The Finkelstein Files – The Guts & the Gory

Helen Gory has long held a fascination for me, firstly as a gallerist, well-regarded for her sharp eye, can-do hands-on approach to people & the selling of artworks and more recently, as an effervescent powerhouse of a woman – a surprise package. Happily mentor, art adviser & friend all rolled into one, Gory has garnered a loyal following over her two decade long commitment to celebrating & championing some of Melbourne’s brightest talent.


Artist Helen Gory and creative, Adrian Elton at the JCP Studios for THROUGH THESE PAPER WALLS exhibition opening last month.

Her artists’ and buyers alike are dealing with the loss they may feel akin to losing a dear friend upon the closure of the Prahran gallery space mid 2013 to join forces with Dianne Tanzer under the amusing banner of THIS IS NO FANTASY, inspired by the neon-lit truisms of famed American artist Jenny Holzer. This relationship was well-received last year as the logical if not market-savvy acknowledgement of the shifting of gallery models which has long been hotly debated and bandied about town for the past few years in earnest.

Gory had already entrusted the daily operations to then gallery manager Nicola Stein, now director, feeling as though the mantle had been passed safely to another to continue the path Gory has paved. Opportunities and challenges aside, Gory has quietly stepped back now entirely. It seemed an obvious choice.


‘How many gallerists are needed to change a light bulb’ begs the age-old joke?  If your name is Helen Gory, well – just one. She is a do-er, a maker. It’s no surprise that she has emerged metamorphosis-like from the cocoon into the light, able to spread her wings outward into full flight.

I am for one, uber excited to be present at the first of what I feel certain will be the beginning of a natural unfurling of a talented artist who has jumped the fence from seller to maker. Interestingly, her vision is a s broad as it is defined as far as her influences are concerned.


Dignity, 2014


‘Even though I’ve surrounded myself with art for the best part of 20 years, I’ve only just begun to create my own art. I cried the very first time I sat at my new workspace. I cried because for the first time in my life I actually made the time to make art. I cried because I don’t know why I waited so long to start. Perhaps all this will be revealed another time in another exhibition or perhaps it just wont be necessary any longer.’ – Helen Gory



‘The images are wishful, improbable, overwhelmingly busy, or minimal. They can be anything. I’m happy if they are emotionally evocative, tell a story or totally ambiguous. Sometimes subtle and sometimes in your face, secretive and political. I want to keep exploring. My real world and my pretend world are merging. Fantasy and reality, injustice and cruelty, pure love and joy. I can find them all in the images, scraps, tears and cuts I make. I can make my own world and shut out the real world.”

‘I like that I can see where the page is torn and the image cut, it’s not slick and it’s not perfection. I keep the works fairly small to a medium size mainly due to the constraints of the paper. It’s the spontaneity of the process and the rawness of the paper combined with the quirkiness of the content that seduce the viewer into looking intently at the final artwork.’


Hang the Rat, 2014


A Fine Balance, 2013

‘I’ve loved the manifesto of Dada since I read about it as a young teenager. I don’t believe that I really understood its underground nature and subversive attitude but it spoke to me nevertheless.Moreover the art of Art Spiegelman, Egon Schiele, Hannah Hoch, Gustav Klimt, Francisco Goya, Emil Nolde, Diane Arbus has forever haunted me. Without being consciously aware when I started collage two years ago, these former influences of my teenage youth are shaping what I’m creating today. It’s like breathing. I feel utterly natural doing it. I recently read that a majority of female artists of the early 20th century chose collage as their preferred medium of art and so it seems I’ve joined the ranks.’

‘My daughter came up with the title, ‘through these paper walls’. It’s from a poem we can’t locate nor recall its author. It’s so apt. The medium of paper and the walls that I’ve finally broken down and braved to begin doing art.’

The Curtain, 2012

The Curtain, 2012

28. walking back to happiness

Walking Back to Happiness, 2013


Party Room, 2012, analogue collage, 55 x38cm.

Party Room, 2012

‘Secrets, desires, absurd ideas of woman and who they should be, how they should look, sex, politics, fashion, social injustices. I feel helpless to do anything so I let out my frustrations and anger here in these works. And I try not to be repetitive. Lou Reed once said “why would I want to play the same song the same way every time I performed live, I’d rather cut off my toes.” I like his sense of drastic.’

‘Collage allows me the freedom I need to express myself. I’m here and I’m excited and happy to be creating. I don’t want to stop. As my son once told me, Hokusai didn’t start his art career until he was 75 years of age. So I’ve started, and I hope to continue.’

Somehow, I think she will.

TFF. xx

Through these paper walls was recently exhibited @ JCP Studios in Cremorne. If you missed viewing the works in person & would like to see more, please contact the artist for enquiries:

The Finkelstein Files – Spatial Sculpture with Britt Salt


Britt Salt is a name which is easy to remember & harder to forget once you’ve met her. I am so certain she is one artist working across many mediums whose star is to start rising steadily on an upwards trajectory. Seriously.

