Category Archives: MUNRO, AL

‘In Tandem’ Artists in ‘Mighty Small’


Exhibition Install – Mighty Small

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.


Exhibition Install – Mighty Small

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



Todd Fuller, ‘baggage I’ 2013, oil and pigment on terracotta, iPod playing ‘adrift’, 12.5 x 14.5 x 5.5cm


Mylyn Nguyen, ‘Bombus + House’ 2013, watercolour + ink on paper, fibre, plastic film + acrylic, 10 x 4 x 4cm variable


Al Munro, ‘fictitious mineral drawing 9′ 2103, paint marker, glitter, paper – unframed, 14.5 x 14.5cm


Waratah Lahy, ‘animal brooch (orange piglets)’ 2013, oil on beer can aluminium, metal brooch back, 3 x 3.5cm


Leslie Oliver, ‘Up’n up’n up’ 2013, painted brass, 23 x 27 x 19cm


Melinda Le Guay, ‘Untitled’, ink on paper – unframed, 14 x 9.5cm

Al Munro’s ‘Molecular Measures’ Series

Artist Statement for ‘Molecular Measures’ series for In Tandem:

These works are the result of a number of discussions with Waratah Lahy about the areas in which our interests connect. Waratah was working on a series of paintings of street and garden scenes framed and distorted by ornate window panes. These formed patterned grids, very similar to the molecular and crystallographic grids which have informed my work for the last few years. We chose to begin our In Tandem works using a crytsalline shape from a series of brooches I has made in 2012, and to focus on ideas of grids, structure and space.


Left and Right: Al Munro, ‘fictitious mineral brooch’ 2013, paint marker, glitter, card, felt on metal brooch back

My works began with a number of drawings, but soon moved into a constructed form using the balsa wood to allow me to explore ideas of structure and construction. The resultant works make use of stripes that mimic a scientific colour code or system of measurement and make reference to the constructed-ness of a scientific understanding of the natural world. The works reference diagrams, but replace the conventional black and white line work with brightly coloured, glittering stripes, reinvesting the forms with some of the variety and vivdness present in natural specimens.


Selected works from Al Munro’s ‘Molecular Measures’ series, 2014

Meetings with ‘In Tandem’ Artists

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.


Leslie Oliver, Brenda May and Melinda Le Guay discussing their collaboration. Linda van Niekerk’s exhibition ’10 Years On’ in the background.

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.


Al Munro and Waratah Lahy taking photograohs of Munro’s works in progress for ‘In Tandem’.

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.


Mylyn Nguyen and Todd Fuller being filmed by Emma Conroy

- Olivia Welch



Convergence + Divergence: Focus on Waratah Lahy + Al Munro

Waratah Lahy and Al Munro have been paired together for the exhibition In Tandem, on view from 22 April to 17 May 2014. They were matched due to their shared appreciation for colour and line, as well as their complementary fascination with how the world is perceived and is made perceptible. Though abundant in similarities, in this partnership Munro and Lahy are also required to mediate points at which their practices diverge.


Al Munro, ‘Small Blue-Black Mineral Crystal’ 2010, screen print and glitter flocking on Stonehenge paper – unique (framed), 112 x 76cm

Munro uses the scientific study of crystallography to create appealing patterns and structures. This interest in finding simple shapes to give form to complex data can be comparably found in various fields of study. Examples include the Chinese tangram, a psychological tool for examining spatial reasoning and logic via its ability to be reconfigured in thousands of ways, and the Japanese geometrical practice of sangaku,[i] which is the tradition of hanging tablets with mathematical algorithms comprised of circles, squares and triangles on the roofs of religious buildings. Much like these instances of psychology or mathematics intersecting with the visual, Munro’s last two bodies of work imagine crystallographic data into prismatic or map-like structures using a variety of materials including crochet, glitter flocking and paint markers.


Photographs by Hiroshi Umeoka, found in – Tony Rothman, ‘Japanese Temple Geometry’, Scientific American, (pdf: May, 1998) p 91

Where Munro engages with making the invisible structures and properties of matter visible, Lahy has recently explored obfuscated scenes through the patterned windows of the Musée Carnavalet in Paris. As with many of the Parisian Impressionists, ‘the view from above’ is a vantage that Lahy employs. Having created her 2013 body of work during a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, awarded by The Australia Council, it is not surprising that the gazes encouraged by Haussmann’s[ii] Paris crept into her works. This voyeuristic vantage inspired Claude Monet’s foggy Boulevard de Capucines (1873) and Gustave Caillebotte’s View through a Balcony Grille (1880), where the shadowed foreground creates a distracting frame through which the street is made visible. Both Impressionist artists’ works are heighted by a Japanese inspired shallow depth of field, a trait also characteristic of Lahy’s paintings. Lahy offers a contemporary take on this Parisian obsession, choosing scenes that present the overlooked, allowing play between these aerial or curious viewpoints and a distortion or an obstruction.

