01/3/17

BLEACHED: LAURA JONES’S HOPE FOR THE REEF

In preparation for her 2017 solo show at Olsen Gallery, Laura Jones reflects on her time visiting the Great Barrier Reef for The Gaurdian, written by .

‘The artist says her undeniably sad portraits of bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef are about resilience: ‘It’s not a fragile delicate flower … it’s so important to be optimistic and do what we can to protect it’.

Laura Jones is pained by the delicate balance she wants to strike. Her paintings of coral bleaching are going to be engulfing, immersive and undeniably sad. But she wants them to express hope and resilience, too.

It’s something she keeps coming back to before, during and after I visit her studio, where she is preparing a major exhibition.

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“It’s not a fragile, delicate flower,” Jones says of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. “It’s quite resilient. Somehow I need to show that in the paintings. But still show that we’re really hammering it.”

Partly inspired by the Guardian’s in-depth coverage of coral bleaching in 2016, including around Lizard Island in the northern reef, Jones packed her bags and became an artist-in-residence on the island for 10 days in August.

Diary note from 19 August

‘I set out for Lizard Island after being in Melbourne for three days for a series of art fairs. After a quick stop at my home in Sydney to pick up my camera, art supplies and a wetsuit, I headed for far north Queensland. From Cairns I made the trip to the research station on a tiny six-seater plane. The journey included spectacular views of the reef and the bright blue sky looked like it was melting into the ocean.”

When she got there, she landed in the epicentre of what was the worst bleaching event the Great Barrier Reef had ever seen. Just a few months earlier, about a quarter of the coral on the entire 2,300km length had been killed, with 85% of that mortality in the northern third – right where Jones landed.

She would go snorkelling or diving for four hours a day, and then go back to her workspace – a desk in a lab shared with scientists – where she would sketch what she saw and write in her diary.

Read the full article here

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09/3/14

Angus McDonald | black&blue

Angus McDonald‘s most recent exhibition black&blue stems from the relationship between 2 simple objects.

“Most of the paintings and other pieces in the show are interpretations of how this relationship changes as these objects are exposed to, and pass through all the prismatic shades of colour and light in the process of time; not unlike the experiences we have in our own relationships.” – Angus McDonald

McDonald photographed elaborate installations in his Lennox Head studio. It is these photos that form the basis for the still life works in black&blue.

While appearing to be contemporary vanitas works, McDonald doesn’t perceive the skulls as being a foreboding symbol of death. In these simple and excruciatingly beautiful forms, McDonald presents a representation of the ephemerality of life.

Watch McDonald at work in his studio in the film below:

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08/26/14

Ann Thomson | Reims Residency

Ann Thomson has just returned from three months working in the city of Reims, France. Immersing herself in the French culture and way of life, Thomson worked everyday in her studio producing inspired gouache on paper and acrylic on linen works. Thomson’s works will be exhibited at the soon to be complete Jacquart Museum in Reims.

Born in Brisbane in 1933, Ann Thomson has been exhibiting since 1965. After studying under the renownded Australian expressionist, Jon Molvig, Thomson moved to Sydney to study at the National Art School, then called the East Sydney Technical College. In 1978 Thomson was awarded a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. Thomson has subsequently been an artist in residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris in 1995, 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2006. In 1998 Thomson won the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Wynne Prize. In 2002 she was awarded the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize, and in 2005 was the Kedumba Drawing Award. Thomson lives and works in Sydney.
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08/15/14

Jo Bertini | Country Style

Jo Bertini‘s beautiful home and studio in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales has been featured in Country Style magazine. The article, written and styled by Karen Cotton and photographed by Simon Kenny, gives us a great insight into Bertini’s rural paradise.

“Wallaburra was 16 hectares on a creek with all of the original buildings from its days as a 1200-hectare sheepstation,” she says. “But the big drawcard was the shearing shed, which I could picture as my studio. Even though the house was derelict, and occupied by roos and wombats, it had so much potential I bought it immediately.” – Jo Bertini, Country Style

Bertini will present an exhibition of new work at Olsen Irwin in December 2014.

