Issue 40:3 | September 2020  | The Art of Compassion
The Art of Compassion
Issue 40:3 | September 2020
Issue 37:3 | September 2017 | Anxiety: Art and mental health
Anxiety: Art and mental health
Issue 37:3 | September 2017
Issue 28:2 | June 2008 | Art Mind Beauty
Art Mind Beauty
Issue 28:2 | June 2008
Issue 18:1 | March 1998 | Art & the Spirit
Art & the Spirit
Issue 18:1 | March 1998


Flesh after fifty: Changing images of older women in art

When I was eleven, I assumed the role of keeper of the family archives: with both parents working and me the younger sibling, I probably had the most time on my hands. But I also felt a strong compulsion to guard mementos from family holidays and special occasions, including images. With the solid moral universe of a child that age, I wanted to capture the “true” version of events, preferring candid to posed photographs. I was renowned for gonzoing formal photo opps by pulling a face or kicking out an inopportune leg. You can imagine my outrage when I discovered my carefully compiled albums had been raided. Every “unflattering” photo of my mother had been removed, leaving virtually no trace of her. When confronted, my mother was unrepentant and refused to return the photos, claiming she had destroyed them as was her right. I was so angry that she would presume to interfere in our collective family record and incensed at what I saw as her hypocrisy and inability to face “the truth”—that she was ageing. Looking back, I have a great deal more compassion for my mother’s response. But this poignant memory makes me reflect: how many other family archives suffered a similar fate (let alone in the digital era)? Was internalised shame at work? And, what counter‑truth was my mother asserting?

Regimes of care: Concerning the afterlife of artists

I submit to my stocktake shifts, become their restless subject, sighting, countersigning, pitting numbers and images against objects. “Randomised”, my colleague tells me, from an appropriate social distance. A performance of witnessing without expectation (at least on my part) which is why his appearance was closer to a manifestation.

Stephen Benwell’s little statue. With a rush of feeling, he wholly punctured my procedural glumness. His tender realness, eyes fluttering upward to a neighbouring stoneware pot, he chastises the unimaginatively robust seventies ceramic for what it might have been. His twenty-something centimetres of tragicomic beauty resolute against the silent grey of our diligence. Not just present but a presence of self-elegiac composure. A resistance.

Between worlds: Belinda Mason and Blur Projects

We do not see like a camera. A camera registers everything reflecting light into its lens, but human perception is selective. It is an economy of resources that has evolved over millions of years so that now, neuroscientists tell us, only about twenty per cent of what we perceive visually from moment to moment is actually passing through our eyes. The rest is constructed from memory and expectation. Our experience of the world is a product of interactions between abstract top-down visual memory templates and bottom-up sensory ones. Since the former is subjective, we rarely perceive those things that we fail to consider. Sometimes, to understand the bigger picture, we must squint our eyes and soften our focus; to concentrate less on the things we seek and become conscious of the interplay in how things blend together.

The art of dis-ease

I have lifted the title for this essay from Narratives of Dis‑ease (1990), a series of works by the late British photographer Jo Spence. The series was made following the artist’s partial mastectomy for the treatment of breast cancer. Closely‑cropped around her body, the photographs show Spence partially nude, using props and performing emotive gestures, compositions and sight gags that were suggestive of the sub‑titles she ascribed to each individual image: Expunged, Exiled, Included, Excised and Expected.

Stuart Ringholt: Anxiety, laughter and stress reduction

Why I do them is to be around people that don’t have any fear.
I want to see what it’s like to be around people who are really happy. 

Stuart Ringholt’s anti‑anxiety Anger Workshops and stress‑healing Naturist Tours step outside the usual model of clinical healing practices. They revisit the potential of being happy by living in the moment as a form of liberation and group therapy that is creatively driven. The first of the Naturist Tours began as part of a show on art and therapy named Let The Healing Begin (2011) at the IMA in Brisbane. Curator Robert Leonard commented that many regular gallery goers politely declined the invitation to take part, and although he was low key in his advertisement of this aspect of the show, it created a tremendous amount of community and media interest. Fast forward to the subsequent tours through the Wim Delvoye Retrospective at MONA (2011), and James Turrell: A Retrospective at the National Gallery of Australia, and Ringholt’s practice has all but surrendered to the demand, with an accelerated following. 

