Thursday, April 10, 2014

In Conversation ... Sophie Westerman

This month we are very pleased to have an exciting young local talent,  Sophie Westerman, exhibiting at the Quest Hawthorn Community Project Wall. 'I Have No Memory of This Place' is an exploration of perception and memory, and its connection to place. We spoke to Sophie about her art and she generously shared the ideas and circumstances behind her work.





TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WHERE ARE YOU FROM? 

I am Melbourne born and bred. I have lived in the same house in Canterbury my whole life bar 1 month.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK IN?

I mainly make prints and drawings but do a bit of everything else as well. I love all forms of printmaking but use etching and lithography the most these days. My work looks a lot at memory and the idea of home. I am particularly interested in how people memorialise personal history and archive memories.


WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK IN THE MEDIUM THAT YOU DO?

I was lucky enough to do a bit of printmaking in high school and always enjoyed the excitement of lifting up the paper to reveal a print for the first time. I have grown to love the various textures achieved through printmaking and the processes of making a plate that sometimes involve fun things like fire and acid. Prints are one step removed from the artist’s hand as they are impressions. The combination of the makers mark and something more mechanical I find mysterious and intriguing.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?

Putting together my first solo exhibition at Rooftop Art Space was a big moment for me. It was the first exhibition post VCA and without that support structure around me. It was pretty exciting to put my work out in public and see my name printed on a flyer.

IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? WHO INSPIRES YOU?

I have greatly admired Miso’s work for a long time now and would absolutely love to collaborate with her. Her work has a simplicity to it while also containing a lot of depth and detail. I would also love to work with Laith McGregor who has a great drawing style and sense of humour.


WHAT'S YOUR WORK PRACTICE LIKE? DO YOU WORK IN A STUDIO/HOME? WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD TO CREATE?

I have a studio in a shed like structure in the garden at home. I am very much a nightowl and a homebody so that works well for me. My practice is split between working in my studio and printing. In the studio I like to take my time and jump between different mediums and projects. If I am struggling to feel creative I often copy images from my collection of art books, like Goya’s Disasters of War series or Kathe Kollwitz’s prints and drawings. In the workshop I like to be efficient with my time and the press and get all the planning and mucking around out of the way beforehand.


IS THERE A SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR CREATIVITY? DO YOU HAVE MUSIC OR SILENCE?

It’s strange, there are some bands or musicians that just fit (like The National or Keaton Henson) but there are others that, though I love them, I just can’t work to. I tend to favour alternative or folksy music with a depressing bent. I also have a huge pile of really lightweight movies that I put on as I can keep up with the plot without paying too much attention. Basically, having music or movies playing helps me settle into my studio but I like silence sometimes too.


WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL TAKE AWAY WITH THEM FROM SEEING YOUR WORKS

I hope I have created a peaceful and contemplative environment. How the work is presented is almost as important as the work itself in my opinion. I like making quiet spaces. Hopefully local residents can also connect with some of the places I’ve depicted and reflect on their own memories.


WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS TIME? WHAT'S YOUR DREAM?

I would like to be making art full time. I would also like to be a better printmaker and more efficient with my email replying. My dream is to one day build a tiny house that looks like one of my prints and live in it. 

____________________________________



Thanks to Sophie for her openness in sharing her thoughts. You can get a sneak peek at her work here, in this preview video:



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Town Hall Gallery Easter Hours!

Easter holidays are just around the corner so we thought we would give you a little reminder of our altered hours during the next few weeks.  The main galleries will be closed from next Monday 14 April and will reopen on Tuesday 29 April with the exciting new exhibition, The Act of Seeing.


We hope that all our Town Hall Gallery friends have a safe and happy Easter!  See you all soon!

Monday, April 7, 2014

In Conversation with Janice Gobey...



With only a week left to check out Fixation, we thought we would share a little bit about artist Janice Gobey and her works in the show.  The 'fur' suit has intrigued many of our visitors...


