Hopetoun residency unveils a complex history

Gustav LR
spaced 3: north by southeast artist Gustav Hellberg

Swedish artist, Gustav Hellberg’s new work Amnesia is influenced by his time in the Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun region, located approximately 590 kilometres from Perth.

His film explores the absence of knowledge and the unspoken histories of the Ravensthorpe region, its nature, and also the people who have been active in this land. We sat down recently with Gustav to talk more about the project.

“I wanted to participate in this project because of my interest in land and property, who owns it and who has the right to land. I have also been doing a few works involved with nationality. That is a subject that I strongly question in my work,” says Gustav.

“Australia and Scandinavia have a few similarities in that both have a small population in a large land mass and a turbulent history involving the indigenous people. Mining is another commonality between the two and the terrible effects that this is doing to the natural landscape.”

“This particular project was challenging in the sense that I knew absolutely nothing about Western Australia and therefore did not know what to expect. I also did not want to go into this project with any false presumptions. As I did more research and on subsequent visits to the area I discovered that there was a fascinating and dark past to the township that appeared to have been lost over the generations.”

Gustav visited Hopetoun four times over the project’s three-year lifespan with each visit providing him more information about the history, the land and its people. His final project is made of three main sections: a video film, a video installation and a collection of artefacts together with text material.

“The reality is always complex and usually too large for one individual to comprehend. To me, this relatively small geographical area between Fitzgerald River in the west and Jerdacuttup River in the east, Ravensthorpe Range in the north and the Southern Ocean in the south, is overwhelmingly large. So is its entire history, as well as the history of people that have lived here for thousands of years.”

“I hope my work will help us to remember and to create a sustainable life for the future in Hopetoun, Ravensthorpe, Western Australia and anywhere.”

Gustav will share more about his time on the spaced 3: north by southeast project and the community collaboration involved in the upcoming free event In conversation with spaced 3 – Panel Discussion” on the 18 August. 

spaced 3: north southeast is organised by the WA-based International Art Space.

You can also read more about his journey by visiting Gustav’s blog.

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Tom Moore and that Pyrotechnic puffer fish

studio portrait

It was Tom Moore’s meticulous attention to detail and execution of a unique concept that captured the attention and votes of the Tom Malone Prize judges this year. We talk to Tom Moore about his award-winning piece the Pyrotechnic puffer fish and the challenges facing glass artistry.

Tell us how you came to the idea of the Pyrotechnic puffer fish?

puffer cup

I have been researching how the wider cultural context of Renaissance Italy influenced the kinds of glass objects that were produced and the social functions and meanings of these objects.

During the 16th-century, objects displaying the fine network of white glass lines such as in these goblet-bowls were thought to be imbued with miraculous properties and were collected in cabinets of curiosity alongside specimens of unicorn horn and pufferfish. I saw one of these pufferfish in a Museum in Florence and could not get it out of my head. It seemed weirdly aware of its placement in the collection. This species has an extremely satisfying form to translate and inflate as hot glass.

Renaissance glassmakers were closely aligned with alchemists. The transformation of sand and plant-ash into glass through the intense heat of the furnace was regarded as a marvellous demonstration of human ingenuity and virtuous artifice. The burning match is intended as a reminder of the pyrotechnic nature of this material.  The absurd drinking vessel in the form of a bent funnel refers to laboratory apparatus and to a rich tradition of trick-glasses that were surprising to look at and intentionally difficult to use. The position of the pufferfish as oversized stems adds to the joke.

It’s a very detailed and beautiful piece of work. How long from conception to completion did this project take and were there any challenges along the way?

It is difficult to calculate the amount of time taken to complete complex objects such as these because there are several processes involved over several weeks. Designing the work and preparing all the parts takes many hours. I complete a full-scale drawing that is meticulously planned.  Coloured and clear glass is combined and stretched to make patterned rods. These are used to create the fine patterned lines within the blown forms, and all the small parts: eyes, fins, teeth, match and flame. The final forming of the parts requires an assistant. All in all these works took approximately 30 hours including the assistant.

There is a certain amount of risk involved in working on forms for such prolonged periods. The glass must be re-heated every couple of minutes or it will crack, but it must not be over-heated or it will melt. It is attached to metal rods while it is being worked and these must be kept turning.

Bending the funnel is a risky moment. After focussing heat on the long skinny neck it becomes difficult to control and after bending it is off-centred which makes the constant turning awkward. Putting the dentures into the fishes mouths is a fussy step and I only get one shot to stick them in the right place.

You’ve taken on the challenge of achieving a carbon neutral art practise. Tell us a bit more about this and is it something that glass artists should be using?

As a contemporary artist who has the privilege of continuing to practice a traditional pyrotechnic craft, I feel compelled to address the issues of climate change and environmental degradation.

 

Tom Moore blowing glassI know that there is an inherent contradiction in making objects that overtly display their complicity in continuing to create these problems. I also believe that this contradiction adds to the communicative potential of glass artworks.  I decided that I could not justify continuing to make objects that seek to navigate my concerns without offsetting 150% of the own carbon impact of making. This is a tricky issue to speak about, I don’t feel I can say my colleagues should be minimising and offsetting their carbon impact, however, my own experience has shown that calculating and offsetting an art practice is surprisingly achievable.

This is not the first time you’ve been awarded the Tom Malone Prize. What do you enjoy about the exhibition and will we see another project from you in the next one!

It is very gratifying to have work shortlisted for this prize so that it can sit amongst its peers. It is a great honour to have my work selected twice for inclusion in the permanent collection at AGWA, this helps the audience to appreciate the breadth of an individual art practice and how it evolves over time. I am pleased that some traditional Venetian decorative techniques and references to the historical forms of the goblet and scientific labware are now part of the growing collection.

The wider collection of winners is a unique record of the Australian glassmaking community. I am very grateful to the sponsors of the Tom Malone Prize for giving this group of specialised makers the impetus to strive toward ambitious works.  I am certain that I will continue to participate in this important national survey exhibition.

View the Tom Malone Prize exhibition before it closes 28 May.

To view more of Tom Moore’s work visit his official page.

Images courtesy of the artist Tom Moore.

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.

Pyrotechnic Puffer Fish_with figure for scale_600w
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

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