Two Pages

Two Pages is inspired by Art Forum’s 500 Words and seeks to bring some reflective element to the artists, exhibitions and works that engage with Jugglers at a number of levels. Submissions are invited from artists and arts writers in particular. Editor: Peter Breen. Previous articles by: Emily Devers, Peter Breen, Jan van Dijk, Sue Beyer, Stephanie Munro, Ashleigh Bunter, Paul Harris, Megan Holloway and others.

If you are interested in work experience writing article about exhibitions, for use in promotional material, website and/or newsletter please send us an email at for more information.

Jugglers is Going Green - A review of the Jugglers/Brewsvegas event by C.Francis

Last Saturday, Jugglers underwent a significant milestone in the development of becoming a more environmentally conscious space.

As part of the annual Brewsvegas festival, Jugglers facilitated a venue-wide activation of live and large painting to enable some real “badass”, up and coming street artists to continue the dialogue between the genre and participation within the community. Our courtyard and tunnel were transformed throughout the day by the buzzing crowds, live music, good beer and tremendous talent that encompassed the onlookers.
Personally I found the event terrific, as it was a chance to break down the barrier that generally separates artist and audience. This was achieved by spectators being able to witness in real time the transformation of the courtyard and tunnel into lively murals that exposed communal and political commentary of the Australian social climate. Familiar graffiti iconographic tags, the indigenous flag, portraits and even the comical representation of our prime minister’s head propelling out of a jack in the box were represented boisterously. People generally associate graffiti with vandalism which contributes to the lack of voice that street and graph artists receive in comparison to the more familiar and accepted art genres styles. Since the root of the word ‘graffiti’ is ‘to write’, graffiti can be interpreted as an instinctual human need for communication and in relation to the way it is displayed it can potentially tap into mass communication to express issues of cultural frustration, anti-consumerism and individual expression.

Since 1998 the Jugglers community has been inspired to take action around the need to write and continues to address the critical shortage of creative spaces available in Brisbane and to provide a vehicle for cultural inquiry.
Brewsvegas also attempted to advocate a transition and breakthrough into becoming a more environmentally conscious space. Jugglers is happy to announce that we have become a SUGAR only Aerosol space!
Our partnership with Crush City seeks to enforce a shift towards more sustainable arts practices which can be achieved by making our courtyard a SUGAR only aerosol space. This Ironlak initiative is a revolutionary health conscious aerosol formula that has amazing results, as it is the world’s first hybrid water and alcohol based acrylic paint. This innovative technology has led to a unique formulation, which combines water with alcohol made from sugarcane to replace petroleum-based solvents. This therefore rids the use of sprays that contain hydrocarbon or compressed gases that are notorious for being greenhouse gases. Therefore Jugglers is proud to say we are minimizing our carbon footprint!
If you or a friend is interested in doing the same, then you can collect a loyalty card from the Jugglers Gallery and received discounts on SUGAR paint from Crush City!

Claudia Francis is currently working as an intern at Jugglers while completing her Bachelor of Visual Art at Queensland University of Technology.

Jugglers 13/04/15

Worthwhile Partnerships with Jugglers' latest studio artist Camille Serisier

I am a visual artist based in Brisbane Australia. I make life size tableau vivants, otherwise known as ‘living pictures’, complete with scenery and costumed performers. Like so many other artists, I sometimes struggle to find a space that offers all of the elements I need. In my case, I often work with large sheets of paper, which I paint on the ground and make into sets and scenery. To do this, I need significant floor space that is clean and flat. I also install my tableaus in the studio in order to take narrative photographs of them, so the ability to black out the room is crucial.

I heard on the grapevine that a large studio might be available through Jugglers Artspace. Although I had never had a studio with Jugglers before, I was aware that they worked with council to find locations where artists could work. After making enquiries and visiting the site, I was happy to find a space that could potentially meet all of my needs.

