Will Coles “I Fucking <3 Melbourne” at Dark Horse Experiment; Coles is being ironic with the title of the exhibition – he is based in Sydney. And Coles’s exhibition has a cement mixer sized load of irony.
I have to declare a conflict of interests in writing about Coles’s exhibition because Catherine and I bought two of his small works at the exhibition. Coles cast concrete objects made me laugh (really), it made me cry (not really, but there was some sentimentality in some of the works) and it made want to buy. It made a lot of people want to buy; there was a queue of buyers at the desk. Will Coles was also giving away 40 prints to the early birds along with 1 trillion dollar bills with a portrait of him smoking a cigar, so lots of people at the exhibition were going home with some of his art.
Will Coles “Might Is Right” and small works
As this was Will Coles’s first exhibition in Melbourne it was a bit of a mini retrospective with a sample of his well known works from the crushed cans to the TV sets. The small work, the cans, phones, remote controls, etc. were grouped around “Might is Right”, a large gold Buddha holding a gold Kalashnikov. The “Memorial to the Unknown Armchair General”, an armchair and pouffe cast in concrete, provided another focal point. His gallery editions are cast various colours of resin and cement. I hadn’t seen Coles culture jamming prints before but although competent and ironically funny, they aren’t as good as his sculpture.
Memorial to the Unknown Armchair General
You can read my article about Will Coles in Trouble magazine about Coles work in relation to Jasper Johns and the history of sculpture. For more images see Land of Sunshine “Will Coles Hits Melbourne”. And there are still more of Coles works to find on the streets of the Melbourne.
Will Coles Crushed Can on Melbourne street.
Will Coles mask in Rutledge Lane
This is not the insides story of the Melbourne Stencil Festival 2009, I haven’t got time for that, not with the Sweet Streets festival about to start. But briefly, after the entire previous committee resigned and imploded the Melbourne Stencil Festival 2009 was run by a small emergency committee that included Phil Hall, Tessa Yee, Anna Briers and myself. We put the festival together in three months with almost no budget and only in-kind support from sponsors. It needs to be said to dispel any idea that it was being run by paid administers in an office with lots of sponsorship dollars. After managing to put together a festival last year the new committee became even more ambitious for the 2010 festival.
This year the festival is called Sweet Streets and it is bigger and better than in previous years. It is now a real arts festival with a program of events and multiple exhibitions with multiple curators in several locations in Melbourne, Fitzroy, Collingwood and Abbotsford.
There was an obvious need to re-brand and redefine the Melbourne Stencil Festival this year to include more than just stencil art. The festival’s initial focus on stencil art came in 2004 at a time in Melbourne when stencil art was very popular and there were a lot of stencil art on the street. Since then street art in Melbourne has expanded, new techniques and ideas have come along like yarn bombing and street sculpture. So the Melbourne Stencil Festival became Sweet Streets – a festival of urban & street art. The use of the subtitle “urban & street art” was used to sidestep the debate about street art in the gallery (see my entry about this debate).
Fortunately this year we have had a lot longer to plan and more than just an emergency committee and a few volunteers to help put it together – we had a few more volunteers. And we could do with a few more. We still don’t have an office and we still don’t have any sponsorship dollars, just generous in kind support.
My role as the secretary for the festival is not the most glamorous of jobs – lots of emails, typing minutes of meetings, organizing meetings, finding meeting venues and other mundane or bureaucratic matters. On a more interesting note I have been organizing a night of short films at the festival hub, 1000 Pound Bend, 361 Ltl. Londsdale St. on Thursday 14th October. There have been so many documentaries made or are currently being about Melbourne’s street art scene. My selection of films is aimed at showing the diversity of approaches and voices.
Melbourne Stencil Festival Inc. presents
Sweet Streets - A festival of urban + street styles
8th to the 24th October 2010
Follow the Sweet Streets festival on Facebook.
Wandering around the laneways west of Elizabeth St. has not been a regular feature of my exploration of Melbourne’s art galleries and street art. After all most of the art galleries are east of Elizabeth St. along Flinders Lane as are most of the laneways containing street art, or so I thought.
I was looking for Brood Box, a new gallery on Rankins Lane, “off Lt Bourke Street between Queen and Elizabeth Streets”, which narrowed it down to a couple of laneways. At first I thought that Brood Box, might have been a renamed Mahoneys Gallery, but I found that Mahoneys had become a framing service in the corner of another restaurant that fill these laneways. A strange combination – the meal was so good that I think I’ll have it framed.
There are other galleries and art dealers in the area but most are by appointment only. In Warburton Lane I saw there is a new gallery space but again by appointment only.
On my walk I also saw a lot of street art, paste-ups by Miso and others, aerosol art by the Everfresh crew and others, and lots of street art sculpture. (See my entry on Street Art Sculpture.)
Rankins Lane has enough street art to draw attention to it. Brood Box is a big space with a trailer parked inside selling coffee and cakes, combining an art gallery with a coffee shop. The coffee-trailer has been painted by the ubiquitous Drew Funk. There are tables and chairs but also enough wall space for a contemporary art gallery. I was looking for Brood Box because Joseph Flynn was exhibiting. I had interviewed Joe for my entry on Fine Art Education and I wanted to see how his career was progressing with this exhibition.
Joseph Flynn’s exhibition, “Cultures” is two series of drawings on large sheets of paper. I found my self steeping back across the laneway and looking through the entrance of Brood Box to get far enough back to taken in one of the drawings as a drawing of a face. Up close the intensity of the lines that form the pictures look like circuit diagrams, cultures of bacteria or star-maps. There are many star and psychedelic references in the images and titles of this main series of drawings. The second series of drawings are more colourful with outline drawings of faces overlayed on top of one another. Flynn shows a great deal of confidence and skill in the execution of these large images.
I saw a few other exhibitions on my walk around the city but Cultures at Brood Box was the best that I saw that day.