2018 MAY SPACE EXHIBITIONS

Todd Fuller

- Convicts and Queens: a passionate history of Australia, 2018

5 to 22 December

"My dying wish is to be buried beside my beloved James Nesbitt, the man with whom I was united by every tie which could bind human friendship, we were one in hopes, in heart and soul and this unity lasted until he died in my arms"

-Andrew George Scott, aka Captain Moonlight, 20 January, 1880

On the 6th of December 2017, as debate raged in the House of Representatives regarding Same Sex Marriage in Australia, independent member for Kennedy Bob Katter suggested that the gay community and its advocates have "oh maybe, sixty years on their side" while he claimed to have "three and a half million years of genetic programming" on his side. His argument went on to discuss aids, safe schools, gay hate crimes and his best selling book, but it failed to acknowledge the rich and often concealed contribution of LGBTIQA+ individuals in the grand Australian narrative. Convicts and Queens reimagines a selection of Queer Australian stories, both historical and contemporary, to explore how notions of masculinity in Australia may not be innate, enduring or eternal.

Continuing their collaboration, the opening will include a performance by Todd Fuller and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir.

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Carol Murphy

- Colour my world, 2018

5 to 22 December

A mixed media exhibition featuring a range of disciplines including ceramics, painting, and drawing.

A celebration of my life up until now.

Colour my world is a flashback of music, life, death, love, loss, colour, darkness, and sadness.

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Alexander Boynes

- As Above, So Below, 2018

14 November to 2 December

As Above, So Below reflects on the loss of the Australian landscape in the drive to extract what is beneath it by the fossil fuel industry; land that before anything else is held in the custody of Traditional Indigenous owners.

This melding of landscape and industry speaks of our failure to invest in a renewable future, as coal, oil and gas extraction dominate the power industry without consequence. Meanwhile standing in a rapidly changing environment, the figure represents both the catalyst and the casualty of these actions. 

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Catherine O'Donnell

- Urban Abstraction, 2018

14 November to 2 December

Urban Abstraction is a suite of drawings based on the Brutalist architecture of social housing in Paris and Sydney developed in the mid 1900s. In these geometric constructions I see simplicity of form, and it is this that captures my imagination. I draw what I regard as beautiful or interesting in order to highlight the power of the ordinary, commonplace architecture of the urban landscape. At first glance these qualities may not be evident, as these housing developments are not always given the same value as other housing. But to me, these buildings are so much more than the physical embodiment of the post-war utopian ideals and principles of European modernism. They have been and still are home for many people. 

I use the representational forms of these places in a minimal, abstracted way. This allows me to explore the compositional potential and underlying symmetry of these dwellings. My drawings display order, abstraction, and geometry, as to elevate these structures through aesthetic contemplation, contradicting the ordinariness of their existence and allowing for the possibility of transcendence.

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Al Munro

- Disturbing the grid, 2018

24 October to 10 November

Drawing on my interest in the intersections of textile patterning and mathematics, this exhibition focusses on the systems and logic of woven textiles and how these might relate to painted abstraction. The ubiquitous grid of Modernism existed as the form and structure of woven textiles long before it was claimed by art, architecture and science. This work explores the relationship of simple weave structures – warp and weft – and patterns – ginghams, plaids, checks – to abstraction, and to locate an ongoing relevance for textile histories and practices to be seen as part of the expanded field of painting. The work also draws on my recent residency at Chiang Mai University, Thailand, where I researched the local vernacular of woven textiles called pa kao ma.

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Nicole Welch

- Black Box Projects, 2018

24 October to 10 November

To coincide with Nicole Welch's presentation of the moving image work Transformation and photographic series Mementos at Artstate Bathurst (1 to 4 November 2018), as well as her solo exhibition Silence & Solitude: select works from Eastern Interiors at Glasshouse Regional Gallery (12 October to 2 December 2018), MAY SPACE is presenting a selection of Welch's video artworks in Black Box Projects.

