Birds of a feather flocked together last night at [MARS] in Port Melbourne to a packed house to celebrate opening the exhibition in aide of BirdLife Australia.
Curated by initiative-driven director, Andy Dinan, the flora theme took full flight as peacocks preened & the local native birds all jostled for attention.
Louiseann Zahra-King, ‘Lullaby’, 2011, Bronze, glass, rubber, perspex, 150 x 90 x 90cm
This contemporary art exhibition, entitled On a Wing and a Prayer, is dedicated to Australian birds that have become threatened or extinct due to the changing environment, climate and urban development. Opened by BirdLife Australia CEO, Paul Sullivan, gave an impassioned plea for people to consider the importance of conservation for the greater environment as well as from a personal standpoint.
BirdLife Australia journal, Vol.1 No.3, 2012
The Environmental protection and Biodiversity Consevation Act (EPBC) came into being in 1999 to provide a natioanl framework which would protect the biodiversity of the Australian environment by imposing rigorous checks and balances to proposed developments and other activities. Green tape, or the watering down of policies are fiercely assessed, lest Australia’s environmental laws lose sight of leadership in its environmental protection.
Leila Jeffreys, ‘Nora, Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo’ , 2012, photograph on archival fibre based cotton rag paper, 112 x 90cm
Leila Jeffries has always seen eye-to-eye with wildlife.”I thought of them as people,” says the photographer. Her love of birds has led her all around Australia and the world. She has photographed and helped scientists study endangered birds on Christmas Island; she has been welcomed into the world of pedigree budgerigar ‘best in show’ bird competitions; and she has photographed migrating birds across Europe.
Wanting to convey to people that there are incredible birds all around us all the time, Jeffries realised that it was because of their small size that the beauty in the commonplace was being missed. Her idea for photographing Australia’s native bird – the Budgerigar – in the same style as a human portrait was born. It was a labour of love that took years to perfect, and people responded immediately.
Interior designer & accessories guru, Jonathan Adler is a fan, buying out her 2010 series upon first viewing. He then declared his flight of fancy by stocking Jeffries’ work in his boutiques in New York and London and eventually all 14 of his boutique. Fabulousity!
Ash Keating, 2006, ‘Press Release’, c-type photograph 50.3 x 80cm, edition of 5
Melbourne-based artist Ash Keating’s art practice is based on an ethic and aesthetic of recycling. He reinvents waste often for site-specific interventions – before disposing of the relics by recycling them responsibly. For ‘Press Release’ (2005-ongoing) he cut 6,500 copies of the same bird from magazines and has thrown them skywards, letting them soar to the ground, in atriums and galleries from Sydney to Santiago. In his videos he is seen at work deconstructing free newspapers or wrestling with large discarded vinyl banners.
Jason Waterhouse, ‘The bird house’s big exit’, 2013, fence palings, expanding foam, plaster, acrylic paint, 40 x 47 x 25cm
Susan Hipgrave, 2013 black underglaze on Walker’s Supeior White porcelain, dia 28cm
Hipgrave’s true passion, is that of painting on porcelain – her preferred ‘canvas’. Using a fine hairline brush, each exquisitely detailed artwork reflects the accomplished combination of a steady hand and an expert eye. Inspired by the diverse beauty of botany and wildlife, Susan’s black-and-white work captures the stunning intricacy of her subjects; every nuanced stroke imbued with a fine energy that demands closer inspection.
Joan Ross, 2011, ‘BBQ this Sunday’ (flight paths) edition 2 of 5, pigment print, 45 x 76 cm
In 2011, Joan Ross released a fluoro yellow’s hi-vis orange video work, entitled BBQ this Sunday, BYO, animating Joseph Lycett’s colonial landscape paintings and cast of characters, and accompanied by seven prints, the above which is pictured above, courtesy of the artist and Gallery Barry Kadoulis, in Sydney. See the video here for more insight.
Anne Kucera, 2013, ‘Forty-Spotted Pardalote’, hand-made paper pop-up, 42 x 20 x 10cm
Saffron Newey, 2013, Habitat, oil on plywood, 60 x 55cm
Saffron Newey‘s work has, for some time, involved the interplay of photography and painting. The works, oil on canvas, are translated from photographs of Newey’s own environment, yet despite this, the images ultimately resonate somewhere between fact and fiction.
Like stills in a film, these paintings represent only fragments of a story. The images feature no figures but seem to imply their imminent presence or recent departure and are therefore richly evocative.
It is the intention of Saffron Newey to initiate narratives in the work that the viewer can complete. The tradition of the nocturne is revisited in this series and it too is loaded with various interpretations. For Newey it possesses the duality of mysterious beauty and the intangibility of a frameless darkness.