With the aid of some generous helpers and a bit of elbow grease, we filled and painted the floors then cleaned and painted the walls. It made the space come alive with possibility. There is something about cleaning and painting a space that helps it come together and feel like somewhere I can make. It minimises distractions and keeps the focus on making work.

The Jugglers team have been friendly, flexible and extremely helpful. They have been sensitive to my individual needs as a practitioner and keen to help me establish a worthwhile studio. I am grateful to live in Brisbane, where an organisation like Jugglers can work cohesively with Brisbane City Council to find affordable studio spaces for artists in buildings that would otherwise lie vacant. This program sits in harmony with comparable initiatives like the !{}MAAP Media Bank(!, which allows artists to hire digital equipment that they would otherwise not have access to. These are relatively unique projects that distinguish Brisbane from other cities in Australia. Through these valuable initiatives Brisbane is able to facilitate a more sustainable cultural environment for a diverse range of creative industries.

Since moving into the studio I have met a number of local residents who are keen to check out what I am up to and happy the buildings are being used in such a productive way. It is nice to meet new people who have known the area for some time and can share stories about local history and culture. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to explore and contribute to that context. I am excited to continue settling into my new studio and to see what work emerges in the new space.

For more information about Camille Serisier’s arts practice, visit

Images in this article depict Camille’s studio at Jugglers Tarragindi Site in partnership with Brisbane City Council and an example of Camille’s latest artwork.

Jugglers 01/04/15

'Capturing the Spirit' Exhibition Review by Claudia Francis

In our urbanised fast paced lives, it seems commonplace to lose touch with what fundamentally drives us as individuals, something that art today broadly and continuously challenges. German artist Hans Hofmann once said ‘Art is to me the glorification of the human spirit, and as such it is the cultural documentation of the time in which it is produced’.

This quote seemed fitting when viewing last week’s group exhibition that, although diverse in ideas and media, encapsulated a common insight exposing platforms of thought around the equivocal concept of ‘the spirit’ in relation to the time and place in which we live. The works wonderfully embraced our senses as viewers were invited to touch, smell, view and reflect on the works of three award winning visual art graduates from TAFE Queensland- Felicity Scarce, Alex Freitas and Jane McGeough.

On entering Jugglers front foyer, I was suddenly immersed in an energetic atmosphere, where gallery-goers chatted, drank and absorbed the wonderful art that surrounded them, an elevated contrast to the dreary night outside.

At first I found myself drawn to the minimalistic pencil on paper sketches by Felicity Scarce. Speaking with the artist the previous day, I found that her work tackles notions of ritualism and shrines that took the form of minimal intricate drawings in composition with tiny ceramic bowls. These delicate ceramics acted as vessels for the corresponding plant or fruit that was depicted from the drawings above. The scale of the work seemed to function as a way to draw the audience close where the aromas of these medicinal plants enveloped the senses. This element struck me as a lured call for intimacy that could potentially trigger certain associations with the ephemeral content. For me, the scent drew connections to homely environments, a comforting reminder of one’s sacred place where the spirit can be at its most invigorated. This everyday magic is what seems to drive Scarce’s work. The drawings also functioned as a meditative process for the artists through the method of “dotting” the forms onto the paper, a long and tedious progression. I see this work as a refreshing way to tackle the chaotic- by offering a work full of personal reflection that finds the beauty even in the simplest of things.

After treating myself with a drink, I then found myself hovering around the main gallery space that showcased a juxtaposition of drawings, paintings and sculpture by other artists Alex Freitas and Jane McGeough. The works seemed to muster reflection, intuitive demeanor and the evocation of beauty.

As I reflected upon Frietas work, what became evident were the consistent strong aesthetic lines and geometrical patterns, an element that was influenced by the artist’s background in architecture and graphic design. However this theme could possibly be seen as a revolt against the inherent functionality in these areas; instead the work evidently embraced opposing notions of spontaneity, intuition and fluidity. This autonomous platform also hints towards contextual elements of his life and surroundings, for example – maps of people and things were illustrated, his urban surroundings were depicted through screen prints and even representations of his chickens were all contextually exposed and simultaneously hidden in the obscure appealing forms. This intuitive element gave the work a sense of freedom through the unfiltered and the unknown forms to further portray a sense of autonomy and spirit.

