Tag Archives: Seventh Gallery

Play Money, Radish & other exhibitions

On Thursday night I went to the opening of “Play Money” at the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick. The exhibition examines ”the anxiety surrounding the acquisition of real estate and the legacy of land ownership in Australia”. It is pertinent subject especially in Brunswick where houses prices are rising in the wake of the artistic revival; Gregor Muir described artists as “the storm-troopers of gentrification.” The irony of the welcome to country at the opening was not lost at either.

Curated by Jane O’Neill “Play Money” is good as far as it goes but it is taking up valuable real estate with an exhibition that didn’t fill up all the walls. The suburban subject is very current in Melbourne art; the Ian Strange exhibition at the NGV Atrium came to mind (see my post) along with the art of Jason Waterhouse and Adrian Doyle. I wanted more.

On my Thursday afternoon gallery crawl I was impressed with “Radish” by Diego Ramirez at Seventh Gallery. The two videos in the installation contributed to the sad story of a radish headed man. The videos had great production quality overall but especially the make-up and prosthetics. I was wondering if the radish headed man finally found a home buried in the back room of Seventh Gallery as the radish top was poking out from the gallery floor.

I also enjoyed seeing Penny Pekham’s “A Taxonomy of (Art) Cats”. A series of prints upstairs in a small room at 69 Smith St amidst some bad and ordinary art, including Pekham’s series of paintings based on Leonard Cohen lyrics. The lino-cut prints reproduced cats by famous artists (Hiroshige, Toulouse Lautrec, Steinlen, Beardsly, Manet etc.) arranged in grids. Simple but effective and combining cats and art history is a way to my heart.

I saw Little Woods Gallery for the first time. It is a small gallery space that is part of the Jesuit Social Services on Langridge Street. Lauren Dunn’s “We are all friends” a series of photographs of Lauren’s friends. The larger than life photographs were too close, both intimate and a bit intimidating. There was some attempt to trace the connections between these faces and Dunn but not enough was made of that.


Gertrude St. Culture

There are many art galleries (a few years ago there were 7, hence the name of Seventh Gallery), art supplies, bookshops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and antique shops spreading along the street. Rose Chong Costume Hire has extravagant window displays and Arcadia Café has exhibitions on their walls. Most of the activity is concentrated in a few blocks north between Smith St. and Brunswick St. is a microenvironment of greater cultural significance than its size.

Seventh Gallery, Gertrude Street

At the corner of Brunswick St. the housing commission flats start, part of a slum reclamation by the state government, at Gertrude St. The high-rise housing commission flats have not been as successful as the gentrification that the arts brought to the area. Here, as elsewhere in Fitzroy, there is a slow gentrification going on.

Life, like the numerous pubs along Gertrude St. ranges from down-and-out to up-market. The two sides of the street are distinguished by housing commission flats on one side and on the other, rows of 19th and early 20thcentury shops, post office and pubs. Preserving the turn of the 19th century buildings with their eclectic style architecture are a mix of charities and boutiques continues west. The gentrified area is slowly spreading – initially from the Collingwood end – oddly creating a quiet area closer to the city. It started from Australian Print Workshop established in 1981 and a cluster of galleries around the corner on Smith Street that moved the focus to this end of the street. Darren Knight Gallery, now located in Sydney, was originally just around the corner on Smith St. along with Australia Galleries. Back in the 1980s the sculptors Geoffrey Bartlett, Augustine Dall’Ava and Anthony Pryor shared a studio on Gertrude Street.

Australian Print Workshop, Gertrude Street

Gertrude St. is the one place in Melbourne where there is a strong Koori presence. The old Post Office building on Gertrude St. that was once painted the yellow, red and black of the Aborigine flag has been painted white and turned into a restaurant. On the corner of Gertrude and George Streets three thin bronze figures with aboriginal motifs on their torso stand. They are  “Delkuk Spirits”, 2002, by Kelly Koumalatsos, a Wergaia/Wamba Wamba woman from the northwest of Victoria and a graduate of RMIT.

Kelly Koumalatsos, Delkuk Spirits, 2002, bronze

On Lt. Napier Street, the laneway next to the old post office, there was some Koori street art by the Bellamah Tribe in 2006: the use of ochre colours, images of goannas, lines and track marks set this wall apart. There were great sprays of paint, black brush marks and tags. It has since been covered up with other pieces since. The Bellamah Tribe wall was an impressive and distinctive and I hoped to see more of the Koori street art but apart from Reko Rennie, that has yet to come. In 2012 the AWOL crew did do a tribute the original owners of this land, who were never asked permission to construct Fitzroy and Collingwood.

AWOL Gertrude Street

I always see something interesting on my walks along Gertrude Street; what was the most interesting thing that you saw there last?


