Melbourne Street Art, Hosier Lane

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You can’t not visit Melbourne as a tourist and miss out on seeing Hosier Lane. A moving canvas that is home to local graffiti artists and a one-stop shop if you want to breath in (literally!) the sights and smells of Melbourne’s street art scene. This space is always changing and you’re almost guaranteed to find the old spray painted thing you liked gone and something new and fresh pop up overnight. These photos are a little snippet of what I sampled on my latest Melbourne journey some weeks ago, in between all my eating around town which you can see on my Melbourne Sweet Treats page. What to expect – bright, bold, political, fumy, touristy, detailed, intrusive, inviting, questioning, and on the odd occasion, you might even catch the artist working their magic in daylight hours too!

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Binns + Valamanesh: Casula Powerhouse

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“Vivienne Binns and Hossein Valamanesh are mighty forces in the Australian contemporary art landscape. Their individual practices are uncompromising and evolving as both artists continually experiment with material, form and subject. Despite this ongoing evolution, spanning nearly half a century of art practice, an acutely individual visual language has pervaded each artist’s work, marking it as their own as instantly as a signature.”

I was first inspired to attend this exhibition (and specifically the launch on 18 July) after studying the work of Iranian-Australian artist Hossein Valamanesh during high school. From memory, we were studying Middle Eastern art at the time and my studies of art in high school had a particularly contemporary flavour to them for some reason. And I just happen to live around the corner from the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. And their Facebook page said that there was going to be some awesomely delicious Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine at the launch. So, you know….when in Casula

The artHossein Valamanesh

As with a lot of my other artsy posts like George Gittoes: I Witness and Vivid Sydney: Light, this post best speaks for itself through visuals, with some scattering of commentary. And how good am I – I even dug up some of my old pieces from Year 11 that I wrote about the artist. This is an extract from an essay I wrote about artists who use identity as a main theme in their work, just to set the scene of Valamanesh’s work for you:

Engaging the audience with the cultural meaning in his artworks is the intention of Australian artist Hossein Valamanesh. Migrating from Iran to Australia, Valamanesh’s work explores the cultural transition experienced in his personal journey, examining the elements of continuity that have arisen between his native heritage and new homeland in order to find his own sense of cultural identity. Working with modest, even primitive materials, Valamanesh represents ideas such as personal memory, cultural dislocation, loss, history and the relationship between man and the natural world, using his symbolic and mystical works to encourage interpretation by the viewer. In doing so, he intends for his works to be felt, rather than read, inviting his audience to share in the experience and contemplate with self as well as the environment.

Bam!

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This is one of Valamanesh’s most striking and memorable pieces – Untitled (1999) – a lavender bush, taken from the artist’s own backyard, inverted and displayed with a small lit burner on top. The flame is able to release vaporous aromatic essences to engage viewers in contemplative thoughts of reverie and recollection and ultimately act as a cleansing instrument. Oh yep, I wrote that back in the day!

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“The lover circles his own heart” (1994)

The lover circles his own heart (1994) was described by the artist in 2005 with the following statement – “The concept of the work connects with Rumi’s poetry, and while I’m interested in the philosophy of Sufism, I don’t follow it as a practice. I find the poetry more inspirational rather than as a guide or philosophy of life.”

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The Untouchable (1984)

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“Mourning” (2007)

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“Snakes and ladders #2” (2008)

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“Here is Love” (2007)

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“Guardian” (2010)

Vivienne Binns

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“Flapper bedraggled” (2014)

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“Interior construction” (1967)

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“Tower of Babel” (1989)

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Details and diagrams about the Tower of Babel

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“Lino, Canberra and tile formation” (2000)

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“God’s beard 10 drawings in 1 frame” (1990)

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“This space can be rendered both” (1997)

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The food

In keeping with the ethos of the night, some delicious cuisine was on offer with a particularly Middle Eastern touch. So delicious! On the menu was:

  • Chilli tomato prawns served on a bed of rice
  • Fillet of beef on a beetroot puree
  • Middle Eastern chicken served on a bed of tabbouli with a harissa yoghurt
  • Warm roasted pumpkin, feta and quinoa salad
  • Moroccan cauliflower with a sweet potato puree
  • Cauliflower bake
  • Lubieh
  • Sticky date pudding with whipped cream
  • Apple and rhubarb crumble with custard

Plus some wine, beer and a delicious, fruity mocktail that mum picked up with sliced green apple and fresh raspberries

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At the end of the exhibition you can put into practise the art you’ve absorbed and do some creative DIY

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“BINNS + VALAMANESH tosses two of Australia’s heavyweights of contemporary art together and this seemingly unlikely pairing will be an aesthetic adventure into unchartered territory.”

