Van Gogh and the Seasons is a sensitively curated crowd-pleaser despite a paucity of masterpieces

 A detail from Vincent Van Gogh’s A wheatfield, with cypresses, early September 1889. National Gallery, London. Bought, Courtauld Fund, 1923 (NG3861) © The National Gallery, London

Van Gogh and the Seasons, showing at the National Gallery of Victoria, is more than an opportunity for a geographically isolated Australian audience to view the works of one of the world’s best-known and beloved artists in the flesh. Our last major Van Gogh exhibition occurred one generation ago in 1993 at the NGV, moving on to Queensland in early 1994. It adopted a broad perspective on Van Gogh’s genius, placing him in the context of both his sources and his impact on the history of art.

With 35 paintings and 13 drawings from 20 lenders, this new exhibition is not huge in scope and does not feature Van Gogh’s most iconic works. However, it is the largest collection of his work ever to travel to Australia and the first exhibition anywhere to focus so intensively on the seasonal theme. It is the fourteenth in the series of Melbourne Winter Masterpieces and brings a welcome surge of colour and movement to a damp and bleak Melbourne.

Van Gogh’s total immersion in the natural world, both as the subject of his art and for its therapeutic effects, saw him observe, in minute detail, the everchanging moods and landscapes of the seasons, cyclical time through the rhythms of farming and human activity, and the qualities of light that changed with both the time of day and the time of year.

 Vincent Van Gogh, Avenue of poplars in autumn, late October 1884 Nuenen, oil on canvas on wood panel 99.0 x 65.7 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam Purchased with support from the Vincent van Gogh Foundation and the Rembrandt Association (s0141M1977)


Van Gogh (1853-1890) was the son of a Protestant clergyman of the Groningen school and exhibited fervent religious devotion in his mid-twenties. He rejected this, to some extent, in the 1880s, as he commenced his art practice in earnest. However, a Christian outlook remained central to a worldview that also bordered on the pagan, with all of the natural world infused with a divine presence.

Van Gogh grew up imbued with notions of public service. In the family tradition, he studied to be a minister before undertaking preaching work in England, Holland and Belgium, often living almost as a mendicant.

When these efforts came to nought, he turned to making art with the financial support of his younger brother, Theo. This was less a break with his former ambitions than a continuation of “Christ-like service” in a different guise, and re-connected him, through Theo, to the family’s commercial art business.

Van Gogh’s hope, expressed repeatedly in his letters to Theo, was to share with others the profound healing to be found in nature and in colour. The seasonal cycle promises predictability within inevitable change, and the seeds of rebirth within each death.

A tour through the seasons

Van Gogh and the Seasons is curated by the former Head of Collections at the Van Gogh Museum, Sjraar van Heugten, with the assistance of the NGV’s Senior Curator of International Art, Dr Ted Gott. It adopts a focused approach, highlighting the pivotal seasonal theme of Van Gogh’s oeuvre through which the artist expressed the joys, disappointments, melancholia and bleakness of his own mental landscapes.

The exhibition is carefully curated to play up its many strengths, while disguising some of its weaknesses. The rooms are laid out as a journey through the year, and through Van Gogh’s life as an artist.

A beautifully shot, atmospheric video, narrated by David Stratton with David Wenham as the voice of Vincent, sets the stage, explaining the centrality of the seasons to Van Gogh’s work. The next two rooms explore his sources of inspiration in his personal print collection and his fascination with Japanese woodblock prints. As the originals of the latter are too delicate to travel, the display is pulled together from the NGV’s own collection and introduces the seasonal layout.

 Vincent Van Gogh, Farmhouse in Provence, June 1888 Arles, oil on canvas 46.1 x 60.9 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection (1970.17.34)


The remainder of the exhibition is a stroll through Van Gogh’s seasons, each separated by a semi-transparent black screen in a manner reminiscent of traditional Japanese architecture. The metaphor of the journey is extended by placing almost all works on a wall of their own. This has the additional effect of making the exhibition seem larger and of downplaying the framing inconsistencies that would be distracting when hung together.

The first of Van Gogh’s seasons – autumn, his favourite – is the season of the sower of seeds on the bare earth. This is a recurring motif in Van Gogh’s work that derives from European painting traditions, reflects his interest in the poor and honest toiling peasantry, and is also associated with the figure of Christ.

It is a season for melancholy, burnt bronzes and dark autumnal shades, such as in Avenue of poplars in autumn (1884) and Autumn landscape at dusk (1885) in which a woman in mourning walks alone down an avenue of trees and long shadows.

By 1888 Van Gogh was introducing colour into even his autumn landscapes, depicting the bustle of the grape harvest in Arles in vivid blues, greens, purples and yellows, with just a few touches of red. From the window of his asylum room in 1989, he watched the olive harvest and painted it about 30 times, thinking always of Christ in the garden at Gethsemane. Unlike his contemporaries Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh omitted the figure of Christ, leaving the viewer to discover divinity in the landscape itself.

The bleakness of a snow-covered field in winter and an idle plough, alongside images of churchyards and funeral processions, speak of the harshness of existence and death, but also of the dormant seed beneath the snow, pregnant with the potential for germination in the spring.

 Vincent Van Gogh, The parsonage garden in the snow, January 1885 Nuenen, oil on canvas on wood panel 53.0 x 78.0 cm. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, The Armand Hammer Collection, gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation


Spring is the season of bulbs and blossoms, vivid greens, pinks and purples, lush growth and young green wheat. Grass spurts from nooks and crannies in gardens. Tree trunks fairly dance under clear blue skies.

Summer is the farmer now turned reaper, golden wheat fields ready for harvest, and the sheaths gathered in under turquoise skies. In these spring and summer paintings from Van Gogh’s last frenzied months of creativity, his mastery of colour and brushstroke are most apparent. The exhibition culminates in the iconic image of A wheatfield, with cypresses (1889) which, in a coup for the NGV, was loaned by the National Gallery of London. It was in just such a wheatfield that Van Gogh ended his own life at the age of 37.

