Meet Tom Malone Prize judge and Australian designer Khai Liew

 

Khai liew
Adelaide based designer and Tom Malone Prize judge, Khai Liew

One of Australia’s most exciting artists, Khai Liew was in Perth to take part in the judging of this year’s Tom Malone Prize – the Gallery’s annual event for showcasing the best in Australian glass art.

Khai Liew is an Adelaide-based designer and adjunct professor with expert knowledge of both South Australian and Australian historical decorative arts and colonial history. For many years he has acted as a private consultant to various national and state institutions advising on acquisition and conservation. Liew’s championing of nineteenth-century Australian material culture as a conservator, consultant and valuer has led him to contribute to significant private and public furniture collections.

As a highly regarded designer, Liew draws on his cultural heritage and historical knowledge to design and produce work that is informed by the old and the new, the regional and international. The production of small editions and one-off commissions takes place in Liew’s Adelaide-based workshop, carried out a select group of highly-skilled craftsmen.

“Much of my work is about telling stories. Communicating a narrative through a visual language while pushing the material in new and exacting ways are characteristic of many visual disciplines and practices,” says Khai.

“Being a judge for the Tom Malone Prize this year was exciting as it’s a medium where artists are continually pushing ways on how to communicate captivating stories through glass. The calibre of works was high and we had a challenging task of selecting a winner. Key design aspects we were looking for however was the clarity of intent, a high level of craftsmanship and whether the work said anything new.”

The Tom Malone Prize was awarded to Tom Moore for his work titled Pyrotechnic puffer fish.  Arguably the country’s most consistently humourous and out-there glass artist, this particular work was unlike anything the judge’s had seen before.

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Winner of the Tom Malone Prize, Pyrotechnic puffer fish by Tom Moore

This year’s judging panel also comprised of Elizabeth Malone (AGWA Foundation Governor), Stefano Carboni (AGWA Director/CEO) and Robert Cook (AGWA Curator of Contemporary Design and International Art).

Now in its sixteenth year, the Tom Malone Prize is a highly respected national event for contemporary Australian glass artists. An acquisitive prize, each year’s winning entrant is awarded $15,000 while their work becomes a part of the WA State Art Collection. This year, and for the next four years, the Prize is supported by Art Gallery of Western Australian Foundation Benefactor, Sheryl Grimwood.

The Tom Malone Prize is showing at the Gallery until 28 May.

 

TOM MALONE PRIZE: ARTIST STUDIO VISIT

10.30am-12pm, Saturday 5 May 2018
$22 AGWA Members | $28 General Admission
A behind-the-scenes look at the workshop of Perth-based glass artist and winner of the Tom Malone Prize 2017, Marc Leib.

Buy tickets

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Year 12 Perspectives Packers’ Prize Winner Sheds light on an ugly truth

 

 

Monkey bars (detail)
Monkey bars by Adelina Holil conveys a powerful message about child labour.

It wasn’t untilAdelina Holil joined Young Mercies, a school group dedicated to raising awareness on issues associated with ethical trading, that she began to learn the ugly truth behind child labour and sweatshops.

Moved by the stories she heard, Adelina focused her energy on creating a powerful piece of work to make consumers question their decisions when it came to the consumption of items created in these sweatshops.

Monkey bars reveal the dark secrets of child exploitation behind the production of our clothing. I want to people to think about where their clothing came from and who made them. I constructed a paradox of the children forced to work by placing them in playful poses on a clothes rack depicting what they should be doing: playing,” says Adelina.

“The designs of the clothes, the chains, ropes and graffiti, symbolise how these children are forced to be slaves and the hardships they endure. The placement of the hangers imitates monkey bars; symbolising a childhood memory they may never have.”

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Adelina Holil, winner of the Year 12 Perspectives Packers’ Prize

Its originality, the narrative and technical execution did not go unnoticed by the Gallery with Adelina being awarded the 2017 Year 12 Perspectives Packers’ Prize for her work.

Under the guidance of art teacher and mentor Denise Fitzgerald, Monkey bars took eight months to complete.

“Denise provided guidance throughout the whole process, sharing ideas and showing me where areas of my work could be improved. I definitely think I’ve become a better artist through her.”

