Tweed Regional Gallery to host free Artist Talks this weekend

Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre will host talks by three diverse Indigenous artists this Sunday, 2 September 2018. 

Multi-media artist Judy Watson, along with regional artists Digby Moran and Michael Philp, will be discussing their artworks currently on exhibition at the Gallery.

Digby Moran with his painting Bundjalung Stone Axe Gift of Margot Anthony AM, through the Tweed Regional Gallery Foundation Ltd., 2018 © The artist

Digby Moran with his painting Bundjalung Stone Axe Gift of Margot Anthony AM, through the Tweed Regional Gallery Foundation Ltd., 2018 © The artist

Judy Watson will speak to her work The Names of Places, currently on display in the touring exhibition Experimenta Make Sense,  as well as her artist prints held in the Gallery's permanent collection, a selection of which are currently on display as part of the Gallery's 30th anniversary exhibition Three Decades: celebrating the Tweed Regional Gallery collection.

Digby Moran and Michael Philp, also featured in Three Decades, will give insight into their works Bundjalung Stone Axe and Spotting for Sea Mullet, respectively.


EVENT DETAILS:

What:  Artist Talks

Where:  Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre

When:  Sunday 2 September at 2pm

Gallery Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Cost:    Free

Art in the Pub: Annique Goldenberg's Arctic Residency

Join us Monday 27th November for the last Art in the Pub for 2017

 

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TextaQueen turns nudes upside down at TRG

TextaQueen, Save Yourself (self-love self-portrait) 2013, from the series Unknown Artist, fibre-tipped markers, acrylic paint and coloured pencil on paper, Corrigan Collection

TextaQueen, Save Yourself (self-love self-portrait) 2013, from the series Unknown Artist, fibre-tipped markers, acrylic paint and coloured pencil on paper, Corrigan Collection

TextaQueen's humorous and subversive works upend the traditions of the salon nude and narrative portraiture.

Armed with a felt-tipped pen, she playfully tackles complex issues of race, exoticism, gender, sexuality and identity.

TextaQueen's engaging portraits are showcased in Between You and Me, the first survey exhibition of this contemporary artist, on display at Tweed Regional Gallery from 8 December 2017 - 25 February 2018.

The survey exhibition brings together more than 30 works, highlighting TextaQueen's compelling marker works on paper, as well as a new suite of photos created during a recent placement at Mornington Shire's Police Point Artist in Residency Program.

Tweed Regional Gallery Director Susi Muddiman said: "In 2011, the Gallery acquired a wonderful etching of The true history of the Kelly Gang by TextaQueen, which is currently on display in our collection show, Go Figure.

"This new touring exhibition, Between You and Me, is a fantastic opportunity for our audiences to witness the full extent of TextaQueen's unique practice and experience the colour and vibrancy of her work."

Everyone is invited to an official opening of Between You and Me on Friday 8 December 2017 at 6pm (DST), by Joanna Strumpf, Co-Founder & Co-Director Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney & Singapore.

TextaQueen: Between You and Me is a Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery travelling exhibition and is supported by Mornington Peninsula Shire.

TextaQueen, Where we will go when the world implodes? (Taylor Mac) 2006, fibre-tipped markers on paper, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Victoria, Purchased from National Works on Paper, 2008

TextaQueen, Where we will go when the world implodes? (Taylor Mac) 2006, fibre-tipped markers on paper, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Victoria, Purchased from National Works on Paper, 2008

The Art of Mathematics: Murri the Prime Ingredient of a Pi

Frank Murri, The Prime Ingredient in a Big Piece of Pi (π) - Panel # 43 (12,288 - 12,586 digits) 2017, timber, acrylic and ink on board, 94x58cm, ©Frank Murri, 2017

Frank Murri, The Prime Ingredient in a Big Piece of Pi (π) - Panel # 43 (12,288 - 12,586 digits) 2017, timber, acrylic and ink on board, 94x58cm, ©Frank Murri, 2017

Newcastle-based artist Frank Murri integrates art and math in his exhibition The Prime Ingredient in a Big Piece of Pi (π),  featured at Tweed Regional Gallery from 24 November to 22 April 2018.

Mathematics and art share a long historical relationship. Philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell encapsulated the synergy between the two disciplines, stating: "Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture".
 
In his ambitious exhibition, Murri has encoded and carved 31 timber relief sculptural panels with the first 9014 digits of the Pi number (an irrational number with no end or repeating pattern). Within this sequence, the artist has highlighted the first four single digit prime numbers using primary colours, in an exploration of the aesthetic in number theory.
 
Murri said: "By looking into the realm of pure mathematics, there lies within a beauty which transcends its usual form. The pieces I've created are formulated to capture this beauty."
 
The Prime Ingredient in a Big Piece of Pi (π) will officially open at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre on Friday 24 November at 6pm (NSW time).
 
On Sunday 10 December at noon to 2pm, Frank Murri will facilitate a fun, engaging free drop-in activity for children aged 3 years and over. Working with paper and pens, LEGO® bricks, or a drawing app on smartphones, children will explore how probability can shape an artwork with repeated throws of a dice.  

 

Michael Zavros Debut Book Launch at TRG

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Leading Australian artist Michael Zavros will hold his debut book launch at the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre on 23 November.

The book, simply titled Michael Zavros, will be launched with a special in-conversation between the artist and Tweed Regional Gallery Director Susi Muddiman.


"We will discuss Michael's art practice and the evolution of his exciting monograph, and he will be available to sign copies of the book," Ms Mudddiman said.

The work of Michael Zavros has been collected by major museums and private collections the world over. He is well known for his hyper-realistic paintings and, more recently, for photography, sculpture, film and performance.