Van Gogh and the Seasons is a sensitively curated crowd pleaser that justifies the NGV’s recent ranking as the 19th most popular art gallery in the world.

This article was written by:
Anita Pisch – [Visiting Fellow, School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, Australian National University]

Van Gogh and the Seasons will be on display at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia from 28 April – 9 July 2017 as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series.




This article is part of a syndicated news program via the Conversation

Landscapes of Colours at “Under the Sky” – Ground Floor S.T.K. Art Space

The Colonel, Belinda and Serge at Under the Sky
The Colonel, Belinda and Serge at Under the Sky

Last week was the launch of the “Under the Sky” exhibition at the Ground Floor S. T. K. Art Space in St Kilda.

The gallery is displaying a variety of works from artists expressing themselves with one theme in mind. Gallery Manager and Curator Filitsa Giannopoulos explains, “It’s a group of artists and [it’s] basically the way they interpret landscapes.”

When it comes to landscapes, the 26-story building the gallery is in has its own story where the developer wanted to incorporate an art element into the project so instead of putting a statue or sculpture at the front or somewhere around the building, an art space was created inside.

“This gallery is very special because the City of Port Phillip has got a rule that if you have a building that is over two million dollars, the developer has to spend point five percent on public art,” said former Deputy Mayor and Councillor Serge Thomann.

“Artists need to get support from developers like here.”

Chris Bekos
Chris Bekos

The result is the space has been made rent free for 12 months as a trial. “Under the Sky” is the forth exhibition the gallery has run with nine artists displaying their unique works.

“It’s a fantastic space, it’s a really good space. There’s a lot of room to look at the artwork and there’s nothing that competes,” said photographer and artist Chris Bekos. 

Bekos has his own technique where archival in jet print of acid free 100% cotton matte fine art paper sounds a mouthful but has great effect.

He wants people to look at something new but familiar in a very unfamiliar way with the use of lines, angles, and tonality with contrast.

“I’ve always signed off as an artistic photographer and then went into the commercial side of photography to make a living from it and then going back to the artistic side that gives me the ideas for my commercial work,” said Bekos.

Julian Clavijo
Julian Clavijo

Jullian Clavijo is the artist in residence at the gallery. He is interested in urban space transformation and his work reflects a keen eye for colour, pattern and realism. Currently his studio practice is based on capturing the human face of transnational conflict around the world. Focus on your Dreams – conception

Emma Nasifa Nest
Emma Nasifa Nest

Wood and acrylic.

Ash Coates Cytoplasm
Ash Coates Cytoplasm

Emma Nasifa work is inspired by the symmetry and geometry found in nature which is evident in her ‘Timber-reclaimed Tasmanian oak’.

Ash Coates utilizes acrylic on canvas where microorganisms form the shapes, composition and psychedelic tones within his work. It is a process of ritual and meditation on things and microscopic, magic and scientific.

Jay M Trapp Ferocactus
Jay M Trapp Ferocactus

Kim Stark also with acrylic on canvas likes to paint intuitively letting her feelings and heart guide what happens on the canvas.

 Jay M. Trapp’s has a great passion for painting in cactus country which is in Strathmerton Victoria. This work is called “Ferocactus”

Oscar Ascencio Church of Light
Oscar Ascencio Church of Light





Another renowned photographer Oscar Ascencio has this work ‘Church of the Light’ on high gloss photographic.

Barbara Bateman Otway Cool Waters
Barbara Bateman Otway Cool Waters
Cathjy Quinn By Night
Cathjy Quinn By Night









In this ‘Otway Cool Waters’ Barbara Bateman utilized Oil on linen. Barbara works in the ‘plein-air’ tradition, encompassed by the bush to paint the sensed reality observed.

Antoinette Ferwerda Midnight Copper Hills
Antoinette Ferwerda Midnight Copper Hills

Cathy Quinn in ‘By Night’ is oil on linen. Her work are is an investigation into the possibilities of change and transformation.

Antoinette Ferwerda mixers her media on canvas-acrylic.  Always fascinated with color, her first microscope inspired early investigation for pattern and she defined her world with sketches and drawings. This work isMidnight Copper Hills’.

 These are just some of the works on display at the “Under the Sky”, an exhibition that is inspiring and not to be missed.

“We want all locals to come along, have a look and support the local artists,” said Giannopoulos.

The exhibition closes on 26th of May.

Ground Floor S. T. K. Art Space

3-5 St Kilda Rd., St Kilda. 


+61 0 425 811 693

64th Blake Prize

It is not simply an esteemed history that has maintained the relevance of the Blake Prize. In the last ten years the Prize has seen a resurgent interest in its subject matter of religion, spirituality and human justice. Considered to be among the top art prizes in Australia, it is a showcase for creative ideas and innovative artists. One of the clear reasons for this renewed public profile has been the shift in the manner in which art engages everyday life. Art is no longer about beautiful objects of the education of taste. It is much more about the big ideas of ethics, politics and social relevance. The conversation that buzzes around the Blake Prize is not about religious figures from the past, current mass movements of peoples as a result of war, as well as the future of the environment amid climate change.

In 1951, the first Blake Prize exhibition presented a very different world. Following the Second World War, the suburbs were being built and the newly formed Blake Committee hoped artists would provide an Australian version of the abiding symbols that had got them through the war.

It was a time of new confidence in the possibilities of the future and religious images in Australian colours were needed to populate the horizon of prayer and prosperity. Arthur Boyd, Kevin Connor, Donald Friend, Elaine Haxton and the winner, Justin O’Brien provided new ways of seeing this tradition and the Blake became an annual exhibition. Within a few short years the Blake became a place for controversy as the tensions became apparent between familiar religious symbols and the search for innovation and relevance.

