From the NAVA desk in early October to the media: 'We the undersigned organisations, representing the vast majority of artists, writers, filmmakers, journalists and others in Australia whose work depends on freedom of speech and expression and the free exchange of information and opinion, are appalled by Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock's casual rejection of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s recommendation to drop the term Sedition and make substantial changes to these provisions of the Anti-Terror legislation passed by parliament in late 2005. We repeat now what we said when this legislation was first proposed, and that is that it represents one of the most dangerous threats to freedom of expression in this country’s history, and is an intolerable curtailment of a fundamental human right.’ This is the opening of a longer declaration which was signed by over 100 arts organisations nationwide including your very own Artlink. NAVA pledges to fight it up to and beyond the next federal election. For more info see ttp://www.visualarts.net.au/campaigns and
Radio National's weekday arts program 'The Deep End' has been axed, which leaves ABC radio without regular discussion of the arts or coverage of arts news. Amongst material we won’t hear any more is in-depth interviews and conversations with artists. New ABC managing director Mark Scott is looking for a new staffer to supervise editorial policy, which may also be the death-knell for shows like Media Watch, which tries to keep the media accountable in a sloppy sensation-driven journalistic environment. Listeners need to make their opinions known by contacting the ABC.
Talk about green with envy. Two rare and expertly curated exhibitions dealing with 19th Century art from the Pacific region have been on in the northern hemisphere in the last six months: 'Pacific Encounters; Art and divinity in Polynesia 1780 - 1860' at the newly refurbished Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia in Norwich draws on the great British collections with 270 items from Polynesia including artifacts from Cook’s voyages, the London Missionary Society and more. The Sainsbury Centre’s status as a university museum gave it the ability to attract major research funds for a Pacific project out of which this exhibition arose. The other is 'New Ireland: Art of the South Pacific', at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Missouri in partnership with the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. The curators Michael Gunn and Philippe Letier spent 10 years researching the show and organising loans from museums around the world including the Australian Museum in Sydney which has a huge, priceless and invisible collection of Melanesian art. The show will be on in Saint Louis until 7 January and then travel to Paris 2 April – 8 July 2007 and after that to Berlin at the Ethnological Museum. www.stlouis.art.museum. Surely it is time for a major Melanesian show to be curated in our region and toured to the rest of the world?
• Brisbane’s new $291m Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) opened on 1 December 2006 and is the biggest contemporary art museum in Australia. Facing the Brisbane River and designed by Architectus, the five-level building provides an impressive range of facilities, including the Children's Art Centre, a cinémathèque and 4,885 square metres of gallery space which is 30% more than the old Queensland Art Gallery building.
• The Gritty Places program funded by Arts Queensland has recently been set up to provide assistance to local councils to identify and adapt disused or under-used council buildings for the use of arts organisations, with an emphasis on creating hubs.
• The Leonard Joel auction house has stepped in to fill the gap created by the closing down of Christies Auction house in Australia, with its new incarnation Joel Fine Art, in Armadale, Melbourne.
• MAILBOX 141 is a new space for artworks in a row of old-fashioned wooden mailboxes in the foyer at 141 - 143 Flinders Lane Melbourne. The mini exhibitions change every three months. firstname.lastname@example.org 0408 110 109
• Doug Hall, Director of Queensland Art Gallery for the past 20 years is leaving in April 2007 ‘to pursue other interests in Australia and Asia’ after presiding over the opening of the 5th Asia Pacific Triennial and the inauguration of the recently completed Gallery of Modern Art on the same site as QAG.
• Paula Latos-Valier has left the Biennale of Sydney after a 20 year history with the organisation and serving it as CEO for 9 years. She is replaced by Marah Braye, formerly Manager at Sherman Galleries.
• Simon Ambrose, Director of the McClelland Gallery+Sculpture Park has resigned. The new director is Robert Lindsay, previously Deputy-Director.
• Artist Julie Dowling has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Literature by Murdoch University.
NAVA is in the final stages of producing an Indigenous art
Commercial Code of Conduct, in consultation with Indigenous peak bodies for the Top End and Centre. Corrupt and unethical practices are still common amongst dealers in Indigenous art and this code should help all interested parties identify carpetbaggers and drum them out.
In the meantime the federal government has announced a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Indigenous visual arts sector, including its size, infrastructure, sustainability and need for commercial regulation. It will report in February 2007.
• The Robert Salzer Foundation, which normally supports performing arts, has for the first time given $300,000 to the visual arts to be administered by the Public Galleries Association of Victoria. The money will be used to buy paintings for regional galleries in Victoria, focusing on six galleries for the first stage of the program. Robert Salzer was born in Vienna in 1924 and was raised in a family which loved the arts.
