The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and many artlovers around the country breathed a collective sigh of relief at the news that the NSW State Government has agreed to provide recurrent and capital funding for this endangered institution, the only one of its kind in Australia. Under the new protection of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, it will be guaranteed the Circular Quay premises in perpetuity, its previous stakeholder the University of Sydney having stepped aside. Director Elizabeth-Ann Magregor is vindicated in her strong defence of the Museum and faith in the interest of the public in the work of living artists during a very difficult and protracted period of uncertainty. The City of Sydney was a major contributor to the confusion with a proposal to demolish the art deco building and erect a commercial precinct with a museum on one floor. The Australia Council has supported the MCA this year with a $300,000 grant. Work will now proceed with staged plans to make improvements to the existing building.
Best news of the year is the announcement of a major Federal Government inquiry into the visual arts and craft. Victorian businessman and art patron Rupert Myer will chair the inquiry which is hoped will prove what many suspect – that the visual arts are being treated as poor relations when it comes to government and corporate support. The visual arts contribute over a billion dollars a year to the economy and employ more than 3,000 professional artsworkers. In 1997 more than 350,000 people received payment for their activities. But from 1986 – 1996 practitioners had the worst decline in median income of all individuals in the arts sector. The National Association for the Visual Arts, aided by a new visual arts/craft network which it has spearheaded, was the body responsible for lobbying for an inquiry. The rapidity with which this was embraced by the Minister might lead the cynical to suspect that an election might have something to do with it. There is no doubt that the Howard government has ignored and neglected the arts during its two terms. Submissions will be called for in September and the inquiry will report in March 2002.
" The Code of Practice for the Australian Visual Arts & Craft Sector was launched in August in Canberra. Published by NAVA, and covering a raft of contentious issues for practising artists, galleries and others, it had in its draft form already become a bible for artworkers. Also launched by NAVA was a publication dealing with protocols for the indigenous arts sector Valuing Art, Respecting Culture. Both are available from email@example.com or visit NAVA's groundbreaking new gateway web site www.visualarts.net.au to discover a wealth of resources and information including summaries of the two publications.
Bauhaus watch out
The Victorian College of the Arts is pioneering an innovative Common Curriculum called 'The Centre for Ideas' which encourages students across various arts disciplines to collaborate and cross-fertilise. The VCA cites a small number of art schools internationally which have made their mark through working on an open studio model or running a liberal art stream throughout their curriculum, such as Rhode Island, Glasgow, Goldsmiths and Cal Arts. With well-known cultural theorist Dr Nikos Papastergiadis in charge of the ideas and Professor Louise Adler and Director Andrea Hull in the engine room the new Centre is off to a great start.
" Film studio on the desktop
Five community-based screen development organizations around Australia are to receive a boost to their resources with some neat digital packages aimed at helping new filmmakers make a finished product at minimal cost. Thanks to the efforts of the Australian Film Commission, digital cameras, DVD computers, laptops and software are being donated by Apple Computers, Canon, Sennheiser and La Cie enabling creators to do everything which previously required expensive and bulky production units. Digital video can be screened in cinemas, broadcast on TV or streamed on the web.
Renewing the Pacific
A recent announcement in the Newsletter of the South Australian Museum indicates that there will be a radical facelift of the Pacific Cultures Gallery, now solely devoted to Pacific ethnographica. The 1970s ceiling is to be removed to restore the 1895 interior with its glass 'lantern' and steel roof struts, and the airconditioning units are to be replaced. The exhibits will retain their Victorian flavour but, hopefully, a means will be found to address the lighting problems and the woeful lack of information. The Pacific Gallery will then complement the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery, not only in size but in quality, and secure the reputation of the South Australian Museum as far and away the world leader in presentation of Pacific and Australian tribal cultures.
