ICYMI: This week’s arts news in brief

The latest festival and exhibition announcements, opportunities for artists, and a summary of arts news from around the country.
ICYMI: This week’s arts news in brief The Garden of Unearthly Delights is staging a special bushfire recovery showcase on Kangaroo Island. Photo credit: Alex Pantazis.

Performing Arts Editor

Friday 14 February, 2020

LATEST NEWS

Former Collingwood Technical College set to open as ‘Collingwood Yards’ in 2020

Over the past four years the former Collingwood Technical College has been undergoing a dramatic transformation into a permanent, affordable and dynamic home for artists and the creative community in Melbourne’s inner north. With the site already welcoming the first influx of tenants and set to open to the public in stages throughout 2020, its new identity as Collingwood Yards has now been revealed.

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‘The “Collingwood Arts Precinct” is a literal description that has been applied not only to Collingwood Yards, but to the adjoining Circus Oz site and, at times, some of the creative community around it,’ said Marcus Westbury, CEO of Contemporary Arts Precincts Ltd.  The organisation has managed and developed the Collingwood Yards site since the Victorian Government, through Creative Victoria, designated the site as a creative hub and community asset, transferring ownership to Contemporary Arts Precincts in March 2018.

Read: From Collingwood Arts Precinct to community heart

Once colloquially known as the ‘Tech Yards’, Collingwood Yards picks up a former name for the site and reimagined it, speaking to the future of a new, open and welcoming place in the Collingwood community.

‘Collingwood Yards evokes the history of the site, its defining central features and our ambitions for a place of making and creating,’ Westbury said. ‘Our plans for the site have always been about connecting it to the community and reorienting it around the central courtyard. In a dense part of the city it will become a place for the whole community to enjoy, as well as being a unique outdoor meeting space, performance venue and place for creative events.’

Opening in stages through the first half of 2020, Collingwood Yards will feature tenants including PBS106.7FM, Music Victoria, Briggs’ Bad Apples Music, Bus Projects, Auspicious Arts Projects, Centre for Projection Art, Experimenta Media Arts, Liquid Architecture, The Social Studio, The Push, West Space and Uro Publications. Visit Collingwood Yards for a full list of founding tenants.

Facade of Collingwood Yard's Art Deco entrance. Photo credit: Peter Clarke

Adelaide reports 23% increase in live music gigs

For the 5th year running, Music SA has undertaken the Live Music Census to ascertain the health of South Australia’s live music sector. In summary, it shows that throughout May 2019 there were 1,623 gigs in 309 licensed venues across the state. In Adelaide metro there were 1,315 gigs across 211 licensed venues, which is a 23% increase in gigs from last year’s census. Of those, 39% of gigs were original and 61% were covers. Regionally, gigs showed a steady 3% increase from 2018.

CEO of Music SA Lisa Bishop said, ‘The live music census reveals … we have witnessed sustained growth over the last five years. This is grass roots testament that contemporary musicians and bricks n’ mortar pubs are contributing to the mantel of Adelaide as a UNESCO City of Music. Look no further than the amazing number of bushfire fundraiser gigs in your local gig guide to see this in action.’

Building on this, the annual winter live music celebration – the Umbrella Festival – is set to return for a fifth year, expanding regionally across South Australia in 2020 thanks to a grant from the Marshall Government. For 2020, Music SA has funds available to assist regional communities to curate specific Umbrella celebrations that showcase local musicians. Music SA will work with regional folks to help build local skills in live music delivery and promotion.

Minister for Innovation and Skills, David Pisoni, said, ‘Expanding Umbrella will help increase regional engagement, activity and live music performance opportunities, and support the growth of the creative industries in South Australia.’

In support of this regional expansion of the Umbrella Festival, Music SA has launched the state’s first ever Live Music Toolkit, a practical resource to assist local and regional councils to activate more live music.

$150,000 investment in supporting arts criticism

The Copyright Agency, in partnership with the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas, this week announced funding of $150,000 to support the publication of more arts reviews and criticism in The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Brisbane Times and WA Today.

Judith Neilson Institute executive director Mark Ryan said the initiative reflected the institute’s aim to support quality journalism across the board.

