Right here now
A new exhibition showcasing a unique selection of artwork from regional Australian artists opened at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House this week. Right Here Now: A Powerful Regional Voice in Our Democracy showcases 18 established and emerging artists from around the country who have been paired in a creative mentorship project. The project develops talent through pairing blossoming artists with experienced mentors for nine-months; their creations show a divine mirror of influence and encouragement between the pairs. Artists include Brian Robinson and Jimmy Thaiday from Queensland, Chris De Rosa and Ebony Heidenreich from South Australia, Linda Botham and Bonnie Weidenbach from Victoria, Rick Ball and young Menindee artists collective from NSW, Raymond Arnold and Jessie Pangas from Tasmania, Chayni Henry and David Collins from the Northern Territory, and Sandra Hill and Donna Fortescue from Western Australia. It's designed to highlight the influence and prominence of rural voices in Australian democratic society as part of a joint initiative between the museum and Regional Arts Australia.
In an age of instant image-sharing and easy digital manipulation, emerging artist and photographer Kon Kudo aims to return a sense of tangibility to the photographic image with his motorised flipbook installation. The flipbooks in Pop allow the viewer to physically interact with his imagery. "Consumers are now overloaded with content, leading to a partial engagement with the material," he says. "Pop forces viewers to interact fully for the duration of the short loop, mimicking contemporary smartphone gestures but in contrast offering a more active experience." The installation is one of three new solo exhibitions at PhotoAccess from recipients of the Australian National University School of Art Emerging Artists Support Scheme PhotoAccess Awards. Emerging artist-in-residence Rebecca Worth presents Remnant: an immersive installation of photographic prints on fabric. In homage to psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Hermann Rorschach and his inkblot test, Worth collages digital imagery to achieve ambiguous, abstract effects. "Reflections, perceptions and experience are projected as the viewer searches for meaning," she says. "The viewer is held in limbo, between the form and their subjective perceptions. Devoid of inherent meaning, what is left is the remnant of the viewer." Fellow emerging artist-in-residence Ellen Hewitt reflects on humanity's fascination with mortality in The Death's Maiden presenting layered prints on lightboxes. Hewitt explores the folkloric tale of the Death's Maiden, mining art history, storytelling and fable to explore the ways in which death has been understood across Western culture. "[The exhibition] demonstrates that what lies after death is only a manifestation of the collective introspections, speculations and thoughts of humankind," she says. All exhibitions are on at PhotoAccess, Manuka until Sunday November 29.
The annual Design Canberra festival gets under way this weekend from Saturday, November 21. There's a whole host of events but one of the highlights on the arty side of the spectrum this weekend are the studio openings at the Canberra Glassworks. That's not glass! resident artist jeweller Katherine Clark will display her jewellery inspired by the architectural structure of the Kingston Power House at 2pm in the building's old coal chutes, which are usually inaccessible to the public. Across the weekend studio tours at the glassworks will run on the hour, every hour, between 10am and 2pm. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the glassworks' studio artists, see their work in progress and ask questions. This Open Studio event features Emilie Patteson, Christine Atkins, Brian Corr, Madeleine Dornan, Marina Hanser and Deb Jurss. Bookings are essential email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 6260 7005.
Women of Canberra seeking Utopia
Existing stereotypes imply that women in Canberra are a homogenous group – highly educated, economically empowered and out-performing other states and territories, but new exhibition hopes to challenge all that by conveying the struggles and aspirations not captured in mainstream narratives. Women of Canberra is a documentary project, capturing the stories of 100 women from Canberra. The project has been organised by the Women's Centre for Health Matters (WCHM) and three volunteer photographers Liz Thompson, Josey Carnovale and Nicole Zimmermann to celebrate the centre's 25th birthday. The exhibition at Tuggeranong Arts Centre showcases 24 images and stories, personally selected by the artists and the full collection is available online at: womenofcanberra.org.au.
Also at Tuggeranong is an art installation from Swedish-Australian emerging visual artist Fredrika Rose. In Seeking Utopia the sculptor and installation artist explores themes of fantasy, gender and cultural identity with playful miniature landscapes, suspended from the ceiling, invites the viewer to assume the perspective of the voyeur.
Finally in partnership with PhotoAccess, YWCA Canberra presents an exhibition of photography by select students from Lake Tuggeranong College Light and Grain. All exhibitions run until Saturday December 5 except Light and Grain, which wraps up on November 28.
Strathnairn Arts has a big day planned for Saturday. As well as the opening of the annual Christmas exhibition the gallery is also launching the Barton Estate Drawing Prize to be held in October 2016 to tie in with national event The Big Draw. Strathnairn's Christmas show Conviviality has a focus on food, festivity and friendship featuring 25 local and regional artists presenting works of all mediums.
CATS claw back
The Canberra Area Theatre Awards have received a boost in the shape of a $20,000 grant from the NSW government to help cover the annual running costs of the 20-year awards. NSW Arts Minister Troy Grant said the awards had become a major event on the ACT/Southern NSW theatre calendar and helped boost regional arts and enrich the lives of many. "The Canberra Area Theatre Awards are run by volunteers who give up their time to gather support from sponsors, encouraging and promoting regional theatre productions," Mr Grant said.
Nishi finds its niche
The owners of the Nishi Gallery in NewActon hope to redefine it as a commerical art space respected in the arts and cultural community with the appointment of its first gallery manager Meg Morton. The artist has curated and launched two sell-out solo exhibitions in Canberra since 2013 and curated a successful group exhibition by artists that she tutors as part of the Nishi Art Collective. Morton says she is excited to help shape a new era for the gallery. "It's an incredible space in the NewActon arts and culture precinct and it deserves to be pushed with gusto into the second half of this decade," she says. "I look forward to welcoming some incredible artists with the 2016 and 2017 programs, and to oversee NewActon's collective vision for our beautiful Nishi Gallery." Hotel Hotel's general manager Nicole Short says Meg brings a new energy and approach as an artist and business person to the gallery.
Canberra choir Rhythm Syndicate will celebrate their 25th anniversary on Saturday, November 28 with a performance at the Belconnen Arts Centre. The choir promises contemporary arrangements of songs from many genres including jazz, gospel, classical, Broadway and pop. They'll also deliver a fresh take on well-loved numbers by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Stephen Sondheim, Elton John, Sting, ABBA, the Beatles and more. The show ends with Christmas songs. The concert is on from 4pm to 6pm. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for children or $70 for a family. To buy visit: belconnenartscentre.com.au.