30 March 2011
David Hansen has written a brilliant overview about Heather's work which we have included below:
Breathing down your neck
In this exhibition, Heather B. Swann lays bare one of her central preoccupations" wilderness and containment, and the nexus or relationship between the beast and the body.
Animals appear often in the artist's work; creatures both wild and domesticated, cunning and dumb, with their physical features refined or intensified, abstracted or hybridised.
Here in Bone we encounter three particular favourites.
The dog has long been a significant brute presence in Swann's work, from her earliest undergraduate etchings to more recent Romanesque-surrealist sculptures such as Dog Eat Dog (2005, Dubbo Regional Gallery) and the 2007 City of Melbourne Laneways project, Gates of Hell. Then there is the rat, standing on its hind legs and sniffing the air, which has featured in many drawings as well as in the pack of Ratties of 2005 (private collection). Finally, there is the relatively recent addition to the artist's menagerie, the skyhook-tailed monkey which we see in Grinderman (2008, private collection) and Hook (2009 National Gallery of Australia).
But this trio are more than just comfortable familiars. These particular species have been adopted by the artists because of their dark sides, their bad reputations: the snarling, barking, growling, howling canine; the dirty rat of sexual and economic opportunism, of sewers and gangsterism; the lewd, loud incorrigible, mischievous ape. They are troublemakers.
In these works not only is there the possibility of anthropomorphic reading, the possibility that each figure might stand for a particular attitude or emotional or intellectual position. The long history of human interaction with these guys is such as to have produced a rich store of linguistic and pictorial metaphor: the low dog, the black dog, the mad dog, the lap dog; the rat race, rats leaving sinking ships, rats we can smell; the cheeky monkey business in the margins of medieval manuscripts, the monkey on your back of addiction or obsession, the monkey the the long tail of a mortgage. These are not rudderless, cute animalia.
There is also something deeper, something primal happening here. Swann emphasizes this mythic dimension through the three beasts' essential dependence on a human climbing frame of reference. This is fauna in your face, on your back, breathing down your neck, gnawing on your bones; the dog, the rat and the monkey require a structure for their fierce play of dominance and submission.
Swann provides just such zoo-enclosure furniture in the current installation's hard, osseous core, a suite of variously abstracted human backbones: a long torso racked over a wooden wedge to create a strange form somewhere between a vaulting horse, an avil, the pommel of a saddle and a Chinese footbinding shoe; a couple of Duchampian bisexual bicycle wheel vertebra-rings; a massive metacarpal woman knuckle; a corset laced, dark, upright tower; and that familiar, ferocious atavism of sexual coupling, a Rabelaisian-Shakespearean 'beast with two backs'.
Here in this dream space, in the beast mistress 'Platonic cave, homo sapiens' fragile, temporary, frontal-lobe dominance of the earth is revealed as a very nervous system indeed, little more than a pattern of shifting profiles, a vague, ambiguous spinal x-ray, a dance of evolutionary shadows.
Melbourne, January 2011
The exhibition runs until April 30. Please email the gallery on email@example.com for further information
image details: Ratty 2011 49.0 x 16.0 x 65.0 cm metal and resin
29 March 2011
John Pule: Hauaga (Arrivals) features 16 large canvases and 33 works on paper, surveying the artists career from 1991 (the year he travelled back to his birthplace, Niue, reconnecting with the traditional Niuean art of Hiapo) until today.
John Pule: Hauaga (Arrivals) is showing at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery until Sunday, 8 May 2011.
image details: i dreamed i kissed the ocean's lips 2009 94.0 x 74.0 cm ink and oil stick on paper
26 March 2011
Describe your work in five words.
Documentation of human/nature relationship
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a series of etchings based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, The Murders in the Rue Morgue as part of an Australian Print Workshop Scholarship.
work in progress at the Australian Print Workshop
And I have been working a series of sculptures for Karen Woodbury Gallery, based on the palm lines of a particular chimpanzee that I worked with, and it’s called lifeline. It’s been a very complicated process what I am trying to do is extract those lines through a digital process and turn them into three-dimensional objects so these works will be quite abstract pieces but based on this individual line / palmistry of one ape. Was that while you were in Borneo? No it was from a zoo in Atlanta. It has been interesting as it is technically challenging but we’re getting somewhere. I think it will be quite an interesting work that fits both in my practice but is also going in a different direction as well. What type of materials will you be using? Not sure. I haven’t worked that out yet – I’m still working on the technical side of it... it could be bronze.
And the third project? I am working on finishing off a series of monkeys [sculptures], which are based on putting together pieces of information that I have been collecting at the Melbourne Museum and other research - of extinct and near extinct monkeys. I have already made three and there are three more to do.
