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.

“In Depth” Review by Sophie Rose on Joanna Bone and Aaron Micallef at Jugglers Art Space, Friday 12th June to Wednesday 17th June 2015

With art today becoming a highly tactile, visceral and immersive experience, the medium of glass takes on a significance that it may have never had before. Joanna Bone’s works call to be touched. There is something beyond the composition of forms and even beyond the many colours of the works that attracts us. Looking at the sculptures, one wants to delve into the layers of glass: to thread your hand through the ribbons of its substance. The tension between what we know to be a solid object and the molten, taffy-like quality those objects exude cannot be overcome and constantly draws us back for just one more look. If we can judge art by its hold of the eye, then Bone’s project undoubtedly succeeds.

The collection takes its inspiration from the life forms of the deep sea. This is not through any explicit citation but in a kind of collage of shapes and surfaces found on the ocean floor. The works have the veneer of mysticism we often associate with those creatures that lie out of sight, below the land and below our general consciousness.
Again, I find the medium to draw out the subject matter in a way painting, photography or clay could not. Creatures of the deep sea are boneless, transparent and when photographed reflect a multitude of colours. What better material then than one that appears structure-less and organic and one that is ultimately not about outside surface but the strata beneath it?

Bone’s process is not of sculpting but of layering. Using cane to colour her glass, she works by creating a series of thin, pencil like rods each woven with a coloured pattern, much like rock candy before it is cut. These can then be wrapped around a hot bulb of glass, creating an egg like shape, and then stretched again to create a new, more intricate set of cane rods. The process can be repeated indefinitely; completed when Bone feels she has reached the complexity she requires.

The final works are a residue of Bone’s practice. We can read into the layers and see where colours have been combined, stretched and stretched again.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is an installation of tall, seaweed like structures. A series of green poles rise out of the plinth and curve like seaweed floating in the sea. This is the work that holds most evidence of the artist’s fact. The seaweed appears to be heaved up, strung out by Bone herself. We can trace the artist’s hand through the curving of its forms. Seaweed has the most direct effect on the viewer: not purely through a removed, aesthetic appreciation but through a more tangible connection to the action of its creation.

I feel, however, the show would be lacking without the accompanying photography of Aaron Micallef. Micallef does not simply document Bone’s work but takes it as a springboard for his own art. Most of his images are digitally manipulated: a result of clear glass being too reflective and frosted glass appearing already to be out of focus. Those images that most alter Bone’s glass are by far the most interesting.

In his Clypeasteroidia collection, Micallef photographs the frosted glass and then sharpens the contrast of the image. The milky, clouded surface of the original sculpture takes on a bright and luminous quality. The sculpture and the photograph of it become quite different objects. Yet in this lies the true appeal of the show. Micallef brings out what we may at first have missed in Bone’s sculpture. We are able to see the original through its copy and, as such, see it more clearly. What looks like a cross stitch in the glass reappears as scales in the photo. The copy returns the original to its own inspiration.

Throughout the show there is a lovely doubling of spectatorship. Bone watches the sea and Micallef watches Bone. While both artists create good works in their own right, it is the coming together of the two that gives value to the exhibition. It is perhaps ultimately a show about watching. We are invited to look deeply into the levels of Bone’s work and deeper yet through Micallef’s transformation of them. It is an exhibition about both how closely we can see and how, through the selections of seeing, we create our own art.

_Written by Sophie Rose
Current Art History Student at University of Queensland_

Jugglers 24/06/15

Art Is Essential: A Reflection by Jugglers Director Peter Breen

What is it about artists?

What is it about art?

There are times every week when I wonder what I do in the scheme of things and wonder about the “grand scheme” and if there is one, where does this aspiration to be an artist and running an art space – Jugglers Art Space – fit.

Passion for art comes from doing art over and over and over and then doing it some more. The waiting for inspiration probably means someone else will do their art on my coffin.

At a recent South Bank [Brisbane] TAFE Dip of Fine Art Graduating Class Exhibition I gave a short speech on art as essential. As someone has said: “When we dilute or delete arts programs, we unravel the infrastructure that assures the cultural future of the nation.” A boring deductive speech does nothing to help the intent “stick in the throat” so I dressed and redressed with due decorum to deliver at least a memorable beginning in the guise of the Juggler. And life for an artist is a juggling dance, a twisting pirouette in a fog with no-one watching!

“Graduates – whether you sneak out onto the world’s stage or rush out flamboyantly you are artists and you are essential. You are not doctors, accountants, lawyers, project managers or engineers but artists and as artists you are essential. Essential for the growth and depth of our society in this and every era.

Artists are cool, weird, poor, fun, eccentric, introverted, extroverted, innovative, rich, depressed, happy and ESSENTIAL and to be essential we can only be convincing if we are passionate. Passion is everything!

Passion is deep, felt and experienced in all kinds of ways by all kind of temperaments.