‘Coverage of Australia’s arts scene is important, and our support will generate more reviews and criticism, not just for Melbourne and Sydney audiences, but across the country. It will also allow these mastheads to hire new critics, which is good news for arts journalists,’ he said.

The grant and investment by Nine will deliver an additional 100 reviews across both The SMH and The Age and feature books, plays and the visual arts from around Australia.

The mastheads will soon begin a search for some 'critics-in-residence' for books, visual arts and theatre. These emerging critical voices will add to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age's existing teams of highly-respected critics.

The Australian newspaper investment coupled with the grant will support a weekly column by award-winning poet, editor, critic and academic Sarah Holland-Batt, who will review new books and cover key issues within the writing sector.

This initiative will help foster opportunities for emerging arts writers and critics by offering new perspectives on contemporary Australian works that will spark interest, curiosity and debate in the wider community.

Arts Project Australia makes a splash in New York City

In January 2020, Arts Project Australia partnered with DUTTON and Fleisher/Ollman galleries to present their biggest ever collection of artists and artworks at the Outsider Art Fair in New York.

Arts Project Australia represented nine artists at the Outsider Art Fair, an international exhibition that features self-taught artists in New York City and Paris each year, across two captivating installations of paintings, drawings, ceramics and soft sculpture.

With 12,000 visitors to the fair, Arts Project gained significant attention. The New York Times noted Julian Martin at Fleisher/Ollman’s installation as a 'must-see' at the fair. At the DUTTON booth, Lisa Reid caught the attention of New York art critic, Jerry Saltz.

While soaking up New York City’s energy a hemisphere away, Arts Project’s heart remained with Australia, donating 10% of all Outsider Art Fair sales to Wildlife Victoria.

Arts Project Australia is a social enterprise that supports artists with intellectual disabilities, promotes their work and advocates for their inclusion in contemporary art practice within a Northcote-based studio and gallery as well as exhibitions and art prizes in Australia and beyond.

Australian Festival of Chamber Music and Musica Viva Australia announce partnership

The Australian Festival of Chamber Music (AFCM) and Musica Viva Australia have announced the signing of an agreement that will see AFCM engage Musica Viva to provide artist support services to AFCM.

AFCM Executive Director Gavin Findlay was recently in Sydney to sign the agreement with Musica Viva CEO Hywel Sims, and to brief Musica Viva staff who will be working alongside the AFCM team, and Artistic Director, Kathryn Stott.

‘The opportunity for strategic engagement with Musica Viva has come at an ideal time for our Festival,’ Findlay said. ‘As we enter our fourth decade, the organisation has been reflecting deeply on what is needed to provide an appropriate level of professional support to our visiting artists, and this is an area where Musica Viva’s experience is unparalleled.’

Sims said: ‘Musica Viva has had a long history of collaboration with artists and other arts organisations and actively seeks opportunities to support others through combining talents. Therefore, we’re delighted to bring our expertise in effective artist support to the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and look forward to working with their team.’

Under the agreement, Musica Viva staff will manage artist liaison leading up to AFCM 2020, including travel and accommodation, sourcing and distributing sheet music, administering artists’ contracts, and scheduling the Festival’s intensive rehearsal schedule.  They will also be on the ground in Townsville during the ten-day event to ensure the artist experience is ‘both happy and professional’.  Musica Viva will also assist just-announced incoming Artistic Director, UK violinist Jack Liebeck, in the operational aspects of contracting artists for the 2021 Festival.

Garden Of Unearthly Delights pitches in to aid Kangaroo Island

The Garden of Unearthly Delights are joining forces with Mix 102.3 to present a night of free entertainment in the form of a Garden Gala on Kangaroo Island. On 17 February, The Garden is sending a convoy of their very best comedians and circus performers to the bushfire-stricken region of South Australia to provide some much- needed laughs and levity to the residents who’ve endured hell over these past few months.

‘We are really pleased to support the Kangaroo Island community by bringing The Garden to their doorstep. Everyone is super keen to do something to help and we hope that a night of fun will raise the spirits of the people who have had such a hard summer of bushfires. After all – putting on shows is what we do best! Our artists all leapt at the chance to be part of the show and have generously donated their only day off this month to spend it with the people of Kangaroo Island. We can’t wait to show them around this famous and much loved part of South Australia,’ said Michelle Buxton, Director, Garden of Unearthly Delights.

