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.

“Decoy” - A Right of Passage

James Mullholland Artwork at Jugglers Artspace Inc.

James Mulholland’s pencil and charcoal on paper drawings at Jugglers Art Space Level 1 gallery are captivatingly haunting works, an unpacking of his own experience as a young male attempting to make sense of maleness incorporated as it so often is in young adult male violence, threat and fear. Self identity and a sense of self comes out in this body of work as a pathway still clouded with uncertainty.

Even the clenched hands have an element of nervousness and the shadowy self-portraits carry a feeling of lostness or shrouded desire, a common feeling in young white males in Australia. There have been excellent programs and money spent on key issues such as once punch can kill, drug fuelled violence, depression and suicide, but reaching male maturity in Australia in both indigenous and the white community seems to have become stuck. Perhaps not everywhere but from my observation certainly in the general population.

Some schools, men’s groups and churches have developed programs and support networks and books such as Biddulph’s “Manhood” are making a significant impact. My view is, however, that we need a spiritual, legitimate and honoured process of leaving boyhood and entering adulthood that is celebrated by all families,and mothers in particular.

James’ works are confronting and arresting with a powerful ability to hold the gaze. They are aesthetically appealing and his drafting skill second to none, but as one couple confessed to me at the opening, they didn’t want such confronting work on their wall. Perhaps their, or rather her feelings evoked by these drawings, are part of the confrontation that needs to happen. Art is the nerve end of the culture.

Over the weekend after this show opening I watched “Kes” a 1970 movie made about Billy [David Bradley] whose desire to not follow his father into the coal pits of northern England is an impossible dream until he finds, trains and becomes enamoured with an injured Kestrel [hawk]. The bullying, belittling and victimisation of Billy reflected cultural norms of the late 60’s in the UK but the view of James Mulholland would be that in 2016 in Australia, the same kind of attitude is rife. Young males are trapped by a system unable to see itself or find a way to wholeness or full humanness.

As a stark contrast I also watched a short video of Our Lady of Gethsemane, a Trappist Monk monastery in Kentucky, USA where the reclusive anti nuclear activist Thomas Merton lived before his untimely accidental death in 1968.

Merton had lived a wild “normal” life as a young male until his epiphany and conversion and “call” to his reclusive life as both a theologian, poet, activist and spiritual biographer. The stark contrast to Billy’s journey and James’ drawings is profound but I am not sure that Merton or any of his brothers were any more sure of their own maleness than the rest of us. The stark contrast, however, is that there is no violence in such a place, nor in the careful loving training of Kes by Billy. Gentleness is a path less travelled by men but it is in stillness, silence and reflection – along with courage, ritual and hard physical work – that men find missing parts of their maleness lying dormant under layers of bravado, fear and ego.

James Mulholland’s “Decoy” is an important addition to the conversation and action so urgently needed if young men from twelve to twenty are to find a new way of being that is free of violence, force and ego. A helpful follow on to this exhibition would be an artist’s talk with small group discussion to follow.

By Peter Breen 2016

Jugglers 31/05/16

Paper Boats

Above Jugglers Artspace on Brunswick Street in Fortitude Valley is a large-scale mural by Brisbane street artist Guido Van Helten. It features a black and white image of a man whose contemplative gaze is directed above and beyond the bustling street and surrounding rooftops. Helten created this tangible image from a photograph and subsequent drawing on paper. Like most of his works, which are painted on water towers, reactors, building facades, and other public spaces around the world, the mural captures the man’s inner essence, and provides a gateway into exploring his story. It is the story Sha Sarwari.

Sha Sarwari is a former Hazara refugee from the Ghazni province in central Afghanistan. He made the long and treacherous journey to Australia in 1999, and after spending seven months in detention was relocated to Brisbane. It was here that Sha began his practice as a visual artist. He uses this practice to create multifaceted artworks that help him to understand and come to terms with his experiences, as well as to reflect upon the broader social and political issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers.

