More grief for visual arts from Kemp
Peak bodies representing Australian artists were horrified by the recent arbitrary decision of Arts Minister Senator Rod Kemp to allocate to the Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) the $1.1million promised in the 2006 Budget for artists' training. These funds were part of a package promised by the Government as an alternative to the Artist Resale Royalty Right for which the arts sector has been lobbying for almost twenty years.

The Arts Law Centre of Australia and the National Association for Visual Arts (NAVA), have called on the Government to review its decision. The new funding to AbaF would provide an extra $500,000 to support the development of a training package to help visual artists work more closely with the commercial arts market, (wouldn't you know it) plus $600,000 to strengthen AbaF's 'core activities'.

As Joanna Mendelssohn's article in Artlink (Vol 25#3) pointed out, AbaF's record over many years on delivery of actual cash benefits in sponsorship is bleak and their efforts at training (for which clients are charged hefty fees) are regarded by arts organisations as a bad joke. The truth is disguised by elaborate smoke and mirror activities including claiming to have brokered deals with sponsors who have been in partnerships with flagship arts organisations for years, and extravagant awards nights and dinners aimed at a Prime Minister who no longer shows up. Now fully cashed up, there will no doubt be more expensively produced publications and of course, more dinners.

The Arts Law Centre of Australia has sought in vain for the analysis which led Government to decide that AbaF is best placed to deliver this education package. NAVA, with a newly completed strategy for providing professional practice training for artists which was discussed with Minister and his advisor in good faith, was told the decision would be based on an open tender process. No such process has been followed. Arts Law and NAVA typically assist many thousands of artists with direct training and advisory services each year, yet they receive about a tenth of AbaF's funding from the Commonwealth. An injection of $1.1 million to these organisations would hugely increase their ability to deliver services.

" Margaret Olley, 83-year old Sydney painter is in the benign habit of giving works of art to the Art Gallery of NSW – not her own work but that of others, like Picasso. She has just handed over three significant graphic works by Picasso, Cezanne and Bonnard. This brings the value of the 130 works she has donated to the Gallery so far to $7m. Now that's philanthropy in the hands of an expert.

" What is it about the Kingpins that induces our federal funding body to send them to Liverpool to take part in Contemporary 06? This exhibition is part of the Liverpool Biennial Festival, until recently under the directorship of Robyn Archer who bailed out a few months before the festival opening on 16 September.
The appearance of these four women in mob caps on a small stage at the Melbourne Art Fair in August was sad. For everyone. Including hopefully whoever had the bright idea of introducing their high decibel canned music to the Fair on the Friday evening opening when people pay good money to come in after work to contemplate and discuss the art. It had the effect of clearing the halls very quickly. Could The Kingpins be persuaded to take very early retirement?

Palimpsest is a wide-ranging art, science and environment project based in the Murray-Darling catchment involving artists working in regional centres in association with host organisations.
Artworks in various sites and exhibitions in galleries alternate with discussions and meetings between artists, farmers, poets, environmentalists, writers and scientists debating the future of the Murray Darling Basin. Palimpsest Director Ian Hamilton has been on the move in the region and reports from his recent trip to outback Queensland with writer Leo Davis: 'Leo and I are working on a full account of our trip to Surat and other places. One of the interesting things we found were giant earth-walled storages known as ring tanks. Queensland farmers are using these huge dams to collect rain water so most of the irrigation used for cotton is from them and not rivers... unlike many other irrigation areas, where growers are reliant on large dams and a network of canals or pipes to get water to their farm gate. We also had lunch in Walgett, NSW. Walgett is a lock-down town, everything barred or behind security screens. To get into the cafe we had to open a security screen then a sliding steel door. Inside was like a secret society. Terrific exhibition at Toowoomba - a deconstructed Renault 16.'