Exhibitions to Watch
" Ella Dreyfus' startling new photographic work Transman, Nexus Gallery, Adelaide 18 October – 11 November for the Feast Festival
" Home is where the heart is a touring show of art and craft dealing with 'belonging'. Touring in SA, Univ of SA Art Museum 14 September – 20 October
" An Island Apart investigates contemporary art from Kangaroo Island in all media, New Land Gallery Port Adelaide, 2 October – 30 November PIC DRESSSHADOW
New South Wales
" Space Odysseys: sensation & immersion is a rare not-to-be-missed event for an art museum - 8 immersive installations from 6 overseas artists and 2 Australians which take the visitor in amongst imagery, light and sound. Art Gallery of NSW until 21 October
" Ivan Dougherty Gallery and Library Building Competition reveals the designs of the four finalists for a new Art Museum and an expanded Library. At the Ivan Dougherty 26 – 29 September
" Catching& the Harbour explores the art and science of the world's most famous harbour using old artefacts, scientific visualisations and specially designed installations conjuring the depths and underwater life of the harbour. Curator John Kirkman brings together the work of artist Robyn Backen and marine biologist Brooke Carson-Ewart. Australian Museum until 10 February 2002
" Quarantine Station and Geoff Levitus & Paul Miller – Recent Paintings are related exhibitions dealing with migration and displacement at Manly Art Gallery and Museum until 30 September
" Heritage of Health celebrates the centenary of Wollongong Hospital and includes work reflecting the relationship between the health service and people. 15 September – 4 November
" James Gleeson: On Starting a Painting reveals the intricate surrealistic drawings done as preparation for his paintings from 1979 – 1999. Penrith Regional Gallery, high quality catalogue available, till 30 September
" The Hidden Forest is an exhibition of the collage works created for Jeannie Baker's latest book about the Tasmanian Kelp Forest. Baker's consummate skills magically recreate the underwater world in miniature. Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Gymea until 23 September
" 2nd International Lace for Fashion Award was set up 3 years ago to encourage designers to rethink the nature of lace. The results are on show at the Powerhouse Museum until 14 October
" Federation! But who makes the nation? Interprets this question in relation to four towns Murwillumbah, Albury, Bathurst and Broken Hill through a range of material new and old, touring, at UTS Gallery University of Technology Sydney until 16 November
" New Australiana is an irreverent collection of popular culture images of Australia curated by new chum Alasdair Foster Director of the Australian Centre for Photography. Perth Institute of Contemporary Art until 23 September PIC choice of two - Leanne Richards or John Williams
" 26th Annual Shell Fremantle Print Award is on at Fremantle Arts Centre 22 September – 28 October
" Melbourne International Festival has a visual arts program with a European flavour this year, curated by Juliana Engberg.
Top billing is for UK artist Tacita Dean; her celebrated films Fernsehturm and Banewl can be seen at SPAN Gallery; At ACCA is HUMID, an exhibition exploring the 'feminine sublime' by Tacita Dean, Kate Daw, Ann Hamilton, Pipilotti Risti, Christine Borland and other UK artists. Also at ACCA is a new suite of work Owner-builder of Modern California House from expatriate Narelle Jubelin. Marie-Ange Guilleminot (France) will install her video piece Sea Urchin and make origami cranes with children at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, part of a global Hiroshima project. UK based Juan Cruz will use a stranger's perspective to tell a new story about Melbourne though interventions in 11 different locations around the city, including the statue of Joan of Arc in the State Library and the Crown Casino. At the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Univ of Melbourne is The Plains: Wimmera and the Imaging of Australian Landscape curated by Peter Haynes, a meditation on landscape through the works of Sir Sidney Nolan and Philip Hunter. Other visiting artists include Jen-Jacques Rullier (Fr) and Sonya Hannye & Adam Dade (UK) and many of the artists together with architects and designers can be heard in what looks like a stimulating two-day forum 13-14 October at RMIT. MIF dates 1 October – 4 November (03) 9662 4242 for a program
PICS Narelle Jubelin California (choose one only, can use a detail)
Tacita Dean Bubblehouse or Pipilotti Rist Humid
"Guild Unlimited hypothesises about new guilds for our times and asks 11 jewellers to design insignia for them (eg call centre operators or leg waxers guilds) Kevin Murray curator (who else?) at Craft Victoria in their new venue at 31 Flinders Lane 12 October – 10 November
" Collaboration is a collection of limited edition prints done by master printmakers in collaboration with artists describing the special relationship that occurs in the process, Port Jackson Press Melbourne, during September 2001
