The essay ‘Separately Working In Tandem’ is now available to view in Trouble Magazine‘s May 2014 issue. Written by Olivia Welch, the curator for In Tandem, this essay takes a close look at the conversational and inspired approach Al Munro and Waratah Lahy took in working with each other.
Please join us for drinks with the Artists
THURSDAY 24 April 5:30-7:30pm
▶ MELINDA LE GUAY, Material Matters
“As I focus on, or move from one activity to another in my domestic realm, I am always gathering and processing materials to do with my practice; everyday ‘stuff’ provides a lot of matter I use in my art-making. In collaboration with these disparate materials, the processes I employ are also the ones I use in my home, my studio.”
▶ IN TANDEM, curated by Olivia Welch
Although artistic partnerships are abundant in the art world, not all are alike. ‘In Tandem‘, curated by Olivia Welch, began with the pairing of six of Brenda May Gallery’s represented artists to form three duos who have interpreted this brief of collective creation in differing ways. Todd Fuller + Mylyn Nguyen, Waratah Lahy + Al Munro, Melinda Le Guay + Leslie Oliver.
Screening 3 of Scanlines Remix, features the work of Laresa Kosloff, Neil Jenkins, Jess Olivieri & Hayley Forward with the Sydney Chamber Choir, Sam Smith and Paul Winkler.
Laresa Kosloff, ‘Swell’ 2002
digital scanned Super 8 film – 3:00mins loop, ed of 3
Today Megan Fizell will deliver a talk that takes an historical look at salt and the still life. Fizell was invited to be a speaker by Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre as she is well versed in intersections between food and art, having curated both Art + Food: Beyond the Still Life (2012) and Sugar, Sugar (2013) at Brenda May Gallery and having created the very popular website Feasting on Art. This talk coincides with Ken + Julia Yonetani’s installation at Hazelhurst, featuring a salt work entitled ‘The Last Supper’. Fizell has written about a previous salt work by Ken + Julia Yonetani for Artlink and the artists’ work ‘Urn of Grapes‘ was included in Fizell’s 2012 exhibition.
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.
Please take note that the 2 Danks Street Complex will again be closed the Easter long weekend.
The photographic and filmic exhibition, ‘Apparitions‘ by Nicole Welch, sees circular images of early European depictions of the Australian landscape projected onto waterside cliffs and foggy forest scenery. This juxtaposition of idealised beauty and the natural beauty of Welch’s chosen terrain is not jarring, as one may expect, as the projections are textured by and therefore integrated into the surface of their rocky backdrops. In this body of work, the reflective quality of the water’s surface sees the doubling of both the landscape and the circular projections, which have the presence of portals into another world.
Peter Tilley’s ‘Figure in the Landscape’ embodies his signature sense of contemplative calmness. This body of work also sees Tilley inject bold colours into his usual palette of dark and earthy tones, pairing a vibrant red figure with charcoal grey and situating a deep blue figure amidst textural wooden blocks. The title of Tilley’s exhibition is engaged with playfully, placing androgynous individuals in an encroaching urban landscape, raised above a domestic environment and, characteristically, in proximity to one lone tree centered on a hemispherical hill.
Delving through the dLux Media Arts archives, curator Sarah Vandepeer conceived the current screening of ‘Scanlines Remix’ under the common thread of portraiture. This grouping begins with Denis Beaubois’ video of gradually morphing faces, dealing with issues of race, identity and wrongful imprisonment. Ray Harris presents a woman affected by wind, releasing a white powder from her mouth. Surrounded by dusted eyelashes, her piercing gaze finally stares back at the viewer. Kate Murphy’s self-portrait shows the artist sobbing whilst listening to the audio of a psychic card reading, expressing the anxiety that comes with an uncertain future. Lastly, James Newitt presents a performance, capturing a silent disco unleashed onto the streets.
Published in COFA’s Framework, this essay explores the initial stages of Melinda Le Guay and Leslie Oliver’s collaborative process for the exhibition In Tandem from a curator’s perspective…
Characteristically, Melinda Le Guay was a little early and Leslie Oliver, a little late. Knowing that these two respected artists had only ever met briefly and informally, and that I had to therefore facilitate their meeting, was a tad daunting. Working as an assistant for Brenda May Gallery throughout my degree with the College of Fine Arts in Sydney, I have been familiarised with many of the Gallery’s artists via databases full of images and archives bursting with information. Last year I had the opportunity to co-curate Mighty Small, which focused on artworks where a small-scale was integral to the 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. Equipped with cold water, ginger biscuits and the attention of the Gallery’s Director Brenda May, who has represented and supported both Le Guay and Oliver for many years, it was time to get the ball rolling…
The pairing of Le Guay and Oliver to collectively create pieces for the exhibition In Tandem was cemented via May’s suggestion. Throughout their artistic practices both artists have successfully experimented with various materials in sculptural and two-dimensional mediums. The two artists began referring to part of their respective processes as rescuing materials; saving battered paper for Le Guay and salvaging objects that would otherwise be landfill in Oliver’s case. A comparable affection for materials and objects revealed itself as common ground.
With the topic changing to both artists’ pending exhibitions also in 2014, images of work for Oliver’s Walking Sticks – Crooks, Staves and Scepters provoked a spirited reaction from Le Guay, who was instantly reminded of her work ‘Take Care’ from 2009. In both cases the artists similarly use thin wooden objects as a base, giving them a vertical presentation that allows for a play of shadow along the surface of the wall. Where Oliver uses stripes and geometric patterns of rich colour, Le Guay embellished her fronds with feathers and bound them with string. Discussing each other’s work, Le Guay remarked that there is a whimsicality present in Oliver’s sculptures that she finds appealing and he commented on the beauty of her stitch work. As his works are injected with life and animation through colour and her palette often pertains to muted tones, an obvious appreciation for one another’s differing aesthetic emerged.
At this point in the conversation the seating was unconsciously rearranged so that Le Guay and Oliver were sitting as to face each other and myself, outside of the conversation looking in. I was no longer needed as the conversational compère and sunk comfortably into my role as curator, observing the birth of a creative relationship. With both artists continuing to chat until time caught up with them, they agreed to begin searching for materials for each other, like a joint rescue mission.
With the discussion continuing over email, there have been mentions of weathered chicken wire, copper dish scourers, cellophane bags, curled apple green wrapping paper, sticks and iridescent thread among other things. As to whether all or any of these materials make an appearance in Le Guay and Oliver’s joint venture, that cannot be certain until the day before the work is due to arrive at the Gallery, having worked with both artists in the past. However, this attentive process of gathering and collecting with each other in mind has revealed itself as an integral part of their artistic partnership, a partnership I am afforded the fascinating opportunity to watch unfurl and evolve – a curator’s dream, really…
Melinda Le Guay and Leslie Oliver will be one of three creative duos in the exhibition In Tandem on view from 22 April to 17 May at Brenda May Gallery in Sydney.
- Olivia Welch