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 info@jugglers.org.au for more information.

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. “

Thankyou.

30/08/2014. Brisbane.

Jugglers 15/09/14

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
www.peteskibreen.wordpress.com

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 [www.antheapolsonart.com.au ] 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
www.peteskibreen.wordpress.com

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

Meagan Streader at LoveLove and street art beauty

“Graffer and the priest” Artist: Peter Breen

Love Love” studios [Teneriffe Brisbane] is an Artist Run Initiative [Andy Harwood, Jay Musk, Sarge Jhogenson] with grunt, showcasing Brisbane’s emerging contemporary art scene. Having had such classy curators as Dhana Merrit [IMA] is indicative of where this outfit is heading, or at least what it is doing. The current “Saturate” group show features a striking colour palette and installation works by emerging and other well known Brisbane artists including Simon DeGroot and Meagan Streader*. Meagan’s interactive installation of movable geometric shaped polymer or light plastic translucent light shades are accompanied by a low volume recording that sounded to me like clunking and clicking metal on metal. My experience of the installation was two fold. First, I was in the room with another couple who were taking the shades off and putting them on to the hidden magnets on the wall. Once the light shades found a magnet “home’ on the wall, the little low energy bulb in the shade came on, revealing a kind of light Buddhist safron robe shade of orange that then effused through the darkened room. On the low ceiling over the wall were about half a dozen light shades with blue lights and next to these blue shades were, I thought, more little magnets. I was mistaken. The woman next to me gently informed me as I tried to stick my shade to the ceiling that the blue light shades were fixed. I had a moment of embarrassment but then realised that this interactive installation of Meagan’s not only had the viewers constantly rebuilding the piece but had them finding human connections in the process. Most art shows are about the viewer and the two dimensional work with maybe a hushed word or two to a friend. This healthy “Love Love” experience for some reason reminded me of a far more harsh and violent approach to engagement with a marginalised arts practice. The current approach to illegal – and sometimes legal – graffiti is eradication and zero tolerance in Brisbane. There is no conversation or attempt to understand what the law currently says is the wrongful placing of paint on public buildings and train track-side barriers. There are some newly funded public mural initiatives that are positive and the Queensland government is on the right track with these projects. However, my view is that a less confrontational approach that attempts to see and understand the art and the artist , that takes the time to engage and to begin the long and sometimes painful conversations, would shift the balance to a more respectful and vibrant ethos and maybe raise the standard of art from reactionary tags to art works that are there just because they are the expression of artists. As with my blue light experience, a gentle redirection has more positive impact in the long term than a sarcastic dismissive intolerant comment from a closed minded observer.

Meagan is an artist in residence at the Hamilton North Shore Shed – part of the Jugglers studio collective.

Jugglers 27/02/13

'Unframed' - an emotional journey

John Briggs and crowd at his show “Unframed”

John Briggs has a ticking clock going on inside his body that is louder than mine. But who knows. As an MS sufferer with increasing immobility and pain issues, the challenge is how to make it to the next chair, not the next Bali holiday. John has found art as the story telling medium for his journey out of a successful graphic design business with high roller clients into a world of new ‘possibility’ – the name of his show at Jugglers Art Space on Feb 15. Sponsored by Access Arts, the MS Society of Qld and SWARA, John’s pastel works are strongly evocative with viewers held and moved by the emotion released via a staring self portrait, an ‘up yours’ middle finger tied to a “Bluebell” flower and “The Grip” where two figures are locked in a strong embrace. ‘Unframed’ could have been called ‘uninhibited’ with the aesthetic and the emotion on slow release settling down on us like some kind of gentle ‘grip’. One of the viewers related how he was held for minute after minute by a particular work [‘Think’]. Well known Brisbane sculptor and artist Terry Summers’ comment was that the art sold at some galleries in the high thousands didn’t come near this exhibition as art. The high end bought by investors with money to burn might make a space look funky for the cocktail parties on the 16th floor, but the art in this show brought us to our knees. The works were rough with corners torn by accident and intent, pastel smudges that might have been tidied up for a cleaner more presentable polished look and perforations from some sketch book tear outs. The unmistakably unusual element in this show was the approach John took in the labelling of each work. Each label included the name of the work, the word “Possibility” and a number of key words John chose to represent some aspect of the theme of the work so that viewer had the opportunity to explore the works as stories of possibility – not disability. As John returns to the UK for further medical treatment his promise is to exhibit again at Jugglers at a distance. This is certainly a “possibility.” Peter Breen.

