Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Art21 Cinema Sessions

ART21: Art in the Twenty-First Century is a fantastic documentary series providing unique access to some of the most compelling artists of our time. We are very excited to announce Town Hall Gallery has secured the rights to screen the entire Season 7 - for free. Four episodes feature a dozen artists from the United States, Europe, and Latin America, transporting viewers to artistic projects right across the planet.

In locations as diverse as a Bronx public housing project, a military testing facility in the Nevada desert, a jazz festival in Sweden, and an activist neighborhood in Mexico, the artists reveal intimate and personal insights into their lives and creative processes. Each one-hour episode in Season 7 is organised around a theme that connects the artists: Investigation, Secrets, Legacy and Fiction.

Art21 is an extremely popular series and especially well loved by artists for its critical insight into the working processes and ideas of the artists it explores. "Whether engaging communities to effect social change, probing personal and cultural histories, exploring timely political issues, or experimenting with how things are made, the artists in Art in the Twenty-First Century demonstrate that the art of today is truly relevant to our everyday lives, incorporating age-old forms and processes to make contemporary art that challenges us to see our world in new ways," says Executive Producer Susan Sollins.

Socially and politically engaged art is particularly present in Season 7. For example, Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn works with residents of the Forest Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development, to create his ambitious Gramsci Monument, an outdoor sculpture and participatory artwork featuring a library, radio station, stage, lounge, and workshop area. Formal experimentation is another theme running throughout the series, so too the influence of family and youthful experience.

We'll be screening the full season over each weekend so you've got plenty of opportunity to drop by and pick up different episodes:
  Saturday 1 November: Episode 1 'Investigation' and Episode 2 'Secrets'
  Sunday 2 November: Episode 3 'Legacy' and Episode 4 'Fiction'

Then repeated again the following weekend:
  Saturday 8 November: Episode 1 'Investigation' and Episode 2 'Secrets'
  Sunday 9 November: Episode 3 'Legacy' and Episode 4 'Fiction'

All screenings will run from 1.00pm - 3.00pm on each day.

We have a wonderful cafe right next to the Chandelier Room - our huge Victorian-era ballroom now fitted out with state of the art audio-visual equipment perfect for our Cinema Session - called Second Empire where you can get lunch beforehand and sneak out to enjoy snacks throughout the screening. And of course, the galleries will be open for your viewing pleasure as well, with our major exhibition Direction Now featuring ten of Australia's premier abstract painters. If you come along on Saturday 8 November you can even drop into the opening launch of our next Quest Hawthorn Community Project Wall exhibition, featuring the work of Urban Sketchers (from 2-4pm).

Monday, October 27, 2014

In Conversation: Anthony T O'Carroll

Small Studies No. 1 (2014), acrylic and mixed media on board, 35 x 30cm, Copyright courtesy of the artist.

Anthony T O'Carroll was born in 1979 in Sydney, NSW. He studied at St George College and the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. His first solo exhibition was in 2001 and since then he has been in a number of group exhibitions across Australia. in 2010, he was the recipient of the Moya Dyring Studio Cité International des Arts, Paris (administrated by the Art Gallery of NSW). O'Carroll has been the finalist in numerous art prizes, including the Wynne Prize in 2010, and his works are included in many private, corporate and institutional collections.

We recently fired a number of questions at Anthony to gain a better insight into his artistic practice and the nature of abstract art in Australia.


Small Studies No. 15 (2014), acrylic and mixed media on board, 35 x 30cm, Copyright courtesy of the artist.

Can you tell our readers a little about your background? Where you come from, how long you’ve been making art, etc? 
I grew up in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, Coogee beach and had a childhood that was surrounded by sun and the beach. Painting and drawing has been a part of my life from childhood. I had my first group exhibition in 1991 when I was only 12 and was a finalist in the Sydney Morning Herald, 'On this Day Art Award'. 

Direction Now is, in many ways, a celebration of Abstraction in Art. In what ways do you see your work using abstraction? 
Abstraction, to me, is the pursuit of evoking a subject rather than rendering it. In my case the subject matter of my immediate surrounds of walls, sidewalks and surfaces that make up the urban landscape is what I aim to evoke. 

