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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Toast farewell to the Corsini Collection at an exclusive dinner event

 

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Toast farewell to Corsini this weekend. Photo by Jessica Wyld Photography & Ed Fetahovic

On Saturday 16 June, toast farewell to the Corsini Collection over a magnificent Italian feast.

Renowned winemaker, Juniper, Margaret River, has matched their award-winning wines to a five-course degustation menu that features fresh and innovative Italian cuisine.

Hal Bibby of Juniper, Margaret River says, “Our chief Winemaker, Mark Messenger has selected across our range to pair with the menu designed by Faith Nichols from Comestibles.

“In keeping with the Corsini theme, our first pairings are with two Fianos, an Italian white variety made in differing styles. The gold medal-winning Juniper Small Batch Fiano 2017 which is a vibrant and refreshing style will complement the delicate components of every aspect of the first course,” says Bibby.

“The Higher Plane Fiano 2017– also a gold medal winner – is a more complex wine that will amplify the flavours in the delicate risotto and chicken brodo superbly, its sapidity echoing the accompanying garnishes.”

“Our third course matching challenges convention, but should be sensational. We are pairing our Gold medal winning Juniper Estate Semillon 2007 with the honey glazed loin of lamb, as bottle age has magnified the richness in this wine to make it the perfect foil to the various elements in this dish with its body and honied development.”

“The softness, depth and breadth of the flavour of the Juniper Estate Shiraz 2012 will pull together the various components of the chicken dish magnificently.”

“Our final pairing features a dish that could not be more appropriate for the Juniper Estate Cane Cut Riesling 2017. It is made to retain acidity to corset the sweetness in the wine so that it is clean and refreshing.”

Limited to only 50 seats, this superb send-off will be set in the Corsini exhibition entrance, surrounded by immersive palace photo backdrops – steps away from the prized collection.

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Be in the draw to win a Gallery hamper valued at $250

Guest will have exclusive private access to the exhibition with AGWA Guru Guides on hand for insights into the works of art.

Stefano Carboni, AGWA Director, says, “This is a unique way to experience the exhibition and immerse yourself in Italian culture. The first event was a sell-out success, and I know interest is high in this second more intimate opportunity.”

It’s a brilliant way to say ciao to your favourite works in the Corsini Collection.

Every ticket purchased will also go into the draw to win an amazing Gallery hamper valued at $250 and features two bottles of wine from Juniper, Margaret River, Corsini inspired gifts and beautifully illustrated hardcover Italian themed catalogues.

Book your tickets here.

MENU
On arrival
Juniper Estate Blanc de Blanc 2015

Course one
A dainty dish of preserved zucchini flavoured with lemon zest and fresh oregano,  accompanied by burrata and finely sliced Cerignola olives
Matched with Juniper Small Batch Fiano 2017

Course two

A delicate risotto cooked in Fiano and chicken brodo garnished with freshly grated parmigiana reggiano and crisped sage leaves
Matched with Higher Plane Fiano 2017

Course three
Honey glazed loin of lamb poached in a little dry white wine served with braised fennel and the drizzle of the poaching liquid
Matched with Aged Juniper Estate Semillon

Course four
Breast of Mahogany Creek Chicken in a citrus juniper marinade accompanied with a shallot chestnut Vin Santo sauce served with kipfler potatoes and grilled radicchio
Matched with Aged Juniper Estate Shiraz 2012

Course five
Chilled Lemon cream garnished with chopped candied lemon peel, berries icing sugar and lemon biscuits
Matched with Juniper Estate Cane Cut Riesling 2017

Course six to accompany coffee
Amaretti , nougat and candied fruits

 

Guru Guides Reflect on the Corsini Collection

As A Window on Italy – The Corsini Collection exhibition comes to a close on the 18 June, we catch up with Voluntary Guru Guides Stephanie Watson and Louise Gillett to find out which work was their favourite and what they’ve enjoyed most about the exhibition.

Louise Gillett

Guiding the Corsini has been an exciting ride. To date, I have conducted 18 public tours with four more to go before the show finishes. Researching and preparing has been hugely interesting and I learn more with each tour as patrons ask questions and provide opinions.

Guru Guide Louise Gillett sharing her insights on Botticelli’s Madonna and Child

My favourite work?

