ONCE again the touring works from last year’s Archibald Prize are hanging in the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery.
It is obvious that the formal portrait is disappearing. There are very few neckties, but a surprising amount of nudity and fancy dress, with several dogs, cats and a memorable rabbit.
Until June 5 the walls are dense with some famous faces captured in immense variety. Many well-known artists are painting their fellow artists and members of the arts community.
It is obvious that the formal portrait is disappearing.
There are very few neckties, but a surprising amount of nudity and fancy dress, with several dogs, cats and a memorable rabbit. Fellow artists as subjects are often tribal elders like Betty Churcher or Judy Cassab. There are some rivetingly good paintings.
Black and white is popular, as in the now widely known winning work, Nigel Milsom’s theatrical study of Charles Waterstreet, his former barrister. In this melodramatic painting the face is ambiguously benign, the hands a nightmare from early German expressionist film.
Nigel Milsom’s studio is now in Newcastle. Local interest is also likely to be keen for Julian Meagher’s ethereal portrait of Daniel Johns.
New entrant Andrew Sayers was Assistant Director of Newcastle Art Gallery before pursuing his increasingly stellar career at three of Canberra’s cultural institutions. Like many other painters here, his subject is a close friend, in this case polymath Tim Bonyhady.
There are still some beetling giant heads to browbeat us, but the 47 finalists from 2015 make a seriously interesting show.
The Archibald Prize on on show at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery until June 5. artgallery.lakemac.com.au.
Four flavours at 139
THE latest exhibition at Gallery 139 until June 4 brings together four very different artists.
Sieglinde Battley’s four paintings layer images from rich deposits of imagination, part literary, part autobiography, part exotic visitations from the subconscious. Unravelling context takes time in pleasurable puzzling. She is a self-generating artist with a reputation for the unexpected both in Australia and in Europe.
Matthew Tome is also widely represented. His series of small multiple-plate etchings plays theme and variations on an electronic subject with sophisticated simplicity.
Lynette Bridge, at a different stage in her career, deploys many mediums in cloudy nuance, while John Heaney’s sculptural stoneware pots ape metal, marble and cement in bold folded forms.
Visit the gallery at 139A Beaumont St, Hamilton. gallery139.com.au.
NEWLY installed at Maitland Regional Art Gallery, in the tall void of the atrium, is a flock of airy textile objects made by fibre artist Michaela Swan since she returned from studying collections of textiles as the Brenda Clouten Memorial Travelling Scholar.
The items are constructed from ripped-up old sheets, which are then arm knitted. (I understand there is a video of this arcane technique). The resulting patterned rectangles are suspended by several corners into relaxed hammock-like shapes, bellying in freely twisting flight, another example of innovative recycling and sculptural use of textiles.
The Arm Knitting Project is showing until June 5. mrag.org.au.
A NOTABLE addition to the ground floor exhibition at Newcastle Art Gallery is a huge dramatic work by Peter Gardiner.
Painted in 2010, it offers comment on the damaged environment, with a bushfire consuming the forest on one side and a distant railway viaduct crossing the polluted valley floor on the other.
This is landscape painting in the grand tradition, its romantic allure undercut by a strange slithery paint surface and an ironic confidence, confirming the stature of this Newcastle-based mid-career artist.
Nanshe off to London
A POPUP exhibition at Nanshe last weekend was a promotional preview for a coming venture into Europe.
Naomi Wild and Barbara Nanshe are now making final arrangements to exhibit in London from August 30 to September 5 at Chelsea Gallery. Two days later they open in Berlin, hiring a gallery space in trendy Neukölln until September 20.
It’s an ambitious undertaking, though with the work of each artist strongly slanted to a feminist aesthetic, they may well find access to a readymade public.
Barbara Nanshe is well known in Newcastle as a silversmith, but her travelling works incorporate wearable fetish doll figures into woven wall pieces made from coated wire.
She will also take her traditional pieces incorporating semi-precious stones and plastics for instant sale.
Art therapist Naomi Wild also uses the female archetype in art nouveau-influenced fabric works. Her work is a further example of the enhanced use of textiles, using elaborate new techniques.
This bold venture is seeking crowd funding through the agency of the Australian Cultural Fund.
For details see creativesabroad.squarespace.com