Spirit, Slackers and Contemporary Art

Various art galleries around Fitzroy – March 2012

At Sutton Gallery Brett Colquhoun’s “Spirit” is two separate bodies of work. There are landscapes where the condensation of the breath of the viewer is visibly obscuring the scene. And, in the main gallery, there is a larger series of drawings and paintings, “The Invisible”. In these painting geometric radiating rays of white, like hallucinatory radar grids, filling in the black surfaces. Breath + The Invisible = Spirit.

“Origins” by Damian Vincenzi at Kick Gallery is an exhibition of photographs of nature with a mirror image of one half. It is an old trick but Vincenzi has found some more beauty and magic in it creating visions of animals from mineral structures.

Seventh Gallery packs in three exhibitions into its small space. “Constructing Comfort” by recent Monash Fine Arts graduates, Rowan Moyle and Nickk Hertzog is in Gallery One. Slacker art like this installation is deliberately ugly, unappealing, shoddily crafted and dumb in such a way that it argues, with cynicism, that it must be great art because you and I can’t appreciate it. “Constructing Comfort” is anything but comfortable, although there are tarpaulin-covered shelters.

Leela Schauble’s “Dyeing Waters” installation in Gallery Two at Seventh Gallery is engaging with new visions of the body. In Seventh Gallery small Project Space “New Frontier” by Thomas Breakwell looked like so many other pieces of video art.

Brook Andrew “Maybe it’s meant to happen” 2010 at Gertrude Contemporary

Gertrude Contemporary has “No Name Station – China/Australia Cultural Exchange” The exhibition presents indigenous art from a remote Australian aboriginal community alongside work by contemporary urban artists from Australia and China. The journey into and out of the gallery is the strongest uniting element of this exhibition. From Brook Andrew’s neon installation (“Maybe it’s meant to happen” 2010) the front window to the back office there is a path, sometimes clearly delineated with a fence of branches by Liang Shuo (“Visiting a Show” 2012). There is art along the way there are paintings, videos, weavings and installations. I particularly enjoyed the photograph of the intervention by Zhao Zhao (“Cobblestone” 2007), a stone glued out of place in Tiananmen Square, and the woven Pandanus gift mats with witty slogans by Newell Harry.  Is this cultural exchange the colonization of Aboriginal art by the contemporary art empire?


Gallery Crawl – November 2011

It was a pleasant late November day in Melbourne – blue sky and sun – a perfect day for a walk around some galleries.

Paste-up on Gertrude Street

At Kick Gallery the lighting was still being adjusted for the opening that evening. The gallery was full of small sculptures, in a couple of different styles, until I was given a room sheet I was unsure if it was all the work of one sculpture; Craig MacDonald. One of his styles, the spun profile, reminded me of Renato Bertelli’s “Continuous Profile of Mussolini” 1933, but MacDonald has made a spinning fat woman instead of an Italian dictator. Most of his quirky bronze sculptures have an underlying quiet sense of humour, like the figure of an astronaut without pants.

Ben Millar’s “The Colour Notation Project” in Seventh Gallery front space had an electric guitar plugged in, if anyone wanted to attempt to read the colour notation. It was all explained and the score was on the wall, in several minimalist looking works. The backroom of Seventh contained a video installation (as usual) this time “Place of Tears” a haunting installation by Hermoine Merry and Henriette Kassay-Schuster.

69 Smith St. had one of many end-of-year student exhibitions at this time. I don’t know what to expect of NMIT Diploma of Visual Arts graduates but the exhibition was roughly hung and most of the work reminded me of art fads that I’ve seen several years ago. They really should have been looking at the work at Gertrude Contemporary, if they wanted to do contemporary art and exhibit it well. When I was looking around the “Gertrude Studios 2011” exhibition I thought that the art students rather than gone to NMIT should have just worked on a building site and learnt to build walls, an essential skill in the contemporary art scene. Josh Petherick’s “Leaning, with accompaniment” is a great example of this trend in cutting chunks out of plasterboard walls.

“Gertrude Studios 2011” is a good end of year exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary. I’m consider going to their open studio on Saturday 26th – I went to one several years ago and I wonder what else I have on that day and what the weather will be like.

CPSU demonstration in Melbourne

The day was made even more pleasant by the band on the back of a truck grooving away accompanying the CPSU demonstration that was rallying near Parliament. With music in the air and the day so pleasant I decided to forgo the trams and walked to Collingwood. On the way back I saw many nurses returning from another strike rall. Good luck to both of them; this is why there is an Occupy movement around the world. It is these underpaid but vital care workers who do need better pay and conditions rather than the executive mangers who are getting the pay rises.

Not that there was any deeply political work in any of the galleries or on the street, except for Paul Yore’s “Monument to the Republic” at Gertrude Contemporary, a piss-taking piece of slacker art that represents the Australian Republic perfectly. The boutiques, cafes and galleries along Gertrude and Smith streets looked apolitical, absorbed in their own style. There were lots of things to see on the walk; including an exhibition of modified top hats in the window of Smart Alec’s, and, of course, the street art down the laneways.

"From the Neck Up" - hats by Lu Skace J, Louise Blyton and Henry Maas


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,085 other followers

%d bloggers like this: