Surry Hills laneway art project speaks the language of Sydney

Posted August 11, 2017 07:54:26

Perhaps somewhat recognisable as the face of this year’s Archibald Prize winning portrait, artist Agatha Gothe-Snape is making a permanent mark of her own on Sydney’s streets.

She has been awarded the second Sydney Biennale Legacy Artwork commission for a large text-based installation, titled Here, an Echo.

The giant lettering runs down the length of Wemyss Lane in Surry Hills and touches on the history and geography of the site.

“It’s a lane that is used, it’s a service laneway, there’s garages here there’s people sleeping here, a pub down there a hotel up there; and it’s a living laneway and I didn’t want to undermine that or impose anything on that,” she said.

“And I always want it to exist in that way. The bins, the grime, the dirt, the craziness of night time here… it’s all absorbed into the work.”

The text is printed on the lane using road marking materials and is part of the City of Sydney’s maintenance schedule.

“I guess I always wanted to think about public art as something that is in the world, in the city, that speaks in the city’s language. It’s really part of the fabric of the city.”

Gothe-Snape’s conceptual artworks include performance, workshops and even slideshow presentations which are attracting widespread recognition at home and overseas.

Artspace Sydney’s executive director Alexie Glass-Kantor said Gothe-Snape was redefining Australia’s contemporary art scene.

“She’s highly regarded by institutions, museums, biennials, collectors as a really extraordinary artist with a breadth of practice and one to watch,” Ms Glass-Kantor said.

Gothe-Snape and Cairns don’t compete

Gothe-Snape is the first Australian artist to have a curated solo work at the prestigious Mori Art Museum in Tokyo and a show coming up at the Frieze Art Show in London.

“She really has forged something of a unique path. She carries a huge amount of esteem and weight,” Glass-Kantor said.

“She’s someone who’s is highly regarded by artists and peers as a leader of contemporary art in Australia.”

Still shell-shocked after the attention she and her partner Mitch Cairns received after his painting of her won this year’s Archibald Prize, Gothe-Snape said she is not worried about her own practice being upstaged.

“I don’t feel threatened by it. We weren’t expecting to win and we weren’t expecting the full onslaught of attention,” she said.

“But really I just feel excited. It’s a real honour to be painted, to have all that time spent on an image of you.”

Despite their vastly different styles of art practice, the pair say they come from the same basic approach.

“Even though our works are completely different to the outside eye, kind of the same logic is used to make them both which I think is amazing,” Gothe-Snape said.

Cairns said: “Ultimately there’s a similar sense and goal in mind that you’re trying to crystallise something or that you’re trying to arrive at a point of clarity through all of the mess, and talk, and reference points.”

But they both stop short of using each other’s form of media to create art.

“Agatha works collaboratively with many, many people and I’m the person that wants to be in the room and shut the door,” Cairns said.

“I dipped my toe in that water and I think I realise that it wasn’t necessarily for me so much.”

“He’s not really a team player,” Agatha says.

Topics: arts-and-entertainment, contemporary-art, street-art, visual-art, surry-hills-2010

Street art ‘dating service’ keeps brushing aside problem graffiti

Posted August 07, 2017 13:38:40

Brad Gough and Flavia Deoliveira have had to spend many a weekend in the past few years painting over the graffiti and tags sprayed onto the side of their terrace house in Marrickville.

But that will hopefully now change after they signed up to the Inner West Council’s Perfect Match initiative.

On the weekend they unveiled four arresting mural portraits painted on the wall by artist Brad Robson.

“This laneway is really dodgy and it was really boring and grey and it gets tagged a lot — we were really sick of painting it,” Mr Gough said.

“We really like the mural. We’re not quite sure of the vibe of the neighbourhood yet but we’re really happy with it.”

The artwork, on the corner of Philpott Street and Stevens Lane, is closely tied to the suburb.

The figures in the mural — drag queen Betty Grumble, athlete Annette Kellerman, poet Henry Lawson and fashion designer Akira Isogawa — all lived or worked in Marrickville at some point.

Robson, who likes to be called a muralist, also lives in the suburb.

“I just wanted to bring across the diversity and the culture that Marrickville brings in Sydney, and these are figures that speak volumes of Marrickville,” he said.

“Something on the street like this is for the community so it reminds people of what is around here and what we’re part of.”

‘Community dating service’ aimed at reducing graffiti

Perfect Match, now in its fourth year, was initiated to tackle problem graffiti.

The council invited property owners to volunteer their properties and paired them with a street artist in the manner of a “community dating service”, Victoria Johnstone, the council’s arts and cultural development coordinator, said.

