Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas 2014 at The Emporium @ Town Hall Gallery

Can you hear that sound? 

No, it's not your imagination, that sound is in fact sleigh bells and the joy of the festive season quickly approaching! (Cheesy segue, I know)

At Town Hall Gallery, we are passionate about Art and all things creative. We love supporting local artists and designers, especially in our gorgeous gallery shop, The Emporium @ Town Hall Gallery. We stock a wide range of gifts and unique handmade goods that are sure to set fire to the hearts of those you love this silly season. Next time you're in the Hawthorn Arts Centre, make sure you head over to the eastern side of the building and spend some time getting to know our wonderful products. To entice you, we have put together some gift ideas for those 'hard to buy for' people in your life.

The 'Mum-Who-Has-Everything' Gift...

It's all in the name: Simone DEVINE. Crafted from resin, these colourful necklaces, bangles and earrings are quirky enough to attract the right kind of attention, but not too quirky to be labelled 'alternative'. Pair a necklace with a simple black dress and instant outfit! We know that the 'mum-who-has-everything' is unlikely to have an accessory from Simone Devine, so make tracks down to THG and see them in the flesh (they're very impressive).

Simone Devine Jewellery - prices range from $39.00 to $79.00.
The 'Quirky-Art-Student' Gift...

Skip the queues at your local shopping centre craft store and make a pit stop in Hawthorn to get the perfect gift for the creative person in your life. We stock a large range of sketchbooks and ntoebooks, including the legendary Moleskine and 100% recycled paper Zap Book. One of our most popular products has to be the Palomino range of pencils. They have been described as like 'writing with butter' and are world famous, used by such creative mavericks as Frank Lloyd Wright. We have three styles on offer, plus the Palomino sharpener and replacement erasers. If you're looking for something EXTRA special, we carry the Palomino Aquarelle pencils, beautifully presented in a wooden box. Any art student would be thrilled to bits to crack open a present of Palomino goodness on Christmas day.

Our selection of goods for a Quirky Art Student.

The 'Best-Friend-Who-Likes-Cute-Animals' Gift...

What's usually the most recycled Christmas gift? CHRISTMAS CARDS! Why not shake things up a little this year and give the gift that keeps on giving: a card that doubles as a mask! Suitable for the young and old alike, these cardboard masks come with an envelope and space in the card to write your own personal holiday message. As they aren't riddled with the usual Christmas hype, they can be used again and again, for dress-up parties or simply to frighten the neighbours on boxing day morning when you take out the garbage. We also carry a Kangaroo mask that would make the perfect gift for an international visitor.

Cat Mask from TMOD - $8.95 each.

Fox Mask from TMOD - $8.95 each.

Lion Mask from TMOD - $8.95 each.

The 'Serious-Art-Collector' Gift...

Printmaking stuff Collecting Art is a serious business and we realise that not everyone in your life will be won over by cute, quirky or handmade gifts. If you're at a loss for what to get that particular relative you don't know very well, we have a selection of small, affordable artworks available, such as hand printed cards, small prints and paperweights. These limited edition prints are produced by some of Melbourne's finest printmakers (Jenny Peterson and Bronwyn Rees for example). 'Uncle Bob' has the perfect spot above his marble fireplace for one of these prints, so make sure you take the time next time you're at THG to admire the detail they possess. 

So so many beautiful prints!
The 'Eternal-Backpacker' Gift...

This may be your reality or perhaps you have a friend who is swinging into town after a year abroad to spend Christmas with their family. You really can't go past these one-of-a-kind leather luggage tags by Emerge Designs. Every time your backpacking friend spots their luggage on the conveyor belt at the airport, they'll think of you with a smile as they catch a glimpse of their luggage tag among the other forty-seven blue backpacks passing by. 

Emerge Designs Leather Luggage Tags - $35.00 each.

The 'Dad-Who-Likes-The-Outdoors-But-Who-Also-Tries-To-Be-Cool' Gift...

Let's face it, we've all got one of these dads. It wouldn't be Christmas without an embarrassing anecdote from your childhood or some sage advice from Dad. He'll love our enamel Adventure Cups because they're not only practical for camping, but they're also educational, teaching you such things as knot-tying, how to make damper and navigating our skies using the Southern Cross Constellation. 

Adventure Cups - $15.95 each.

The 'I-Don't-Do-Christmas-But-I-Want-To-Treat-Myself' Gift...

It's always nice to spend a little extra on yourself to balance out the giving at Christmas. We all have different tastes but I'm sure you'll find something small at our gallery shop to tide you over until your are inundated with festive love. Gift wrapping? Sure! We stock beautiful tape and unique wrapping paper (plus, if you're super nice, our gallery staff may even wrap it for you!).