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WHERE ARE YOU FROM? 
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and have lived in Melbourne since 2001.



HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK IN?
My work is mainly oil painting, installation and on occasion text based.  I am slightly obsessed with drapery and fur and use this as a metaphor for describing abstract concepts.  I’m currently interested in trauma and how the un-representable can be represented in painting. I’ve also developed an interest in the figure.


WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK IN THE MEDIUM THAT YOU DO?
Paint has been a life-long love affair for me – once it grabs you, nothing else will suffice.  I can remember as a child going to the local newsagent and smelling the Crayola crayons, dreaming of the day I could get the 100 colour box – recently purchased!  There’s something about the smell of oil paint, the ability to mix up colours, how they work together on the support – something that I can only describe as magical.  The actual act of painting is something I feel compelled to do – it balances out my universe and somehow makes everything okay.


WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?
I am generally quite happy with the direction my work is moving in – I am of the belief that hard work pays off and I’ve certainly dedicated myself to my practice.  I think I am proud of new things each year – so this year it would be the selection of my work for 3 public gallery exhibitions and being invited to speak on my work at an international conference on Trauma in Copenhagen.


IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? WHO INSPIRES YOU?
For ideas, I would have to say Sophie Calle –she’s always been one of my favourite artists, I like the personal nature of the work and how she really puts herself out there.  Another newer artist I find fascinating is Chiaru Shiota – her work really speaks to me.



WHAT'S YOUR WORK PRACTICE LIKE? DO YOU WORK IN A STUDIO/HOME? WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD TO CREATE?
I have a studio out of the home – the paintings have just become too large to work from home and I get distracted by piles of washing etc.  I like to get into the studio – put on my apron, make a cup of tea and then get stuck in – I’m disciplined about working and am lucky to have more ideas than time – so it’s more about deciding what to work on than looking for inspiration. 



IS THERE A SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR CREATIVITY? DO YOU HAVE MUSIC OR SILENCE?
I like music through earphones – external noise in the studios is a pet peeve!  Sound track is usually a mix of alternative or classical music, some good old rock n roll, – enjoying Spotify at the moment.



WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL TAKE AWAY WITH THEM FROM SEEING YOUR WORKS
I am hoping that my work connects with people on a non-verbal level – I attempt to take people away from their usual space and into my crazy world.  I’d like them to feel the work more than view it in a logical, rational way.



WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS TIME? WHAT'S YOUR DREAM?
Wow – what a question – living the dream as in being able to make work 24/7 and not worry about paying the bills.  Lots of travel to places that inspire me, spending time overseas working on projects / in residencies.  I’d love my work to contribute to making social changes, focusing attention on aspects of society that need change, well recognised as an artist and invited to participate in amazing shows!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

In Conversation... Leo Greenfield

Rose Street, Fitzroy
One of Leo Greenfield's works on display as part of FIXATION


Leo Greenfield has a longtime connection with Town Hall Gallery.  Visitors may remember his beautiful drawings as part of the Beardo exhibition in 2010.  Leo's love for people watching and fashion is evident in his watercolour sketches in Fixation.

Leo goes on to tell us a little bit more about what he is up to now.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

My name is Leo Greenfield and I am an artist who's practice begins with drawing. One of my main projects is creating drawings of people inspired by real street life and posting them on my website; www.leogreenfield.com. I have been working on this body of work since 2008. I am currently based in a studio in East London, but I am from a farm in the South East of South Australia.

This is were my adventure with art began, thanks to a wonderful art teacher at my primary school. Since then my interest in art has seen me live and study in Japan, work as curator and complete a Bachelor of Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts.


HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK IN?

For this exhibition at the Town Hall Gallery I have explored my interest in drawings with inks and watercolours.