The multifaceted nature of Sha’s artworks can be seen in his ongoing boat and postcard projects. Here, he took the potent symbol of a boat and recreated it using newspaper and cardboard. When referenced in relation to refugees and asylum seekers, this familiar object conjures up a myriad of catch phrases and headlines such as ‘stop the boats,’ ‘turn the boats around,’ ‘illegal people,’ ‘queue jumpers,’ and ‘security threat.’ The newspapers Sha selected featured these generalised mass media headlines. To counteract their claims and provide a personal insight into the plight of forced migrants, Sha concealed the words with a hand written script of his own story of arriving in Australia and his time in detention. He then took a photograph of this multi-layered object and turned it into a postcard, which he distributed around the suburbs of Brisbane, asking people to return to sender their thoughts on refugees and asylum seekers. The few responses he received were mainly positive, and these were displayed in his 2015 exhibition at Jugglers Artspace, alongside those that remained blank, or as captured in their title, reference a silent conversation. This ongoing process of taking a singular object and recreating it into a series of alternative forms, allows for an endless conversation that reflects the personal and collective complexities and perceptions of refugees and asylum seekers.

The most recent addition to Sha’s project was a ceremonial burning of the paper boat. This overtly symbolic and moving moment occurred in the early hours of the morning on a deserted beach in northern New South Wales. With the light of a full moon, Sha and his wife Affifa dragged the boat onto the beach, and as the sun began to rise, covered it in turps, set it alight, and watched it burn. This powerful act encompassed Sha’s journey to Australia, where there were boats, destruction, flames, and fire. Despite this, it was an incredibly peaceful and contemplative process that allowed Sha to come to terms with what happened, let some of the pieces go, but never forget them. He captured this inability to forget through collecting jars of ash, which will now be used to continue the project.

Art is a powerful medium for both reflecting reality and imagining an alternative. It is the space or tension between these states, where the transformative ability of art lies. This tension is not only seen in the burning of the boat, but in Helten’s mural. The painting, which was created from a photograph and drawing on paper, references both the paper boat and the layered nature of Sha’s art practice. Helten creased and folded the drawing of Sha into an origami boat. The delicate construction was then unfolded, and it is this image, with its intimate creases and folds, that Helten recreates in his mural. The process of unfolding, similar to that of burning, marks a coming to terms with, exploring, discovering, and letting go, and yet, the presence of the paper’s crinkly surface, like the ash that remains from the boat, reveals that our experiences can never be forgotten, but instead become part of who we are.

Helten’s mural captures the personal story of Sha Sarwari – a story that refugees and asylum seekers can both relate to, and use as a symbol of hope as they embark on a journey to create a new life in a foreign land.

By Alice-Anne Psaltis 2016

Jugglers 04/05/16

Burning The Boat

Early last Wednesday morning, before sunrise, I drove to a small beach in Northern New South Wales with a handful of artists and students. We had been invited to the burning of a boat, the next phase of an art project by Sha Sarwari, a former Hazara asylum seeker from Afghanistan and graduate of Griffith University [Queensland College of Art]. Sha has become a close friend over the past 3- 4 years through his work which I see as a very public journaling of his journey from asylum seeker/ refugee/detainee to Australian citizen and justice advocate. When not caring for his new son and developing his arts practice, he works as an interpreter for asylum seekers and detainees under the Australian Government’s “pacific solution.”

As I crept around the house at 2.30am I found myself in some kind of imagined world where Sha and other asylum seekers were quietly leaving a coastal village in Indonesia to board a boat only twice as big as his sculptural work. For 5 days – and one day with a broken down motor – they sailed across calm seas towards Australia and finally to a confrontation with an Australian customs vessel. Christmas Island and then Curtin detention centre led finally to his release and approval of his application for asylum. This was before Kevin Rudd’s pacific solution and the inevitable different trajectory of his life had he attempted asylum in 2016.

A full moon sunk majestically down on a still and glorious morning beach as the grey lights of dawn filtered up over the horizon and the moment of burning arrived. The symbolism of the burning was wrapped up in the theatre of the event as the turps fuelled paper and cardboard fire took hold. Sha invited me to pour the turps on the vessel with him and so it seemed like baptism, a preparation for death and rebirth. The moment had a deeply spiritual sensibility about it for me. There was a sensual almost romantic element to this morning’s fire on the beach and Sha’s walk to the water’s edge evoked images of New Testament mythology around the Jesus person’s post resurrection breakfast on a secluded stretch of Palestinian sea with his friends.