Warwuyun (worry) in the age of the selfie

The affective power of a photograph is perhaps never more potent than when the subject is a lost loved one, as Roland Barthes famously discussed on contemplating a portrait of his dead mother. This appreciation of the role of photography is harnessed in a new digital artwork by the Miyarrka Media collective which uses family photographs, including many images of deceased family members, as the basis for an interactive digital artwork about the importance of family and feeling in an age of interconnection. 

Reflections on the neurodiverse city

I am autistic. I perceive and experience the world through sensory and cognitive pathways unique to autism. Neuroscience documents this as “sensory atypicality” and “detail‑focused perception.” In terms of lived‑experience, this means the senses react in ways different from the norm, and the mind attends to minutiae that most others dismiss or miss altogether. Autistic sensory‑cognitive idiosyncrasy unpacks in myriad ways, varying from person to person and in modulations that range from intense attraction to extreme aversion.

Performing panic. How does your data glow?

I am in France. I have been working towards a presentation related to my research on panic at the Sorbonne, at a conference called Lire Pour Faire. I am anxious, sick with it, actually. My paper is dry and I need wet. The wet of tears, the wet of biochemicals pumping through blood, the wet of fear-piss. I want to vomit and I want to scream. Instead I sit in my room and hyperventilate. I find my friend and disclose my fears to her. I am in a state. She convinces me to do a practice presentation for a group of people who will be kind and supportive. I perform my disquiet and my insecurity and it is painful, and the pain is felt, and there is silence. There is a sitting back, a sinking down, a closing of laptop lids. There is quiet. Sometime after the quiet somebody tells a story and there is talk, feedback, questioning, exchange, confusion. This is where the research happens. Elsewhere, and otherwise, and afterwards.