Currently participating in a group exhibition entitled Pattern, I viewed her works in-situ at the opening night at Glen Eira City Council in Caulfield, ending this Sunday 14th July.


The exhibition explores the concept of pattern used as a vehicle to explore memory, art history, cultural identity, consumer culture, the everyday, scientific and mathematical theories. Curated by Diane Soumilas, the exhibition encompasses a breadth of practices and  includes artists Jeremy BakkerMarcel CousinsHelga Groves and Gregor Kregar.

Britt Salt- pluriform




Young, yet alarmingly prolific with her output of work, Salt has been awarded the Art & Australia /Credit Swisse Contemporary Art Award 2012, featuring in the Summer issue.  Pictured above is Symphonic Encounters, which featured in Puzzletheque, reviewed in Art Guide by Dan Rule. Recently commissioned by Riverstone Constructions, to create an entrance focal point for a luxurious boutique project in Mosman, Britt’s work is both commercially appealing and artistically challenging to decipher at first glance.

After an artist-in-residence stint @ Red Gate Gallery in Shanghai, Britt has returned to home soil & is happily esconsed in the studio, where I meet with her in Northcote on a wintery afternoon.





Andrew Nicholls’ article in the Australian Design Review describes Salt’s practice  as sitting ambiguously somewhere between sculpture and drawing. She has described her works as ‘things’ rather than examples of a single discipline. Though still in the early stages of her career, Salt’s ‘things’ have gained national attention for their elegance and conceptual sophistication. Her work explores the ways in which we experience space, and she is particularly fascinated by the nomenclature employed by mathematicians and physicists to rationalise our perception of it. “I think I use that kind of mathematical language more as a basis for questioning the way materials appear to transform visually, without actually changing their inherent physical properties,” she states.

britt-2 copy


Another ongoing influence is architecture, a discipline that colours her material palette as much as her conceptual framework. Her finely rendered drawings in ink and etched aluminium have a drafting-like quality, while her objects employ a range of industrial materials (wire, flyscreen and aluminium mesh) in the creation of enigmatic sculptural forms that confuse interior and exterior, positive and negative. Line is of fundamental importance – her small wire objects act as three-dimensional sketches, warping and writhing in space as the viewer moves around them, while her drawings incorporate wire to extend the line out of the confines of the picture plane. Her most impressive sculptures are huge floating forms that seem to knot in on themselves or expand outwards as you encounter them, hovering in the gallery space like visitants. They exploit the transparency and shimmering moiré effect generated by overlapping aluminium mesh, giving them an even more otherworldly effect when viewed in person.


Britt Salt


The Finkelstein Files is curating a unique art, design & epicurean event alongside The Baron Said, joining creative forces with a veritable artist list of the who’s who in the Melbourne & Sydney art scene, in addition to design-driven mavens, culinary wunderkinds, mixologoists and beats. What else could we possibly need? Your attendance in person!

The above work will be available to purchase at the pop-up event  The Baron’s Palate, Thursday 18 – Sunday 21st July in Melbourne, in addition to 50+ selected works by 22 of Australia’s most collected artists.

The Finkelstein Files – hyper-realism, rendered & revealed.


Helen Gory Galerie, Melbourne is excited to present an exhibition of selected photographs by Petrina Hicks. Hicks is well known for her sophisticated, hyper-real photographs and video works that at once entice and disconcert the viewer. Hicks employs the seductive visual language of advertising to probe and subvert the very promises of truth, beauty and perfection it seeks to promote. Ambiguity and the blurring of truth and fiction are of endless interest to Hicks. Loaded with history and associations, her works allude to infinite meanings but resist giving a clear message.

Petrina Hicks adding the finishing touches to the installation alongside gallery assistant, Jemma.

Petrina Hicks adding the finishing touches to the installation alongside gallery assistant, Jemma Clark.

There’s a particular acuteness to the various strands, cues and counterpoints informing Petrina Hicks’ by now extensive body of work. Her highly keyed brand of hyperrealism is at once incisive in tenor and rich in historical, referential and allegorical depth.

An obvious vantage has long been that of the advertised image. Hicks’ subjects, palette and props are enveloped in a slickened and stunningly sickening sheen that is all too familiar. Augmented, buffed and polished, her works are traces of the highly aestheticised and fetishistic images that proliferate throughout the popular visual language. The skin, hair, clothing, surface and light assume an all but unsettling patina. The index is set askew amid the insidious markers of style and desire.

But Hicks’ highly constructed images aren’t mere transgressions of what has become a gleaming vernacular form. Every encroachment into the frame, every flat, luridly coloured backdrop has an implication and a consequence. In previous works, she has broached creation mythologies; she has recast religious subplots and in gloss and saccharine. Her 2011 series Hippy and the Snake – which comprised a painstakingly realised 25-minute video work alongside a collection of large-scale photographs – might have been read as a flirtation with Eve’s dalliance with the serpent in a re-imagined Garden of Eden.