His stunning debut monograph features more than 120 beautifully reproduced works, as well as essays from some of the art world's leading figures.

Members of the public are invited to the launch, which begins at 6pm. Numbers are limited and bookings, along with pre-purchases of the book, can be made online before 20 November at www.trybooking.com/SKML

Event Details
When: Thursday 23 November 6pm. Gallery Cafe open 5pm - 6pm.
Cost: $25 / $20 for Friends of the Gallery members. 
Bookings: Limited numbers. For online bookings and to reserve and pay for a copy of the book go to www.trybooking.com/SKML
RSVP: 20 November 2017
Book: Author: Michael Zavros with contributions by Rhana Devenport, Robert Leonard, Chris Saines and Laurence Simmons
212pp hardback | 330x260mm | $85 AUD | Manuscript Publishing

Rosie's life lines reel in Olive Cotton people's choice prize

Michael Cook's close-up portrait Memories has been voted the public's favourite in the Olive Cotton Award People's Choice Award, with visitors describing it as a "profound" and "powerful" image.

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The well-known Sunshine Coast photographer was thrilled with the news and indicated he would be giving the $250 winner's prize to Rosie, the subject of his black and white portrait.

Visitors to the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre said the detailed portrait effectively captured Rosie's character by starkly depicting what a number of voters described as her "life lines".

Cook described Rosie as a beautiful person who kindly introduced him to bush tucker and is everyone's favourite grandmother in her community.

"I wanted to capture her beauty physically and within. I think the photograph allows the viewer to not only see a lifetime of memories but to actually feel who she is beyond appearance," he said.

The People's Choice Award, funded by the Friends of the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc, helped wrap up this year's Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture.

Hundreds of visitors to the exhibition took the opportunity to vote for their favourite work from the 72 finalists, which were on display at the Tweed Regional Gallery until 8 October.

Voting was close, with the portrait Trevor Jamieson by Brett Canet-Gibson of WA just 30 votes behind.

The biennial competition reinforced its claim as Australia's top photographic portraiture prize by attracting record entries this year. Entrants ranged from many high-profile photographers to a strong field of emerging artists, including the Olive Cotton Award's youngest finalist, 12-year-old local Ari Messina.

The end of this year's exhibition also brought to a close a 'selfie' competition to promote the new social media pages for the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre.

Sherry Mackay won a Tweed Regional Gallery prize pack, featuring Margaret Olley merchandise, for snapping herself with her favourite portrait, featuring actor and comedian Bill Bailey.

Sarah K8 @cloudcatcher15 chose Anita Modok's portrait, in absentia: Judy Cassab's bedroom, for her selfie on Instagram and won a $100 food and drinks voucher from the Gallery Cafe. She said the colours, composition and texture are "absolutely divine".

"I could totally move in and make it my own room!!" she said.

Surprising results for 2017 Les Peterkin Prize

The enormous talent of Tweed and Byron primary school students will again be celebrated by the annual Les Peterkin Portrait Prize, on show at the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre from 22 September - 4 December 2017.

The Prize, one of the Gallery's most popular exhibitions, has again attracted an enormous number of entries and participating schools this year.

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Working on the theme Surprise!, primary school students sketched, collaged, photographed and painted images that capture their unique character and depict an unexpected moment in their lives. Students explored an experience that frightened, excited or even shocked them.

First place winners: Tahmina Barikai (5-7 Years) from Byron Community Primary School, Nathan Singh (8-10 Years) from Murwillumbah Public School and Nilon Jordan (11-13 Years) from Tweed Valley Adventist College.

This year's submissions were a true indication that art in Tweed schools is alive and well, prize coordinator Marianne Galluzzo said. "The high standard of works submitted displayed great imagination in subject matter and in the use of materials. This is why I would like to congratulate every child who submitted an entry, because everyone showed a genuine and extremely talented attempt to produce a work of art."

All 37 award-winning and commended artworks will be professionally framed and featured in the exhibition. Another 180 outstanding works will be displayed in folios for the duration of the exhibition.

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The creativity and effort of every child who entered the competition greatly impressed the 2017 panel of judges: local artists Arna Baartz and Tamsin Ainslie, primary school teacher Lurleen Badger, Tweed Regional Gallery staff representative Molly Green, Tyalgum Public School representative and artist Melissa Howarth, and education support officer Ronalda Combo.

The Prize is named after legendary Tweed artist and art teacher Les Peterkin, and made possible by the financial support of Tweed Shire Council,Tyalgum Public School, Friends of the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc., Derivan, School Art Supplies and Bunnings.

Tweed Regional Gallery will host the official opening and prize-giving ceremony on Thursday 21 September, one of its biggest events of the year. Children, family and friends are invited to enjoy the antics of roving magician and balloon animal creator Shorty Brown and watch high school student Ella McDermott create live caricatures for six lucky ticket winners from 3.30pm-4.30pm.

At 4.30pm, the exhibition will be officially opened by Tyalgum Public School Principal Janelle Cloherty, before Les Peterkin joins Ms Galluzzo and Friends of the Gallery President Penny Hall to announce the winners.

 

Artists pay homage to the natural beauty of the caldera

Greg Mulheran, Lost and Lonely 2017, linoprint with watercolour, pen and ink, 60x45cm

Greg Mulheran, Lost and Lonely 2017, linoprint with watercolour, pen and ink, 60x45cm

The Tweed's natural beauty will be celebrated in the Caldera Art 2017 exhibition at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre from 22 September - 3 December 2017.