" Artefact is an installation of interactive digital media works by Troy Innocent, Art & Design Faculty Gallery, Monash University PIC artefact Troy Innocent jpeg
" Three views of emptiness: Buddhism and the art of Tim Johnson, Lindy Lee and Peter Tyndall paintings which explore notions of interconnectedness, at Monash University Gallery 9 October – 24 November
" Stitched Up is an exhibition of textile works from the Cunningham Dax Collection of Psychiatric Art, demonstrating the value of art in extreme circumstances RMIT Gallery 8 – 13 October PIC RMIT JACKET
" Leave no space for yearning:The Art of Joy Hester is a major survey of the extraordinary oeuvre of this late-appreciated member of the Heide set, curated by Kelly Gellatly. Heide Museum of Modern Art until 11 October
" Robert Macpherson is the subject of a major survey show of paintings, drawings and installations organised and toured by the AGWA; a 208 page illustrated book on the work of this well-known Queensland celebrator of the everyday, is available at the exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art until 21 October
" William Robinson: a retrospective is the first major survey of this senior artist's landscape painting of the last three decades. Queensland Art Gallery until 11 November PIC COMING ON CD
" Fiona Foley: Pir'ri Mangrove is a new body of work from Foley focusing attention on the mangrove Queensland Art Gallery until 14 October
" Blighted Paradise: Colonial Visions of Northern Australia is a major research project which has tracked down and recorded 2000 colonial artworks of the period 1770 – 1914 tracing the paths of early explorers in the top end and the lives of settlers. Works have been borrowed from museums in London, France and nationally. The exhibition of 72 paintings and works on paper is at Rockhampton Art Gallery 12 October – 25 November. www.blightedparadise.com
" Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism at the National Gallery of Australia Canberra until 28 October
" Tracking Kultja is the inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Festival being staged by the National Museum of Australia Canberra. An innovative and major arts event, it will bring performers and visual artists from all over Australia for ceremonies, feasting, workshops and fun. 13 – 19 October 2001
" 4th Artists' Books & Multiples Fair is the only one of its kind in Australia to show the specialised genre of one-off artist's book. School of Arts Building, Ann St Brisbane, 11 – 14 October
" Across Creative Borders is a 2-day conference with wide-ranging workshops and panels aimed at stimulating regional arts being held in Bordertown in the Tatiara region of SA, 27 & 28 October 2001, Contact SA Country Arts on (08) 8444 0406, firstname.lastname@example.org
" 20th Century Heritage: Our Recent Cultural Legacy is an Australia ICOMOS National conference looking at heritage of the last 100 years. Adelaide 28 November – 1 December 2001 details from email@example.com ph (08) 8303 4589
" Home is where the heart is Forum associated with the exhibition (curated by Vivonne Thwaites) speakers: Mary Eagle: The significance of the local in an era of globalisation, Dr Jean Duruz: Home as a haunted place; practices of remembering and imagining, Kay Lawrence AM: Making a home - making sense – making. Nexus Cabaret Space, Adelaide, Friday 14 September 4.30pm free
Commissions and Awards
" Bruno Leti has been awarded a grant by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in New York which this year distributed more than $4m to 233 artists worldwide for living and working expenses.
" Jennifer Turpin and Michaelie Crawford have won the tender to design and make a large water sculpture for North Terrace, Adelaide
" Marika Baumgart is the winner of the $5000 NAIDOC 2001 Art Award. A self-taught artist, she started painting eight years ago when she "had a lot of time on her hands being at home with my kids" and reportedly tossed off the winning picture in a few days after reading about the award in the paper in the Sydney suburb of Kurnell.
" David McKay has won the inaugural $20,000 Art on Steel People's Choice Award with his work Steel Maiden, a full size corrugated steel surfboard painting on both sides, complete with fins. McKay who is a Mambo artist was one of many well known artists who made a statement on Colorbond in aid of the State & Territory Emergency Services.
" In the New England tablelands of northern NSW, large scale contemporary sculpture is planned. Sitting in the middle of the only roundabout in Walcha will be the massive work Song Cycle, a celebration of the cyclical nature of provincial life. At Uralla a massive granite plinth - said to be the tallest in the hemisphere - is to be erected as the centre of a series called Constellation of the south. And to the north, the university city of Armidale will soon acquire the first pieces in a sculpture trail. The Armidale region has been awarded the status of City of the Arts for a term and funds were provided by the NSW Ministry for the Arts to assist its program. The City of the Arts program was initiated by the Ministry in 1995 as a way of showcasing and developing a sustainable arts industry in regional NSW.
