2020 MAY SPACE EXHIBITIONS

Dianna Wells

- Geomorphology, 2020

1 to 18 July 2020

Geomorphology explores the immense forces of nature that shape the ancient rock formations of the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia. This region is part of the traditional lands of the Arrernte people and the indelible legacy of Arrernte artist Albert Namatjira is still evident when walking through this landscape. Thousands of years of intermittent floods have carved canyons through the quartzite, creating waterholes and creeks. Alongside these grow River Red Gums that have adapted over time, taking over dry riverbeds and sending their roots deep underground to find water. 

My practice centres on immersing myself within these environments, alongside avenues of scientific, historical and cultural research. Conversations with my geologist father, Allan Wells, have given me a deep understanding of how these natural landscapes formed over thousands of years. Throughout my childhood, I accompanied my father on geological expeditions, camping for long periods in the Central Australian deserts. As an adult, I have returned a number of times, camping in riverbeds and taking photographs of the Larapinta Trail in Tjoritja (West MacDonnell National Park).

The works for Geomorphology continue my experimentation with the materiality of the photographic medium through darkroom and digital photographic printing processes. I have reflected on questions regarding endless time and the role of water in the creation of these landscapes, and used a medium-format Hasselblad camera to distil these compositions. Black-and-white film extracts the essential information and enhances the tension expressed in the rock face and the surrounding landscape, accentuating millions of years of exposure and erosion.

- Dianna Wells, 2020

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BLACK BOX PROJECT Presents - Anna Glynn

- Above and Below

1 to 18 July 2020

Above and Below is a moving image work by award winning contemporary Australian artist Anna Glynn. In 2017, the work was acquired for the Australian Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra. This major public collection is of significant heritage value and is created specifically for Parliament House.

Above and Below reflects the character of this beautiful isolated environment and its complex and elegant natural rhythms and patterns.

Glynn was selected as the first artist in residence by the National Parks Arts Foundation US to spend 30 days off grid on the tiny island of Long Key in the Dry Tortugas National Park. She teamed up in an interdisciplinary collaboration with environmental scientist Peter Dalmazzo and in the inspirational environment at Loggerhead Key they collected video, time lapse, audio and photographs both terrestrial and aquatic, in a variety of ecotypes, in nature and in the human environment.

Glynn was given permission to quietly observe and film the only current nesting colony for the Magnificent Frigatebird in the continental U.S. During the artist in residence she observed the parallel between the forms in nature above and below the water. In this video, she creates a visually poetic work expressing her curiosity and wonderment with the natural world of the Dry Tortugas National Park.

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Peta Minnici

- Looking In; Seeing Out — Bundanon, 2020

1 to 18 July 2020

My current body of work was inspired by my month long residency at Bundanon, estate of the late artists’, Arthur and Yvonne Boyd. My proposal was to continue my exploration of perception through a series of paintings and drawings, based on its interiors and landscapes.  Arriving late in the afternoon and unable to gain access to the locked homestead, I began peering through windows and photographing all I could see, eager for inspiration.

As a result, I experienced a paradigm shift.  I inadvertently discovered that the glass allowed me to capture both the interior and the surrounding landscape in the one frame, as a play on reflections, with the mountains and trees fusing seamlessly with the architectural features of the interior. My drawings, based on window reflections, are formed intuitively over time using a technique of mark making, creating a blurring of focus and a slowing of viewing time, whilst in my paintings I aim to undo photographic representation by reducing the image into a series of shapes combined with the use of small brush strokes of tone and colour.

- Peta Minnici, 2020

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Vivienne Ferguson

- Illumine, 2020

10 to 27 June 2020

‘These paintings reflect the physical energy I feel is inherent to the natural world and demonstrate the importance of light in sustaining that energy. In my works it is colour which illuminates the pulse running through all living things, expressing the transformative affects of light that I see when I observe plants, rock formations or sunlight on trees.

There is a moment in the creative process where my paintings break free from my intentions and become both colour and line operating autonomously. I respond to every mark or colour and how it affects the painting in its entirety. Each work at some point develops its own energy and becomes an independent organism — existing, changing, and adapting as any plant or animal would in its natural environment.’

— Vivienne Ferguson, 2020

 

'Vivienne Ferguson cultivates her art practice from a studio in the Blue Mountains, where she relocated from Sydney a decade ago. There she works as a gardener for a small number of clients who share a love of art and an appreciation for her unique sensibility.  Over the last ten years Ferguson has presented five solo exhibitions in Sydney and Auckland, accumulating an impressive body of work consisting of a distinctive and highly personal visual language.

