Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Interview with Louisa Marks for Weapons of Mass Consumption

Writer Lou Pardi put together this article in this weeks Beat Magazine about the Weapons of Mass Consumption exhibition. She interviewed Ms Louisa Marks, our 'young curator' who put this thought provoking and beautiful exhibition together. You can visit the article online at Beat Magazine, or please see below for the interview. Thanks to Lou Pardi at Beat Magazine for this.

Opportunities for young curators to formulate exhibitions are few and far between. Town Hall Gallery curator Mardi Nowak has given young curator Louisa Marks exactly that opportunity. Marks speaks with Beat about the experience.

Can you tell us about the Young Curator Project?
“I have been working with Mardi since August last year as part of a Young Curator Mentorship at Boroondara's Town Hall Gallery to implement an exhibition in July as part of the annual program. She has done a lot of work previously with many young and emerging artists and that's always been a focus of her curatorial program. This, however, is the first time Mardi has mentored a young curator and given someone the opportunity to curate their own exhibition from concept to practical installation and display. She offered to put me in the program and I jumped at the chance.”

What does this opportunity mean to you?
“This project has given me valuable experience as a curator as I have been provided with the opportunity to design and deliver an exhibition under the guidance of a highly experienced curator. There are not many public institutions in Australia that offer a relatively inexperienced curator the chance of a mentorship and to actually have creative control and management of their own exhibition. I undertook a Masters of Curatorship at the University of Melbourne and while they facilitated internships, which was very helpful, it was almost impossible to find the opportunity to get curatorial work experience in an Australian public art institution despite good efforts and even doing freelance work as an arts writer. I am really thankful for Mardi's willingness to try something new, let a young graduate have a go and give young people opportunities like this one because it really is uncommon in this field. Mardi is definitely a leader and I do hope to follow in her shoes if I ever work as a professional curator.”

How did the concept for the exhibition, Weapons of Mass Consumption , come about?
“The concept was conceived through discussions with Mardi Nowak. I have always been interested in art that addresses current and topical social issues; many of these issues stem from our consumerist nature so selecting consumerism as an exhibition concept was a natural decision. Finally, the dialogue between the handmade and the mass-made has always been a discourse that I have found interesting; this is something that's been explored in art since the ‘60s with Warhol with brand domination – Campbell soup cans and Brillo pad boxes, not to mention screen printing which pointed to the new printing technologies to produce images repeatedly as posters or newspaper pages – an essential technology that drives mass production.

Consumerism is even more consistent and dominant these days though, with product placement in movies, music clips and even TV shows likeMasterchef. This exhibition does not seek to label consumerism as good or bad; and this ambivalence is definitely present in the exhibition. Weapons of Mass Consumption comes out of my desire for more challenging social and political thematical exhibitions. I don't see that many group shows doing that but I do see artists doing it.”

How did you go about connecting with the artists?
“Some of the artists I approached because I knew they were critically engaged with these ideas in their practice. We also did a ‘call out’ and received some fantastic submissions, which resulted in many of the interstate artists being involved including Peter Zylstra, Emma-Lee Crane and Karla Marchesi. There are many other Melbourne artists too and a Chinese artist Huang Xu whom I became acquainted with through some previous work at Arc One Gallery. He does incredibly beautiful photographic studies of plastic bags, seemingly weightless and suspended on inky black backgrounds. I find them quite sublime – but how can that be, they are plastic bags which are made and disposed of every second? There is a real contradiction there. I never think they're beautiful in real life.”

Can you tell us about a work in the exhibition that you find inspirational or that brings hope?
“All the works in the exhibition give me inspiration, but in terms of hope that's a little different. One of the artists, Ryan Foote, is showcasing an installation called Objects of Desire which involves acrylic, etched transparent boxes of recognisable products, rather their packaging, on shelves and plinths. There's an iPhone box, Macbook, cologne and a D&G shoebox. They are slick and beautiful but filled with scraps and offcuts left over from past artwork. I think they are the best example of that conflict with my own personal consumerist desires. It's more hope because there's that element of connectivity, that innate humanness to want material possessions.