Denise has taught art at Mercedes College for almost seven years and believes in challenging her students to find meaning in all their work.

“I challenge my students to consider using materials to add meaning to their artwork and to create visually dynamic compositions,” says Denise.

“Adelina worked extremely hard to apply this advice in the planning of her artwork and we are all extremely proud of her achievement.”

Adelina’s work is on display at the Year 12 Perspectives exhibition currently showing at the Gallery until 16 July 2018.

 

FOR SCHOOLS

We encourage schools who are planning a self-guided visit to Year 12 Perspectives to book in, the information allows us to manage groups and numbers each day and to notify you of anything that might affect your visit.

All school bookings for self-guided tours of Perspectiveseducate@artgallery.wa.gov.au

Study Day: How to be original when nothing is?

10am-3pm, Tuesday 24 April

Teachers $45 | Students $20

Suitable for Teachers and Students Years 9-11

Limited places

Study day is an opportunity for students and their teachers to gain valuable insight into strategies for communicating original ideas in their Year 12 works. The day will include curator insights and tour, expert panel discussion, a practical workshop for students and Professional Development session for teachers, and creative strategies for managing stress. *Morning tea provided, bring your own lunch.

All enquirieseducate@artgallery.wa.gov.au

First Nation artist Julie Dowling

First Nation artist Julie Dowling
First Nation artist Julie Dowling.

First Nation artist Julie Dowling is an activist, a visionary and an artist.  Earlier this week we spoke to Julie about her current exhibition Babanyu – Friends for life showing at the Gallery as part of WA Now and what influences her work.

From the paintings shown in the exhibition, is there one in particular that resonates most with you and if so why?

I think at the moment it’s the portrait of my mother Ronnie Dowling: The neurotic. I remember the many stories she told me as I was painting it.

My mother was an artist but was stopped from pursuing a life as one because her family relied on her for financial support. She became a domestic servant from the age of 11 and finished schooling at 14. When my twin sister and I were born, she began her art again but kept it hidden from the world.

My mother is my friend and teacher. She was and still is very influential in the discipline side of my art making. She taught me how to see art as an extension of my own freedom, of it being part of myself and to talk about everything that surrounds me to the world. My Mum taught me to have a social conscience and eye for justice in all things.

Tell us about the Badimaya culture and how this influences your work?

Badimaya culture was always expressed in clandestine ways before the mid-1980s however it was following this period that my family and I  began to openly express who we were and what we felt about our culture. The Badimaya culture was kept hidden however I was able to learn many things from my grandmother. I learned how to look after the land, its creatures and about how we are all connected to the land. I also learned a smattering of the Badimaya language from my Grandmother. She did not speak it often because she was taught that the language wasn’t legal to speak when she was growing up and feared we would be taken away if we spoke it in public also.

Since the 1980’s I’ve been involved with cultural renewal in my family and within many communities. Culture is an act of empowerment as much as it is a language of being.

Badimaya culture is also land specific as it relates to a place and an environment and without those two/three things acting in unison…language/place/cultural practice then it’s very difficult to see into the universe of knowledge & understanding that still exists here. Our country is north of Dalwalinu to the south, Mt. Gibson to the west, the eastern area of Lake Moore and the land north of Mt. Magnet

What do you hope people will take away from your exhibition and from the stories conveyed through your work?

I hope they see the paintings in terms of documenting a journey or me tracking through everything as a woman, a Badimaya cultural being, someone who is interested in cultural history, decolonisation, First Nation empowerment, ending racism, ending sexism, living my life as a twin and also as a fair-skinned First Nation person. There are many multi-layered contextual meanings in the work and each plays out more in some than in others.

The main objective at present is to end racism. Everything from the cognitive dissonance and white fragility that many white people feel about First Nation people to those that don’t know about how systemic racism can rob First Nation people of many things from land, language to identity. Racism impacts every human being in some way.

What are you working on these days and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’m working on a great number of miniatures for an exhibition at Midland Junction that is about language and the land. I’ve been contributing to a science called ethnobotany which looks into (with First Nation scientists) how language and the understanding of plants/landscape/environment are all linked. Without an intrinsic interaction with the environment, ethnobotanists have found that humans get depression and a great number of mental disorders over generations.