Melbourne Museum archives
Grizzle Face Langure 2009 (shown at the 2010 Melbourne Art Fair)
Who / what inspires you to keep making your work?
That’s a really good question. Every time I stop I want to start again. So it’s always good to stop to get that feeling of desire to do it again. It’s just a necessity I have been making art since I was a teenager. I don’t know how to do anything else to be honest! I think when you make art it isn’t necessarily for a tangible reason but rather a physical thing.
I do see things that really inspire me. I really love the documentary work of Werner Herzog. Every time I see one of his documentaries I get really inspired. I feel like he is totally on the same wavelength as what I am doing with what he is doing with his docos and his weird dark sense of humour.
Tell me about your background. What path led you to become an artist?
My mother and father used to collect art and they always liked to show me art. My mum used to take me to a lot of galleries and my father used to take me to museums. So it was in our family, an interest in art. It really came down to an art teacher who encouraged me to take it more seriously and she basically pushed me into going to art school. I did want to study some kind of science like zoology but I did badly in physics at school stopping any further education in science. It’s amazing you can end up doing what you want to do in a roundabout way? My stepmother gave me about a year or so ago this IQ test they had done on me when I was about 11 (roughly 1978) and it said I should do something that’s in between art and science. I don’t agree with those tests but isn’t that bazaar? The things it said about me were so true. I’ve got this really selective interest path and I show no interest in general knowledge or Hollywood stars names, etc and I can be quite focused, I suppose.
What does a typical day in the studio involve?
A typical day in the studio involves basically just turning on my CD’s getting into it. I tune in quite quickly to what I am working on. I have to go across town a lot for foundry and production so there’s quite a bit of that and I also go to the zoos and museums so there’s a crossing of being in the studio and research. How often would you go to the zoo or museum? Quite often depending on where I am at with a project I would spend half a day. Sometimes I would do the whole week of just research if I’ve got something.
ham (astro chimp) #40, 2010
(part of an ongoing series available from Karen Woodbury Gallery)
What is your dream project?
I want to do big big big works! I was shortlisted for a commission in Sydney, which unfortunately I didn’t get but it was my dream project with a huge budget. The work I proposed was two very large bronze chimpanzee hands where people could walk through them. I would love to do a really large bronze work - like seven metre high.
If you could live with any artwork ever made what would it be?
Piled up 1 (yellow) 2010, 25.0 x 52.0 x 38 cm (variable) bone china
19 March 2011
The gallery is open from 11am - 6pm Wednesday - Friday and 11am - 5pm on Saturday. Heather B. Swann will be our next exhibition opening March 30.
18 March 2011
Kate Rohde’s collaboration with Romance was Born keeps on going! You may remember our Renaissance Dinosaur exhibition back in 2010 which bought together some of the signature pieces from the collection of the same name. We were excited to spy some more of Kate’s new collaborative designs in this years LMFF 2011, Runway 1.
The incredibly talented Kate Rohde has had a busy 12 months with projects ranging from fashion runway shows to a solo exhibition at the Tokyo University Museum. As an offshoot to Kate’s art practice she has been experimenting with wearable resin pieces… stay tuned for more news on this project.
We are just about to receive a new delivery of Kate’s exquisite vitrines (please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to preview these works). Also new in the gallery is a display of Kate’s jewel hued crystal resin cuffs - available in 2 sizes.
16 March 2011
Nichols was a founding member of Melbourne artist-run galleries Stripp and Lovers, and continues to curate artist projects and write about the work of other artists. His painting practice is an ongoing investigation into the possibilities of painting - conveying a moment in time and even paying homage to the experiments of other painters. Keep up with Jonathon's residency news here or head over to his great blog.
For enquiries about Jonathon's works, please email the gallery: email@example.com.
11 March 2011
Gow Langsford Gallery is hosting a special twilight viewing of the Lisa Roet exhibition and a screening of the Stanley Kubrick classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. For more details see the website.
04 March 2011
Basic Instinct is a group exhibition bringing together the work of eleven contemporary Australian artists for whom drawing is an essential element of their practice.
Alongside eight of our gallery artists we have invited Patrick Doherty, Lorraine Heller-Nicholas and Simon O'Carrigan to be a part of the show which aims to locate the intrinsic, subliminal and instinctive quality that drawing holds for the exhibiting artists.Head to our website to find out more about this exhibition and the exhibiting artists, including pricing.
Please note: Six of Del Kathryn Barton's drawings will join the Basic Instinct exhibition after the Freehand exhibition closes on Sunday at Heide Museum of Modern Art. We will let you know as soon as they are on the wall.
01 March 2011
The film / installation will be screened in Melbourne at Screen Space, from September 16 - October 8. We will keep you updated!