Through its more than sixty years of history, the Blake Prize has echoed the changing nature of the search for meaning found in art making. This history reflects the way artists have understood their role as both reflectors of values and challengers of the status quo. In some sense it was the genius of the Blake Committee and the later Blake Society to choose not to define what was understood by ‘religious art’. Despite ongoing pressure to introduce such definitions, this openness has enabled the Blake to grow and change alongside the differing ways in which spirituality has been understood. What matters most within this search is the question of what it means to be human, a question that is always under scrutiny and formation in contemporary society.
The Blake Prize provides an opportunity to visualise the more speculative questions around human experience and the horizon of hope. The Blake invites viewers to engage in a conversation about how to negotiate difference, how to learn from others who hold differing traditions, and how to create a dialogue that builds towards the common good. This is a conversation that values the social role of the artist as an imaginer of possibilities, a conjurer of hope, and a dismantler of idols. This makes the Blake Prize an exhibition of contemporary art that is consistently engaging, sometimes prickly, but always relevant to the big debates and questions of the culture we inhabit. Rev. Rod Pattenden Ex President of the Blake Society.


James Tylor Un – resettling (Sand Painting) 2016 from the series Un resettling (Hauntings) Hand coloured digital print Edition 5 50.0 x 50.0 cm
James Tylor Un – resettling (Sand Painting) 2016 from the series Un resettling (Hauntings) Hand coloured digital print Edition 5 50.0 x 50.0 cm

An exhibition of photographs and objects

29 MARCH – 22 APRIL 2017

This exhibition comprises 16 hand coloured photographs of scenes entirely
produced by the artist.

After extensive research James Tylor sourced appropriate sites, where
historical material confirms there was a constant presence of indigenous
occupation that consequently had been erased. The artist re-creates the
evidence of occupation, photographs it, prints and hand colours each work.

Gallery Director, Vivien Anderson says, “James Tylor champions the
continuum of indigenous presence through the dignified staging of the
evidence of Aboriginal occupation”.

“Through the rich tonal highlights of hand colouring the images James
projects a pulse into the image, pushing the refresh button on our awareness
of the Indigenous pre-colonial legacy and a sense of shared loss.”

Artist Statement

Unresettling is a project of relearning and practicing traditional indigenous
cultural practices in contemporary society that have been lost due to
European colonisation of Australia.

As a young Australian with Indigenous ancestry I feel that it is extremely
important to learn, understand, practice and teach indigenous culture. In this
self-experimental exploration project, I have attempted to re-learn some
traditional practices from oral discussions, language, drawings, paintings,
photographs, historical journals and publications. Re-learning these practices
has given me a deeper understanding of Australian history, the environment
and my ancestors’ cultural practices but most importantly a great
understanding of my own Indigenous identity.

In addition, over the past year James Tylor has fashioned over 30 original
utilitarian and ceremonial objects used by traditional Kaurna language
speakers of South Australia to exacting specifications also sourced through
extensive research of the Museum of South Australia.

These objects are to be installed across the exhibition intersecting the images.

Opening: 6pm – 8pm WEDNESDAY 29 MARCH 2017

James Tylor is available for interview on Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 March
Please contact the gallery for appointments and further information

T. 03 9598 9657

Gallery hours: Tues – Fri 11 am – 5pm, Sat 12 – 4pm and by appointment
Vivien Anderson Gallery, ground floor 284 – 290 St Kilda Road, St Kilda, Victoria
3182 (nearest cross street Inkerman Road)

James Tylor Un – resettling (Bird Hide) 2016 from the series Un resettling (Hauntings) Hand coloured digital print Edition 5 50.0 x 50.0 cm
James Tylor Un – resettling (Bird Hide) 2016 from the series Un resettling (Hauntings) Hand coloured digital print Edition 5 50.0 x 50.0 cm
James Tylor Un – resettling (Bird Snare) 2016 from the series Un resettling (Hauntings) Hand coloured digital print Edition 5 50.0 x 50.0 cm
James Tylor
Un – resettling (Bird Snare) 2016 from the series Un resettling (Hauntings)
Hand coloured digital print
Edition 5
50.0 x 50.0 cm


James Tylor Un – resettling (Sand Painting) 2016 from the series Un resettling (Hauntings) Hand coloured digital print Edition 5 50.0 x 50.0 cm
James Tylor Un – resettling (Sand Painting) 2016 from the series Un resettling (Hauntings) Hand coloured digital print Edition 5 50.0 x 50.0 cm

The 64th Blake Prize Touring Exhibition


Friday, 7 April – Friday, 26 May 2017

The Blake Prize is one of Australia’s longest standing and most historically significant art prizes. It is an opportunity for contemporary emerging, established and self-taught artists to engage in conversations related to religion and spirituality. The 64th Blake Prize celebrates the diversity and aesthetic practices related to belief and non-belief within communities across Australia and internationally.​

Exhibition Entry: by Donation; Colour Catalogues: $30.00 each

Tickets are now available for the following events.

The Blake Prize: Melbourne Premiere
Friday, 7 April, 5:00 p.m.
> Register for this event

Easter Viewing
Friday, 14th April – Sunday, 16th April 2017
With Rev. Dr Christopher Page, Toorak Uniting Church (FREE EVENT)

Afternoon with Rev Tim Costello AO & Artists
Thursday, 27 April, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Presented by UCA Funds Management (FREE EVENT)

> Register for this event​

Australia and “The Divine Image” Symposium
Thursday, 11th May – Saturday, 13th May 2017
Australia and “The Divine Image” Symposium is a public program presented in conjunction with the 64th Blake Prize Touring Exhibition (7 April – 26 May 2017) hosted by Kinross Arts Centre and Toorak Uniting Church. The symposium provides an opportunity to bring together audiences and experts in the field of the arts and spirituality. It promotes the freedom to reflect about themes and issues in multifaith and secular communities around Australia. Many of the Prize finalists reflect on cultural negotiations made on and around the human body. In what ways does this exhibition portray the concept of humans made in the Divine image? Join us for some dynamic dialogue on these topics.

