- 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.
Peter Tilley, 2019
Director's Pick - Robert Boynes, James Guppy, Daniel Shipp, Nicole Welch, Todd Fuller
- New Works in the Stockroom
29 May to 16 June
Presented to accompany Peter Tilley's solo exhibition The Tangible and the Shadow, MAY SPACE director Brenda May has selected a few new works from the Gallery stockroom. Chosen for their ability to compliment Tilley's sculpture, these works create a similar sense of stillness and contemplation.
- 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.
Our Common Bond - curated by Olivia Welch
- Featuring Duha Ali, Atong Atem, Lara Chamas, Dean Cross, Amala Groom, Pamela Leung, Jason Phu, Siying Zhou
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)
- 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.
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.
- 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
Ruth Ju-Shih Li
- Florilegium, 2019
27 February to 17 March
Throughout time, we – with all our far-reaching diverse cultures and histories – have always been obsessed with but one eternally ephemeral conceit: life itself. It is this preoccupation that dominates, influences and ultimately dictates our collective behaviours, psychologies and spiritual neurosis; especially in the wake of realising life’s impermanence and facing its ending.
Yet, with every ending there begins anew; whether such renewal is achieved through encapsulation via memory, narrative and myth, physical transformation, or transcendence beyond the tangible and the mundane.
Drawing inspiration from the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden where these concepts were first introduced, Florilegium refers to the gathering of extracts from a larger body of work – a metaphorical meditation – from the first dream of utopia, to the physical co-habitation of life, its ageing and gradual decay, and lastly its return to the earth. Moreover, the exhibition investigates the fragile paradox of life and death in relation to the self and its extension outwards to consider the transitory nature of the human condition.
- Shiyan Zheng
- Memento, 2019
27 February to 17 March
I have lived most of my life on the southern coastal fringe of Sydney. A good deal of my adolescence was spent surfing on the south coast, camping on isolated headlands or sleeping in cars! As is now evident, the years spent in this environment are embedded in my memory and hold significant meaning for me. I feel a sense of calm and nostalgia when I start the descent from Stanwell Tops down to the coast road and head further south. This may appear to be a romanticised point of view, and to some extent I am happy to concede that it is. When I started painting, it was this landscape I used as a reference point, and it still resonates strongly with me.
The paintings in this show are drawn from the landscape of the area, however they are not strict renderings of a particular spot, they are made from memory. A memory that recalls thick moisture laden atmosphere, a languid, and at times, melancholic emotion. They are made of thin glazes that veil each previous layer of paint, much the same as the natural atmosphere affects our view.
Nicole Welch, Transformation
- Black Box Projects, 2019
27 February to 17 March
The moving image work Transformation is the latest instalment in Nicole Welch’s ongoing Self series, which was initiated as part of her Illumination works in 2012. In these cinematic works, Welch uses her body as an apparatus and the landscape as a tableau. Undertaking performances in the wilderness, Welch explores the symbiotic relationship humans have with the natural world to reveal the fragility and strength of both. As a continuation the Transformation footage sees the artist engage directly with the natural world through a journey undertaken (journey), and a waterfall (arrival); a universal symbol of renewal, healing and ultimately, transformation.
Filmed over several hours on location during the heart of winter in the lower Blue Mountains, Transformation exposes the artists body to the elements. While the figure is Welch, the symbolism is universal. She embodies a lineage of women through time as a homage to all women – past, present, future. The journey sequence is a celebration of our unique connection to nature, our shared strength and resilience, the cycle of life, mortality – the arrival scene is an act of transformation, both mythical and personal, local and universal.
- curated group exhibition, 2019
6 to 24 February
Shelf Life will consider the still life genre, with a particular focus on representations of bottles and containers, ubiquitous items that we use to carry, preserve and contain. An artistic linchpin since the 16th Century, the lush bouquets, glistening silver vessels, ripe fruit and lifeless game animals of early still life paintings became more humble as Realism, Impressionism and then Cubism watched artistic subjects and techniques change. The genre took on a three dimensional form through Dada, and as shopping carts began to fill with more packaged produce in the 1950s and 1960s, many Pop Artists let consumer goods take centre stage. Shelf Life will display paintings, photographs, sculptures and video artworks that aesthetically speak to different moments in the history of the still life. Hoarded, forgotten and expiring on shelves and in sheds, the vessels we use to store liquids, medications, toxic chemicals, food and other substances will be the central subject matter of these traditional and contemporary takes on an art historical genre.