A real sum is a sum of people
Blaze is the CCAS annual group show dedicated to emerging artists in the ACT; for 2016 it includes the work of 8 artists: Joel Arthur, Reid Bedlington, Christopher Burton, Hayley Lander, Dierdre Pearce, Millan Pintos-Lopez, Kael Stasce and Julia Thwaites. For its 10th anniversary edition Blaze has a subtitle, A real sum is a sum of people, which broadly refers to the concept of community and its different readings. On one hand, it indicates a possible way to interpret the rich, vibrant artistic scene of the ACT; on the other, it encourages the artists to engage with a wide idea, and to go beyond their usual practices and conceptual challenges. Photography by Brenton McGeachie
Woomera-born Yhonnie Scarce, a descendant of the Kokatha people from the Lake Eyre region and the Nukunu from around Port Lincoln, majored in glass making at the South Australian School of Art. She uses the medium of glass to explore the treatment of Aboriginal Australians in both historic and contemporary contexts.
Aesthetically beautiful, politically motivated and personally driven, Yhonnie Scarce’s delicately crafted glass work explores the continuing effects of colonisation on Australia’s First People. With its laboratory setting, her work Weak In Colour But Strong In Blood (2013–14), references the medico-scientific eugenic practices of the early 1900s, particularly those performed by the Australian anthropologist and ethnologist Norman Tindale, including on Scarce’s own family members.
Symbolic of Aboriginal people, different fruit skins are squashed into beakers, and the younger, lighter-coloured ones are segregated and separated into other trays ready to be sent to nice new white homes. Then there are the broken black bush plums, disfigured and discarded. Scarce reminds us of the harrowing ordeals that occurred in rooms like these all those years ago. This type of inhumane research resulted in dangerous forms of stereotyping that continue to shape attitudes around Aboriginally.
Scarce’s heritage stems from the Nukunu people, whose land stretches from Port Pirie to Port Lincoln along the coastal region of South Australia; and the Kokatha Mula, who called the expanse of the pristine Mallee country from outback Ceduna to the Eyre Peninsula home. Her heritage is deeply imbued in her work, and she often creates a dialogue about her own family and their personal histories. Courageously, she expresses the social and political patterns found in historical and contemporary Australian culture, while pointing out the breakdown of Indigenous social structures. By presenting such strong messages of survival and culture, Scarce boldly exposes histories lost, forgotten, hidden or ignored.
Image: Weak in Colour but Strong in Blood (installation detail), 2015, Blown glass and found components, dimensions variable; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Yhonnie Scarce is represented by This Is No Fantasy + Dianne Tanzer Gallery.
Collage is not only a highly developed art form it is also an established past time, as in the art of decoupage. In Out of the Corner of Your Eye, Jane Barney takes her practice to a new level, animating and presenting her assemblages in cheap digital frames. These works presented in the black box of CCAS CUBEspace situate the domestic loading of digital frames amongst the hi-tech motivations of conceptual video art. But they do not quite make it ... there is a naïve charm to these moving juxtapositions and, while Barney is never decorating or illustrating, the hand of home-made decisively occupies her work. Cutting and pasting with scissors and cursor, however digital the end product, it never loses sight of its hand-made origins.
Image: A spin-off, 2015, video still
Lonnie Hutchinson is a Aotearoa / New Zealand artist of Māori (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kuri ki Ngāi Tahu) Samoan and European descent.
Hutchinson works in a range of artistic media, including film, performance, painting, sculpture and installation art. She frequently draws upon feminism, historical narratives and her Māori and Pacific Island heritage to inform her work. Hutchinson said of her work
"Intrinsic to each series within my art practice, I honour tribal whakapapa or genealogy. In doing so, I move more freely between the genealogy of past, present and future to produce works that are linked to memories of recent and ancient past, that are tangible and intangible...I make works that talk about those spaces in-between, those spiritual spaces."
Image: She could taste salt on her lips, 2015, installation image
Not necessarily a coherent or even factual portrait, the agglomeration gladly swells our preconceptions of the personae of the artist as self aware rather than self obsessed. crowEST instinctively heads towards discomfort or absurdity, recognising it as a generative tool for inspiration. She sets up ideas as armature that allows for the work to come into being raw, rather than emulating contemporary forms of slickness. It is all puttied together really, as one big agglomeration. This shonky, mock-modernist apparatus, however propositional, has at its core a strength that comes from the uncompromising intent of the artist herself, a truly driven need to make and a refusal to accept the limitations of a certain kind of self, artistic or otherwise.
Image: sarah crowEST, installation view, 2007.
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.