The symposium presents an opportunity to engage with artist practitioners, academic presenters and hands-on artmaking experiences to connect art and spirituality in contemporary Australia.  Generously sponsored by The Centre for Theology & Ministry.

Visit for more information and registration.

Kinross Arts and Spirituality Centre
603 Toorak Rd, Toorak Vic 3142

The Blake Prize

Sponsored by UCA Funds Management
in conjunction with the Kinross Art Centre and the Centre for Theology and Ministry
A Casula Powerhouse Exhibition toured by Liverpool City Council

64th Blake Prize Exhibition: Melbourne Premiere

Join us for the Melbourne premiere of the Blake Prize exhibition, with the unveiling of works from prize finalists.

The Blake Prize is one of Australia’s longest standing and most historically significant art prizes. It is an opportunity for contemporary emerging, established and self-taught artists to engage in conversations related to religion and spirituality. The 64th Blake Prize celebrates the diversity and aesthetic practices related to belief and non-belief within communities across Australia and internationally.

Finalist works from this exhibition include:

  • Whirl, Cigdem Aydemir
  • 1001 Nights in Fairfield, Zanny Begg
  • Vanishing, Adnan Begic
  • The Crusader, Liam Benson
  • Talking Skull, David Asher Brook

The 64th Blake Prize is proudly sponsored by UCA Funds Management and Centre for Theology & Ministry, and presented by Kinross Arts & Spirituality Centre and Toorak Uniting Church.


Fri. 7 April 2017

5:00 pm – 9:00 pm AEST

Add to Calendar


Kinross Arts & Spirituality Centre

603 Toorak Rd

Toorak, VIC 3142

View Map



Susan Van Wyk Pic Magda de la Pesca
Susan Van Wyk Pic Magda de la Pesca

American William Eggleston and Australian Bill Henson are two very different world -class photographic artists . Eggleston’s world is vividly coloured and “out there”, identifiable, although not without intrigue. Whereas that of Henson is darkly secret with touches of illumination that hint at , but don’t spell out meaning.

I saw both of these solo exhibitions on one day at the NGV’s current Festival of Photography (17 March-18 June, 2017). The NGV is currently holding the largest display of contemporary photography in its history, features exciting and varied work by Australian and international photographers in several solo exhibitions.  Both established  and emerging photo artists are represented.

I confess I knew nothing about Eggleston ( born Memphis 1933 ) and his work and had only seen pictures on the media some years back of Henson ( born Melbourne 1955 )’s work when his controversial pre-pubescent nudes caused a moral outcry and were removed by police from a gallery in Sydney.

I came ready to learn, with no prejudgments. I’m no expert. What follows are merely my impressions. What I saw and read led me to reflect on the contrast between these two photographers and their two shows. Eggleston is renown for his pioneering in the late 1960’s and 70’s of vivid colour art photography; Henson for his dark, brooding chiascurio – shades of black/ grey with emanating or delineating light and subtle use of colour.

William Eggleston’s works are mainly very colourful portraits with a penchant for red, resembling snapshots of figures in time and space – the 1960’s and 1970’s. Evoking the feeling of the era , there are random shots of ordinary people in diners, petrol stations, phone booths and supermarkets. He photographed his family, his friends,stars, musicians, gogo girls in nightclubs, armed sheriffs.

Man eating hamburger
Man eating hamburger

He, too, caused media outrage , when he bucked the traditional view that only black and white photography qualified as art. He happened across the process of dye transfer printing which had previously only been used for high-end commercial work. He used this process in his vividly coloured exhibition Photographs by William Eggleston in 1976 . When he called this work art ,the New York Times called it “The Most Hated Show of the Year” ! Things have changed somewhat since then. This current exhibition  ( from that era ) comes direct from the National Portrait Gallery in London, and was voted as London’s top exhibition of 2016 by The Telegraph.

His images have inspired contemporary film makers such Sophia Coppola, the Coen Brothers and David Lynch.He’s often been invited to photograph on their sets.

 According to senior NGV curator, Susan Van Weyk, remarkably Eggleston never took more than one shot of his subjects. Of course , he was shooting film and didn’t have the luxury of instant playback , repeat efforts and the cheapness of digital technology . Nevertheless, in the film days, many people did waste whole films trying to get the right shot! So he must’ve been good, judging by the quality of his images.


His photos show a great understanding of lighting, composition and capturing mood and  Depending on your age, you might find them quaint depictions of the past or if you were a young adult of the 1960’s & 70’s you could be flooded with nostalgia and recognition of having lived through that era.  ‘By Golly, is that really how we wore our hair!” ( see Eggleston Vimeo for lady sitting on kerb )

On another level, the viewer may be left wondering? Who was that person? What was the story behind the photo? Why is she/he upset ?Some of those questions are answered by reading the descriptions printed beside the photos on the walls.

Girl at counter
Girl at counter

Maybe, sometimes it’s better not to read the story. One photo showed a totally blood – red photo of a naked friend, surrounded by spray -painted graffiti on his bedroom walls. We are told this was an eccentric nudist dentist by the unlikely moniker of T.C.Boring. This red photo turned out to be ghoulishly prophetic. Some years later, Boring was murdered in that room and his house set on fire.

In the main, Eggleston, struck me as a guy who didn’t spend a lot of time pre-planning his shots, but had the eye and skill to capture the moment and move on.

Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper

One has the feeling he was an “out there sort of guy “, always on the move , lens ready to shoot whatever he came across. I am reminded of Hunter S.Thompson’s book :Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ” when I read of Eggleston traversing the length and breadth of America , photographing and being driven by Walter Hopps, described as his “gonzo curator”.