The exhibition presents the work of six artists passionate about preserving the rich biodiversity and complex ecosystems within the region's shield volcano. The varied interpretations of Kim Godfrey, Janet Hauser, Heidi Ledwell, Greg Mulheran, Greg Newland and Jennifer Porter all seek to generate positive emotional responses to the fragility of the natural environment and encourage viewers to take an interest in living things found in the water, on the ground, in the canopy, the sky, and their own backyard.


The Tweed has some of Australia's most diverse flora, fauna and landscapes. Its unique natural history and cultural resonance prompted Parks Australia and Tourism Australia to declare it one of only 16 'Australian National Landscapes'. The region surrounding the remnant Mount Warning (Wollumbin) shield volcano was named 'Australia's Green Cauldron'. 

Tweed Regional Gallery Director Susi Muddiman OAM said: "The works in Caldera Art 2017 reflect the artists' passion for preserving the biodiversity and ecosystems under constant threat from human impact.

Jennifer Porter, Receding flood 2017, oil on canvas, 81x54cm

Jennifer Porter, Receding flood 2017, oil on canvas, 81x54cm

"The man behind this exhibition, Andy Reimanis, has an energy and commitment to conservation and promoting our region that is beyond comparison. Andy is the Director of the small but wonderful Caldera Art Gallery, which until the recent flood was housed in the Murwillumbah Visitors Information Centre in Alma Street."

Caldera Regional Art Inc. is a not-for-profit association of artists dedicated to raising public awareness of the significant biodiversity values in Australia's Green Cauldron.  Through the exhibition, Caldera Art seeks to generate community awareness, empathy and support for protecting the region's environment, from small backyard ecosystems to the grand rainforests and rivers.

More information about Caldera Art is available at www.calderaart.org.au

Caldera Art has been developed as part of a biodiversity and conservation awareness strategy supported by Council's Natural Resource Management section.

All are warmly invited to attend an official opening of Caldera Art 2017 by the Tweed Deputy Mayor, Councillor Chris Cherry, on Friday 29 September at 6pm (for 6.30pm).

Whiteley journeys bring fresh view of the world

Brett Whiteley,  New York 1 1968 , oil, collage, chrome and mixed media on plywood, 172 x 238 x 6cm

Brett Whiteley, New York 1 1968, oil, collage, chrome and mixed media on plywood, 172 x 238 x 6cm

Brett Whiteley: other places (somewhere else), a new exhibition at Tweed Regional Gallery from 29 September, is a visual travelogue by one of Australia's most celebrated artists.

Brett Whiteley travelled extensively throughout his life, setting down his experiences in charcoal, photographs and paint, creating a visual diary of Paris, New York, Tokyo and other destinations.

The exhibition reveals the artist's intense desire to document his unique vision and experiences, showcasing these paintings, drawings, photographs and sketchbooks.

Brett Whiteley: other places (somewhere else) is an Art Gallery of New South Wales and Brett Whiteley Studio touring exhibition, developed in partnership with Cairns Regional Gallery.

Brett Whiteley,  The green mountain (Fiji)  1969, oil, collage on cardboard, 137 x 122 cm

Brett Whiteley, The green mountain (Fiji) 1969, oil, collage on cardboard, 137 x 122 cm


It includes his early works of Paris, which had never been displayed, and his last experiences of the city when he returned to Paris at 50 in 1989.

"I first went to Paris at age 20, but was so obsessed with modernism and abstraction to paint it," he wrote in 1989. "Now with fresh eyes, I could respond figuratively and lyrically to the one ravishing subject - Paris and her cultural heroes. Paris is so sensual, beautiful, flirtatious, mischievous, arrogant, orderly, civilised … and every street I turned, I could see another picture."

Whiteley immersed himself in these cities, recording his impressions of the urban landscapes and the people within them, with great energy, humour and sensitivity.

In New York, he responded to the city's dynamic environment and the broader social, artistic and political issues facing America at the time. In Japan, he saw first-hand how traditional methods of Japanese painting and drawing can capture a subject in a beautifully brief manner. He captured well known and loved destinations in a fresh but recognisable way.

Brett Whiteley: other places (somewhere else) will be on display at the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre from Friday 29 September to Sunday 3 December 2017.

All are invited to attend three special events celebrating the exhibition:

An Evening with Wendy Whiteley: Thursday 28 September at 5.30pm (for 6.15pm). A talk by Wendy Whiteley and the Art Gallery of New South Wales Deputy Director & Director of Collections, Maud Page. Tickets: $35/Friends $30. Includes light refreshments. Limited seating, bookings essential by phoning (02) 6670 2790

Official opening: Friday 29 September at 6pm (for 6.30pm). Free event.

Special screening of the documentary WHITELEY at the Regent Cinema, Murwillumbah
Sunday 5 November at 4pm (DST)  Tickets: $15/$12/$10 available at www.trybooking.com/29078
Introduction to the film by local printmaker David Preston, who shared a friendship and unique collaboration with Brett Whiteley. Tickets available on the website. 

Additional screening, Wednesday 8 November at 7pm (DST)  Tickets: $12/$10/$8 available at the Regent Cinema (02) 6672 8265

Local photographer, 12, becomes youngest Olive Cotton finalist

The list of finalists for the Olive Cotton Award in 2017 features many of the biggest names in Australian portrait photography, but it has also continued the emergence of a talented young local.

In 2014, Ari Messina was a winner in Tweed Regional Gallery's Les Peterkin prize for portraits for local primary school children.

Fast forward just three years and Messina, now aged 12, has become the youngest finalist for the Olive Cotton Award, which has been touted as Australia's leading prize in portrait photography.

His piece, Dark Side of a Girl, hangs among the other 71 finalists for 2017, on exhibition in Tweed Regional Gallery until Sunday 8 October.