My work is about observation and documentation without the use of a camera; through drawing I seek to create impressions of our social landscape.  Even though I am inspired by fleeting moments and glimpses of street life, I am very interested in giving my drawings materiality and weight. Therefore the materials I use are of great importance; fine and textured papers, variant and tactile inks and washes of watercolour, are all elements that I experiment with to develop my work. 


WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK IN THE MEDIUM THAT YOU DO?

I've loved drawing since I was a little kid. I lived on a farm and in the winter I would sit and draw a lot. My Grandma particularly encouraged me, we would sit and paint using watercolours and I loved it. I have never lost that feeling of wanting to just sit and draw. This personal history and memory exists in the material I use, and the way I use them, it’s as if they have a DNA. In Japan I explored these idea further as I studied traditional ink painting, to me it has a similar feel to using watercolours. 

I am also very interested in the idea of memory and telling stories, this is my main philosophy. My drawings come from my love of letter writing and keeping journals since I was a teenager, for this type of work these materials are perfect.  I love the process of drawing using inks on paper, often to then post them off in a letter. I see my blog as contemporary site for this kind of story telling, for me its recounting memory through drawing. 


WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?

Working for Vogue is something that I have wanted to do since I was a teenager. So I was pretty proud walking off to work at the office each day during this commission. It was a honour to be artist in residence at the office of Vogue, and meet all the wonderful women that make the magazine such an iconic publication. Seeing the drawings printed in the magazine was the icing on the cake!


IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? WHO INSPIRES YOU?

The list of people who inspire me goes on and on; Artists, Film makers, Writers, Journalists, it’s so hard to choose.

But right now, I would be very interested in working from the studio of Jean Paul Gaultier, to re-create the traditional idea of the fashion illustrator as a contemporary documenter and artist. This would be a dream come true because I have long been fascinated by Gaultier's vision that to me celebrates diversity with equal measures of humour and glamour.


WHAT'S YOUR WORK PRACTICE LIKE? DO YOU WORK IN A STUDIO/HOME? WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD TO CREATE?

I like to walk to the studio, which at the moment involves a fantastic little hike from my apartment through London Fields, and its when walking that I usually get inspired by different looks from the street. People rushing to work are the most fashionable people in the world. When I get into the studio I start to draw, it might be a memory from a few minutes ago or an idea of a scene from months or even years before. I work on what impresses me most, what sticks in my memory or what feels fresh and contemporary. I also like to do interviews and meet and chat to create a portrait. I usually sketch during these meeting, but will then start afresh work once back in the studio. 


IS THERE A SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR CREATIVITY? DO YOU HAVE MUSIC OR SILENCE?

Pod casts are best friends in the Studio and This American Life is my ultimate source of studio inspiration and fuel. It feeds my work and keeps me company while I draw. 


WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS TIME? WHAT'S YOUR DREAM?
I would be thrilled to know I am still working on my art practice, still experimenting and developing new works and ways of seeing.


Friday, March 21, 2014

In Conversation... Inge Jacobsen

FIXATION_242_jimleepix
Visitors at the FIXATION launch checking out Inge Jacobsen's works.  Photo by Jim Lee.

The embroidered magazine covers and woven adverts by Inge Jacobsen have proved to be some of the most popular and engaging works in Fixation.  Viewers are astounded by the intricate stitches on paper when they take a closer look.

Inge chatted to us about her work and what attracted her to start stitching up magazine covers!



TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WHERE ARE YOU FROM? 
I’m from Ireland originally but I spent most of my childhood in Denmark before moving to England where I currently live.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK IN?
I work with thread and paper almost exclusively. I would say my work is a modern take on the traditional craft of embroidery – particularly cross stitch. 
 
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK IN THE MEDIUM THAT YOU DO?For me there are a lot of possibilities in working with thread and paper, one of which is that thread allows me to intervene with an image physically and literally change the surface of it


WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?
Doing an international campaign for Georg Jensen, a Danish jeweller and exhibiting internationally.