The romantic spirit
In 2007 Jennifer A. McMahon, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Adelaide, published a book called Aesthetics and material beauty: aesthetics naturalized. (See book review by Michael Newall, this issue of Artlink.) In the late 1970s McMahon was an art student looking for truth. Her move to philosophy to find truth makes use of Kant's doctrine of aesthetic ideas and argues that our perceptual and cognitive orientation to the world is reaffirmed through finding forms that seem to draw us to them for their own sake. When this occurs it unleashes ideas like immortality, infinity and freedom for which there are no perceptual counterparts. She argues that Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but what constitutes the eye of the beholder is determined by culture.
On sunsets
A voyage across sunsets in recent Australian art from Jim Thalassoudis to Anne Zahalka, Tim Storrier to Philip Hanson. While at the outset Ted Snell quotes with approval Oscar Wilde's statement that 'nobody of any real culture ever talks nowadays about the beauty of sunsets' he goes on to show the enduring and meaningful presence of the sunset in both paintings and photography. Thus he demonstrates that art involving repossession and reinvention can, in spite of having to deal with accusations of kitsch, parochialism and provincialism, turn old themes into pure gold, both actual and emotional.
Australian Beauty
Beauty is problematic for contemporary art theory at least in part because it affords a pleasurable, life-affirming, yet ineffable experience. Yet Margot Osborne finds many examples to show that it has never really gone away. As Peter Schjeldahl observed in 1996: Beauty will be what it has always been and, despite everything, is now in furtive and inarticulate ways: an irrepressible, anarchic, healing human response without which life is a mistake.' Osborne writes: Embodiment, the synthesis of sensibility, skill and material form, is at the heart of beauty...The perception of beauty is an integrative sensual and cerebral experience, dissolving dualities of mind/body and repudiating outmoded art form hierarchies.
Shimmering fields
An essay on Indigenous aesthetics in the paintings of John Mawurndjul and Gulumbu Yunupingu from Arnhem Land, and Doreen Reid Nakamarra form the Central Desert as their work appears in the exhibition Culture Warriors, the first Indigenous Triennial, curated by Brenda Croft and reviewed in Artlink (Vol 27 #4) by Daniel Thomas. 'Their works are site-specific, alive with meaning and essentially metaphysical and religious in conception. For these artists beauty equals power, the power of the creation stories that underpin their art.'
Gatecrashing the sublime
In his youth as a regional gallery director Peter Timms imagined an exhibition called Flat Earth that would show all country artists that where they actually lived was, like anywhere else, able to be transformed into art. This article looks at the different approaches to landscape taken by the work of Tasmanian artists David Keeling, David Stephenson, Philip Wolfhagen and Richard Wastell, and how they transcend social, moral or political point-scoring to achieve their own kind of beauty, a clear-eyed, unsentimental appreciation of the environment as it really is, which frankly acknowledges the harm, both physical and conceptual, that has been inflicted upon it.
Some digressions on ornament, abstraction and the stowaway
An erudite elaboration of the concept that a certain amount of ornamentalism in art rather than being the opposite to minimalism is present within it as a secret stowaway. Wendy Walker muses on this topic with particular reference to the 2001 exhibition Ornament and Abstraction at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel, and its curator Markus Bruederlin's premise that ornamentation has played a more integral role in the development of abstract art than has previously been supposed. Walker illustrates her thesis with works by Christian Lock, Stieg Persson and Timothy Horn.
Karl Wiebke
Karl Wiebke has been making art for thirty years. Margaret Moore selectively reviews his oeuvre and concludes that though 'Beauty as an ideal is not a platform for his practice it is a consequence. His works are profoundly and atmospherically evocative of mood, weather, or nature like a bed of lichen or a sense of saturation. He has adopted a programmatic approach to his practice, setting schema and working toward attainment. That schema might incorporate an obligation of time, of mark-making, of palette or the allowance for interventions other than by his hand.
Cobi Cockburn
