Tag Archives: Brunswick Street Gallery

Three model buildings

Looking at three artist’s models of buildings in two exhibitions that I saw this week. From miniature realism to fantastic visions model buildings represent a form of life.

David Hourigan, The Chicken Shop Yarraville

The first two models were in “Uncontrolled Development” a group exhibition at Brunswick Street Gallery. One was by David Hourigan, the other by John Gatip.

Hourigan has received plenty of mainstream media coverage for his models of Melbourne’s disappearing old urban sites, like milk bars and donut stands. They are very detailed, almost photo-realistic, 1:25 scale models of actual buildings. However accurate, Hourigan’s models are just a road to nostalgia, a criticism free version of the past, where there are no regrets or disappointments. (For more on Hourigan’s models see The Age.)

John Gatip, part of Eureka series

Gatip’s ‘Eureka’ series of golden models are abstractions of Melbourne; particularly the nineteenth century Melbourne constructed from the profits of the gold rush. His models are not an accurate representations but the city is clearly recognisable from the forms. Gatip is an architect but these models are very different from architects models. In an architects model the building is shown in an ideal state, as an example to imitate in the actual construction; in the artist’s model it is a three-dimensional representation.

Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Arrivals and departures

In “Bruised: Art Action and Ecology in Asia” RMIT Gallery, Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan models of buildings are clearly made of corrugated cardboard. In their Arrivals and departures multi-storey towers of dense bricolage homes are piled on top of each other in chaotic constructions. Aquilizan’s houses are lively, with overgrown pot plants, bird boxes, antennas and other signs of life. Each building is on a luggage trolleys, ready to move to a new location on the artificial grass.

Bruised is part of ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019 the art festival that is unfortunately so necessary in this climate emergency (see my other posts about visual arts exhibitions the ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019: The plastic jewellers and Art in the face of a climate emergency).

Gallery Cats

Winchester, the cat at Brunswick Arts died on the 10th of October. Originally from Toowoomba, Queensland, Winchester moved to Melbourne and pursued a career in artist management. He enjoyed a long and successful life supervising activities at the artist-run-gallery, eating and sleeping. He passed away suddenly early in the morning after enjoying life as usual the previous day. Early in 2012 Winchester went missing for a week after an exhibition opening. He had cancer and was receiving chemotherapy in mid 2012. Winchester was a male tabby and proud of it. He had his own Facebook page (I was one of his 175 friends). I will miss seeing him when I visit and he will be profoundly missed by his family at Brunswick Arts.

Winchester the cat at Brunswick Arts opening 2012

Another gallery cat in Melbourne is Milly at Brunswick Street Gallery Milly a white short-haired cat is very affectionate; she was following me around the gallery trying to get petted when I was last there.

In observing cats you will notice that cats enjoy geometry of the designed environment; they place themselves in a manner in harmony with the space. Gallery cats appreciate the gallery space like many of the human visitors. Gallery cats must wonder why humans often walk half way across a room and then suddenly stop and stares at the wall for a minute before continuing walking in their original direction.

“When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her.” Michel de Montaigne

Urban Art 10A @ BSG

Do not read this review of Urban Art 10A at Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG) as it is biased. I work with the curator, Tessa Yee in the Melbourne Stencil Festival. I own a work by Boo, so I have an interest in promoting her work. You have been warned.

Urban Art 10A is a group exhibition, a sampling of street influenced art. In this case street-influence includes aerosol stencils, cartoon influence illustration and custom toys. There is no free hand aerosol art, no vinyl toys, no street sculpture, no guerrilla gardens, etc. but you can’t have everything on a single floor of BSG.

The mini-exhibition of custom toys within the exhibition from the Australian Guild of Toy Makers is fun. Featuring custom soft toys by Amy Calton, Antonia Green and Rob Thompson. It is also the only sculptural element in the exhibition aside from Jak Rapmund’s pile of broken skateboard decks. His rough supports, the broken decks, the chunk bitten off with great teeth marks, are savage. His stencils are fun with a pop sensibility and neo-baroque backgrounds.

Jak Rapmund, photo courtesy of Tessa Yea

Jak Rapmund works, photo courtesy of Tessa Yee

There is plenty of work in the cartoon and illustrative direction; Timothy Molloy had a whole comic on exhibition. Apeseven has been painting on more bottles, I’m not surprised as he was very proud of this technical achievement when I spoke to him at his solo exhibition at Famous When Dead (see my review). And like James Panic (I own one of his t-shirts, more reasons for bias) Apeseven is including collage elements into his work. Boo combines both illustration and stencil art in her scenes that are surrounded with paper-cut sacred hearts.

Urban Art 10A did include urban images; the photographic quality of stencil art was on display. Kirpy’s stencils of urban images have a realist tone compared to the more romantic images of urban decay by Logan Moody. E.L.K.’s stencils of mosh-pits, was less about urban images and more about an urban experience.