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Leslie Oliver

- Things from Other Places, 2018

24 October to 10 November

These ‘things’ are resolutely abstract. I want a reaction to arise from rhythms, structures, space and form. Necessarily, they are engineered constructions that obey rules of matter. Most of my time by far, goes into the construction process, aiming to fulfil the instinctive gesture that comes to me. I hope to bring life to ‘stuff’. I like to think people will notice what keeps ‘the thing’ balanced, upright, while at the same time recognising some of materials from other uses and lost histories, but most importantly feeling some physical empathy with the inferred gestures.

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Julie Brooke

- A Skewed Hypotenuse, 2018

26 September to 20 October

I'm fascinated by how abstract shapes and contrasting colours can create illusory optical effects. In this series of new paintings I use skewed grids and repeating geometric forms to explore how carefully orchestrated colour combinations can conjure fugitive colours and shifting illusions of three-dimensional space. These abstract acrylic paintings encourage the viewer to discover the tipping point at which illusions of colour and space appear and disappear.

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Claire Anna Watson, Fractured Splendour

- Black Box Projects, 2018

26 September to 20 October

Claire Anna Watson explores the uncanny and the absurd in her recent videos. Staging interventions on common fruits and vegetables, she transforms the inherent life-giving properties of foodstuffs into humorous and psychological reveries. For the artist, the inspiration and splendour of ephemeral matter is perpetual and constant. At its core, this work considers the nature of life and the value of knowing that which sustains us.

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Kevin McKay

- OVERPASS: Paintings from the urban commute, 2018

26 September to 20 October

My work responds to features that serve as orientating landmarks in my journeys across the city. These are typically bridges, overpasses and imposing man-made structures which, despite their utilitarian function and as signifiers of modernity, also provide primal geometries that rise as icons of human endeavour. Concrete and steel beams frame a space beneath, whilst raising a passage to the sky above, with surfaces and forms that make evident the invisible qualities of light and space in a vision of classical stillness, interrupting the commuting ennui that in a flash is gone.

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Sydney Contemporary

- Carriageworks, 2018

13 to 16 September

The Gallery presented Charlie Sheard's new body of work in the fourth edition of Sydney Contemporary, Australasia's international contemporary art fair.

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MAY SPACE Video Program at Sydney Contemporary

- Carriageworks (Booth F01), 2018

13 to 16 September

Alongside our presentation of new paintings by Charlie Sheard, we will be presenting new video artworks by our represented artists, Todd Fuller, Mylyn Nguyen, Nicole Welch, plus Claire Anna Watson at Sydney Contemporary. This video suite will be concurrently screening in Black Box Projects.

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Charlie Sheard

- DIGONOS, 2018

5 to 22 September

Dionysos, ancient Greek God of nature, ecstasy and transformation, is DIGONOS, the “twice-born”. In his Canto XLVIII, the poet Ezra Pound relates the transformative powers of Dionysos to Dante’s journey in The Divine Comedy. Pound uses the ancient Greek word Δίγονος [DIGONOS] to denote a transformation that will only manifest out of being lost in the forest for three years. I have worked on this group of paintings for the last three years.

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Tyler Payne, Womanhours

- Black Box Projects, 2018

15 August to 1 September

Advertising’s ‘Glossy Magazine Girl’ – plucked, waxed, purged and shrunk to perfection – has intervened on women’s relationships to their bodies. Though women’s bodies that have passed through these cosmetic rituals are abundant in advertising, they are not witnessed labouring to produce this effect. What is seen instead is a singular and controlled perspective, a magical product naturalized by the advertisement’s frame. The advertising lens has become a powerful tool for bodily control. Womanhours turns the power of the lens against itself: the labours of plucking, waxing, purging and shrinking, usually hidden from view, are presented for all to see. These works reveal the intractable, comic ‘failures’ in the face of the demands placed on the everyday performance of female gender. The choice of self-portraiture is informed by Louis Wacquant’s ‘carnal sociology’, where the researcher embodies themselves as the research object, experiencing a social world from within, rather than observing it from the outside. Womanhours’ personal engagement also aims to establish solidarity with other women compelled to endure these rituals.

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Bridget Dolan

- Reach, 2018

15 August to 1 September

I want to make work that communicates the complicated nature of human relationship. What civility means in contemporary life and how we reach each other across cultural and ideological divides. I draw on my experience in the performing arts as a dancer and theatre maker to paint work that holds tension between brave vulnerability, tenderness and fear.