Cobi Cockburn is a glass artist whose work reflects her journey through the world, first in response to the country around Canberra and more recently the Shoalhaven district. It is her personal response to the landscape in which she lives (as opposed to a larger environmental message) which drives her to continue to push herself with a medium not typically used for landscape. Cockburns working methods of fusing, slumping, rolling, hot forming and cold working glass demonstrate clear connections from one piece of work to the next. Central to her motivation is the desire to create works of subtlety and grace. Cockburns working methods demonstrate clear connections from one piece to the next, yet each piece is a self-contained process in itself. A self-confessed addict of her book (her journal), Cockburn says that when she reviews her collection of journals, she can trace progress and a sense of continuous narrative. But she feels, on the whole, that her work is evolving more as a natural process as she herself develops both as an artist and a person. Each piece has its own essence, or presence, and comes together with others as collections which reflect part of the greater experience. Central to her motivation is the desire to create works of subtlety and grace, pieces that will stand for themselves but not shout at the viewer.
Robin Best
Robin Bests ceramics reflect her attention to the importance of location. Her forms are classical, meditative and reflective, and has ranged from marine forms to works decorated by Ernabella artist Nyukuna Baker. Her most recent body of work undertaken during and after a number of residencies in China reflects the complexity of the cultural, commercial and political history of China. Her snuff bottles are a picture gallery of images related to trade, culture and commerce, while others contain designs taken from each of the countries that blue and white porcelain passed through on its way from China to Europe via India and the Middle East.
Tina Gonsalves: Unleashing emotion
Tina Gonsalves is currently honorary artist in residence at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience and visiting artist at the MIT Media Lab in the US. Her recent work is interested in adaptive, rather than expressive approaches to mental and emotional states. Gonsalves situates emotional states as rhizomorphic and emergent. In her new works, she has given the media art world a new concept, the emotional algorithm. Feel: Chameleon (2007/2008) introduces multiple subjects, both projected images and people, into a panoramic installation. It is a complex exploration of ideas drawn from the emerging discipline of social neuroscience which is interested in the ways in which people connect with the emotional state of others.
Ellen Dissanyake: homo aestheticus
In this phone interview conducted by Margot Osborne with North American ethologist Ellen Dissanyake in her home in Seattle her case for a species-centric approach to art is explored through the ideas in her books Homo Aestheticus (1992) and Art and Intimacy (2000). She states that some form of art as an activity has existed in all societies across all times and is innate in human nature. The core of this innate activity is making special, or elaboration. From this species-centric perspective, many recent developments in art are seen by Dissanayake as unfortunate aberrations and a denial of the positive life-enhancing qualities of art.
Blubberland: the dangers of happiness, Elizabeth Farrelly
University of New South Wales Press, 2007 RRP $29.95
Visual Animals, Edited by Ian North
Contemporary Art Centre of SA 2007, RRP $35.
Truth and beauty entangled
Sian Ede is Arts Director for the Uk branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation where she initiated an Arts and Science program to encourage artists to engage with new thinking and practice in science and technology. She is editor and co-author of Strange and Charmed: science and the contemporary visual arts (2000) and author of Art and Science (2005). In this article Sian discusses the entanglement of truth and beauty by referring to John Keats famous 1820 poem Ode on a Grecian Urn and its statement that  Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all Ye know on earth and all ye need to know. and shows how relevant it is today in the fields of both art and science.
The realities of power
This is the third chapter of an unpublished autobiography by art theorist and national treasure Donald Brook. Previous chapters were published in 2005 in Artlink Vol 25#3 and in 2006 in Vol 26#4. In The Realities of Power Brook recapitulates what happened in terms of teaching and policy at the Power Institute, University of Sydney, in the late sixties when he first arrived in Australia from the UK. His long and detailed account explores why, in his opinion, the early Power Institute had so little impact on Australian visual culture. The rest of Brooks autobiography waits in the wings.
The 32nd congress of the international committee of the history of art (CIHA)