Ari Messina, right.

Ari Messina, right.

Messina said his selection as a finalist was a "really big surprise".

"I wasn't expecting it to be a finalist. I was shocked at first but it felt so good," he said. "At the time I took it, I didn't have any intention to enter it in the Olive Cotton Awards, but after I looked at it on the computer, my mum and I knew it would be good to enter."

Messina said he was exposed to photography from a very early age because his grandfather and uncle are both photographers.

"Being immersed in it really got me to enjoy taking photos," he said.

Messina says he does not have any particularly ambitions with his photography. "Right now I am just enjoying taking photos and learning how to use my camera."

Ari Messina's  Dark Side of a Girl

Ari Messina's Dark Side of a Girl

David Hockney's brother to give talk at Tweed Regional Gallery

David Hockney,  Bedlam

David Hockney, Bedlam

Get a greater insight to the innovations and motivations of David Hockney, the subject of Tweed Regional Gallery's first international touring exhibition, when the Gallery hosts an Up Late event this Saturday.

The UK artist's Australian-based brother, John Hockey, will join Tweed Regional Gallery Director Susi Muddiman and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Director Paul Brinkman for a conversation from 6.30pm.


The panel conversation will reflect on David Hockney's career, his exploration of digital technologies and concurrent exhibitions of Hockney's work in London and Melbourne.

Up Late will be held from 5-8pm, as part of a series of events on Saturday to accompany the current exhibition David Hockney: Words & Pictures.

David Hockney,  Self Portrait

David Hockney, Self Portrait


A free talk by John Hockney in the afternoon has booked out.

The Gallery cafe will be open for the evening. Drop in for wine and tapas from 5.30-6.30pm or stay for supper from 7.30-9pm. Bookings are essential by phoning (02) 6672 5088).

David Hockey has been described as "arguably Britain's greatest living painter" and in 2011 was voted by his peers as the most influential British artist of all time.

Drawn from the British Council's collection and direct from London, David Hockney: Words & Pictures presents four major suites of the artist's prints, produced between 1961 and 1977.


United by their reference to historical works of literature and art, the prints were produced during the first two decades of Hockney's career when he established himself as a pioneer of the British Pop art movement. Collectively they offer insight to Hockney's beginnings and evolution as an artist.

The international collection will be supplemented by outstanding original Hockney etchings, lithographs and photocollages, including colourful portraits of the artist's mother and a self-portrait, kindly loaned to the Gallery by John Hockney

David Hockney: Words & Pictures will end at Tweed Regional Gallery on Sunday 17 September, before moving on for a limited time to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba.

This exhibition appears at Tweed Regional Gallery with the generous support of the Tweed Regional Gallery Foundation Ltd.

For more information, visit artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au or phone (02) 6670 2790.

Joshua Yeldham Shares Uncoventional Story of Endurance

The unorthodox life journey of artist Joshua Yeldham will be laid bare when he gives a free talk at Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah on Sunday 27 August.

The unconventional Sydney-based artist will speak about his exhibition Endurance, on display at the Gallery until 10 December, and his story of a "sensitive boy" who endured bullying, a literacy challenges and an unsympathetic school system to become one of Australia's most original artists.

Yeldham giving a previous talk at Tweed Regional Gallery.

Yeldham giving a previous talk at Tweed Regional Gallery.

Yeldham draws from a deep spiritual affiliation with the land and a love of nature, creating art that entwines narrative and myth, imagination and experience.

Working across painting, photography, drawing and sculpture, he has developed a singular aesthetic that combines various mediums such as his pierced and carved photographs, his characteristic oil paintings, and large-scale paper works.

Yeldham is also an enthralling and humorous storyteller and will share his learning journey - from the heart-breaking to the bizarre.

A small boy struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia, he was a boarder at an exclusive Sydney school from the age of eight and was regularly taunted and tormented by his "big-boned" fellow students.

He seized an opportunity to reinvent himself when he was 14, moving with his mother to Switzerland and studying at the prestigious Aiglon College.

Yeldham was inspired by his "mountain men" teachers who were "strong men but they weren't aggressive" and he threw himself into physical challenges.

It was another chapter in his unorthodox approach to physical and academic challenges and introduced him to skiing, navigation, mountain climbing and caving, throwing him into nature.

A succession of great art teachers throughout his education was also telling and he went on to study at the Rhode Island School of Design, then became an award-winning film maker.

 Endurance is the product of Yeldham's term at the Gallery's Nancy Fairfax Artist in Residence Studio in February, when he was invited to explore the waterways and surrounding scenery of the Northern Rivers.

His free talk will be held in the Withey Family Gallery from 2pm.

For further information, visit artgallery.tweed.nsw.gov.au or phone (02) 6670 2790.

Guy Maestri chats to BAM

Sydney painter Guy Maestri won the Archibald Prize in 2009, and has now been announced a 2017 Wynne Prize Finalist. He chats to BAM about his nomination, and his residency at the Margaret Olley Centre earlier this year.

BAM.  Congratulations on being a Wynne Prize Finalist. Please tell us about Self Portrait for Posterity.

Maestri.  With these works, I am playing with the idea of the heroic classical bust and questioning what use there is in leaving a lasting reproduction of my own image for future generations. These sculptures are originally made in clay and then cast in bronze and painted. So they are very permanent, but appear malleable and ephemeral.

Guy Maestri,  Self portrait (for posterity)  2017,  bronze, 60.0 x 24.0 x 40.0 cm.  Courtesy of the artist and Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane.