As I shifted my gaze from the uninhibited expressions of Freitas, I reflected on the lively paintings by McGeough. The series entailed multiple portraits of influential Australian activists. The series seemed to seek a continuing dialogue around the issues that faces indigenous Australians. When viewing these works I was struck by the intense expressions on each face that gazed down upon me. The works captured a real animated quality of emotion through vibrant colour and written text on the wall to further continue dialogue around the issues that indigenous people face. These inspirational works sought to capture the spirit of each individual portrayed, a beautiful collection to reflect on the time and place we live in.

This exhibition acts as a reminder of where we have been and where we are going. Art serves a nonpractical role in our lives, but that does not mean that it is not vital or necessary. These works act as a reminder of personal expression and the importance of one’s individual identity in relation to our collective identity as a culture. The insight and evoking beauty that contextualized the works of these dedicated artists, each demonstrated a mesmerizing take on the equivocal concept of the spirit- through meditative ritual, reflection of intuition and moments, or the nuance of influential people in our community. As Scarce, Frietas and McGeough venture out of the nest we wish them the best of luck for laying the ground works for success, and acknowledge the great start to upcoming prospects these three hope to embark on in the future.

“Capturing the Spirit” was an held at Jugglers Art Space on February 20, 2015 as part of the ongoing collaboration and sponsorship between Jugglers Art Space Inc and South Bank TAFE [Brisbane]. The three artists mentioned were selected by Jugglers at the TAFE Diploma in Fine Art [November 2014] graduating exhibition. Claudia Francis is currently working as an intern at Jugglers while completing her Bachelor of Visual Art at Queensland University of Technology.

Jugglers 06/03/15

Welcome to the Brisbane Fringe Festival and to Rogues Gallery

It is honour to open this one nighter for my very good mates – and rouges – and exceptional artists Nic Plowman and Jan van Dijk.

I would like you to walk into this painting with me.

I would like you to turn around and face away from the painting.

We are all here now, in our imaginations, in this painting, in this mystery.

What do you see there?

Now turn around. Take another look. What catches your eye? What colour, form, shape, figure? Look at the floor and look up again – what takes your attention?

We live in a highly stimulated and stimulating visual world, a world run by advertisers who feed our greed and pull us to yield to consume for me and for mine.

The external world of our tablets and Google and smart phones and big screens in every bar and bowsers and waiting room and in the dentist’s chair.

And we can’t quite work out – if we even try to work out – why we keep buying and travelling and doing and looking and buying and working harder but rarely seeing and being.

And then along comes a painting like this and we will secretly be glad when this speech is over and this night is finished because there’s not enough colour in it and it doesn’t make us feel happy. And we wouldn’t hang it in the lounge room. Maybe we should send it to Canberra!

The mastery of this painting is that it is painted by two artists, that the idea for it grew out of Nic’s and Jan’s conversations and that what you see is not how it began.

I have been involved in the installation of public art murals around Brisbane for a long time now. We recently completed a beautiful work in the Creek Street Tunnel by Mjik Shida and Johnny Beer [Gimiks Born]. The original design submitted to the planning authority was rejected because it wasn’t happy enough. In the conversation with the planning authority there was no conversation, no co -construction and reflection around building a vibrant public art oeuvre. Thankfully, the redesigned and executed Creek Street art work is one of great beauty.

Nic and Jan, however, found that as they talked and drew and sketched and redrew and repainted that the big themes of the big social themes in our country, in Australia, informed their painting. Their process can be reflected in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence”:

*“And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no-one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.
Fools said you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence.
And the people bowed and prayed
To the ne_on god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said:
“The words of the prophets are
written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sound of silence.”*

Nic and Jan have given us all here tonight – the only audience to see this work – a glimpse into their conversations, their minds, their hearts, their souls and their strong and mature artistic talent. They are affected by advertising and the consumer driven world we are all in and all affected by, that external world that like a cancer has eaten its way into our internal world, and theirs.