The results of all the projects will be brought together for a major Symposium at La Trobe University in Mildura, 2 –3 September. More details at
" Japan comes to Melbourne from September to November 2006 with Rapt, a project involving 20 Japanese artists experiencing, travelling and reflecting Australia, thanks to the collaboration between three Japanese curators and a dozen Australian host bodies including contemporary art and artist-run spaces, residencies and university art museums and advised by Philip Brophy, Max Delany and Kathyrn Hunyor. It aims to reveal unusually complex and layered aspects of Japanese art from high density video by Shiro Takatani, one of the original members of Dumb Type to painting influenced by manga, an architectural project in City Square Melbourne with RMIT and an installation in an Alistair Knox mud-brick home. It will be a rare chance to see what contemporary Japanese artists make of Australia. More info www.rapt.jpf
" Queensland Festival of Photography Symposium In conjunction with the inaugural Queensland Festival of Photography, QUT Art Museum and Dell Gallery, Griffith University, will play host to this event 7 - 8 October 2006. Held across both venues, the symposium will feature talks, discussion panels and debates about contemporary photomedia by local and interstate artists and industry experts. Each day will culminate in a keynote presentation by well-known industry figures.

Presented in association with Queensland Centre for Photography. To register your interest and for info on speakers and costs, please email
" SCAPE 2006 don't misbehave! Biennial of Art in Public Space is New Zealand's only international contemporary biennial dedicated to public art.
Over 45 artists are contributing to the program of artworks, events and exhibitions which playfully and critically contend with the idea of 'the public'. 30 September -12 November 2006, Christchurch New Zealand.
" Unsettled Boundaries the visual arts program of the Melbourne International Arts Festival brings together an array of over 30 contemporary artists who are using animal imagery in special projects and exhibitions in nine prominent Melbourne galleries. Emotional responses to environmental disasters, conservation campaigns, or the plight of a specific species often forces us to raise questions about our own relationship with animals and this is explored in new works by 12 artists from China, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, USA and Australia. The curatorial team comprises Kristy Edmunds, Artistic Director MIAF with Jane Scott and Giacomina Pradolin. 12 - 28 October 2006 more info from

" Ann Kirker has left the Queensland Art Gallery after a long and distinguished career mainly in the works on paper area to concentrate on writing and research in contemporary art.

" Mary Knights, previously Coordinator at the very remote Irunytju Indigenous Art Centre, is the new Curator at the SA School of Art Gallery at the University of SA.

" Jeff Khan has left Gertrude Contemporary Spaces to become Director of Next Wave Festival.

" David Hansen is now a freelance curator writer and researcher in Melbourne and is writing art criticism for The Age.

" Geoffrey Smith has been stood down from his curatorial position at the National Gallery of Victoria pending an internal review on possible conflict of interest over acquisitions.

" James Strong AO is the new Chair of the Australia Council. He also Chairs the Board of Woolworths and various other companies but a new Chair is being sought for the Australian Business and the Arts Foundation (AbaF) of which he is also Chairman.

" The University of South Australia's 2006 Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarships for overseas study have gone to Christine Aerfeldt and Andrew Best (South Australia); Pia Borg (Victoria); Claudia Chaseling (ACT) and collaborative artists Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy (NSW). Each artist will receive a twelve months living allowance of US$30,000 (approximately $40,000 Australian) as well as travel expenses and all university fees. A total of 105 Samstag Scholarships have been awarded since 1992.
" Melbourne artist Gareth Sansom has won the $45,000 acquisitive 2006 National Works on Paper Award at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery with a 12-sheet work titled Life after Bacon. He was selected out of a nation-wide search and shortlist of 46 Australian contemporary artists.
" McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park in Langwarrin near Melbourne was joint winner of the Major Business Award and the Tourism Award in the 2006 Frankston and Mornington Peninsula Business Awards. Having recently doubled the size of their land to become Australia's largest sculpture park, they report that visitor numbers increased from 30,000 to 75,000 per year ¬ perhaps because of the McClelland Survey of Contemporary Sculpture and the $100,000 McClelland Award.

" ARTRAGE festival in Perth is a big annual event. This year it is even more jam-packed than usual with visual art, film, dance, theatre, music and many other hybrid arts programmes. For MiniArtrage the streets of Northbridge light up as traders lend their shopfront windows to some of Perth's most dynamic emerging artists such as Creepy, TK, Michelle Mansford, Paul Ikin and Matt Doust.
The Pet Booth professional photo studio provides a choice of backdrops and props to capture the true essence of your pet. Bottle Tops is 50,000 bottle tops creating large pixel works, 3D works and smaller scale works on sea containers. Lifesuit is a sweat-shop in a sea container. Sew your own life suit in six hours& 26 October – 5 November
" Greenpeace is organizing Art for Action an art auction to be held at The Gallery, Darling Park, Sydney on 22 November. Emerging and established artists are donating works in aid of Greenpeace and three artists will receive prizes. On show 13 November – 1 December. More info 02 9263 0389.