These miniatures will be mapping the process of moving away from language and land and also the returning to it in the form of de-colonisation and using cultural renewal of my own Badimaya language. I hope it helps people to heal.

Julie Dowling’s free exhibition is showing at the Art Gallery of Western Australia until the 13 August 2018.

Visit Julie Dowling’s official webpage.

Curator insights with Melissa Harpley

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Written by Mikaela Hewett, communications intern

AGWA’s next international exhibition, A Window on Italy – The Corsini Collection: Masterpieces from Florence, arrives in Perth, next February for an exclusive Australian season. Featuring a diverse selection of artwork from the Renaissance and Baroque era, this show is a must-see for lovers of Italian art and the period. I sat down with curator Melissa Harpley to gain some insight into the Collection and the experience it offers.

Thanks for taking the time to meet, Melissa. We’re here to talk about the Corsini Collection. Can you tell us what it is, and what people can expect when it arrives in Perth next February?

The Corsini Collection is a remarkable collection of artworks that are owned by an individual Florentine family. It is beautifully unified by that family connection, and the fact it has been built over centuries. Some of the works are by the great names of the Italian Renaissance – Botticelli, del Sarto, Pontormo – and Caravaggio, a name many people will be familiar with. The collection also tells an engaging story of the Corsini family themselves, so the exhibition will include a range of portraits of family members and artefacts from their home in the Palazzo Corsini.  I think for audiences it will be a beautiful insight into the family, Florence, and Italy.

That sounds exciting. Can you tell me a little more about the Corsini family?

They are a family who came into prominence in the thirteenth century and occupied a range of professions in Florence, Italy – though there were also members of the family who worked in England – an important source of wealth for many Italian families during the Renaissance. One of the Corsinis was the Pope Clement XII. Another early member of the Corsini family was canonised, so they have their own saint as well, Saint Andrea Corsini.

And what styles of art did they collect?

A lot of the art is from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, so those works reflect the popular subjects of the time. There are certainly religious paintings, such as the fabulous Madonna with Child and Six Angels by Botticelli, but also some beautiful portraits. Classical mythology was of intellectual interest in the Renaissance and Baroque periods in Italy, so there are a number of paintings of scenes from mythology, and some landscapes too.

What do you feel are some of the stand out pieces in the Corsini Collection?

The Botticelli is an absolute knock-out. However, the Caravaggio portrait of Maffeo Barberini is also a very powerful painting. The four little Giovanni Santi paintings of Apollo and the Muses are beautiful early Renaissance panel paintings, and the portrait of the family’s saint with the bullet holes in it is a very moving and powerful work because of the backstory. There is such a diverse selection of art that I’m sure everyone will be able to find something they love while visiting the Collection.

What is the story behind the family saint?

Well, towards the end of the Second World War the German army was retreating through Italy. The Corsini family were aware that the German army had been looting artworks along the way, so Princess Elena Corsini worked with some of her staff to hide as much of the collection as they could to try and preserve it. Some of it was hidden in a crypt in a church in Florence, and other pieces were loaded onto a truck, which was driven out to one of their country properties. Princess Elena Corsini instructed that a false wall was built to hide the artworks so that if the Germans passed through they wouldn’t find any paintings. The family story goes that when the artworks were put behind the wall, Donna Elena said to the portrait of the saint, “I’ve done my bit, now it’s up to you.”

The Germans did arrive, noticed the false wall, and one of the officers – possibly thinking there were people behind it – shot at the wall a number of times. Luckily, the only work damaged was the painting of Saint Andrea Corsini, so perhaps he did protect the rest of the collection! The family decided not to have the work conserved, so you can still see the bullet holes in it.

When the Corsini Collection arrives in February, what would you say to people thinking of visiting?

It’s a great opportunity to spend some time with works from a period and place that you don’t often experience in Perth.  Plus, there’s the fascinating story of the Corsini family and the city of Florence to bring many of the works to life. They’re fabulous paintings, and I think people will have a great experience since there are so many beautiful works of art to enjoy.

Thank you, Melissa. Tickets to A Window on Italy – The Corsini Collection: Masterpieces from Florence are now on sale here.