A brief description on the 32nd CIHA and its relevance in relation to art history and practices.

Insights and a conversation

A brief but notable account of the 2008 CIHA from the perspective of Anne Kirker describing the key speakers and their topical lectures in relation to art history. Kirker further elaborates on her experiences at the CIHA and what she deemed intellectually stimulating and intriguing. Kirker also summarises the general relevance and opportunities the CIHA provides.

Handle with care
Curator: Felicity Fenner Art Gallery of South Australia 1 March - 4 May 2008
Chris Pease
Goddard de Fiddes Gallery, Perth 8 February - 5 April 2008
One night only project
Curators: Kate Kelly and Pip Stafford Artists: Lindsay Arnold, Braddock, Lisa Campbell-Smith, Lachlan Conn, Moira Corby, Scot Cotterell, Lindsay Cox, Empire, Ghostpatrol, Andrew Harper, Jamin, Kate Kelly, Kirsty Madden, Noble, Michael Prior, Pip Stafford, Andy Vagg. Sound Artists: Chrysalis, Cycle, Global Ethnic, Matt Neidra. 29 March 2008
Chaos and revelry: Neo-Baroque and camp aesthetics
Curator: Edwina Bartlem 18 January  10 February 2008 Counihan Gallery, Brunswick
Papunya Painting: out of the desert
Curator: Vivien Johnson National Museum of Australia 28 November 2007  3 February 2008
The Ship of fools: recent paintings, Bill Brown
Wilson Street Gallery, Newtown 29 March - 20 April 2008
Now that I am a man I can go to war: Angela Lynkushka
Monash Gallery of Art 29 February - 27 April 2008
Handle me gently: Olga Cironis
Olga Cironis Turner Galleries, Perth 11 April - 10 May 2008
Curator: Colin Langridge Thomas Bachler, Andrew Dewhurst, Richard Giblett, David Martin, Todd McMillan, Ali Sanderson, Richard Wastell Carnegie Gallery, Hobart March 6  April 13 2008
Letting Go: Lee Salomone
Prospect Gallery 2 - 23 March 2008
Annie Hogan: A Survey
Curator: Frank McBride Museum of Brisbane 4 April - 6 July 2008
I am a good boy
Curator: Elise Routledge Firstdraft, Sydney 9 - 26 January 2008
Vi$copy Rules. OK?
In 1972, when I began work as curatorial assistant at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, artists in the collection had no formal written rights to their work. Each time a work was acquired by the gallery, the artist was sent a pink copyright form which they were expected to sign, even though this relinquished all their rights and assigned them to the gallery.
Art & the Spirit
Urinating to Windward
Artists asserting a commitment against ignorance have recently called for the resignation of the Director of the National Gallery of Victoria. There seems to be no particular matter of fact about which Dr Potts stands accused: his ignorance relates somehow to an issue of principle that was flouted (as his critics assert) when he prematurely closed the exhibition in which Andres Serrano's photograph, Piss Christ, provoked some complaint, some minor violence and (as we are told) unspecified threats.
Art & the Spirit
Art, Trash and Religion: the Serrano Affair revisited.
Who would have expected that Piss Christ would spark off a major public row in Australia, eight years after it was originally made notorious in the United States?
Art & the Spirit
Wrestling with Difficult Issues
The Jewish Museum of Australia is almost certainly the only religiously based institution in Australia which provides a contemporary art space. An important role of the Museum is to define an Australian Jewish identity, but in the contemporary space the Museum also helps to shape this identity. As well as celebrating our eternity in our permanent exhibitions, we help to forge our future by having contemporary shows.
Art & the Spirit
Beyond the Bleeding Heart...
Rosemary Crumlin discusses the sacred and the secular in contemporary art, starting with the exhibition she curated at the National Gallery of Victoria
Art & the Spirit
The Spiritual, the Rational and the Material: Spirit and Place Art in Australia 1861 - 1996
Since 1984 there have been five major exhibitions which sought to engage aspects of the spiritual in art and which attracted international comment. Spirit + Place, Art in Australia 1861 - 1996, which opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney on 22nd November 1996 and closed on 5th March 1997, was the most recent of these.
Art & the Spirit
Spirituality in Contemporary Australian Art: Some contexts and Issues in Interpretation
While there is a return to spiritual interests internationally in the Western world (from the counter culture of the late 1960s to the present) the 'spiritual' has been until now, relatively ignored in the interpretation of twentieth century artists work.
Art & the Spirit
Where Eagles Hover
Any discussion of the sacred and spiritual in Australian art must surely defer to the art of Aboriginal people for theirs is the art and culture which speaks most directly and profoundly about the connection of human spirituality to the Australian landscape.
Art & the Spirit
Grandmother's Mob and the Stories
Julie Dowling interviewed by Lavinia S. Ryan In the past five years, after graduating from Curtin University, Julie Dowling has been painting professionally. Recently Julie took part in the artists' forum, Wijay Na? (which way now) for the Northern Territory Centre for Contemporary Art.
