‘Howl for a Black Cockatoo’ by Gwen Harrison and Sue Anderson

Howl for a Black Cockatoo is a limited edition of 25 handcrafted books produced collaboratively by Sue Anderson and Gwen Harrison. The work explores the experiences of the hundreds of young girls who were held on Cockatoo Island in the Industrial School between 1871 – 1888.

The island, one of many in Sydney Harbour, is harsh, barren, and treeless – exposed to all weather. It is a misshapen site: a formation of sandstone rock emerging from the deep harbour that convicts quarried to construct their own prison on the escarpment and dry docks for ships below. It seems an unlikely place to have sent children, and yet young orphaned and neglected girls, some of whom were babies, were kept there.


In 1871 Cockatoo Island prison was renamed ‘Biloela’ an Industrial School for girls and a separate Reformatory. Ostensibly, the name changing was to protect the children from the stigma of having been at ‘Cockatoo’. In reality, the renaming was intended to divert public attention from the fact that children were being sent to a notorious prison site. The appalling conditions there were deemed unfit for some of the worst felons in the colony who had just been moved to a new prison on the edge of Sydney town.

These children had already been stigmatised the moment they were ‘charged’ with being neglected. A public inquiry in 1873 into ‘Biloela’ outlined the brutal, inhumane treatment the children received from all those in authority, the management, and those employed for their care and teaching.

In ‘The Fatal Shore’ Robert Hughes wrote ‘crimes die with their witnesses and so, no doubt, did most of the crimes against women in the early colony’. The story of the Biloela girls is scarcely known in Australia. When researching their history we constantly wondered how these voiceless children fared after surviving Cockatoo. On reading a recently released report, by the Government’s current Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Australian Institutions, the Parramatta Girl’s Home/Training School was named as one of the worst. This is the place where the girls from Biloela were sent, and as history has shown, the pattern of abuse continued.


Many of the children carried the scars from these institutions on their damaged souls; passing them on from generation to generation. This history forms part of the fabric of Australian society today. It is difficult to express the nature of the overwhelming wrongs these girls endured. Eventually their story was recontextualised into another world called Wonderland.

The books are comprised of original sugarlift and aquatint etchings on Magnani ‘Revere’ 100% cotton rag paper, with letterpress printing on a Potter Proof Press, handset Canson Lead type, various wood types. Abstract leather binding in black kangaroo, with sugarlift etching on Magnani ‘Revere’. The work was completed in January 2015.

Currently on view as part of Small Publishers curated by Akky van Ogtrop.

Now on view: Janet Parker-Smith, Small Publishers, and Nicholas Tory until 14 March

We are pleased to present you with the exhibition catalogues for Questionable Intentions by Janet Parker-Smith and Small Publishers curated by Akky van Ogtrop

The exhibitions will be on view until Saturday 14 March. We will be holding a book launch on the afternoon of the 14th from 3-5pm for the beautiful artist book Howl for a Black Cockatoo by Gwen Harrison and Sue Anderson.

▶ Click here to view the catalogue for Janet Parker-Smith
▶ Click here to view the catalogue for Small Publishers


Nicholas Tory – Make

Also on view is the video installation Make by Nicholas Tory. Secreted away in a cupboard in the Gallery, this digitally hand-drawn film is visible through a crack in the door. Peep inside to catch this lively little animation.


Your personal invitation to our February exhibitions

On view from Tuesday 17 February
to Saturday 14 March 2015

▶ JANET PARKER-SMITH, Questionable Intentions
“My recent work extends my fascination with humans and nature and their boundless capacity for re-invention and rejuvenation. Using the transmutation of humans and animals, morphology and the desolation of our environment, the work explores the human collective chaotic and purposeless existence on the universe.”


Please join us for “An Afternoon of brouhaha”
Saturday 14 March 3-5pm

To launch the book, Howl for a Black Cockatoo,
by Gwen Harrison and Sue Anderson

SMALL PUBLISHERS, curated by Akky van Ogtrop
Artists’ books can be handcrafted or commercially printed; unique, or in limited or unlimited editions. Forms range from the traditional codex to sculptural works, or they may have audio, video, installation, online and performance components. Many artists’ books are self-published, or are produced by small presses or by artists’ groups or collectives, most often in limited editions.




17 February to 14 March

Locked away in a dark cupboard and only visible through a peephole, is Nicholas Tory’s miniature video installation, ‘Make’, presenting the infinite life cycle of a worker and his creation.

Nicholas Tory, ‘Make’ 2014, concept drawing

A selection of work from Sculpture Park

Sculpture Park continues the tradition of opening the Gallery year with an exhibition showcasing contemporary sculpture and introducing new artists alongside our represented artists. This year our curatorial focus is outdoor sculpture, with a small selection of significant works intended for display out in the elements. Alongside these major works, we are also exhibiting maquettes and smaller indoor sculptures with additional details available on our website.

