- Light on Nostalgia, 2019
20 March to 6 April
My current body of work explores recollection, depicting still life objects, people and places evoking and also preserving a memory of a time in the past. By painting from personal objects and photographs I aim to undo the photographic representation of each subject into small brush strokes of tone and colour, imbuing each image with a sensation associated with recollection of a memory and also symbolic in that each mark creates a recording of what I have seen, heard and felt.
My subject matter was inspired by the recent loss of someone who figured prominently in my life and the narrative that jointly connected us with each object. I would like to think that my paintings capture nostalgia with wistful affection and sometimes cynical humour without being too melancholy.
- A Moment's Silence, 2019
20 March to 7 April
As the title of Dai Li’s exhibition suggests, this new body of work focuses on those instances in life where one finds a brief moment to themselves; moments when one has a chance for reflection and contemplation or to indulge in daydreams and flights of fancy. It is these moments that interest Dai Li:
The inspiration for my artworks are drawn from everyday life. Moments when people are in their comfort zone or lost in thought, when they relax and drop their defences both physically and mentally, it is these moments that I try to capture. (Dai Li, 2018)
These singular sculptures often stand alone, some with an object such as a bath or a toilet, others broaching the surreal. Like voyeurs we look into private spaces, whether that be literally (in the bathroom) or figuratively (at someone lost the privacy of their own thoughts). The exquisite and subtle details of facial expression and body language that Dai Li employs, combined with a lack of overt narrative, leaves the viewer to reflect from their own experience what emotions drive these scenes.
- Joseph Daws, November 2018
Tania Smith, 'Untitled (bundle)'
- Black Box Projects, 2019
20 March to 7 April
A woman walks, tiptoes, or runs through the streets carrying a bundle. It is unclear what she carries or to what purpose. Perhaps it is a 'Macguffin' (a filmic term signifying a prop or plot device that is never explained but exists only to further the narrative). The term 'byndelle' is an old English word meaning ‘binding’ and is believed to be the origin of the modern term, bundle. It is an unpretentious term, to “drop one’s bundle”, or “a bundle of joy”. I have been thinking about this lately, the stuff we carry around (in both a literal and metaphorical sense). And the unexamined and unthinking actions we perform in our lives. This absurd video considers the things in life that we are bound by, or bind ourselves to.
"Hardenvale - our home in absurdia" at National Art School
- collaborative exhibition by Todd Fuller, Catheirne O'Donnell, Kelly O'Dempsey, 2019
28 March to 20 April
Hardenvale – our home in Absurdia is a real-scale, immersive, house-like environment by Australian artists Catherine O'Donnell,Kellie O'Dempsey and Todd Fuller. Through drawing, projection, built form, sound and movement, this collaborative project references the architecture of 1960s Western Sydney Government housing as well as spaces the group describe as 'the cultural fringe of Australia'. Crossing three generations, these artists’ re-imagine lived domestic space while expanding the practice of drawing to create an intimate and unsettling experience. Harvesting images from personal narratives of imperfect moments (both familiar and strange), Hardenvale is a humble dwelling made from drawing in which to spend, loose or ind time. This installation invites visitors to reflect on their own experiences and memories of home.
Our Common Bond
- curated by Olivia Welch, 2019
10 April to 5 May
Our Common Bond takes its title from the Australian Citizenship Test booklet, which outlines what it means to be an Australian: the responsibilities and opportunities it affords you, the history you are inheriting, the culture you will be welcomed into, and the rules and regulations you must abide by. “Australia successfully combines ethnic and cultural diversity with national unity. Citizenship is the bond that unites us all.”- p.3
This booklet opens Australia's arms to people of every culture, religion and ethnicity. However, its language also contributes to Australia’s cultural amnesia when referring to the treatment of First Nations peoples and migrants, and the effects of colonisation. It celebrates the many positives, but brushes over the negatives as follies of the past that no longer bear scars. It identifies certain days, behaviours and beliefs as being "Australian", even though many Australians would not agree that these ideas and events represent them.
This exhibition uses this booklet as a starting point to discuss Australia’s history and current attitudes towards the country’s diverse population, as well as examining what is meant by "Australian" culture and values.
Artists: Duha Ali, Atong Atem, Lara Chamas, Dean Cross, Amala Groom, Pamela Leung, Jason Phu, Siying Zhou
(Image: Dean Cross, PolyAustralis #29 (Rolf Harris) 2016, archival inkjet print on cotton rag, 59.4 x 84.1cm, edition 5 + 2AP)
An Installation by Catherine O'Donnell
16 April - 1 June 2019
- Hand Held World, 2019
8 to 26 May
My paintings explore scenes from everyday life: houses, homes, windows, streets, gardens and backyards. I paint scenes that evoke a sense of contemplation: focussing on places and moments that exert a quiet influence on those who view them.
