International Slow Art Day

This week I was at the NGV International drawing thumbnail sketches of some of the magnificent portraits hanging in the gallery. The process of looking closely and attentively, of really slowing down and engaging with the work, was a surprisingly rich experience and even a little challenging. As details emerged, new ideas and insights also burgeoned and this highlighted to me the importance of taking the time to let art reveal itself.

My experience was timely as today is International Slow Art Day – a day to engage with art slowly. We live in an age of instant gratification and expect everything to come to us quickly. Even for this blog post, I had better get to the point without delay or I will lose you. Yet some of our most pleasurable and memorable experiences are ones that take time to develop and actualise.

The concept for International Slow Art Day is straightforward. One day each year people all over the world visit local galleries to look at five works of art for 10 minutes each and then meet together to talk about their experience. So simple! The aim of the event is to focus on the art and the art of seeing. (You can read more about it on the International Slow Art Day website.)

Over two hundred galleries are participating in Slow Art Day and here in Geelong, the Geelong Gallery is offering a close encounter with four works from the Gallery’s permanent collection. Gallery Guides will facilitate the event so that viewers can explore, discuss and experience the selected works in a new way. The event is free and no bookings are required.

2.00pm–2.15pm: Brett Whitley, Pelican, 1983.

art work, gallery, geelongBrett Whiteleym, Pelican, 1983. Painted bronze (cast by Meridian Foundry); edition 1/9, 78.8 x 91.5 x 27.8 cm, Collection: Geelong Gallery. Gift of Dr and Mrs Bruce Munro, 1984. © Wendy Whiteley

~~~

2.15pm–2.30pm: The pier head 1910 by Stanhope Forbes.

ForbesStanhope Forbes, The pier head, 1910. Oil on canvas, 123.5 x 149.5 cm. Collection: Geelong Gallery. Purchased 1912.

~~~

2.30pm–2.45pm: The 21st of January by David Wadelton.

art work, geelong art galleryDavid Wadelton, The 21st of January 1990–91, oil on canvas, 213.2 x 151.8 cm. Collection: Geelong Gallery. Gift of Rob and Carol Andrew, 2006

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2.45pm–3.00pm: View of Geelong by Eugene von Guérard.