Urban Art 10A Opening Night @ BSG, photo courtesy of Tessa Yee

I’m not so compromised over the other shows on the first floor of BSG; but I’m less interested in photography than street art. Jayne
Moberley’s “Schattenspiel
Show” is a series of misty color photographs of Melbourne and Sydney. Tebani
Slade’s “Lost & Found” is a series of sentimental still life black and white photographs. The only one that I could get into was Bridget
MacLeod “Ephemera”, black and white photographs preserving the ephemeral images of lace table clothes used as stencils on the street, but I have seen this idea used several times before.

I was distracted again by the stock on display at BSG; there was some stencil work by Ben Howe and a painting by Jean Lyons, who I had seen on exhibition at Flinders Lane Gallery last weekend. There were more people at the opening with skateboards than the usual exhibition. Milly, the gallery cat was greeting people with affection. I was there early before it got too crowded to move and I’d been on my feet for hours looking at other galleries that afternoon. I wanted dinner and a cocktail more than to hang out in a gallery.

January Heat

As Melbourne bakes in major heat wave nobody will be visiting any galleries; last week I did get to see a couple of exhibitions. Many of the galleries in Melbourne are still closed and their front windows covered in paper. Those commercial galleries that are open in Collingwood and Fitzroy are having stockroom exhibitions or exhibitions of aboriginal art. Many of the other rental spaces and artist run spaces throughout the city are filled with the extensive Midsumma Visual Arts program.

I met Tim, who headed Midsumma team organizing the visual arts program when I was visiting 69 Smith St and congratulated him on several years of producing excellent programs

Midsumma at 69 Smith St. has five exhibitions of nude photography. Downstairs there is Rick Connors expanding a strong graphic idea from Robert Mapplethorpe photograph of contrasting colored torsos. Alexander Edwards exhibition Touch Me works on the idea of writing the thoughts on the body. Upstairs David Khan’s Naked makes much of its use of ordinary men as models but the results just look like professional models. Chris Nash’s haunting little exhibition “Could I exist as just one these elements” is the most original and interesting of these exhibitions. (I reviewed Midsumma @ Platform in an earlier entry).

BSG is open and filled with exhibitions of massively varying quality from paintings by 2-year old, Aelita Andre (see my entry Toddler Arts) in one gallery to This Is Brunswick Arts in the next. The 9 artists that run Brunswick Art Space annually have group exhibitions in other galleries. Their work varies from photographs by Alice Dunn and Catherine Evans, paintings by Alison Hanly and James Wray, a large drawing by Alister Karl, a neo-baroque wallpaper cut-out by Karis Sim and sculptures by Lenni Morkel-Kingsbury, Kieran Stewart, Erin Voth and Benjamin Webb.

In yet another room photographer Christopher Atkins “Hidden in Plain Sight” at BSG is sub-titled “Re-imaging Masonic Architecture”. It is a series of b&w and color photographs of the suburban Masonic temples in Melbourne from the outside and inside. The Masons are not a secret society; their temples are everywhere, old buildings from the first half of the 20th century when Free Masons were a popular organisation. Atkins both documents the changes in the architecture and the function of the Masonic temples; some are now converted into apartments or medical clinics. But Atkins photographs do more than just document; the old Masons alone inside their empty halls are haunting in their emptiness.

As this heat wave continues I will be staying out of the sun and so it will be unlikely if I see any exhibition in the next week.

Toddler Art

The selection process in rental space galleries, like Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG), is primarily based on renting out the space and not artistic ability. So I was not surprised to read on the front page of The Age that BSG has found that they are exhibiting the paintings of Aelita Andre, a 2-year old girl.

Most of Melbourne’s galleries close for January so BSG must have been happy to find someone who wanted to rent a gallery so early in the year.

Mark Jamieson, the director of BSG has made the best of the situation securing front-page publicity for his gallery. Along with a review by the Age’s art critic, Robert Nelson of the artist’s work. Artists exhibiting at BSG rarely get reviewed. There was more media coverage from NineMSN and the Sydney Morning Herald. (And now I am writing about it.)

Years ago I made a similar mistake, prompted by the quality framing of a large abstract painting on paper that was hanging in a friend’s study. It resembled drawings by William de Kooning. I asked who the artist was only to be told that it was his daughter aged 2 or 3 years old.

I would recommend to parents of all 2 and 3 year olds to follow the example of Aelita’s mother, Kalashnikova, in part, renting gallery space is going a bit far. Buy a couple of large canvases (this way you don’t have to pay the expense of framing and mounting) and some artist’s acrylic paints. Paint a background colour onto the whole of the canvas; Indian Red (terracotta colour) works well. Then let your child paint. Do not write your child’s age on the front of the canvas, as it will only detract from the composition, recording it on the back is sufficient. Hang your favourite canvas on your wall; it will be a beautiful memento of your child’s early years.

I would recommend to all rental space galleries that either they improve their selection processes (actually meeting the artist might be a good first step), or to remember that all publicity is good publicity.

It would be a mistake to conclude that this episode demonstrates anything about the quality of abstract art in general. 

%d bloggers like this: