Looking at the Harris Hobbs collection for the first time in its "natural home environment", one is overwhelmed by a sense of obsession and excess. To say that every square inch of space in their home is dominated by art is a modest exaggeration and works of every shape, size, colour and medium occupy bedrooms, bathrooms, lounge, dining room and kitchen. Unlike many collectors, investment and décor are not the primary concerns for Harris and Hobbs. Although there are many works with ample potential for fine interior decoration and would cause the average investor to salivate, Harris and Hobbs use their collection differently. They collect because they love art and, having visited their home, it becomes clear that art enhances their lifestyle by providing a harmonious blend of comfort, beauty and stimulation. As we look at elements of their collection in the gallery, it is important to remember that the atmosphere of the home cannot be reproduced. Toni Bailey and David Broker have selected a number of works that represent some of the more adventurous moments in the collection. These are the works that artists sell to private collectors and as a result tend to disappear into the ether. In the original context of the collection however, each piece is part of an architectural environment that Harris and Hobbs have created with a highly refined sense of design, space and light that might serve as a metaphor for the role that art and culture play in society at large. That is, when it is appreciated and supported.
Image: installation detail.
"The opening moments of Emma White’s video Instructions for a still life (snowclone) 2007 are accompanied by the subtitle ‘Think about real things’. As the video proceeds, the hand held camera pans across a table of objects: a packet of round stickers is positioned in front of a mug; this mug, with the letter ‘E’ emblazoned upon it, sits to the left of a post-it-note that is peeling off the table. It is a jumble of bits and pieces. Yet, as the camera slowly pans, your eyes begin to consider the subtitle’s suggestion. ‘Pay attention, look harder’ – instructs the subtitle and the sense that the real and the illusory are intermingled amongst the table’s objects soon develops. A pencil reveals itself to be as flat as a pancake. The texture and imperfection of the mug presented in the video is not as one might remember from their own mug that holds their morning coffee. In fact, Instructions for a still life (snowclone) presents a complex still life of mass-produced objects coupled with obsessively labour-intensive replicas. White’s finely sculpted fimo replicas encourage the eyes to follow a trail of imitation and reproduction, as White creates her own version of everyday objects. White’s sculptural replicas reward the viewer who takes a moment to look more closely. Beyond this though, Instructions for a still life (snowclone) actively describes and teases out the dynamics of looking. The playful subtitles become an active voice, articulating the way that our eyes carve out a sense of the things around us. Indeed there are small clues littered throughout the still life objects that hint at the need for keen observation; from the note on one postit-note that reads ‘take time’, to the note pad filled with doodles of reading glasses. All these elements encourage a simple action: to look and look again."
Words by Liang Luscombe and Patrice Sharkey from Liang Luscombe's website.
Image: Emma White, Instructions for a still life (snowclone) DVD still, 2007.
Image: Doug Hendry, Skateboard #5, 2004.
To gain insight into this work, it is essential to broaden the experiential domain. Morrison may well be speaking to us through the scrupulously edited moments of randomness and indeed timelessness, about a special place in his life which he knows well. He seeks, through his creative process, to establish composite poetic form. We understand in part that technically this is constituted by a tightly bound relation between sound and image. The sound, which in some instances is almost transparent and set at a subtle cognitive threshold, at first simply fills space. Something we seem to pass through, like a mist all around us and of limited impedance. Eventually we experience the sensation of a complex mix of primitive oscillations from the natural world. Oscillations that have accrued in our consciousness over eons. The sound of wind blowing through grass. Soon we become aware of the repetition of motion. As we dwell on this artifice, we begin to mediate on notions of sustainability and resilience. This resilience is appreciated through the inherent strength of grass stems, not by any control over the prevailing force of the wind itself. We read into this our lives. As the wave motion expresses pressure and release, we understand the wind to have variable pressure points. The motion of grasses reveals this and we know then that force is rarely or constantly applied. We sense the analogy through memory of moments in our lives.
Image: Scott Morrison, installation view, 2007.
Oceans apart, Oceans between examines the topology of social and political difference across government and the broader community. Somewhere between satire and sobering reality, these screen prints combine potent symbols of distance and displacement with political iconography. Can Australians and their government of the day have greater morality and more understanding toward asylum seekers? Can we come together to present a unified view? This series encourages the viewer to stand in another’s shoes, reflecting on what we have and what they do not. By valuing humanity over selfish preoccupation it might just be possible to bridge chasms of difference wherever they are found.
The artist would like to acknowledge Millan Pintos-Lopez for printing the work.
Surya Bajracharya, Don't Hold Your Breath (2015) detail, screen print, 168 x 76 cm. Photography by Brenton McGeachie.
"Canberra based sound artist Shoeb Ahmad presents Whirlwind Lullabies, an audio-visual installation that is inspired by the unique aural textures of his parent’s homeland, Bangladesh. Using manipulated tape recordings of various environments over a four year period, Ahmad creates loop-based pieces for close listening that explore intricate audio worlds that travel from the densely populated metropolis of Dhaka to the near-silence of the Chittagong Hill-tracks. The use of tape and the idiosyncrasies of it’s degradation process married with a collection of dream-like imagery taken from his various trips provide a hallucinogenic quality to the work."
"hellosQuare recordings will also present an evening of solo performances by improvising percussionist Sean Baxter from Melbourne, local tonesmith Orbits with Travis Heinrich on visuals and Shoeb himself, developing themes of minimalism, exoticism and intricacy through their unique sound palettes."
Last Man to Die collective’s self-titled hybrid-arts show is an engrossing piece of futuristic fantasy, the performance is cleverly structured so you “get it” as it goes along, and the audience participation is non-threatening and often a lot of fun. The Last Man to Die was Last Man to Die's major work for 2010. This one-hour interactive, cross-artform work was performed throughout Australia and, in particular, was featured in Brisbane Festival 2010's Under the Radar program and The Blue Room's season "Young Enough to Do It Anyway" (Perth).
"Triple X Bitter is one of 7 performance-for-video works produced for Eric Bridgeman’s multi-dimensional project “The Sport and Fair Play of Aussie Rules” completed between 2008 and 2009. This performance-for-video work examines a hyper-real pub scenario involving key player Boi Boi the Labourer, a group of boisterous pub-goers, two black babes and an inflatable pool. With Bridgeman as Boi Boi the Labourer, the artist constructs and oversees the unfolding events, allowing the participants to explore their own perceptions, fears and understandings of rules of behavior that govern our experiences in Australian pub environments."
From Momentum Worldwide vimeo of Triple X Bitter.
Eric Bridgeman, video still, 2010.
Growing out of time spent on the Heron Island Research Station and on South Bruny Island in Tasmania, paintings in Spacious explore the elusive qualities of the sea - its vastness, dynamism and strange peace. They create feelings of openness and fluidity and suggest correlations between the forms and inner actions of the deep sea and far space. Drift crosses several boundaries, ... roving through the territory of story, metaphor and myth (Nada and the Whale) and the realm of abstraction where the formal and aesthetic qualities carry the experiential load directly, in and of themselves (the Sea paintings). The thread that weaves through and unites them all is the sense of endless kinetic interaction between material and immaterial force.
Botany Bay today is a meeting place of many historical, industrial, social and ecological forces, some harmonious, many not. We have tried to evoke this complex mix while suggesting that the power of deep time lies within this, strangely, or at least potentially, unifying conflict.