Recently landed: Tea and Toast, and an Electric Guitar, a new article on Marginalia (by Gracia) takes you to Caroline Meaden, Alice Dixon, and William McBride's Blowin' Up, and Deanne Butterworth's, with Evelyn Morris, Two Parts of Easy Action, presented by the Substation as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival
The warmth of the spring day did not hold in the Substation. Inside the capacious, high-ceilinged, former industrial space, it is never warm. It is resolutely sub-temperature. Seated for the first of three solos presented under the collective awning of Blowin’ Up, I sat, cleared my throat, and cleared my throat again. The cold of the building crept inside my chest with the intention to make me the spluttering, wheezing, noisy audience member. My defence of stoicism and Soothers was going to be tested.
So when Caroline Meaden stood upright from an investigative, languid Cat pose, advanced to the front of the stage, a hair’s breadth from the audience, and sniffed, an exaggerated under-the-weather, nose crinkle in want of a handkerchief, my body involuntarily mirrored the waiting room action, and I coughed. And I coughed again, and once more for good measure. In a game of call and response, I was not the “silent animal…. out there somewhere, watching on.” Into Meaden’s solo, ‘Sneaky Bastard,’ I crashed into the “thick silence and …. deep restraint.” But my performance etiquette mortification was soothed by the sense that Meaden, Alice Dixon, and William McBride feel like the type of performers that make me want to ask: could your trio become a quartet?
Following on from their work together in This is What’s Happening, at the preview performance of Blowin’ Up, presented by the Substation as part of this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, Meaden, Dixon, and McBride tell their three tales through their familiar occasional whisper and brief twiddle of the thumbs. They tell their tales with a wink that seeks to make colluders of the audience. Earlier, before ‘Sneaky Bastard’ had unfurled their “attack as life strategy,” arm movements like that of an elephant’s trunk gingerly sensing it’s way, Meaden, Dixon, and McBride had made themselves store mannequins behind the glass doors in the hallway. Still, playfully posed, and wry, Meaden in forest green, Dixon in a shade of midnight blue, and McBride in scarlet, their attire reminded me of a late '50s, early '60s art student. A tap on the shoulder and an invitation to return to their digs for tea and toast around the radiator would not feel out of place. Challenge as a coping mechanism need not ascribe to a set range of movements that fit every body, as this moment and following solos convey.
Vaslav Nijinsky could hover in the air, such was his art; such was genius.
His name is synonymous with movement, yet no moving footage exists of him performing. The images of fashion photographer Adolph de Meyer are perhaps all the crueller and more static for this. We can only imagine how Nijinsky slithered, leaped, flitted, and prowled.
We have words and pictures. Luminous pictures by no less than Jean Cocteau, Léon Bakst, and Oskar Kokoschka; and the plaster and bronze works of Georg Kolbe and Auguste Rodin; all seeking to harness the ephemeral and in turn activate, in a different medium, a little of the energetic burst that was Nijinsky. Written accounts from history, Nijinsky’s own diary (published in 1936 and partly censored by his wife, Romola), and the treasured pieces of memorabilia in collections both public and private can help animate his form, but it will never quite be like sitting in the theatre, seeing him become the Golden Slave in Scheherazade. Such was and remains, the allure of Nijinsky.
Recently landed: Rolling Stones, Gracia's written response to Melanie Lane and Juliet Burnett's Re-make, and Jo Lloyd and Nicola Gunn's Mermermer, presented at Chunky Move Studios as part of Next Move 9, for Fjord Review
"The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.” To me, this is what the creative process can feel like. Creativity is resilience and determination that comes to the fore when tested; when we “re-visit, re-spond and re-invent.”
And so Re-make, one of two commissioned works in Chunky Move’s ninth Next Move performance season, began with Juliet Burnett repeating the same steps over and over, returning to the same marker. “The stage sets collapse[d]…. and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday and Sunday [operated] according to the same rhythm,” but as they did, the steps slowly changed. This is growth and reinvention through repetition.
In Re-make, references to Greek Mythology and Camus’s philosophy of the absurd, to the eternal labours of Sisyphus and his boulder, abound. And Burnett is stronger than her rock and the likelihood of hearing her effort is zero. At best, you will see a circle of sweat at her armpits and in the small of her back grow in size. And in her descent, she will turn into a bird; a silver-winged Phoenix, with a guitar plectrum for a beak and red heeled talons. This work may be the result of a conversation with choreographer and performer, Melanie Lane, but I cannot help read it as a portrait of Burnett’s own artistic career as she finds her true creative voice. This is “a solo for two.”
As two windows come down (farewell, On the Verge Festival in Obus and Collected Works, you were great), a vitrine of collages and drawings for Betwixt fleshes out its form, as part of the forthcoming Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia.
(In addition to our part in Betwixt, we will also be conducting a kids' workshop inspired by The Seven Ravens.)