" A visual arts talkfest with a difference titled FEHVA has emerged in Byron Bay. Evolving from a fundraising art auction to benefit The Buttery Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre, it has grown into a meeting of artists framed up by a series of talks, panels, workshops and presentations which has attracted high flyers from the artworld (including the Director of Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art Liz-Ann McGregor and ex-NGA Director Betty Churcher) as well as a very interesting range of artists from around the country. Unflappable director Dee Tipping, fundraiser for the Buttery and with no official background in the visual arts, perceived a visual arts vacuum in the Northern Rivers area not in terms of art practice but in a lack of interaction with practitioners from larger centres. Creating pathways and connections with the wider Australian arts community in a scattered population across many villages and towns is a challenge as the flow of professional lectures, exhibitions and visiting artists that is taken for granted in the larger cities is almost completely non-existent. On the other hand the population includes a disproportionate number of committed artists and people with higher degrees from all over the world who are attracted to the legendary sub-tropical landscape and a chance to live close to the land. Working with this knowledge Tipping has created an event which owes nothing to government funding or control, has a fascinating fluidity about its management, is owned by many and runs on goodwill and personal contributions. At the same time she provides serious intellectual fodder for the art-hungry who are mostly happy to pay to attend each session or buy a pass to the weekend event, which is preceded by a week of very busy workshops. The 2006 edition of FEHVA (Forty-eight Hours of Visual Art) in June was energised by the raft of very talented people who were involved, including Dee's namesake – poet/artist Richard Tipping, who read his poetry in the Railway Bar across the road from the lovely auditorium which, in a humble community centre, was far and away the best setting in Australia for an Artists Week-type event. And what other similar event could boast an unscheduled performance by The Hon Peter Garrett, shadow parliamentary secretary for the arts who came to open the event and talk about Labor's arts policies, and ended up singing on stage with some of his old mates from Midnight Oil. It turns out in the early days of the band and in another life Dee was their roadie. Never was post-modern irony so entertaining.

Go forth and reproduce
It had to come: the world of digital art and photo reproduction is officially 'burgeoning' according to the press releases from the manufacturers of new large format ink-jet ('giclée') printers, now reaching the price range of the small to medium-scale business operator. One we received showed a gold-framed reproduction of Botticelli's Birth of Venus at what looked like original scale, printed on museum-quality canvas with UV inks. These outputs, we already know from investigation, have facsimile-level colour fidelity and fade-resistance. As the sales pitch moves into top gear, what will be the response from corporations who employ art collection consultants to buy expensive originals by dead or living artists? Will it, as the spruikers claim, 'create a huge new market for limited editions, corporate art and collectable photography'? Is Artbank, the government-funded body which buys new art and loans it to mainly corporate clients, worried? Are artists seeing this as an opportunity or a threat? At the very least it will put those artists who are employed to hand-copy very expensive investment paintings while the original sits in the bank vault, out of business. But then we're not supposed to talk about these. On another note, Chinese websites now offer your choice of very plausible hand-done oil paintings in a range of sizes and genres from still life, to portrait, to animals and landscapes for an average of AUD$50 including shipping.

Special dispensation
" A sudden shift in Chinese government sensibilities whereby the use of images of Mao in works of art is no longer acceptable has occasioned a sweep through Beijing art galleries. Apparently the offending works are not confiscated, but schlepped en masse to the Dashanzi Art Precinct in Beijing where several galleries are operating including the respected Red Gate Gallery, this year celebrating its 15th Anniversary. Perhaps having recognised the art precinct as a locus of prestige for Chinese culture in the eyes of international visitors (and trade) the government may have created a de facto 'art concession' in the style of the old foreign trading concessions in Shanghai and other cities. This news comes in the wake of continued confiscations, bannings and closings down of exhibitions in China.