You know you’ve got passion when you have this sense of being carried.

You know others have passion when they seem carried.

Doing art constantly is the path to passion and change.

There is a young artist who graduated from this institution [TAFE] who is passionate and is followed by thousands around the world, a friend and supporter of Jugglers and an artist who “does art”. Sofles [Russell Fenn] is a graffiti artist of exceptional natural skill and a passionate art practitioner whose work is a conduit for renewal in this contemporary art form, this frontier of new art in the 21st century.

The challenges with passion and doing art are the extraneous diversions: Expenses, income, sales, studio space, exhibitions, relationships, representation, moods, ideas. How we manage those accoutrements will be yours to manage but manage them you must at great cost sometimes.

The last is this: If you are going to be passionate practising artists essential for the growth and depth of our society – no pressure!! – then you will need one thing: You will need to determine to make the search for beauty a commitment until the end of days. Not glamour and superficiality and productivity but beauty. Set you heart and mind to search for, find, experience and represent beauty. If this is your core focus and intent then passionate art and art in passion and passion following art will carry you, carry us. We will always need skill refinement and refine our practice to find our own modalities but pursuing beauty in all its illusive,silent, loud, monochrome and colour filled expressions is the mysterious spiritual formational framework for a satisfying life as an artist and as an influencer on the deepening of a more reflective society.”

Peter Breen: Director – Jugglers Art Space Inc.

Jugglers 17/06/15

Imagine Being Attractive - Process & Review: Reflections from Emily McGuire's Exhibition at Jugglers Art Space Inc.

As part of the growing pervasiveness of digital culture into everyday life, Tumblr allows bloggers to explore alternative forms of presence and interaction in the social world. Tumblr is a microblogging platform that allows bloggers to instantly post quotes, text, videos, music, links, and images on individual blogs. Despite this variety, the platform is saturated with reproduced images with blogs resembling quasi-exhibition spaces that imitate the layout of mood boards. In particular, Tumblr has become a space overwhelmed with fashion imagery, typically derived from mainstream fashion media sources. Through rapidly compiling image after image on their blogs and following other users with similar taste, bloggers can participate in and connect with an ideal world of beauty, novelty, desire, and style.

Emily’s engagement with fashion via Tumblr begins with her own blog. Emily began using the platform in 2011 as a daily resource for imagery that guides her design process. As a young female practitioner interested in dressing the female body, Emily predominately follows Tumblr blogs that focus on fashionable female identity and this subjectivity is reflected in her practice. Almost all of these blogs – including Emily’s own blog – are entirely anonymous, blogging under the guise of pseudonyms. Central to this enquiry is Judith Butler’s (1990) idea that gender identity is always performative through the re-enacting and re-experiencing of behaviours, gestures, and codes of dress on the surface of the body. Tumblr blogs are a kind of surface on which anonymity and found imagery articulate fashionable female identity as a performative act. This identity plays out as a ceaseless process of becoming through the continuous blogging of posts in an unending search for an ideal self-image.

On Tumblr bloggers play out a logic of “look what I found”, not “look what I made”. Through acts of de-authorship and decontextualisation, Tumblr blogs attempt to display the bloggers’ individual tastes and “image-hunting abilities” in a way that seems original.2 In Textual Analysis (2015) Emily replaces Tumblr posts with a pithy description of their contents displayed to mimic her blog layout in the form of fabric banners. The archetypal fashion blog on Tumblr displays high fashion photographs alongside reproduced images of modern art, photos of cities and architecture, and fragmented pseudo-philosophical phrases quoted from cultural figures, literature, or poetry. Elements of high and low culture are conflated with an anarchic indifference toward status or value. By textually analysing these posts in a visual way with bold, clunky cut-out letters and cringey colour combinations, the work playfully protests the way in which Tumblr blogs display the banal desire to appear smart, unique, and attractive. Ultimately, these blogs constitute a profoundly seductive performance of a more beautiful and hence more socially valuable image of female identity.

At a closer reading, the fashion photographs circulating on Tumblr evoke a sense of melancholic femininity. This expression characterises the fantasy scenarios of desire, depression, and ecstasy constructed within western contemporary fashion photography. In depicting ideal female beauty as skinny, white, fresh-faced and wide-eyed fashion photographs convey states of boredom, alienation, indifference, and psychic disturbance. At the same time, the models seem empowered and are often portrayed alone, in the city, and suggest a “profound reluctance to embrace domesticity”. What’s produced is a hysterical discourse that elicits the impossibility of femininity, provoking an unsettling atmosphere of melancholia. In Feminine Melancholia (2015) gathered frills of scrap fabric form coiled arrangements that follow the exact dimensions of found images posted to Emily’s Tumblr blog. Synonymous with western female beauty, seduction, and elegance, the decorative ruffle becomes almost grotesque and uneasy in its exaggeration. Awkwardly fragmented into clashing prints, colours and fabrics, the girlishness of the frills is undermined by a sense of ambivalence. In a depressing way, the work intensifies the cultural construction of ideal female beauty as a desire that’s perpetually unsatisfied.