But they have found a prophetic heart to make a clear statement – or maybe even a veiled one for those who cannot see – about the state, the internal state of the heart of our country, Australia.

The words of the prophets are painted on this canvas wall.

As Tom Waits says:
“We are buried beneath the weight of information which is being confused with knowledge. Quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. We are monkeys with money and guns. “


30/08/2014. Brisbane.

Jugglers 15/09/14

Re-Imagining Narratives - Exhibition by Theresa Renando

The Re-Imagining Narratives exhibition that opened at Jugglers, Friday July 11, was the result of the doctoral research undertaken by Dr. Theresa Renando, who sought to explore spirituality and its progression today. Searching through the stories of 479 people who participated in the research, the exhibition combines excerpts from these stories accompanied by the visual art of Renando. With the intention of connecting people further to the research through her visual work, the stories provide a glimpse into the lives of a select few who described their individual understanding of the concept of spirituality. The intimate stories revealed the pain of loss and the trauma of abuse, and how through solidarity and closure some had found what they saw as the spiritual turning of themselves. The artwork that accompanied the research were composed primarily of mixed media, digitally produced then re-worked with different mediums.

Given the degree of information the exhibition was at times difficult to digest. Though with this said generally people on the night were willing to give their attention to each story and artwork eliciting interesting conversations in response. As I walked around the space I found some people lingering longer than others with a particular story finding their own connection between artwork and narrative. With the intention of providing a narrative through visual art to help others connect with her research and the question of spirituality today, the link between artwork and research was difficult to define. Whether the artwork needed to be or was intended to be distinctly addressed to each story probably doesn’t matter as the exhibition overall seemed to provoke the discussion of spirituality in Western culture today. The fluctuation in stories between those who found Christianity a foundation for spirituality and then on the other hand the views of an atheist who spoke of having a sense of the spiritual provided an interesting contrast in opinions. Overall the exhibition revealed an amount of uncertainty towards spirituality revealing its difficult nature, that it cannot be stated in any absolute way. In truth it’s the opposite, all things must be lived before they can be found.

The combination of visual art by Ranado alone with her doctoral research made for an interesting exhibition. However, from the 479 people who participated in the research it seemed heavily inclined toward the views of Christianity rather than a more holistic inclination for a broader religious understanding toward spirituality. That although spirituality is difficult to articulate, the essence of its emergence in the world is never one sided. This you should think would have emerged out of nearly five hundred people who choose to include their views. Either way the overall response gathered from the exhibition was there are those who find spirituality through religion, others when alone, and others when with people yet the majority cannot define what spirituality is, but they know that it is non the less.

Jugglers 08/09/14

Grafffiti in Kabul

We have had ideas to take Jugglers overseas. An Indian visitor urged us to bring our colour and graffiti to beautify his city. “Everyone will love your graffiti. It is beautification for us”.This weekend in Toowoomba “First Coat” is a courageous beautification project jointly funded by Graffiti Stop and Ironlak with some of the big names getting their signature line and colour brand onto lane-way walls in a conservative Queensland town. Congratulations Toowoomba and notably The Grid Artist Collective and Contraband.

Last night at Jugglers the “Linear” group show continued this idea of the imposition of random and predetermined lines, shapes and colours into our conservative white cube minds. In my experience in Brisbane we are conditioned to and still partly stuck in a two dimensional no touch white cube gallery art oeuvre. But the change towards a more organic vision and praxis is becoming palpable.

Last night’s group show included cacophonous arrangements of a large collection of detritus – for example, the arrangement of random lonely plastic tombstone flowers and a bower- birdesque blue work, trigonometric and anatomical pen and ink line drawings on paper, female figures on stretched paper over canvas, illuminated beer bottles, a pulsing suspended skin “carcass” and Fasi* graffiti on the front window. My good friend Sha Sawari graffitied his support for Jugglers Art Space in his native Persian [Fasi] calligraphic text in chalk on the front window.