eugene-von-guerard_view-of-geelongEugene von Guérard, View of Geelong, 1856. Oil on canvas, 89.0 x 154.5 cm. Purchased through the Geelong Art Gallery Foundation with the generous support of the Victorian Government, the Australian Government, the City of Greater Geelong and numerous community and other donors, 2006

~~~

Slow art – take time to appreciate the mystery that is art and the rewards will be many. To quote from Henry David Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Close Encounters at Geelong Gallery
53 Little Malop St, Geelong Victoria 3220
Ph:  + 61 3 5229 3645
www.geelonggallery.org.au
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New Salt Scholarship to help art students achieve artistic ambitions

Two lucky VCE art students from local secondary schools will be the recipients of a new scholarship established by Salt Contemporary Art to mark the 10th anniversary of the popular Queenscliff gallery. To celebrate this significant milestone the gallery will award the scholarships to two local art students who are passionate about art and dedicated to their artistic practice.

Director of Salt Contemporary, Fiona Kelly, says the scholarships offer a significant opportunity for art students who face many obstacles in their quest to become an artist.

“It is very difficult to be a successful, practising artist in Australia. We’d like to make it a little easier for two students who have demonstrated a strong desire to pursue the visual arts but for whom, without our assistance and support would find it that much more difficult to reach their goals. It’s a small start but one that we hope will go on to be an annual program.”

The Salt Scholarships, valued at $2500 each, offer a sizeable ‘voucher’ for purchasing art materials, a cash component to assist with art study related expenses, a mentoring program with artist David Beaumont, and an opportunity to exhibit at Salt Contemporary.

The Salt Scholarship will be awarded to two students currently studying VCE art at Bellarine Secondary College and Newcomb Secondary College (one scholarship for each). The gallery will work in conjunction with senior staff from both secondary colleges to select the successful applicants.

Proceeds from a special exhibition, 10×10: Celebrating the First Decade of Salt Contemporary Art will be used to fund the scholarship. Artists from Salt Contemporary have created works ten inches square which will be unveiled during a celebratory cocktail party to be held on Saturday 5 April when guests will be able to purchase treasured artworks of their favourite artists.

Ben Shearer

Ben Shearer, ‘Edge of Desert’. Image courtesy Salt Contemporary Art.

Nicola Moss

Nicola Moss, ‘Tide Lines’. Image courtesy Salt Contemporary Art.

Nicola Moss is one of thirty artists contributing to the fundraising show and has forged a strong connection with the gallery over the past five years. She has donated two artworks to the exhibition.

“I began showing work with Salt Contemporary Art in 2009, and it’s been a wonderfully supportive relationship right from the start,” Nicola says. “I congratulate Salt on connecting with and supporting their local community in this way. I can remember my high school days of fine art studies and am certain this will be a much appreciated and substantial opportunity for the students selected.”

Fiona Kelly acknowledges the support of the gallery’s artists and clients, and is looking forward to the next ten years directing a successful gallery.

“We know we couldn’t possibly have achieved this without the ongoing support of both our clients and also the artists who entrust their work to us,” Fiona says. “Over the last ten years we have gone from strength to strength as we continue to represent some of the finest contemporary art practitioners from all around Australia.”

Joanne Sisson

Joanne Sisson, ‘Still Life with Leaves’. Image courtesy Salt Contemporary Art.

Bridgit Thomas

Bridgit Thomas, ‘Garfish’. Image courtesy Salt Contemporary Art.

Mark Fox

Mark Fox, ‘Le Coup de Soleil’. Image courtesy Salt Contemporary Art.

10×10: Celebrating the First Decade of Salt Contemporary Art
Salt Contemporary Art
33-35 Hesse St, Queenscliff.
Ph: (03) 5258 3988
www.salt-art.com.au
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Lorne Sculpture Biennale Winners 2014

I headed down to Lorne on Saturday morning for the Lorne Sculpture Biennale. Despite the organisers moving the event from November to March to make the most of Autumn’s pleasant weather, Mother Nature had other plans. On the first day of the three week event, grey misty clouds hung low over Lorne as the sun struggled to make an appearance. But no one seemed to mind as crowds descended on the seaside resort for the first day of the sculpture biennale featuring approximately 40 contemporary three-dimensional works along the beachfront, 40 small scale sculptures in the church hall, as well as workshops, tours, talks and performance art. There are also many separate projects in the Sculpturescape program which gives visitors the opportunity to see a sculpture develop before their eyes as artists create site specific work down near the swing bridge.

In the afternoon, we all packed into the Mantra’s function room for the official opening of the sculpture exhibition to find out who was going to be the recipient of the $75,000 Trail Sculpture commission which gives one lucky artist the opportunity to create a major new permanent sculpture for Lorne.

Tony Ellwood, Director of the NGV, announced the winner of the lucrative grant is Louise Paramor from Melbourne. Paramor’s The Wild Card #6 (polar), assembled from found objects, impressed the judges who all felt an “emotional connection” to the work. Ellwood noted that the artist was “particularly inventive and brave” and had extended her practice with this sculpture.

Louise Paramor
Louise Paramor, The Wild Card #6 (polar).

Louise Paramor states in the exhibition catalogue:
The use of fibreglass animals is a recent addition to my ‘palette’ of found materials, opening up a whole new area of exploration where the ‘animals’ are treated much like formal elements, and are abstracted via subversion. This addition to my oeuvre brings a new and refreshing dimension to my sculptures, potentially challenging the limits of the ready-made.

BIO: Born Sydney 1964. Louise Paramor graduated from Western Australian Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting (1985) and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Sculpture at the Victorian College of the Arts (1988). Paramor has regularly exhibited her work nationally and internationally since 1988 and has been awarded several grants including an Australia Council Fellowship at the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 1999-2000. In 2010 she won the prestigious McClelland Sculpture Survey and Award with her piece Top Shelf. She has been commissioned for a number of permanent public sculptures, the most recent being the monumental Panorama Station, Peninsula Link Freeway, Melbourne (2012).

~~~

The Small Sculpture Award went to Roh Singh who receives $2500 for his work Reverb Bird 111, made from acrylic and wood.