MT Tape from Telegram - Single rolls (L - prices vary); Pack of Five Rolls $19.95 (R);
1950s Abstract Wrapping Paper - $22.95

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Conversation: Ann Thomson

Journey through yellow (2003), oil on canvas, 149 x 212cm, courtesy of the artist.

Ann Thomson was born in 1933 in Brisbane, QLD. She studied under Jon Molvig in Brisbane and at East Sydney Technical College. Presently, she lives and works in Sydney, NSW. Her first solo exhibition was in Sydney in 1965 and since then she has exhibited nationally and internationally. Thomson is currently represented by Olsen Irwin Gallery, Sydney; Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne; Heiser Gallery, Brisbane; and Stephane Jacob, Paris. She has attended residencies including the Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris), the Arthur Boyd Studio (Tuscany), and Perdreauville (France). Her works are included in numerous collections, including the Australian National Gallery, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Parliament House (Canberra), Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (Spain) and the Villa Haiss Museum (Germany).


Ann Thomson in her studio.

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 Brisbane where I had an early interest in being an artist. I studied art part time for many years and finally became a full time art student at the National Art School in the late fifties. Ever since I left Art School I have been interested in making art that took me, mentally, into another place; making painting and sculpture that comes more from the imaginative and inventive mind, rather than visually rendered subjects.

Direction Now is, in many ways, a celebration of Abstraction in Art. In what ways do you see your work using abstraction? What drew you to using abstraction?
I suppose my approach to abstraction came out of American Abstract Expressionism which was coming into its own when I was young. I can also remember going to the opening of Direction 1 at the Macquarie Galleries when I first came to Sydney, which I found very exciting. Over the years my work has, I think, forged its own path, and through all its stages formed its own language, and always, I hope, being true to my particular touch. This path is well illustrated in my book with writing by David Malouf, Terence Maloon and Anna Johnson, published by Tim Olsen and available through Olsen Irwin Gallery, Sydney. 

Planet (2012), mixed media on linen, 89 x 130cm, courtesy of the artist and Olsen Irwin Gallery, Sydney.

Can you tell us what your motivations are for choosing the particular materials you work with in your artistic practice?
I love using disparate materials ( both in painting and sculpture) to compose a work. I am currently using acrylic paint which allows me to add collage. 

Arcadia (2012), oil on linen, 131 x 99cm, courtesy of the artist and Olsen Irwin Gallery, Sydney.

What’s next for you? Do you have any big projects coming up?
I have a few public exhibitions coming up, the first a survey at the Drill Hall Gallery at the National University, Canberra and a retrospective exhibition in the planning stages in Reims, France. I will be having an exhibition in Brisbane next year with Bruce Heiser Gallery and later on at Olsen Irwin Gallery in Sydney. 

If our readers want to find out more information about your work, where can they go?
They can view my website by visiting

The Yellow Wind (2010), acrylic on linen, 56 x 71cm, courtesy of the artist and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Sketchy Details

We have had some overwhelmingly well attended exhibitions at the Quest Hawthorn Community Project Wall this year, with a seemingly never-ending array of talented artists lining up to fill the space with their remarkable art. But Urban Sketchers nearly busted the seams of the gallery with an eager audience filling the place to capacity (and beyond) on Saturday.

Featuring artwork that takes the City of Boroondara as its subject, Urban Sketchers have filled the Quest Hawthorn Community Project Wall with over 80 individual drawings, paintings and watercolours. There are scenes of the areas most iconic destinations such as Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn, High Street in Kew, Maling Road in Camberwell and an almost infinite array of street scenes captured from this lovely and leafy part of Melbourne.

(detail of) Kapilesh Taneja's Shades of Summer - QPO
(detail of) Joe Whyte's Tudor
The Urban Sketchers phenomenon is a global affair, describing themselves as "a network of artists around the world who draw the cities where they live and travel to, (whose) mission is to Show the World, One Drawing at a Time". They gather at various sites and sketch what they encounter. For this exhibition, they focused solely on the City of Boroondara and they have done an exceptional job at capturing the flavour and character of the area.

The official launch of the exhibition was a terrific affair, with a wonderful atmosphere. Evelyn Yee, the principal organiser of the show, kicked the event off in a flurry of smiling faces and, excitingly, a flurry of red dots as well. The artwork will remain on display until 6 December and we encourage you to come on down and take a look at the sheer breadth and depth of artistic talent in this group.

Evelyn launches the event to a capacity crowd

Monday, November 10, 2014

In Conversation: Anton Hart

Anton Hart working his studio

Anton Hart has some big and bold artworks in Direction Now. Born in Melbourne in 1954, Hart studied at the University of South Australia and currently lives and works in Adelaide. His first solo exhibition was in 1992, and since then he has exhibited nationally. His works are held in a number of private, corporate and public collections, including the Art Gallery of South Australia. 


