Thursday, June 18, 2015

Exhibitions opening this Saturday 20th June 6pm and on display from June 18 - July 5

Gallery 1

Symbiote - photographs by Michael Randall

“Symbiote” opened this week at Newcastle Art Space.  This is the first solo exhibition by photographer Michael Randall since winning the Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize last year.   Michael has a Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) from Newcastle University and is currently working full time to support his art practice.

Symbiote literally means:

An organism in a symbiotic relationship

In cases in which a distinction is made between two interacting organisms, the symbiont is the smaller of the two and is always a beneficiary in the relationship, while the larger organism is the host and may or may not derive a benefit.

In conversation with Michael earlier this week, he discussed his ideas about the role of traditional versus digital photography, his love of the study of the origin of words (etymology), and his interest in the relationship between the natural world and our human interaction, impact and influences upon it.  Would the natural world flourish if humans ceased to exist?  Do we need the natural world and are they tolerating us? 

His new works are self portraits in which Michael has staged himself in conversation with aspects from the natural world.  While using a digital camera and output, Michael voiced his belief in the significance of maintaining the hand-made aspect of making a photograph.  To this end, he paints and decorates his face and body in real time so that everything necessary can be found on the digital negative.  Photoshop intervention and alteration is reduced to that found in minimal dark room processing.  It must be his hand that controls the shutter-release cable and takes the exposure as he wants to stay connected to the process and not off-load any aspects, if at all possible.

These are absolutely beautiful images and while, of course, any art work may have autobiographical elements, Michael both exposes and hides himself within these self portraits. He paints his body in white, chocolate and black paint to play with ideas about identity, culture and ethnicity, even though these are not necessarily conscious connections being made by the artist.

In one work, in particular Michael talked of literally painting himself out of the picture completely and letting nature be the stronger.  In other works Michael has directly attached plant species with human spine-like lines over his own spinal structure.  The plant species visually support and strengthen his body in an area where he now has a fine surgical scar to repair physical damage.

In another, his shoulders and upper body are covered in flower petals from the family garden.  The plant had ceased to flower each year, and only after the family buried the loved family dog near the tree did it burst with new life and colour.  A new interdependent relationship was formed in the natural cycle.
From my viewer perspective, I am so excited about the strength of this work and the beauty and balance within these works.  While my connections to the works, tell the combined story of my physical viewing of the work mixed with my own interpretation of visual clues that I found within the work, this experience may be different for every new viewer.  That is the magic of photography and the wonder in art.

Michael prefers to talk less about himself and his work and let the work speak for itself but I have opened up this dialogue with Michael’s permission.  It is, of course, only one perspective.  Michael is happy to be contacted via email at

Gallery 2

Film Noir - storytelling through photography by Joerg Lehmann

When he was a small boy, Joerg Lehmann was being pushed in a pram through the dark alleys and streets of Germany by his great grandmother.  As a street light broke into the darkness, the young boy spoke his first word – licht (German for light).  Joerg has been fascinated with light ever since and with a father and grandfather both amateur photographers, the love of the camera and photography was destined to be absorbed by Joerg.
While Joerg has sold work and undertaken commissions, his current work Film Noir, Storytelling with Photography, marks his first solo exhibition as a photographer.  Joerg comes to Newcastle via, Melbourne, San Francisco, California and Germany, settling in Newcastle in 2014. He is a husband and father and currently works in radiation therapy at the Calvary Mater Hospital as a research physicist and is an Associate Professor with the University of Sydney.  He is an Accredited Professional Photographer (APP), a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), and certified by Special Kids Photography of America (SPKA) with specific training to sensitively work with children with special needs.
His current work is presented in the style of Film Noir which refers to a style or genre of cinematographic film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace. The term was originally applied (by a group of French critics) to American thriller or detective films made in the period 1944–54 and to the work of directors such as Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder.  Joerg has been working in this style for the last five years. Stepping into the room is like stepping onto a film set and his photographic skill is evident on every surface within this space.
The images are positioned along the gallery walls as if they are one large strip of black and white film.   
 Each sequential image tells an individual story and collectively they reflect the whole story board.  These are finely and exquisitely composed images, depicting stories of mystery, intrigue, murder, and the role of the Femme Fatale.  The drama, constructed elements and the lighting are all perfect.  If the picture plane of any image was crossed, it would be easy to close your eyes and imagine, hearing the film Director calling out “Action” and the characters would walk into the next frame.  In these works, Joerg takes on the role of photographer, director, producer and lighting designer and brings each photographic still to life. He works in close collaboration with other creatives, including makeup artists and costume designers as part of the process.  
Technically these are digital photographs printed mostly as silver halide archival prints.  Joerg sourced the 8ply museum rag mats used in the frames from the United States specifically for these works. These are a small limited edition range of prints so a red dot does not mean the entire edition has been sold.  Talk to Joerg and gallery staff for details.
Joerg has a studio at the Newcastle Community Arts Centre where he teaches photographic lighting techniques and can be contacted via email at: for collaborative projects and any commercial photographic opportunities.  His website can be found at:

Anyone who enjoys black and white photography and the nostalgia of early film-making must see these works. Definitely an enriching experience talking to Joerg this morning.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Get Ready It's Coming

Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize for 2015 is coming.  

2015 will celebrate the 15th year of this prize and we are looking forward to viewing exciting, professional quality entries across all mediums from the wider art community.

Check out details and entry forms by clicking on the Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize tab above.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Current Exhibitions

The Gallery is filled with a collection of new works from seven artists and it looks fabulous.