Petrina Hicks, Birdfingers, 2013, Pigment print, Edition of 8, 100 x 100cm

Petrina Hicks, Birdfingers, 2013, Pigment print, Edition of 8, 100 x 100cm

Sex, birth and death also lurk amid Hicks’ latest series of images, presented as the central strand of her Selected Photographs exhibition. Set against a muted, neutral backdrop, these large-format photographs broach both the portrait and the still life, teasing out a taxonomy of sensuous allegories and sinister omens. In the somewhat aptly titled Bird Fingers, a young girl intently studies her fingertips, each of which is adorned with a tiny bird’s skull, as if a finger puppet or a jewel. That the girl’s expression is neither one of fear nor admiration – but rather, a measured intrigue – gives this work a fascinating twist. Her reaction to death is unlearned; she studies and surveys and pieces together the evidence.

Petrina Hicks, The Hand That Feeds, 2013, Pigment print, Edition of 8, 100 x 220cm

Petrina Hicks, The Hand That Feeds, 2013, Pigment print, Edition of 8, 100 x 220cm

‘I like photographic images that are beautiful to look at and ones that are genuine and truthful in their approach, and ones that evoke some kind of emotional response.

‘… the primary goal of my portraits is not the traditional sense of portrait photography where you are trying to reveal the person’s essence or identity. Sometimes the person’s identity is secondary to the ideas I’m trying to explore.’

Petrina Hicks interviewed by Jason Lingard, Nothing Magazine #12, Melbourne.

Petrina Hicks, The Birth of Venus, 2013, Pigment print, Edition of 8, 100 x 133cm

Petrina Hicks, The Birth of Venus, 2013, Pigment print, Edition of 8, 100 x 133cm

Another work, The Hand That Feeds, sees another young protagonist calmly offering her palm to a crow – an avian so often cast with the pall of death. Venus, meanwhile, sees a woman hold a glossy, pink conch shell – fleshy and open – before her face as if a beacon. The accompanying Birth of Venus is a still life comprising a conflation of symbologies and references. An overfilled champagne glass perches beside the aforementioned shell, a string of pearls draped across and within its span. It delves deep into both art and socio-feminist history. While the pearl has long invoked purity and femininity throughout mythology, the conch engenders that of fertility. But these works also echo with a more contemporary resonance – one perhaps found in second-wave feminism. While the champagne might be read as an allusion to upward mobility and financial independence, the string pearls almost resemble birth control pills (perhaps an allegory for the emancipation of the female reproductive organs?).

Petrina Hicks, New Age, 2013, Pigment print, Edition of 8, 100 x 100cm

Petrina Hicks, New Age, 2013, Pigment print, Edition of 8, 100 x 100cm

In New Age, a jagged crystal takes the place of pubic hair, resting hard and sharp against the softness and fragility of the flesh. This symbol for healing only works to amplify the vulnerability of the body. That Hicks’ engages with such themes in 2013 points to the folly of complacency. The notion that we can sleep in the wake of  feminism is bogus, null and void.

Indeed, Hicks’ retrieval and reinterpretation of mythologies and social precedents suggests that history repeats. While her images of children suggest minds unsullied by the scourge of learned prejudices and social mores, Venus and her like describe the continuum of the sexualised male gaze.  That Hicks’ co-opts a visual language so often used to hock products and desires serves as the ultimate repost. Human complexity can continue to exist, even amid the cycle and the cynicism of the commercial artifice. ”

Beauty and Artifice, Catalogue Essay by Dan Rule, 2013.

Petrina Hicks, Venus, 2013 Pigment print, Edition of 8 100 x 100cm

Petrina Hicks, Venus, 2013
Pigment print, Edition of 8
100 x 100cm

Hicks has exhibited widely both in Australia and Internationally. Her work was shown at Photo Los Angeles in 2012 and has been exhibited at Fotoseptiembre, Mexico City; SESC_Videobrasil, Sao Paulo; Paris Photo; Biennal of Photography, Mexico; The Barbican, London; Pingyao International Photography Festival, China; and Akademie Schloss Solitude, Germany.

Petrina Hicks has been awarded a slew of prizes and grants and her images have appeared on the front covers of international photography magazines, Eyemazing and Blink. She is represented in major institutional collections throughout Australia including the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria and in private collections in Australia, Europe and the USA. Hicks has twice been identified as one of Australia’s ‘50 Most Collectable Artists’ by Australian Art Collector magazine.

Petrina Hicks – Selected Works 12 June – 6 July 2013 is viewable at 25 St.Edmonds Rd Prahran,  Wednesday – Saturday 11-5 or by appointment.