Harbinger opened early in March at the Gippsland Art Gallery in Sale and we’re so looking forward to seeing it in the flesh when we swing down for the artist panel discussion on the 20th May (info on the gallery’s events page.)
Harbinger, the exhibition curated by Nicola Dickson and currently showing at the Mildura Art Centre, has been in gestation for two and a half years – a period of time that’s been beset by unprecedented calamity; the fires of the 19/20 Black Summer, the now ubiquitous Covid pandemic, the ever worsening continuum of global natural disasters, several tangos with mortality (…and, god forbid, we mustn’t forget the gruesome political distraction of bloody Donald Trump.)
It’s certainly been swings and roundabouts and a seemingly endless string of relentless handicaps (not least being the on-off-on-again lockdowns in Mildura itself ) But all of that notwithstanding, and regardless of the associated nail biting, it’s been wonderful to be included in such good company (Di Fogwell, Steven Holland, Tiff Cole, Reuben Lewis and, of course, Nicky herself.) And in the current social climate it’s a privilege, let’s face it, to be able to show anywhere at all!
So we’d been quietly beavering away, in the solitude of our studios, whenever we’d been able. But hadn’t during that time posted even an inkling of the work in progress…mainly because we didn’t want to mozz the outcome.
Nicky had first pitched us the show in 2019, and what could we possibly not love about it! For one, it showcased birds; an enduring preoccupation of ours. For two, it interrogated the loss of habitat due to encroaching industrial/creeping domestic development. For three, it equated the destruction of the environment with the distress and endangerment of birds and exposed the clear, present and accelerating danger of Climate Change. Ticked all our boxes.
The imperilment of birds is a complex, multi-layered dilemma, though the cause and effect is a simple enough equation. In taking over their habitats (a harsh enough impingement), we have compounded the destruction with intensive industries that ramp up pollution and ruination in a ripple effect that has burgeoned into the perfect storm of Climate Change. Extreme weather, drought and fire events have become our new compounded normal.
Living in the splendid climes of the Far South Coast of NSW, we’re quite besotted by birds of every feather; whether in their wild habitats or in their imposed urban adaptations. They are bright, intelligent, sociable creatures – full of purpose and existential imperative – and vulnerable to the progressive plunder and degradation of the planet by that higher, entitled order, the homo sapien. The very existence of birds is now literally on the line; we haven’t just trampled across their delicate ecosystems, we’ve brought upon them the mother of all catastrophes, looming extinction. It’s been an insidious evolution, but when we get to the stage of people asking ‘where have all the sparrows gone?’, then it’s fair to say that we’re reaching a tipping point.
Artist statement: Ginger
In our small corner of paradise, a diverse agricultural and bush environment caught between heavily forested mountains and the ocean, it’s not hard to see the cause and effect of ‘civilisation’ on our rich avian wild life. I’ve witnessed firsthand the degradation of the forests brought about by clear-felled logging; the rubbish left, banked-up, to fuel ever more intensive fire storms. The habitat of the Barking Owl has been cleared for Big Agriculture, serious conservation efforts are in place for the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, the Regent Honeyeater has been pushed to the brink by the creep of urban and industrial development – all common scenarios that are echoed across the nation. We reap what we sow.
As Ye Reap will continue to be a work in progress; the disastrous management of the Nuclear (Fukushima) and Fossil Fuel industries, for instance, are just two of an ongoing parade of medallions already on my drawing board. Spare a thought for the birds.
The finished work: Ginger Bottari, As ye reap, saw pierced brushed titanium and copper, vintage scythe
Images: Brenton McGeachie (medallions/studio snaps) and Robert Klarich (MAC gallery snaps)
Artist statement: Megxx
Living in the hinterland of the Far South Coast of NSW, wild birds are our constant companions. They hang around us when we’re in the garden, often wandering into our studios. Some are permanent fixtures in our lives while some swing through for a few weeks on their seasonal transit, regular as clockwork. So we’re acutely aware when there’s a shift in the natural order of things.
The Jaded Passeridae(a play on monumental masonry) alludes to the relatively recent universal query, ‘where have all the sparrows gone’…when we suddenly realised that our very own cheeky garden flock, in residence for 40 years, was indeed missing in action.