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Sybil Curtis

- Travelling South, 2018

15 August to 1 September

In summer 2016, I journeyed to Antarctica on the ship "Spirit of Enderby". This series of paintings is based on man-made structures around the Ross Sea, one of the few places where it is possible to land on the Antarctic. It was the starting point for many historical expeditions including those led by Scott and Shackleton and some original huts and their contents have been conserved. Today it is also the site of research bases belonging to a number of different countries.

One feels transient and insignificant by the sheer scale and hostility of the place. Visually it is stunning and the snow is like a canvas onto which the weather projects different moods. Changes in weather are rapid. When the sun shines, the atmosphere is so clear that the colours are intense and everything is flattened as in Japanese wood blocks. But as the cloud races in everything darkens, greys and becomes threatening.

The images are based on historic buildings and those from America's McMurdo Station and New Zealand's Scott Base. Looming over the landscape is the active volcano Mt Erebus and it is incorporated into works much as Japanese artists use Mt Fuji.

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reminiSCENT

- curated by Megan Fizell, 2018

25 July to 11 August

reminiSCENT surveys contemporary artists initiating multisensory experiences through olfactory encounters. Smelling is classified as a “bodily sense” in that along with touch and taste, in order to be ‘known’ or perceived, they need to be experienced with the body. Scent receptors are located in the olfactory cortex, a zone of the brain that overlaps with the limbic system, the area responsible for some memories and emotion. As a result, scents are often linked to memories and form associations that are highly individualised and subjective. The artworks in this exhibition privilege the sense of smell over that of vision and emphasise memory as understood through bodily engagement.

Artists include Jo Burzynska, David Capra, Todd Fuller, Liz Henderson, Melinda Le Guay, Jayne McSwiney, Archie Moore, Mylyn Nguyen, Bill Noonan, Susanna Strati, Janet Tavener, Claire Anna Watson, Martynka Wawrzyniak, Melinda Young.

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Janet Tavener

- The Last Seed, 2018

27 June to 21 July

The series titled "The Last Seed" draws its content from Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, that houses 5,000 species of essential food crops deep within the Arctic permafrost. The vault was supposed to be an impenetrable, modern-day Noah's ark for plants, a life raft against climate change and catastrophe. But a recent flood threatened its security - heavy rain occurred at a time of year when the temperature was usually well below freezing.

Scientists are building repositories of everything from seeds to mammal milk in a race to preserve a natural order. Creating cabinets of curiosity serving to remind us of our own mortality, of our mistakes and failures – a modern day Memento Mori.

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Daniel O'Toole

- The Long Tomorrow, 2018

27 June to 21 July

In late 2016, I travelled to Lyon, France to embark on a studio residency with Taverne Gutenberg that transformed the way I approach abstraction. In the first few days of arriving my sketches of local architecture became an obvious choice of focus for the paintings to come. I was enthralled by the geometry of gothic churches, Roman ruins, and classic French design. The colour palette of the city’s landscape and fashion influenced my work as soon as I started painting.

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Matt Chun

- Still, 2018

6 to 23 June

A series of recent memento mori and plein air travelogues in watercolour, pencil and mixed media. These introspective observational drawings represent the current phase of my ongoing creative engagement with the landscape, material and community of the far south coast of NSW (Yuin country).

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Alex Karaconji, The Flaneur

- Black Box Projects, 2018

6 to 23 June

"The Flaneur" is an animation that I began in 2015 and finished towards the end of 2016. It depicts a loosely autobiographical walk from Taylor Square to Circular Quay. At the time, I was studying my Masters degree at the National Art School and I was walking around Darlinghurst on a daily basis. The flaneur was a concept that I discovered during my research and which I found, to my delight, provided an honest conceptual framework for my art practice. The term ‘flaneur’ originated in Paris during the 19th century and it refers to a solitary person (at the time, male) who aimlessly strolls around the city. The concept of the flaneur helped to facilitate my pursuit of what Charles Baudelaire once described as “the epic side of actual life”. The Flaneur is my attempt to capture the epic side of urban life as seen through the slightly distorted lens of a city-wandering artist.

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MUGGED!