“Another artist Daniel Kaplon has taken photographs of other people's graffiti messages in the streets Daniel has been documenting slogan graffiti over the past seven years – there is a sense of hope, distinct from the negative perception of graffiti – in how it related to our freedom to communicate; whether it's the protest against a political leader or that written agitation against a brand (Nike) which could be perceived as humorous and somewhat refreshing in its profane, flippant dig at capitalisation. I find hope in the potential of individual voices to be heard through graffiti and then the common themes that can be there universally. I find it as liberating as the internet which is completely democratic. Forums for individual voices.”

Can you tell us about a work or works in the exhibition which you find challenging?
“I think works such as Karla Marchesi's photo-realist paintings from her Left Behind series are quite challenging; they are external views of houses with abandoned personal items and mounds of rubbish strewn over gardens or near train tracks. There is a way she's painted the refuse with such incredible detail and observation is challenging in what it presents to us; we could imagine this subject matter being presented photographically, but Karla has painted it and therefore it becomes more potent and thought-provoking.

Another work by Adam Cruickshank is an installation that is essentially a tube or knitting nancy of hundreds of metres of electrical cord, instead of wool, hung from the ceiling. One end has a plug and at the other between metres and metres of plastic and metal cord is a light bulb. It's looking at technology but in quite an ironical and humorous way. The threads and wool have been usurped by the electrical cord; the hand-made makes way for the mass-produced. Adam had a previous exhibition at Craft Victoria, Reverse Cargo, in which he transformed mass-made Ikea objects into hand-made, highly crafted works. He definitely presents challenges to the viewer in terms of contemplating the systems of contemporary culture.”

Weapons of Mass Consumption is on until 31 July.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weapons of Mass Consumption: Karla Marchesi...


Karla Marchesi, Trackside, oil on board 2010

Weapons of Mass Consumption opens this week, well in fact it will be open to the public tomorrow! As we have ten artists involved in the show, we thought that we would give you a little taste of each artist and what they have been up to. First off is Karla Marchesi who is based in Queensland.

Karla Marchesi received First Class Honours for her Bachelor of Fine Art, at Queensland College of Art in 2007.

Karla was placed amongst the top 50 most collectable Australian Artists in 2009 by the Australian Art Collector magazine. Living in Brisbane, she is currently represented by Heiser Gallery and has taken a mentorship with artist Anne Wallace.

Karla has recntly finished three bodies of work titled Left Behind, Treasure and Destruction. In each painting human presence is absent, instead she explores the environments we create for ourselves and the wastefull concerns with contempory living. Many of her paintings show charecteristics of everday living such as personal belongings, waste and discarded obejcts surrounding a private or public place which in turn create 'accidental museums'.


Karla Marchesi, I suppose it had to come to this, oil on board, 2010

Karla explains that her artworks are, "Filled with artifacts pertaining to human existence, the viewer is invited to embody the space and voyeuristically rummage for clues".

You can see more of Karla's work via her website here. She will also have works at the Heiser Gallery stand at the Contemporary Art Fair in Melbourne from 4 to 8 August 2010 if you would like to see more!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Weapons of Mass Consumption

WOMC invite front

This Saturday sees the end of our fascinating exhibition Painted Veils by John Ashcroft. If you haven't been able to come in and check it out, you have until 5pm on Saturday.
Our next exhibition is Weapons of Mass Consumption, which is the result of our Young Curator's Project by Louisa Marks. Please see below some information from our media release.
Weapons of Mass Consumption includes a diverse range of works including photography, paintings and installations. Each work seeks to enquire how the artist has been influenced by contemporary consumer culture, material possessions and our disposable society. In this exhibition humans are the weapons, programmed to be mass consumers.

This exhibition is curated by Louisa Marks, as part of the Town Hall Gallery Young Curator Project. Louisa has worked on a twelve month mentorship with Town Hall Gallery curator Mardi Nowak. After gaining her Masters of Curatorship Louisa, through a hands-on approach, has learnt exhibition promotion, exhibition contracts, loan agreements and budgets during her mentorship.

"There are many things that you learn at university but there are so many things that they often don't prepare you for when you actually curate an exhibition. The experience that Louisa has gained is invaluable and has assisted her in gaining a full-time job in the arts after this mentorship", Mardi Nowak Curator.