I’ve lived in the same inner-city suburb for the past 20 years and in that time the streets around me have changed dramatically. Houses get knocked down, apartments go up and the skyline is continually changing. My paintings echo the small moments and changes I see in my local environments. I explore scenes that seem familiar and take my time to notice moments of unexpected beauty - repetitions of shapes and patterns and richness of colour. I paint these moments in miniature as a reprieve from the big and grandiose. My neighbourhood becomes palm-sized and these quiet moments offer a way of making new connections with the changing environment.
The paintings in hand held world have been heavily influenced by my ongoing interest in hand painted magic lantern slides. My fascination with miniatures and magic lantern slides relates to how they function as spaces of imagination. Before the advent of photography and cinema, magic lantern performances transported viewers to new worlds: entertaining, educating and inspiring new ways of thinking, and encouraging discovery of new geographies. Similarly, miniatures require the viewers to imagine themselves within the painted space – a unique world silently separate and from our own. Hand painted magic lantern slides engage through paradoxical shifts in scale: they are small enough to be held in the hand yet the images can be projected larger than life.
- Sometimes I’m too boring for my imaginary friends, 2019
8 to 26 May
I always wanted imaginary friends but I couldn’t get any. When I was little my greatest comfort was cardboard boxes. Big ones, small ones, matchbox ones. If I couldn’t have imaginary friends, at least I could make a home for one and hope they would like it enough to make friends with me.
Sometimes I would sit in an empty cardboard box for hours; savouring the dim, browny-hued darkness and warm paper smell. When I was about 20, I made one. I couldn’t decide if he was a bear or a human, so he is half: a man wearing a bear head. He still appears now sometimes to pat me on my head when I accidentally step in a puddle of water and get my socks all wet so I have to spend the rest of the day walking around with squishy shoes or when I drop my egg, mid-peel, into the bin.
- The Tangible and the Shadow, 2019
29 May to 16 June
The body of work for this exhibition continues my exploration of the connections between the figure and the shadow. The shadow as an image of the body, manifesting here as an expressive material object that reveals, visually or symbolically, traits of the casting figure that may not be readily evident.
Melinda Le Guay
- Close to Home, 2019
29 May to 16 June
This exhibition continues my ongoing exploration of the materials I find on hand in my home. The medical supply cupboard was the starting point for this body of work. I collected cotton wool, gauze, muslin, and bandages along with other cotton materials from the linen press. I repurpose domestic gestures in my art making process to modify often overlooked or discarded items. These actions include laundering, stitching, tying, and binding. I transform the materials by dyeing them with ink, a tincture of iodine, or turmeric after which they are wrung out and oven-dried or ironed. These processes then become part of the work.
- All Tomorrows Stories, 2019
19 June to 13 July
Science tells us how close we are to other animals, we share the form of most of our organs with so many of them. Like them we have two eyes, two ears, breath and entropy, and like them we can laugh and cry…. Even those who are foreign to our eyes have bodies which, like us share a genetic code and DNA that goes back through time to beginning of life on the planet. We are the future and unknowable destiny of the planet itself, now that we can manipulate the code.
My imagination is blown wild by that knowledge. I am both more and less than human through my interactions with our collective technology and consciousness.
I want to make creatures that ask Who am I, and Who are You?
Al Munro at Craft ACT
11 July to 31 August
- Resonant Forms, 2019
17 July to 4 August
Resonant Forms presents a body of sculptural work that considers the synchronicities between sculptural composition and musical improvisation. Drawing on the enduring connection between the fields of music and sculpture, these works are responsive to musical rhythm and movement. The steel and timber forms seek to articulate the lyricism inherent to musical composition, presenting a harmonious sequence of visual elements that explore implied and constructed sculptural space.
Through an improvisational process driven by intuition, Bakker’s practice is informed by the legacy of steel sculpture, the practice of drawing in space and the rhythmic forms in classical and instrumental music. An extension of the practice of drawing in space allows for an investigation of linearity beyond the limitations of the flat surface, engaging with the three-dimensional through line, form and spatial tension. Utilisation of steel as a primary material exploits the connotation of its industrial uses, uncovering its unexpected expressive and poetic possibilities.
A whole life in passing moment, 2019
17 July to 4 August
We often make nonverbal observations and judgements about people, situations and even random objects as they pass before us.
Some of these image may be burned into our memory and reappear as tropes that we recognised and repeat. They may be a pattern of habits or even personal taste - as in my case. I search for the drama of that moment or the stillness of another, which I find compelling in my ordinary life.
Some of these works focus on the private and domestic, a reflection on internal thoughts and local matters. Others are more global in nature, portraying large scale social and environmental events. The pairing of these two positions place the works into a global context. These paintings stay with us as flashes of memory, like rapid bursts of light that resonate after our eyes are closed. Mysteries remain.
Charlie Sheard at Manly Art Gallery & Museum
26 July to 1 September
- Morning, 2019
7 August to 25 August
Morning is a hand-drawn animation about the first hour of my day. Although the plot is relatively uneventful, I have tried to render each gesture and object as vividly as I can. In doing so, I have tried to revitalise and reclaim a part of my day that I am rarely conscious of. The animation process is well-suited to this task. It is repetitive, slow and involves close analysis of slight, incremental movements. Morning encapsulates my approach to drawing in both its domestic subject matter and in its attempt to intensify an experience of life through the close observation of fine details.