Can you tell our readers a little about your background? Where you come from, how long you’ve been making art, etc?
After being born in Melbourne, I grew up constantly moving about initially living in various beautiful regional coastal Victoria towns like Geelong and Warrnambool. Then Adelaide briefly and then up for an amazing time in Alice Springs and then later sometime in the dry summery mid-north country South Australia followed by up in the wet misty winter Adelaide Hills. Eventually and finally, we settled back here in Adelaide once again for the last time, just in time for my adolescence.

That long hitting the road experience was an invaluable endless lesson in a careful looking at the world, driving through shifting landscapes, meeting people and characters in an endless parade of listening to the world’s conversations, seasonal perfumes, late night headlights and revised ‘plan b’s’.

Art. I can’t remember when making art wasn’t a part of my ticking. Throughout my early school years I was seen as a precocious drawer of things and things imagined. In the school system, I was just an average academic student, but I could draw, excelling in my art classes and I suppose this still defines me, living in an inner world of the imagination rendered by hand & eye & mind.

Eventually, after time & some later formal studies at art school, I started to exhibit my work. Tentatively at first, in small group shows in fringe spaces and as time & events added up, into mature gallery opportunities and national/international exhibitions.

Local Storm (2004), acrylic paint and gaffer tape on canvas boards, Copyright courtesy of the artist.

Direction Now is, in many ways, a celebration of Abstraction in Art. In what ways do you see your work using abstraction?
My work has always danced around with the dual fancies of abstraction and reality. Flirting with ideas and styles. In this, probably all art work is abstract. Works that uses representation, conjuring images of flowers, a figure or a tree are all painted pictures that approximate reality in paint and they are all abstractions of one sort or another. Equally, even the most intense monochrome painting can be seen and understood through the grit of reality as a representation of real space.

I think that using terms such as abstraction and representation probably needs to be, at least reconsidered and perhaps dispensed with. Neither is especially useful or leads anyway enlighteningly new. This debate started a long way back. Remember Kazimir Malevich’s famous ‘Black Square’ was painted in 1915 at the very edge of one hundred years ago.

Over the long run of modernism and its wearing down, the so-called end of painting, into the post modernist world in which all art is now made, the persistence of painting and especially abstract painting is undeniable.
Perhaps representational pictures offer images of how the world looks, and abstract pictures perhaps give us images of how the world feels. The world today is constantly shifting and changing in ever acceleration where millions of people can add to the daily unrelenting flood of images on their smart devices, they can edit and adjust, into instants, microseconds and their existence. Abstraction remains the one whereabouts where painting can discover something genuine in our saturated media-image world. It is a surprising old/new spot that can be re-considered within an understanding of installation practice and the concept of site-specificity. 

Portrait Noise (2013), Acrylic paint and gaffer tape on vinyl tarp, 2.75m x 2.35m, Copyright courtesy of the artist.
What drew you to using abstraction?
I was never that conscious or deliberate in deciding what kind of art I should make. Painting was an extension of my instincts and decisions, my mark making, my gestures. Sweeps. Twists. Flicks. In my paintings the meaning of the work lies less in the image, and much more in the cancellations and stuttering of the things that the work is constituted. The mark making is actually a simple physical and relative thing.

Where they see yourself positioned within the history of Abstraction?
What a question. On one hand, I have affection for the everyday & I am appreciative of conceptualism, minimalism and post-minimalism for their clarity. Equally, I am drawn to expressionism and the shadowy, the uncontrollable and the indistinct. This is important because these are all ‘spaces’ that form in-between the desire for order and the real snarl of stuff.

Can you tell us what your motivations are for choosing the particular materials you work with in your artistic practice?
I am interested in the notion of rules, especially what happens within the paintings when rules are tested. For example I often deliberately work using only the cheapest of paints I can find such as ‘on special’ industrial house paints, sample paint pots, or reject paint samples that the customers didn’t like etc. I set up painting strategies that force me to paint gradually or in different ways. I often use unusual supports as well such as advertising vinyl tarps where I have to negotiate over the readymade images to find a new image. Sometimes I have even abandoned the use of paint to use materials such as gaffer tape directly on the gallery walls.

Burning Disaster (2009), Acrylic and gaffer tape on vinyl tarp, Copyright courtesy of the artist.

What is your favorite artwork in Direction Now and why (and it can’t be your own work)?
It’s impossible to pick a favorite artwork from the show, but I am particularly drawn to the works of Terri Brooks, Michael Cusack and Miles Hall. Terri’s surfaces are compelling histories, Michael’s beautiful breaths of colour and Miles’s pared back minimalism.

