Archive for July 22nd, 2018

Recent exhibitions

A quick roundup.

Matt Bromhead Longline pompom

Matt Bromhead
Installation view

After the excitement of the workshop with Matt (10-Jul-2018) it was great to be able to see some of his work in person at pompom.

Some of the sculptures were tall – up to 230 cm in height. They were generally spindly, apparently precarious. Matt invites movement, partly the nature of the materials, then some hanging elements, and sometimes some strategically placed magnets. There were cantilevers and delicate balances. Play with space, with solidity. There was a sense of a shimmer, a vibration.

One of the gallery owners came over and chatted, very welcoming and engaging. The solo exhibition at pompom is one of the outcomes of Matt’s selection in the 2018 Art Incubator grant program.

Matt was stunningly generous in the workshop he gave. The approach, materials and techniques he taught are strongly evident in the exhibited works, his current explorations. Seeing his drawings reinforced his approach. Apparently Matt’s quest/embrace of chance includes dropping colour through water to create his works on marine ply.

I enjoyed seeing the texture and moments of detail in Matt’s work. His work is raw and unpretentious, playful, experimental, thoughtful, purposeful, intentional.

One recurring thought from recent exhibitions – the power of grouped work. It was strong in Nicole de Mestre’s recent exhibition (13-May-2018). Matt’s work was fascinating in small grouping. They also worked well on small and low shelves on the wall. I think it would need a lot of space around a single work placed on the floor.

The second exhibition at pompom also gained impact from repetition with variation.

Sarah Edmondson According to Chance pompom

Sarah Edmondson
Installation view

Sarah Edmondson’s statement for this exhibition begins “The principle guiding my work is the belief that chance events open up opportunities of discovery”, so it was a great pairing with Matt Bromhead. The base image for all the works in the exhibition was a computer glitch, blown up, cut up, the outcome of an instant… and become the template for needlepoint. A bizarre combination of random chance with detailed consideration and planning followed by laborious process.

The size and mounting of all but one of the works was the same, a square of canvas in a deep frame. Colour tended to the vibrant. I found most interesting the works that transgressed, that broke the surface, showed the structure, interrupted the repetition of the stitch.

Cultivate: inspired by nature Sturt Gallery

In a brief visit to this exhibition I was particularly taken by a series of work by Sophie Carnell – Shoreline Series.

Carnell combines beach combed treasures with recycled sterling silver. Each piece creates its own little moment or space, but the combined hanging added more as one explored the variations of these unique, organic, whimsical objects.

Sophie Carnell
Shoreline Series

Sophie Carnell
Shoreline Series

Sophie Carnell
Shoreline series

The care, consideration, time, and effort put into each piece is clear. The mounting is simple and effective, inviting appreciation of the individual beauty of the object. There is a certain joy and exuberance and humour, refined and controlled without being made static.

Geoff Harvey: One Man’s Treasure Manly Art Gallery & Museum
An important part of looking at other people’s work is reflecting on why something doesn’t attract or delight me. From one or two small photos on the Manly Gallery website I was quite interested. (We were visiting planning a visit for a different exhibition – more on that in another post). Walking into the gallery I felt disappointed.

Geoff Harvey
Installation view


Geoff Harvey
Abbey Road (Romanesque Monasticism re-mastered)
Two of six pieces

First, overwhelming impression – static.

Everything is carefully balanced, centered. The spires seemed sturdy rather than soaring. There’s certainly nothing precarious or left to chance. Phallic and a bit obvious.

There is texture in the found objects, but again it seems controlled, tamed. Going closer to a particular piece, I didn’t feel rewarded by an extra level of detail or jolt of recognition. Which seemed strange, as the elements include some beautiful aged pieces of timber, often I guess architectural detailing from old buildings, plus oddments of kitchen paraphernalia.

Geoff Harvey
Grace of New York (making America grate again)
Full and detail views

The sub-title of one piece really aggravated me. Grace of New York (making America grate again). Graters – yeah, got it. Names of other pieces include “shrine”, “cathedral”, “minaret”, “men of prayer”. The artist apparently has a fascination with the architecture of worship. OK, fine…

So I’m slamming this guy for a single small exhibition. The tiniest sliver of a view on his work. Unfair and unreasonable, especially since care and skill and some great collected materials are evident.

But in the end this blog is about me and my learning. It’s not journalism or art criticism. A strong reaction is interesting. On reflection I think it’s a feeling of wasted resources, lost opportunities. So what do I bring back to my own work? Play with balance. Go for risk, the precipice. I prefer my humour whimsical or quirky. Push beyond the first idea. Surprise yourself.


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