The Interior of Home, 2019
7 August to 25 August
A well established genre for artists, ‘The Interior of Home’, consists of paintings depicting the artist’s homes, from childhood to the present. Our lives fill the interior spaces with our energy - our moods, aspirations, disappointments, fears, traumas, joy, celebrations - connections with ourselves and others. They hold our possessions and provide space for us to sleep, eat, wash, rest, play, relate, interact, think, create and daydream. Every home has a feeling, a kinaesthetic sensation that fills the space and these paintings engage with the unique energy of the places they depict.
The body of work also explores the more formal concerns of space, line, shape, tone and colour. It plays with spatial relationships, flat space and pattern. The paintings invite the observer to physically enter the spaces depicted. While these interiors are specific and personal, they also seek to take us to a space we have might have known, remembered or imagined.
- Eggs With Soldiered Toast Buttered Well, 2019
28 August to 15 September
Eggs With Soldiered Toast Buttered Well is a series of paintings based on a collection of memories by Australians who grew up in mid-century modernist homes.
This gouache series is presented on off-white paper with the corresponding story printed above in reference to Tracey Moffatt’s 1994 Scared For Life suite. While Moffatt’s photographic series depicted suburban dramas, I present amusing and mundane stories that correspond to the home and to these mid-century designs.
By portraying paintings of modernist architecture alongside personal anecdotes, I stress the importance of the design of this era in Australian history. My paintings capture a rich architectural moment in Australia’s recent past. The way we live contributes to our national identity and so it matters how we tell and retell our collective histories of home. There is a risk that these stories will be lost over time, just as the homes are being demolished.
- At the heart of all things, 2019
28 August to 15 September
After reading The Secret Life of Trees by British science writer, Colin Tudge, I began to look at trees in a different way. I would drive to locations around Victoria to look at particular trees and whilst being so disheartened by humanity, the drought and climate change, trees would give me a sense of ease.
Humanity is a mess, creating countless problems with the earth itself. Soil. Lakes. Air. Sea. Rivers…are all under stress. Those who care about humanity, as opposed to those concerned only with personal power and accumulated wealth, understand that global warming needs to be taken very seriously; common sense and basic biological theory, suggest that the more trees we retain and replant, the better managed water courses and soil erosion will be and even simply the temperature on the earth’s surface.
My next exhibition 'At the heart of all things' explores intricate drawings of incredible trees in their entirely and on-site sketches of trees that I have repeatedly visited over the last two years. Trees affect my practice significantly because not only are they the paper I draw on but also the wooden frames that house them. In my heart trees are the centre of all things.
- Coordinated by Lisa Jones, 2019
18 September - 14 October
Square is a group exhibition of mid-career artists working in a range of media and across genres of painting and sculpture.
Square is an improvisation in visual art that uses a set format as an aesthetic platform or starting point for each artist. Each artist improvises on four 40 x 40cm Ash panels.
Square artists are Lynne Eastaway, Richard Dunn, Catherine O’Donnell, Daniel Hollier, Pollyxenia Joannou, Lisa Jones, Stephen Little, Tom Loveday, Al Munro and Stuart Smith.
- Concave, 2019
16 October - 3 November
- Legacy, 2019
16 October to 3 November
Fires are a part of life here… bushfires, the sugarcane, the burnoffs.
A few years back we did a burn of a few big camphor laurel stumps that had been felled many years ago. As we kept a watchful eye on the fire… we took photos. The flames, smoke and slow charcoaling of the wood were mesmerising.
The photographs looked like alien landscapes; strange and evocative of some other place.
Originally this all melded into backdrops for absurdist tableaux I painted with characters from Dr Seuss, Watteau's Fete Galant and B grade Sci Fi. These works were fun but confused. The strongest part were these original burnt landscapes. I began to see them again as other worlds with looming mountains and minute trails of inhabitants travelling through, far off in the distance.
Each of these works has come from the burn we did on that winter’s day.
An installation by Catherine O'Donnell
> Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, 31 January to 28 June 2020.
“Catherine O’Donnell’s draughtsmanship skills are some of the finest this country has even seen. Rather than create static replications of sites, she imbues her houses with a pathos and resonance which reveals her talents as a storyteller. It is this strength that draws audiences beyond the awe of her life-like drawings, evoking the shared experience of home...” - Lizzy Marshall, curator of 2168: Estate of Tomorrow
Fibro Façade is an installation comprising eleven meticulous charcoal drawings of elements from common fibro housing and an architectural tape outline connecting them. O’Donnell’s installation was commissioned by Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and was on display there in 2018 in the solo exhibition 2168: Estate of Tomorrow.
O’Donnell leaves the screen door ajar, pulls back the curtain, opens the window and shows the uneven lines of the venetian blinds to reveal that her renderings are equally about the occupants as they are about the structures that they call home.
Images by Silversalt Photography, courtesy of the Artist and MAY SPACE Sydney