At the weekend locals celebrated 16 new artworks across the inner west including Newtown, Stanmore Petersham, St Peters, Dulwich Hill and Sydenham.

Ms Johnstone told ABC Radio Sydney the council gave artists “a good fee” for their work.

“Obviously councils across the country and the world spend a lot of money on graffiti prevention,” she said.

“What is gorgeous about this project is it’s not just slapping up a beautiful contemporary artwork, it’s the sharing of understanding between artist and the community that you develop.

“Each artwork has a special story.”

Ms Johnstone said she had received calls from about 10 other councils interested in designing similar projects.

In March the City of Sydney passed a proposal allowing murals and artwork to be produced without need for council approval.

But Robson said using street art as a method for preventing graffiti was “confusing”.

“Graffiti, street art, it’s all the same thing,” he said.

“If you’re spending a bit more time on a mural, everyone seems to respect that and I’m sure a lot of graffiti artists do small jobs and bigger works … so I think we should just respect each other.”

Topics: street-art, arts-and-entertainment, visual-art, local-government, vandalism, painting, sydney-2000

Two huge Trump murals by Lushsux appear on West Bank barrier

Updated August 05, 2017 14:52:19

Two murals believed to be by Australian graffiti artist Lushsux — the artist behind a controversial mural in Melbourne of a sexed-up Hillary Clinton — showing an oversized US President Donald Trump have appeared on Israel’s West Bank separation barrier.

The new drawings popped up on the edge of Bethlehem, the Palestinian city where the barrier largely consists of a wall of towering slabs of concrete.

In one scene, Mr Trump is shown hugging and kissing a real Israeli army watchtower built into the wall, as his left arm reaches around the tower — and little pink hearts flutter from Mr Trump’s mouth.

In another drawing, he is depicted wearing a Jewish skullcap and placing a hand a wall — a scene taken from the President’s May visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.

A cartoon thought bubble next to him reads, “I’m going to build you a brother”, a possible reference to Trump’s plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico.

The murals were signed “lushsux”, and the artist has shared photos from the mural site on social media.

Several media outlets earlier speculated the murals may have been the work on Banksy — they are just metres from where the elusive artist decorated a hotel earlier this year.

“The Walled Off Hotel” is a Palestinian-run guest house that sarcastically bills itself as having the “worst view in the world”.

Lushsux has courted controversy in Australia — his graffiti walls of celebrity memes and nude selfies have fallen foul of council authorities, who regularly paint over his work in the name of public decency.

Trump yet to offer promised way forward

Israel began building the West Bank separation barrier a decade ago, at the height of an armed Palestinian uprising, saying the divider is needed to keep suicide bombers and gunmen from entering Israel.

Palestinians say the barrier, which slices off about 10 per cent of the West Bank, amounts to a land grab.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in 1967.

Several US-led Israeli-Palestinian attempts to negotiate the terms of a Palestinian state on these lands have failed.

Mr Trump said early on in his term that he would try to broker a deal, but has not offered a way forward.


Topics: street-art, arts-and-entertainment, world-politics, government-and-politics, israel, palestinian-territory-occupied

First posted August 05, 2017 14:32:40

Police stop anti-Palaszczuk graffiti despite ‘permission’

Posted August 02, 2017 14:45:45

A Brisbane graffiti artist says he is being politically censored after police stopped him painting a mural he had permission to do, about the Queensland Premier failing the reef.

Artist Scott Marsh said the mural, in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, is a take-off of the satirical publication Betoota Advocate claiming Annastacia Palaszczuk cares little about the coral bleaching on the reef and attacks her support for coal mining in the state.

He said he had received permission from the operators of the bar in the building the mural is painted on.

But he was interrupted by police before he could finish the work.

“Two officers came down and told me I had to stop otherwise I was going to be arrested for trespass,” he said.

“I was finishing off the image of Annastacia Palaszczuk and I got it to a point luckily that you can kind of tell it is her.

“I think it’s kind of strange that within hours of her face going on the wall the cops are down here kind of shutting me down.”

In a decade of being a graffiti artist, Marsh said he had never been stopped and believes it was linked to the political nature of the work.

“I think graffiti is the last kind of true place where you can kind of voice free speech,” he said.

“We are supposed to live in a democracy and have free speech, but yet I can’t paint a wall in Brisbane without being interviewed by police, twice I think over the course of two hours.”

Marsh said he was happy with the public’s response.

“Everyone loves it,” he said.

“They either know that it is satirical and kind of have a real good laugh about, it or they fall for it and get super angry so I guess that’s the wanted response.