Acts donating their time for the Garden Gala on Kangaroo Island include Gold Logie winner Tom Gleeson, Harley Breen, Dilruk Jayasinha, Australian comedy royalty Frank Woodley, newcomer Nina Oyama and the UK’s Markus Birdman (Best of the Edinburgh Fest).

While the event is specifically for Island residents, the Garden team also want to amplify the voices of Kangaroo Island’s artisans and entrepreneurs by saying – loud and proud – that Kangaroo Island is open for business.  

This is a free event for Kangaroo Island locals and bushfire volunteers although tickets must be reserved online.

TALKS AND OPPORTUNITIES

Stunt Lounge . Image via the Flying Fruit Fly Circus.

NATIONAL YOUTH CIRCUS ANNOUNCES $50,000 PROGRAM SUPPORTING EMERGING REGIONAL ARTISTS

Under Construction is a new initiative from the Flying Fruit Fly Circus (FFFC) to develop and support emerging circus artists in regional NSW. It provides a structure for the creative development and presentation of original new physical theatre and circus works, concluding with a work-in-progress premiere during the company’s annual Borderville Circus Festival in Albury-Wodonga.

Two residencies are available in 2020 and the successful applicants will receive:

- Seed funding of $4,000 cash and extensive in-kind support

- Up to three weeks access to the FFFC rehearsal facilities and equipment

- Advice, feedback and mentorship from an experienced team

- Public liability and workers compensation insurance for all artists contracted for the duration of the residency.

- Free accommodation in the FFFC Circus House

- Staging and technical support for a work-in-progress showing during Borderville Circus Festival (December 2020).

- 80% of box office revenue from the performance

- Full length video and promo edit of the performance and production photography

- Support and advice on any future life of the work

Flying Fruit Fly Circus Artistic Director Anni Davey, said: ‘Our circus nurtures young talent and develops artists for future careers. The first few steps are often the hardest, the make or break. We are increasingly focussed on providing meaningful support for those emerging artists – not just ‘fruities’ - in the first five years of their practice, and to encourage them to make work with us regionally. This is a wonderful new initiative and a significant commitment for us, made possible by co-investment from Regional Arts NSW.’

Guidelines and applications are available online. Applications will close on 27 March 2020.

University of Sydney Library seeks its next Printer in Residence

Talented letterpress printers and artists are invited to apply for the 2020 Printer in Residence Program, an eight-week residency that provides a unique opportunity to develop works using the University of Sydney Library’s Albion Press.

The successful resident will be supported with $7,000 in funding, access to the Rare Books & Special Collections Library and exclusive use of the Albion Press workshop in the University’s Fisher Library.

Last year’s resident, Barbara Campbell said the program was a ‘dream opportunity’ for artists with experience in letterpress printing.

‘There were so many highlights from the Printer in Residence program; building a real relationship with the big old Albion Press every day was an honour,’ she said.

This year will mark the third year of the Printer in Residence program, which takes place in semester two. Applications are open until Sunday 1 March 2020.

The Wheeler Centre celebrates its tenth birthday

The Wheeler Centre is turning ten this year. Like many great stories, it began with a conversation, a blank sheet of paper, and an ambitious idea.

Since the Wheeler Centre’s first public event on 13 February 2010, the story has grown from a great idea to a globally renowned organisation. Over the past ten years, the Wheeler Centre has hosted more than 2,400 events featuring more than 3,900 speakers. More than 380,000 people have attended Wheeler Centre events, predominantly in Melbourne, but also across Victoria – from Wangaratta to Sale, Aireys Inlet to Mildura, Bendigo to Warrnambool and Frankston to Geelong. More than 70% of these events have been free.

The Wheeler Centre believes in celebrating books and writers and their ideas as sources for insight, expertise and entertainment. The events have covered topics including faith, culture, ethics, urban planning, reconciliation, sustainability, space travel, music, technology, food, history and almost everything in between.

In the Wheeler Centre’s tenth year, it continues to elevate public conversation through podcasts and broadcasts; continues to nurture and grow a new wave of voices with The Next Chapter, an innovative writer’s scheme supported by the Aesop Foundation; and continues to provide emerging writers with the space to write and create with the Hot Desk Fellowships, supported by the Readings Foundation and Just Pretending theatre group.