Gallery 1

Six Mix

The artists in Gallery 1 are staging their first group venture together and come from current tertiary student or recent graduate backgrounds.  They are: Sophie Montgomery (photography), Renae Titchmarsh (graphic design), Lochlan Howard (sculpture/dioramas), Lindsay McDonald (digital imaging) Drew Holland (painting/monotypes), and Luke Grey (lino prints), opening Friday 29 May,6.00pm

Gallery 2
Mind Exhortations 
Josh McGregor's solo exhibition in Gallery 2 comprises a body of finely executed and detailed works on paper using different drawing and painting mediums and techniques. These are undertaken in his already established and well-defined style. The official opening is Saturday 30 May, 6.00pm

A must see exhibition of talent and potential on show in Newcastle West.  Some images below:
Glebe Rd by Lochlan Howard
Carrington by Renae Titchmarsh

Study on Brown Paper by Lindsay McDonald

Bamboozle by Luke Grey
Dog Beach by Drew Holland
Face#3 by Luke Grey

Lemon Caravan by Lochlan Howard

Government Office by Renae Titchmarsh
Sharks 111 by Drew Holland

Throsby Creek #1 by Sophie Montgomery

 OK by Lindsay McDonald

Throsby Creek #2 detail by Sophie Montgomery
Untitled by Josh McGregor

Untitled by Josh McGregor

Sunday, May 3, 2015

7 - 24 May 2015 - Veritas III 

Veritas III’ is the San Clemente Community’s third bi-annual exhibition, to be held at the Newcastle Art Space. San Clemente is a year 7- 10 Catholic high school,
located in Mayfield with a rich cultural diversity having over 37 nationalities
represented among the students and staff members. Artworks displayed in this
exhibition have been created by students, teachers, office staff, friends and family members of this community.

A collaborative artwork has been planned to celebrate the depth, diversity and uniqueness of the San Clemente School Community. For this group artwork, titled ‘Veritas’ after the school motto, 80 individual papier mached letters will be displayed, each decorated to represent one aspect of this school spirit. The decoration is inspired by a word or phrase that indicates the artist’s connection with the school community. The letters will be available to purchase at $10 each with profits going to Caritas Australia, the International Aid and development
organisation of the Catholic Church. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

PODspace  presents 


PODspace in association with the Disability Network Hunter presents its first pop up exhibition for 2015 with ‘Identity’ at Newcastle Art Space from 16 April - 3 May.

‘Identity’ explores this universal theme - what defines who you are? What makes you tick? How do you express that?

(from PODspace)

Each of the artists has responded in a uniquely personal way. Some, like Tim Johnston, Jordan Haitsma, Dane Tobias, Maree Hopkin and Nathan Dunne have explored what is important to them in their lives and in the world around them.

Dane Tobias states that My paintings are based on autobiographical drawings which reflect the past and present suburban environments and intimate spaces of friends and relations”. Janelle Gardner has experimented with the Van Dyke photography process on an image of herself as a young child to create a positive experience of her childhood memories.Others like Dom Freestone and Kerri Shying have sought to explore and even confront in a highly revealing way what it means to experience disability or mental illness.

Dom Freestone explores his identity a lot through his art. He feels that “...having a disability has forced me to undergo a rethink of exactly what my identity is”.  Kerri Shying poses three questions in her work: What is your birth identity? What identity are you choosing to display today? What environment do you negotiate your identity in? She believes that “Identity, the art of belonging in our lives, is the basis of all my work. Identity is performative and dependent upon whom we are surrounded. We send signals that we hope our world will decode.” Melaynie Mills also poses questions for the viewer around perceptions of identity and the inner struggles we all face to work out who we are.

For others, the process of their art making is in direct response to their experience of disability or mental illness.

Black Crow Walking’s work portrays the way she has sought to recreate herself following a work accident, moving through the chaos and the tangled events into a better space.  Similarly, Daniel Oxenbridge is working towards establishing who he is, post major brain surgery. His creation of Native Nut Folk was an important part of his initial rehabilitation that made connections between his passion for being in and preserving the natural environment and fond childhood memories.

Lynette Bridge, in reflecting on her own experience of anxiety and depression, states that the series of work exhibited in Gallery One, “...began to have a life of its own.............I wanted to transport the image through time by photographing it with a slow shutter speed whilst the form would undergo metamorphosis but still keep the essence and purity of form".
Jay Muldoon explores the idea that in life we go through many cycles that make up who we are. He has represented this with the more dominate geometric shape of the circle while the organic shapes and patterns represent growth inspired from nature.

Robert Higginbottom loves painting and has observed that the colours he uses vary depending on how he is feeling. Mackenzie Feighan also expresses her feelings through colour and her paintings include her personal world: scary zombies, Mum, Dad, Zoe, dogs, flowers, spiders, cockroaches, shoes, ice-creams and funny babies. Frazer Berwick is an abstract artist and mark maker whose art reflects his writing. Superheroes inspire him.

We invite you to reflect on your own identity, and how it has been shaped by your life experiences. (PODspace)

Some images from this exhibition below:
Dane Tobias - Walking through the cyan window

Janelle Gardner - Ulladulla
Kerri Shying - Criminals are Cleanshaven
Kerri Shying -  Tarry Tarry Night

Tim Johnson  - Earth Core Rig
Lynette Bridge - Yoke

Nathan Dunne - Star Shine

If art is about exploring and considering themes about personal identity and if art is about understanding what it takes to create work directly out of the experience of identifying as a wonderfully simple and complex human being, then this exhibition is about making art.  Standing at a distance from the work and the space and reading some of the titles and statements the artists have written about themselves, this holds together as a personal and professional collection of work(Blogger comment)