A twin entity! A double life, sprung “from matter and light, envinced in solid and shade,” our Salvaged Relatives, collaged and drawn, toss gauzy film over the certainty of your consciousness.
A shadow, rendered, of a life imagined; or is that the other way around? In a game of Chicken and Egg, call and response, surely, the drawings echo the collages on cartes de visite. And were they to be “separated from one another by the whole length of the building… [the] distance between [them would] seem monstrous… as is they had taken half [their] bodies away. [They would lose their] sense of balance… feel dizzy… fall.”
Creeping through these unknown time-eaten spaces, memories splinter; with nature as your theatrical backcloth, you’d do well to borrow a stained costume from the Ballet Russe, while things reconfigure.
My tail, Léon Bakst, what do I do with it in this lonely place “newly with grass o’ergrown”?
 Edgar Allan Poe, ‘Silence (a sonnet),’ version published in The Raven and Other Poems, 1845
 Ágota Kristóf, The Notebook Trilogy, (Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2016), p.23
 Edgar Allan Poe, ‘Silence (a sonnet)’
Along with fellow alumni, Vincent Fantauzzo, Nicola Gunn, Katie Collins, Kieren Seymour, and Xanthe Dobbie, we were invited to take part in 'Developing your career in art: Being enterprise ready,' presented by the School of Art in collaboration with Careers and Employability, at Storey Hall, RMIT.
To illustrate our words and thoughts, we created two screen recordings, 'Digital portfolio strategies and examples' and 'Developing a niche market as an artist outside the established systems,' in advance, especially for RMIT School of Art students.
And you, too, can now see them, should they be of interest.
As part of the Czech and Slovak Film Festival, we're exhibiting a selection of our collages and drawings created in response to the festival's theme Text and Texture.
BETWIXT, curated by Carmen Reid, at ACMI Mediatheque, at ACMI, will run from the 14th of September through until the 23rd of September, 2016.
Alongside the film posters of FIRST IMPRESSIONS, you will be able to see work by Stephen Banham, Bernard Caleo, Angela Cavalieri, Peter Ellis, Petr Herel, Andrew Keall, Carmen Reid and Sally Tape.
We'll also be conducting a concertina bookmaking workshops for kids to accompany The Seven Ravens throughout the festival.
Our works on paper are set to play a game of hide and seek as part of BLINDSIDE's forthcoming On the Verge festival.
Our work will be hiding at Collected Works (Level 1) and Obus (Ground Floor, Cathedral Arcade) in the Nicholas Building from the 24th of August through until the 3rd of September, 2016.
BLINDSIDE's 2016 festival guide (pdf)
Opening Night Drinks
Thursday the 25th of August
Level 7, Room 14, Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Walk the Verge
Saturday the 27th of August
Meeting at BLINDSIDE Gallery
We're delighted to announce that the Greater stick-nest rat edition of our artists' book, Because I Like You, has been acquired by the Mornington Peninsula Shire, as part of the 2016 National Works on Paper exhibition.
The exhibition runs until the 11th of September.
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery
Civic Reserve, 350 Dunns Road, Mornington
Twenty-six-year-old Torres Strait Islander Daniel O’Shane has won the $15,000 National Work on Paper Prize, sponsored by Beleura House & Garden. O’Shane’s work was chosen from the sixty-six artists shortlisted from around Australia from close to 1,000 entries for the $50,000 National Works on Paper acquisitions and awards. The prize, the most prestigious acquisitive prize and exhibition of its type in Australia, showcases recent works by artists working in the field of drawing, printmaking, digital prints and paper sculpture.
Victorian artist Lily Mae Martin was the winner of the $3500 Ursula Hoff Institute Emerging Artist Acquisitive Art Award 2016 for her work Wrestling three. Other pieces acquired include works by Jonas Ropponen, who grew up on the peninsula, Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison, Rew Hanks, Mark Hilton, Jake Homes, Deborah Kelly for her stop motion animated paper collage, Roy McIvor, Fiona McMonagle and Jim Pavlidis. The Friends of MPRG purchased Brian Robinson’s Up in the Heavens.
National Works on Paper was established in 1998 and incorporated the former Spring Festival of Drawing and the Prints Acquisitive which began in 1973.
The 2016 judges were Kirsty Grant, Director & CEO of the Heide Museum of Modern Art; Roger Butler, Senior Curator, Australian Prints and Drawings, National Gallery of Australia and Jane Alexander, Director Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.
The Mayor, Cr Graham Pittock says “The Mornington Peninsula Shire has provided critical funding support since the 1970s towards the MPRG’s acclaimed National Works on Paper exhibition. This exhibition of contemporary works is held every second year at the Gallery and has resulted in its Permanent Collection becoming a significant and valuable community asset featuring works by legendary Australian artists such John Olsen, Rick Amor, Gloria Petyarre and Charles Blackman.”