The Wheeler Centre’s Season One events will feature award-winning writer and documentary maker Jon Ronson; Pulitzer Prize-finalist Tommy Orange; bestselling author Jung Chang; author and journalist Liam Pieper; writer, novelist, storyteller and human rights advocate Arnold Zable; a live recording of the all-female footy podcast The Outer Sanctum; theatre director Caroline Guiela Nguyen; community lawyer, advocate and refugee Fadak Alfayadh; comedian Alistair Baldwin; a panel featuring music industry specialists who will take a look at how we consume music today; Everyday Climate Action in Ballarat, and more. See the website for details.

ON STAGE

Elevenses at The Joan

Located in Penrith, in Western Sydney, Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre has announced details of its 2020 Elevenses program – a series of art and music talks happening once a month on a Wednesday. This year’s program features the return of Lecturer of Music Dr Paul Smith (University of New England) and Sheona White, Director of Penrith Regional Gallery, along with a brand new selection of keynote speakers from established arts and music backgrounds.

In April, Denise Mimmocchi, Senior Curator Australian Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales will discuss the work of sculptor Margel Hinder, with Musician and Lecturer of Classical Music Andy Bromberger speaking about the development of music notation over the last 4000 years in July. For August Lorraine Kypiotis, Senior Lecturer Art History and Theory, the National Art School will lead audiences through an art insight into the inspiring women of the Renaissance.

Sessions will begin at 11am with refreshments and a light morning tea, and finish at 12.30 with a short break in the middle. Each talk will incorporate a short Q&A at the end.

The first instalment of Elevenses at The Joan kicks off on Wednesday March 11 with the Milestones and Mayhem of Opera, led by Dr Paul Smith, Lecturer of Music, University of New England accompanied by a special guest singer. 

While opera conjures a specific image of grand choruses, large orchestras and thrilling voices, the history of opera paints a chequered and constantly shifting picture. In different parts of the world and at different times the way an opera looked and sounded could be surprisingly stark. This first talk of the Elevenses programme on Wednesday 11 March covers the main milestones of opera from the 17th century and considers the changing roles of the singers, conductors and directors of operas.

Visit the Joan’s website for full program details.

JUTE launches 2020 season with a killer comedy

To Kill a Cassowary opens JUTE's 2020 season. Image: Shutterstock.

JUTE, a professional theatre company based in Cairns, QLD, launch their 2020 season at the brand new Bulmba-ja Arts Centre with the new Australian play, To Kill A Cassowary (13-21 March) by JUTE’s Write Sparks’ alumnus, Laurie Trott. 

Trott – a Mission Beach local whose life in the tropical rainforest community has imbued her work with a strong sense of place, described To Kill A Cassowary as a play about inheritance and legacy, ageism and the importance of looking after relationships, including the one that people have with the land. 

‘This is a play with a strong message and yes, it is also very funny,’ said Trott, adding that while her script is fictional, its ultimate aim is not only to increase public awareness of the urgency of Cassowary Coast conservation but more broadly provide education to all communities about the importance of preservation.

A first-time playwright, she acknowledged the supportive scaffold of JUTE's Write Sparks writing development program and the professional support and encouragement of the company’s Creative Producer, Kathryn Ash.

‘The support I received from early readings was fantastic and the very boost I needed to keep going.  It is frightening at times. You wonder if anyone will understand what you are trying to say or indeed, find your jokes funny.  That feeling of relief when people laughed or nodded their head was palpable.  I then knew that, yes, I was hitting the mark and I had to keep going,’ she said.

Performing Lines announces 2020 program

Australian arts production company Performing Lines have announced their expansive 2020 program, which sees the company working with over 200 artists across 30 productions and three development programs.

Performance highlights in the coming months include national and international tours of Jessie Lloyd’s Mission Songs Project, a sonic exploration of the human reality of the ‘missions era’ where Aboriginal people were removed from their homelands; the Australian premiere of Kamila Andini’s performance work The Seen and Unseen at Asia TOPA; and a Perth Festival season of Anthem by Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas, Irine Vela – the long-awaited and critically-lauded follow-up to the iconic nineties theatre show Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?