Roh Singh
Roh Singh, Reverb Bird 111.

Roh Singh’s explains in the exhibition catalogue:
In this series of sculptures I have focused on the point where things begin and end; where real and artificial delineate, or where an object exists and where it ceases to be. This insoluble contradiction where neither and both exist simultaneously is where I attempt to situate my own works. By designing my initial forms on computer I view the resulting works as virtual ghosts or phantoms of forms which allude to another invisible and otherworldly state.

BIO: Singh’s practice focuses on the limitations of sculpture, on the intangible as physical form. He is interested in pushing the very boundaries of what form is. Through this pioneering investigation, Singh manifests new forms, not previously realised. Singh leads studios in Sculpture and Installation for the Department of Art and Design at Swinburne University. Completing his BFA (Hons1) Monash University 2002, in 2006 Singh received an Australia Council Grant to create new work. In 2007 he was a finalist for the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award. Singh was a finalist in the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition 2012 and 2013. He is currently a candidate completing an MA-Art in the Public Space at RMIT University, Melbourne.

Singh’s sculpture is one of forty sculptures on display in the Uniting Church Hall as part of the Collectors Project. All these works are small in scale and sit within an affordable price range ranging from $500 to $5000.

~~~

Other awards were also announced in what had become a marathon round of speeches.

The $5000 Scarlett Award, for the best written critical writing about sculpture went to South Australian John Neylon for his review on Fiona Hall’s ‘Big Game Hunting’. It is available to read on the Lorne Sculpture website.

Jackie Ralph was awarded the Career Development Award which is given to an emerging artist or an artist not represented by a commercial gallery. Ralph wins a solo exhibition package in the upstairs gallery of Mars Gallery, Port Melbourne.

~~~

On a personal note, I would like to give a special mention to a sculpture that had an emotional impact on me – Richard Savage’s Terror Australis. It is powerful, confronting and made my heart ache. His work references an old photo of Aborigines chained together, linked with metal collars around their necks. In Savage’s work, the faceless figures, constructed from chains as though bound to the sins of the past, manifest a ghostly presence. This is Australia’s shameful history laid bare. Go see this work up close – my photo doesn’t do it justice.

Richard Savage
Richard Savage, Terror Australis.