Exhibiting artists of Weapons of Mass Consumption include: Adam Cruickshank, Karla Marchesi (courtesy of Heiser Gallery Brisbane), Jessica Wong, Matthew Sleeth (courtesy of Sophie Gannon Gallery), Ryan Foote, Daniel Kaplon, Huang Xu (courtesy of Arc One Gallery), Peter Zylstra, Emma-Lee Crane and Ash Keating (courtesy of Breenspace).

Town Hall Gallery curator Mardi Nowak states, "Louisa's enthusiasm and passion for the exhibition has allowed for a broad variety of artists, including many well-known and established ones, to be included in Weapons of Mass Consumption."

Weapons of Mass Consumption will be open to the public from Wednesday 30 June until Saturday 31 July.

Visitors are welcome to join selected artists as they discuss the issues surrounding the exhibition during In Conversation with Artists on Saturday 10 July from 2pm to 3pm. The public program is free to attend.
We look forward to seeing you at the exhibition!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jessica, our work experience student!

Jess Work Experience

I'd like to introduce Jessica who was our work experience student over the last week. We thought we would ask Jess a few questions to let you all know how she found her experience at Town Hall Gallery!

1. Why did you want to do work experience with us at Town Hall Gallery?

I chose to do work experience here because I knew it would be something that I would find useful and interesting. Since I can remember I've had a big interest in art, and I dream of one day owning my own gallery.
Previously I have exhibited works in two exhibitions at the Town Hall Gallery and that experience was really enjoyable and gave me a great insight into doing art as a profession. I had a connection with the gallery as a artist, as well as having a friend volunteering at the gallery, plus I had also met Mardi, the gallery curator, at previous exhibitions, all giving me reasons to want to experience working here.

2. What types of tasks have you been doing over the last few days?

Over the past week I have been doing a range of different tasks. Some of these included writing up a media release, writing blog posts for artists in up-coming exhibitions, writing a summary of a calendar and art almanac adverts for future exhibitions, documenting dates for exhibitions in 2011 and editing information for the Town hall Gallery Art Collection. I also got to learn the basics about running a gallery during visits to other galleries in Richmond with Mardi, and manning the Town Hall Gallery exhibition for a shift.

3. What was your favourite part of work experience?

My favourite parts of work experience so far have been visiting galleries in Richmond and supervising the Painted Veils exhibition which is currently on in the gallery. Through this I realised some of the many differences from visiting a gallery to operating one. I now know that I would very much enjoy working and volunteering at different galleries in the future.

4. What is one thing you have learnt from work experience?

One thing I have learnt, that I found very interesting, is all the different tricks and rules there are to running a gallery. I learnt how to order works in a exhibition in a flowing manner by positioning and heightening the different works, temperature and lighting, mounting works and re-painting walls etc. I also got an overview of different kinds of galleries and how they work such as public, private and shared gallery spaces.

5. Do you think working in the arts is something you would like to do later on?

I have always known that I will take up art as a profession after leaving school and this work experience has taught me a lot about how to run a gallery successfully which I dream to do one day.

We enjoyed having Jess as part of the team for the week and wish her all the best for her artistic future! Who knows, she may even be back working here one day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Town Hall Gallery always has free entry!

THG image 5

We have been getting a few questions regarding how much it costs to come and see the gallery. Well, Town Hall Gallery entry is always free! So you can pop along and check out our exhibitions whenever you like without paying a cent....
Here's our latest question!

What is the entry fee for pensioners on Sundays?
Hi there, Town Hall Gallery has free entry all the time! However we are only open on the first Sunday of each month from 10am to 3pm in conjunction with the wonderful Hawthorn Craft Market.
As a public gallery we offer free entry to exhibitions and public programs as well. For more information on public programs, check out the list on our blog!
We hope to see you in the gallery soon.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

About Painted Veils...

Painted Veils works 013

John Ashcroft asked me to speak at the launch of his exhibition Painted Veils last week and I thought I would share with those who were not able to attend part of the speech I provided.

"John and I first met when he showed his works with his daughter Danielle in an exhibition that we held here in 2008 called It's All About Me... well it looks like John has his moment now!
For the short period of time that I've known John, I am constantly astounded by his knowledge and passion for the arts. It is with great pleasure that I can tell viewers when they walk into the gallery that yes, John maybe an emerging artist of sorts but no, he isn't in his 20s or 30s but rather in his 80s. The amazement and respect that I've seen in viewers faces when they have seen this exhibition in the last 2 days is fantastic and really does prove that no matter your age, art is a universal language.