- group exhibition, 2018

6 to 23 June

To add some warmth to our gallery this June, we have invited artists to make a selection of unique mugs. Each Saturday we will fill purchased mugs with a different complementary hot beverage, so that gallery-goers can escape the cold and enjoy the shows with a warm drink in hand.

MUGGED! will include specially made pieces by emerging, mid-career and established artists with varying approaches to making, allowing for diverse interpretations of this ubiquitous object.

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Todd Fuller, Idaho - they're only words

- Black Box Projects, 2018

16 May to 2 June

Starting in 2004, IDAHOBIT (17 May) has established itself as the most important international day for LGBTIQA+ communities and as a monumental International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism & Transphobia. In recognition of this important day, MAY SPACE is screening 'they're only words' an early film by Todd Fuller and collaborator Amy Hill. Created in 2010, the young artists animate slurs and other verbal assaults they endured on the bodies of their peers to manifest the physical scars created by discriminatory words. 'They're only words' was recently included in "The Unflinching Gaze" a groundbreaking exhibition of male representation in the photographic medium presented by Bathurst Regional Gallery.

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Daniel Shipp

- Botanical Inquiry, 2018

16 May to 2 June

Botanical Inquiry is a series of photographic studies that depict familiar but fictional environments.

In these compositions the physical characteristics of the unremarkable plants I have collected from suburban streets become narrative elements which, when staged against the backdrop of common urban environments, question the contentious relationship between humans and nature. This relationship is reflected in the real / unreal qualities of the images, achieved in some part by manipulating the optical and staging properties of photography with a device that I have constructed that allows me to create the images “in camera” without relying on digital compositing techniques.

The ambiguous point of view conjured by the images is designed to be as unsettling as it is seductive.

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Paul White

- Dirty Diesel & Dusty Deeds, 2018

16 May to 2 June

Dirty Diesel & Dusty Deeds conflates the relationship between human and land through snapshot style drawings of the Australian outback.

While at first glance they may seem reminiscent of holiday snaps, these drawings depict the effect of human intervention on the landscape.

From the seemingly insignificant to the devastating and daunting Dirty Diesel & Dusty Deeds brings the viewer face to face with the ways in which their hand has cracked and moulded this red earth.

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Tania Smith, Untitled (walking)

- Black Box Projects, 2018

18 April to 12 May

Untitled (walking) shows a woman in high heels navigating back and forth over a range of surfaces - rocky cliffs, sand dunes, or man-made spaces such as offices and bathrooms. Each surface creates its own set of challenges for the faceless woman, who persists onwards in a continual march across the terrain and back and forth across the screen.

Untitled (walking) conveys my interest in mimetic gestures (as detailed by theorist and psychoanalyst Luce Irigaray). I perform in feminine accoutrements such as dresses and heels to signify female experience. In the performances I employ a slightly exaggerated manner that points to the comedic language of slapstick. The video is tinted blue and screened without sound to reference silent cinema, a continuing interest for me and my work (my work has been strongly informed by the cinematic slapstick of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, reframed through a feminist lens). The video is shown looped, trapping the woman in an endless pursuit, back and forth, ever onwards, again and again....

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Peter Tilley

- Seeing the Shadow, 2018

18 April to 12 May

A shadow that gives an insight into the human figure’s character and situation is the aim of this body of work. Not so much the figure or object, but the shadow it casts, a shadow that in some way reveals more about the figure than would normally be revealed, the inner self. The psychological aspects that can be associated with the shadow form a relatively important component. The focus is on how, through materiality and form, the shadow as a three-dimensional medium may be capable of revealing the nature of the individual.

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Helen Mueller

- Roots, 2018

18 April to 12 May

I have taken my cue for this project from the remnants of root architecture that I found at the base of upturned trees. On this occasion, it is the meanderings, rhythm and poetry of root systems that interest me more than biology or metaphor. In their fully functional form, roots reside in the shadows of the seen and known. It is only in their lifeless state, once the tree has been uprooted, that we get a glimpse of what might have been.

Through the woodblock carving and printing process, I have imagined something of the depth, complexity and mystery of a system elemental to a life. As a starting point for my matrix, I have used industrial grade and discarded timbers, ones that struggle to still show traces of the miracles of their origin. It is in searching out those traces that I find hidden and unexpected form.

