BluesTone Part 1 of 2

“Those Things We Value”

The first time I met, filmed and heard Geoff Achison perform was at “The Bank” in Warragul in 2014. The pub is called The Bank because it was the bank in Warragul and has a beautiful 19th century façade. Geoff had written a song “Crazy Horse” and his introduction to this fabulous song resonated with me. Geoff’s anecdote talked of “a guy called Crazy Horse and Red Cloud, it’s about real people and based on events that they might have been involved with.” But the song for me resonated because it seemed to be expressing the very things those people valued – family and love 

Unfortunately, I hadn’t geared up to get great sound so I can’t use the footage but here is Geoff’s official version:   

It’s Monday night at The Windsor Castle. Geoff walks to the bar buys a beer and sits down at a table close enough to absorb Dutch Tilders’ phenomenal finger-picking guitar style. He doesn’t drink the beer because he doesn’t drink alcohol … well didn’t back then. Geoff is in awe of Dutch’s magnificence. From the moment Geoff first saw Dutch play he retracted into his shell. He’d never seen a bona-fide bluesman up close before

Dutch made him realise it wasn’t simply all about playing those hot riffs on the guitar. The blues has such a deep heart felt and important story to tell and Dutch was a master of the art. Dutch was a very rare thing to find outside of Mississippi … and Geoff knew that, being in his presence was the way forward. In some ways, the fact that Dutch asked Geoff to play with Dutch Tilders and The Blues Club, sometime later, was something he never quite believed

Geoff Achison grew up in a little town in central Victoria on the Calder Highway, Malmsbury and according to “Bruno’s Blues” as a child he fell asleep in a cupboard waking up to find a guitar and started to play …

“My earliest memory of being moved by anything resembling blues music was […] when I was around the age of 10. I heard Joe Cocker’s live version of ’The Letter’ followed by ‘Delta Lady’. These two tracks are from his ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen’ album. Unusual for radio 3UZ to play two long live tracks in a row but they did and I was mesmerized. Joe has a gritty, soulful and powerfully emotive singing voice. The band backed him up with just amazing energy and it sounded like they were having the party of the century. That made me want to be a musician. Much later when I heard Eric Clapton’s guitar with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers I think I rediscovered that energy. It led me to Freddie King and any number of other great blues, soul and jazz artists. It just sounded like real people and they sounded more alive than I felt in my sleepy, small town environment.”

MALMSBURY AND BLUESTONE

Geoff’s dad worked at the Malmsbury railway station on the Melbourne to Bendigo railway line. But the thing Malmsbury area is known for is its deposits of bluestone. Victorian Bluestone which is a kind of basalt. Basalt is an igneous rock made up primarily of feldspar and is usually grey to black and fine-grained owing to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet

The most famous bluestones are the prehistoric British cultural icon, Stonehenge. Preseli Spotted Dolerite, found in the Preseli Hills of Wales and Dolerite is of a similar composition to basalt. The term ‘bluestone’ in relation to Stonehenge encompasses around twenty different rock types, including rhyolites, dolerites and ‘calcereous ashes.’ And because bluestone is not found in the area it is debated whether humans carried the stones or whether they were glacial deposits

It’s suggested that the stones were raised from 2400 – 2200BC. Compared to the earliest pyramid of Egypt constructed approx. some 200 years before from 2630BC – 2611BC. From analysis of teeth and bone found at the Stonehenge site, it is estimated that 4,000 people attended mid-winter and mid-summer festivals

Culturally the rituals performed at Stonehenge are believed to be religious and spiritual. A folktale, relates the origin of the Friar’s Heel reference;

“The Devil bought the stones from a woman in Ireland, wrapped them up, and brought them to Salisbury plain. One of the stones fell into the Avon, the rest were carried to the plain.

The Devil then cried out, “no-one will ever find out how these stones came here!”

