Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pop Tart and Reframing our Flaws at Newcastle Art Space Gallery

Newcastle Art Space is alive and vibrating with raw energy, quite literally I mean.  The space is filled with colour, sexual references, phallic symbols, menstruating knickers, painted B-Grade movie stills where the bad girls take centre stage, masked faces, sculpted body parts, pin-up girls and nocturnal dreaming and memory.

Gallery 1
Pop Tart
Jack Barnes, Lauren Horwood, Cecily Lomax, Ellie Kaufmann, Patrick Mavety and Katelyn Slyer

In Gallery 1 six artists explore pop art, cultural Americanism displaced within the Australian domestic landscape, our day and night suburbia and identity with humour, fun but always carrying subversive undercurrents.

Ellie Kaufmann won the Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize for painting in 2015.  She has a Diploma Fine Art from Newcastle TAFE.  She has brought Lauren Horwood, Katelyn Slyer, and Cecily Lomax together after their recent exhibition in Project Contemporary Artspace Wollongong, Vicious, Delicious and Ambitious.  The current exhibition highlights work from this show and underpins the new work.  Vicious, Delicious and Ambitious is now set to become an annual event on the Wollongong art scene.  Emily paints her friends into the frame depicting them as the bad girls, naughty provocateurs and heroic figures, showing a seedy, lude side to portraiture.  
Local domestic suburban streets set the backdrop for playing with the un-popular image while at the same time, re-inventing the un-popular, into the popular right before our eyes. They cannot be avoided. Emily talked about her subjects being themselves and her belief in not taking oneself too seriously.  Some of her influences are American painters Eric Fischl and Eric White.
Contact Ellie:
Instagram: Elliekauf

Katelyn Slyer describes herself as a photographer and has an Advanced Diploma in Fine Art and studies in Design through Wollongong institutions.  In this exhibition she invites us into her travel diary which is interspersed with individual portraits of people she knows in the underground punk scene.   
Katelyn has been documenting the punk scene for more than ten years and talked about the underground punk subculture with music at its centre along with fashion, visual art, performance, film and ideologies originally linked  to  anti-establishment views and support of individual freedom.
Find Katelyn on Instagram: slyer83

Lauren Horwood describes herself as a self-taught photographer inspired by the films of James Bond particularly the glamorous style of the Bond women. She also inhabits the world of punk and is searching for her own new way of depicting the images of the 1950s and 1960s Playboy bunnies within a contemporary context.   
Her work is informed by her tongue-in-cheek attitude of not taking it too serious, although she is working quite seriously to achieve some ambitious goals.  Lauren has been in the U.S photographing the American pin-up scene and plans on returning soon to network and make further photographic works in this same style. Another of her projects is an Australian magazine based on the 1960s Playboy format, filmed and produced by Lauren using Australian models.  

Cecily Lomax is Sydney based, has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of New South Wales and currently works with sculpting body parts in plaster.  Her work started with study in the disability area and prosthetics and is underpinned with post human theory, how a body interacts with technology through medical science and the notion of body modification to improve and fix. 

Cecily is interested in examining how far we can push a human body before it loses its human-ness.  Influenced by 1960s sci-fi movies, comics and art of that era, Cecily counts performance artist Stelarc and Patricia Piccinini amongst her influences.

Find Cecily on Instragram hellcatlomax

The works of the female group members in the centre of the room do carry strength due both to the subject matter but also through the volume of the work that sits in the space.  However, there are two male artists whose work sits around the edges and do more than hold their own in the space.

Patrick Mavety is a painter now undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Newcastle.  A former Central Coast resident he has been in Newcastle for the past five years or so.  In 2014 he won the much coveted Reg Russom Drawing Prize at TAFE, always a great achievement amongst a talented competitive group.   

In this exhibition he paints mostly nocturnal suburbia, stepping out with his camera at sundown and dusk to find that quiet alone space chasing euphoria.  He then returns to the studio to recall this alone-ness and the dark tones of evening through direct photographic reference, memory and dreaming the streetscape back up into conscious thought and actions.  Patrick is influenced by the German Expressionists and Kandinsky.
Contact Patrick via email:

Jack Barnes is studying at the University of Newcastle to be an art teacher.  He talked of the masks that we all wear and the pretending that occurs within contemporary social-media culture.  Two figures in Love is Love are depicted wearing masks.  Jack does however do something that other works do not do, or did not appear to do when I viewed them at the opening, and that is to show himself to us by removing his rabbit costume head and standing before us with cigarette in hand, face front on to the viewer. 

Jack tries hard to not take selfies but has taken the longer road and painted one out for the audience with his self-portrait.  I neglected to ask him about his costume and whether he was Alice in Wonderland’s White rabbit and late, very late for a very important date.  He did seem to have a strong group of fellow students waiting to embrace and catch up with him on the night. Always a richer conversation when talking face to face with an artist and not through a disconnected social-media platform.
Find Jack on Instagram: _barnz

Gallery 2
Reframing our Flaws
Emily Amaryllis

In Gallery 2 Emily Amaryllis is showing us overtly political work that focuses on the female body, consent, sexual assault and Queer studies. Emily is undertaking studies in Fine Art, Honours at the University of Newcastle and referred to herself as a feminist and Queer activist.  Her medium is textiles and she also works in interactive performance. Some of the issues Emily tackles may still be confronting for some audience members.  Even today some subjects are still considered taboo and not to be openly discussed, but I hope we have come a long way in recognising our differences as something uniting and something to be embraced, rather than hidden.    

Her bedroom quilt carries the words from shared stories gathered from the audience, as part of an interactive performance. These same words about sexual experience and consent are now stitched onto the surface of the quilt.  Emily’s work references the boundaries of ‘the normal’ and the flawed or ‘not normal’, however, it is difficult to find a workable contemporary definition of what is normal and what is just human, at least for me at this time.  Emily mentioned the influence of the work of textile artist, Magdalena Abakonowicz.
Contact Emily:

Overall I should not have liked some elements in the combined NAS show particularly from my experience of being an older female, and having gone through early teen years just prior to the women's liberation movement, but I loved it all, innuendo and hidden messages (real or imagined).  The most significant experience though was meeting the seven artists whose own collective intelligence, talent, initiative, beauty and zest for art and life, actually superseded the beauty and wonder of the art itself.  That is saying something because as I said, I loved the work and their confidence and courage to put it all out on the line for art.

When you come along to visit, and you will, allow time to see the full range of works in this space. It is a rewarding experience. If you have time to talk to the artists in the gallery, this is also guaranteed to be interesting.

Chris Byrnes
NAS Blogger

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