In the studio, Ferguson guides her hand across the canvas in gestures corresponding to her familiarity with working with the earth.  At times these marks are small and floral.  At other times, the artist’s expression is as strong and sweeping as the winds which blow hard through the mountains’ bending eucalypts.  Each mark has a descriptive purpose and produces its visual impact through the artist’s continuing immersion in the unique environment of the Blue Mountains.'

- Mark Bayly, 2020

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BLACK BOX PROJECT Presents - Todd Fuller

- with whom I was united by every tie, 2020

10 to 27 June 2020

"My dying wish is to be buried beside my beloved James Nesbitt, the man with whom I was united by every tie which could bind human friendship, we were one in hopes, in heart and soul and this unity lasted until he died in my arms" - Andrew George Scott, aka Captain Moonlight, 20 January, 1880.

On the 6th of December 2017, as debate raged in the House of Representatives regarding Same Sex Marriage in Australia, independent member for Kennedy Bob Katter suggested that the gay community and its advocates have "oh maybe, sixty years on their side" while he claimed to have "three and a half million years of genetic programming" on his side. His argument went on to discuss aids, safe schools, gay hate crimes and his best selling book, but it failed to acknowledge the rich and often concealed contribution of LGBTIQA+ individuals in the grand Australian narrative. Convicts and Queens re-imagines a selection of Queer Australian stories, both historical and contemporary, to explore how notions of masculinity in Australia may not be innate, enduring or eternal.

 

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Sybil Curtis

- When Rivers Die, 2020

20 May to 6 June 2020

'Along the western shore of Lake Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre) is a line of springs where one of the edges of the Great Artesian Basin comes to the surface and discharges freshwater. This has made it possible for people, wildlife and plants to live there. As a nation building project in the late 1800s, a railway line was built from Adelaide to Alice Springs, with steam trains dependent on this good supply of freshwater. Ironically the line suffered continuous damage mostly from flooding and the arrival of diesel locomotives saw it abandoned in the 1960s.

Early European explorers expected the inland flowing rivers would be filling a vast sea and were dismayed to find they disappeared into a network of dry channels or bitter salt lakes. It is a rare occasion that any rivers actually ‘flow’ into Lake Kati Thanda and it fills with water. I have only seen it as a glittering white surface of salt that stretched to the horizon with a shore of sand, gravel and sparse vegetation. Into this stark landscape intrude the remains and ruins of water towers and train stations as reminders of our hubris.'

- Sybil Curtis, 2019

Image: Sybil Curtis, Curdimurka, Kati Thanda 2019, oil on linen, 125 x 125cm

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Charlie Sheard

- Paintings on Paper, 2020

20 May to 6 June 2020

'Painting is the original meditation, bodily and spiritual in nature. Self expression is unimportant; the artist’s job is to allow the work of art to have its own Being. Such art is about itself, it is not about the artist, but if the work of art fails to speak for itself, it is the artist who has failed. Abstraction is the most extreme form of painting, pure and like music. “Beauty is difficult” said Yeats.'

- Charlie Sheard, 2020

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BLACK BOX PROJECT Presents - Claire Anna Watson

- The Falling, 2020

20 May to 6 June 2020

The Falling continues Claire Anna Watson’s ongoing investigation with food as symbolic of cultural and corporeal change. Multidisciplinary in approach, her practice explores aspects of contemporary culture and its relationship to foodstuffs, as well as humanity’s relationship to nature and the impact of scientific interventions on the natural world. Ephemeral matter is the medium for manipulation and experimentation, recontextualized to invite the viewer into a state of reflection on the natural, or not so natural, world. The Falling explores what Robert Nelson describes as a ‘spectacle of process’ whereby the ‘morbidity of falling, growing and corrosion’ enact ‘the unconscious pathology in our love of spectacle’.

 

Claire Anna Watson is a Melbourne based artist working across media from ephemeral installations, photography and video-based work, through to public art. Her recent work considers the transitory nature of existence and is focused on reinterpreting science and the natural world. She holds a Master of Fine Art from Monash University and a Graduate Certificate in Public Art from RMIT University. She has presented her works nationally and internationally and has been awarded international residencies that have culminated in major public art works. 