(Apologies, sort of, to the ladies pictured at right who did strike me as raven-like, preyed upon & kinda twitchy..)
Sheridan Jones, 2013, Aviary, edition 2/5, etching and spit bite on hand stained paper, 72 x 72cm
- Steve Cox, 2013, Unnatural Selection, edition of 5, digital print on paper, 20 x 30cm
Elissa Sadgrove, 2013, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, digital print on aluminium, 30 x 30cm
Printed on aluminium, Sadgrove continues to explore in this series of signage commenting on the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater from Western to North-Eastern Victoria and Eastern New South Wales. Elissa’s personal blog documents the processes after completing this particular series. Here is a list of word associations she draws between words:
“Regent Honey – golden gold fields – Regency Era – bird cages – gold crown – extinction – exit, on the way out – numbers of birds = numbers of trees – classification – Demise – skidder tractors – logging – sweet honey – nectar – bird cages”.
- Jud Wimhurst, 2013, The New Empire, Wood, steel rod, polyester resin, polyurethane resin, epoxy resin, pigments, nitrocellulose lacquers and acrylic lacquers, 108 x 68 x 20cm
Jud Wimhurst‘s talks about his unique body of work here:”I was one of the many young people inspired by skateboarding and I loved it. I believe being a part of this subculture was one of the most important factors in me becoming who I am – I even owned and ran my own skateboard shop at the age of sixteen. I also believe it was skateboarding that taught me patience, how to express myself in a nonverbal way and how to think creatively, which eventually lead to the desire to make art (as it also must have done for a number of other skateboarders who have gone on to have successful art careers).
I have chosen to pay homage to skateboarding and skateboard culture by creating a series of skateboard sculptures. The skateboards are faithfully recreated from scratch at one and a half times the size of a modern street style board using a purpose built DIY version of a commercial skateboard press. Themes of identity, consumerism and design are referenced in the visual elements (skateboard graphics), whilst the capabilities and properties of the all-important materials used to produce a skateboard – wood, resins and plastics are explored.
As the artworks are sculptures and not actual functioning skateboards and will never be ridden, techniques and materials that could not ordinarily be used in skateboard production such as cast acrylic sheet, fibre flocking, automotive paint finishes and mirror have been used to accentuate the three dimensional quality of the object.”
Grant Cowan, 2013, ‘Curlew series’, acrylic on paper, 35 x 40cm
Tiny birds sometimes undertake enormous journeys. The Northern Wheatears in Alaska were recently fitted with geolocators and tracked flying through the Arabian Desert to Africa, where they travelled through Sudan and Uganda en route to Kenya, 14,500 kilometres from home . It took 91 days. Astonishingly, these birds weigh the same as two teaspoons of sugar. These guys are long-distance operators!!
Ryan Ponsford, ‘The Birds #1-4’ , 2013, pigment ink on bamboo rag, 152 x 61cm
Martin King, ‘Unusual Places to Die’, 2011, etching watercolour & pigment on paper, 10 x 270cm
Martin King’s 40 year career needs no formal introduction. His two installations seen here above & below, are drawn from the following artist statement: “a breath – a breath is part of a body of work entitled ‘melencolia’; named after the engraving by Albrecht Durer completed in 1514. My work was inspired by Durers’ watercolour and drawing studies, particularly of birds. I have defined ‘melencolia’ as a state of contemplation and reflection. The possibility of a creative energy, (like an exhalation) as an outcome of contemplation and reflection on the melancholic is what this work suggests” – Martin King, 2013.
Martin King, 2013, ‘Melencolia’, edition of 10, hand drawn stop motion animation, 3 minute duration
Congratulations to all 24 participating artists including; Cathyann Coady – Grant Cowan – Steve Cox – Rona Green – Anna Griffiths – Robert Hague – Susan Hipgrave – Leila Jeffreys – Janno – Sheridan Jones – Ash Keating – Martin King – Jeremy Kibel – Anna Kucera – Saffron Newey – Ryan Ponsford – Suzanne Playfoot – Geoffrey Ricardo – Elissa Sadgrove – GT Sewell – Samuel Tupou – Jason Waterhouse – Jud Wimhurst – Louiseann Zahra-King.
And a massive thank you to the unflappable Andy Dinan and the [MARS] gallery team for dedicating their time and donating 100% of the gallery sales to BirdLife Australia! Avarian applaude please!!!
Generously sponsored by Shelmadine Vineyards & [MARS] gallery, Melbourne.