The Botticelli, of course! To witness Botticelli’s poignant intention to suggest the Crucifixion in a work depicting Christ as an infant, is very moving. The rendering in tempera with all of the attendant precision and expertise seems to exemplify the artist’s deep Christian conviction, a desire to assert belief in the face of rampant humanism. The classical restraint, beauty and symmetry of those faces- breathtaking! It is always rewarding to guide this work; to provide the Christian explanation to patrons who are not aware of it and to witness the knowing nods of those who are familiar with the narrative and symbolism. This sharing of knowledge and experience in front of great art is what drives me as a Guide.

Stephanie Watson:

My favourite work:
While Botticelli’s touching painting “Madonna and Child with Six Angels” is undoubtedly the star of the show, I am also drawn to Giovanni Santi’s modest work. For me, its evocation of “Birth of Venus” relates to one of the world’s great artistic treasures.

Giovanni Santi’s painting of the Muse of History, Clio, shows her not with her traditional scroll, but enveloped in the gorgeous, swirling drapery of her beautiful blue gown. Fittingly, blue was the most expensive of paint pigments. Her hair floats behind her, echoing not only the movement of her dress but also the trees in the background.

Giovanni Santi (Colbordolo 1435-Urbino 1494) Clio from The Muses circa 1480-90. Tempera on board, 820 x 390mm. Florence, Galleria Corsini

A hallmark of the Renaissance is the device of framing; here rocks and vegetation surround the central image. Another was a renewed interest in the classical world, which interestingly, sat comfortably with the deeply religious mood of the time. Clio’s almost bare feet reflect the philosophy of humanism and naturalism which was replacing the waning Medieval ethos.

The ‘flatness’ of the figure and detachment of the Muse are also elements of that earlier style. The traditional medium of egg tempera on wood panel soon to be overtaken by the new material of oil on linen has also been used. Giovanni’s far more famous son Raphael began his education in the studio of his father at the Palazzo of the Duke of Urbino. While his soaring talent soon outstretched his father’s, this painting can still charm us with its beauty.

A special moment in one of my tours was the texting conversation between one of the visitors to the exhibition and her cousin who was at work in the Palazzo Corsini in Florence at that very moment, bringing extra life to this wonderful exhibition.

 

Corsini Opening Day - A Florentine Festival Day

With so many stories behind each work, our fantastic guides have captured the imagination of over 30,000 visitors since the opening of the exhibition. We thank them for their amazing work.

Why the classical world was attractive to Europe in the fifteenth century

 

Prometheus
Traditionally attributed to Anthony van Dyck (Antwerp 1599-London 1641) Prometheus and the Eagle early 17th century (detail). Oil on canvas, 1100 x 1610mm. Galleria Corsini, Florence.

 

The oldest paintings from the Corsini Collection currently on display are by Giovanni Santi and date from the late 1400s. They feature the Olympian god Apollo and three of the Muses. Other paintings on display also feature subjects drawn from Greek mythology, such as del Mazziere’s panel based on the Roman poet Ovid’s account in his Metamorphoses, and Rombouts’ confronting image of Prometheus and the Eagle.  At the time that they were painted, these images were being made by artists for patrons who were also commissioning paintings of more traditional Christian subject matter, portraits, and genre scenes.

So why was the classical world attractive to Europe in the fifteenth century? Perhaps some answers can be found in a closer examination of these paintings.

Santi’s paintings of Apollo and the Muses were once part of a larger decorative cycle commissioned by the Duke of Urbino for one of two small ‘temples’ within the ducal palace. The other ‘temple’ was the Duke’s private chapel, and this proximity of Christian and pagan imagery is revealing. Together the two spaces make manifest the Duke’s spirituality, his learning, and the importance of the balance between the active and contemplative life for a ruler.

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Exhibition: A Window on Italy – The Corsini Collection: Masterpieces from Florence featuring works by Giovanni Santi The Muses circa 1480-90. Florence, Galleria Corsini.

 

Ovid’s Metamorphoses was a popular source of subject matter for Renaissance artists in Italy. Here, del Mazziere has depicted the tales of Apollo and Daphne and Narcissus in the one panel. We see Daphne changing into a laurel tree in order to escape Apollo’s attention, and Narcissus lying dead by the pool – the victim of his own vanity. The artist is clearly captivated by the idea of profane, rather than sacred, love and uses the tales of Ovid to warn of the dangers of unrequited love.