Jo Bertini
New works
10 December 2014 – January 2015

Olsen Irwin
63 Jersey Road
Woollahra NSW 2025

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08/14/14

Chris Langlois | Studio Visit

On a recent visit to Chris Langlois‘ studio we previewed his most recent work for the upcoming exhibition at Olsen Irwin, Weather Systems. Greeted by Langlois’ two bumbling pugaliers, Langlois shows us to his studio, adjoining his home in Sydney’s northern beaches. The works for the upcoming show are vast land-, sea- and skyscapes, meticulously painted in Langlois’ signature style.

“These paintings depict landscape that is emptied of persons and his objects, a world altered and neglected by man, an inverse romanticism. They are either placed in or on the edge of the emptiness or show it viewed from afar and explore the nothingness that depicts space. I prefer a landscape that is meloncholic, reflective of the human mind, a space that I create and that can be solitarily explored.

Painting for me involves landscape and I explore that theme, however, my use of landscape is not to depict place, rather, a tool or vehicle to draw the viewers’ own relationship with place. My paintings generally are cinematic, empty and vague so as to engulf the viewer. I wish to effect the viewer in the same way music washes over you and leads you through a maze of experience, not a literal journey, not a story, but an attempt to bring the viewer to an emotional state.

This exhibition is a continuation of those themes that I have explored, of painting landscape and depicting the space and the effect it has on us.”

LangloisStudio_May2014_6LangloisStudio_May2014_7About the artist:

Chris Langlois (b. 1969) is admired for his exquisite land and seascapes that are often described as embodying the sublime. Born in Gosford, he went on to study painting and drawing at the University of Newcastle. Langlois has widely exhibited since 1989 and has been a finalist in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on a number of occasions. In 1990 he was joint winner the Maitland Tertiary Art Prize at Maitland Art Gallery. In 2010 he won the prestigious Stan & Maureen Duke Gold Coast Art Prize at the Gold Coast Art Gallery in Queensland, and earlier that same year was runner up of the Tattersall’s Landscape Art prize.

Over a 14 month period during 2013-2014, a major survey that exhibits the highlights over a ten year period between 2003 to 2013 is touring regional galleries throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Points in Time features more than 30 works exploring Chris’s signature themes of the romantic, melancholy and beauty. Accompanying the exhibition is a 112 page book that illustrates the same period in more detail as well as essays by the curators Katherine Roberts and Simon Gregg.

His works form part of many important public and private collections both in Australia and internationally. Chris currently lives and works in Avalon, NSW.    LangloisStudio_May2014_9 LangloisStudio_May2014_10 LangloisStudio_May2014_11 LangloisStudio_May2014_12 LangloisStudio_May2014_13 LangloisStudio_May2014_16Chris Langlois
Weather Systems
20 August – 7 September 2014

Olsen Irwin
63 Jersey Road
Woollahra NSW 2025

08/9/14

Marisa Purcell | Studio Visit

We paid a visit to Marisa Purcell’s Bondi studio in the months leading up to her exhibition Polyphony, currently on show until 17 August 2014 at Olsen Irwin. Purcell’s light filled studio was a hive of activity as she put the final touches onto her mixed media on linen works. Be sure to visit Olsen Irwin for the final week of Purcell’s show.

Purcell_Studio2014_1Polyphony: from Greek poluphōnia, from polu- ‘many’ + phōnē ‘sound’.
def: The style of simultaneously combining a number of parts, each forming an individual melody and harmonizing with
each other. (“Polyphony.” The Oxford English Dictionary)

“What is the omnipresence of sound? Is it visible?
Is it constant or sporadic?  Is there an underlying rhythm?
Sound is essentially abstract, endless and defies visual description.

The expression of sound through painting is by no means a new idea – Kandinsky’s improvisation paintings of the early 20th century allowed painting to enter into a world of sound, rhythm and timbre, liberating painting from the visual world.

Like sound, a painting has rhythm – the regular alternation between silent gaps and beats. The spaces – the voids – are anything but empty.

In these new paintings, sound dissolves, and dissipates into an underlying field. Where does this sound go? And what form does it take? The colours and marks in these paintings are a playful imagining of how sounds relate – how they cross over, how they resonate and then how they disappear or transmute into another state.

Colours blur out of focus, as if the light hasn’t yet reached us, lines feel as though they are moving away and gestures punctuate to bring together a polyphonic composition in paint. The varied forms of tone and mark reveal distant sounds that have always been present, and will always remain.

