Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Article on Shopfront...

Shopfront melb weekly

Our latest exhibition Shopfront by Lisa Shulman opens this week. The exhibition looks at 24 local Hawthorn traders who have been in business for more than 15 years and their wonderful stories.

The article above gives some insight into the exhibition and is in this week's Melbourne Weekly. Come and check out these stunning photographs and tales from the traders. Shopfront is on until the 20th of November.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting Beardy...

Beardo promo

We are very excited to end our 2010 exhibition program with Beardo! This exhibition has been a bit of a pet project for me and I am looking forward to seeing all the amazing works up and also the viewers responses.

Our list of contemporary artists has been completed and we can't wait for the works to arrive at the gallery! So who is getting 'beardy' with us?
Dave Mead (USA)
Dan Edwards (ACT)
BESTFIEND (Melbourne)
Josh Rufford (QLD)Rebecca Van Der Werff (Melbourne)
Leo Greenfield (Melbourne)
Christie Torrington (NSW)
Duo: Laura Smith & Zoe Steers (Melbourne)
Duo: Katie Jacobs & Brittany Veitch (Melbourne)

Keep an eye out for some special posts about the artists during the exhibition.  Also if you are taking part in Movember, why don't you come in and show us your facial hair during the exhibition?!

Beardo will be at Town Hall Gallery from Wednesday 24 November until Saturday 18 December.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shopfront, an exhibition by Lisa Shulman

Picture Framer

(image: A & L Artistic Framers, 2010, photograph and copyright by Lisa Shulman.)

Town Hall Gallery is pleased to host Shopfront, an exhibition of photographs by Lisa Shulman.

Local artist Lisa Shulman has photographed small traders in the Hawthorn area, in celebration of business that have contributed to the local community for over 15 years, offering personalised, often specialised goods and services.

Photographing local communities, Shulman’s desire is to record not just disappearing technologies, but to respectfully acknowledge and preserve the culture of one-to-one customer service and the important role such businesses provide within the fabric of society.

She is acutely aware of the disappearance of this personalised approach to retail and its replacement by large impersonal operations, chain stores and apartment buildings.

Shulman introduces herself to prospective businesses and with their permission, deftly records their operations, daily activities and environment through documentary photography.

Shulman explains “I embarked on a journey of discovering what makes Hawthorn so special. For example, is it the architecture of the business or is it the approach of those behind the counter that makes us feel welcome?"

My journey took me to places that were once thriving stores and are now empty shells with the business name still on the exterior. In fact I found many shops for lease and wondered about the impact of clearways, online shopping and chain stores. I have wanted to capture the gracious character of local businesses in Hawthorn before our shared streetscape is totally transformed.” she said.

Shopfront is at Town Hall Gallery from 27 October until 20 November. Come along and discover more about some of your favourite Hawthorn traders.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Q & A with Caroline about Between the Covers exhibition...

Between the covers 3

Town Hall Gallery Curator asks project co-ordinator Caroline Carruthers some questions regarding her project and current exhibition, Between the Covers.

MN Curator: "Where did the idea for this project come from?"

Caroline: "In 2008 I worked with a group of frail, older seniors with physical and mental health issues on my project 'Seeing Ourselves'. This experience was life-enriching for me and, I think, everyone involved: participants, carers, staff at the Evergreen Centre, volunteers, and exhibition visitors. I was so moved by the participants, their stories and life experience, that the idea of telling their stories in a more literal way seemed a natural step. "

MN: "What inspired you to do a project around the 'art of the book'?"

CC: "For an artist who is also a writer I think that the 'art of the book' is a natural convergence of my creative interests.

As a writer I feel an affinity for the tactile experience of books, which means that while I have little interest in the incorporeal unreality of e-books and web publishing, I have a perhaps inevitable interest in creating the physical entity of 'the book' as well as its content.

As an artist I am excited by the explosion of forms and formats that are evolving out of the idea of 'the book'. The link between a conventional printed book (words on pages between covers) and an artist's book (non-traditional but containing elements of a book) has become subtle, but that is part of my enjoyment of the form. I particularly love the sculptural forms of many artists' books and the unexpected changes made in conventional books that have been 'altered' in some way. I'd like to capture some of that surprise and intrigue that I feel in this exhibition.
And I wanted to work with the inspiring people of the Evergreen Centre again."

MN: "Were there challenges with this project?"
CC: "Inevitably. Life never runs smoothly that's part of its charm!"

MN: "What were they?"
"Obtaining and managing funding from a number of different sources is time-consuming and it can be difficult to satisfy the requirements and needs of different sources. The project itself may last a few months but most funding applications need to be made long in advance meaning that a typical project takes about 2 years of work to get underway.

My previous experience of working with seniors required four sessions over a two week period. This project required seven workshops over seven weeks which meant that continuity of attendance was a problem for some participants, but some were so committed to the project that they worked on their books in their own time.

The relative complexity of the project meant that the physical abilities of some participants were challenged. This meant that a high ratio of helpers to participants was needed. However participants enjoyed the challenge, for example one legally blind participant who created an especially tactile book to suit her circumstances.