Against All Odds (scorched earth: burnt offering from the fire ground) conjures the New Year of 2020 which found us in the eye of the fire storms, stalked for 40 days by the Mother of All Conflagrations. It was terrifying, not least for the critters. Much of that time was spent in the thrall of the Bushfire Apps, glued to the relentless advance of those dreadful ‘hotspots’. Yet, finally, in the midst of the loss there emerges sweet and delicate survival.
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat: end play follows the fortunes of Edward Lear’s beloved children’s poem − though not, alas, to the anticipated Happy Ever Afters. Instead, the moon-struck couple meet a watery end; caught haplessly adrift (shades of sea-level rising and doomed Kiribati) on the crown of a drowning palm tree.
There’s little charm, for sure, to be found in Climate Change.
The finished work:
Image credits: Brenton McGeachie (studio snaps) and Robert Klarich (MAC gallery snaps)
For the many of us who were prevented from visiting Mildura in the flesh (courtesy of lockdowns and border closures) the virtual tour below, narrated by Nicky Dickson, is a cracker substitute…
Our Annual Open Studio Day 2019 was preceded by a week or so of peculiar and destructive weather and wind events, so we ended up spending more time on garden reparation than on workshop prep…but hey. Big love to Bevie who came up from Toora to give us a hand.
The day itself turned into a gently paced affair with genuine interest from a mix of both first and repeat offenders. As always, there was an element of conscientious avoidance in the perp/mugshot parade – but because this meant disqualification from the draw of the Mugshot Prize, nobody else was complaining! The prize this year being a pair of Ginger’s Crownie earrings, interest was accordingly keen…
…and the lucky winner of the draw was…
Macca (package coming your way!!)
In the evening the Gang, joined by some of our fave miscreants, did Neddie proud with a Wake that lasted well into the wee hours. So here’s to our glorious obsession, Ned; another anniversary observed and we’re already looking forward to the next one! For those who couldn’t make it, never mind – it all happens again on 8th November 2020.
The anniversary of Neddy’s hanging day is nigh (11th November), ergo preparation is underway for our annual open studio day. This year we’re joining the Festival of the Face program, celebrating artists and communities in towns and villages across the shire.
Those of you who have already attended previous open days will know that there’s a facet of the visit that fits in particularly well with the Festival of the Face thematic; our Mugshot Files, which feature art loving perps from across the shire and beyond.
Here’s a glimpse of past parades (by way of example!)…
This year, to up the ante, we’re introducing the Mugshot Prize (our version of a lucky door prize); kicking off with one of Megsie’s lost wax cast Australian lead crystal oyster shells…
What could be more appropriately representative of our gloriously pristine champion oyster farming environment!
And there’s a further nod to our beautiful region on show this year; Megsie’s newest body of work, the Surf and Turf series. We think of these cast glass pieces as a metaphoric face of the Shire – ostensibly Surf and Turf is an ode to the Far South Coast of NSW, a visual aggregate of our agrarian coastal culture (not least being the local bloke’s fave pub meal!)
Megan Bottari, from the Surf and Turf series, lost wax cast Australian lead crystal.
At Prisoners of the Crown we’ve long had an enduring interest in portraiture (particularly those of our fave bushrangers)…
…with Ned, of course, being our magnificent (and principle) obsession.
Our Annual Open Studio day (Sunday 11th November 2018) includes a viewing of the studio workshops (in the old stables) and our gallery (in the old Courtroom) and runs from 10.30am to 3.30pm. We are at the Old Police Station and Courthouse in the Village of Wyndham – just keep an eye out for Maurice de Ute…
When everything old is new again. The charm of contemporary jewellery is that marriage of the craft, the art historic and the zeitgeist of the present day (with mutual respect for all three) – particularly in the case of cultural artefacts. Because tradition is a beautiful thing, all the more so in an au courant context. Which brings us to Giuseppe Jack Alexander Murray’s Christening present: what to gift a wee bairn of Scottish-Australian/Sicilian heritage to fittingly celebrate his entree to the heterogeneous tribe…