Further Performing Lines efforts this year include the world premiere of Andrea James’ Sunshine Super Girl, a heart-warming tale about Aboriginal tennis champ Evonne Goolagong; Nathan Maynard and Jamie McCaskill’s Hide The Dog, a new First Nations work for children in development in 2020 for premiere at several major festivals in 2021, and Whoosh!, a national tour of the acclaimed immersive sensory theatre production for children with complex disabilities by pioneering theatre-makers Sensorium Theatre.

An additional 14 Performing Lines works are in development in 2020.

Visit the Performing Lines website for more details about these and other productions.

Performing Lines is a national network of industry professionals under the direction of Marion Potts, one of Australia’s most respected theatre-makers, with core teams placed in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Hobart.

Potts said, ‘Independent thought is at the heart of everything we do. Our 2020 Program includes fearless contemporary artists and carves out a space for those whose work may be excluded from conventional or institutional structures. Our experience and care empowers artists to think and work ambitiously as we provide important support in the artistic development of projects, find partners and allies to invest in them and seek out the most advantageous presentation opportunities - nationally and internationally.

‘As a species we’re moving through some pretty challenging times, and artists are professional imaginers. What they do is fundamentally hopeful. I firmly believe we need their help to navigate those challenges and help us imagine alternatives,’ Potts added.

FESTIVAL HAPPENINGS

New festival celebrates dance on film

Inspired Dance Film Fest Australia is a new festival designed to provide a platform for dancers, choreographers, and filmmakers to explore their creativity on screen. The festival is a fusion of dance and film, combining the two genres of artistic expression to showcase choreography in a short film format. Whilst the focus is on nurturing Australian talent, international submissions are also included.

Festival co-founders, Ian Knowles and Rohan Seinor, both seasoned professional dancers, felt there was an opportunity in Australia to celebrate dance on film. The inaugural festival will be held at Hoyts Cinema Paris, Entertainment Quarter, Sydney on Sunday 8 November 2020. Tickets for the Festival will go on sale later in the year. Early Bird film submissions open Saturday 29 February.

Inclusivity being one of their core values, Knowles and Seinor have dedicated a section of the festival for films made by full-time dance schools, tertiary performing arts schools, and part time private dance studios.

Learn more about the Inspired Dance Film Fest Australia.

Melbourne Design Week 2020 launches full program

Melbourne Design Week. Image supplied.

Melbourne Design Week, Australia’s leading annual international design event, this week revealed the full program for its largest festival to date. Presented by Creative Victoria and the National Gallery of Victoria, the festival returns for its fourth consecutive year with more than 300 events across 11 days exploring the theme ‘How Can Design Shape Life?’

Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, said: ‘From tackling e-waste to creating healthy cities and driving sustainability, design has the capacity to improve the way we live and address the challenges of our times. This year’s action-packed program extends across greater Melbourne, and to Geelong, celebrating design in all its facets and shining a light on the designers who are shaping our lives – now and in the future.’

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: ‘Melbourne Design Week provides an exceptional opportunity for audiences to experience a diverse selection of keynote lectures, exhibitions and talks by the who’s who of the local, national and international design sector. This celebration of innovation and ideas showcases the best in global design practice in the design capital of Australia.’

Melbourne Design Week responds to a growing appetite for meaningful engagement with the design industry, providing a platform for designers and artists to express, question, propose and test ideas. The 2020 festival poses the question ‘How Can Design Shape Life?’ through five thematic pillars – Design Cultures, Waste, Healthy Cities, Waterfront, and Design Evolution.

Melbourne Design Week runs from 12-22 March 2020. See the website for full program details.

Wrap your laughing gear around this

The full program for the 34th Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been revealed. This year’s Festival includes a record-breaking line-up of 640 shows so far, (7,700+ individual performances) featuring a diverse mix of local and international artists including Urzila Carlson (NZ/Sth Africa), Adam Hills, Daniel Sloss (SCO), Josie Long (UK), Zoë Coombs Marr (AUS), Mark Watson (UK), Tommy Little (AUS), Liza Treyger (USA) and Rich Hall (USA).

