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.


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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.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

In Conversation... Kitty N. Wong

Kitty with some of her works.


Kitty N. Wong is an artist and illustrator based in Hong Kong.  Town Hall Gallery is pleased to present around 16 works of Kitty's as part of the Fixation exhibition that runs until 13 April, 2014.  
We spoke to Kitty about her work, illustration and her love/hate relationship with gouache!


TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WHERE ARE YOU FROM? 
I am from Hong Kong, I was born in this bustling city of 7 million people and moved to Canada with my family when I was 8 years old. I am an artist and fashion illustrator.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK? WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK IN?
My work is often based on pop culture and fashion imagery and my own experiences. I usually work with gouache, watercolour and pencil on paper.


WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORK IN THE MEDIUM THAT YOU DO?
In university we were forced to use gouache and I always resented that. I was always looking for ways around what our professors said we needed to do. But now I always paint in gouache there’s an immediacy about it along with pencil, I love the flat areas of colour and its almost powdery look. When I paint faces with gouache the texture reminds me of freshly foundation-ed skin.


WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF TO DATE?
The chance to participate in Fixation! I’m also really proud of my “body of work” so to speak, over the past year and a half  I’ve built up a portfolio I’m happy to show others. Two years ago I didn't have any of that. I used to work full time as a fashion designer and neglected my own practice and at the end of the day I had nothing I was truly proud of to show for it. So I really treasure this ability to make art, to communicate with others what inspires me.


IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANOTHER ARTIST, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Some of my art heroes are Grayson Perry and David Hockney, their creative vision and desire to create are just too big to be contained to only one medium. I would also love to get a chance to draw alongside illustrators Damien Florebert Cuypers and Richard Haines, both of their streetstyle sketches has such virtuosic energy and I would really like to absorb some of that through osmosis. I’ve also been thinking about performance and installation art (mostly just in my sketchbook for now) but it would be a dream to collaborate with gutsy artists who use themselves and their experiences in their own work like Tracey Emin or Marina Abramović.


WHAT'S YOUR WORK PRACTICE LIKE? DO YOU WORK IN A STUDIO/HOME? WHAT GETS YOU IN THE MOOD TO CREATE?
I work in my home which has a space set aside as my studio. Creating a routine is the number one thing that gets me in the mood, if I painted yesterday and the day before I’ll also paint today. Another thing is just getting out more to get inspiration, to the galleries here in Hong Kong, to the library or just taking a walk in my neighbourhood--any external stimulation.


IS THERE A SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR CREATIVITY? DO YOU HAVE MUSIC OR SILENCE?
I used to always listen to podcasts while I worked but I started noticing that my work was definitely worse when I was working with those in the background, I would just focus too much on the interesting stories being told. But if I’m feeling lonely and a bit indulgent I’ll still listen to Radiolab, This American Life or Slate’s Culture Gabfest.

But mostly I just listen to music, this month’s rotation: The Smiths, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Lorde and Elvis.


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

I hope after seeing my work people will reexamine their own relationship with clothing and how the media depicts women. About beauty and gender as a performance.


WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS TIME? WHAT'S YOUR DREAM?
In 10 years I want to have tried living in a couple of my dream cities, London, New York and one other unexpected place. I want to have made enough good work to publish a book.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had this desire to relive memories, I want to fulfil that wish by having other people experience how I felt in some of the most special moments in my life using installations and performance art. Another wish is to create some sort of giant mural or billboard using my illustrations.

You can see more of Kitty's works at www.kittynwong.com

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Unveiling an Exhibition and Stitching a Panel

Fixation kicked off with a bang on Tuesday night - with a wonderful crowd and vibrant atmosphere. Happy faces, curious art lovers and lots of joyous conversation set the mood. The wonderful Jim Lee took some great images of the night and there's a whole album of photos available to view here.

Some of the crowd from opening night (images courtesy of Jim Lee Photo)
Featuring work in a variety of media and an international role-call of artists, Fixation provokes different ways of thinking about our relationship to our own bodies and the bodies of others through our use of and understanding of fashion and clothing. It also raises ideas around the representation of fashion in media as well as our craving for novelty and the trend of the moment.

An exciting aspect to the show is the community art project 'It's a Keeper' for which we have received dozens items of clothing and accessories for the installation. Set up like a retail fashion environment in Gallery 2, 'It's a Keeper' displays these items complete with swing tags which can scanned to access the stories behind the clothes and accessories. You can download QR scanners for free from your SmartPhone app store and gain a deeper insight into why people hang on to particular fashion items. And there's a wonderful documentary shot by Lachlan Campbell, in which you can hear the stories behind the clothes from the very people who have lent them for the show.


It's a Keeper (images courtesy of Jim Lee Photo)
You're encouraged to engage with the exhibition through photography, in particular, by taking a selfie in the gallery and hashtagging #fixationthg #selfiefixation. And while on the topic of selfies - we have a fantastic panel discussion lined up for Saturday 8 March on that very topic, as well as notions of narcissism in art and fashion. An incredible set of speakers have come on board - Darren Sylvester, Clem Bastow, Drew Pettifer and Janice Breen Burns. More details are available here but it goes from 1.00pm to 3.00pm and costs only $7 ($5 concession) which you can pay at the door!

Marion selfies in front of a performance piece by Alexander Batsis

Following on from the panel, at 3.00pm, we'll be launching the next exhibition at the Quest Hawthorn Community Project Wall. SimanKevicius presents a suite of dynamic, captivating meditations on the majesty of trees. Drawing exclusively from the many tree 'muse's of Boroondara, SimanKevicius photographs then digitally manipulates the images to produce work of optical intensity. The opening is catered (thanks to the generous support of our partner Quest Hawthorn) and the work is already proving to be very popular with visitors. 


We look forward to seeing you soon in the galleries!