Guy Maestri, Self portrait (for posterity) 2017,  bronze, 60.0 x 24.0 x 40.0 cm.  Courtesy of the artist and Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane.

BAM.  What were highlights of your residency at the Margaret Olley Centre?

Maestri.  It was a privilege to be there, looking over that magnificent valley to Wollumbin in the distance, and to have such access to the gallery and a great studio to live and work in. I live in the heart of Sydney, so that in itself was a highlight. But I originally went there to investigate the surrounding area and make landscape work about it, however, I was inevitably drawn to the incredible recreation of Margaret Olley's home and studio. And with access to that space and permission to borrow objects to paint from, my focus shifted to these precious things, and to making intimate works about them.

Echo  installation. Courtesy of the artist and Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane.

Echo installation. Courtesy of the artist and Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane.

 BAM.  Your exhibition Echo recently closed at the Tweed Regional Gallery. What was the process of developing the concept, and choosing the pieces for the show?

Maestri.  The show became all about objects and their meaning, and also intimate space. I knew the exhibiting space that I would be using and it is this beautifully dark, quiet gallery space with dark grey walls and museum quality lighting. This had a great influence on the work I made, and on the pieces I chose to exhibit. I wanted it to feel like a museum, with relics and documents. I became interested in the flowers in Margaret's house, and of course the only ones remaining are her plastic ones, but what does it matter when you're making paintings of them? They become another form of reproduction anyway, but also an extension. I also thought a lot about my own grandmother's house, and what remained after she was gone, and the things I now have and cherish from that home. Everyday things with huge personal value to me. And so the show became about preservation too. And reflection. And of course, about painting. The joy of painting. Reinvigorated in me from being in Olley's world.

Echo  installation. Courtesy of the artist and Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane.

Echo installation. Courtesy of the artist and Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane.

2017 Olive Cotton Award Winner Justine Varga provides insight into her controversial win

Justine Varga has said that she could feel tension in the room when she was announced the winner of the 2017 Olive Cotton Award.

The prestigious prize for photographic portraiture was awarded to Ms Varga, despite the image not depicting a face, and a camera wasn’t used.  The judge, Dr Shaun Lakin, gave generous reasoning for his decision, which seemed to relax the crowd at the award ceremony. But the fallout was immediate. The Sydney Morning Herald ran a front page story titled 'Olive Cotton Award: Photographic portrait prize awarded to image without a face', and later, 'Justine Varga's Olive Cotton prize: questions of art over a grandmother's prizewinning scrawl'. Even The Times UK weighed in: "In fact, there’s little human about the work’s sqiggles and smears".

Here, Ms Varga provides BAM with her perspective.


BAM.  Please tell us your thoughts on why the piece is a portrait.
Varga.  “I thought the judge for this year’s Olive Cotton Award, Shaun Lakin, was very eloquent in explaining why he thought my photograph was indeed a portrait and I can do no better than quote his words:

‘The winning photograph is a really extraordinary photographic portrait, but one that withholds from us the physical appearance of its subject. Instead of showing us what the subject looks like, it uses her handwriting and her saliva to build a very moving portrait not just of a person — in this case, the artist’s elderly grandmother — but also of a relationship between two extraordinary women.
So, I know that Justine Varga’s photograph Maternal Line will confound a few of you, and no doubt some people will be dismayed that a photograph that does not actually ‘show’ its subject can win Australia’s most important photographic portrait prize. But the basic facts are that this work is, more than most — in fact I would say above all — of the photographs in this exhibition, profoundly photographic. Not just in the way that it relies on photography’s historical processes — film and the darkroom — but also in the way that it engages with the idea of the photograph as a trace of its subject. Our emotion and psychic relationship to photographs of loved ones is often based on the fact that they stood or sat there in front of the camera — that their body left its imprint or image on the photographic print. This is part of photography’s power. Think especially of a photograph of a parent who has died — their body was there, and the photograph is evidence of this.
Here, we have the most basic photographic trace — an elderly woman writing directly onto the photographic plate, and making marks with her saliva, creating a portrait which has been exquisitely printed to a monumental scale. While it looks abstract, it is, as the artist says in her statement, profoundly realistic.
In the end, the thing that ‘got’ me about this photograph was the way that it engaged me emotionally — in the direct experience of it. Again, you really need to stand before the print, which is so beautiful, and so melancholic in its way. To be able to witness and share a moment of significant emotional and cultural exchange between two women at such different points in their lives, both of whom have equally created this photograph.’

Justine Varga (b.1984) Maternal Line 2017, chromogenic hand printed photograph from 5 x 4 inch negative. Courtesy of the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide. Tweed Regional Gallery collection. © The artist

Justine Varga (b.1984) Maternal Line 2017, chromogenic hand printed photograph from 5 x 4 inch negative. Courtesy of the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide. Tweed Regional Gallery collection. © The artist

How did you come to the idea of creating this piece?
Varga.  "The form of my work is often determined by the circumstances in which I am living and working. At the moment I am spending a lot of time living with my grandmother and so I get to closely observe her. I try and make my photography an extension of my life, not something that is separate from it. Photography is something that is always with me. In fact, I can safely say that my entire way of being centres around it. In this instance, I brought a piece of photographic film, a negative, into my grandmother’s home and had her leave her own inscriptions on it. Her actions on the piece of film, so redolent of her character, of her love of doing things, of her way of always keeping busy, allowed me to conjure out of a piece of light-sensitive film a powerful portrait of the kind of person she is. I also chose this action because I wanted the marks that she made onto the negative surface to be automatic — I didn’t want her to get in the way of herself by feeling like she had to perform and make a work of art. As within all of my photography, there was only one attempt at this work. This is because my photography is about the action it is recording and not what looks most aesthetically pleasing. It simply is what it is. But the idea behind the portrait goes even further than gesture alone. With the trace of her hand and a touch of her saliva she is manifest within and as the photograph. In other words, there is no separation between her and the photographic object. When she is no longer of this world I will still always have her with me. If you close your eyes and imagine a loved one, I can almost guarantee that the impression you will find won’t be crisp and clear — it will be muffled and somewhat muted, just a memory of a gesture or the sound of a laugh, yet somehow you know it is them. My photography evokes this kind of sensation and I can’t express how close I feel to my grandmother when I view Maternal Line. Through it, I am nearer to her than any of the many lens-based photographs I have of her.
 