Vogue_Front resize
One of the works on display in FIXATION by Inge Jacobsen.










































IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? WHO INSPIRES YOU?I would love to work with Richard Prince or Nick Knight and work over their already surreal and fantastic photos. I would make quilts and other soft furnishings directly from their photos - enough to fill a large gallery space.


WHAT'S YOUR WORK PRACTICE LIKE? DO YOU WORK IN A STUDIO/HOME? WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD TO CREATE?


I work from home. Embroidery traditionally has a warm homily aura about it so I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate place to do it. Ideas get me in the mood to create; if I have an idea, I want to see it come together sooner rather than later. I can be very impatient.

IS THERE A SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR CREATIVITY? DO YOU HAVE MUSIC OR SILENCE?
I like to work to music. I listen to a lot of music by Lorde, Beyonce and Rudimental - so a mixture of quite slow, relaxing stuff and fast beat and loud. It really depends on my mood and how long I’ve been working.


WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL TAKE AWAY WITH THEM FROM SEEING YOUR WORKS
I hope they will see disposable mass-produced images from fashion magazines that have been carefully and intricately worked with and over and appreciate the handmade aspect of it.


WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS TIME? WHAT'S YOUR DREAM?
To still be working and exploring as an artist and to have my work seen across a broad spectrum of media  – galleries, magazines, books, billboards, adverts etc. I don’t want there to be any limits to where my work can and should be seen.

You can see more of Inge's works on her website www.ingejacobsen.com


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In Conversation.... Alexander Batsis

FIXATION_034_jimleepix
Performance element by Alexander Batsis on the launch of FIXATION.  Photo by Jim Lee.


We chatted with designer Alexander Batsis who combines fashion, installation and performance for his work 'Out with the New, In with the New' for Fixation.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WHERE ARE YOU FROM? 
Born and bred in Kew Melbourne – how fitting that the exhibition is in the next suburb! My parents are both Greek, first generation here. I just finished my Bachelor of Fashion Design; I graduated with First Class Honours. I guess that’s exciting. I love spending summers in Greece and reading works by Barthes or J.C Flugel.


HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK IN?

Techniques and methods are more concrete within my practice, the type and use of materials is always in flux. I find that materials tend to have a very specific language; the use of that language tends to be in response to the idea that’s being engaged with within the project. I guess my work again is always in flux. I tend to have a sense of commentary within a project and decide to make the work more of a discussion and dialogue about ideas. Allowing materials, surfaces, objects and performances to establish a visual language. 


WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK IN THE MEDIUM THAT YOU DO?
I guess it has many facets that attract me to it. Fashion has become more of a vehicle rather than a destination within my practice. I tend to see fashion as a dialogue than rather something im trying to create. Ive been interested in pursuing fashion since I was a teenager so I guess over time ive perhaps forgotten my attraction to it? Which I would see as a good thing.


WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?
My first solo exhibition at No Vacancy Gallery last year. Made me realise that fashion within the exhibition context is something worth exploring within my practice.  


IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Marina Abramovic. Performance plays a pivotal role in my work, and she would be perfect for obvious reasons.


WHAT'S YOUR WORK PRACTICE LIKE? DO YOU WORK IN A STUDIO/HOME? WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD TO CREATE?
I work in a studio. To tell you the truth there’s not one time that I am not thinking about creating. Quote “thinking” – when I actually “act” on those thoughts is very rare and involves a lot of energy! Coffee, happiness and a good Greek meal gets me in the mood.


IS THERE A SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR CREATIVITY? DO YOU HAVE MUSIC OR SILENCE?
Silence. Total Silence.


WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL TAKE AWAY WITH THEM FROM SEEING YOUR WORKS
I guess there isn’t one specific feeling or thought that I want people to have when they view and experience the work. I would like to think that people would generally feel that fashion itself can be used as an idea that provokes thinking and discussion on how we manage and curate ourselves within society. And the reasoning behind all of it. The whole system is very bizarre.


WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS TIME? WHAT'S YOUR DREAM?
Wow, those questions scare me! I guess I’d like to be doing the same thing; exhibitions, shows and performances – on a bigger scale and platform.


You can find out more about Alex's work during our Catwalk and Talk on Saturday 5 April at 1pm.  Alex will join Senior Curator Mardi Nowak in discussion about all things fashion and the new!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In Conversation... Ariana Page Russell

Fixation_Ariana Page Russell
After Party, archival inkjet print 45 x 66 cm.  Work by Ariana Page Russell, courtesy of Magnan Metz Gallery.


One of the most eye catching and popular body of work in Fixation is that by Ariana Page Russell.  Town Hall Gallery is incredibly lucky to exhibit six photographic works by Ariana, who is based in New York. We chatted to Ariana about her inspiration and her working methods with her skin!

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WHERE ARE YOU FROM? 



Currently I live in New York City, but have lived all over the United States.  I was born in Reno, Nevada (I returned there later to get my BFA); then lived in Maui, Hawaii; San Francisco, California; and Seattle Washington (where I got my MFA).  In New York I'm a freelance photographer and blogger, while making art.  My blog is about sensitive skin, art, creativity, and health, and is called Skin Tome.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK IN?
My work is photography based and inspired by skin.  I photograph my skin and also make temporary tattoos with these photos.  The work in Fixation is photographs of me wearing tattoos made from photographs of skin.  To get these shapes, colors, and patterns, I print the photos in varying shades of pink and red, then cut them into smaller pieces to make collages.  I scan the collage, then print it on a special tattoo paper at home.  And finally, I cut the tattoos out by hand.  I also make custom wallpaper and fabric, plus some sculpture too.


FIXATION_277_jimleepix
Viewer enjoying Ariana's works at Fixation.






WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK IN THE MEDIUM THAT YOU DO?





I've always loved photography.  When I was in graduate school I started photographing drawings I'd make on my skin.  These drawings are possible because of a skin condition I have called dermatographia.  Painless and temporary welts form when I lightly scratch my skin, and I make the welts into words and patterns.  This has been the inspiration for my work ever since (that was in 2003).

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?
The thing I'm most proud of is my blog Skin Tome.  With it, I seek to educate people about dermatographia, and form a community around skin that is positive and accepting.  Spreading the word about dermatographia has been such an awesome experience!  I've heard from people all over the world who also have it: Hong Kong, Slavakia, Columbia, Brazil, all over the United States, Turkey, and Canada to name a few.





IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? WHO INSPIRES YOU?





I am inspired by artists that make visceral and powerful work.  For example, Hannah Wilke, Carolee Schneeman, Laura Splan, Vito Acconci, Janine Antoni, and lots of other artists that use their bodies as inspiration.  If I could collaborate with any artist, it would be Yayoi Kusama.  I love her playfulness and patterns.  

WHAT'S YOUR WORK PRACTICE LIKE? DO YOU WORK IN A STUDIO/HOME? WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD TO CREATE?
I have a studio near my house in Brooklyn, but I also work from home.  I make the tattoos at home too, so it's nice to mix up my working locations.  I'm always in the mood to create, it's just a matter of physically taking the action of creation, and I can do that anywhere.






IS THERE A SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR CREATIVITY? DO YOU HAVE MUSIC OR SILENCE?





Music is helpful for me to focus in the studio.  I'll just put my itunes on shuffle and get a variety of stuff from hip hop to ambient to rock.

WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE WILL TAKE AWAY WITH THEM FROM SEEING YOUR WORKS




?
I hope to bring awareness to the beauty and oddness of skin.  It's such a fascinating organ!

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS TIME? WHAT'S YOUR DREAM?
In 10 years I'd like to be making a living with my art and blog, continuing to form community around skin and to make art about it.  I imagine skin can be my source of inspiration for the rest of my life!


Fixation is open to the public until 13 April, 2014.