This was not a themed show in respect of media or subject matter but one that created strong dissonant responses for viewers. In this sense, the theme that emerged was dissonance, a fractured emotional distancing from the confronting nature of the juxtapositions of the works and one that invited engagement and reflection. Perhaps the question being framed was “Where is the beauty here?” Taken on their own, each artist’s work was resolved with a well developed and careful attention to concept and execution in the chosen medium evoking beauty and inspiration. When viewers were jostled between such different conceptual expressions however, the resounding effect was a kind of dislocation even though each artist and the curators at Jugglers carefully considered the placement of all the works.

Someone has said that there is only good and bad art. Whether that is a truism or not, I consider art as story telling that needs to be good. Linear was a series of very good chapters in a story book still to be understood and in that sense there is a profound sense about this show. As with Virginia Wolf’s sometimes mystical writing, this show is a mysterious beauty. Alice Weinthall’s haunting female figures seem to be questioning Joey Gracia’s multiple inflated goon bags and wall of collapsed balloons. Matt’s and Zoe’s exquisite line drawings have withdrawn in a kind of questioning navel gazing wonderment about everything while Joey’s other detritus installations have a semi permanent insecurity around them. All the while a pulsing skin carcass implanted with fairy lights was alive in the tunnel and a former Hazara refugee wrote on the front window expressing his support for Jugglers Art Space. This was a show about as organic as art can get and the essence is still evolving.

*Persian[Fasi] is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and other countries which historically came under Persian influence.

BY Peter Breen MA [Creative Arts Therapies] BTh, ARMIT, MIR
Co-founder/Chair/Director Jugglers Art Space Inc

Jugglers 10/03/14

Popes, kings and other fools Anthea Poulson Gold Coast March 8, 2014

It’s a great honour for me to make this speech for my good friend, long time Jugglers studio artist and Life Drawing Tutor, Nic Plowman and to officially open his show – “Popes, Kings and other fools”.

As a former protestant minister of religion in the non-conformist tradition for 20 years I have some understanding of the concept, framework and philosophical inquiry that underpins these marvellous works and some quite considerable experience of power and intrigue. I am both a former power broker and victim of power plays.

My craft has been the spoken word but religion – particularly both Eastern and Western Christian traditions – has a long tradition of religious iconography including the graffiti marks on the walls of the catacombs of Rome from the early Christian period of Western history. Visual art – and music under such greats as JS Bach – began to flourish during the renaissance and protestant reformation – hence the origins of the “Jugglers’ species”.

The Christian church has always prided itself on being a fool for Christ’s sake and politicians swear to serve their constituents in the same spirit of humility and service. However, in a horrible twist these days we see that Popes, Prime Ministers and Premiers share this mantle in a twisted irony of idiocy and arrogance.

I cannot imagine the Holy See being interested in purchasing any of Nic’s work, but if they did maybe Pope Francis might see through them that more and more of his predecessors and some of his current Cardinals have been involved in too much monkey business. That many Christian and secular institutions have perpetrated and hidden child abuse, is, most likely, beyond the dignity of the primates. No Chimp would do what some priests and community leaders have done to children.

Nic’s work shows not only his exceptional skill as a painter and draftsman – which he hones constantly – but also his reflective path of philosophical inquiry.

The founder of Methodism, Anglican priest John Wesley used to teach his lay preachers that a sermon must comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. These works of Nic’s are visual sermons carrying the viewer into uncomfortable spaces that demand a response. They afflict the comfortable at least. If you are a religious person maybe you could buy one for your local parish priest!