What is your feeling and reaction to the controversy?
Varga.  "I don’t court controversy but do insist on making the kind of work I feel is necessary. I think everyone benefits if the community is thinking about and debating issues — What is a portrait? What is a photograph? — as long as that debate takes place in a considered manner.
 

Is this sort of wide experimentation a frequent part of your process?
Varga.  "I am always seeking to direct my work into new areas. And really, this stems from a deep love for the photographic medium — I want to explore what a photograph is and what it is capable of retaining. As making photographs is my full time occupation, I would hate to know what each and every work was going to be and look like before it is finished — how incredibly boring! So, yes, experimentation of various kinds is fundamental to my work. This means sometimes I use a camera and sometimes I don’t, but with either method I am always pushing my concepts, along with the photographic materials and equipment I use, to an extreme. For an example, the negative from which the print of Maternal Line derives is incredibly over-exposed — it has been handled in the most uncouth manner. I have used a photographic process to collaborate with my subject in an effort to capture her more intensely than I otherwise might have been able to do. The resultant work that is currently on display at Tweed Regional Gallery, hung among my peers, for whom I have such enormous respect, is a culmination of all my experimentation with the medium to date."

Varga's large-scale work in homage to her grandmother won the $20,000 overall prize for the 2017 Olive Cotton Award, announced in an official opening and presentation ceremony at Tweed Regional Gallery, Murwillumbah on Saturday July 22. 

 

2017 Olive Cotton Award Winner Announced

Sydney photographer Justine Varga's large-scale work in homage to her grandmother has won the $20,000 overall prize for the 2017 Olive Cotton Award.

This year's judge, Dr Shaune Lakin, Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), took a number of hours to make his final selection, saying Varga's entry is "a very moving portrait of the artist's relationship with and love for her grandmother".

Varga's work, Maternal Line, was selected from the work of 72 finalists, including emerging and established photographers from throughout Australia.

Winning photographer Justine Varga and 2017 judge Dr Shaune Lakin with overall prizewinner,  Maternal Lines .

Winning photographer Justine Varga and 2017 judge Dr Shaune Lakin with overall prizewinner, Maternal Lines.

Lakin described Maternal Line as "a series of scrawls made by the artist's grandmother directly onto a piece of film [which] has been printed at monumental scale".

"While Justine's work is very contemporary, she's also deeply interested in the history of photography.  It's a very complex photographic portrait ... it made me think a lot about the act of the making a portrait - about what it means today to make a photograph of someone else, even if in the end it doesn't reveal what they look like," he said.

The Papapetrou Family, a striking portrait by Sydney photographer Anne Zahalka, caught the eye of both Lakin and the Gallery's Director, Susi Muddiman OAM. The theatrical and highly constructed portrait - depicting celebrated photographer Polixeni Papapetrou and The Age art critic Robert Nelson - was snapped up as the 2017 Director's Choice Acquisition for the Gallery, using funds from the Friends of the Gallery. It was also one of five Highly Commended works chosen by the Judge.

Anne Zahalka,  The Papapetrou Family  2017, dye sublimation on chromalux metal

Anne Zahalka, The Papapetrou Family 2017, dye sublimation on chromalux metal

Lakin also Highly Commended:

  •  Jed & Sam2016 by Warwick Baker from Melbourne (type C print) - an intimate and moving double portrait taken in the couple's bedroom.
  •  Ghost2017 by Tina Fiveash from Sydney (digital print) - a poignant and thought provoking image of a woman in the desert.
Tina Fiveash,  Ghost  2017, digital print

Tina Fiveash, Ghost 2017, digital print

  •  My ghost2017 by Polixeni Papapetrou from Melbourne (screen print on gold metallic foil and linen) - a haunting and beautiful portrait of the artist's daughter Olympia.
  •  Timmily  2017by Rod McNicol from Melbourne (digital print) - a striking portrait in McNicol's ongoing documentary of the 'variegated' inhabitants of his home in inner city Melbourne.

Visitors to the exhibition can vote for their 'people's choice', with a $250 prize for the most popular finalist, funded by the Friends of the Gallery.

A record 492 entries were received this year for the biennial award, which is funded by Olive Cotton's family in memory of Cotton, who was one of Australia's leading 20th century photographers.  Lakin is a keen proponent of Cotton's work and was curator of the exhibition Max & Olive: The photographic life of Olive Cotton and Max Dupain which was toured by the NGA in 2016-17.

A full list of finalists is available on the Gallery's website.

The Olive Cotton Award exhibition will run until Sunday 8 October. The Gallery is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm (closed Mondays and Tuesdays). Entry to view the exhibition is free.

2017 Olive Cotton Award Finalists on display

The 72 finalists in this year's Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraits, opening at Tweed Regional Gallery today, are a "snapshot of our times", according to Award Coordinator Anouk Beck.

James Brickwood,  British Comedian

James Brickwood, British Comedian

Ms Beck said the 2017 judge, Shaune Lakin, chose a shortlist of finalists that examined many contemporary issues and reflected the ideas, techniques and styles of the overall record pool of entries.