As we watched in a mesmerised trance fueled by metaphor, symbolism, tragedy, determination, kindness and luck Sha’s palpable relief broke into a smile on his handsome face. There was no closure, a word only applicable to doors, but there was a sense of being in a liminal space a space opened through this threshold experience.

The cooling embers were smothered in water and sand but not before a couple of kilograms were gathered into bowls for the next project – an ash brick.

The art making process seems to be a never ending exercise if both the aesthetic and emerging story are held as unfolding chapters. It is possible that in the attempt to construct meaning an essence statement or position arrives and there is an approximation to meaning but until that moment the making must continue to validate its beginning. My view that cultural and spiritual inquiry must be inextricably tied to the infinite creative core to hold their integrity and authenticity has Sha’s project as a fine example. There is yet more to be told of this man’s courage, pain, grief and growth and we do well to take our time to be present both to him and his work slowly and with respect and humility. The lesson is that if we are sidetracked as artists, designers, makers and collectors into only the ephemeral and utilitarian then our output and contribution to bringing understanding, meaning and depth to ourselves and our culture will be diluted.

Sha added another element to this story on the beach as the boat was burning down to the sand. It seem that the burning ritual had set him free to tell me another chapter. His cousin had wanted to come to Australia from a refugee camp in Pakistan and to do as Sha had done, come by boat. Sha had discouraged the boat idea but in a horrible twist of fate his cousin was killed in a suicide bombing in a pool room on his way home with friends. He had been in the room when the first bomb went off and as he went to help the wounded, the second bomb was detonated – a well tried terrorist strategy – and he was killed. The ash brick is, I suspect, part of a memory shrine for Sha and his family.

By Peter Breen 2016

Jugglers 26/04/16

Teagan Ramsay QUT Art Awards: Exhibition Review

What does it mean to talk of “space”? The word at once invites the idea of specified place but also the notion of absence, a gap, a void. Teagan Ramsay’s work can be seen as mediating these two, almost oppositional notions of space. Her ambient, durational videos depict domestic spaces, yet without their usual inhabitants. In this way, they are not so much empty as they are emptied: we can sense people were in them a day, hour or even minute ago. There is something ghostly underlying Ramsay’s interiors. The ghost is haunting because it is at once present and dead. Much the same, the people in Ramsay’s scenes are both there and not there: lingering in the wood, glass and concrete.

The Queensland house is the subject for Ramsay’s latest series, but we could equally say it is the sitter of her portraits. House 184 (2015) depicts the interior of an unkempt share house with a personality of its own. The house is filmed from various angles. The first looks out from a dark room to a frosted window, the second onto a pile of dirty laundry, the next to a coffee table piled with mugs, Heinz sauce bottles, toilet paper and bong, and finally the camera rests on a corner of the house, the white interior of the bathroom just visible in the background. Over the images plays a droning, high frequency sound.

Room (2016) films the same house but with quite a different personality. The video shows only one scene: a tall window seeping light into the house as a thin curtain moves back and forth in the breeze. There’s less of the grunge of House 184 here, and the house itself seems to have softened.

While Ramsay’s scenes are expressive, the medium of video gives the works an air of documentary. This sets her art in line with something like the Becher project. Bernhard and Hilda Becher aimed to photograph the disappearing industrial architecture in post –war Germany. What they produced was a vast typology illustrating that many of these public structures shared particular formal qualities and indeed, shared a kind of personality. Like the Bechers, Ramsay reveals something of humanity in the very non-human structural forms. Of course, Ramsay’s work is not taxonomy but the same respect for objects and architecture remains.

Behind the two projected videos stands Ramsay’s installation work. Windows taken from a Queensland house are stacked together, as if making a bonfire. The wood is lit from below and beneath it Ramsay has placed a carpet very similar to the one seen in House 184. The installation forms a nice materialisation of the videos, as if Ramsay has plucked the important elements of her films and arranged them in the real world. This small pile of material – a deconstructed Queenslander – works particularly well in the gallery space. The gallery architecture is much like the houses Ramsay depicts. After studying the wooden panels of House 184 or the windows piled before us, we might turn our heads and realise we are in a very similar space. The works ultimately encourage us to read the place we are in with as much care as the ones depicted on screen.