To depict is to impose boundaries, and a sense of the infinite is boundless, un-depictable. The abstract becomes the language with which to respond to this boundlessness, to respond to sound.”

Purcell_Studio2014_3 Purcell_Studio2014_4About the artist:

After an initial career as a high school art teacher, Marisa Purcell (b. 1971, Queensland) moved to Sydney in 1994 to pursue a career in art practice. She went on to complete a Post-technician’s certificate in Printmaking from the National Art School, Master of Art Administration at the College of Fine Art UNSW and a Master of Visual Arts from the University of Sydney. In 2006 Purcell received the University of Sydney Postgraduate Award.

Purcell has been awarded prestigious residencies both in Australia and internationally, including a six-month residency in Zürich, Switzerland in 2003, a 2004 residency at the Cite Internationale des arts Paris, in 2008 at Haefligers Cottage, Hill End with Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and with Waverley Council in 2009. Purcell has exhibited Australia wide and internationally in Italy, France, Switzerland, Korea and Hong Kong.

Marisa Purcell
Polyphony
30 July – 17 August

Olsen Irwin
63 Jersey Road
Woollahra NSW 2025 Purcell_Studio2014_5 Purcell_Studio2014_6 Purcell_Studio2014_7 Purcell_Studio2014

07/17/14

Fiona McMonagle | Studio | Art Guide Australia

Art Guide Australia takes us inside the Melbourne studio of Fiona McMonagle as she prepares an animation for the Basil Sellers Art Prize.

“The animation is based on female boxers. It came about because I’ve been doing boxercise classes. I thought it would be an interesting subject – a lot of people don’t understand why a woman would want to get in the ring and box. I haven’t really gotten in the ring yet – it’s been more about the training – so when I see women who are brave enough, it’s inspiring. I’m interested in what kind of person has that kind of courage.” – Fiona McMonagle, Art Guide Australia

After being selected one of sixteen finalists, the shortlisted artists are then given eight months to complete a work centered on the theme of sport. The acquisitive prize will award $100,000 to the winner on 25 July 2014.

Click here to see more images and read about McMonagle’s work and studio on the Art Guide Australia website.

Basil Sellers Art Prize
22 July – 26 October 2014

Ian Potter Museum of Art
The University of Melbourne
Swanston Street
Parkville VIC 3010

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Image courtesy Art Guide Australia. Photography by Jesse Marlow

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Image courtesy Art Guide Australia. Photography by Jesse Marlow

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Image courtesy Art Guide Australia. Photography by Jesse Marlow

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Image courtesy Art Guide Australia. Photography by Jesse Marlow

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Image courtesy Art Guide Australia. Photography by Jesse Marlow

07/11/14

Sophie Cape | Studio

Sophie Cape was photographed in her Sydney studio by fellow Olsen Irwin artist Tamara Dean for the Sydney Morning Herald. The images give us a great insight into Cape’s studio, materials and process. The accompanying article, detailing her life as a downhill skier and track cyclist before becoming an artist, was featured in Good Weekend on 31 May 2014read the article here.

Sophie Cape’s exhibition Shadows of White – from Shaolin to Everest is on now at Olsen Irwin, Works on Paper, Small Paintings and Sculpture.

Sophie Cape
Shadows of White – from Shaolin to Everest
2 – 20 July 2014

Olsen Irwin
Works on Paper, Small Paintings and Sculpture
40 Queen Street
Woollahra NSW 2025

All images courtesy Tamara Dean.

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06/13/14

Guy Maestri | Art of Music | Sydney Morning Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald’s  spoke with Guy Maestri about his work for the charity auction event, Art of Music. ‘Are you Leaving for the Country’ by Australian band The Drones is both the inspiration and the title of Maestri’s work to be auctioned for the event. Money raised will go to Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy, ‘founded in 1984 to promote and develop the understanding, training and practice of creative music therapy.’ – Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. For the auction 11 artists were asked to create a work based on an iconic Australian song. Olsen Irwin artists Nicholas Harding, Luke Sciberras and Amanda Marburg are also contributing works to the auction.