A friar replied, “That’s what you think!”, whereupon the Devil threw one of the stones at him and struck him on the heel. The stone stuck in the ground and is still there” 

For some, Stonehenge maybe the site of “just another set of rocks”, however it has a cultural heritage value to groups like the Druids. Druids are a people who are a high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures. The first Neo-Druidic group to make use of the megalithic monument was the Ancient Order of Druids who performed a mass initiation ceremony in August 1905 in which they admitted 259 new members into their organisation

Between 1972 and 1984, the Stonehenge Free Festival was held and the number of midsummer visitors had risen to around 30,000. From 1985, the English Heritage and National Trust closed the site to festival goers. This caused a violent confrontation between the police and New Age Travellers and became known as the Battle of the Beanfield

Photo courtesy Geoff Achison: Just Blues
Photo courtesy Geoff Achison: Just Blues

Geoff had a strained school life and dropped out of high school. He then went on to get a regular job but looking back he wished, and had a little regret, that there had been somebody there that had been able to take the reins and fix things up for him. But the difficulties in school were unbearable so he left and nobody stopped him

Geoff’s secret to a happy life is that if you can find anything that you are good at, even if it’s just one thing, make that your pursuit. The only thing he had was music and with whatever other jobs he tried he just felt like he was the shit kicker. No matter what he did because he felt he had no other talent in life but music. When he picked the guitar up that was something he could do. When he picked the guitar up, people would say “wow you’re really good at that” but if he’d do anything else … he was the shit kicker. All he heard was “O give Geoff the broom to sweep the floor”

“Cos I didn’t take drugs I remember it. It’s never been that kind of scene, everyone that I’ve known that has been into the Blues like we’ve gotten into it, is because of the music. It’s the music that has motivated us. So it’s not been, you know, a desire to be a “star” you know it’s a desire to be a musician to really master how to play this stuff for people”

Dutch Tilders and the Blues Club – “Baby Please Don’t Go”


Chucking his job in, he arrived in Melbourne with his electric guitar and $40 and a burning determination to get a job as a musician and have a future in music

The thing that drew Geoff to Melbourne was a group called Blues on the Boil.
He used to go down to Melbourne maybe once a month save up a bunch of money, probably about $100 bucks – in the mid-1980s that was a fair wad of cash. He’d go to Gaslight Records and buy a stack of Blues records. One time he found this record called Blues on the Boil, it looked pretty good. Reading the liner notes he discovered that the LP was recorded in Melbourne

Geoff was ignorant of the Blues scene in Melbourne. What he had discovered about Blues came from the United States and you’re talking about Chicago, you’re talking about Mississippi, you’re talking about New Orleans and he got most of his information from reading the liner notes on the back of the LPs

“Wow these guys are in Melbourne and it had been recorded like that same year”

Blues on the Boil
 had a residency in town. This was a group led by a guy called Bob Sedergreen, an amazing jazz cat and piano player. Geoff had a jazz background so he really dug where Bob was coming from, the whole band was like all jazz cats but playing Blues. Getting back to the roots and really twisting it and bending it and Geoff loved it. He became such a regular there that he struck up a conversation with the guys in the break

When he found out that Geoff had a guitar, Gordon Pendleton, the drummer said “Man, you play man? …. you got to bring your axe … bring your axe next time and we’ll get you up and play”

That was the spirit of the blues scene. Biting his nails all the week before, he took his guitar along and they let him play. From then on it became a regular thing

That turned into the Just Blues band. Steve Sappro on harmonica would get up and jam with Blues on the Boil. The amazing bass player called Travis Clarke, who was about 16 years old at the time and Mark Grundin, from Mallacoota, was the drummer of Just Blues. He was another country boy and still plays around the scene

Just Blues played for maybe 18 months or a couple of years around the scene. They used to do a residency at the Swan Hotel it was a $5 cover charge. Geoff used to make about $80 maybe $90 that’s what they’d get each gig. He was living in a big house in Eltham with about eight people all artists … you know singers, musicians and the rent was maybe twenty bucks each

Geoff was doing OK – it wasn’t looking like an actual career but he was calling it that – everyone was telling him, every time they’d do a gig;

“you really need to go and see Dutch Tilders if you’re into the Blues … you play OK but you really need to go and see Dutch Tilders … and to my eternal shame I had never heard of him … I didn’t know who he was”

Photo courtesy Johanna Tilders: Dutch aged 16
Photo courtesy Johanna Tilders: Dutch aged 16

“Tilly Bar” in Bloemerstraat 15, Nijemegen Holland was owned by Dutch Tilders’ father. Dutch was fourteen when he, his father, mother, four brothers and one sister – Johanna, immigrated to Australia. Nijemegen is where Dutch Tilders grew up. His parents sent him to music school where he learned to play the harmonica. Then he went into the Catholic Brotherhood and it was here that he would play a range of instruments. Johanna remembers Dutch using the wooden finger picks to keep rhythm and he was extremely good at drawing. Dutch Tilders may have been about to catch that Blues music wave in early 1950s Holland when his family decided to immigrate