Like his work, Savage’s artist statement in the exhibition catalogue doesn’t pull any punches:
Australian Aborigines have been treated like animals or worse since White Occupation. They have been murdered, removed from their lands and have had their children taken from them. No humiliation was too much: chaining Aborigines, guilty or innocent allowed pastoralists, miners and other white interests to take Aboriginal land with impunity. This is European justice: really it’s no justice at all. Today the gaols are filled with a disproportionate number of Aborigines, male and female, adult and child. There is no justice in Australia for Aborigines. My sculpture is based on a photo taken outside Roebourne Gaol in 1896. Its smiling constables reminded me of the Abu Ghraib photos from the Iraq War.

~~~

The first day of the biennale concluded with an inspiring performance, 5 Minutes to Midnight, by art troupe Climarte, to highlight the urgent need to act on climate change. Against the backdrop of the incoming tide, and accompanied by string musicians, a chorus of angels heralded the danger of inaction. With two of the angels towering metres into the air, fabric and feathers billowing in the wind, they made a spectacular sight, reminding me of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Beneath their feet, the words ‘Coal Requiem’ were spelt out in charcoal and seaweed on the sand. As I deciphered the words, I thought of Victoria’s dirtiest coal mine, Hazelwood, which has been burning out of control for weeks. Did I hear a whisper, “It’s time this polluting and outmoded industry is closed for good”?

Climarte 2

Climarte 9

Climarte 3

Climarte 4

Climarte 6

Climarte 7

The Lorne Sculpture Biennale runs until the end of March. Check out the Lorne Sculpture Biennale website for all the details. Visitors can cast their vote for the $3000 People’s Choice award too.

RELATED POSTS:
Lorne Sculpture 2011 Winners
Lorne Sculpture Photo Extravaganza
People’s Choice Winner in Lorne Sculpture 2011

Posted in Art, Arts Grant, Arts Trail, Performance Art, Public Art, Sculpture | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Revisiting MONA

Mona-St

Guess where I am headed…

Yes, I am going on a short holiday to Tassie, so I may not get to the blog for a while as I roam the red rocks in the Bay of Fires, savour handmade cheese on Bruny Island, and of course descend into MONA’s sandstone bunker for a hit of the old and the new in art.

Perhaps then it is timely to link to an old blog post from 2011 which I wrote several months after MONA had opened. I can’t wait to revisit the museum and find the artworks we missed last time…

MONA: a confounding catacomb of coffins, coins and cu… ahem, curiosities

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Imagined Landscapes by Bianca Brant

It is a day when Geelong is shrouded in eerie smoke haze from the bushfires burning in Victoria. A swathe of soft smog veils the Shell refinery; the You Yangs have all but disappeared; and the Corio Bay horizon is smudged into the dusky sky. It feels like a scene from a movie set and so it is perhaps appropriate that I am on my way to view an exhibition titled Imagined Landscapes by Bianca Brant. When I arrive Bianca is sitting on the floor of the gallery, painting, and as she almost unconsciously absorbs the conditions around her on this hazy day, her painting develops a muted, misty tone.

Bianca Brant 001
Bianca Brant works on one of her paintings on the floor of the gallery.
Bianca Brant 003
Detail of the hazy day painting.

Imagined Landscapes is Bianca’s first solo exhibition after completing Deakin’s Bachelor of Creative Arts last year, graduating with distinction and winning the first prize in the recent graduate show. As the exhibition title suggests, these paintings are not literal landscapes but an evocation of Bianca’s experience of place and the intuitive connections that she makes. Although Bianca often works en plein air, responding to her immediate environment, her abstracted works are a collage of memories, thoughts and feelings.

“I am reimagining my emotional landscape – all the swirling ideas, thoughts and hopes, and putting them on paper. I try to fill in all the connections of people, place, conversations and coincidence,” Bianca explains.

Hope is a recurring theme for the 40 year old artist who has used the motif of confetti to symbolise the belief that things will work out. Her landscapes are often strewn with confetti-like patterns, a random design she developed during a painting session at the Geelong waterfront when she saw the grass dotted with small, brightly coloured pieces of paper after a recent wedding. Bianca incorporates this symbol of hope in her work, reimagining a new world.

Bianca-Brant-Translation
Bianca Brant, Translation.
Bianca Brant Coastal Aquisitions detail
Bianca Brant, Coastal Acquisitions (detail).

“Watching the news there’s so much pain and suffering. Man’s inhumanity can be overwhelming,” Bianca says. “Hope is the ingredient you need to reconcile shock and trauma. It is amazing how people can somehow pull themselves together and be so resilient.”

In Bianca’s highly personalised and distinctive visual language, other symbols appear in these colourful invented topographies: eagles, safety nets, monsters and other motifs of protection. As she paints, different ideas and thoughts emerge and these are incorporated into her interpretation of the world. Conversations, poetry and literature can stimulate imagery too, as can memories and dreams.

Bianca presents her landscapes from an aerial perspective, as though viewing the landscape from a bird’s eye view. She finds the “detachment in elevation” aesthetically and conceptually pleasing. Geometric shapes become land masses like those on a map. The picture plane is flat with patchworks of colour that vibrate on the paper. She uses intense colour in parts and gentle textures in the broad areas of “featureless ground”.

Bianca-Brant-Arriving
Bianca Brant, Arriving.
Bianca-Brant-Departing
Bianca Brant, Departing.
Bianca Brant 023
Bianca Brant, Scatter Cushion Attack Dogs

For this exhibition Bianca has presented thirteen works on paper. Even though Bianca uses oil paint, she prefers to paint on archival paper rather than canvas because paper offers her freedom to experiment which she might not otherwise achieve if she was feeling precious about the materials.

Most of the paintings were created over the past four months but Bianca will complete two of the larger scale works hanging on the “making wall” throughout the course of the exhibition. While I was there, Bianca had removed the largest work, just under 3 metre wide, off the wall and was painting it on the floor which is her usual way of working. She likes people to see her paintings in progress and the conversations that arise between artist and audience can shape the painting’s development. This performative aspect of her art practice is an area Bianca wants to pursue further. She is passionate about performance art and regularly travels to Melbourne to see performance artists at work.

“I like performance art because it is the ultimate act of bravery – your body is the canvas. It is always so profound because it is the human figure that you are watching. You can’t side step it. You have to experience what is going on in front of you. It is real.”

As the curator at Etch, Bianca would like to see more performance art in Geelong and has plans for several performance art collaborations later in the year.

Bianca Brant 016
Bianca working on a large piece in the gallery.
Bianca Brant 013
A bird’s eye view of Bianca at work.
Bianca Brant 020
A well used tub of Jade Green. Bianca mixes her colours directly on the paper.

Bianca speaks eloquently about her work and it is no surprise to learn that she is an avid writer too. Obviously of a poetic disposition, she describes her work expressively in her artist’s statement which sums up this exhibition far better than my 812 words…

Artist’s Statement – Bianca Brant

“Leaky boat journeys to indefinite detention are a cruel blow to hope. What can an artist to do but draw a brand new world? An imagined landscape where the romantic notion of the individual artist working in the landscape continues. Bianca Brant paints in a visual language that is rhythmic, improvised and performative. Her ‘en plein air’ practice of landscape painting on site examines the collaborative space between artist, place and audience. From the imagined elevation of a bird in flight, the artist ascends to a small world experience of detachment to explore themes weighty and profound. Nature’s restorative power is painted in a bright emotional palette celebrating life’s safety nets: the meditative state of the runner, a gardener’s pottering or the surfer at dawn. This Kantian understanding of humanity’s resilience and ability to reconcile shock is documented on archival paper, a medium that appears fragile but is strong. Real-time experiences, triggered memories and future projections of hope are made-by-hand in evocative landscapes expressing what 1000 words spoken cannot.”

Bianca Brant 010
Bianca Brant with her work in progress Orange.
Bianca-Brant-Altitude
Bianca Brant, Altitude.