Teagan Ramsay’s exhibition is small but important. Young artists are returning to architecture, but perhaps with more nuance than their predecessors. Ramsay reveals the presence a space has when we are absent. There is both an emptiness and a richness in her works, which uncovers the complex relationship we all experience with the space around us.

_Reviewed by Sophie Rose

Jugglers 20/04/16

Pleasure, Pain & The Liminal Space

Janna Kovak created her installation Between two worlds by digitally projecting florescent light onto two pieces of fabric that she suspended from the ceiling. Visible as I entered the gallery, the work immediately grabbed my attention and encouraged my interaction. The wavering green light beckoned me forward, and as I approached, I was struck by the transparency of the material. It reminded me of the mosquito net that hung over my bed as a child, and provoked by this memory, I stepped through the first veil and into the liminal space.

The liminal space is the point between pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, the rational and the irrational, the past and the present. We live our lives between these conditions – these personal and emotional states. The exhibition Pleasure, Pain and the Liminal Space brings together the artworks of six female artists to reveal how Art Therapy can help propel people ‘across the threshold, through the liminal space, and into the here and now.’ Each artist explores this process in different ways. From physically creating the liminal space, to depicting what lies on the other side of this space, their highly personal works confront and capture their individual journeys through pain, trauma, and suffering, in search for, and to ultimately find, a new consciousness.

This consciousness is seen in the vibrant canvases and whimsical jewellery of Jessica Edwards. She created these works to help her come to terms with the realities of post-traumatic stress disorder. An all-consuming force, PTSD often restricted Edwards from seeing the pleasure, beauty, happiness, and strength in her life. Her artworks became a space where she could explore these opposing emotions, as is captured in The Tulip, which references both endings and new beginnings, as well as in her brass jewellery, which features fictional mushroom figures, and explores the void between isolation and togetherness. To complete this body of work, Edwards has cleverly included her grandmother’s mirror. It alludes to the role of her art in reflecting what PTSD masks, and in turn, provides a contemplative space where the viewer is invited to confront their own realities.

The intricate constructions of Melissa Stannard also require the viewer’s in-depth engagement. She uses an assortment of disregarded objects to create challenging works that reflect her personal journey. In Memory Box, Stannard explores a series of painful memories. Reminiscent of a child’s dolls house, it features a selection of familiar items, such as family photographs, vintage rulers, tape measures, clocks, feathers, a birds nest, eggs, nails, bottles, plastic doll parts, crosses, OHT film, cap gun caps, newspapers, and a death certificate. The artist lost her mother when she was two, and her upbringing thus became a period of trauma and homelessness. Memory Box reflects this suffering, whilst also appearing playful and hopeful. This is seen in Stannard’s ability to identify with things that are abandoned and useless, and yet turn them into something with purpose and meaning.

This sense of transformation is also seen in the sombre tones and harsh lines of Jen Chester’s paintings. They are transformative processes, which allow the artist to let go of something, piece the puzzles together, and confront difficult issues. Next to her work Anomie, which features a red figure surrounded by other ghostly outlines engulfed in a blue and black landscape, Chester has placed a response book in which she poses the question what do you see? In doing so, I believe the artist extends the process of Art Therapy to include both the act of art making, as well as the act of looking. Viewed in this context, the artworks in the exhibition take on a heightened dimension – one that allows the viewer to step into the liminal space and reflect on their own past and present, pleasure and pain.

– Exhibition Review by Jugglers Art Space Inc. Volunteer Alice-Anne Psaltis

Jugglers 14/03/16

Transition - A Process of Change

Transition refers to a process of change or adaption. It is a passage between one form, state, or condition, and another. In disrupting the viewer’s perceptions, it allows for the creation of an alterative reality.

The exhibition Transition at Jugglers Art Space brings together the works of Cherylynne Bullen, Justin Garnsworthy, and Birgit Kehr, to explore how technology can be used to physically alter images, materials, and mediums. Each artwork in the exhibition maps a transition of sorts – from the figurative to the abstract, the materiality of recognisable objects into two-dimensional forms, and a personal transition between differing worlds.

