Homewares for your Alpine Home
CAST your eyes around the room and just for a moment the work of artist Clayton Tremlett transports you back to another time. It’s a world where men were men; sometime in the 1800’s when swaggering, self-confident bushrangers thumbed their noses at authority, yet posed sternly in suits with their shoulders back and their heads high and proud.
But these stylised silhouette-like portraits of carefully coiffed men have not been sourced from the archives of a local museum. Instead they are Tremlett’s thoroughly unique and contemporary twist on the ubiquitous selfie, showcased as part of “Beard and Influence” which opens at the Wangaratta Art Gallery on May 26.
The exhibition includes a selection of large scale selfportrait linocut prints in which the artist invokes the dictionary definition of beard as a verb – “to oppose face to face, set at defiance or to boldly confront or challenge”. They have been intensely researched and created over four years, with the artist re-imagining himself in the bearded style of 12 bushrangers of a bygone era, as part of a study of man, myth and masculinity.
Wangaratta Art Gallery director Simone Nolan met the specialty printmaker while working at the Heide Museum of Modern Art and was familiar with his work, but the artist himself actually grew up in Wangaratta.
“He’s had this slight fascination with the whole bushranger heritage, stories and history, particularly in the areas of Glenrowan and Beechworth but also in Castlemaine,” she said.
“He’s also fascinated with the presence of a man with a beard and how in that era men would style their beards and it was part of their identity - and when you look at those early portraits, some of the beard characteristics were quite abstract. They’re really beautiful works which come across as old images but are actually Clayton’s own face, representing these strong characters of the era. It’s a really unique show and we plan to offer some exciting programs to complement the works which will possibly attract a younger audience.”
It’s part of a considered strategy by the gallery to connect with a broader, younger demographic and to introduce them to one of the city’s most important and vibrant assets.
Ms Nolan recently curated “Fine Young Things”, an exhibition showcasing the work of Gabriel Curtin, Mathew Fairbridge and Anthea Kemp – three contemporary visual artists under 30 who all grew up in North East Victoria. She said the concept for that show was to bring together and acknowledge artists who grew up near Wangaratta and are forging exciting careers for themselves in the art world, to inspire the local audience.
“I wanted to feed back to our young aspiring artists in the region, but also to the audience that don’t know about these young people who have a vision, are pursuing their artistic careers and taking themselves very seriously,” she said. >>
Ms Nolan said Kirrily was wonderful at replicating the human body and thrilled by the opportunity to produce an installation which was likely to complement programs such as the ballet-science schools program STEAM which will be delivered by the Performing Arts Centre in June 2018. She said the figure the artist will develop will relate to choreography, dance and movement.
Another highlight in autumn will be The Hassall Collection – a selection of contemporary indigenous art which opened in the main gallery in April. The works are on loan from Sydney businessman and philanthropist, Geoffrey Hassall OAM - an art collector with a passion for contemporary indigenous art.
Ms Nolan said the exhibition includes works from what is a significant private collection by artists including Sally Gabori, Ivy Drill, Doris Bush and Timothy Cook. She said the gallery will hold complementary activities engaging local schools, as well as incorporating contemporary indigenous art practice awareness into the program. A feature will be the official opening floor talk by the highly regarded Judith Ryan AM, senior curator of indigenous art at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).
“The works are just beautiful, very abstract and very exciting – it’s not the traditional dot paintings techniques that visitors are going to see,” she said.
“We see a lot of potential there for school groups studying indigenous art and indigenous studies which is deeply across the current national curriculum.”
Also visiting the gallery this year will be “Graham”, the shocking and confronting sculpture made by world-renowned Melbourne sculptor Patricia Piccinini for the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). The grotesque yet lifelike figure was created in collaboration by the artist with the TAC, a leading trauma surgeon and a crash investigation expert, as what the only person designed to survive on our roads would look like.
In the flesh, Graham is truly breathtaking and the augmented reality technology incorporated into the exhibition will allow visiting school groups and the public to interact with him through four interactive ipads.
At the end of May visitors to the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre will have the opportunity to experience the work of Melbourne based artist Marise Maas whose playful paintings shine a light on the mundane in daily life.
In reference to the gallery program ahead, Ms Nolan said her aim was make art accessible to all and to potentially lure locals and visitors alike to take a chance and discover what is behind the gallery façade.
“I don’t want our potential visitors to always feel that they are required to understand the art they are viewing, it is important to sometimes view and not always ‘get it’,” she said.
“What I hope is that our visitors experience surprise, inspiration, intrigue, or possibly even have a moment of self-reflection. Most importantly I want our visitors to experience enjoyment, everyone is welcome and it’s free, so what is there to lose.”
Graham TAC - Patricia Piccinini will visit the gallery March 29 to May 20.
The Hassall Collection: A Selection of Indigenous Art will be on display from April 14 to May 27.
Beard and Influence: Clayton Tremlett will run from May 26 to July 8.
Petite Miniature Textiles will run from June 2 to July 29.