~~~

Bianca graduated with distinction from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) in 2013, and was awarded First Prize in the Deakin Graduate Exhibition. She has been nominated for the HATCHED National Graduate Exhibition at PICA, as well as the Deakin Medal and the Vice-Chancellors’ Medal for Outstanding Contribution to University Life. She will continue her postgraduate studies this year while working at Etch Gallery in a curatorial role.

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Imagined Landscapes by Bianca Brant
1 February – 18 February 2014

Etch Gallery
215 Moorabool St, Geelong.
Open Wednesday to Saturday, 10am – 3pm
www.etchgalleryandstudios.com

RELATED POSTS:
ETCH Studios and Gallery – a new artist run space for Geelong
The Space Between – Deakin Graduates Art Exhibition

Posted in Art, Exhibitions, Painting, Performance Art, Works on paper | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Portraits of Artists by Steve Salo

When fire tore through Steve Salo’s studio in Torquay he was devastated. Inside the artist’s studio were approximately 70 of his paintings, and 80 drawings and sketchbooks, some of which he had treasured since a child. Every single one was destroyed. All of his art materials and tools were obliterated along with reference books and a cherished drawing case from his childhood. The blaze consumed everything, a lifetime of irreplaceable work reduced to ashes.

“I find it quite hard to talk about it now. The best thing for me is to put it behind me and not ponder over it,” Steve says, clearly still coming to terms with the emotional impact of the disaster that occurred nearly a year ago.

After the fire Steve says it felt like time stood still, “almost like a surreal dream”. He was overcome with confusion, disbelief and grief. For the next couple of months Steve had no desire to paint, unable to motivate himself to even pick up a paintbrush. Eventually, however, the urge to create returned and he began to paint, not with brushes but with his fingers. It was an important step in the healing process.

Steve Salo 17
Steve Salo working on his portrait of Brett Whiteley.
Francis Bacon Steve Salo
Steve Salo, Francis Bacon.
Steve Salo 01
Steve Salo, Francis Bacon (detail).

“I painted and painted like a madman. I painted every day, at all hours in the day. Sometimes three paintings a day,” Steve says. “Holding anger I squeezed paint directly into my palm and slapped it onto the canvas! I mixed the paint with my fingers sculpting faces from my inner visions. I felt a raw, strong energy painting this way. I loved the change. I was releasing the pain, the anger and all the hurt.”