On entering the gallery, I found myself surrounded by Bullen’s pixelated images of varying colours and sizes. The artist creates these images by digitally manipulating photographs she has taken of everyday objects and personal memories until they are devoid of their recognisable features. This is seen in Yacht 2016, where Bullen has adapted a photograph of a yacht at sunset into a rotating vortex of blues, yellows, and greens. Aside from these signifying colours, the artist has distorted the original image beyond all figurative representation. In this act, she creates her own language of abstraction that carry’s metaphors of the everyday into an evolving digitalised space.

Garnsworthy also constructs his own visual language, which he describes as ‘hyperdrawing.’1 He uses the everyday office material of blu-tack as a drawing tool – stretching and moulding it into ‘blobs and smears.’2 He then scans these forms onto the computer, where he digitally enhances them in Photoshop, before reprinting the images in hardcopy. The resulting artworks are the strongest and most striking in the exhibition. Unlike Bullen’s altered photographs, the blu-tack in Garnsworthy’s work maintains its familiarity. It transitions between abstracted forms suspended in a blackened space, and a malleable material with a functional purpose. In this process, the artist extends notions of drawing and our conceptions of physical materials, allowing the viewer to experience their possibilities and limitations.3

Alternatively, Kehr’s photographs do not offer a physical transition between forms, but rather a personal and spiritual one. Having moved to Australia as a migrant, the artist was taken with the country’s rugged coastline and harsh landscape. Instead of exploring the realities and imperfections of the environment, Kehr adjusts her photographs into pristine renditions of nature. They provide the viewer with a meditative state, and seek to offer a passage into another world. In this sense, her works play on the concept of ‘Art as Therapy.’

The artists in the exhibition each offer different ways of visualising processes of transition, revealing that nothing is ever as it seems, it can always be manipulated into something else.

– Exhibition Review by Jugglers Art Space Inc. Volunteer Alice-Anne Psaltis

1. Justin Garnsworthy, ‘About,’
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.

Jugglers 01/03/16

Numinous-i at Jugglers Art Space - Oct 9th to 21st 2015

Article written by Sophie Rose

On entering numinous- i, one is invited into a space of sanctified quietness. A series of large, busy, Primitive-esque paintings by David Howard encircle a suspended black box, containing Darryl Roger’s hologram piece, Sehnsucht; and so, pagan visions surround the tabernacle. A sense of ritual undoubtedly informs both sets of work, yet is manifested quite differently in each. Howard gives a wild, uncontained spilling-forward of figures: as if spirits have seeped from the canvas into the gallery space. The shapes seem to balloon before one’s eyes: the image is full of gaseous intensity. Rogers provides a far more internal experience. One must enter his space; the art becomes a kind of confession-box and, as such, the surrounding area of the gallery begins to concave in on the box. The coupling of these two artists is something like the coming together of the voodoo and the sacramental, to create a meta-spiritualism.

It is from this that we can consider both artists in a dialogue with Magritte’ian surrealism. In both works, one figure slowly morphs into another. In Howard’s paintings this transition is spatial. Thick coils join one shape to the next, springs jump out from the background and various substitutions – a saucer for eyes, a river for a tongue and the face divided like tectonic plates- form conceptual links between shapes. What Howard makes apparent is that the mind does work to see saucers in eyes and connective “coils”, that is associations, between the objects in our world.

Rogers achieves much the same effect in the temporal. His hologram is projected onto a model stage, allowing a pantomime of associations to unfold. Against a backdrop of ocean, a moon superimposed by a sheet of clouds sits. On looking at this collage one cannot help but separate the elements: a moon sits above the sea; a moon lies in the sky with clouds. Each still forms a condensation of associative imagery: a reduction of common memory into a code. And yet nothing stays still. The moon fades into brick, the brick into wild dog. If in automatic drawing the hand is allowed to move freely over the page, then here we have something like automatic theatre: the show moves freely from one concept to another, following the thread of a playful mind.

