Friday, July 24, 2015

July 30 to Aug 16 G1 Ellie Hannon G2 Damien Slevin

As we close the door on the fabulous exhibition from the Seven Painters we open the door to Ellie Hannon and Damien Slevin. Two different, exciting and enticing exhibitions that continue to highlight Newcastle’s position as a major contributor to the Australian and international art scene, open on 30 July at Newcastle Art Space. Ellie Hannon “Traces” in Gallery 1 and Damien Slevin “Windows” in Gallery 2.

Traces – Ellie Hannon – Gallery 1

Coffs Harbour raised Ellie Hannon is passionate about art and is committed to the idea of art accessibility.  To this end, Ellie raised funds and collaborated with an existing art collective ‘Rumah Kreatif’ to build a community art space in Jatitujuh, Indonesia.  Ellie refers to this on her blog as being as a place of creation, collaboration, experimentation, discussion, performance, education….
This is Ellie’s first solo exhibition in Newcastle since winning the Peoples’ Choice Award at Newcastle Emerging Artists Prize in 2014.  During her time in Indonesia, Ellie kept a travel blog of her adventures and achievements which is fascinating to read and can be viewed at: 
On her blog Ellie introduces herself...” as an artist, traveller, listener, learner and teacher. Having a degree in Fine Art from the University of Newcastle she decided to travel with the idea of art and sharing. Travelling through South East Asia, Ellie has volunteered for various projects in many countries teaching visual and recycled art, English and sustainability studies. Her travels have seen her creating art with various communities and holding workshops in many art and community centres.” Ellie Hannon
When I visited her in her studio at Newcastle Community Arts Centre to see her works in progress, Ellie talked about her interest in pattern and repetition and showed me circular wood panels and some larger rectangular works. The circular panels utilise Ellie’s soft colour palette choices and reveal finely drawn organic and leaf-like patterns.  Historical layers were often scratched and wiped back in areas to allow the application process to reveal itself as traces of the past.  Another new layer was then carefully considered and re-worked again. These surfaces provide an enriching experience of discovery under close visual examination and when set out in a repetitive historical line formation, it was evident that the later panels had become less figurative and more open, fluent, and loose in structure.
We briefly talked about her ‘worry dolls’ and specific sculptural pieces that were being made as a separate response to the idea of traces. These botanical inspired ceramic and metal works form a pleasing pattern of surface and shadow along the back wall.  

“This series of new works traverses the fields of painting, drawing, ceramics and assemblage, seeking a poetic relationship between combinations of elements and materials. It is journey exploring the idea of a trace being a surviving mark, a memory or evidence of the existence or passing of something....the mark making leads the viewer, via the suggestion of a footprint or the dashed line of an intermittent path, into a rich litter of colourful leaves and fallen flowers.” Ellie Hannan


 Windows – Damien Slevin – Gallery 2

Damien Slevin was born in Canada with Irish / Australian parents and came to Australia to study in the early 90’s.  He lives in Newcastle and teaches Drama and English at Toronto High School. When we met to discuss this exhibition, Damien was uncertain what would occur first, the exhibition installation or the birth of his first child.  August James Slevin was born on 3rd July.  Congratulations to Damien and Jade from all at NAS. Damien has won a variety of art prizes across the mediums of animation, short film production and painting.  His two brothers are also artists/creatives and they have exhibited together in Newcastle. Extensive details of Damien’s achievements can be found at:

"The exhibition will be an examination of space and how it is altered and framed through the perspective of windows.  Windows often offer a voyeuristic and certainly unique perspective as one often wonders what the view might be through a certain window.  Whether looking out through a window to an exterior or into a space via such a plane there is always an interesting aesthetic from these ubiquitous architectural accessories, which we often take for granted." Damien Slevin
Damien uses a  personal and intimate format to create images, usually of smaller scale.  This show also includes larger work which offer space for open and extended mark making.  The viewer must look closely into the work to discover the painterly magic within in much the same way as a viewer may peer into or out of a window to see what lies through the glass surface. In this new work he talked of a desire to replicate the intensity of light as it was encountered through, across and around these windows. This is a complex process and requires defined skill and expert examination. The task requires establishing the spatial relationships between the window pane and the interior and exterior objects. At the same time, each object and space may have a separate reflection onto, through and across the glass pane itself.  Damien layers these transitions with fine and believable detail and it is this detail that supports the charm and atmosphere that can be found in the familiar everyday haunts into which we all may venture.  If I say these works are beautiful and charming, am I being dismissive in fine art academic terms by using these particular words.  The works may evoke a memory of places visited, of shared experiences, of time spent unconsciously making such memories or connections.  These images work for me especially in light of such definitions.  It is in the everyday detail that the richness of life may often be found.

Chris Byrnes
Assistant Director
Newcastle Art Space 

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