Henson, on the other hand,  struck me as an introvert, preferring dark mystery , secrecy, and suggestiveness . A thinker and a planner. A man who might be loathe to leave his studio unless he had a special mission in mind. If he did venture forth, it would mainly be in the twilight hours. 

His subjects would come to him and be reconstructed , directed by his mind’s eye – long before he trained the camera lens on them . A man who preferred to arrange his own version of reality. An artist with a preoccupation with a special kind of beauty. He has a signature touch all of his own. A great artist.

I would love to be a fly on the wall to watch him at work. How does he get those often tormented, anguished expressions from his teenage models? Are they like that when they arrive?  Or is he their emotional director setting up a scenario for them to react to? What is his process?

Henson’s  is not a cold black and white world. It’s often warmer than that. More shades of black and grey with bronze or golden highlights emerging from the dark. Subtly outlining parts of a figure or landscape. Sometimes, very subtle touches of colour.

The Eggleston Gallery, is light and spacious with white ceilings, pale grey painted bands on the wall to accentuate his white-framed and large matted photos, often quite small prints with some exceptions.

By contrast, the Henson Gallery is like entering in a a dark cavern with walls painted black, huge framed photos which loom out of the darkness. Each picture containing subtle touches of light playing around form or bringing the subject out of the dark background  into light. Each image, by turn,  dominates your attention  without any distraction from written descriptions. All photos are “Untitled”. Neither Henson nor the curators are giving away the stories. All the images are starkly beautiful in style, but it’s for the viewer to interpret or react to.  I find it hard to imagine there would be no reactions to Henson’s work. One could not be indifferent.

Whereas Eggleston’s show was all portraits, Henson’s was a mix of faces, figures and landscapes.

I was totally transfixed by some of his landscapes – particularly the sunset over the silhouetted black peak jutting into the sky. The way he captured the small bursts of light emerging here and there from the clouds. Breathtakingly beautiful. Transcendental. Soul elevating.

As to the nudes. There were some. I noted that several figures had their ribs showing. And their bodies were taut or contorted with emotions – possibly despair, anguish ? Cries from the dark recesses of the soul? They didn’t have the cherubic plumpness of the antique, coloured marble sculpture of the naked child  juxtaposed in the exhibition. It stood out as it was in colour and looked like it had been photographed in an Italian museum or gallery. Was this a message from Henson to silence his critics? Look at classical art. Artists and sculptors from time immemorial have been depicting the human form at all ages. 

By chance,  a secondary school tour group finished beside me in the Henson Gallery. Year 11 and 12 students who hadn’t been exposed ( pardon the pun) to Henson’s work. I assumed they may have been around the age of Henson’s subjects. Possibly a little older.With their teacher’s permission, I asked them what they thought about the nudes. 

Two girls’ reactions were quite polarised. The first, Alexandra, was very upset.  “The girls remind me of child trafficking because they are so skinny and sad. This is just not right. It’s exploiting children”. But classmate Livia’s eyes were shining with excitement. “I’ve always been obsessed with human anatomy – and this is quite a different take. The lighting makes the nude forms so beautiful. Like the landscapes, really raw but beautiful. I’m so inspired for my own art.”

In an age of instagrams and selfies, one couldn’t be sure how innocent or otherwise teenagers are today. In the old days , one might have imagined a few awkward and embarrassed guffaws from teenage boys. However, David’s  response was very sensitive and sophisticated. He said he had learnt from Henson’s photos that “the body is art – fragile, emotionally exposed, bare”.

A small sample of reactions, but I suspect not atypical of the wider public debate .

If you’re interested in photography, hightail it to the NGV. These two shows are well worthwhile but there’s also much more to see. Check their website.

Next Wave announces Kickstart Helix artist – new generation in Australian art

Kickstart Helix

Next Wave

Next Wave announces artists to watch out for in 2017-18
Kickstart Helix artists represent the new generation in Australian art

Australia’s leading artist development organisation Next Wave has announced the latest cohort of participants in its prestigious and highly competitive development program, Kickstart Helix.

Following an unprecedented number of applications received from early-career practitioners nationwide, 17 artists, writers, curators, producers and collectives have been selected to participate in the program.

From fine printmakers, installation artists, curators and practitioners working in Islamic decorative arts through to Indigenous choreographers, zine-makers, queer performance makers and radical alter-egos, the selected participants represent a diverse cross section of identities, abilities and artistic practices operating in Australia today.

The selected participants are: Embittered Swish (VIC/NSW), Rosie Isaac (VIC), Luke Duncan King (VIC), Azja Kulpińska and Timmah Ball (VIC), Lady Producer Gang (ACT), Josh Muir and Adam Ridgeway (VIC), Zachary Pidd and Charles Purcell (VIC), Danielle Reynolds (VIC), Harrison Ritchie-Jones (VIC), Taree Sansbury (NSW), Zara Sigglekow (VIC), Sancintya Simpson (QLD), Brendan Snow (NT), Rhen Soggee (SA), Alex Tate and Olivia Tartaglia (WA), Shireen Taweel (NSW) and Athena Thebus (NSW).

Kickstart Helix is a year-long program of creative and professional development opportunities and intensive workshops, culminating in the presentation of bold and ambitious new work at Next Wave Festival in May 2018.

Having travelled across the country to meet with potential applicants during October and November 2016, Director/CEO Georgie Meagher and Creative Producer Erica McCalman are thrilled with the final selection.

“We say that a diverse conversation is the only conversation worth having – and this selection of projects is absolutely true to that,” said Georgie Meagher. “I couldn’t be more excited at the prospect of spending the next year with these great creative thinkers as they create some incredibly ambitious projects for Next Wave Festival 2018.”