• Max Carter is a collector whose generosity has shaped the colonial collection of the Art Gallery of SA over four decades. His recent donation of another $2.3m worth of paintings coincided both with his own 80th birthday and the 125th anniversary of the Gallery.
• The City of Perth Art Foundation is a newly formed independent incorporated body with its own funds and charitable institution status chaired by Frank Edwards (who is also the CEO of the City of Perth) and is unique in Australia. It was established to create major iconic pieces of public art for Perth. Its first sponsored sculpture 'Memory Markers' by Anne Neil, which was unveiled on 1 November at the Stirling Gardens off the Esplanade, takes the form of five gigantic steel pen nibs.
Australian Art Overseas
• Fiona Foley artist, activist, curator and writer, showed strongly political installation work at October Gallery in London during October – December 2006 dealing with racism and hatred. www.octobergallery.co.uk.
• A significant exhibition of Australian art went to Tokyo in October for the 2006 Australia-Japan Year of Exchange. Managed by Flinders University Art Museum, 'Prism: Contemporary Australian Art' included 73 works by 35 artists of whom only eight are non-Indigenous, including Patricia Piccinini, Imants Tillers, Ah Xian, Hossein Valamanesh and Rosemary Laing. About half of the indigenous artists are urban, including Brook Andrew and Judy Watson, and half are traditional, including Emily Kngwarreye, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Dorothy Napangardi. The host institution, The Bridgestone Museum of Art near the Ginza, which worked with Australian curator Christine Nicholls, was keen to focus on Australian cultural identity/diversity through its new art practice, exploring an aspect of Australia not yet well understood by most Japanese. This very ambitious project, generously and fully funded by its Japanese host museum under the Ishibashi Foundation, has been warmly embraced by audiences and received an extended review in Time magazine. It is clear that exhibitions for export and at home have begun to find a natural balance in which old racial divisions disappear.
• Lynette Wallworth’s first European solo exhibition 'Evolution of Fearlessness' was seen at the New Crowned Hope Festival, Künstlerhaus, Vienna, 17 Nov – 13 Dec 2006. It comprised five large-scale immersive installation works, two of which are new commissions. Curated by Peter Sellars, the environments rely on activation by the audience/viewer. In creating this work, Wallworth filmed portraits of several women residing in Australia, but originating from countries such as Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq and El Salvador, who have lived through wars, survived concentration camps, or extreme acts of violence.
• Design Hub is an extraordinary new online design resource launched by the Powerhouse Museum as both a gateway to the world’s best design collections and an online magazine. The main aim is to allow people all over the world to see images of objects in design museums. The Powerhouse was an early adopter of digitising its collection and hopes to bring many others on board soon. www.dhub.org.
• The 15th Biennale of Sydney closed on 27 August breaking all previous attendance records for Sydneysiders, along with thousands of other Australian and international visitors. For the first time in the 33-year history of the event, attendance reached over 315,000 visits, an increase of 35,000 on the 2004 record.
• A recent event from artist/activist/entrepreneur Marylou Pavlovic was the Banner Project at Catani Gardens, St Kilda Beach in October in which sixty banners were created by people living in the local community who are either unemployed, homeless, mentally ill, impoverished, drug dependant, sex workers or elderly. They were asked to articulate what was important to them.
• The first community lending library for artworks has been established as a partnership between Mario’s café in Fitzroy and the Footscray Community Arts Centre in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Café owner and Chair of the FAC, Mario DePasquale, who has been hanging art amongst the latte for years decided the privilege should be extended to anyone who joins the library at 45 Moreland St Footscray (03) 9362 8888.
• New from ANKAAA is a little publication that takes the guesswork out of identifying, naming and locating the 38 Aboriginal owned art centres of the Kimberley and Top End. This beautifully designed simple cardboard foldout with a map and a list on one side and short profiles of all the centres on the other is ideal for travellers, with info on accessibility at different times of year, but every art organization, writer, editor and collector should have one. www.ankaaa.org.au or email@example.com.
• 'Ten Days on the Island', Tasmania’s biennial arts festival, has taken on two artists to colonise every advertising billboard in Hobart from 23 March – 1 April with texts written by members of an online writing forum. Artists Justy Phillips and James Newitt, brains behind the 'write/here project' will ask Hobart people to dream up short narratives that say something about the city and why they live there. www.writehereproject.org.