Other highlights include the return of the Aboriginal Comedy Allstars, starring Sean Choolburra, Kevin Kropinyeri, Andy Saunders and Steph Tisdell; acclaimed kidult comedy duo The Listies with Hamlet: Prince Of Skidmark; the return of the comedy development programs Deadly Funny and Class Clowns, and more.

Comedians will hit the stages of over 100 venues including Melbourne Town Hall, Athenaeum Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne (also home to The Famous Spiegeltent), The Butterfly Club, Malthouse Theatre, RMIT Capitol Theatre, Comedy Theatre, Cooper’s Inn, Mantra on Russell, Max Watt’s, State Library Victoria, Trades Hall, The Victoria Hotel and The Westin Melbourne.

MICF runs from 25 March – 19 April 2020. The full program is available online.

Queer film festivals launched in Brisbane & Melbourne

The Brisbane Queer Film Festival returns in 2020 from 5 - 15 March at New Farm Cinemas. Becoming independent in 2017, the festival is a highlight of the Brisbane queer community calendar, spotlighting dynamic stories that go beyond the binary.

The 21st festival is a collection of refreshingly authentic queer storytelling by and for the queer community. The program embraces the gamut of queer cinema, spanning LGBTIQ+, gender diverse and intersectional films, with special selections for the niche and allies of Brisbane’s queer community.

‘We are always proud of the calibre, diversity and inclusiveness in the line-up of films. We’re not the largest festival, but our program features films chosen especially for Brisbane’s queers, allies and cinephiles,’ said BQFF Co-Director Shanon King.

‘The opportunity to discover new voices within queer cinema, to be bold in our programming choices, and present the future of queer storytelling, were key elements in curating this year’s program,’ King added.

The Festival opens with Georgian filmmaker Levan Akin’s And Then We Danced, a passionate coming-of-age drama driven by the liberating power of dance, and which sparked violent protests from ultra-conservative groups in its home country. The program also includes Sydney filmmaker Monica Zanetti’s new feature, Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt), an endearing romantic comedy about a 17-year-old being guided through her first romance by her deceased fairy godmother aunt.

The full program for BQFF 2020, including session times and trailers, can be viewed online.

The Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) also launched its program this week, and features And Then We Danced as its centrepiece presentation.

The MQFF opens with Gay Chorus Deep South, a documentary offering a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us – faith, politics, sexual identity – are set aside by the soaring power of music, humanity and a little drag. The closing night film Bit features a gang of queer feminist vampires who are hellbent on ridding LA of ‘problematic’ men.

Other MQFF highlights include the presentation of the annual City of Melbourne Best Australian Short and associated short films package and a special encore screening of Stephan Elliot’s Oscar-winning Australian film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

AROUND THE GALLERIES

Sonia Kurarra Martuwarra 90xm x 90cm. Image via Aboriginal Contemporary.

War Memorial launches latest 360-degree digital experience

The Australian War Memorial has launched the third in its On Closer Inspection series of immersive digital experiences, with visitors now able to explore the Memorial’s Lockheed Hudson bomber A16-105 through virtual 360-degree video and digital modelling.

The aircraft is one of 52 Mark IV A Model Hudsons used by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during the Second World War. After the war it was flown as a photographic survey aircraft, helping to chart much of Australia. It completed its last flight in 1998, and was acquired by the Memorial in 2001. The A16-105 is now on display at the Canberra Airport.

On launching On Closer Inspection – the Hudson Bomber, Memorial Acting Director Major General Brian Dawson (Ret’d) said the series gives the public unprecedented access to some of the Memorial’s most iconic large technology objects.

‘Online experiences like this allow wider and more diverse audiences to share the stories of our history in ways that can’t always be done in a traditional museum setting,’ he said.

‘For most people, this is the closest they will ever get to being inside a Hudson bomber. Pop-up icons let the user see photos, watch videos, hear recordings, and uncover the stories behind a plane that has played such an important role in Australia’s experience of the Second World War.

View the Hudson Bomber 360-degree interactive experience.

COLOUR, CULTURE, IDENTITY AND THE NATURE OF COLLABORATIVE ART

Mirrung – meaning ‘belonging’ in Dharug, the Sydney language – is a new exhibition showcasing the artistic talents of Indigenous brother and sister, David and Noni Cragg, who are inspired by their First Nations, Scottish and Irish background.