Art & the Spirit
Groundwork - New Work/Old Law: The Spirit of the Land in Three Communities
The embracing of new mediums like artglass and the encouragement of new artists demonstrates the contemporary nature of Aboriginal art and culture. The art reflects profound connections to place and to the past, connections that continue to be spiritually significant. Three Art Centres come together in an exhibition for the Festival of Perth to show that Aboriginal culture is a living cullture.
Art & the Spirit
Embodiment: Concerning the Ontological in Art
The exhibition The Painters of the Wagilag Sisters 1937-1997 is a historic landmark in the exhibition of Aboriginal art in Australia. A collaboration between three curators, Wally Caruana, Djon Mundine and Nigel Lendon, as well as with the contributing Yolgnu artists, landowners and custodians from Central and Eastern Arnhem Land the exhibition confirms the significant role of the National Gallery of Australia in collecting, presenting and promoting Aboriginal art.
Art & the Spirit
Collaboration by Satellite
Satellite link-ups between continents have upped the telecommunication ante, intensifying the exchange of ideas and impressions by participants. The sense of sight is now added to the teleconferencing capacity for hearing everyone at once, making it easier for participants who have never met to know who is speaking when, and simplifying the task of managing a given session.
Art & the Spirit
Susan Hiller: Being Rational about the Irrational
Visitors to the Adelaide Festival will be able to see From the Freud Museum and Wild Talents. at the Experimental Art Foundation from 26 February recent works by visiting London-based artist Susan Hiller. Cath Kenneally spoke to her in London about her history and her art.
Art & the Spirit
David Jones' sculptures in the landscape - a spirit of place
Spirituality in western art is not necessarily ecclesiastical. There are artists who make work which is imbued with a deep spiritual connection to the land. The works may be temporary, ephemeral installations surviving only in the photographic record or they may be of more permanent substances.
Art & the Spirit
Cedar Prest: Community Art and Spirituality
For Cedar Prest, stained glass work always begins with a meditation on what she terms the "light atmosphere" of a particular place. This is not simply the physical presence of a source of light and its intensity within a room or particular architectural space, but also the more complex sensual influences that determine the way light enters a particular space through one or more "holes in the wall".
Art & the Spirit
Migration and Faith: Places of Worship in a Multicultural Community
"The cosmopolitan character of the residents of Australian cities has often been shown and it is in their worship that the various nations represented in our midst receives most definite demonstration. The Greek Orthodox Church has a small but increasing community in Melbourne, numbering about 150 Greeks and 50 Syrians, and it is now decided to build immediately, at a cost of about $3,000 a new Greek Church".
Art & the Spirit
Maria Ghost: Rick Martin
Experimental Art Foundation Adelaide SA December - January 1998
Art & the Spirit
The Measured Room
Di Barrett, Mark Kimber, Deborah Paauwe, Toby Richardson Contemporary Art Centre of SA 1 October - 2 November 1997
Art & the Spirit
Caboodle: Work from the Jam Factory Studios
Jam Factory Gallery SA Ceramics, Glass, Furniture, Metal 14 November 1997 - 11 January 1998
Art & the Spirit
Tripping the Light: The Big Party Show
Curator: Robyn Daw Artists: Cath Barcan, Christl Berg, Barbie Kjar, Greg Leong University Gallery, Launceston Tasmania 8- 31 August 1997
Art & the Spirit
Curated by Romy Wall with David Hansen Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart Tasmania 28 November 1997 - 4 January 1998
Art & the Spirit
Fremantle 6160
Fremantle Arts Centre 18 October - 30 November 1997
Art & the Spirit
Swingtime, East Coast - West Coast: Works from the 1960s-1970s in The University of Western Australia Art Collection
East Coast  22 August 1997 -1 February 1998; & 10 April - 27 September 1998. West Coast  22 August 1997 - 21 June 1998. Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery The University of Western Australia, Perth.
Art & the Spirit
Building a picture: Interviews with Australian Artists by Gary Catalano
Published by McGraw Hill Australia 1997 RRP $36,90
Art & the Spirit
Body, remember: Wrap me in a sister cloak

Tracey Moffatt’s series Body Remembers (2017) draws its title and responds to the poem by Constantine P. Cavafy (1918). In each of the series of large photographs we see a woman alone, in the ruins of colonial buildings, on the shadows of eroded stones. We see her looking out of windows, looking out into the distance. As the viewer, we see the back of the woman’s head, or the shadow of the woman, or her face that is covered by her hands as the Aboriginal woman maidservant looking out. The body in this title could be read as both our country and our flesh. The sovereign woman mourns. What do we mourn?