“These 17 artists, producers, curators and writers are going to have an incredible journey with Next Wave over the next 18 months,” said Erica McCalman. “For the first time Kickstart Helix will have artists, writers, curators and producers learning, sharing and creating together. This provides an incredibly fertile place for participants to develop rich and challenging work, and revolutionise each other’s practice.”

Established in 1984, Next Wave is the most comprehensive platform in Australia for a new generation of artists taking creative risks. Next Wave produces unparalleled learning programs and a biennial festival which reflect a commitment to social and cultural diversity, environmental sustainability and inclusion.

Next Wave’s learning programs have launched the careers of some of Australia’s best and brightest new talent, including Barry Award-winning comedian Zoe Coombs Marr, four-time Archibald Prize nominee Abdul Abdullah, acclaimed dancer and choreographer Atlanta Eke, and Megan Cope, winner of the 2015 Western Australian Indigenous Art Prize for her Next Wave-developed work The Blaktism.

Georgie Meagher and Erica McCalman are available for interview.

Full artist biographies follow.

Further media information: Magda Petkoff, Purple Media,, 0409 436 473


Embittered Swish (VIC/NSW) Performance

Embittered Swish began in 2015 as an artistic conversation between artist Cinnamon Templeton and performance maker Mick Klepner Roe, taking Jean Genet’s 1943 novel Our Lady of the Flowers as its starting point. Embittered Swish grew to be the ensemble of artists that devised and performed Our Lady of the Flowers at La Mama Courthouse theatre in October this year. These artists include Mossy Pebbles, Bobuq Sayed, Krishna Istha, Romy Seven, M’ck McKeague and Rare Candy. The project focuses on the morally and sexually ambiguous. Genet moves and speaks in the in-between; bodies overlap and change through desire; crimes and confessions are decaying glories. We have been reformulating the novel to speak to contemporary trans realities. Embittered Swish is now expanding their practice of personal and poetic performance making into other cultural texts.

Rosie Isaac (VIC) Performance

Rosie Isaac works with performance, video and writing. Most often she begins with a script, a form of writing that is always oriented towards speech.

The digital female voice used for public announcements coughs, she is given a body. An allegorical personification of Security is cast as an exhausted and exploited office worker. The slippery terrain of words becoming idea becoming body is used to explore the politics of public space under conditions of power, authority and myth.

Recent exhibitions and performances include ‘Through flooding’ (2016) part of Through love: five feminist perspectives, Brainlina’s program for Next Wave Festival 2016. Slow roasted lamb (2016), Gertrude Studios, No, I couldn’t agree with you more, a two-person show with Briony Galligan at TCB art Inc. (2015), Pardon me, but our position has been struck by lightning at The Substation (2014) and ?! Performance Festival, The Pipe Factory Glasgow (2014). Isaac is a current Gertrude Studio resident.

Luke Duncan King (VIC) Drawing, printmaking and video installation

Luke Duncan King is a visual artist working predominantly in printmaking, also including drawings and watercolour works on paper. King recently completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours – Visual Art) at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2015. King participated in numerous group exhibitions at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery, City of Melbourne Library and internationally at 3331 Arts Chiyoda as a part of the International Printmaking Conference 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. He often collaborated with student visual artists, emerging visual artists and dancers at the VCA, Jodee Mundy Collaboration, Nicola Gunn as well as with Louella May Hogan and Anna Seymour to discover the performance and audience experientially and encounter the artistic practice in a visceral and insightful way.

Azja Kulpińska and Timmah Ball (VIC) Writing

Azja Kulpińska is a queer migrant from Poland currently based on the lands of the Kulin Nations. She is a Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner, zine-maker and producer, community arts worker, radio producer and writer. She has facilitated dialogical theatre and zine-making projects in Australia, Solomon Islands and Poland that explored challenging narratives around identity, migration, displacement, systems of oppression and other topics relevant to the communities she works with.

Timmah Ball is an interdisciplinary artist of Ballardong Noongar descent, working across community arts and writing. She has delivered numerous community arts events bringing unique stories into the broader public consciousness. Most recently she completed a writers residency at The University of Iowa, called Indigenous Voices/Narrative Witness. She has written for Inflection Journal, Right Now, Meanjin and the Westerly.

Azja and Timmah have been working collaboratively since 2015 on producing intersectional feminist zines (including Wild Tongue), events and a radio show Intersections on 3CR community radio, with an aim to provide a platform for a range of women and gender non-conforming practitioners (with an emphasis on WOC, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, queer and trans and disabled practitioners) to disrupt the dominant narratives from below through writing, images, performance and sound.

Lady Producer Gang (ACT) Producer

Lady Producer Gang (LPG) is a collective of independent creative producers. LPG is a gang because they’re about disruption, independence and community. Founding members Yasmin Masri, Adelaide Rief and Vanessa Wright are producers of the collaborative kind, viewing creative production as an artistic practice. LPG was established as space to interrogate and invent new models for working, not only for developing and presenting art but also for the structures and systems that sit behind contemporary creative practice.

As a collective LPG want to facilitate conversations about the power and meaning of art, with those who are often excluded from those discussions. Through their work they explore the potential of creativity to disrupt; using social experiments and play to teach us new ways to exist, think and relate to each other in a world facing uncertain futures. For LPG, this type of art is participatory and DIY.

Yasmin, Adelaide and Vanessa have established and worked for diverse organisations including You Are Here Festival, Noted Festival, Melbourne Fringe Festival, Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, Craft ACT, DESIGN Canberra, Hotel Hotel and the London Design Biennale. They have also been radio presenters, teachers, social media managers, community lawyers, and shop assistants.