Jugglers 27/02/13

Two artists, two stories

Conor Timothy O’Shea and Anthony Jigalin painted and installed a body of work at Jugglers Art Space for the 2013 year opening on February 1. How different both men and their art are but the juxtaposition of these works in the Ground and 1st level spaces, and the viewing crowd on the opening night, had some energising dynamism. Conor’s first solo body of work [in the main downstairs space and the side tunnel] of large oils and aerosol on canvas, video and sound installation and text on aluminium are the work of a professional, accomplished, disciplined and talented multi-modal artist. As a BFA final year student at QUT, the embedded stories that emerge from taking time with these works began to formulate into deeper understandings for me as I took time with the artist and his artist statement. The two dimensional painted works as contemporary paintings need to be seen by collectors and curators as making a significant aesthetic statement and as laying the ground work for a successful future as a practitioner. What was missing from the show was an example of his larger sculptural works, like the stunning piece he installed at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts in 2012 as part of the BARI Festival. See www.conoroshea.com

Anthony Jigalin’s prolific output of pencil, biro, guache on A4 paper installed on the ceiling of the Level 1 upstairs space had a sense of transience as much as Conor’s had a sense of groundedness and permanence. Anthony’s subjects from trains, to draculas, to fast cars and nudes were tacked to the ceiling with dressmaking pins. The installation took about 6 hours and this fragile “hanging garden of line and colour” changed the sense of space in the gallery and had viewers on the carpet for some relaxed viewing. The vibrancy and quick draw aspect of this show belies the passion Anthony has for his art and this contribution to visual story telling at Jugglers has made its mark on us. Keep going Anthony! Peter Breen,Director, Jugglers Art Space Inc.

Jugglers 11/02/13

There are moments when I know why I am an artist, and then there are moments when I don't. By Carmel McGregor

When I know

  • when I am completely consumed by the desire to draw and paint after waking from a dream at 2 a.m. with the inspiration for my next work of art
  • art is the only thing to which I can give 100% of myself

When I don’t know

  • when I sit and stare at the canvas, unable to make the first mark

These days there are a hell of a lot more moments when I know why I am an artist than when I don’t. But it took me quite a while to realize it.

From the age of two I grew up with a pencil in my hand, always scribbling, colouring in and drawing pictures of whatever crossed my path. At age fifteen I told my parents I wanted to be an artist, and incredibly, they agreed! So in the summer heat of early 1983, my mother took me to enroll at Qld College of Art, however, I didn’t go for the interview! What? Why the bloody hell not? (I hear you say) Unfortunately, I was extremely shy and couldn’t bring myself to walk through the door. I was crippled by my lack of self esteem and fear of failure.

Instead of art school, I got a dead-end job in retail and later hospitality, and administration, for 25 years I turned my back on art and drifted through life without so much as a doodle on a magazine, something my father used to do often, drawing mustaches on faces of cover girls as I recall. Regrettably, my creative energy was dulled by partying and drinking heavily most weekends, although somewhat satisfied by dressmaking, (I’ve sewn everything from wedding gowns to ice skating costumes), and calligraphy, (invitations and the like for family and friends), but it wasn’t enough. The creative part of me was always there, asleep in my subconscious, waiting for me to wake it!

Then suddenly, at age 40, as a divorced mother, with 3 amazing children, I rediscovered art. Enlightenment came in the form of a girl with a pearl earring, well it was the movie of the same name actually! The star of the movie, if you don’t already know, of course, was 17th century Dutch artist, Jan Vermeer, master of light, and painter of “The girl with a pearl earring”. I was so inspired by Vermeer I faced my fear and enrolled in TAFE for Art classes. Near the end of my first year of juggling work, kids and TAFE, a wonderful art teacher named Fred, recommended I study the diploma course, I was so excited I crashed my boyfriend’s car on the way home that day! (true story!) After two more of the most gratifying years of painting, drawing and studying art history, I graduated at the end of 2009, a moment when I definitely knew why I was an artist!

Fast forward to 2012, the painfully shy, awkward young girl is long gone, in her place, a wiser, quietly confident woman (with a few grey hairs and laugh lines), paints portraits in studio 4 at Jugglers, and knows why she IS an artist!

Jugglers 09/05/12