Melbourne Artists and their spaces

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By Celeste Hawkins 

Unwinding (or at least trying to) for the Christmas season is here!

Below are some glimpses in time captured in some of the spaces of the artists I have chatted to over the last few years. Enjoy :) I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

I am endeavouring to update my pinterest page too! Pinning slowly but progressively!

 

Mia 2

Mia Salsjo-Work in Progress

tools

Installation artist Georgie Seccull’s various tools

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A slice of Paul Borg’s studio

Penelope Aitken

Artist Penelope Aitken at work

basket full of feathers

Installation artist -Georgie Seccull

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 By Celeste Hawkins

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Georgie in her Studio

Melbourne based installation artist Georgie Seccull inhabits a lovely little creative space in the leafy suburb of Canterbury, Melbourne. Other sharing artists include recent Archibald finalist Eliza Cameron, Tarek Barrage aka ‘Dem 189’ and her partner Artist Andrew Bourke aka ‘Sirum 1’.

Recently Georgie and her partner have returned from the far outpost of the Gove Peninsula, in the northeastern corner of Arnhem Land. It’s so remote, you actually need to permission to visit there. She loves road adventures and wanted to learn more about the Aboriginal culture. Georgie explains:

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The road into Arnhem Land

“There are a amazing areas throughout Arnhem Land that you’re able to get a permit from the traditional owners to go visit and camp at. These are places that you would never know existed with pristine beaches and waterfalls. There wasn’t a lot of information on the road out there, all we knew was that it was a 2 day drive on an uncharted road and there was only one fuel stop, (which may or may not be open) so we definitely felt like we were heading into the unknown and that was exciting. We had a 4WD, four jerry cans and four river crossings to get the town of Nhulunbuy and there were crocs everywhere.”

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Nhulunbuy

How did this compare to your last trip up North?

 “The last time my boyfriend and I went out on a road trip was to Darwin and then across the centre up to The Daintree – but that was just an introduction. This time we were able to gain such a better understanding of the aboriginal culture being totally immersed in it. The local Yolngu people are always happy to tell you their story. They have a totally different way of living and relationship with the land. There’s a lot we could learn from them. “

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Georgie and Andrew

 What are some notable differences about the way they care for the land?

“They live by the law of the land, they have a great understanding and respect for it – when they take something from the land, they always give something back which is very special. The land also holds all the stories of their Dreamtime in it and their dreaming is there way of life, so the land is very sacred to them. For a lot of people in the area the saltwater crocodile is their totem animal-it was incredible to see how respected and loved the crocodile is out there.”

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Plucking magpie goose for lunch

Was it a shock at all to see that contrast?

“Their connection to the land, the animals and their family is confronting when you look at it in contrast to the way we in modern society live. Even in places like Tennant Creek and Katherine where there are alcohol problems, you can sit with any of the locals and learn from them. They are all so willing to share with you their stories, all you have to do is ask.”

Having spent six weeks in Arnhem Land, four weeks in Kakadu and then back to the centre of Australia, Georgie was awestruck by the amount of road kill and rawness of what the land could provide. An avid collector of all found objects both natural and man-made, it proved to be a collectors dream.

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One of Georgie’s found skulls’

 “You can find all kinds of incredible things on the road. I collected trees branches, driftwood, emu and wedge tail eagle feathers and bones. I’m now learning how to preserve and clean the bones through maceration and burial so I’ll be able to incorporate them into my sculptures. We also found crystals, which I would like to incorporate more into my work.”

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One of the many carcases

basket full of feathers

Georgie’s large collection of feathers

Georgie is a former copywriter and freelances when she needs to make some extra income.

How did you branch out of copywriting into the area of installation art?

“My background is copywriting for advertising. Since I’ve always liked making things out of things, I went around shops asking if I could create something for their window display. I started making art as a way to sell products by putting together installations for bookstores and gallery exhibitions. I then got an opportunity to create an installation for Penthouse Mouse where I was able to build a huge mechanical girl and that started the ball rolling for paid jobs.”

Flower and pipes

Flower sculpture in Georgie’s studio

So you’re mostly self-taught, has that been challenging?

“Learning by doing can sometimes be painful. For example, with mechanical girl-when it came time to bolt it to the wall I realised that I should have taken the insides of all the parts out as it ended up weighing about 200kgs! It’s also really fun though, I play around with many different materials and it’s through this process that I discovered corflute (plastic cardboard) to be the most malleable and I liked that idea that all the offcuts get melted down and made into new sheets. The way I work with it has developed from project to project, I’ve found ways to thread, wire and band it together-I’ve learnt new things along the way. One of my favourite things to do is buy a new tool and figure out how to use it.”

Mechanical Interference

Mechanical Interference

When it comes to setting up her large-scale grandiose installations-it becomes a family affair with her mum and brother and boyfriend all chipping in to help.