VASARI ATTRIBUITO A DONNINO ANDREA - Scena mitologica
Antonio di Donnino del Mazziere (Florence late 15th century-1547) Mythological Scene (Fables of Apollo, Daphne and Narcissus) early 1520s. Oil and gold on board, 300 x 430mm. Florence. Galleria Corsini.

The warnings of Greek myth was also used as a subject by Rombouts in his depiction of Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from the gods on Mount Olympus and gave it to humans. For this transgression he was punished by Zeus and his fate was to have his liver torn out by an eagle (the emblem of Zeus). But his wounds healed overnight, and so this torture was repeated daily until he was rescued by Heracles, the son of Zeus.

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

 

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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

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 Allison Holland

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Written by Mikaela Hewett, Communications Intern

 

Heath Ledger: A Life in Pictures is a compelling new exhibition presented by AGWA and the Western Australian Museum. Celebrating a life spent both in front of the camera and behind it, this display features photographs and personal belongings of the late Heath Ledger. I met up with curator Allison Holland to discuss what we should expect from the exhibition, currently showing at AGWA.

Hi Allison, thanks for meeting with me today. Could you tell us what we should know about Heath Ledger: A Life in Pictures?

The project started in 2011 with the WA Museum. The core of this exhibition comes from Heath Ledger’s Archive. These include costumes from his films, journals Heath created as he developed several of his characters, as well as an extraordinary number of photographs and film footage taken on and off the set.  There are scripts, storyboards, and production stills all documenting the process of filmmaking.

I have also included portraits by artists who photographed Heath at various times throughout his career. These photographs were published in Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and other celebrity magazines.

On the 22 January 2018, it will be the 10th anniversary of Heath’s passing, so this exhibition is a timely celebration of his life and creativity. Heath was a local boy and started his career here, so the early section of the exhibition focusses on Perth.

How did you approach the curation of this exhibition?

When I started to work with this material and conceive of the exhibition, I considered displaying the process of filmmaking through Heath’s career to communicate to the audience the complexity of production and how it is a collaborative process. From a very young age, Heath wanted to be a director, so I also wanted to convey his enthusiasm about all aspects of filmmaking – not just being an actor.

I never knew that. Could you tell us more about Heath’s desire to be a director?

The exhibition also recreates Heath’s creative studio, based in Los Angeles, called The Masses. He and a group of friends – musicians, artists, and filmmakers – got together to collaborate on a diverse set of projects. Heath made a number of music videos, which are being screened, as well as the storyboards and treatments he created as part of the process of directing them.

There were also two films he intended to direct. One of them was The Queens Gambit, based on a novel about a young female chess master. The pre-production stage was scheduled to commence at the end of 2008, but unfortunately, he passed away. The other one, still in script development, was about the 1970s musician Nick Drake.

Heath was very passionate about Nick Drake and while completing Todd Haynes’s biopic on Bob Dylan – I’m Not There – he decided to completely change his approach from depicting the musician’s life to using Nick’s music to lead an unrelated narrative.

That’s interesting to hear. What can you tell us about Heath’s interest in photography?

There are several photographic albums on display in this exhibition, which Heath meticulously compiled by placing photographs in very considered juxtapositions. There are also thirty-two photographs from the Archive hung in a mass display. Many Heath had enlarged, or framed and displayed in his homes.

So when did Heath begin to show an interest in photography?

He’d been taking photographs since he was a teenager, but around 1998 he started to focus on how things looked through the frame, or the lens, of the camera. While on set he would take an opportunity to learn from the directors and the directors of photography. He would look at the rushes or dailies to see how things appeared through the lens, and ask questions about apertures and lighting effects. He was just fascinated by the whole image making process.

Heath sounds like he had many different talents and passions. Are there any we haven’t mentioned yet?

Heath had a passion for chess and played, on an average, ten games a day – he just adored the game.

That’s a lot of chess games! Before we wrap up, can you share what excites you about the exhibition?

I’m excited for people to see his photography and music video. I also want to convey his collaborative nature and how he nurtured younger actors and filmmakers through The Masses and on set. I hope people who visit the exhibition will appreciate the complexity of the film industry and how many people contribute to realising a director’s vision.

Our next Pursuing Your Passions guest is Managing Director of Rusty, Geoff Backshall.  Join Geoff on Friday 3 November from 5:30pm in the exhibition space at AGWA.

 

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