Small Studies No. 10 (2014), acrylic and mixed media on board, 35 x 30cm, Copyright courtesy of the artist.

What drew you to using abstraction? 
Abstraction, separate to a style or to an 'ism', has fundamentally been about the pursuit and discovery of finding a distinct visual language that is unique and highly individual. Using abstraction is a vehicle for me to express things that can not readily take form. It is personal. 

Where they see yourself positioned within the history of Abstraction? 
Following in the footsteps of such practitioners as Elwyn Lynn, Peter Clark, and Thomas Gleghorn, I would suggest that I would be a third generation matter painter. 

Can you tell us what your motivations are for choosing the particular materials you work with in your artistic practice? 
Materiality is key in my practice in the evocation of my subject, the urban environment. I tend to use a mixture of calcite and emulsion that forms the base of my works which I later physically manipulate and force cracks to appear. The usage of oil paint on top of the surface re-enforces the linkage to the subject via the application of a scrapper, like rendering a wall. I also tend to use acrylic paints and aerosol along with conventional pastels, oil sticks and graphite. Separate to this is the way how (process) these materials/medias are laid. I am forever experimenting and changing the properties of paint and how paint can be used in my practice. Currently I am immersing aerosol with acrylic paint via the use of fire and igniting the surface giving yet another impression of a blistered urban surface. 

Small Studies No. 14 (2014), acrylic and mixed media on board, 35 x 30cm, Copyright courtesy of the artist.

What is your favourite artwork in Direction Now and why (and it can’t be your own work)? 
Amanda Ryan's pieces, 'Geometric Compositions' for me are a joyfull celebration of geometric abstraction extended into textiles but yet are still very painterly. I enjoy this extension and the linkage to such iconic Australian painters such as Sydney Ball. 

What’s next for you? Do you have any big projects coming up?
Continuing to experiment and to find new methods of expression. 

If our readers want to find out more information about your work, where can they go? 
Please view; 
Like to keep informed on upcoming projects:

Small Studies No. 16 (2014), acrylic and mixed media on board, 35 x 30cm, Copyright courtesy of the artist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Direction (right) now

Our final major exhibition for the year has officially launched and already drawing some terrific interest. Direction Now is a wonderful insight into contemporary abstract painting in Australia right now. With artists from Brisbane, Sydney, northern NSW, Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide it is a rare snapshot of the national scene in one cohesive exhibition. 

And one thing worth mentioning right off the bat ... these works are quite something else in the flesh. While they could be said to be two-dimensional works that hang on the wall, that would be understating their true physical character. These are all highly haptic works - works that are just as sculptural as they are purely visual. Artworks like those by Amanda Ryan, Anthony O'Carroll and Miles Hall are especially object-like. Screen and print representations don't truly do them justice - not in the same way that standing in front of them, walking around them and feeling their presence in space will do. 

Anton Hart

Opening launches are always great fun and this was no exception. We are particularly pleased to have all three gallery spaces filled with large, vibrant works. These are powerful pieces that command the room and are all the better served by the wonderful spaces we are fortunate to have here at Town Hall Gallery. Independent curator and researcher Andrew Gaynor officially opened the show to an enthusiastic audience and two of the artists from Sydney (Anthony T O'Carroll and Amanda Ryan) flew down to be at the opening with fellow abstractionist Terri Brooks.

Andrew Gaynor officially opens the exhibition
Terri Brooks, Amanda Ryan and Anthony T O'Carroll

The artists have published a great exhibition catalogue for the show as well, which they are generously providing for free - so be sure to pick up one when you're in. You can also find out more about the artists on their Facebook page and their own websiteDirection Now has arrived from its showing in Port Macquarie and will next head on to Lismore Regional Gallery in 2015. The exhibition will continue here in Melbourne right through until 17 December - and is a perfect place to spend an afternoon inside air-conditioned comfort!