The artist has held several solo exhibitions including at May Space, Sydney 2017; Anna Pappas Gallery, Melbourne 2016; and Gippsland Art Gallery and BLINDSIDE in 2011. Her works have been curated into numerous group exhibitions, including ReminiSCENT at May Space, Sydney 2018; Cornucopia at Shepparton Art Museum 2016; Made to Last, a NETS Victoria exhibition touring to galleries including McClelland Gallery and QUT Art Museum 2012; and FEAST: Pleasure + Hunger + Ritual at Lexington Art League, USA 2015.

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Miriam Innes

- Unequivocally New York

29 April to 16 May 2020

'For 20 years I have executed my drawing practice in charcoal. The natural qualities of charcoal remind me of my childhood picture making, where I often used pieces of bog oak. Bog oaks are thousands of years old and sourced from beneath the layers of peat-lands in the west of Ireland, where rural families like my own spent long summers ‘saving the turf’.

The process of using natural mediums to recreate man-made architectural structures has essentially been a core value in the work and its execution. Fascinated with urban environments from an early age, captivated by pictures, movies, stories and eventually the experience of traveling; it was New York City that left a lasting imprint and a desire to investigate and convey it as a subject in my practice.

Capturing the city, its unique urban characteristics and beauty, a strong awareness of contrast and perspective within the work, whilst sharing the lasting impact I felt when there were crucial aspects of this investigation. The medium, subject-matter and scale of the drawings depend and rely on contrast and perspective. These are incredibly important to ensure an immersive experience for my audience.

My aim is to showcase this through charcoal, merging my passions to deliver NY Rambling; a simple, greyscale, soundless environment that is unlike a regular New York sensory experience. It offers an opportunity to view the city’s urban details and view it through the eyes of the artist. These works invite viewers to share an experience strolling along sidewalks, crossing streets, sharing a coffee perhaps, grabbing a bargain in China town or hanging on the edge of a rooftop. Taking in the expansive area congested with gritty details, bricks, shadows, taking care to avoid that smoke stack!'

- Miriam Innes

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Sydney Printmakers 2020

- A curated exhibition selected from members of Sydney Printmakers

1 to 24 April 2020

Sydney Printmakers is a self funded, self directed, independent organization successfully spanning nearly 60 years. Members are practicing artists and art professionals who have a specific focus on print, however continue to work across all media including digital and more experimental approaches. The group shows regularly in NSW, across Australia and overseas.

The following is an except from the intro essay for the 50th Anniversary Exhibition catalogue, by Professor Sasha Grishin AM, FAHA, The Sir William Dobell Professor of Art History Australian National University

"Sydney Printmakers is a unique phenomenon in Australian art with few parallels anywhere in the world.  Although numerous exhibiting associations of printmakers have cropped up from time to time in Australia, what distinguishes Sydney Printmakers is three things.  Firstly, no other exhibiting organisation of printmakers has so effectively represented the best printmakers of a city and has done this so comprehensively.  Secondly, no other organisation of printmakers in Australia has managed to sustain itself independently over such a prolonged period of time without becoming a de facto filial of an institution, such as an art school.  In other words, Sydney Printmakers have remained truly independent.  While thirdly, no organisation of printmakers has managed to survive for fifty years without extensive periods of dormancy".

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Merrick Belyea

- Anthropocene Landscapes, 2020

11 to 29 March 2020

Merrick Belyea’s paintings are deeply focused on the curious human appetite for destruction. Environmental concerns are central to his recent paintings, referring to a potential for devastation, pointing to a future of mechanical scarification of the landscape. Paring back the veneer of previously prepared paint layers reveal the detritus of process and the fragility of surface.

This will be Merrick's inaugural solo exhibition with MAY SPACE.

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BLACK BOX PROJECTS Presents, Nicole Welch

- Yarrahapinni, 2020

11 March to 16 May 2020

'The Yarrahapinni time-lapse film records tidal flow into an estuary, symbolically referencing the rejuvenation and reawakening of a wetland environment. Recorded on location in the Yarrahapinni Wetlands National Park it is an affirmative work that celebrates our capacity to rebuild fragile ecosystems. The Yarrahapinni Wetland Restoration Project undertaken by the Water Research Laboratory team in collaboration with the NSW National Parks, has successfully rebalanced the hydrological and water quality conditions to naturally encourage the regeneration of what was a highly acidic wetland. It is now a thriving estuarine wetland with greatly improved bird and fish habitat and with regenerating mangrove and saltmarsh endangered ecological communities.
 