In the major visual arts event of 'Ten Days', sculpture, sound and video works, printmaking and paintings all newly commissioned from 25 artists, will be installed at Port Arthur, redolent with old and more recent violent acts.
• International events
• A new art fair, Contemporary Istanbul will take place 20-24 December 2006 in the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Centre. The art fair aims to present contemporary Turkish art to the world and to bring together local and international galleries, artists, and art collectors. www.contemporaryistanbul.com.
• The 10th Pacific Arts Festival will be held in Pago Pago, American Samoa from 20 July to 2 August, 2008. www.writehereproject.org.
• The 2007 Samstag Fellowships. Australia’s most coveted for overseas study, have gone to Anthea Behm, Sarah CrowEST, Kirra Jamison, Paul Knight, Jess MacNeil and Nick Mangan.
• The National Archives of Australia has awarded the 2006-07 Frederick Watson Fellowship to Australian National University researcher Pip Deveson who works in the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research. She will explore the work of ethnographic filmmaker Ian Dunlop and his 22 documentaries on Aboriginal communities in northeast Arnhem Land which date from Australia’s first Aboriginal land rights cases. They examine the impact of the Nabalco bauxite mine on the Yolngu people of Yirrkala in the Northern Territory from 1970 to when the last film was made in 1996.
• The $40,000 Victorian Premier’s Design Award 2006 has been won by fashion designers Susan Dimasi and Chantal McDonald of Material by Product for their work, 'Punch Out 05' – a tribute to traditional artisan techniques: couture handcraft, tailoring and drape within sustainable studio practice.
• Nick Mourtzakis is the winner of the $20,000 acquisitive 2006 Dobell Prize for Drawing at the Art Gallery of NSW for his work, 'nature. insects plants flowers. shell fish corals. the microscopic creatures. dreams.'
• Lucy Culliton has won the $18,000 Portia Geach Award hosted by the National Trust SH Erwin Gallery in Sydney for her painting 'Self with Friends'.
• Julie Bartholomew has won the $10,000 25th Gold Coast International Ceramic Art Award (acquisitive), hosted by the Gold Coast City Art Gallery, with a trio of porcelain objects.
• Francis Upritchard has won the $50,000 Walters Prize 2006, New Zealand’s biggest, with 'Doomed, Doomed, All Doomed'. The London-based artist gets an all expenses paid trip to New York to exhibit her work at Saatchi and Saatchi’s world headquarters.
• Lisa Wolfgramm, has won the 6th annual $15,000 BankWest Contemporary Art Prize hosted by the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art with 'Painting #218', which will be automatically acquired for the BankWest Contemporary Art Collection.
• Walter Stahl has won the acquisitive $10,000 City of Perth PhotoMedia Award for his artwork entitled seed_race [the herd] a digital archival inkjet print.
• In the various award categories of SA’s oddly named 'Fleurieu Biennale', (which is not, like other biennales, a curated exhibition, but a group of prizes) the centrepiece $50,000 Art Prize was won by expatriate senior artist Ken Whisson for a painting 'Time Is'. In other categories each worth $10,000, winners were: Art, Food and Wine Prize – Paul Ryan (NSW) for 'Stack of Lamb', the Vistas Prize – Noel McKenna (NSW) for 'Jetty, Second Valley', the Water Prize – Ken Orchard (SA) for 'Onkaparinga Estuary' and the Youth Scholarship – Morgan Allender (SA) for 'When the Earth Moves'.
• Richard Moffatt won the $15,000 major acquisition prize at the 11th annual Thursday Plantation East Coast Sculpture Show with 'No 433' a sensual 1500 kilos of rusted red steel tube. The show is located in the botanical gardens and rainforest groves of Thursday Plantation, 20 minutes south of Byron Bay and runs from 9 am to 5 pm, 24 September – 31 January 2007. www.sculptureshow.net
• Samuel Wade from Kings Cross in Sydney is the winner of the eighth Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship for his work 'Grey Day at Centr', 2006, oil on linen.
• 'Bert and Ned: the Correspondence of Albert Tucker and Sidney Nolan' by Patrick McCaughey published by Miegunyah Press in association with Heide Museum of Modern Art.
•'Juan Davila' by Guy Brett and Roger Benjamin, with writings by Juan Davila, published by Miegunyah Press in association with the MCA to coincide with the exhibition in October 2006. RRP $59.95
•'Rapt: 20 Contemporary Artists from Japan', catalogue of the exhibition which ran in a range of venues in Melbourne during Sept-Oct 2006. Published by Japan Foundation 245 pages. A series of residencies around the country was a vibrant aspect of the project.