“For the Collingwood football club installation, my brother helped me work out all the Maths for the paper pyramids . As for the crystal palace installation-I didn’t have a studio back then so I was making the entire thing in my mums lounge room. It was 26 metres of fabric, paper and foamcore and I had no idea how it was going to look until my boyfriend and I installed it. I tend to work these things out as I go!”

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

Georgie definitely has a keen visual eye, as her studio seems as if it’s an installation in itself. Apart from the many bones, shapely tree branches and feathers there are all sorts of consumer recyclables such as tubes and computer parts neatly categorized and organized in her studio.

Recyclables

Studio Shelf of recyclables

Why the fascination with collecting reusing and up cycling materials? Is this something you have done since a child?

“I’ve always collected and made stuff. Every weekend as a child I would stay on Grandmas Farm in Ceres just out of Geelong. We were always going on adventures finding snakes and collecting twigs and other bits along the way. There were always Mountains to climb, especially in the You Yangs and my grandma was very conscious of caring for the land. She convinced us that picking up rubbish was an adventure-it was so exciting we would beg her to take us out on the road with garbage bags!”

Georgie and feathers

Some of Georgie’s collection

Georgie explains that she loves pulling things apart and putting them back together to see how they work. She also points out that she made her own work bench in the studio and loves the idea of challenging herself to create more complex pieces.

 What’s coming up for you in the future?

“The installation I’m working on at the moment for Rainbow Serpent Festival is really exciting for me because it’s the first time I’ll be working on a project with a great group of friends. I have a few other things I’m working on concepts for which will be utilizing more natural materials and recycled found objects and I want to learn how to weld too. I’d like to one day have an exhibition and create a series of sculptural works out of discarded wood, bones and mechanical parts.”

Studio other room

The room Georgie shares with fellow artists

Georgie and bird

A sample from Andrew Bourke’s journal about his mural painting experience in Nhulunbuy:

Baru

Baru-Mural by Andrew Bourke

Having spent the last two months travelling via 4×4 with my partner Georgie Seccull and great friend Charlotte through Australia’s Top End, we found ourselves taking a leap of faith and trekking deep into one of the worlds most remote patches of wilderness. After 3 days travel along the Arnhem Hwy we finally arrived in Nhulunbuy. Originally set up as a mining town, this place is now the central hub for supplies, medical and practical needs that filter out to all the surrounding homelands of the Yolngu people. Here we set up and organised our general permits that would allow us to go bush and discover some of the most amazing and relatively untouched places we have ever experienced. Beaches that would pan out into the distance with crystal clear waters as far as your eyes could see (that you can’t swim in – they’re full of crocodiles) and the 3 of us being the only people around for days on end..

I decided to bring my paints with me and see if I could find a space to produce another mural and given my chosen subject matter, an opportunity came about soon after.

The main hotel / restaurant – bar in town named the Walkabout commissioned me to produce my painting across the front entrance wall of the building. Very quickly the word spread that a large saltwater croc was being painted in town and every morning I painted I had a number of spectators dropping past to keep an eye on the progress and I guess to make sure I was doing the image justice (no pressure). You see the saltwater crocodile, particularly to the major clans of that part of NE Arnhem Land to them, is their absolute world. Being one of their major totems of the surrounding clans BARU is their Mother dreaming.

As the Yolngu people “come from the Earth” they identify themselves being one with their surroundings and so to these amazing people the saltwater crocodile is respected and loved equally to that of anyone from family circles. The Yolngu people’s connectivity to nature is something that we in modern society have lacked for far to long now leading us to constantly be fixated on the future instead of living for the now. In short, I felt the importance of producing a great piece for these people as I quickly realised how much bigger this painting was then just me tackling another crazy art project!

The Yolngu people still to this day live their traditional ways, continuing their dreaming through song lines via ceremonies and living off the land. Their culture is still as strong as it ever was way, way back then. The oldest civilization on Earth to us that’s some 40 – 60,000 years old, and these amazing people were more then happy to share their stories and culture with us for the 35 days we lived in their country and on their land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinning on Pinterest

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By Celeste Hawkins

I have finally joined Pinterest! Having expressed myself in this space for almost three years now I have realised that consistency is key, however slow. I almost always regularly post in this space once a week. I have to say that the longer the time goes by, how (mostly quietly) proud I am that I can keep the momentum going! I feel this is very much a ‘side project’ that sits alongside all my other ‘side projects’. However, I am wondering if there can ever be ‘only one’ as they all seem to complement eachother and contribute to the whole.

The Slow Art Collective

Dylan and helper-The Slow Art Collective

I am not completely sure of what the outcome of this space might be, I’ve let go of thinking about that. I have also made a descision not to endorse any paid advertising on the site (at least for now) as I would like to support businesses or artists who just need a bit of a plug or recognition for their efforts.

I do however, endeavour to utlise my camera a lot more to capture all sorts of interesting images for you to enjoy. So please bare with me while my pinterest board slowly evolves and be sure to check in every now and again :)

Be sure to check this space next week as I run an interview on a Melbourne Installation artist who has recently returned from a very interesting holiday…

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

FLG

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.