A trip down memory lane
Gallery hop thru Waterloo.
16th June 2018
My my how times have changed, on Saturday I took an old friend with me to check out three galleries in and around Waterloo. We reminisced as we drove, remembering the illegal rave parties I’d been too in the 90s, squats, visits to dealers and cheap rentals.
We remembered the isolation of the suburb, how we used its once quiet roads as a quick track to the centre of the CBD. Or as a hurried escape route out of Surry Hills to head south to soak up the beach. Recollecting spaces and memory cells now demolished and replaced.
She, a health professional, recalled sex workers, addicts, homeless and locals. It seemed as if each corner held a memory, an association, a forgotten moment in our timeline. And the art we saw rang true to that theme. Memory, associations and history.
I get a funky sexy feeling when I interact with other artists concepts and construction, it's titillating. Alas many members of my clan just don't get that. The strength of their personal history, memories and associations lie elsewhere. So it was with trepidation I took my dearest friend, because just like when she first met my partner, I needed them to get on. To like each other because I loved them both and I didn't want to have to choose between them.
First stop was Sullivan + Strumpf Sydney. Striding through the doors we were hit with the stark white of the space contrasting against Glenn Barkleys brightly coloured ceramics and collages. The show dominated by a huge back wall covered in post-up colour and text. My friends intake of breath spoke volumes, she wondered what she had gotten herself in for.
While my non arty buddy struggled to find joy, my engagement was immediate. I could see, feel and understand the ancient art histories at play. I revelled in the collage, ceramic forms, pastel fluorescent colours and mark making.
She was annoyed with the colour choice and the lack of ‘beauty.’ I felt as if I was viewing ancient treasures recently found off the coast of a mediterranean country, a long lost Atlantis. The ceramic vessels looked like they had been occupied by sea creatures which had modified and embellished the exterior with porous mollusc like coral.
For me they were beautiful, I felt like I was viewing living things, outrageous colourful distortions from the past. Just like that ugly boyfriend I had in high school whose personality and character made him really sexy and desirable.
Next stop was Stella Downer Fine Art Gallery for a group show. This small space was packed with people, making it hard to move around. Luckily the intimacy of the space wasn't too challenging for my novice gallery hound so coupled with a lovely glass of wine we wove through the people and got up close and personal with the art.
The shows themes of memory, history and the march of time once again called us to delve into our private repertoire of knowledge. Here my mate could connect with Deirdre Bean’s perfect watercolor reproductions and marvell at the artists photorealistic skill. She could ‘get with’ Rod Holdaway’s parisian inspired cityscapes but most of all she was intrigued by Di Holdsworth and Tanya Chaitow’s work.
She loved Di’s automated assemblages, she gushed over the precision and care taken in their production, she recognised elements of 20th century design and identified with the reconfigured vintage trinkets. Di’s miniature spaces were nostalgic and filled with modernist plastic iconology. Your eyes roved hungrily taking in the tiny perfections. You wanted to touch, to play, to interact. Emboldened by the wine we wound up the pieces, sipped and enjoyed the unfolding animated view.
I was immediately besotted with Tanya Chaitow’s baroque inspired Family Matters Series which captured the quality of light the master painters were famous for. The erasure and sublimation of key figures initially stymied my association with the original works by Vermeer, Goya, Metsu and De Hooch. Chaitow triggered my synapses making me rifle through the attic like status of my mind recalling the original paintings, combing through my memory banks grasping at artists names, periods and dates.
My friend also enjoyed the painted images and was intrigued by the reconfigured people, with their cartoon like animal heads. She asked questions and I struggled to explain, naturally assuming she knew Velazquez Las meninas or Goya’s girl on the swing. Images that have been a part of my visual history since forever, I just assumed they would be a part of her visual culture too.
An assumption that was met with mirth. She stopped my pathetic explanations with, ‘I know three old paintings; the Mona Lisa, that one of the girl with the blue headband and that one of the twelve apostles.‘ We dissolved into giggles and moved towards to door. Later that night I proceeded to text her images of the originals trying to jog her memory but to no avail. A lost cause.
Lastly we headed off to find Rod McHaffie’s work at Darren Knight’s gallery. The whole exhibition was a trip down memory lane, McHaffies’s colourful flashbacks gave you so much to look at, to discern. The paintings were like personal photographs loaded with emotional references and full-colour dream like recollections. I felt like a voyeur pouring over the details, enjoying the humor and swooning over the colour pallet.
Paul Weller and The Jams music swelled around in my middle ear as I wandered around these colourful, fun, entertaining documents. One day these images, like my CD collection, will be a historical recount of the artist’s life, interests, friends and observations.
From the lycra clad walkers, overflowing beach parties, modernist homes, references to shampoo and Tilde Swinbourne my travelling companion found Robs work excitingly full of narrative, allowing her to dive in. She didn’t need an art history background to get the nuances or to discover hidden signals, she could freely associate with her own experience and interests. As a keen photographer she enjoyed the bold colours, crisp lines and minute intricate details. A perfect show to end our little jaunt together.
