Tag Archives: Sally Smart

Melbourne Art Fair 2022

Melbourne Art Fair has re-emerged in a new location after an eight-year break. The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Garden, the previous art fairs venue, is currently used as a vaccination centre. Now it is in Jeff’s Shed (aka Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre) on the banks of the Yarra. A space paradoxically less cramped than the old location but also somehow smaller. Perhaps because the spaces for the individual galleries was not in long rows. 

I was invited to the press preview on Thursday afternoon just before the fair opened to the paying public. The highlight was artist Sally Smart doing a remarkably concise and coherent explanation of her collage technique and its relationship to the women artists, puppets and dance in Constructivism and Dada. 

The press preview did answer my question about what the Art Fair is doing to decolonise this place. From physical: five Indigenous community arts centres were included in the galleries, a prize-winning work donated to Shepparton Art Museum and three giant necklaces by Maree Clarke. To the symbolic: the location of the galleries is listed with their Indigenous name first and the colonial name second, e.g.  Naarm/Melbourne. (But not as far as being the “Naarm/Melbourne Art Fair”?)

The not-for-profit organisation that runs the Melbourne Art Fair demonstrates that an art fair can be more than just promoting the neo-liberal idea that private ownership of art is the cornerstone of the art world.To disrupt this perception of a trade fair for galleries, the art fair has solo shows and other “works of scale and significance”, where Maree Clarke, Sally Smart and four other artists are involved. Along with a program are events, including the Nicholas Building “Up Late”, an open studio event on Wednesday night, the international video section of the fair, and a book launch for Let’s Go Outside: Art in Public.

On the other hand, the art fair has to be financially successful for the sixty-three participating commercial galleries. The proposed art fair of 2016 never happened because of the withdrawal of several Melbourne galleries as it was not economically viable for them. I didn’t notice or hear about any damage to Melbourne’s visual arts in the years without the art fair, but I’m not looking at art galleries’ books. 

Back to the business of the art fair, bottles of Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, the Fair’s official “champagne partner”, are on the desk of every gallery. And at the Glenfiddich Bar, the fashionable designer Jordan Gogos and Ross Blainey, Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador, discuss “the collaboration and the power of artistic experimentation while enjoying bespoke cocktails.”

Gertrude Contemporary had art for sale that parodied the relationship between art and money including the blocks of melted dollar coins by Andrew Liversidge. Ironic take or just another exclusive commodity? Take your pick, but I just walk away when someone mentions NFTs. (I should have asked about the fair’s carbon footprint.)


Three Public Sculptures in the Docklands

 

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Sally Smart, Shadow Trees, 2014

Shadow Trees by South Australian artist, Sally Smart, was installed in 2014 at the new Buluk Park and library the junction of Bourke and Collins Streets in Victoria Harbour, Docklands. Shadow Trees is both site-specific and creates a landmark for the site.

The plasma cut steel silhouettes are assembled into two large trees in a place where there have been no trees for probably a century or more. There were once many trees in that once swampy area where the river meets the bay before the Europeans arrived and chopped them all down to make docks for their ships. Now all of the trees, some of the docks and most of the ships have gone. Oddly this is not the only sculptural tree in the Docklands, there is also John Kelly’s Cow Up a Tree.

Painted pink, purple, orange, red, white, grey and black, Smart’s trees don’t pretend to be natural. However, they do appear more natural than the rest of the contrived, designed artificial area.

Trees are naturally a great sculptural form, redolent in meaning but until recently it was impossible to make at an appropriate scale. Smart’s trees seem full of stories. “The cut-out painted silhouette elements and text are open to interpretation, drawing on references from the site’s history, biology, botany, habitation, movement and language,” says Smart.

Shadow Trees tie in with Sally Smart’s gallery art works, where trees are a recurring motif. This is most obvious in her large installation, Family Tree House (Shadows and Symptoms),1999–2002. The felt and canvas with collage elements have been translated into steel for the Shadow Trees.

The shadows of these two trees links them to the text in the bluestone paving. The text is a poem by writer and cultural historian, Maria Tumarkin especially commissioned for the location. Like many contemporary sculptures it features an integrated lighting system rather than lighting as a modern addition.

Shadow Trees works well making and marking the location of a park and the Library at The Dock. For more see Victoria Harbour News.

Mark Stoner, A River Runs Through It, 2011

Mark Stoner, A River Runs Through It, 2011

The geometric rippling piles of brick and the organic rippling carved white marble rocks or waves are scattered across this large site. There is no front to this sculpture, no perfect vantage point; to see it you have to walk around it, seeing it only in part or as a process of exploration.

You even have to explore the site to find all of the blue explanatory text panels. I have brought all the text together in one quote.

“… this site is the intersection of two axes… one reflects the city grid and its built form, the other is the original flow of the site as traced by the river and the wind… … a collision of water, wind and sun… …a composition of sculptures that creates a landscape of spaces, materials and systems… …in acknowledging the flow and timelessness of the river we may imagine the primal site… ”

The ellipsis are all Stoner’s, he is obviously a fan of ellipsis.

Stoner has other public sculptures; at the Victoria Market a memorial to the previous graveyard and another sculpture on the Geelong foreshore. His work has a monumental heavy quality that has its foundations in the location.

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Adrian Mauriks Silence, 2001–02

On the NewQuay Promenade in Docklands there thirteen of these curvy white biomorophic fibreglass resin sculptures. It is all very surreal, like alien lifeforms growing in the Docklands. Silence, 2001–02 by Melbourne based sculptor, Adrian Mauriks, who described it as “a series of forms arousing to the mind”. Silence is spread out across an area of 18.5 metres by 12.5 metres outside Arkley Tower. The white painted surface of the biomorphic blobs are coated an accumulation of black scuff marks from the shoes of people, mostly children, who climb on them. (For earlier public art by Mauriks in Richmond see my blog post WTF Corner.)


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