These multi-layered images of artist, pope and primate speak to all of us intuitively about our search for wholeness, for meaning, for sensibility. Greek dualistic teaching which divides the human into body, soul and spirit, deeply influenced post Constantinian Christianity right up until today so that we have leaders with no heart, priests with no compassion and politicians with no love . From what we know of Jesus, Buddha and Mohamed there is no division, no dualism. We are all one in god and god is in us all. They taught and lived childlike wonder and welcome, love and respect for the natural order and the beauty not evil of the human body. Wholeness and joy can arrive for humanity with a shift to new ways of seeing and I think Nic’s works are one of the door openers. Nic, like all serious artists, is intuitively wanting to represent both the search for understanding and the moment it might hesitantly arrive and , regardless of the commercial outcome, to continue down that road less travelled. In respect of artists being passionately committed to art and philosophical inquiry, one of the best bits of news I have heard this week around art as protest is the resignation of the chairman of the 2014 Sydney Biennale in the face of the withdrawal of artists from the Biennale because he and his family business, Transfield Holdings, which is a major sponsor of the Biennale, were just awarded the contract for the Australian Government’s Detention Centres. His father was the founder of the Biennale in 1974.

In this exhibition of Nic’s questions have been subtly, beautifully and disturbingly structured.

Someone has said that there is only good and bad art which leads any serious artist to a lifetime of being true to the craft and intuitive inquiry. However subjective this evaluation is, most people and art critics can sense good or bad art.

Nic has painted his soul’s search and his enviable skill into great art that we see here tonight and which, as we take time with, may make us realise are asking our own fleeting questions.

Congratulations Nic.

I am very happy to declare this exhibition open.

Jugglers 10/03/14

Hey monkey pope, where have all the blessings gone?

We went to see Nic Plowman at the old scout den* art studio he shares with life long friend and fellow artist, Sam Eyles. The million dollar location overlooking the Brisbane River fell into Jugglers hands from Brisbane City Council after the sudden eviction of all 13 Jugglers artists from the 4 leased Queensland Rail houses. Jugglers leased these on a peppercorn agreement lease for around 5 years.

Nic has always impressed me as being adaptable in life, influenced no doubt by his country Queensland [Toowoomba] roots and his more than fair share of serious health hurdles. Being yanked out of one studio and plonked into yet another one seems to be another forced lesson in adaptability for Nic, undeterred and determined as he is to complete this body of work for his next solo exhibition [“Kings, popes and other fools” ] with Anthea Polson [ ] in March, 2014. The greater issue for the arts and emerging mid career artists like Nic Plowman in Brisbane is that the eviction of 13 artists from the 4 houses might be justifiable economically by accountants who are looking for an improved bottom line, but in my view it is culturally counter-productive and counter intuitive. A commercial value, though essential for artists, does not reflect the depth and impact an artist like Nic Plowman has on the cultural conversation that his paintings are a part of. Selling Nic’s works means that he buys paints and canvas and someone has a constant reminder of what he thinks and feels about, in this case, religion. For the deepening understanding of life by our children and the general population , we need a conversation that emerges from reflections on and in this beautiful troubled world by artists and groups of artists. Artist collectives [eg Jugglers] have long facilitated these kinds of alternative educational processes in Brisbane. These artists and collectives have shown to be the essence of that education and understanding. As we say at Jugglers, “Art is the nerve end of the culture”. Nic’s current body of work is indeed one of those “nerve ends”.

This body of work largely in oils on stretched paper over canvas, represent what Nic sees in his experience of religion. Brought up in the Catholic system, his understanding of Catholicism is considered and confronting. Having been raised on the Biblical creation stories, his views on evolution and the known genetic similarities between humans and apes rise up from the paintings in a strange juxtaposition that forces the viewer to consider the priesthood and the papacy from a totally different position. What if the ex cathedra pronouncements from Rome are only 3% ahead of what a chimp might do while chomping on a bit of bamboo in Borneo? The authoritarian single white male dominated religion of Roman Catholicism is finally facing its clay legs as its relevance is shown to be as pagan as the next “heathen” with depressed suicidal middle aged abuse victims find the courage to face “the voice of god”. Except for the light of Pope Francis, the “monkey business” perpetrated against women, children and common sense have overshadowed the enormous good done by Franciscans and Jesuits over the past centuries. Nic’s story telling here is as complex conceptually as artistically. His signature use of mutliple images, lines and gold leaf are not busy motifs as much as the unpacking and depthing of a story that has afflicted countless generations since Emperor Constantine made Christianianty professional and male dominated and removed it from its roots as a little Jewish bit of enlightened madness.