You can tell a wella woman
Historical recollections be they my own or from art history enabled an intimate connection with the work I viewed. Just like my friendship with its roots in high school there is nothing quite like being with someone who knows you well, gets you. That knowing gave me stimulating comfort, like an erotic memory of a lover who got under your skin. The one who left a mark, sometimes in the form of a luscious love bite or a whispered exhale in your ear.
So when it comes down to making a decision about which works I would purchase with my fictional riches I’m a little spoilt for choice. Chaitow’s paintings were lovely and I’d want to own all of them so I could create my own Académie des Beaux-Arts salon.
McHaffie’s entertaining intricate paintings were so fun and inviting, a new embellished historical record. I couldn’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy them, comment on them or study them.
But to my own surprise it was Glenn Barkley’s pieces which have stayed with me all week. The more I look at them the prettier they become. I'm still turning the show over in my head and the more I do the more I like it. I'm surprised I want those ones but I do.
Sullivan and Stump Sydney.
799 Elizabeth st, Zetland
Tues-Sat 10am - 5pm
Stella Downer Fine Arts
1/24 Wellington st, Waterloo
Tues–Fri 10am–5pm, Sat 11am–5pm
Darren Knight gallery
840 Elizabeth st, Waterloo
Tues-Sat 10am - 5pm
Articulate Gallery with its elegant length and breath was an excellent camping ground for these artists to play. HANGOVER: Summer of ‘68 by Wilson and Collier immediately immersed me in a cathedral of floating orange and brown caravan park nostalgia. I'd seen the invite online I was keen.
Did I mention I've got a thing for camping. Not the hiking kind or the no mattress kind. More the powered site, gas cooker, esky, bag of ice in the morning kind.
I'd camped alongside these somewhat aged, glamorous beauties in the early 80s. All the people who owned them seemed tanned and cool. Their tents were filled with years of camping equipment and their owners had got it down to a fine art.
As I wandered through, I relied on my spider-person senses to detect and dodge the camping grounds potential trip lines and garrottes. Mental note *high heels and red wine dull the senses. Must switch to gin and tonic with ugg boots.
Did I mention I like building tents. Hoisting canvas and poles, whacking in pegs, securing ropes and building extensions with tarps. I always feel brave when I start a build. Tasting the air, waiting for the inevitable terse words.
Here I wanted to hunker down under the deconstructed tent and pull up a little folding chair. I felt lusty, slowly taking in aluminium tent poles with their curved elbow joints. My eyes wandered up seams to take in straight tight ropes pulling on brass eyelets. My camper's heart skipped a beat. They don't make them like that anymore.
I imagined this in my Kevin McCloud Grand Designs fantasy home, my own adult blanket fort. Installed throughout my fantasy sunroom or atrium... Nice :)
I imagined it in my attached fantasy orchard and gardens, during summer with a picnic..blissssss
I had tent envy bad. I wanted that one, in that amazing space, so we could grow old together.
Articulate Project Space, 497 Parramatta Rd, Leichhardt. NSW
I like the idea of buying art and antiques, but space and money are limiting factors.
My mum always said I had champagne taste on a beer budget. Over the years the budget has slowly improved and I probably could, at a stretch, buy somewhere in the Yellow Glen - Veuve Cliquot price range. Unfortunately the budget hasn't caught up with my tastes.
And it's not like I'm looking at ridiculously priced art, but unfortunately if it is more than a couple of hunge, my budget doesn't let me go there. So I've decided to live the dream and immortalise my latest favs online in virtual ownership.
You know the type of artworks I'm talking about, the ones that stay with you. The ones you continue to muse upon, reminisce about or years later still suffer from non buyers remorse. All because you paid the electricity bill instead.
So the other night I'm pretty sure I viewed some pieces that may haunt me in the future, in a good bad way of course.
First stop was AIRspace Projects, a fantastic white industrial cave tucked away in the back streets of Marrickville. Cause I'm a time nerd I was there at six on the dot and got to enjoy some of the pieces one on one, no sharing.
Sly's face on the invite had sparked my attention.
Straight thru the front door I saw Show Girl: Clean Dirty, a lovely unglazed earthenware by Yiorgos Zafiriou. I lingered alongside a beautiful deep red glittery Tenderloin then encircled She's a Lady. Captivated by the jeweled stand, blond tendrils of hair, gold reflections and lush lips. The Portrait S(l)ideshow caught my eye and I was suckered in, loving the rotation of colours and characters.
In Mobius Dick I fell in love with The Divinity of Masculinity pt.// That is until I checked my bank account and understood I could only admire from afar.
(Click on the link, its located bottom left)
Unfortunately I didn't get a long look as the place was filling up but I loved the size, frame, where it was hung and the the gorgeous white graphic notations linking this faux ancestry.com family tree. It made me laugh and that's always good👍
Jackson Farleys piece was fun and energetic. Something you could own and look at for ages. I wanted that one.
10 Junction Street
Marrickville, NSW, 2204,
I WANT DAT ONE!