Through its bold and heavy forms, Howard’s series brings Surrealism back to its Cubist and Primitive roots. The shapes in the work push out from the canvas, tense behind the picture plane, bouncing off its surface. The small sections of titanium white leap out at the viewer, above the collection of deep greens, yellows and red. The images appear to bubble to the surface, pushing against the picture plane. Like water boiling beneath the lid of a saucepan, the tightness of Howard’s painted forms creates a repulsive force against the eye. The paintings provides a retrospective insight into this repulsive nature of surrealism and the surreal nature of the repulsive: often we say of something strange, a dream perhaps, that it cannot be grasped and that it seems to work against one’s memory.

On the other hand, Rogers brings Surrealism forward to what may be considered its natural conclusion: the virtual realm. In digital art, images can be collected, stored and re-arranged with great ease; pictures of different times and places can be brought into the same space with the click of a button. As Rogers explains, many different images stream into his process:
My digital art is approached like a collage. I collect images, video, 3D meshes and other art works that interest me, over a very long period of time. The video imagery in Sehnsucht was collected from disparate times, a holiday in the Whitsundays, a walk on a beach in Tasmania, a chance connection with a 3D modeler in Madrid. (Darryl Rogers, 17 October 2015)
If we consider the various images one sees on a computer screen, associations between them are not necessarily pre-ordained but generated by their collection in the one space. In other words, Rogers’ images are not products of a singular theme but hold a potential to create a number of different ideas, depending on their arrangement. In this way, a “memory” between objects is creative: one does immediately know the connection between the sea and a brick wall but is forced to create one; both can shield objects from view, perhaps.

However, the spiritual is not merely the surreal but also the ritualistic. Here it is worth considering the use of repetition in both artists’ work. In Howard’s paintings, rhythm bounces form one canvas to the next. As a series, one might be tempted to think that Howard’s work is monotonous: that each canvas is very similar to the next. However, what may appear at first to be repetition is, more precisely, insistence. In Gertrude Stein’s famous line “a rose is a rose is a rose”, one does not hear “rose” in monotone but with a varying stress on each repetition. Similarly, each canvas by Howard embodies a different character; has a different stress to it, one could say. Motifs are carried throughout the series, in particular, wires and coils. Yet from painting to painting we see wires thicken, coils accumulate and spirals tighten.

The repetition in Rogers’ work is more dreamlike, as if following a steady mantra. The transitions from one frame to the next are regular and slow. Sehnsucht is a German word that means to long for a home never able to be obtained. It is to feel a kind of dislocated nostalgia: to miss something without knowing precisely what that object of desire is. Watching Rogers’ work for a few minutes entails seeing repetitions of the video. After a while, one cannot remember whether the memory of an image in the hologram originates in real life or from a prior cycle of the tape. The work is not only about a dissociative memory but in fact induces the very feeling of sehnsucht in its rhythm.

The exhibition lives up to the expectation set in its title. Both artists achieve that specific combination of dream and ritual embodied in religious sensation. This is a show that matches its theory with competence and beauty.

Jugglers 19/10/15

The Importance of Drawing and the Marie Ellis Prize

The Marie Ellis Prize is one of the few awards given to professional artists for their works in drawing. It is indeed a rarity in the today’s scene and yet one of the most important initiatives in Australian art.

Why do we need drawing? The immediate answer is that it is fast becoming a lost craft and that it cannot be expunged from society’s skillset, as it were. Yet many skills have been wiped out of practice, with no hint of mourning for the lost arts of butter churning, telegram composing or riverside clothes washing. There is a more profound reason, beyond simple traditionalism, that drawing must be kept alive.

During the late twentieth century there was a radical shift away from representation. Art, seemingly paradoxically, became anti-aesthetic. The painting on the wall became an emblem of an unnecessary critical distance: it could never invade the physical space of the viewer the way an object could. Not only drawing, but the ideology associated with the practice, fell out of fashion.

From the 1970s onwards, art’s new purpose was to perform upon its spectator. It was not enough to represent the surrounding world, as it must now find a place in that tangible and temporal reality. No longer a painting of cubes as in Picasso’s Ma Jolie but a physical cube in the gallery is in Tony Smith’s Die. No longer a painting of a chair, as by Van Gogh, but a chair to sit on, as by Joseph Beuys.