In Holland he’d learned to read and write music. According to his sister Johanna “it came naturally to him.” His father was a tenor, like Mario Lanzo and mother a soprano. His parents both sung in Frankston choir Catholic church. Dutch was twenty when his father was tragically killed in a head-on collision on the Moorooduc Highway aged 48. The Freezer truck was on the wrong side of the road. From then on whenever Dutch performed “Nobody Knows You When You Are Down and Out” it was his personal tribute to his father

cont. BluesTone Part 2:  The Station Hotel, Prahran

JAMES TYLOR UN-RESETTLING

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
info@vivienandersongallery.com

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)
www.vivienandersongallery.com

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 COLOURFUL  PONY AND THE DARK HORSE

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.

streetscape
streetscape

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.

Vila Navio & Bandaluzia Flamenco feat. Naike Ponce – Sun 19 Mar, 7:00pm MEMO Music Hall

 Vila Navio & Bandaluzia Flamenco feat. Naike Ponce – Spain  – Sun 19 Mar, 7:00pm

Tix: memomusichall.com.au – $18-$27

88 Acland Street St Kilda, 3182 (Venue entrance at the rear of the RSL, via Albert Street)

Musiktrafik & Memo Music Hall are very proud to present two internationally acclaimed and highly respected bands; VILA NAVIO (Portugal) and BANDALUZIA FLAMENCO (Sydney) featuring the hauntingly soulful voice of NAIKE PONCE (Spain).


VILA NAVIO (Portugal):

Vila Navio, name of the artistic work of André Coelho Rodrigues, presents the second album of original songs “Ancoradouro”, published in March 2016.

This album was referenced and praised by the British World Music publication “Songlines Magazine”, a review that pointed out and mentioned that “Vila Navio has originality in mind, and their quest for a different sound has been a successful one”.

Musically, this project is defined by an assumed suggestion for the modernization of the Portuguese traditional music, involving elements of popular music with modern sonorities linked to contemporary jazz and the presence of samples generated electronically. As it is referenced by the British press, Vila Navio are
“Portuguese traditionalists unafraid of mixing it up”.

 

Live, André Coelho Rodrigues is usually accompanied by invited musicians, usually Cláudio Silva, on trumpet and flugelhorn and Eduardo Soares on Portuguese guitar. In the studio, this work had the honor of having the special participation of Fausto Bordalo Dias, one of the greatest references of Portuguese popular music of all time.

“Vila Navio’s music has originality in mind and their quest for a different sound has been a successful one…” Songlines Magazine

The Band
André Coelho – Vocal and guitar
Cláudio Silva – Trumpet and flugelhorn
Eduardo Soares – Portuguese guitar

BANDALUZIA (Sydney):

BANDALUZIA is an acclaimed modern flamenco ensemble led by ARIA nominated guitarist DAMIAN WRIGHT. In 2014 Damian was invited to perform as a solo artist at The Rajasthan International Folk Festival, INDIA and in 2016 performed at The Shanghai Fringe Festival, CHINA. Damian was invited this year to perform at the biannual Adelaide International Guitar Festival curated by Slava Grigoryan. Bandaluzia was recently awarded “The Pick Of the Sydney Fringe” at The Sydney Fringe Festival and performed to a sold out Sydney Opera House Concert Hall as an invited artist to TEDX Sydney 2014. Bandaluzia has headlined The International Gypsy Music Festival, Sydney, The Global Carnival and is on Musica Viva’s national touring program. Known for their powerful performances, unique sound and explosive displays of dazzling musicianship and virtuosity that has made Bandaluzia a great successat festivals and theatres across Australia. Featuring Dance Australia Magazine’s “Most Outstanding Dancer of 2013” and co- winner of “Best Dance Show” at The Adelaide Fringe 2014 JESSICA STATHAM (flamenco dance), Freedman fellowship winner and National Jazz Awards finalist BEN HAUPTMANN (Katie Noonan, Gurrumul, Lior etc….) on Mandolin & brilliant percussionist JAMES HAUPTMANN (James Morrison, Vince Jones, Bluejuice…etc). Bandaluzia are also highly revered for their ability to mix elements of other genres into their performances, whether being the rich harmonies of Jazz, the exotic melodies of the Orient or the infectious rhythms of South America. An experience that ignites the senses with the grace of Flamenco.