BINNS + VALAMANESH

Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

This exhibition is FREE and runs until 7 September

Exhibitions are open Monday to Sunday 10.00am – 5.00pm (closed public holidays)

1 Powerhouse Road, Casula, NSW 2170 (Enter via Shepherd Street, Liverpool)

(02) 9824 1121

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George Gittoes: I Witness

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George Gittoes’ I Witness exhibition showcases the first major survey of the artist’s work presented in Australia after a career spanning more than 40 years. This is a completely free exhibition running from 24 May – 27July 2014 at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre. Big Bear and I went along to the artists talk of the exhibition and also enjoyed a lovely brunch/lunch at the gallery’s café beforehand, which you can read my review on.

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My knowledge of the artist was (unfortunately) pretty sketchy coming into the exhibition. But I did know 2 facts – he was Australian and he was famous! (Yeh, so not great). Thankfully, I walked away from the exhibition with a deeper understanding of not only the artist’s work but also a new perspective on important themes and subjects carried throughout this impressive career of work. The exhibition captures George’s paintings, drawings, films and process diaries and conveys some strikingly shocking and sobering stories. The crux of his work interrogates his experiences of war and conflict, particularly through the areas of Nicaragua and the Philippines in the 1980s, Rwanda, Cambodia and the Middle East during the 1990s, and modern day Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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At the opening of the exhibition the artist held a walking tour and talk of his work. Big Bear and I did a quick scan of the exhibition prior to the tour. Walking out I didn’t feel particularly joyous or uplifted, mainly because the subjects are designed to be serious and often graphic and confronting. But it definitely has a way of drawing you out of your inner world for a while and having a decent think about the world around us and what is happening in places so foreign to you.

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The artist arrived and, as you do, painted some finishing touches to his ‘monkey’ artwork hanging outside the entrance of the exhibition – nothing like last minute! Walking into the gallery, George told us of his beginnings at the 1970s Yellow House, an artist community established by prominent Australian artists such as Martin Sharp and Brett Whiteley based in Potts Point, Sydney. A really respectable characteristic of George is his ability to get so intimate with his subjects and interrogate the human experience firsthand. Many of his paintings aren’t simply a general capturing of war – each work has its own personal story and experience, and carefully invites viewers to walk in George’s footsteps through his own encounter with human suffering – the boy who was disembowelled after his donkey stood on a landmine, the lady being sexually assaulted, walking through seas of dismembered bodies, tortured subjects etc etc… you get the idea. For someone who has experienced these scenes first hand, George is very open and willing to share his stories and seems very grounded at the same time.
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Some of his more contemporary paintings and films explore America’s involvement in the Iraq war. George spoke about the myth of the ‘war hero’ and questioned the complexities of young soldiers going away to war and feeling country pride and allegiance when battling the enemy, but often returning home with post-traumatic stress because the soul, mind and spirit of the soldier can’t recover from the atrocities of war. Some of his film footage was also picked up by documentary maker Michael Moore in his film Fahrenheit 9/11, particularly around his subject of violent music that soldiers listened to in order to energize them prior to going in for battle. This is just one example of how George’s subjects have received widespread international attention.

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Wherever he travels he’s often plagued with questions calling for him to paint ‘happy’ subjects. But to George, his topics aren’t simply ‘anti-war’ or a straight up depiction of war, instead it’s about calling for “hopeful change in the most appalling situations”. Audiences are therefore encouraged to look, listen, feel and learn, and question the ethics of going into war and the trail of destruction it leaves behind on innocent victims.

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Dangerously real, interrogating and confronting.

George Gittoes I Witness

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre

Free entry

Exhibition runs until 27th July

782 Kingsway Gymea, NSW, 2227

02 8536 5700

hazelhurst@ssc.nsw.gov.au 

Vivid Sydney: Light

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Over the past few years, Sydney has played host to an annual cultural event known as Vivid. This year I decided to discover what all the hype was about. So out I went, camera and Big Bear in tow, on a Friday night in June to the wintery and rainy streets of Sydney. Vivid is best described as an event of Light, Music and Ideas, where you can trek around town watching iconic city buildings be transformed by light, listen to local and international musical acts, and share in forums and public talks from leading thinkers.

On the program for this year were Light features at:

  • Sydney Opera House
  • Walsh Bay
  • Circular Quay
  • The Rocks
  • North Sydney
  • Darling Harbour
  • Harbour Lights
  • The Star
  • Carriageworks
  • Sydney University

Big Bear and I mostly stuck to areas of the Sydney CBD (such as Martin Place), The Rocks and Circular Quay. Being a highly visual experience, this post is best captured in visuals.

Tips before leaving the house:

  • Wanna enhance your experience? Download the Vivid App to browse suggested itineraries and find places of interest.
  • Research online about where you want to go to see Lights – you can also filter down by location and type of artwork.
  • It’s winter – bring a coat, umbrella and appropriate shoes for walking in the wet.
  • Expect crowds….big crowds, no seriously, insanely big crowds!
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Martin Place

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Martin Place

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Martin Place

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Martin Place

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Martin Place

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Circular Quay

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Museum of Contemporary Art (The Rocks)

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Vivid Sydney

23 May – 9 June

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