George Mora Foundation, a not-for-profit entity supporting contemporary art launched a few months ago, is offering the first George Mora Fellowship in conjunction with the State Library of Victoria. This will provide a stipend of up to $25,000 to a contemporary artist with a recognised body of work to study and experiment for six months. Applications will be called for in February 2007. More info from

" WA Regional Residencies Artists in WA can now take up residence for up to 6 months in a number of regional towns as part of a new Regional Residency program run by Artsource offering the chance to get away from the daily grind and to soak up the riches of the country with free accommodation and studio space - in exchange for a little interaction with the locals. Residencies open for application now include Menzies, Moora, Beverley and Ellenbrook. Some hosts are interested in writers and performing artists, as well as visual artists. Full information available online at or call 08 9335 8366.

" Queensland residency Expressions of interest are invited for one-month residencies at privately-run The Other Studio in Townsville, North Queensland. Includes air-conditioned studio apartment, access to studio with printmaking, digital and darkroom facilities; and a four week Gallery show of works completed. For more info contact Applications close 1 October 2006 for residencies from May 2007 - 08.

Australian Art Overseas
other[wize] - a screen-based project by Queensland artist Jenny Fraser, was selected for exhibition at the 13th International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA2006) held in San Jose, California 7-13 August 2006 in conjunction with the premiere of ZeroOne San Jose: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge, an innovative biennial festival for San Jose and the Greater Bay Area.

The Festival showcased over 150 artworks from all over the world and transformed San Jose temporarily into the North American epicentre for the intersection of art and digital culture. Julianne Pierce, guest editor for Artlink's upcoming issue on Moving Image (June 2007) was there to soak it up.

" The South Project's international reputation for developing engaging arts and cultural gatherings that tackle current socio-political concerns in the south is growing. With the increasingly strong relationship between Australia, New Zealand and Latin America it is timely that it heads to Santiago, Chile, in 3 – 7 October 2006 to host its next annual gathering; Crossing Horizons: context and community in the south. The symposium in various venues in Santiago, will allow artists, writers and cultural theorists to engage with topical issues confronting artists and communities across the south and a contingent of Australian art and cultural figures will participate, supported by Arts Victoria, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Ian Potter Foundation and COALAR (DFAT).

These include artist Pat Hoffie (Queensland College of Art), writer Tony Birch (Melbourne University), art historian Pam Zeplin (University of SA), artist Rosanne Bartley and curator Zara Stanhope (Deputy Director at Heide Museum of Modern Art). Dealing specifically with notions of translation, political activism in the arts, conditions of exile, and collective practices they will join a group of international curators and artists including: Mai Abu ElDahab, co-curator of Manifesta 6; South African curator Khwezi Gule, who will co-curate the pan-African exhibition CAPE 06 in Cape Town later this year; New Zealand curator and art historian Christina Barton, Paraguayan curator Ticio Escobar and Uruguayan artist Carlos Capelán among others.

Santiago will also be the venue for the first international exhibition to be developed and funded under the South Project banner. TRANS VERSA, conversing across the south features the work of thirteen artists from Australia and New Zealand and is jointly funded by both countries. It will include Australian artists Tom Nicholson, Ash Keating, Brook Andrew, Selina Ou, Raquel Ormella, and Andrew McQualter all of whom will develop work in Santiago with the vision to engage and connect artists and audiences alike through dialogue addressing our cultures. Registrations to attend the Santiago Gathering and the Symposium program are at

Visual artists, craft practitioners and designers working in Queensland, NSW, ACT and Victoria can now access affordable public liability insurance as part of accredited membership of Artworkers in Brisbane. Underwritten by a major international insurance company, this includes comprehensive public and product liability insurance, including some cover for teaching/workshops. With $10 million cover valid anywhere in the world (excluding Canada and the US), this level of membership provides affordable insurance alongside all the other services Artworkers has to offer. More info on 1300 780 291 (if outside Brisbane), 07 3215 0850, email or

Real Estate
the rehearsal room is a new art venue for emerging artists to show work and do performances. It is an old warehouse space, 8 x 10 m with high ceilings at 106-8 Henderson Rd, Alexandria, in Sydney's inner west. It was set up by directors Will French and Lauren Bincat (0415 647 724) in response to the recent closing of Phatspace and Space3.

" Artlink's December issue is on the theme of Elders. In extended interviews a group of charismatic octogenarian artists, writers and curators who are still practicing are quizzed about what succeeding generations owe to them and whether they helped create the art of today.