I am sure that I said this at John's last exhibition but there is no other artist in Melbourne that I know of working in a way that he does. His ability to use colour, texture and sculptural qualities to 2 dimensional works is amazing. This exhibition Painted Veils is one to be appreciated on many levels. What is a veil? What does a veil mean? During my numerous studio visits with John and during the installation of this exhibition, we spoke about his thoughts of a veil. Yes, there are the religious connotations which are shown here in this 'alter-like' work but there is also a play on the idea of a veil as the clothing we wear and the status items we buy, such as fancy cars, that become a veil on who we are.

The status of the car as a veil is an idea that John has investigated further by his use of automotive paints, giving the glittering lustre on the surface tensions of his works. He said to me that he was inspired by the fascinating surface of a smashed car that he saw in the street. There a tension in the metal, something that was beautiful and highly sought after, something that the owner would of said "hey this is my car, my status in life" , was now just a crumple, but the metal still glistened away... a memory of it's former glory.

Clothing as a veil, is an idea that appeals to me greatly in my own research. We use it to mask and alter who we are and how we want the world to see us. Clothing items as power is something that is often overlooked but each item holds different forms of memory for the owner and for the viewer. John has collected a variety of clothing items from opp-shops to use in this works. On closer inspection, we can recognize a button, a eyelet of lace and a hat. We question what former lives these clothes had. Often their owners have passed on and family members have had to move them on to the opp-shop to be resold. I'm sure that the owners wouldn’t believe that they are now the inspiration and materials for a very innovative exhibition in a gallery!

On first look at this exhibition, many of you would see the colour, the texture and the shapes on the wall and thought them to be purely abstract. I hope that you will take a closer look and see what is underneath the veils, and that which is unspoken.

Congratulations to John for creating such a thought provoking and fascinating exhibition. I encourage you all to come back, especially on Saturday 19th June to hear John talk about the processes in his work and the inspiration which started it all. "
We hope that we will see you at In Conversation on Saturday 19 June from 2pm to 3pm.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

John Ashcroft shows flare!

John Ashcroft media pic

Progress Leader Ashcroft
(click on article to enlarge for easier reading - article Progress Leader Tuesday June 8, 2010. Story by Baria Bol, photo by Josie Hayden)

Painted Veils, a solo exhibition by John Ashcroft opened last Thursday at Town Hall Gallery. This fascinating exhibition investigates the idea of the veil, whether it be through clothing or by the other status items we surround ourselves with.
Artist, John Ashcroft will be talking about the ideas behind the exhibition and also his working methods of creating moulds and casting works in fibreglass, on Saturday 19th June from 2pm to 3pm.
This is the second time John has exhibited at Town Hall Gallery. You can read about his previous exhibitions here and here.
We hope to see you soon for Painted Veils!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Formspring questions & answers

Our apologies for some late replies on the There was a little bit of a technical glitch and our questions weren't coming through to us!
Even though they are late, here are questions and responses!

Hi, I just wanted to know if the mosaic exhibition was open on any sundays. Thanks
Our exhibitions are open on the first Sunday of the month from 10am to 3pm (except in January and February)

info on exhibition proposal forms
Hi if you are looking for application forms to submit a proposal to exhibit in 2011, you can download a copy from our blog or email us at and we can send you one.

how much is entry to the exhibition?
All of our exhibitions are free! As a public gallery we offer this service to our patrons all for free.

what is the deadline for applications?
Deadline for applications to exhibit in 2011 is JUNE 30 2010. So you still have just under a month to get your proposal in!
Keep those questions coming!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

And the winner of the People's Choice is....

Art from the Heart 2010 exhibition 043

And drum roll.... the winner of the people’s choice award was…………….
Beyond 3 by Rachel Bremner.
Thank you to everyone who came and saw Art from the Heart and who voted in the People's Choice Award. We had record numbers through the gallery on the last day so thank you for taking part!
We hope to see you for our next exhibition, Painted Veils by John Ashcroft which opens to the public tomorrow, Wednesday 2 June.