Steve moved into a new studio in Newtown’s arts precinct and began painting in earnest. He relished the thick buttery impasto of the oil paint, using his hands or a palette knife to trowel it onto the canvas. The loose, expressionistic way of working was a liberating experience for the 40 year old artist who had previously painted in a more measured and realistic style, or as Steve more colourfully puts it: “In my younger years of painting I was as tight as an Italian tenor’s trousers.”

For his subject Steve took his cue from art history and chose to paint portraits of well-known artists such as Francis Bacon, Gustave Courbet, Jackson Pollock, Lloyd Rees and Brett Whiteley, to mention just a few. These gestural oil painting portraits, almost brutal in the application of paint are contrasted with acrylic works, rendered with brushes, in a softer, more sensitive style.

Steve Salo 18
Steve Salo works in some paint on his Brett Whiteley portrait. (He usually wears disposable rubber gloves).
Vincent Van Gogh Steve Salo
Steve Salo, Vincent Van Gogh.
Jackson Pollock Steve Salo
Steve Salo, Jackson Pollock.
Steve Salo 13
Steve Salo, Jackson Pollock (detail).
Lloyd Rees Steve Salo
Steve Salo, Lloyd Rees.
Steve Salo 03
Steve Salo with Untitled in his studio.

“I am interested in exploring the human psyche in the portrait,” Steve says, “The portrait gives a more emotional quality to me than other genres of painting. I am intrigued by the human head and the complexities of human expression.”

It is clear that Steve has vented his emotions on the canvas and his enjoyment of the pure physicality of the paint is readily apparent. As the fictional character Basil Hallward commented in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”

Steve’s recent work will be on display in a forthcoming exhibition at Metropolis Gallery (1 March – 15 March 2014). The exhibition marks an important milestone for the artist as he explores a new direction in his art. He’s learnt that painting is as much about experimenting and taking risks as it is about finishing the work.

“The fire may have been the best thing that has happened to me as I’ve produced all new expressive works and gone through months of experimenting and solid, solid painting,” Steve reflects. “I don’t think I’ve ever painted so consistently in my life. It has also produced what seems to be a new me.”

Steve Salo 16
Steve Salo at work in the studio.
Steve Salo 11
Steve’s favourite chair where he contemplates his work before a frenzy of painting.
Steve Salo 07
Steve Salo’s palette.
Steve Salo 06
Steve sometimes uses a caulking gun to apply the paint.

Steve Salo 20

Gustave Courbet Steve Salo
Steve Salo, Gustave Courbet.
‘Portraits of Artists’ by Steve Salo
(showing concurrently with ‘Landscapes’ by Clive Sinclair)

1 March – 15 March 2014
Metropolis Gallery
64 Ryrie Street, Geelong VIC 3220.  Ph: (03) 5221 6505
www.metropolisgallery.com.au
You can keep up to date with Steve on his Facebook page
www.facebook.com/stevesaloartist
Posted in Art, Artin' Geelong, Exhibitions, Painting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Call Me’ installation by Rachel Hanlon

For those old enough to remember pop songs from the eighties, ‘Call Me’ by Blondie might come to mind when viewing the work by Rachel Hanlon currently on exhibition at Etch Gallery. Rachel’s installation of the same title, and referencing in part the same era, explores her personal connection to the telephone, in particular telephones that are now obsolete. She asks: what happens when an object, once significant to a whole generation as a technological device, has passed its intended purpose and use?

Off the Hook installation Rachel Hanlon
Rachel Hanlon, Off the Hook, installation view.
Off the Hook detail Rachel HanlonRachel Hanlon, Off the Hook (detail).

One of the most striking works, Off the Hook is an installation of colourful hanging handsets, modelled on the now outdated landline telephone’s classic shape. The viewer can pick up a handset and listen to messages from anonymous people which Rachel recorded from her answering machine. She received these messages after distributing business cards with “Call Me” printed on them along with her phone number and a website for further information (http://callmeonthelandline.wordpress.com/). Rachel received 350 messages ranging from recited poems and narrated dreams to quotes from movies, memories of childhood and musings on the meaning of life. Rachel says she continues to receive messages and has another 43 messages that need to be added to the installation.