Books just out
" Kathleen Petyarre; Genius of Place by Christine Nicholls and Ian North, 906pp with a 45-page 'gallery' of colour plates, Wakefield Press assisted by Arts SA for SALA Week, hardback signed by the artist $80, paperback $39.95
"Sound Sculpture: Intersections in sound and sculpture in Australian artworks by Dr Ros Bandt, the first major anthology on this subject, includes a CD, Craftsman House hardcover $88
" HEAT, a paperback book-length journal, editor Dr Ivor Indyk, has reappeared in a new series now published from the University of Newcastle; first issue is Fire & Shadow a collection of extremely readable essays by Australian writers. For subscription info firstname.lastname@example.org
" Robert Jacks: Past Unfold by Ken McGregor covers this modernist painter's career from the late 1950s to very recent work from Spain. Craftsman House, 100 colour plates, hardcover $88
" The Solitary Watcher: Rick Amor and his Art by Gary Catalano is the first full-length study of this contemporary realist painter.200 pages,32 colour plates, Melbourne University Press, hardback $89.95
"Garry Shead and the Erotic Muse by Sasha Griffin, 103 colour plates, Craftsman House, hardcover $99.95
" The Uses of Art: Constructing Australian Identities by Lisanne Gibson examines attitudes to art from the mid-19th Century, and the history of arts policies and funding through government agencies. University of Queensland Press, paperback $29.95
" Gordon Darling Foundation: Ten Years by Daniel Thomas is an account of a remarkable and rare enterprise – a private benefactor devoted to the visual arts. Contact the Foundation for copies on (03) 9820 3168
" The Fourth Pillar of Sustainability by Jon Hawkes aims to stimulate new thinking in community arts. Contact publisher Cultural Development Network (Vic) via www.theHumanities.com
" Roar Studios has received a grant of $100,000 from the Victorian government to re-establish itself in new premises in Argyle St, Fitzroy, comprising four galleries and seven studios, a major expansion for this famous and long-running artist-run initiative. Artists are invited to apply for residencies and exhibitions which are subsidised by Roar. Ph (03) 9380 5785 email@example.com
" The Nokia Arts Awards 2001 in its third year offers a prize of a one year international education grant at Parsons School in New York and the University of Art & Design in Finland and spending money totalling US$8,000. Entrants must be aged between 17-25 as of 1 January 2001 and enrolled as a student of a recognised tertiary school, faculty or college. Closing date for entries is Friday 12 October 2001, details on Nokia website at http://www.nokia.com.au or phone Georga Hausmann 02 9211 4211 firstname.lastname@example.org
"The new Cultural Centre at Balgo, Warlayirti Luurnpa Culture Centre opened on 21 July www.balgoar.org.au– Erica Izett
" Raft Artspace is a new gallery for cutting edge contemporary art in Darwin located at Frances Bay, Stuart Park, director is Dallas Gold, adviser Peter Adsett, ph (08) 8941 0810 www.raftartspace.com.au
The Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) has been favoured with increased Commonwealth funding ($1.6m this year) which hopefully will boost its efforts to change a business culture in which only 1% of businesses support the arts. Its inaugural awards for successful business/arts partnerships took place last month. AbaF, whose basic mission is to broker relationships between arts and business, has now opened chapters in all states except WA, the NT and the ACT. The newly established SA Chapter is chaired by Ric Allert, Chairman of Southcorp.
" Dr Terry Cutler, from Victoria is the new Chair of the Australia Council replacing Margaret Seares. Cutler was a surprise appointment as few in the arts knew of him except as a member of the New Media Arts Fund of the OzCo.
" Victoria Lynn is the new Chair of the Visual Arts/Craft Fund of the Australia Council replacing Ron Radford. Lynn was until recently Curator of Contemporary Art at the AGNSW and is now Curatorial Manager at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image opening in 2002 at Federation Square in Melbourne.
" Rob Johnston is the new Manager, Visual Arts of Country Arts SA
" Anne Kirker is now Head of International Art at the Queensland Art Gallery, Julie Ewington is now Head of Australian Art and Suhanya Raffel is Head of Asian Art.
In the June Artrave we did not mean to imply that any indivudual sculptors accepting commissions on the Adelaide Convention Centre public art projects were without integrity.