Friday, April 24, 2015


Tuesday night saw the launch of our third major exhibition for 2016 - Conflicted: Adversaries in Art. What a fun night and another bumper crowd to boot. Featuring another carefully selected ensemble of some of Australia's finest art talents, the exhibition walks a fine line between the fun and the serious. The joyous exuberance of youthful play is haunted by pathos as we consider the shadowy undertones of children's games. Even when you restrict access to commercialised and masculine-oriented toys like guns, children will find ways to explore their expression of war-games and battles between goodies and baddies. Even our politicians stumble their way through such terminology.

Gallery One: Michael Peak (left) and Slow Art Collective (right) 
- Photo by JIM LEE (c)

The exhibition features interactive installation, sculpture, photography, painting, print and video art in a reflection of the gallery's philosophy to present a broad sweep of media when exploring a given theme. From the large-scale paintings of Michael Peck in which children appear stoically prepared to forge on into an unknown, potentially post-apocalyptic future, to the intimate photographs taken by Siri Hayes of the homemade weaponry her son was making in the backyard, the exhibition is designed to pose questions about the drive to battle that is inherently contained within us from childhood and the influence of adult ideas borne out by our kids in an age of immediate news access.

The signing of the International Airspace Operations Treaty  
- Photo by JIM LEE (c)
Artist Juan Ford conversing with an enthusiastic audience  
- Photo by JIM LEE (c)
Sitting at the core of the exhibition is a trio of artworks by Siri Hayes, Juan Ford and Slow Art Collective that reflect and reinforce the principal theme of the show. Juan was inspired by the photographs of Siri Hayes (mentioned above) and produced a series of sculptures for a show in Mildura in 2013. These sculptures also provided props for his paintings. The son of artist Chaco Kato (who is part of art collaboration Slow Art Collective) was then inspired by Juan's work to make his own homemade weaponry. We were excited to be able to pull all three artworks and artists together to reveal their connections and also to play off the notion of this learned and transferred inspiration of ideas. After all, do kids learn about war from adults, from each other or do they have it ingrained from birth? 

Slow Art Collective installation in Gallery One
We hope you enjoy the exhibition and find some interesting ideas tucked within the artworks. We will be showing a documentary about the newly developed playable version of Quidditch, a game taken from the Harry Potter books, later next month as part of our public programming. We'll also be delivering a series of interviews with the artists from the show to tease out more about their ideas and their other artworks.

Inez, Xavi and Veronica on the dais (International Airspace Operations) 
- photo by JIM LEE (c)

The artists and curators of Conflicted 
- photo by JIM LEE (c)
Adult play abounds in the work of International Airspace Operations 
(Mathew Greentree & Connor Grogan)
- photo by JIM LEE (c)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

white cube-a-gram

Data Flow: Digital Influence has been a terrifically exciting show to host. Curating together 11 artists whose work is all uniquely different but relates to each other on the basis of the shared self-awareness of the digital context that shapes our lives, has been a true joy.

Given the nature of the theme we thought it would be interesting to provide an additional, digital space for exhibiting art. A 'virtual' space defined by the four-sided square format of social media platform Instagram. We selected 6 artists from a bundle of submissions and each week a new artist took over our Instagram feed and delivered 7 artworks, one per day.

Ben Aitken (@sniflthreesix)

It's a been a wonderful way to push outside the traditional confines of the physical gallery and explore ideas in this way. It was obvious to us that a vast swathe of our audience views our activities online. It's more than likely we may have more people see our shows in this way than actually physically visit us in Hawthorn. After all, anyone in the world can access photos of our exhibitions. But normally, these 'visitors' would see documentation of our exhibitions - photos of the artworks shared on social media. By setting up a dedicated online gallery scenario, we could deliver art directly to an audience, into their own gallery spaces on their phones. It raises questions about art presentation, distribution and consumption that are more pertinent to art galleries and artists than ever before.

Did you know, for example, that there is a belief that because most Australian artists witnessed the artwork of their international peers via magazines in the 1950s and 1960s, their work was flatter and sharper? Looking at abstract artworks reprinted in glossy art magazines, artists were unable to see the texture of the paint and the wobbly lines and paint splatters of not-so-perfect edges. The printing techniques and the photography made everything seem far more crisp and flat than it actually was. So when Australian artists starting painting their own abstractions, influenced by Americans and Europeans, they produced their work more like the representations in print than the originals in paint.

There's a few days left of Data Flow, and if you're on Instagram, pop on over and check out our feed. We were very delighted to get some amazing art and ideas into that space and are most grateful to the following, terrific artists:
     Lily Mae Martin
     Josh Rufford
     Crystal Knight
     Ace Wagstaff
     Michelle Hamer
     Ben Aitken

Catch us as @townhallgallery #dataflow #thginstaart