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
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After many years of working in sculpture and filmmaking, Leslie Oliver’s current exhibition, Love Stories, finally brings together both facets of his artistic practice. As a filmmaker and sculptor of found objects and abstract forms, he approaches both fields with the same sense of storytelling.
In New Photographers, the images by Alex Austin are sourced from old, found photographs with the hand of the artist intentionally visible. Penelope Cain’s work “has an ongoing interest in the urban landscape and the complex interrelationship between the city and its inhabitants” and Tasman Miller’s photographs highlight his “interest in the way that light, both natural and artificial, has the ability to transform spaces”.
Both of these exhibitions are Head On Photo Festival events.
Please join us for drinks with the Artists
Saturday 12 May 4-6pm
For the last fifteen years, sculptor and filmmaker Leslie Oliver has been filming his students recalling a time when they first fell in love. What began as a teaching tool for the Sydney Film School, Oliver has turned into a moving portrait exhibition titled Love Stories. Along with the film, he will also be exhibiting a series of abstract sculptures that directly relate to the theme of relationships. Additionally, the opening drinks party will feature a live cello performance by composer Christina Christensen.
New Photographers is an exhibition featuring the work of three contemporary photographers who have each created a small body of work that best represents their artistic practice – Alex Austin, Penelope Cain and Tasman Miller.
Both of these exhibitions are Head On Photo Festival events.
Leslie Oliver’s artistic practice has a double life. On the one hand he is a filmmaker and a director of the Sydney Film School, and on the other hand a sculptor of found objects and abstract forms. As distant as these artistic fields may seem, Oliver explains how, for him, the processes required to create both types of work correspond. “As a filmmaker… At every stage of the process we are trying to build ‘characters’ that stand, live, are credible, engaging and reveal fundamental human qualities. A story is about revealing a character… As a sculptor I am thinking more and more in the same way, though my characters are seemingly static, they need to have a narrative to generate a sense of life and engage the viewer.” When viewing ‘The Stone Helps The Balance‘, a story forms through the multiple elements within the work’s design and is cleverly reflected and precipitated by its title.
A smooth copper hemisphere provides the colour and base to this work. The hemisphere has small dents and intrusions, and has been finished so that its top is darker with black colourings and gradually fades to a luminescent metallic colour towards the bottom. Around the rim is a section of hand painted and scratched multi-coloured triangular shapes that add a playful quality to the work, as well as providing a strong contrast to the black, monochromatic, flat top. Upon the top of the hemisphere is a tall architectural looking structure made from various bits of metal painted black. This construction appears to be pointing vertically and horizontally in one direction, creating dynamism that gives weight to this side of the hemisphere’s surface. Next to this structure is a half of a stone, also black, protruding from the flat base, adding a further weightiness. One of the long forms from the structure extends across, over the barren side of the hemisphere. From its arc-like appendage hangs a stone, in its natural colour, below the hemisphere’s surface. It is literally hanging by a thread and, with its tendency to sway even with the slightest vibrations, is threatening the balance of the entire world that Oliver has created. It appears that if the stone were to fall, the weight of the structure on the hemisphere’s surface would cause it to topple over. Oliver’s ability to assemble works that are predominately abstract, but formulate narratives through manipulations of colour, shape and line, reveals the complexity of form his sculptures contain.
Image: Leslie Oliver, ‘The Stone Helps The Balance’ 2009, copper plated mixed metals, stone, 27 x 31 x 20cm
Left: Will Coles, ‘Laissez-Faire’ 2011, cold cast aluminium, edition of 1, 36 x 17.5cm Right: Leslie Oliver, ‘Another Kind of Arc’ 2010, copper plated steel, timber, 50 x 80 x 43cm
“I use traditional sculptural techniques, such as modelling and casting, to manipulate found objects. Within this traditional framework I explore contemporary issues. I examine the fact that within contemporary society, all products, forms of entertainment and culture seem polluted by the cult of disposability – a lack of content and short shelf life. Similarly I despise the political and corporate appropriation of national identity; the hiding behind heroes and out of date patriotism.” (Will Coles, 2009)
“As a sculptor I am thinking more and more in the same way, though my characters are seemingly static, they need to have a narrative to generate a sense of life and engage the viewer. A sculptor works alone so the processes appear less apparent however they remain the same; a sketch or thought (a script); collecting and capturing material/s (shoot); assembling them (edit); seeking a narrative, a struggle, a test of character, a story. I want the viewer to connect emotionally with my sculptures and then discover the other ideas within them.” (Leslie Oliver, 2009)