BANDALUZIA features NAIKE PONCE (Spain):

Born in Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain.Naikes professional foundations were formed in Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz, Sevilla and Utrera. Although the love of Flamenco came to her through family heritage, it was at age 16 when she obtained first prize in the Cantiñas de Cadiz contest and thus launched her artistic career. Residing in Madrid, Naike has performed internationally with major flamenco companys, where she has been able to work with such music greats as Jorge Pardo, Estrella Morente, Manolo Sanlùcar,Manolo Soler, Caramelo, Dany Noel, Yelsy Heredia, Isrrael Varela, Piraña, Maria Vargas, Chamo Lobato, Pansequito, Rancapino, Matilde Corral, Paco Taranto and Naranjito de Triana. Recent artistic projects include her debut album ‘Con Nombres De Mujer’ alongside legendary guitarist and Grammy winner Jose Suarez Paquete, with the collaboration of Raimundo Amador, Tomatito and Piraña, among others. 

 

 

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, magda@purplemedia.com.au, 0409 436 473

ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES

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.

Forbid Yourself Nothing by artist Benjamin Box

Melbourne based artist, writer and free verse poet Benjamin Box is an anathema. Or at least that’s what he believes his latest art buyer thinks of him.

After commissioning his latest work: ‘Forbid Yourself Nothing.’, a large size spray paint and acrylic on canvass; the buyer in question: …”ran for the hills upon completion of the work and didn’t even have the manners to sling me a modest materials fee.”

I thought it may have been a case of sour grapes until Ben showed me the two ‘test prints’ or ‘studies’ he’d sent the buyer before commencing the final picture.

“There’s a special place in hell for buyers like that.” he informed me.

Not only did this buyer refuse to return his phone calls or honour their ‘gentleman’s handshake agreement’, she also blocked him from all her social media.

“It was a blow to my confidence sure, but the fact that this particular person didn’t like my painting lets me know that I’m on the right track.” he responded.


Forbid Yourself Nothing by artist Benjamin Box. image © Kerrie Pacholli


Educated at Caulfield Grammar and RMIT, Benjamin has led an unusual life. A 12 year veteran of the advertising industry as a copywriter that took him to Singapore and New York, he’s had a series of unusual jobs since. His most recent employment was as a litter-bin collector/truck jockey (or garbo) for the Port Phillip Council. This gave him his afternoons to paint, as his hours were 5.30am to 12.30pm.

Benjamin’s time at the council led him to become an avid collector of recycled canvasses. “Many canvasses I find, I just paint over the top of whatever’s on them – I’m one garbo that’s taking out the trash of the art world” he mused.

“After feeling like an ideas machine on the blink, I exited advertising like a falling meteorite only to crash-land hard on the hazy art world.” On this ‘hazy art-world’, he’s held a weekly residency at a St Kilda nightspot “…preaching and caterwauling my tortured & feverish words”. “It was a good discipline for me, I had to write something good enough to perform every week.”

He’s recently teamed up with a musician of some note that “at this stage must remain nameless” for a spoken word project. The short snippets I was permitted to hear worked well. The haunting drone of his mystery musician’s moody, movie-score style music compliments Ben’s dry voice and darkly ironic lyrics. To be launched in “the next few months”, the ‘working title’ is: “And that’s what he said”. I recommend that you look out for their debut gigs.

Like many artists, Ben prefers not to overtly talk about or post justify his work (“show, don’t tell” is one of his mantras). However, I did manage to cajole this from him on his most recent painting titled ‘Forbid Yourself Nothing.’

“As the quote suggests, the picture is about our vices and that fine line that separates the recreational from the habitual user of drugs or other toxic habits.”

When asked if he’d used drugs, partaken in bad habits and was exorcising his own demons in his work he playfully replied: ”…well, no civilised man regrets a pleasure.”

His previous painting “Ghost Gun On Canvass” was a mixture of an original poem “…about a guy that walks home one night and kills himself for no reason”, with type justified into a ghostly image of a hand holding a gun. These are also on sale in a limited number.

Whilst unconventional and highly confrontational, Ben has certainly made an impact in the art world. Many of his paintings have rumoured to have sold for six figure sums.
“To be honest, I just started doing the paintings to make a little extra cash on the side and it all just took off from there.”

Well, love him or hate him, his current work “Forbid Yourself Nothing.” is now on the market, most likely to be auctioned at Christies.

Ben is available for commissioned artwork. You can contact him on: 0401 216 199 for a no obligation meeting.

Of course, let’s hope that you, too, don’t end up in that special place in hell for naughty buyers that Ben talks about.


Ghost Gun by artist Benjamin Box. Image © Kerrie Pacholli

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