Boulevard de Capucines + View through a Balcony Grille

Left: Claude Monet, ’Boulevard de Capucines’ 1873, oil on canvas, 80.3 cm × 60.3cm, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Right: Gustave Caillebotte, ‘View through a Balcony Grille’ 1880, oil on canvas, 65.6 x 54.9 cm, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Though their collaborative project will ultimately locate points at which their practices intersect, both Lahy and Munro bring with their techniques and ideas distinct and individual stimuli. The navigation of their interests and influences to find a thematic convergence, enhanced by a common fascination of looking beyond simple vision, will undoubtedly culminate in the creation of visually fascinating works.


Waratah Lahy, ‘Carnavalet 2012′, oil on canvas board, 40 x 40cm

[i] Tony Rothman, Japanese Temple Geometry, Scientific American, (pdf: May, 1998) pp85 – 91<>

[ii] Baron Haussmann was the urban planner, commissioned by Napoleon III to renovate Paris in order to compete with the industrialization of England and to make the city easier to control.

Interview: Al Munro + Waratah Lahy on Collaborating

Al Munro and Waratah Lahy answer a few questions to shed a light on their developing collaborative practice formed for the upcoming exhibition ‘In Tandem’.

Have you worked on collaborative projects in the past, and if so what was the process like?

Al: No, I don’t think I have. Truth be told I’m a bit of a control freak, so it will be challenging to not be in control of every aspect of the work produced. Having said that, I really admire Waratah’s work, and we know each other well, so I working with her is an exciting opportunity.

Waratah: This is the first time I’ve ever worked on a collaborative project. I’ve always liked the idea of collaborating and have seen lots of great shared projects, but I’ve never tried anything this deliberate before.


Al Munro, ‘fictitious mineral drawing 4′ 2013, paint marker, glitter, paper – unframed, 14.5 x 14.5cm

You have met up to discuss ‘In Tandem’ already, what has been the result of these meetings? Did you chat about anything interesting beyond the project?

Al: Yes, we spent a lot of time talking about Paris, New York and overseas residencies in general, which was a nice digression. In our first meeting also talked about the connection of our work relating to patterns and grids, and skewing or disturbing these grids as a place to start. When we met earlier this week we spoke about prismatic structures; Wazza had been looking at some of my small ‘Fictitious Mineral‘ works on the Brenda May Gallery web site. She was interested in how I had used crystalline forms to disturb the space of the black shape, and how this reminded her of looking through patterned window panes which is one of the current themes in her work. We decided to use the mineral form as a kind of template and begin a series of painting/drawings/collages which responded to the crystalline fractured forms as a kind of lens. This relates to Waratah’s interest in looking into and through various glass lenses in her paintings and my interest in the role of the scientific lens in visualising the natural world.

Waratah: Al and I have met a few times and all the conversations have been interesting. Mostly we’ve been trying to establish the common ground between our work, which means articulating what we do individually. It’s surprisingly difficult, saying ‘this is what I do’ then trying to shift that to ‘this is what we could do’.

What aspects of or ideas within each other’s practices do you feel either crossover or are in opposition?

Al: Its the lens idea I think that is the point of connection. I don’t really see any opposing factors except Wazza is SUCH a good painter and I feel a little daunted by her technical skill…

Waratah: The hardest thing for me about working with Al is knowing what an incredibly organised artist she is! I see Al’s practice as being very thorough and thought-out, but she is also able to create such interesting images and objects because she’s always doing something – her hands are never still! She brings a wonderful mix of whimsy and intelligence to her work which I really enjoy. Some of the similarities in our work are attention to detail and also an enjoyment of materiality – neither of us is restricted to a particular method of working and that opens up possibilities for exploring different materials and ways of thinking about the work.


Waratah Lahy, ‘Carnavalet 2′ 2012, oil on canvas, 30 x 30cm

How have you been communicating with each other thus far?

Al: We text each other and also see each other at work (at the ANU School of Art).