Admiring the work of Anthony T O'Carroll
A detail of Terri Brooks' fabulous artwork
Miles Hall and Ann Thomson commanding the space of Gallery 2
Our Pop-Up Art Library and relaxed reading area in Gallery 3
Opening night crowd
Gallery 1 and the works of Anthony T O'Carroll (l) and Anton Hart (r)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Direction Now Pop-up Library

Direction Now is an exhibition celebrating artists using elements of abstraction such as the lyrical, gesture, texture and colour field to convey an individual expression. The works are bright, bold, textured, intriguing and indebted to the long history of non-representational art. What is this history you may ask? It is a history that reached its peak in the Abstract Expressionist movement of the mid 20th century (think Jackson Pollock). 

As part of our public programs for Direction Now, Town Hall Gallery has partnered with the City of Boroondara Libraries to bring you a Direction Now reading list! Filled with lots of wonderful books and references, you can pick up a copy of the reading list in Gallery 3 at our pop-up library. 

When you visit us at the gallery, feel free to spend some time in the pop-up library browsing through a number of books about Abstraction in art. We have comfortable couches, temperature control and lots of delicious information for you to digest about the exhibition. 

Abstraction can be an abstract concept to understand (a cheap joke, I know). Our pop-up library provides some context for the exhibition and will allow you to take some time out of your visit to educate yourself on the 'ins and outs' of this particularly significant movement. Titles range from those dedicated to Abstract Expressionism, to more contemporary books, such as Art Now Vol. 4 (pictured below). 

All of the books that are in our pop-up library can be borrowed from one of the City of Boroondara Library branches. Our libraries have an amazing assortment of other titles in their database if you wish to pursue this style of art further. Click on the links below to get directions to your nearest City of Boroondara Library:

154 High Street, Ashburton 

336 Whitehorse Roa,d Balwyn 

340 Camberwell Road, Camberwell 

584 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn 

Corner Cotham Road & Civic Drive, Kew 

Phone number for all libraries 
9278 4666

Monday, October 20, 2014

Direction Now

Launching tomorrow (from 6pm, Tuesday 21 October) is the last major exhibition for 2014 - Direction Now. All the works are on the wall and the gallery spaces are transformed again with the new works. This is a show full of colour, composition and a sense of visual language. Abstraction is a special form of art, in which the exploration of visual cues is set loose from any direct representation of 'things'. Meaning is more firmly transferred to the viewer, where interpretation is open to translation of feeling and the sheer reality of the painted surface and materials.

Direction Now features the work of some of Australia's finest abstract artists. We are excited to have this group, drawn from right across the nation, presenting their art across our three main gallery spaces. The artist on show are Mostyn Bramley-Moore, Terri Brooks, Michael Cusack,Steven Harvey, Anton Hart, Anthony T O’Carroll, Claire Primrose, Peter Sharp, Ann Thomson

Direction Now has arrived in Victoria from its most recent showing at Glasshouse Gallery in Port Macquarie. The philosophy of the show is best expressed by the group itself:

Currently, the visual art community is producing work in all forms, from performance art to traditional realism. Research is diverse. Yet abstraction is perhaps the least recognized and understood painting form, particularly by a public that in the 1960s understood it more due to curator and critical support. Following in the tradition of ‘Direction 1’, the first group exhibition in Australia to legitimise abstraction in 1956, Direction Now brings together a group of ten artists for whom abstraction is their chosen visual language. The show was initiated out of respect for each other’s work and a quest for recognition that abstraction has a valid, vibrant and lively existence in Australia. 

The exhibiting artists have developed a distinctive personal rather than ‘movement’ based visual language. Abstraction has many facets from art informal, process painting, the hard edge and minimalism. In Direction Now notions of technique, process, and reoccurring themes linked to the artist’s individual experiences and immediate environment such as identity and place are presented. Above all Direction Now is an exhibition celebrating painting with artists using elements of abstraction such as the lyrical, gesture, texture and colour field to convey an individual expression.

The exhibition launches tomorrow and will run through until 17 December. We've got public programming to run alongside the event, and stay tuned for artist interviews in our ongoing 'In Conversation' series here on the blog.