Watch Maestri discuss his work and song choice and read the article here on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

Art of Music
Saturday 14 June 2014
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney
Performances by Don Walker, Missy Higgins and Sunny Amoreena

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Guy Maestri, ‘Are you Leaving for the Country’, 2014. Nicholas Harding, ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’, 2014

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Luke Sciberras, ‘The Belly of the Whale’, 2014. Amanda Marburg, ‘That Ain’t Bad’ 2014

04/22/14

Angus McDonald | Everyday Majesty

Olsen Irwin presents the upcoming exhibition Everyday Majesty, a show of new works by Angus McDonald (1961- ), inspired by the work of pre-eminent Australian ceramic artist Gwyn Hanssen Pigott (1935-2013), running from 30 April to 17 May 2014. McDonald has long been renowned for his signature still life paintings of exacting composition and meticulous execution. His works elevate seemingly everyday objects – beakers, bottles and bowls – into beautifully orchestrated blocks of colour and form. Everyday Majesty will feature approximately 20 small works, from gouache studies to oil on linen paintings, examining the understated simplicity of still life and the work of Gwyn Hanssen Pigott. The exhibition will also feature Hanssen Pigott ceramics, including a large still life composition.

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Angus McDonald, Still Life II, 2014, Gouache on panel, 15 x 20cm

Gwyn Hanssen Pigott’s life was one of creating beautiful yet functional ceramics. From her earlier years making dinner sets, serving dishes and jugs, she later placed these into exacting still life groupings. It is these groupings that allow the viewer to delve further into the work, looking not only at the individual pieces, but the spaces between. We begin to see the subtle change in tone from inside to out, the translucency of the porcelain and the way light is either absorbed or reflected by the rounded surfaces. Hanssen Pigott’s work is an homage to restraint in its purest form. It is this inherent understanding of compositional balance, tone and light that unites the work of Hanssen Pigott and that of McDonald.

“I titled this show Everyday Majesty as a reflection on Gwyn Hanssen Pigott herself and the consistently sublime and beautiful catalogue of ceramic work she produced over her lifetime as one of this country’s significant artists.” – Angus McDonald, 2014

Angus McDonald
Everyday Majesty
Opening Saturday 3 May 2 – 4pm
Exhibition 30 April – 17 May 2014

Olsen Irwin
Works on Paper, Small Paintings and Sculpture
40 Queen Street
Woollahra NSW 2025

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Angus McDonald, Still Life I, 2014, Gouache on panel, 15 x 20cm

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Angus McDonald, Still Life III, 2014, Gouache on panel, 15 x 20cm

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Angus McDonald, Bowl I, 2014, Oil on linen, 30 x 30cm

Angus McDonald (b. 1961) is renowned for his exquisite oil paintings exploring the sublime. McDonald studied from 1993 to 1995 at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, winning the Brett Whiteley Scholarship in 1994. From 1995 to 2001 McDonald spent time in Europe, studying at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy and living in Leros, Greece. In 2006, McDonald visited Antarctica as expedition painter and photographer with the Mawson’s Huts Foundation. McDonald returned to Antarctica in 2008 as artist in residence with Aurora Expeditions. McDonald’s works have been widely exhibited both nationally and internationally. Olsen Irwin director, Tim Olsen, has represented McDonald since 1996. Angus McDonald lives and works in Lennox Head, NSW.

Although Gwyn Hanssen Pigott (1935-2013) usually referred to herself as a potter, she is consistently recognised as one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists. Born 1935 in Ballarat, Victoria, Hanssen Pigott began a three-year apprenticeship with potter Ivan McMeekin in 1955. In 1958 Hanssen Pigott travelled to the UK where she worked with established English potters, Bernard Leach, Ray Finch, Alan Caiger-Smith and Michael Cardew. During this time she also established in her own studios in Notting Hill, London and rural France. Returning to Australia in 1973, Hanssen Pigott established a studio at Linden Rise in Tasmania. From 1981-88 she worked as the Potter-in-Residence at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane. Hanssen Pigott established a studio in Ipswich, Queensland in 2000, while continuing to engage in artist residency programmes in Japan and India. Hanssen Pigott passed away in 2013.

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Angus McDonald’s studio set-up featuring the work of Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, 2014

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Angus McDonald’s studio set-up featuring the work of Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, 2014