Josh Muir and Adam Ridgeway (VIC) Sculpture, installation, story

“I am a proud Yorta Yorta/ Gunditjmara man, I hold my culture strong to my heart and it gives me a voice and great sense of my identity. I look around I see empires built on aboriginal land, I cannot physically change or shift this, though I can make the most of my culture in a contemporary setting and my art projects reflect my journey.” – Josh Muir Josh Muir is a Melbourne-based multi media artist. In 2015 Muir was the recipient of the Telstra National Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Art Award – Youth and the Hutchinson Scholarship, which will see him undertake a 12-month residency at the Victorian College of the Arts. Muir’s work has been acquired by the Koorie Heritage Trust, The National Gallery of Australia, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the National Gallery of Victoria and was commissioned as a major project artist by White Night.

Adam Ridgeway is a Worimi ceramicist currently based in Melbourne, Victoria. Ridgeway’s artistic practice began in 2005 at Sydney College of the Arts completing Honours in 2009 and Masters in 2011. Ridgeway’s ceramic works are introspective explorations of contemporary Indigenous identity and the A-colonial/anti-colonial histories, memories and perceptions that intersect in their formation. Previous exhibitions have included the 24th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (2007), the 4th World Ceramic Biennale in Korea (2007), the 2008 Gold Coast International Ceramic Art Award and Generations (2008) at the Horus & Deloris Contemporary Art Space, Sydney.

Zachary Pidd and Charles Purcell (VIC) Theatre

Zachary Pidd and Charles Purcell are award-winning theatre-makers and actors based in Melbourne whose individual backgrounds are fundamental to their combined practice: Charles’ spans writing for performance, cultural studies and dramaturgy; Zak is a multi-instrumentalist whose investigation of sound underpins all of the work he makes. They met studying Theatre Practice at the VCA where they developed a shared collaborative devising process founded on non-hierarchical structures. Each of their collaborations to date have been driven by non-traditional dramaturgies, pastiches of disparate, multi-modal theatrical languages, and an investigation into the mutualistic relationship between chaos and structure in performance. Together they have collaborated as co-creators and performers on Smithereens (Frisk Festival, Melbourne Fringe), as performers together on Daniel Schlusser’s Schmaltz (Malthouse), and created work for The Last Tuesday Society and The Village Festival at Falls.

Danielle Reynolds (VIC) Performance/visual art

Danielle Reynolds is a multi-disciplinary artist who creates works that comprise interchangeable components of: large-scale painting, sculpture, moving image, sound and performance. Her work is generated from a studio practice that engages with notions of ‘not knowing’ and failure as desirable states to work from/with. The resulting work commonly employs recurrent themes of humour, gesture, popular culture and futility. Danielle completed her Honours at VCA (Victoria College of Arts) following the completion of a Bachelor of Fine Arts at RMIT University in 2015. Danielle spent six months studying at Chelsea College of Arts: The University of Arts London. Earlier this year she was selected for the Supermassive Internship with Aphids to work on their show HOWL (Festival of Live Art) and in 2015 completed an internship at Arts Project Australia. Danielle has exhibited nationally and internationally in a number of group shows: most recently she exhibited in Debut XII at Blindside Gallery and performed ‘On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ as a part of A. Time-based Exhibition, curated by Arie Rain Glorie.

Harrison Ritchie-Jones (VIC) Performance/dance

Harrison Ritchie-Jones graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) in 2014. In 2013, he was awarded a Victorian College of the Arts Undergraduate Most Outstanding Creative Scholarship. He has worked with, and performed in creations by Stephanie Lake, Graeme Murphy, Rebecca Hilton, Lucy Guerin, Phillip Adams, Prue Lang, Shian Law, Rebecca Jensen and Alice Heyward, in commissions by Chunky Move, Tasdance, Lucy Guerin Inc. and The Australian Conservatoire of Ballet. He has also performed in the frame of Ludwigshafen Pfalzbau (Germany), Pieces For Small Spaces at Lucy Guerin Inc. (Melbourne), and Murray White Room Gallery (Melbourne).

Taree Sansbury (NSW) Dance theatre

Taree Sansbury is an emerging freelance artist and NAISDA Dance College graduate. Taree is a proud Kaurna, Narungga and Ngarrindjeri woman from South Australia. In her short time as a freelance artist Taree has had the opportunity of performing in Force Majeure’s two-year Culminate/Cultivate program and undertook an internship with Australian Dance Theatre in 2014. A highlight for Taree was working with independent creative Vicki Van Hout on her latest full-length work Long Grass, which premiered at the Sydney Festival and later on at Dance Massive 2015. Taree has worked with some of Sydney’s highly acclaimed independent makers such as Victoria Hunt in her most recent full-length work Tangi Wai and Martin Del Amo’s development of his latest work Champions. Taree performed in the 2016 Next Wave Festival and AFTERGLOW (presented by PACT Centre for Emerging Artists) for Thomas E. S. Kelly in his debut full-length work [MIS]CONCEIVE. More recently Taree was a performer in Branch Nebula’s Snake Sessions for the Artlands Festival in Dubbo, NSW.

Zara Sigglekow (VIC) Curator

Zara Sigglekow is an arts writer, curator and administrator. Her most recent exhibition The Joke explored humour in relationship to power, and was held across a commercial gallery (Neon Parc) and an ARI (Bus Projects).

With an academic background in Political Studies and Art History (University of Auckland), and a Master of Art Curatorship (University of Melbourne), she is is interested in making exhibitions that contextualise contemporary art within broader social and cultural themes.

She is a regular contributor to Ocula and writes for Art Guide Australia, Eyecontact (NZ), and catalogue essays for emerging artists in Australia and New Zealand.

Sancintya Simpson (QLD) Interdisciplinary, photo-media, video, painting, performance and sound

Sancintya Simpson is an interdisciplinary artist who examines the complexities of racial, migratory and mixed-race experience within Australia. Her practice is informed by her heritage as a biracial First-Generation Australian of Indian-Anglo descent. To create dialogue on society’s concealed prejudices, her practice intertwines painting, photography, video and performance. The two main aspects of her practice are her use traditional mediums mixed with digital platforms, and her radical alter-ego CHICHI MA$ALA. Simpson has a Bachelor of Photography with Honours from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University (2014).