Some of the works have already “sold off the plan” even before the event and I for one, as a Plowman collector, would want to own a larger piece as a means of ongoing contemplation of these chapters of disturbing painterly story-telling beauty. Nic’s well known drafting skill at a number of levels but in particular of the human form, shine here in the dominating chimp and papal representations.

This is a show not to be missed and one to take on as a serious attempt at both personal reflection and prophetic suggestion.

*Jugglers have lost the lease on the Scout Den but have been successful in securing the lease of the old Guide Hut at Tarragindi and will take over the lease of that property in April, 2014.

BY Peter Breen MA [Creative Arts Therapies] BTh, ARMIT, MIR
Co-founder/Chair/Director Jugglers Art Space Inc

Jugglers 26/02/14

Art for free

At the end of last year I put it out there to the Universe that I was in need of a cheap studio space for my art. When friends inquired how cheap was cheap, I flippantly said that free would be good! And low and behold, not long after I found myself sitting at a desk, staring out to the river at my new and amazing FREE studio courtesy of Juggelrs art space and very obliging universe.

Now, as my six weeks at this studio space draws to an end, I think back to the day that I saw that spectacular shed – the place that would become my studio and refuge. As it loomed in all its bizarre and isolated beauty, it promised so much. And it has delivered even more.

As I entered that huge, beckoning space, with its history and its creaks and groans I felt and overwhelming sense of being exactly where I was meant to be and being gifted an awesome opportunity. Space and time to myself are a rarity in my life and in my home.

Initially I was thrilled with my new space and I felt just a touch smug to move my paints and blank canvases into my little corner of paradise. But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. What I discovered was an enormous amount of internal chatter, most of it decidedly unhelpful and distracting, that I was not at all prepared for. There have been days in my space that have challenged me to the core of what I am doing and why? I was ambushed by an existential crisis when faced with real space and uninterrupted time to pursue the thing that I know I love, the thing that makes me feel more like me than anything else.

So I had to remind myself to just paint rather than think and I’m glad I did.

This space has gifted me an enormous freedom and inspiration. It has forced a showdown between an urge to create and my artistic anxiety. Out of this has come a new body of work born out of the luxury of uninterrupted time and staying put. I am grateful for this opportunity and now have a aesthetic direction I am excited and content to pursue.

By Shannon Gibbs

Jugglers 29/04/13

Emily Devers Reviews ”Vinegar Tits”

As those who circulate in creative networks are well aware, our government has recently stated that they’re “prioritising education” by recent decisions to savagely cut the arts from TAFE. After completely cutting funding to the Fine Arts, the New South Wales Government stated that “there are simply no job prospects for students”. Whilst it chills us creatives to our bones that our own government bluntly ignores the value of diverse, fresh, lateral thinking as means to stimulate growth in the creative industries, we go forward and still turn up at the studio every day. As the government keeps it’s blinkers on – it forgets to acknowledge the astonishing amount of people with arts training who also apply their skills of entrepreneurship, collaboration and creative problem solving to a whole range of sectors far beyond the creative industries – which would no doubt be a welcome change. From where TAFE students are standing, things would be looking pretty overcast.

It was Friday night and I was on my way to Vinegar Tits – a collaborative exhibition by recent Southbank Institute of Technology Fine Art graduates Deanne Peta Muir, Jess Thompson and Toby Gooley. From the eye of this education storm, these three artists pulled together a truly astonishing show, exclaiming with their works that these “prospects” our government so affectionately refer to are looking decidedly bleak.