Waratah: Al and I both work at the ANU School of Art and we’ve tended to meet up in a casual way – we’ve been for coffee and I’ve been to her office. I like it that we both work in the same place, it makes it much easier to keep in touch and to have an idea of what each other’s workload is like, and a couple of times when we’ve discussed ideas I’ve been able to go away and photocopy objects and get boards cut up so we’ve both had some of the same materials at the same time.

Can you give any indications as to what you are planning to create for ‘In Tandem’?

Al: At the moment it looks like it will be a series of small works on plywood which combine my drawn patterns with wazza’s painted scenes – both will be views through a lens into another world…

Waratah: I’m still not entirely sure what we will end up making, but at the moment I’m playing around with the idea of Al’s ‘Crystallography’ brooches, and the way in which they function as kind of lens, or window. I had boards of varying sizes cut to the same proportions as the brooch with the intention of painting on them, but at the moment I’m trying out some drawings and watercolours within the shape. The images I’m working with are all based on the patterns in the stained glass windows at the Musee Carnavalet in Paris.

Al Munro, Tanmaya Bingham, Marguerite Derricourt – Closing 17 August

Our current exhibitions will be on view until Saturday 17 August and a reminder that they are all eligible to be reviewed for the 2 Danks Street Award for Contemporary Art Criticism. Don’t forget all the Galleries are open late every Wednesday night until 7pm and our own Danks Street Diner and Luke Mangan’s tasting room next door, ‘Mojo‘, are now also open every Wednesday from 5pm! Parking’s a breeze…


▶ AL MUNRO, Patterns from an invisible world
Al Munro’s canvas works reveal visual formations created through crystallographic studies, magnifying them into detailed maps of meticulously composed concentric circles. Munro creates a sense of the infinite nature of these “patterns from an invisible world”, allowing some of her hand-drawn dots to escape the surface of the canvas and spill onto the surrounding wall. Further extending this visualisation and continuing her use of fibre, Munro presents an installation of vibrant crocheted ‘targets’ that are essentially zooming into her canvas works, enlarging the small multi-coloured circles.


▶ TANMAYA BINGHAM, Pigs and their friends
Tanamaya Bingham’s recent works are diverse in their materials, presentation and sensibility, providing a stimulating and engaging exhibition. Bingham’s series of six tiny ‘Pet’ works not only display her astounding ability to scrupulously render lifelike depictions in coloured-pencil, but also reveal endearing relationships. Her ‘Almost Animal’ series, drawn in graphite, feature the heads of familiar animals possessing an attribute that is not quite right, encouraging curious double takes. Also in this exhibition are new works incorporating collage, exuding a mix of the whimsical and the macabre.


This exhibition, focusing on the life, nature and mannerisms of moths, emanates a sense of flutter and flight. Holding the centre of the room is Derricourt’s substantial sculpture, ‘Ghost Moth I’ – a claustrophobic cluster of activity in Corten steel. Moulded from Japanese paper, the artist has created a series delicate and textural pieces in white, grey and blue hues, which seemingly have just alighted gently onto the wall’s surface. Appearing to launch themselves from the walls, the ‘Shadowlands’ series visually defy their weighty material.

Interview: Al Munro

What is your earliest memory of making art?
I think I was three or four years old and I covered a glass jar with squares of coloured paper and glitter and gave it to my parents for Christmas. They used it as a biscuit jar for years. It was pretty horrific but at the time I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I demonstrated my love of sparkly things from an early age!

Do you listen to music when you are creating works? If so, what is on high rotation?
I don’t really listen to music when I’m making art, I prefer to listen to audiobooks, podcasts or Radio National. But my absolute favourite thing to listen to is a cricket test match – summer in the studio is my favourite time!


When preparing for your last exhibition, did you create works around a theme or did the links between the works reveal themselves later on?
The works all explore the patterns which underpin worldy matter – the complex lattices and grids which provide structure at a molecular level. With these works I imagines I was a scientist searching for patterns which would be revealed by the process of drawing.

Describe the space in which you create your works (studio, lounge room etc):
I have a studio which is really a place to store things and most of my work is done at the kitchen table or in the lounge room.

Do you have a favourite piece or favourite pieces? If so, which piece/s and why?
My favourite piece is always the last thing I have made. I am always interested in pushing my ideas further so my head is usually one step ahead of my art making.


What has been, for you, a defining moment in your career as an artist?
As a recent graduate I was fortunate to be awarded the Australia Council’s London Studio Residency – this was a great experience and gave me the confidence to believe I could carve out a career as an artist.

What did you eat for breakfast?
Oats, chopped up apple, almonds and cinnamon with soy milk and a cup of tea. Yum.