With the messages playing at low volume, it sounds like the phones have been left ‘off the hook’, a redundant phrase as we no longer need to remove the telephone receiver from its cradle when we don’t want to be disturbed – now unanswered calls are directed to message bank.

Off the Hook Rachel Hanlon
Rachel Hanlon, Call Me. Image courtesy Rachel Hanlon.

The work was prompted in part by Rachel’s need to understand why she was reluctant to relinquish her landline phone, even though she no longer needed it. And the concept of the project grew to explore the act of communication itself.

In another installation, Re-Call Me, old phones from the artist’s private collection sit on plinths around the gallery walls. In this work, Rachel examines the transition of an object from a useful device to an obsolete ‘thing’. Rather than label the phones with its name, date and description, as we would find in a museum catalogue, Rachel has written what the phone means to her or others, detailing its presence as a ‘thing’.

Rachel-Hanlon-Recall-Me
Rachel Hanlon, Re-Call Me (detail).
Rachel-Hanlon-Recall-Me-piano-phone
Rachel Hanlon, Re-Call Me, (detail).

In the Yellow Room, Can Someone Get That is an installation of three obsolete landline telephones placed on vintage telephone tables (complete with side seats), on carpet. It refers to that area of the home that was set aside for the phone, a space and way of being that has disappeared from today’s domestic life. The phones ring and we feel compelled to answer them, even sitting down to take the call. Here, played through the phones, Rachel has used phone conversations from films which she transcribed, recorded and reworked to form new narratives. She did this not only to highlight outmoded phone rituals and vernacular, but also “as a comment on the personal interpretations of the historian / archivist always being a variable to contend with.”

A video projection above the telephone tables highlights the language and conventions associated with the landline phone, as well as the repetitive physicality of dialling using the rotary dial.

Call-Me-Installation
Katrina O’Grady takes a call in Can Someone Get That. Frank answers the phone in Out of Change. Photos: Helen Lyth

The once ubiquitous phone booth, a unit fast becoming extinct with the rise of the mobile phone, is also represented in the exhibition with Out of Change, a red phone booth Rachel constructed, referencing a 1972 Spanish film ‘La Cabina’ in which the protagonist is locked in a phone booth and no one can help him to get out. The installation encapsulates the dichotomy the phone booth presents: a private space to hold a conversation, only audible to the two people talking on the phone, but in a public place and visually exposed.

This exhibition will delight anyone enamoured with the romance of the phone and will surely trigger memories and stories about the old style landline phone. Communication technology, an intrinsic part of our culture, is changing rapidly and this exhibition pays homage to those technologies now rendered obsolete while it also considers the function of the ‘archive’. And for those who like to dig a little deeper, there are many layers to explore in this carefully considered work.

Call-me-Poster-Image
Image courtesy Rachel Hanlon.

Artist Statement – Rachel Hanlon

What happens when an object, once significant to a whole generation as a technological device, has passed its intended purpose and use?

Rachel Hanlon’s work explores this question our modern day society asks itself by reflecting on her own personal connection to the telephone. Her works make available many layered metaphors and meanings through reinterpretations of the now obsolete technologies that are heightened by our cultural reliance on them as a part of the narrative of our times. Her installations stimulate thoughts regarding objects/things in relation to the passing of time, changes to our ‘selves’ and our rituals, cementing the telephone as an object that verifies its place within our history as part of our cultural voice.

~~~

Rachel graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) in 2012, and was awarded ‘The Wooly’, First Prize in the Deakin Graduate Exhibition. In the same year she was offered membership to Deakin’s Golden Key International Honour Society for academic results in the top 15% of the university. Last year she completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours), graduating with first class honours. She plans to continue her postgraduate studies after taking a year off in 2014.

~~~

Call Me by Rachel Hanlon
1 February – 18 February 2014
Etch Gallery
215 Moorabool St, Geelong.
Open Wednesday to Saturday, 10am – 3pm
www.etchgalleryandstudios.com

RELATED POSTS:
ETCH Studios and Gallery – a new artist run space for Geelong
The Tides that Bind Exhibition

Posted in Art, Contemporary Art, Exhibitions, Installation, Sculpture | Tagged , , | 2 Comments