Friday, October 10, 2014

In Conversation: Laura Woodward

Laura Woodward is an artist with a work ethic that'll exhaust you just by reading about it. Designing and producing large-scale kinetic sculptures, she also makes video art, produces music video clips, teaches at several tertiary institutions simultaneously, runs an artist studio facility in North Melbourne, co-owns and manages a fabrication and design business with her partner and gets commissioned to make public sculpture in places like Horsham and Craigeeburn. And to top it off, she just completed her PhD in which her thesis was nominated for a Vice-Chancellor award! Somehow we managed to pin her down for a few moments and interview her in order to get some more background into the ideas feeding her art practice.

Dr Laura at work
THG: Why is it important that your artwork moves?

Laura Woodward: For a long time I've been interested in creating works that are accessible and engaging; that might have an immediate, non-intellectual connection with a viewer. I think that's perhaps where the first kinetic works I made came from. When something moves, we respond. More recently I've started to consider this as an empathic response, at a basic level. The idea that our bodies might try to imagine ourselves into something that is so very different from us is fascinating.

The other factor in making kinetic works is the way in which they develop in the studio. Working through such systems creates a dynamic between artist, material and artwork that is quite non-hierarchical; where it often feels as if the work is developing through the materials, with my hands as tools for it to do so. The functionality required in each material and component really brings this dynamic to the fore. It's both frustrating and exciting.

Laura Woodward's The Return in Composing Common Worlds
THG: That non-hierarchy aspect is very interesting. I know you're quite interested in New Materialism, is this a connection to that way of thinking?

Laura Woodward: There are definitely correlations between my experiences with these works in the studio and New Materialism. New Materialism considers the ways in which matter (of which humans are a part) materialises - in other words, it explores the way things come into being, their ontologies. In seeing matter as active and as having agency, New Materialist considerations do away with the idea that the human has hierarchical control over matter - a particularly 'humanist' perspective. Instead, the human - the artist - is one agent amongst many through which things - in this case artworks - emerge into being.

THG: There's perhaps a connection here with how you describe your very obviously machinic, highly engineered sculptures as inspiring empathy and as being 'introverted'. Can you explain how a sculpture made of steel and silicon and motors can be 'introverted'?

The idea of 'introversion' in the work actually came to me when I was watching one of my pieces "Shallows" in the gallery. I had a distinct feeling that this piece had made itself - that I hadn't had much at all to do with it. I was watching it move in its own particular way and the thought occurred that it was introverted: driven in its manifestation and in its ongoing functioning by its own internally derived logic. Since then I've explored the idea by trying to set up scenarios in the studio where each work's internal logic - it's introversion - can have most potency and agency (and it was through this kind of thinking that I came to discover New Materialism as a discourse that resonated with these experiences).

THG: Another aspect I find intriguing about your overall working ethic and approach - your ability to make art, run an artists studio, co-run a fabrication business and lecture at multiple tertiary institutions. Are you really just one very complex self-organising introverted organic sculpture yourself?

Laura Woodward: Ha - I hadn't thought of it like that before! I guess it makes sense that the kind of thinking that applies to juggling multiple commitments also underscores the juggling of multiple factors at play as a system-based kinetic work emerges.

THG: There's been a new development in your work with video based elements entering your production. What's driving this aspect of your work?

In some respects it was a pragmatic decision to make some works that would be better suited to exhibition contexts where I'm not close at hand to deal with technical challenges that arise. But more so there are things that can be explored through video more expansively when they're not limited by the temporal qualities of certain materials. For example, the little silicone vessels in the work "Five" in this show are quite fragile; as video they can expand and contract many more times than the actual vessels would be able to. So the video then allows other considerations and ideas to come into play, because it circumvents the temporal to a certain extent.

Close up of Laura's sculpture, Five
THG: So - what's next on the horizon?

Laura Woodward: Five is heading up to a group show 'In Motion' at Airspace in Sydney next month. The show has drawn together artists who engage with motion in some way within their practice.