However, it is too easy to associate the non-representational with the direct. Would we see a pond the same way without Monet? Would we see the movement in a ballerina’s tutu without the flickering brushwork of Degas? Would we admire the beautiful woman across the street without the countless muses that fill galleries?

What was overlooked by the post-modernists’ assertion of the “real” is that art has a role in framing that reality from the outset. Put more simply, we cannot read the world around us without the prior knowledge of its representation. Drawing is then not simply a refined skill but a way of mediating, of framing, the world. Representation is not merely imitative of reality but makes up what is real around us.

Many artists in the show claim that, for them, drawing exudes a sense of authenticity. While this is a term held in a web of various meanings, I think drawing captures a particular type of artistic truth. Drawing not only celebrates line but the hand that drew it. The pleasure in the works is ultimately tracing the memory of the pencil, pen or now, computer mouse. In this way, the image cannot be separated from its creator. Drawing is then authentic in the way that installation cannot be. While a physical object may be more spatially and tangibly direct, it is un-composed, it holds little association with the artist. In a drawing, we see not only the object of the work but also the idiosyncrasy of its maker. We see the object processed by the artist: chewed up in the mind and spat out by the pen.

The winner, Jeremy Eden and runner up, William Platz (featured image above), of the Marie Ellis prize are emblematic of the two prominent means by which this authenticity is realised. Platz’s work consists of two panels of life drawing: the first a triptych of a man and the second a triptych of a woman. The nudes themselves are rather ordinary yet his innovation lies in the beautiful line with which he has moulded them. Shapes of the body twirl and coil. Gestural lines ooze from the figures such that the space they occupy becomes part of the flesh. Platz leaves his fingerprints on the canvas, allowing them to build up into an intrusive haze over the figures. The fingerprints act as residues of the artist himself. They remind the viewer of the hands, the fingers, the skin from which the artwork emerged. Platz’s work is raw, personal and leaves us to dwell not so much on the image but the chaos of ink that undoes it.

Eden’s work can be thought of as the inverse to Platz’s. His technique leaves no evidence of the hand. The work is extremely crisp and appears with the reality of a photograph. However, this is not to say that his work can be understood on first sight; in fact, it is the opposite. Interest lies in Eden’s highly ambiguous and uncanny image. The drawing shows Eden with a plastic-wrap around his head, an X of duct tape holding it in place. Unlike Platz’s spacious composition, Eden fills the entirety of the page with this figure. Suffocation then is not only depicted but generated in the image: the figure is trapped both in the plastic and in the paper frame. It is not an image to glance over. The strangeness of Eden’s subject matter dislocates our prior processes of seeing. It takes a few moments to realise the work is in fact a portrait. Slowly and carefully the horror of the image takes its form.

The works in the show vary so much in technique, scale and genre that it is hard to find a constant thread between them. Minimal ink sketches, softly shaded landscapes and even collage feature in the finalists’ exhibition. I believe what connects all these works lies in the nature of drawing itself. Each artist has re-expressed the objective to create something intriguingly subjective. In each drawing exists some fragment of the artist.

- Article & Review by Jugglers Art Space Intern: Sophie Rose

Jugglers 15/10/15

Marie Ellis: Feature Artist Profiles

During the 2015 Marie Ellis Prize for Drawing, Jugglers established a range of small initiatives. One of these, initiated by MEPD co – manager Holly Riding, was the Artist’s Profile segment. This involved selected practicing artists who are passionate about drawing. The intent was to expose artists, collectors and the general public to the ongoing conversation and excitement around drawing in its many phases and applications. These conversations have been included in Two Pages as part of our contribution to a more reflective and educated readership.
-Peter Breen: Jugglers Director

Marie Ellis OAM Prize for Drawing Feature Artist – Nicholas Plowman

Nicholas Plowman, Melbourne
- Drawing, it’s my second language.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
I have always drawn, ever since I could hold a pencil my Mum says. But it probably wasn’t until I went to TAFE after high school that it occurred to me that I wanted to be an artist, a painter. I then studied at USQ under Charlie Boyle (Painting) and Alan Bruce (Drawing) and things stepped up another notch. However, it was when I returned from Mexico (after visiting Frida Khalo’s studio) that I really chased the autobiographical in my work; this I see now as the first time I actually made “real’ work about my life and my own existence.
Throughout all of this, drawing has always been the base of my practice. I ran life drawing sessions at Jugglers Art Space for six year before moving to Melbourne; here I do life drawing twice a week, it underpins my practice and keeps my eye fit and my hand experimenting.