“I’m not a policy maker but it’s important for me to keep these conversations alive.”

The Premier said she was happy to facilitate other works elsewhere.

“As Arts Minister, I’d be happy to find something for them to do in my electorate of Inala,” she said.

Marsh said: “If she wants to find me a wall in Inala, I’m happy to come paint something down there.”

Police said they did not receive any complaint about the matter, or are taking it further.

“Inquiries by police ascertained that the man had permission from the business owner to paint the wall,” they said.

Topics: street-art, police, state-parliament, great-barrier-reef, fortitude-valley-4006, qld, brisbane-4000

Derelict Melbourne house transformed by street artist

Updated July 26, 2017 16:10:25

A derelict federation-style house in Melbourne has been transformed into a beautiful piece of artwork — just days before it is set to be demolished to make way for a new housing development.

Internationally renowned Melbourne street artist Rone decided to celebrate the abandoned house in Melbourne’s inner north by painting murals on the walls and decorating the interior with 70s furniture.

“I’ve always had my eye on the house — it was more than just painting one wall in there, you needed to have the whole thing done,” Rone said.

Rone has spent the last few years painting abandoned houses.

He said he was approached by the property developer behind the large residential development on the former Amcor paper mill site, who was also a collector of his work.

“He approached me and said: ‘You know, I’ve got this huge site and a lot of stuff is being knocked down, there could be some opportunities for you there,'” Rone said.

Beauty and decay

Rone then spent a month painting the interior of this lonely house sitting on a vast empty space.

“It’s quite kooky inside,” he said.

“One room is painted half green and half blue, and then other rooms are purple on the roof and cream on the walls.

“I also used the house for a lot of the inspiration of the colours that I’d paint things — I’d just work with what was there.”

The end result is a series of striking portraits of a young woman.

“For me, the way I’m using her image is more a representation of beauty,” he said.

“It’s just this contrast of beauty and decay and you can see how she is so fragile. She is the house, in a sense, and she’s on the brink of collapse.”

Amongst these stunning portraits, dust and decay gathers on classic Australiana 70s furniture styled by interior designer Carly Spooner.

“I’ve got no idea about the history of the house,” Rone said.

“I’ve tried to make it more stuff that anyone can connect to, that lets a lot of people put their own story into it.”

Tapping into 70s nostalgia

On a dreary Monday afternoon, there is a stream of people waiting to enter the house. Rone says he’s been amazed by the public interest in the project.

“You think it’s going to be the cool kids into street art and graffiti, that are 18 to 24,” he said.

But instead the visitors have ranged from the very young to the very old, and he says it is appreciated most by those who grew up in the 70s.

“People who are probably over 40 are really connecting with the space because they often grew up in homes like this, especially people who live locally,” he said.

Even families who used to live in the house have made their way to the exhibition, sharing their memories of their life in Alphington.

“I’ve had granddaughters telling me about how they remember having Christmas here,” he said.

“They told me that in the front room they used to have a piano and her grandfather used to play the banjo and they used to have singalongs.”

House destined for demolition

As construction progresses on the site of the Alphington redevelopment, the abandoned house is ultimately destined for demolition.

“As of next week it’s supposed to be demolished, which kills me in one way, but I think I would have been really heartbroken if no-one got to see it,” Rone said.

It is a common experience for the renowned street artist, who often paints in temporary spaces.

“As a street artist you put your work out there and you’re back the next day and it’s been painted over,” he said.

“I guess you get thick-skinned about letting your work go when it’s done. It’s forced me not to be too precious about something and to live a little bit in the moment.”

He said The Omega Project also told a bigger Australian story about how communities are dealing with the housing affordability crisis.

“This is what we’re losing. A lot of people blame the developers, but I think we’re all responsible for it,” he said.

“Most people don’t want to live in a house like this. We don’t want to live this way anymore.”

Topics: street-art, history, community-and-society, visual-art, house-and-home, arts-and-entertainment, alphington-3078, melbourne-3000, vic

First posted July 26, 2017 15:35:20

Rolf Harris likeness removed from Melbourne mural

Posted July 26, 2017 13:23:58

A likeness of convicted sex offender Rolf Harris has been erased from a high-profile mural in Melbourne.

The 50-metre mural on the side of the historic Dimmeys building in the inner suburb of Richmond features dozens of portraits of famous Australians.

Dimmeys commissioned artist Hayden Dewar to paint the mural in 2003 in celebration of the department store’s 150th anniversary.