"Entrants have explored themes of masculinity, cultural diversity and immigration, transgender transformation, family and mortality," she said.

"The portraits range from theatrically-posed tableaux to moments advantageously snatched."

A total of 492 entries were received for the 2017 award, continuing a steady increase in submissions for the Gallery's biennial competition. All 72 finalists will be on exhibition at Tweed Regional Gallery until Sunday 8 October.

Twelve-year-old Tweed Shire resident Ari Messina is among the finalists, along with a number of well-known photographers including Michael Cook, Polixeni Papapetrou, Stephen Dupont, Anne Zahalka and Julie Rrap.

They are vying for a $20,000 prize for the overall winner, to be announced at the opening function and awards announcement on Saturday from 5pm.

Stephen DuPont,  Up in the Sky

Stephen DuPont, Up in the Sky

This year's Olive Cotton Award has again attracted a wide spectrum of photographic styles. Some have embraced an historic wet plate printing technique, while others challenge the whole concept of a portrait - at a time when technology is transforming photographic portraiture.

Dr Lakin, the National Gallery of Australia's Senior Curator Photography, said "we shared about 24 billion selfies in 2015, and who knows how many photographs of friends sitting opposite the dinner table or of children doing this or that are among the more than one trillion photographs we will take and share this year."

"All of this has had a huge impact, not just on the social practice of photographic portraiture but on its form. Think, for example, about the way that the digital selfie phenomenon has produced a new portrait pose, one that views the face from above and highlights forehead, raised eyebrow and pouty lips."

For further information, visit the Tweed Regional Gallery website or phone the Gallery on (02) 6670 2790.

Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
 

Byron Writers Festival 2017: New Arts Events added to Program

Byron Writers Festival has partnered with Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre as well as local visual arts organisations Byron School of Art and c.a.s.e. inc to present a compelling series of satellite events during the Festival. These include three exhibitions – two by renowned Australian artist Joshua Yeldham at Tweed Regional Gallery; an exhibition of Artists’ Books at Lone Goat Gallery in Byron Bay; Art in the Pub (Mullumbimby) with author and Boston Globe art critic Sebastian Smee; and a workshop with celebrated Indian artist Venkat Shyam at Byron School of Art.

Venkat Shyam.  Excerpt from his memoir  Finding My Way

Venkat Shyam. Excerpt from his memoir Finding My Way

 
Artists’ Books Exhibition Opening: The Image Unbound
 
Artists' books are individual works of art that use the bound form or concept of the book. Meredith Cusack and Christine Willcocks of Byron School of Art have curated a group exhibition of Artists' Books by local artists Karla Dickens, Christian Morrow, Sabine Brosche, Dr Jan Davis, Fiona Fraser, Helle Jorgensen, Dr Glen Skein and Dr Gali Weiss. 
 
“Artists Books are a particular genre not known to many outside of the art world. This exhibition provides an introduction to an exciting art-form that takes its premise from books,” said Christine Willcocks, Byron School of Art. “We are very proud to introduce this exhibition to the community as well as the Byron Writers Festival audience.”

The Image Unbound 28 July - 9 Aug, Lone Goat Gallery. Event Partner: Byron School of Art. Cost: Free.

Art in the Pub: Sebastian Smee on The Art of Rivalry

Sebastian Smee is the author of The Art of Rivalry and the art critic for The Boston Globe. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2011. He has written for The Atlantic, The Daily Telegraph (UK), The Guardian, Prospect, The Spectator, The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. He teaches non-fiction writing at Wellesley College, Massachusetts.

“Art in the Pub has been running since 2013 at the Courthouse Hotel in Mullumbimby and has gone from strength to strength. It brings together a community of artists and art lovers to explore individual artists’ practice through their personal stories,” said Christine Willcocks, Byron School of Art.

"It is very exciting to be hosting Sebastian Smee as part of Art in the Pub and hear him speak about the relationship between two giants of British art – Lucian Freud and Frances Bacon,” said Carolyn, of c.a.s.e inc. “His book The Art of Rivalry is a fantastic read.”
 
Art in the Pub with Sebastian Smee Sunday 6 August, 6pm
Courthouse Hotel, Mullumbimby Event Partners: Byron School of Art and c.a.s.e inc. Cost: Free.
 
The A to Z of Gond Art: A workshop by Venkat Raman Singh Shyam
 
As an indigenous Indian Gond artist tracing his roots to the cave art and bounteous nature of Central India, Venkat will demonstrate how this ancient art has moved from the sacred and ritual realms to court a new, secular public.
 
A workshop by Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, Thursday 3 August, 10am.
Byron School of Arts, Mullumbimby. Cost: $140 / $120

Joshua Yeldham Exhibitions: Endurance & Surrender
 
Drawing from a reverential love of nature and deep spiritual affiliation with the land, Joshua Yeldham creates intricately rendered works that oscillate between narrative and myth, imagination and real experience. During the Byron Writers Festival he will have two concurrent exhibitions at Tweed Regional Gallery – Surrender and Endurance
 
Join artist Joshua Yeldham for a floor-talk on his exhibition Surrender, followed by an opening preview of Endurance in the Friends Gallery, created during his time in the Gallery’s Nancy Fairfax Artist in Residence Studio. 
 
“I consider the Gallery’s ongoing partnership with Byron Writers Festival to be one of synergy, offering engaging experiences for our visitors, and vice versa! The extension of the Festival to include the visual arts is a wonderful opportunity for Festival-goers, our visitors and the artists involved,” said Tweed Regional Gallery Director, Susi Mudiman.
 