The 2015 edition includes sculptures by Senden Blackwood, Jim Croke, Ray Haydon, Dion Horstmans, Dan Lorrimer, Patsy Payne, Morgan Shimeld, Peter Tilley, and Jacek Wańkowski.

▶ Click here to view The Quarterly, volume 1, number 1.


Invitation to Sculpture 2015 + Daniel Connell in Black Box Projects

Sculpture Park continues the tradition of opening the Gallery year with an exhibition showcasing contemporary sculpture, this edition will feature artworks that are capable of withstanding the elements.

Also on view will be Daniel Connell’s film ‘Obsolete’ in the Black Box Projects space. In the work, a figure moves through the rainy forest, her dress dissolving as she slowly retreats into the landscape.

The work will be on show from Wednesday 28 January when the 2 Danks Street complex will reopen with the combined galleries Gala Night – hope you can make it.

▶ Click here to read The Quarterly, volume 1, number 1.


Brenda May Gallery presents Robert Boynes at Art Stage Singapore, 22 to 25 January 2015


This is our third year of participating in Art Stage Singapore, again joining a select group of Australian galleries in this international platform. We will be exhibiting senior artist Robert Boynes with his vibrant multi-panel installation ‘Long Take – Slow Dissolve’.


Across fifteen panels, ‘Long Take – Slow Dissolve’ encapsulates the aesthetic and pulse of a contemporary, urban environment. Though the artist uses layers of iconography that are site-specific, the work evokes the overall energy of the big city, imaging no particular place and therefore lending itself to reflect any modern metropolis.

▶ Click here to read the essay about ‘Long Take – Slow Dissolve’ in The Quarterly volume 1, number 1.




Last week in 2014…

This year, Brenda May Gallery will close for the summer break on Saturday, 20 December at 5pm. This means that this is the last week to view our current Christmas Show, featuring works for sale specially priced at just $1,000 each.

We are excited to launch our new Quarterly publication that will take the place of our small calendar booklets. The first issue is our special edition for Art Stage Singapore which also contains all of our exhibition information for January – March 2015. You can view Quarterly 1.1 digitally by clicking here.

Finally, please save the date for the combined 2 Danks Street galleries Gala Night, on Wednesday 28 January. Please join us for the celebration and to view our annual January exhibition, Sculpture Park.

In the meantime, have a safe, happy and relaxing break, with best wishes from Brenda, Meg, Olivia, Wendy, Michael, Gordie, Jude, and of course Gemma (woof!) – all of us at Brenda May Gallery.

▶ Last day open in 2014, Saturday 20 December, until 5pm
▶ Brenda May Gallery at Art Stage Singapore (booth C1a), 22 – 25 January 2015
▶ Combined 2 Danks Street Opening, Wednesday 28 January 2015, 6-8pm


Exclusive Events in 2015

e304300c-f242-46ce-b486-09d5e70690a8A Dinner in the Gallery with Helen Mueller’s Forest Requiem, 2013, on the walls

In 2015 we are changing the way in which we celebrate our Artists’ exhibitions. We will host custom events and intimate gatherings, tailored to each exhibition, with an invitation only requirement. In order to ensure that you do not miss out, you can register your interest in a particular artist via email, or join a represented artist’s mailing list (see below). By joining an artist’s mailing list, you will also be the first to receive information on new work and exhibition previews. If you decide not to register, emails will continue to be sent to you with all the Gallery news.

Peter Tilley Success at Sculpture by the Sea


We would like to formally congratulate Peter Tilley on another successful year at Sculpture by the Sea. On top of joining the Decade Club, which acknowledges Peter exhibiting with SxS for the tenth year, he sold his larger outdoor sculpture and his smaller works from the indoor exhibition. Well done!

Peter will exhibiting a large-scale work in Sculpture Park, 28 January – 14 February 2015.

Peter Tilley, ‘crossing the sky by boat’ 2014
cast iron, corten steel, 170 x 140 x 42cm

Al Munro Residency in Chiang Mai

097575d5-810d-40ac-b924-88097b3e8990Al Munro will be going to Chiang Mai on an ArtsACT funded residency at the Chiang Mai University Faculty of Fine Arts in Thailand from 11 December 2014 to 20 January 2015. Al will be exhibiting works from her ‘Molecular Measure’ series at Chiang Mai University Art Centre from 15 to 30 January.


Al Munro, ‘Molecular Measure’ 14 2014
acrylic paint, nail varnish, glitter on balsa wood, 33 x 30.5 x 1.5cm