Dewar said the disgraced entertainer’s depiction in the mural had been on his mind since Harris was convicted of indecent assault in 2014.

He approached the building’s owners about replacing Harris with someone “more deserving” after learning that the section of the mural depicting the entertainer had been defaced.

“Once it starts looking in a state of disrepair it’s potentially going to spread to other areas of the mural,” Dewar said.

Mural features Kylie Minogue, Hills Hoist

Dewar said the mural was a chronology of memorable Australian people, places and events between 1853 and 2003.

Other people depicted include children’s author May Gibbs, boxer Lionel Rose, singer Kylie Minogue and musician Nick Cave.

Also depicted are Australian inventions such as the Hills Hoist and the Holden Kingswood, as well as Melbourne landmarks such as Luna Park and the Arts Centre.

Dewar said delays and interruptions meant he completed the mural over a period of four years.

He said he didn’t want to think about how many hours he put into the work.

“I think you do your best work when you don’t think about the time it’s taking you.”

Harris replaced with author

Dimmeys sold the heritage-listed building to a developer in 2008 and it reopened as a supermarket and apartment complex in 2015.

Dewar provided the new owners with a list of candidates to replace Harris.

They settled on Joan Lindsay, author of Picnic At Hanging Rock, who Dewar said was a “well-loved” figure in the arts.

“It was also important to make it a woman, because the men on the wall probably do outnumber the women.”

He said there had been some heritage-related issues to work through before he could be given the go-ahead to update the mural.

On Wednesday morning Dewar was finally able to get out his paint roller and erase Harris from the wall once and for all.

“Good riddance to bad rubbish,” Dewar said as he painted.

Topics: visual-art, painting, sexual-offences, street-art, human-interest, melbourne-3000, richmond-3121

Tiny WA town carving out a name for itself as chess champion

Posted July 23, 2017 09:10:22

The small Great Southern town of Kendenup — population 1,000 — is honouring its school chess champions by turning old street trees into chess pieces.

Students from the Kendenup Primary School have consistently been winners in regional and state competitions, and even runners up in the National School Chess Championships in 2012.

They are punching above their weight — the school has just 80 students, yet its year five and six pupils have excelled against much larger and wealthier schools.

Town community development association secretary Valerie Saggers said the residents were proud of the achievements and decided to raise $3,000 to hire a local wood carver to sculpt giant chess pieces.

The local council was going to cut down the old jarrah trees that stand at the entrance to the town’s main street, but agreed to trim them back to leave enough of the trunks to shape.

Darrel Radcliffe started on the project this week, beginning work on creating a king.

He aims to have a rook and a queen completed within two weeks.

When complete, the queen will stand 4 metres tall, with the rook and the king at almost 3 metres.

“When I got out here I was shocked by the size, but these are probably the biggest chainsaw carvings I’ve ever done,” Mr Radcliffe said.

A former student of the Kendenup Primary school himself, he has also donated two pawns he had carved from jarrah to set in front.

“I’m really impressed, it’s a bit like the olden days still where the community all gets together and does projects and helps clean up the place … they just do community based projects,” he said.

“It’s really good to see, that’s why I came on board, to lend a hand and give a little bit back.”

Another sculptor in the district is carving a giant knight that will eventually be moved into the street.

David Stockdale is also working with a chainsaw and a chisel to shape the jarrah trunk into public art.

School arts teacher Heather Fergie has been the driving force behind the students’ success.

She started teaching chess eight years ago after creating tiny chess pieces in art classes.

She was shocked when her year six chess players won the regional schools chess championship in 2011, then followed it up with winning the state championships in Perth.

Kendenup then raised enough money to take the team to Melbourne, where they came eighth out of 16 teams.

The following year they were better prepared for the competition.

“We knew what we were up against. We even looked better, we got new uniforms, we practiced and we came — much to all of our amazement — we came second in Australia.”

Ms Fergie attributes much of the students’ success to a local chess master and wool grower Bill Sandilands.

Ms Fergie and volunteer Mr Sandilands hold chess classes every week, and have built a playground chess board so all the school kids can enjoy a game outside at any time.

“It’s all about enthusiasm. Chess is self-motivating. Chess is like a puzzle and once you start to think about solving that puzzle it makes them think strategically,” Ms Fergie said.

She said their success had been the key to producing more winners from the farming community.

“It is something the whole district has got behind and they are very proud,” she said.

“We are a small school so it’s very hard for us to be very good at anything because we are always competing against bigger schools. So it’s very hard for us to get success, but I think success breeds enthusiasm”

Topics: board-and-card-games, street-art, kendenup-6323