Combining Noni’s portraiture with David’s landscape and florals – each informing the other – the pair use their art to explore notions of belonging and community, as well as representation and intersectionality.

The exhibition is the first in a series of joint projects the pair have lined up this year, aiming to amplify diversity, First Nations narratives and connection to country.

Opening at aMBUSH Gallery Kambri on 4 March, Mirrung will showcase over a dozen collaborative works, featuring portraits of people connected in some way to the arts.

Visit Ambush Gallery for more information.

MANGKAJA PERSPEX 2020 tells old stories in new ways

The stories these East Kimberley artists paint are tens of thousands of years old, but the way they paint them pushes the boundaries of contemporary art.

Mangkaja Perspex 2020 is Aboriginal Contemporary’s first exhibition of 2020 and brings to Sydney new works from senior Mangkaja artists Sonia Kurarra, Daisy Japulija, Ngarralja Tommy May and Penny K Lyons along with emerging artists Dorothy Forrest and Jennifer Dickens.

Aboriginal Contemporary owner, Nichola Dare, said: ‘I have worked closely with Mangkaja Arts for many years and always admired their use of colour and bold brush work. They paint ancient and important stories of Country, but are always looking to tell them in new ways, using new mediums. When I first saw their perspex works in 2017 at Tarnanthi in Adelaide, I was immediately spellbound.  I’ve always loved the way contemporary aboriginal art challenges people’s narrow idea of what aboriginal art should look like, and layering acrylic on perspex takes that to the next level.’

Mangkaja Perspex 2020 is jointly presented by Aboriginal Contemporary and Mangkaja Arts and opens on Thursday 27 February. It runs through to 9 March.

New exhibition celebrates 20 years of the Yirrkala Print Space

Trinity College and Artback NT in association with Buku-Larrnggay Mulka arts centre presents Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression, celebrating 20 years of the Yirrkala Print Space.

In 2019, Trinity College held an exhibition – Revealed – of Indigenous bark paintings from Yirrkala, in far north-east Arnhem Land, created during the mid-1960s and a decade of incredible artistic and political significance for the Yolngu people.

In February 2020, the story continues with Balnhdhurr – A Lasting Impression, a remarkable exhibition of Indigenous print artwork from the same community, some sixty years later.  The word ‘balnhdhurr’ means to make a mark in the ground for those that come after you to follow; and so it has been, where senior artists have shared the stories, artistic traditions and culture to a new, younger generations of artists who have embraced it and extended it further.

Traditionally, Aboriginal art is produced using only natural materials. But over time the Yirrkala artist, working out of the Yirrkala Print Space, have embraced contemporary methods and mediums, such as lino printing, screen printing, etching and woodblock printing. In the process, it has opened up new ways to tell old stories, while engaging a broader cross-section of the local community.

These works are bright, vibrantly colourful and dynamic, and build upon the traditional designs passed down for generations to now encompass Photoshop, the culture of the ‘selfie’ and to grasp the issues that are relevant to the younger generation of artists.

The exhibition opens of Thursday 20 February (6.30–8.30pm) and runs until 14 May.  

Art Month Sydney reveals 2020 program

Art Month Sydney returns in March 2020 for a city-wide showcase of contemporary art. Galleries and creative spaces will throw open their doors from 6-29 March to enliven the city's thriving contemporary art scene.

The 2020 festival boasts a packed program of free exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions, studio visits and precinct tours. Art Month Sydney welcomes back its ever-popular Art at Night precinct parties with galleries open after dark, as well as the dynamic Art Talks series comprising panel discussions on the arts and climate change, fashion and art collaborations, plus guidance on buying art for investment. In a first for the festival, Art Month Sydney are bringing their Art at Night celebrations to Parramatta. Expect a showcase of artistic talent and one-of-a-kind experiences curated by the extraordinary gallerists and artists that shape the city’s art ecosystem.

Art Month Sydney is a platform for connecting Sydney-siders with the city’s vibrant creative community. This festival is for everyone – from seasoned art collectors and museum-goers to curious locals that may never have previously stepped inside a gallery. All are welcome.

More news you may have missed.

About the author

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