“Joshua Yeldham is one of Australia’s leading artists and it is an honour for the Gallery to be able to present his work in conjunction with the Festival. His new exhibition, titled Endurance, presents a new body of strong artworks, which reflect Joshua’s powerful connection to the landscape. His residency at the Gallery provided him with inspiration and material to create works in direct response to our captivating region.”

Joshua Yeldham Exhibition Opening Endurance. Friday 4 August, 4pm. Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre. Cost: Free
 

Joshua Yeldham. Self Portrait – Morning Bay 2013. oil, can and instrument on carved board

Joshua Yeldham. Self Portrait – Morning Bay2013. oil, can and instrument on carved board

David Hockney : Tweed Regional Gallery's first international touring exhibition

Tweed Regional Gallery's first international touring exhibition, David Hockney: Words & Pictures, will begin on Friday 30 June, featuring works by one of the most influential living artists.

David Hockey has been described as 'arguably Britain's greatest living painter' and in 2011 was voted by his peers as the most influential British artist of all time.

Self Portrait , 1954, lithograph in five colours. Edition of 5 approximately, 11½ x 10¼"

Self Portrait, 1954, lithograph in five colours. Edition of 5 approximately, 11½ x 10¼"

Drawn from the British Council's collection and direct from London, the inspiring exhibition will present four major suites of the artist's prints, produced between 1961 and 1977. United by their reference to historical works of literature and art, the prints were produced during the first two decades of Hockney's career when he established himself as a pioneer of the British Pop art movement. Collectively they offer insight to Hockney's beginnings and evolution as an artist.

The international collection will be supplemented by outstanding original Hockney etchings, lithographs and photocollages, including colourful portraits of the artist's mother and a self-portrait, kindly loaned to the Gallery by the artist's Australian-based brother, John Hockney.

David Hockney: Words & Pictures will only appear at two venues in Australia, Tweed Regional Gallery and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, which are partnering for the touring exhibition.

"David Hockney: Words & Pictures is a double coup for the Gallery and the Tweed. Not only is it our first international touring exhibition, it's an amazing collection of works by an icon of British art for many years," Gallery Director Susi Muddiman said.

Bedlam  from "A Rake's Progress", 1961 - 1963, etching, aquatint. Edition of 50, 17¾ x 11½"

Bedlam from "A Rake's Progress", 1961 - 1963, etching, aquatint. Edition of 50, 17¾ x 11½"

This unprecedented display at Tweed Regional Gallery will be a ticketed exhibition, with admission prices kept affordable so the exhibition can be accessible for community members. Individual and family tickets may be purchased at the Gallery on the day of visiting. School and bus groups must arrange and pay for their visit in advance by email to: galleryeducation@tweed.nsw.gov.au.

$10 - adult
$7 - Gallery Friend or Foundation member
$8 - concession or child aged 5-17 years
$26 - family (2 adults + up to 3 children)
Free - children under 5 years
$8 per person - bus group booking
$6 per person - school/education group booking

An official opening for the exhibition will be held on Friday 30 June at 6-8pm. Another exhibition, The Tweed Valley Weather Report by Andrew Hmelnitsky will also be launched as part of the opening. Tickets for the opening night are $30 and selling fast. Advance bookings are essential to secure a place by phoning (02) 6670 2790.

David Hockney: Words & Pictures will be accompanied by a special program of events on Saturday 19 August, starting with a free talk by John Hockney at 2pm. The Gallery will them remain open 'Up Late' that evening, from 5-8pm, with Gallery Director Susi Muddiman and John Hockney 'in conversation' with Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Director Paul Brinkman at 6.30pm. The panel discussion will reflect on David Hockney's career, his exploration of digital technologies and concurrent exhibitions of Hockney's work in London and Melbourne.

Record number of entries received for the $20,000 Olive Cotton Award


Tweed Regional Gallery's biennial competition for portrait photography, the Olive Cotton Award, continues to grow in popularity, with a record number of entries in 2017. The 2015 winner was BAM's staff photographer, Natalie Grono.

The prestigious photographic portraiture prize attracts a diverse field of contenders. A total of 489 entries have been received for this year's national award, held to honour the memory of one of Australia's leading 20th century photographers, Olive Cotton.

The winner of the previous Olive Cotton Award in 2015 … Natalie Grono, Pandemonium's Shadow 2015, pigment injet print.

The winner of the previous Olive Cotton Award in 2015 … Natalie Grono, Pandemonium's Shadow 2015, pigment injet print.

Well-known and emerging photographers from throughout Australia have submitted new works for the competition, with more than 70 entries shortlisted for exhibition.

 This year's awards judge, the National Gallery of Australia's esteemed Senior Curator of Photography, Dr Shaune Lakin, said his task of selecting a shortlist was particularly challenging because of the high calibre of the entries.

The shortlisted photographs will go on public display at the Gallery from Friday 21 July, with an official opening of the exhibition on Saturday 22 July at 5.30pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend the free opening ceremony and awards presentation.

A $20,000 prize is up for grabs for the overall winning entry, which will be announced by Dr Lakin during the opening ceremony and will be acquired to join the Gallery's permanent collection.

Gallery Director Susi Muddiman will also select additional works for acquisition, utilising a generous $4,000 fund allocated by Friends of the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre Inc.

All other works in the exhibition will be available for sale.

Visitors to the exhibition may also vote for their 'people's choice', with a $250 prize for the most popular finalist.

A full list of finalists is available on the Gallery's website, here.

The Olive Cotton Award exhibition will run until Sunday 8 October. The Gallery is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm (closed Mondays and Tuesdays). Entry is free to view the exhibition.