How would you compare the traditional practice of drawing to the digital approach?
I wouldn’t, I mean by saying that, that I can’t compare them because I have no experience with the digital approach. My only concern would be for losing the ability to understanding the subject by drawing it, studying it, looking at it. Drawing for me is still most important skill to any artist, it seeks answers and attempts to describe. I think most artists are very inquisitive and drawing seems the first logical step to understanding something.

How do you feel the practice of drawing evolved over the past 10 years?
Well, it’s both evolved and devolved. A lot of art schools got rid of drawing for a while, so a lot of graduates were coming out of uni with five or six drawings under their arms; whereas we did life drawing and general drawing twice a week at uni, so that’s four three hour drawing classes every week in second year. The only way to “get good” is to devote time and energy toward it – like anything else in this world. Saying this, I’m all for using technology and exploring digital mark making, but for me there is nothing like walking up close to an image and seeing marks, seeing where the artist’s hand has been. There is nowhere to hide with drawing, it’s all out there for all to see.

*Why are competitions like the Marie Ellis OAM Prize for Drawing important within Australian Arts culture? *
Because it promotes, fosters and encourages drawing. With the changing of the Dobell Drawing Prize to invite only, Australia and its artists (and the public) have lost a great prize for many reasons, it still exists but no longer can any artist have a go. I think the public engage with drawings a lot more than other forms of art, because everyone has used a pencil, biro, crayon etc. People can understand the marks, but still be fascinated and invigorated by the outcomes.

Why is the practice of drawing important to you?
It’s my second language. It allows me to investigate and understand the world and my experiences within it, and to inevitably re-describe; and because there is no place to hide, it is at once exposing and exhilarating.

Read more about Nic Plowman at
Read more about the Marie Ellis OAM Prize for Drawing here

Jugglers 07/10/15

Marie Ellis Feature Artist - Peter Kozak

Peter Kozak, Brisbane
- Personally I like things that are handmade. I like to see people’s hands in the work.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
I’m 31-years-old. I originally trained in drawing at the Tasmanian School of Art in Hobart, but now work mainly in video and installation. My current practice is concerned with representations of trauma and perceptions of the body.

How would you compare the traditional practice of drawing to the digital approach?
I don’t have much experience with digital drawing. I think the results can be quite similar. I have friends who work mostly digitally, when they show me pictures of their work I often have to ask “is this hand drawn or drawn on a computer?” Personally I like things that are handmade. I like to see people’s hands in the work.

How do you feel the practice of drawing evolved over the past 10 years?
I think how an image reproduces digitally has become a bigger concern for artists working in drawing and other traditional mediums over the last 10 years, with the rise of the internet audience. An example of this, I have a friend who started using thicker outlines in his drawings when he realised that they reproduced better digitally, as it’s more likely that people will view his work online than in real life. For myself also, to document my latest series of drawings I decided to have them digitally scanned because the light pencil marks didn’t translate well photographically.

Why are competitions like the Marie Ellis OAM Prize for Drawing important within Australian Arts culture?
I think more than anything else prizes like the Marie Ellis OAM Prize for Drawing are important for giving artists encouragement to continue with their practice. I got a huge lift from winning the prize in 2012, when at the time I was feeling kind of insecure about my practice.

Why is the practice of drawing important to you?
Even though my practice has evolved more into video work it is still definitely informed by my background in drawing. The first piece of video art that I made, which showed a vapour trail being made and then fading away, is an example of what I would call ‘expanded drawing’ in its use of line, spatiality and temporality.

In what ways did winning the Marie Ellis OAM Prize for Drawing affect your drawing practice?
It gave me more confidence in my work and has helped facilitate a closer relationship with Jugglers.

Jugglers 07/10/15