Two of Todd Fuller + Mylyn Nguyen’s sculptures for In Tandem feature delightfully intricate paper moths. Nguyen reveals her sequential methods in creating these charming creatures via the following process photographs.
Last year I had the opportunity to co-curate Mighty Small with Brenda May Gallery. This exhibition was conceptualised after rifling through the Gallery’s archives and finding an invitation to a previous exhibition entitled Small and an image of an art vending machine from the early 1990′s made by a group of students. Adopting the pint-sized scale of Small, I curatorially aimed for the works in Mighty Small to not only be little in size, but rely on this scale as an integral part of the work desired impact. I found that I almost exclusively selected work by artists that the Gallery already had a relationship with. When invited to curate another show this year, In Tandem was quickly devised, taking my knowledge of these artists and pairing them based on similar sensibilities, aesthetics or thematic tendencies.
All of the artists that have been selected for In Tandem had work in Mighty Small. Below is a look at each artist’s contribution to this first exhibition.
- Olivia Welch
Some of the artists participating in In Tandem have worked in other creative duos, including Melinda Le Guay and Leslie Oliver. Le Guay worked with Helen Mueller + Carla Priivald and Oliver collaborated with Sokquan Tran for Brenda May Gallery’s exhibition ‘Couples/Collaborators + Other Partnerships’ in 2005.
Currently working together under the guise of Flatline are In Tandem artist Todd Fuller and dancer/choreographer Carl Sciberras, combining talents to form a dance/art hybrid. Their newest project will be showcased in Brenda May Gallery and Black Box Projects later this year.
In conjunction with the exhibition In Tandem, an essay has been written about each artistic duo’s joint practices. These essays, along with images and further information, have been compiled in a catalogue available to view via Brenda May Gallery’s Issuu.
In late February Emma Conroy came into Brenda May Gallery to film a feature interview on Todd Fuller and Mylyn Nguyen’s collaborative practice. Since this meeting, Conroy has filmed both artists in their studios working on their sculptures for In Tandem. Watch the film below.
Over the past few weeks, I have organised and participated in a number of meetings with the talented artists working together for In Tandem.
Most recently Melinda Le Guay and Leslie Oliver came in to the Gallery to discuss how they plan to use the various materials that they have collected for each other. Revealing plans for bound thorns, horizontal sticks, embellished embossed paper and box frames, Le Guay and Oliver’s contribution is shaping up to be a series of framed collections of objects.
A few weekends ago I made a trip to Canberra to visit Waratah Lahy and Al Munro at the Australian National University, where they both work, to take a sneak peek at their work for the exhibition. Discovering that they both work in differing ways, the artists have created separate bodies of work with each other’s aesthetic in mind.
I joined Mylyn Nguyen and Todd Fuller whilst they were being filmed by Emma Conroy for the interview component of a clip focusing on the artists’ collaborative process. During this interview both artists, who are storytellers in their individual practices, revealed to each other for the first time what they see as the narratives of their collaborative sculptures.
- Olivia Welch
How were you introduced to each others works:
Fuller: Mylyn and I are both represented by Brenda May Gallery. I had admired her work online previously but then we exhibited side by side in 2012. It was here that we met and first discussed a potential collaboration.
How did the idea of working on a piece together come about? Describe the process:
Fuller: I was hosting a clay day in my studio with some friends. This bear originally started as a bit of a pinch pot demonstration. As I played the bear grew and eventually ended up on facebook. Where Mylyn commented. The collaboration was inevitable.
Then the collaboration was initiated and the bear was handed over to Mylyn.
Nguyen: When bear came home with me, I didn’t know what to do with him. The initial idea was to sit him in a forest but he was absolutely perfect as he was. For days he stared at me and I at him; waiting. One day I placed a paper doll on top of his nose and then the conversation began. In the end, bear wanted to fly and the pigeons could teach him.
How did you both communicate?
Fuller: There is a real synergy between Mylyn’s and my life, process and practice. We both balance working in the arts with art-making, e both explore narratives and reoccurring characters and we both have a bear motif within our repertoire. With this in mind we discussed the bear through regular emails which we would bounce from our respective desks.
As seen on the Deuce Magazine Blog, this article looks at the work The day pigeons taught bear to fly by Mylyn Nguyen + Todd Fuller, dissecting their creative relationship as well as considering their individual artistic practices…
Over the past four years as a gallery assistant, I have seen my fair share of creative minds simultaneously besotted with and broken by the fruits of their tireless and often under-appreciated labour. This relationship an artist has with their work is deeply personal, exposing inner thoughts and ideas for audiences to ogle and judge. Observing such consuming artistic tendencies has led to a personal fascination with artists who allow uncontrollable elements within the creation and reception of their works. Collaborations are one such occurrence in which creative people are forced to let go and compromise, allowing the visions of another to compete, clash and concur with their own.
Rather than sitting side by side, contemporary Australian artists Mylyn Nguyen and Todd Fuller realised their thirty-six centimetre tall sculpture The day pigeons taught bear to fly by taking turns; working in a creative dialogue with one another. Fuller moulded the terracotta bear, with its furrowed brow and hunched, pot-bellied physic. Nguyen then embellished the expressive sculpture with its own world, sprouting out of its shoulder and head to house a small hand-drawn water-coloured girl in a bear suit being lifted by a flock of miniscule pigeons.
It’s not exactly a conventional artistic relationship – taking in turns the process of co-creation – but looking at their previous bodies of works, Nguyen and Fuller’s collaboration shows a world that reflects their individual oeuvres. The result is a captivating creative dialogue.
Entranced by the whimsy, engaged by the miniature scale and captivated by the technical sophistication, when you interact with the work of Nguyen, you glimpse a child-like imagination that has been brought to life by sculptural narratives. Creating hand drawn animations and ceramic sculptures that illustrate vulnerable protagonists with heavy hearts and bloated bellies, Fuller’s figures embody loneliness and overburden, personifying the obstacles of everyday life.
It is a practice that is perfectly complimented by Fuller’s conceptual mind. In fact, back in 2012, Nguyen and Fuller had concurrent solo exhibitions at Brenda May Gallery entitled, respectively, ‘An owl flew into my office’ and told me to look for Bear’ and ‘Somewhere in Between’. The day pigeons taught bear to fly is aesthetically and conceptually the love child of these two exhibitions.
The title of Fuller’s 2012 show comes from his animation of the same name, which sees a lonesome man grapple with the desire and difficulty of wanting to let go of that which both traps and comforts him. Nguyen’s exhibition featured pint-sized animals crafted out of dirt with trees burgeoning from rocks sitting atop the creature’s heads. Fuller’s bear in The day pigeons taught bear to fly is not unlike his protagonist in Somewhere in Between, as there is a sadness in the creature’s hollow eyes and vulnerability in his pose, however Nguyen’s contribution to this sculpture has given this figure hope. Unlike Somewhere in Between, it does not seem that Fuller’s bear will remain trapped. Nguyen’s visualisation of childhood wonder has provided the bear with a friend who, with the help of a flock of pigeons, has allowed an escape for the bear in the form of a flying lesson – a metaphor for giving into freedom and the possibility of experiencing pure joy through the act of letting go.
Todd Fuller and Mylyn Nguyen will be one of three artistic pairings in the exhibition ‘In Tandem’, scheduled for April 2014 at Brenda May Gallery in Sydney.
- Olivia Welch