What’s next for you? Do you have any big projects coming up?
I am happily project free at the moment, with a dedicated clean-air time ahead in my studio and some travel thrown in. However, I am starting to plan a new solo show. Early days, but I have just finished re-reading ‘Night Studio: A Memoir Of Philip Guston’ by his daughter Musa Mayer. I too mostly inhabit my studio at night, the time when I paint. The daytime is spent cleaning up and thinking. The Night Studio.

Monday, November 3, 2014

In Conversation: Amanda Ryan

RYAN, Amanda, Geometric Composition No 3 (2014), fabric, thread, wadding, eyelets and stand offs on board, 145cm x 116cm, Copyright courtesy of the artist. 

Amanda Ryan (b.1985) holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons. Class 1) and Master of Fine Arts, undertaken at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. During her time as a student, Amanda was the recipient of the Australian Post Graduate Award 2008 - 2010 and was placed on the prestigious Dean's List, achieving a high distinction during her undergraduate honours year. From 2003 Amanda has participated a number of group exhibitions that notably include the inaugural Sass and Bide Art Prize Finalist Exhibition in 2005, COFA Space and 'Compositions' in 2008, held at King Street Gallery, Darlinghurst. Amanda's solo graduate exhibition 'Unearthed', 2010 demonstrated the diversity of this young artist and showcased her usage of fabrics, textiles, assemblage and installation that is now synonymous with her work. Over the past three years, Amanda has created and refined her unique visual language of geometric textile abstraction, which she uses to explore the fine line between art, craft and design.


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 Dundas, a North-Western suburb of Sydney. I attended the College of Fine Arts from 2004 until 2010 where I completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts and later a Master of Fine Arts (by research) majoring in painting and drawing. Art, specifically painting and assemblage, has been a part of my life since childhood. I was forever fossicking around council clean ups discovering and collecting old pieces of furniture, off cuts and wooden panels that I would use in my paintings and assemblages.

Direction Now is, in many ways, a celebration of Abstraction in Art. In what ways do you see your work using abstraction?
I see my work as an enquiry into geometric abstraction. I explore geometric abstraction through layering, folding and arranging fabrics in a range of colours and textures, to create compositions and stand alone forms evolving from the act of play. I am interested in the interaction between colours, shapes and textures and what variations and combinations I can discover.

RYAN, Amanda, Multi Colour Folded Form No. 2 (2014), fabric, thread, wadding, eyelets and stand offs on board, dimensions variable, Copyright courtesy of the artist. 

What drew you to using abstraction?
The fact that an image or an artwork could evoke a sensation or subject without depicting it. I find abstract art engaging as it allows the viewer to use their imagination and to bring their own experiences and emotions to the artwork. I first found this in the painterly works of John Firth-Smith and Richard Diebenkorn of whom I admire greatly.

Where do you see yourself positioned within the history of Abstraction?
I see my practice as sharing the same ethos that surrounded the artists that exhibited in the 1968 exhibition, 'The Field', held at the National Gallery of Victoria. I see myself as continuing this enquiry into non figurative art forms and following in the footsteps of the early pioneers of geometric abstraction such as Michael Johnson, Sydney Ball and Tony McGillick.

Can you tell us what your motivations are for choosing the particular materials you work with in your artistic practice?
Materials and found objects have played an important role in my practice. I have always been interested in the prescribed meaning of an object through its form and function. In the past I would deconstruct these found objects and reassemble them into new forms. Over the past couple of years my focus has shifted from using found objects, to now employing a variety of fabrics and textiles in the construction of my works. I am still very much interested in material and meaning, however I now explore this through the use of new and recycled textiles. I choose materials that have a certain meaning or purpose, but I use them in a way that they are not intended to be used. There is a certain play on function and dysfunction in my work.

RYAN, AmandaMulti Colour Folded Form No. 7 (2014), fabric, thread, wadding, eyelets and stand offs on board, dimensions variable, Copyright courtesy of the artist. 

What is your favourite artwork in Direction Now and why (and it can’t be your own work)?
I actually have three favourite artworks in Direction Now. Miles Hall's use of colour in 'Related Parts', 2013 and 'Things only revealed in the night' , 2013 is very confident. He has a sophisticated understanding of colour and shape which I am drawn to. I am also drawn to the composition and layering of shapes and forms in Michael Cusak's work 'Fincher', 2012.

What’s next for you? Do you have any big projects coming up?
Apart from the daily thinking and making of art, my work will be featured in an upcoming group exhibition held at the Conny Dietzschold Gallery, Sydney. Dates and details are to be released shortly. Keep informed by viewing

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:

RYAN, AmandaYellow Folded Form No. 2 (2014), fabric, thread, wadding, eyelets and stand offs on board, dimensions variable, Copyright courtesy of the artist.