As noted above having enough support personnel was crucial. The wonderful team of professional staff, work experience students and volunteers from the Evergreen Centre, together with the volunteers from the Boroondara Writers' Group, were essential support to the participants in achieving their vision.

I was probably a bit ambitious with the length of the project, as noted above some participants did not feel they could attend often enough to complete their books. However some people worked in their own time or completed two books, so perhaps it's more about the differences between people than a failure of the project design?"

MN: "Was there something that has amazed or surprised you from working on this project?"
"Just the old cliché - that everyone has a story. It has been a powerful reminder of the individuality, the uniqueness, of each one of us. These seniors have shared their experiences, hopes and expectations with the project facilitators, and now with everyone who gets the opportunity to see their creations. We only used two simple formats but the books are very individual, especially in their content: pictorial essays on a life of travel, forty years teaching in Tanzania or a life in aeronautics; a serious autobiographical work or a tactile experience of nature created by a blind participant.

I was also surprised by how some participants 'usurped' the process, coming to the project with clear ideas of how it would work for them. Book formats were adapted and ways to 'edition' the books were devised for some participants."

MN: "For the exhibition you are showcasing works from the project alongside more professional artists works."
"Yes. I always had the intention to include 'artists' books' in the exhibition, mainly because I am so amazed at what artists have done with the idea of books. In some cases 'artists' books' resemble a conventional book but often the relationship between an artist's book and a conventional book is very tenuous indeed but they should have some element of paper, words, images, covers, to connect them to the concept of a book.

I don't think I plan this way, but on reflection I like to develop projects that have an educational element. In this case, not only to show the participants, volunteers and staff how to do something new, but also to share my interest in unconventional 'artists' books' with participants and visitors. "

MN: "Do you think that participants in the project have found this inspiring?"
"I think they are interested to see what these 'artists' books' will be. The simple, non-traditional book formats we have used have stretched the participants' imaginations and opened them up to new ideas about what a book can be. I think the participants who are exhibiting their books are rightly proud of their achievement, and I think their work can stand beside the professional works as equally powerful expressions of emotion, instinct and intellect."

MN: "Who are the 'professional artists'?"
CC: "The professional artists are Robert Clinch: a contemporary realist painter based in Ashburton. He has received many awards and he is represented in the Town Hall Gallery Collection, as well as other private, corporate and public collections in Australia and overseas.
Gail Stiffe, who is based in Glen Iris, has made paper since 1984 and books since 1990. She has received many awards and is represented in public and private collections in Australia and overseas.
Bronwyn Rees is a printmaker and painter based in Kew. She is represented in the National Gallery of Australia collection and is exhibited in Australia and internationally."

MN: "Why were they selected?"
"These artists were selected because they are locally based and have experience with artists' books, creating 'art expressed in book form'. Each represents a different approach to artists' books. Robert is more of a traditionalist in his approach, working with a master printmaker to create 'books' of prints created from his paintings and drawings. Bronwyn is a printmaker herself and works with paper and ink to create images on paper which form her 'books'. Gail makes paper and creates 'books' (often sculptural) from it."

MN: "What do you hope that viewers come away from this exhibition with?"
CC: "I hope that first of all they will be moved by the books made by the project participants. I hope they will be inspired to make their own books. I hope the exhibition can promote understanding and appreciation of our elders' lives and contribution. I hope viewers will be surprised and entertained, and that they will learn something about the obscure art of books."

MN: "What do you hope that the participants in the project come away with?"
CC: "Initially, a fun activity which has challenged their capabilities and expectations a little and given them enjoyment and a sense of achievement. An activity which has given them a new appreciation of one another through the process, and through each person's 'story'.

For the participants exhibiting, I think they will experience a pride in their achievement to see their work in the gallery context alongside the work of professional artists, and at the end of the exhibition they have their books to share with friends and family.
And I hope that for some of them this is a beginning to the creation of more books for whatever purpose suits them. One participant has been inspired to get professional editing assistance in completing his autobiography. "

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Do you know about Creative Spaces?


(Town Hall Gallery, Easey Street exhibition)

Creative Spaces is a website that is designed to operate as a portal between artists wanting to access affordable space to develop, exhibit or perform their work and property owners who have suitable space for rent.

While project is primarily an initiative between the City of Melbourne and Arts Victoria, the site has a page specifically for the Boroondara area and we are encouraging local landlords to advertise appropriate properties through this site.

This is an exciting opportunity for your business by optimising rental space as well as contributing to our cultural life. Please visit the Creative Spaces Website for more information and click on the "list your space" tab if you would like to promote your facility.

Or visit the Boroondara page directly to see how your space will be listed. This is a fantastic resource so please let others know about it's potential!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Between the Covers in the media

Between the covers article

This great article was published last week in the Melbourne Weekly and features the project coordinator, Caroline Carruthers, with some of the books on display.

Don't forget that there are some great workshops and public programs happening this week in conjunction with the Between the Covers exhibition. Visit the public programs section on this blog (to the right hand side!) for more information.