As I ascended into Jugglers’ newly renovated upstairs gallery and cider bar (most conveniently situated outside my studio), I was sucked into Deanne Muir’s riptide of ceramic debris.
A cacophony of recently deceased bovine, plastic bottles and cups, arranged as if they are the result of a careful tidal wave or a meticulous shipwreck promptly swept me into it’s depths. This collection of figures was exceptionally crafted, recognised immediately in the small water cups whose beauty lay in their simplicity.
The cows appeared at ease, though you could still see the muscles and sinew aptly defined as they lay bereft of life, coated in the lifeless, chalky coating – characteristic of raw ceramic.
The installation was sombre and clinical, and saddeningly despondent with its familiarity. The strong contrast between the biological nature of the animals and the synthetic nature of the cups and bottles brought about a beautiful tension within the space.

As I shifted my gaze from the midnight zone of the white ocean to the walls, a beautiful graphite illustration boasted a captivating cafe scene, acting as a window into a reality we’re perhaps not all ready for – showing the special of the day being hunted and killed in amongst the tapas fiends and cocktail connoisseurs.

‘Half Empty’ – a stunning woodblock by Muir was truly charming on first encounter, then desolation and the many other associated realities of modern consumerism crept in. ‘Accustomed’ was a little more close to home crafting a dismal portrayal of our current Australian urbanised landscape as dingoes frolicked amongst plastic bags in a modern pseudo-ecosystem.

Deanne’s paintings are creamy and pastel soft to sink your eyes into, interrupted by short explosions of light from a mystery source.
Illuminated, translucent, familiar Australian icons were soaked is an unfamiliar colour palette, allowing the subjects to boast fresh and thoroughly revitalised demeanors, even though the narrative was charmingly bleak.

Jess Thompson’s mesmorisingly surreal forms abruptly introduced themselves as I floated around the main gallery, and I was instantly affronted with amoebic patterns – short fused with Dali-esque arms, breasts and limbs that seemed to surge forth from a wickedly angelic void in the paper. Vulvic forms took me back to Vince Collins’ 1982 film Malice in Wonderland, where you follow a jet-propelled white rabbit as it flies through the vulva of a supine woman into a wonderland where everything turns inside out at warp speed.
The immediate contrast of ink and watercolour with striking pen etchings, subsequently defined the weight of these independent masses, and made for a teeteringly balanced self sufficient wonderland.

On the other end of the spectrum were Toby Gooley’s charming characters whose quirkiness suggests they could be equally false in identity as they are real. This instant eccentricity was partnered with a consciously loose painting style and amplified by awkward scrawlings.
All no doubt meticulously crafted as the “amateur aesthetic” is a surprisingly hard thing to master amongst the complexities of adult life, the viewer forms an instant relationship and you feel like your staring at your awkwardly inappropriate uncle at the family barbeque or that heavily tattooed fellow you’ve dreamt of naked at the office.
‘The trigonometry of Desire’ was a definite favourite. The hypothetical posed in the text is as familiar as those provided on your grade 11 maths exam, so your brain begins to habitually scrounge for the answer. Then the guilt creeps in and you doubt your speculations as they uncannily resemble stereotyping and you blushingly avert your gaze from “the gays”.
‘Just Picture them Naked’ was another stand out, and all of the works subtly remind us that we can’t actually tell the difference between a gay fellow, a professor of economics and a blind man when they’re in their glad rags and socialising around an esky.
Despite the fictional aura of these characters, I felt like we were simultaneously best mates and awkward strangers – no doubt attributed to the snippets of narrative and witty sound bytes which invited them into those warm nostalgic parts of your brain.

Lets face it, mother nature has an astute habit of bringing up our shit; resurfacing what’s wrong with this society of ours and showcasing it to us in a manner that we’re continuing to ignore at a frightening rate. Artists are undeniably blessed with the visual vernacular to do the same, and Muir, Thompson and Gooley presented us with a convenient “modern-citizen-sized” mirror.
With this eclectic group of artists, the obvious common thread for Vinegar Tits was value placed on the hand crafted. As I walked out into the dark sheet of rain that threatened Fortitude Valley I felt like I was still digesting three courses of an ethically and socially conscious feast. And boy was it satisfying.

Jugglers 21/03/13