a second look at the place they live and the people they share it with. All this kind of dialogue can really help with community building. This can resonate with the community in different ways. For example; some may be happy to see art for arts sake others want beautification and other motivations are more political. We try to make our program a bit of all of these.

Is there something about the city of Moreland that seems to attract a proliferation of public artworks or has it evolved and been built up slowly by directors such as yourself?

I think it is just the type of place we live in. So many more artists are engaging in the public space as it provides just the kind of danger many seek for their work. How will people react? Will it get destroyed? Will there be a complaint or compliment? You just don’t get the kind of honest responses to work within gallery confines. Whether its self initiated or within the context of projects like MoreArt, it’s all good.

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Do we need more public art works and how do you see this project evolving?

That is a good question. Moreland is a crowded environment with not many open spaces that might lend themselves to more epic permanent type public art commissions. Local governments don’t have the type of budgets for this kind of work unless it is connected to large scale developments and so on. I am more interested in the artists informing current spaces and places using ephemeral, in residence and non permanent statements, especially as the community and the urban environment are constantly changing.

The way I see MoreArt evolving is for it to continue being in step with contemporary movements in the field and also encouraging new and different artists to engage in the public space.

everydaymonument-5

Everyday Monument

What are some ‘must sees’ in this year’s selection of public artworks?

MoreArt Award winner Roseanne Bartley’s Project ‘Oh!’ at Gowrie Station is worth a visit. James Voller’s Fragmented Patterns on different pieces of public infrastructure in Coburg Central are excellent. ‘Everyday Monument’ by Alica Bryson Haynes and Ria Green at Brunswick Town Hall is worth a look.

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Get your limited edition Brunswick/Coburg themed comic book – Squishzine Brunston from libraries and various cafes throughout.

Find out more here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four places to go in and around Melbourne Town…

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Places to go… Here are some ideas if you’re hankering for a great art adventure or a more localised city bound experience.

sugar mountain

Tickets are on sale now for the Sugar mountain festival in January of next year. The Victorian College of the Arts  is to become the festival’s new home with a juicy offering of music and a feast of visual art to devour. See here for more details.

open studios

Sculpture by Matthew Harding

Macedon Ranges Open studios will be running over three weekends. See here for an interview with painter Catherine Abel and here for an interview with the festival’s director, Jill Rivers. And for more details visit the website here.

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MoreART festival is a Public art adventure occuring along the Upfield rail and bike precinct in the city of Moreland running until the 19th of December. See here for more details.

ILinden Postcard Show 2014 25 October - 6 December 2014

Blue Wall, Linden Postcard Show-Photo by David Marks

The annual Linden postcard show is on now from the 25th- 6thDecember. Come down to St Kilda and see a great range of works by top artists. All work is for sale, so you can pick yourself up an afforadble gem.