The scientists use of remote and on ground monitoring and sensing techniques, including satellite and infrared mapping was of particular interest to me, as they are technologies that I have used in my arts practice to record landscape, and to extend and collapse time. For wetland restoration projects this visual data is collected to analyse changes in wetland distribution, vegetation, tidal inundation and health of the estuary over time. Constructed from 4800 high resolution photographs captured over several hours the Yarrahapinni infrared time-lapse film mirrors the use of these scientific methodologies to speak to the potential of environmental restoration and rejuvenation. 
 
The area is in the country of the Dunghutti and Gumbayaggir nations (a sharing place). I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging and give thanks for the opportunity to make work at this significant location.'

- Nicole Welch, 2020

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Graziela Guardino

- Finite Infinity, 2020

11 to 29 March 2020

'Finite Infinity (2020)— a series of mixed-media paintings — takes inspiration from poems that express opposing notions in line with my exploration of the binary forces that life presents. The work is of a restrictive palette, ambiguously portraying the dichotomies of experience such as absence and presence, darkness and light, and fragility and resilience; aspects that have accompanied human existence. Consequently, Finite Infinity offers a visual metaphor for how these opposing dualities can simultaneously exist and cause ripples or understanding in our lives.

The materials used — linen, wood, brass, thread and paint — were chosen for their transformative qualities. Through a continuous process of experimentation — building, deconstructing, cutting, painting, pulling threads and sewing — symmetrical and asymmetrical forms are created and juxtaposed to evoke a sense of space, volume and distance while the textures and layers unveil the degree of psychological responses of such experiences. The titles of each piece, on the other hand, directly reference fragments of poems to offer a deeper insight into the abstract ideas presented in the work.

Overall, the exhibition is a thoughtful reflection on my past experiences and attempts to reconcile these dichotomies by creating a space for viewers to contemplate their own experiences. The binary forces that play out in our lives, collectively form an endless tapestry of human experience, the meaning of which can only be gained by taking a step back.'

- Graziela Guardino

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Julian Laffan

- Voyages, 2020

19 February to 8 March 2020

'My work is a voyage through rooms, selecting moments upon which to reflect as hand-carved meditations.  These images depict remnants and mementos of significance, alongside objects that are ordinary or everyday. The process of selecting, carving and hand-rendering is a means of remembering, gathered and arranged as new understandings. Both the momental and the seemingly insignificant are united in a single frame. A red snuff bottle evokes recollections of conversations in a Mongolian ger beside the red matchbox for the evening's fire. A can from a wharf in Mapua, New Zealand sits alongside a sweets container from Verona, Italy.  Each work exists as an unintentional relationship, as reflections of multiple places in a single captured moment, suspended as a carved and painted image in timber.
    

These works connect to the historic period when illuminated manuscripts were replaced by that of the printed image. Each work is a return to the notion of hand-coloured individual pieces, working in direct opposition to their potential as a replicated image in the digital age, signifying the importance of knowledge. This journey through an interior is an investigation into daily spaces, a new voyage of discovery for both the artist and the viewer.'

- Julian Laffan, 2019

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Catherine O'Donnell

- Suspended Narratives, 2020

19 February to 8 March 2020

'My art practice gives emphasis to the suburban landscape by abstracting and reinterpreting its overlooked dwellings. Using minimalism, I isolate these modest buildings from their contexts and represent only their structures to explore their compositional potential and underlying symmetry, striving to offer a renewed vision of these often-bleak landscapes.

Through my drawings, I aim both to present the formal aesthetics of the buildings and to extract the sense of humanity that emanates from lived-in spaces. I employ realism to ignite the imagination of the viewer and invite them to look beyond the mundane and banal. My work intends to reinterpret and reinvigorate inhabited environments by accentuating attributes of life and longevity, beyond physicality.

While my work displays a high level of realism, my interests do not lie in simple reproduction. Rather, I delete extraneous information and reveal signs of life, both historical and contemporary. Small moments of suspended narrative enter my images through detail; an open window or drawn curtain suggests habitation and bears witness to lived experience. These moments maintain an element of the personal within the impersonal, and as such, my drawings become active reminders of human existence. The viewer is called to delve into their own memories of home and to contemplate the individual narratives embedded in these common-place structures.