Brendan Snow (NT) Producer

Brendan graduated from the University of Ballarat Arts Academy with a Bachelor of Arts: Acting in 2013. There he became skilled in physical theatre, viewpoints, circus, voice and dance on top of learning a more conventional text based theatre and film acting. Since graduating Brendan trained with Melbourne Suzuki, The Actors coach (film) and as a writer in ATYP’s National Studio program. He has also moved into becoming a producer, he co-founded independent theatre company, Milkbar Theatre and produced all five of their shows, often doubling up as a director or actor. Brendan’s passion lies in creating or managing theatre and drama for youth and regional areas.

Rhen Soggee (SA) Producer

Rhen Soggee is an early career producer, interested in social change through arts, specifically with queer, feminist, multicultural and intersectional agendas. Tertiary study in Classical History piqued Rhen’s curiosity in development/interplay of culture, religion, science and politics. Once presented with arts as a profession outside of performance, Rhen delved into Arts Management to facilitate conversations, experiences and understanding through Arts, underpinned by an ideal to foster better cross-cultural exchange in Arts and beyond. They believe that immersive, participatory and challenging (multi)arts experiences can help us to reflect on who we are, how we are and how we interact, affect and are affected by the world around us. Currently a Program Coordinator at Carclew, Rhen also worked as Program Coordinator at OzAsia Festival, following their Anthony Steel Fellowship at Adelaide Festival Centre. They have worked on contemporary music festivals in Singapore, developed youth programming and established a Youth Drop In at Feast Festival, and previously managed a contemporary music act: organisation is their middle name. Rhen’s strong community streak was acknowledged by nomination for Young Australian of the Year Award in 2014. They continue to champion engagement and social change, using arts to spark cross-cultural conversation and understanding in their everyday.

Olivia Tartaglia and Alex Tate (WA) Multidisciplinary

Olivia Tartaglia and Alex Tate are artists from Perth, Western Australia, exploring futurism, ecotechnology, far-future scifi, biological art, and the Anthropocene, and collaborating together on interactive installations including zen gardens and luminescent inflatable architecture.

Olivia works with paint, pen and installation, and her works draw inspiration from a multitude of fantastical realms, paying homage 70’s scifi concept art, classic biological illustrations and fledgling animated cinema. She is currently working on new concepts within the mediums of sculpture, textiles and installation/performance works.

Alex works primarily in digital mediums, exploring relationships between the virtual and the natural worlds. He explores the serendipitous nature and visual representations of digital glitches, and virtual terraforming as an act of aesthetic contemplation.

Shireen Taweel (NSW) Installation

Shireen Taweel’s practice is rooted in cross-cultural discourse, where local-global dialogues influence my work as Shireen explore the refined processes of metallurgy. Shireen’s cultural heritage within the Islamic Decorative Arts is a source of reference and inspiration in the development of forms and in the application of decorative techniques and consideration of sacred objects. Shireen’s forms sit in a space between jewellery, sculpture and architecture, where Shireen’s techniques of making take the traditional art of copper-smithing into a contemporary context. The works partake in a cross-cultural discourse, while the sense of the arcane and shifted structures opens dialogue between shared histories and communities of fluid identities.

Athena Thebus (NSW) Video, sculpture, installation

Athena’s practice spans sculpture, drawing, and writing. Her practice is driven by the desire to generate an atmosphere by which queer life is sustainable. Part of figuring that out is to make sculptures and installations that use materials that are connotative of capitalism’s excess, nuanced with past shame and queer hope. Presently, her writing practice involves feeling like a dog and swimming in other people’s waters. She is a Scorpio with a Sagittarius rising and a Capricorn moon.






IMAGE: I-Yen Chen, Ceramic Petals, 2016, ceramic, glaze, sand. Image reproduced courtesy of the artist. Photograph courtesy of the artist.


Arty Party Holidays

I am back!! I am officially back!!

I decided to focus on my studies and enjoy the majority of my 6 week school holidays but I’m back and better then ever to hit you with some (hopefully) great articles.
I travelled up to Sydney around two weeks ago and I got the opportunity to go and see Tatsuo Miyajima’s new exhibition at MCA (one of my all time favourite art gallery’s).

This exhibition was really something special. Miyajima creates works with light and numbers, and it’s definitely unlike any other work you’ll see, his artwork tells an amazing story. Every work he created involves numbers on a scale from 1 until 9. For Miyajima, these numbers reflect a human scale, showing life on a singular level as well as a wider, communal one. The gap between counting cycles – the zero – represents a pause or breath, the ‘space of death’ before life begins once more. Within this cycle, death is simply a state like life: ‘it is just a q
uestion of if it is visible or not’. I would recommend looking at his art either online or going to the exhibition itself, because not only is the story behind it intriguing, the artwork is gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

My second art gallery that I visited these holidays was GOMA in Brisbane, all I can say is, AMAZING!! They definitely know how to throw themselves an amazing 10th birthday. GOMA was filled with vibrant art, my personal favourite was “Sugar spin”, a hallway that was filled with synthetic hair, RAINBOW SYNTHETIC HAIR!!

The whole gallery was filled with extravagant contemporary art of all forms, including different styles of art on every floor of this amazing three storey gallery with slides (yes slides!!) connecting the floors. So many amazing things, way too many to mention, but it was definitely worth the travels and although the trip didn’t occur just because of the gallery, it was the highlight for sure!

I love art. Being surrounded by all this art these holidays has made me feel creative again and I feel ready to begin creating again, I feel ready for this new year, this years going to be a good one!!
Thanks for reading!!
I’ll see you next time and I promise it won’t be too long 🙂
Charlotte <3