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Straight Outta Canberra

- curated by Alexander Boynes, 2018

21 March to 14 April

It was once said that the best thing to come out of Canberra was the Hume Highway, yet in the space of a decade the national capital has gone from being a place where residents said 'Don't tell anyone I'm from Canberra' to now saying 'Don't tell anyone ABOUT Canberra'. More than anything this has to do with the city finally developing a personality independent of what happens up at Parliament House, and the recognition of the rich cultural sector bubbling below the surface.

Once upon a time the rite of passage for ANU School of Art graduates was to leave Canberra as soon as possible in order to 'make it'. The irony is that internationally recognised artists who have called Canberra home (including Alison Alder, Vivienne Binns, Robert Boynes, eX de Medici, Rosalie Gascoigne, Richard Larter, Mandy Martin, Jorg Schmeisser, Ruth Waller etc. etc.) in part made it because they stayed.

Following in these footsteps, "Straight Outta Canberra" presents a group of ambitious emerging artists who have realised the benefits of an easygoing city that is host to every national institution under the sun. Artists include Tom Buckland, Tony Curran, Sanne Koelemij, Julian Laffan, Cat Mueller, Dionisia Salas, Rebecca Selleck and Rosalind Lemoh.

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Todd Fuller, UNITE project

- Black Box Projects, 2018

1 to 17 March

In the face of the postal plebiscite, Sydney based artist Todd Fuller made a third iteration of his video, "Unite Project", the first edition shown for Mardi Gras 2016. This project is a participatory artwork surveying a range of responses to love and marriage equality.

Fuller sent members of the public black + white drawings depicting two men engaged in a passionate kiss. The participants were encouraged to respond to the image by colouring in the figures, with the resulting images complied by Fuller into a mixed media video animation.

"The bulk of responses were overwhelmingly positive, although I did receive a few drawings that were torn up, crushed or with the eyes violently poked out, the vast majority of responses depicted love, support, rainbows and strength. It was a really important project for us when it started and in the face of the postal plebiscite, it felt more important than ever to illustrate the shift in views on this issue through art", says Fuller.

"In the end, nearly a thousand people engaged in the process of having received, responded and returned the drawings, each one becoming a single image in the thousands of stills edited together into the animation. The ritual used in the original process seems quite apt as our community faced a postal vote to decide our rights… and so "Unite Project - 3rd generation" was born".

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Art Month Collectors' Space

- curated by Kate Britton, 2018

1 to 17 March

Art Month's much-loved Collectors' Space exhibition is back, offering a glimpse into the private collections of some of Sydney's art luminaries.

This year, Artistic Director, Kate Britton, has focused on the complex and entangled relationships collectors have with the objects in their care. Occupying the entirety of MAY SPACE, Collectors' Space will run from 1 - 17 March, and feature works from the collections of Abdul Abdullah, Tony Albert, Tess Allas, Daniel Mudie Cunningham, and Emma Price.

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On-site

- curated group exhibition, 2018

7 to 24 February

Simple lines and forms constantly surround us. We house ourselves in geometrical shapes, work in towering blocks and marvel over inventive configurations of contours and boundaries. On-site brings together a group of artists with differing aesthetics who have chosen the built environment as the subject of their work. Interpreting urban landscapes, enlivening industrial sites and representing domestic structures, the artworks in this exhibition will reveal the unnoticed elements, hidden moments and engaging angles of our everyday surroundings.

Featuring Sybil Curtis, Todd Fuller, Darren Gannon, Eliza Gosse, Waratah Lahy, Glenn Locklee, Kevin McKay, Catherine O’Donnell.

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Caroline Garcia, peripheral (en)vision

- Black Box Projects, 2018

7 to 24 February

peripheral (en)vision is a survey of Garcia's video and performance practice over the last five years. This selection of video works focuses on centering peripheral bodies, presenting the gaps between cultures, experiences of otherness, and timeless clichés of exotic femininity. In peripheral (en)vision, Garcia takes an intersectional approach to contemporary dance, reimagining forgotten choreographies, alternate ways of viewing images of the past that eschew classical myths with the aim to bring visibility to the subaltern.

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