The sameness of these ruffled forms responds to the interchangeable and hence homogenous quality of fashion image posts, which conflate to produce a seamless image. Images do not function autonomously on Tumblr blogs but rather, they slip over and blend with other images to portray a “shared, vague field of [cultural] references”. Though this work depicts Emily’s blog layout its title and other information has been left out, calling attention to the blog’s anonymity and hence her lack of agency. Although the use of anonymity on Tumblr suggests empowerment and control over one’s identity on Tumblr, the irony is that anonymity simultaneously disempowers these qualities through the ways in which Tumblr blogs constitute a performance of conventions, ideals, and constraints of mainstream modes of femininity.

Alongside this performance, Tumblr bloggers have a penchant for using text posts to express ironic, self-deprecating parodies that critique the idealistic fashion images that circulate on Tumblr. These text posts such as “on a serious note I’m cute”, “attractively bored”, and “imagine being attractive” relate to ideas of beauty, fashion, taste, and self-gratification. They also evoke an apathetic sense of humour and elicit the “low-culture absurdity” of Tumblr blogging. The Text Post Series (2014) appropriates user-created text posts from Tumblr as vinyl prints. Slashing the printed words in half and stitching exposed threads to loosely re-join them is a method of deconstruction that subverts the process of garment making. The disproportioned, unfinished appearance of the works speaks to the constructedness, instability, and ambiguity of affirming idealistic representations of fashionable female identity on Tumblr. However, the colourful handworked stitching introduces elements of mending and empathy as a way of playfully celebrating user-created text posts as an intimate and candid view of Tumblr culture. In fact, the popularity of this mode of critique suggests the text posts build a sense of belonging and hence cultural intimacy between bloggers. This occurs as a collective awareness that neither the blogger nor the reader is desirable or attractive like the beautiful models and fantasy scenarios depicted in fashion imagery displayed on blogs. In turn, the performance of fashionable female identity on Tumblr is often deeply ambiguous as bloggers complicate a simple dichotomy of empowerment and disempowerment through the affirmation and critique of fashionable female identity.

User-created text posts are a reoccurring theme throughout Imagine Being Attractive. In Seductively has No Life (2015) this phrase, which is appropriated from a user-created text post, is cut from gold-foiled synthetic velvet and fused to an oversized merit badge. Smothered in pink fabrics almost sickening in prettiness, the merit badge signifies the affirmation of female beauty and hence, female success. The badge states, “seductively has no life”, which collapses tragically against the edge of the badge. The work highlights the way in which performing fashionable female identity on Tumblr is a ceaseless process of becoming that’s perpetually undermined by a sense of disappointment or failure to achieve this impossible ideal. In it’s self-reflexive mode of address, “seductively has no life” calls attention to the self-deprecating irony of Tumblr blogging – perhaps to seductively have no life is to be scrolling aimlessly through Tumblr, typically in a state of abject boredom and continously re-blogging posts that affirm an exceptionally fashionable, desirable, seductive image of feminine beauty.

This tension between affirmation and critique continues in I Just wanna be Profound and Gorgeous (2015). A panel of grey silk organza hangs tenuously from the ceiling with the phrase “I just wanna be profound and gorgeous” printed off-centre. As a piece of fabric it seems unfinished; perhaps it’s to make a garment, or maybe it’s a delicate veil, or mimicking the screen. Suspended in a state of unfulfillment, this work returns to the idea that the performance of fashionable female identity on Tumblr is a permanent process of becoming. But this time, a confronting desperation is evoked. There’s an eerie feeling about the work – a highly seductive surface brimming with anxiety. Here, the performativity of identity on Tumblr is perhaps most explicit. The work communicates a self-reflexive knowing that wanting to ‘be’ profound and gorgeous is a desire that remains perpetually unfulfilled on Tumblr, and this work finally confesses to the banal, narcissistic pre-occupation with this insatiable longing.

Imagine Being Attractive attempts to articulate the some of the complexities of performing fashionable female identity on Tumblr blogs. Emily explores her Tumblr experience as a participant observer on Tumblr through processes of garment making, textiles, fabric printing, text, and installation. Her creative practice translates the digital to physical world through which the immediate, intangible, forgettable and the fleeting become clumsy, highly tactile, heavily labored, and enduring. Rather than suggesting contempt against Tumblr as narcissistic and superficial, this exhibition evokes a passionate kind of empathy toward Tumblr bloggers who, through their blogs, pay an ironic homage to an ideal world to which they know they’ll never belong.

EMILY McGUIRE
sessional academic | fashion | QUT

Jugglers 17/06/15

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!

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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 !{www.maap.org.au}MAAP Media Bank(www.maap.org.au)!, 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 http://www.camilleserisier.com/

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. “

Thankyou.

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
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