At the heart of my artistic practice are my interests in minimalist architectural structures, the pictorial power of illusion, scale and perspective and the pursuit of a shared narrative. My works seek to combine these elements to illuminate narrative within structure and to find life within the minimal.'

- Catherine O'Donnell, 2019

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BLACK BOX PROJECTS Presents - Claire Anna Watson

- Neoplasm, 2020

19 February to 8 March 2020

Claire Anna Watson explores ephemeral matter as a vehicle for discussing our relationship with humanity and the environment. In Neoplasm, associations are linked between clinical procedures and the food we eat. In a surreal and visceral fashion, we are led to consider the slippage between plastic and natural realities and the extent to which humans have control over the environment. Watson reflects on how natural elements can become distorted and synthesised, creating new hybrid forms. We are asked to consider what humanity's role might be in the ongoing customisation and distortion of the natural world and whether humans are unwittingly cultivating a world engulfed in mutations.

 

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Hendrik Kolenberg & Evan Salmon

- Urbanscapes, 2020

29 January to 16 February 2020

Evan Salmon and Hendrik Kolenberg share an interest in making paintings of their suburban environment – streets & traffic, houses & rooftops, cranes, telegraph poles & wheelie bins, domestic and industrial settings, the working harbour, parkland & waterways. They find their subjects in the familiar everyday or commonplace, the city & suburbs as well as further afield. For Evan that includes landscape near at hand; for Hendrik, Rotterdam, his birthplace. It isn’t place that matters to them as much as the power of light to transform, intensify or surprise them.

This selection of recent paintings  features subjects close to home for each of them, around Warrawong, south of Sydney and Eastwood in Sydney’s north west, each typical of modern urbanism and its unencumbered spread north, south and west of metropolitan Sydney. Painting En Plein Air has preoccupied Evan for some years now, while Hendrik constructs his paintings from drawings and studies in pen & ink, charcoal and oil on paper.

Evan and Hendrik draw together (which is how their friendship developed) and with others but painting is a private occupation for them. This is their first exhibition together.

(images on the previous page)
Top: Evan Salmon, Truck depot, Port Kembla 1, 2019, oil on linen, 51.5 x 61cm
Bottom: Hendrik Kolenberg, House fronts, First Avenue, Eastwood, 2019, oil on gesso on linen on plywood, 63 x 72cm

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Kevin McKay

- Eastern Suburbs Streetscapes, 2020

29 January to 16 February 2020

This suite of paintings explores the back streets of Sydney's Eastern Suburbs where a gritty working class history and village charm lingers despite the gloss of gentrification and the encroachment of high-rise development. Kevin enjoys finding ready-made compositions in urban environments and applies the formal concerns of compositional design with the particularity of place as he seeks a theatrical intensity in the ordinary.  Stillness and transience compliment each other in his road-based paintings where architectural forms provide a fixed point in contrast with the flux of light; a momentarily parked car; or randomly placed 'street furniture' (wheelie bin, witches hat, road sign etc); or indeed the conduit of the road itself, a constant in the ever changing city.

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BLACK BOX PROJECTS presents - Todd Fuller

- How to Raise a Siren, 2020

29 January to 16 February 2020

'A dugong is a terrible thing to waste.
If one falls from the sky, you should always do your best to catch it. If you find yourself catching one, be sure to use two hands and a light touch or even better, a jar half filled with water.

Dugongs are a type of Sirenia and are the loyalist of creatures, with their waggy-slippery tails and their shiny stiff whiskers. Dugongs are generally shy, so if you manage to see a rare dugong smile, you should always smile back. A smile from a dugong is a gift in itself.

If you are a lucky person who manages to snag a dugong, here are some handy tips for looking after him:

1. Ensure he has room to swim, and frolic and grow. Dugongs like their space.
2. Make sure their tank is always clean, a tidy home is everything.
3. Tell him stories about jellyfish, seagrass and love.Especially Love as Dugongs are very into romance.
4. Scratch his back where his fins can’t reach and be sure to keep his wrinkles clean. This rule is not just applicable to dugongs, you should also be vigilant with the cleanliness of your own wrinkles.
5. Hide him from lawnmowers, they are the enemy of seagrass which is of course a dugongs favorite food in the whole wide ocean.
6. Dugongs hate curse words so be careful not to swear when they can hear you.
7. Remember to smile when the time comes for your dugong to return to the sea...'

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