My next solo show is at Ararat Regional Gallery in July next year. It will be a brand new work that responds to both the surrounding landscapes and the gallery's textile art specialisation: it will, if all goes well, be a large amorphous form that combines hundreds of little components that undulate and weave. It's particularly exciting as I just received a grant to develop it which will allow it to be as expansive as I originally envisioned. As happened with my work The Return in 'Composing Common Worlds' I'm planning to develop this new work so that it really pushes beyond the systems that already exist in my sculptures. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Password is Courage

Town Hall Gallery is very pleased to present an exhibition of artwork devoted to the idea of resilience and courage in the face of adversity, as part of Mental Health Week. The Quest Hawthorn Community Project Wall is graced with 30 original artworks and 30 poster versions of those works by community artists from Boroondara. We launched the show yesterday to a very enthusiastic crowd and much merriment. City of Boroondara Mayor Cr Coral Ross officially opened the exhibition to a thronging mass of artists and art lovers.

Mental Health Week aims to activate, educate and engage the public about mental health through a national awareness campaign. Led by CROP (Community Recreation Outreach Project) Coordinator, Laurel Gorman, this exhibition brings together the artistic talents of our community in recognition of issues around mental health and celebrating a creative resilience through art.

Limited edition runs of the posters sell for $10 and original artworks are for sale for very reasonable prices. The exhibition runs until 1 November, so come on down and support a worthy cause and celebrate some terrific local Boroondara talents.

Just some of the artists and their work on show (photos courtesy of Amanda Florence)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

In Conversation: David Glyn Davies

The launch of David Glyn Davies' solo exhibition Overgrown was the largest opening event so far at the Quest Hawthorn Community Project Wall. The hustle and bustle of the thronging crowds made for a warm and exciting atmosphere. The general feeling for the art and, most especially for the artist himself, was one of quite intense goodwill. Having spent the last couple of years away from the full-time rigour of art practice to care for his wife, David has returned with a resounding declaration of his talents and his capability as a significant artist (and his wife has returned to full health as well!). We put some questions to David about his work, and he kindly took the time to give us an insight.

A capacity crowd at the opening
THG: What pathway has led you to your career in art?

David Glyn Davies: I knew I wanted to be an artist from the age of eleven. My parents took the family on a trip to Paris and during the trip we went to the Louvre. I saw Theodore Gericult’s ‘Raft of the Medusa’ for the first time and was taken over completely by the size of it. I announced to my parents and brothers that I was going to be an artist. I can remember them laughing. Forty six-years later, I’m still at it and the ‘Raft of the Medusa’ is till my favourite painting.

THG: How would you describe your work, what are the major themes present?

David Glyn Davies: I don’t believe artwork should ever remain static in its content or development. I tend to work on one or two thematic ideas at the same time. The major theme of the paintings and statement exhibited on the Community Wall was developed to draw attention to the many beautiful buildings (religious and secular), in Melbourne’s suburbs that have been demolished for redevelopment. All of my thematic ideas start with stories and poetry. I pick and choose from these before working in my sketchbooks. I am drawn instinctively towards subjects that are rich in subject matter and imagery.

THG: How do you use the materials that you use to express these themes?

David Glyn Davies: I use a combination of digital media and traditional painting techniques. I recently changed from using oil paints to raw pigments. I have a slab of polished marble in my studio upon which I grind the colours. I find that pigments give me a far greater range of tone, texture, translucency and luminosity than oil paint. I tend to work in layers, which are sealed at various times during the process. It’s a bit like physical Photoshop (that uses transparent layers in the same way). This technique of painting is not new.  The Ancient Etruscans painted this way in their tombs three thousand years ago. There’s nothing new under the sun! I saw these beautiful works of art on a trip to Italy (Tuscany) thirty years ago and have been painting the same way ever since.

THG: What is your work practice like, do you work from a studio or from home?

David Glyn Davies: For the past thirteen years I have worked from a studio. The studio is well laid out in two parts; one side for my digital art and printing and the other for writing, painting and drawing. I don’t like working in mess so I tend to keep the studio tidy. I keep regular hours.

THG: What do like best about what you do?

David Glyn Davies: The best part of what I do is the moment when an artistic idea comes into being. I am influenced artistically from so many different sources. Part of the challenge of bringing an artistic idea to fruition is to find an aesthetic that is mine while at the same time acknowledging the artistic and political history from which it sprang.