Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pop Tart and Reframing our Flaws at Newcastle Art Space Gallery


Newcastle Art Space is alive and vibrating with raw energy, quite literally I mean.  The space is filled with colour, sexual references, phallic symbols, menstruating knickers, painted B-Grade movie stills where the bad girls take centre stage, masked faces, sculpted body parts, pin-up girls and nocturnal dreaming and memory.

Gallery 1
Pop Tart
Jack Barnes, Lauren Horwood, Cecily Lomax, Ellie Kaufmann, Patrick Mavety and Katelyn Slyer

In Gallery 1 six artists explore pop art, cultural Americanism displaced within the Australian domestic landscape, our day and night suburbia and identity with humour, fun but always carrying subversive undercurrents.

Ellie Kaufmann won the Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize for painting in 2015.  She has a Diploma Fine Art from Newcastle TAFE.  She has brought Lauren Horwood, Katelyn Slyer, and Cecily Lomax together after their recent exhibition in Project Contemporary Artspace Wollongong, Vicious, Delicious and Ambitious.  The current exhibition highlights work from this show and underpins the new work.  Vicious, Delicious and Ambitious is now set to become an annual event on the Wollongong art scene.  Emily paints her friends into the frame depicting them as the bad girls, naughty provocateurs and heroic figures, showing a seedy, lude side to portraiture.  
Local domestic suburban streets set the backdrop for playing with the un-popular image while at the same time, re-inventing the un-popular, into the popular right before our eyes. They cannot be avoided. Emily talked about her subjects being themselves and her belief in not taking oneself too seriously.  Some of her influences are American painters Eric Fischl and Eric White.
Contact Ellie: Elliekaufmannart.com
Facebook.com/elliekaufmann
Instagram: Elliekauf


Katelyn Slyer describes herself as a photographer and has an Advanced Diploma in Fine Art and studies in Design through Wollongong institutions.  In this exhibition she invites us into her travel diary which is interspersed with individual portraits of people she knows in the underground punk scene.   
Katelyn has been documenting the punk scene for more than ten years and talked about the underground punk subculture with music at its centre along with fashion, visual art, performance, film and ideologies originally linked  to  anti-establishment views and support of individual freedom.
Find Katelyn on Instagram: slyer83

Lauren Horwood describes herself as a self-taught photographer inspired by the films of James Bond particularly the glamorous style of the Bond women. She also inhabits the world of punk and is searching for her own new way of depicting the images of the 1950s and 1960s Playboy bunnies within a contemporary context.   
Her work is informed by her tongue-in-cheek attitude of not taking it too serious, although she is working quite seriously to achieve some ambitious goals.  Lauren has been in the U.S photographing the American pin-up scene and plans on returning soon to network and make further photographic works in this same style. Another of her projects is an Australian magazine based on the 1960s Playboy format, filmed and produced by Lauren using Australian models.  


Cecily Lomax is Sydney based, has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of New South Wales and currently works with sculpting body parts in plaster.  Her work started with study in the disability area and prosthetics and is underpinned with post human theory, how a body interacts with technology through medical science and the notion of body modification to improve and fix. 


Cecily is interested in examining how far we can push a human body before it loses its human-ness.  Influenced by 1960s sci-fi movies, comics and art of that era, Cecily counts performance artist Stelarc and Patricia Piccinini amongst her influences.

Find Cecily on Instragram hellcatlomax

The works of the female group members in the centre of the room do carry strength due both to the subject matter but also through the volume of the work that sits in the space.  However, there are two male artists whose work sits around the edges and do more than hold their own in the space.

Patrick Mavety is a painter now undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Newcastle.  A former Central Coast resident he has been in Newcastle for the past five years or so.  In 2014 he won the much coveted Reg Russom Drawing Prize at TAFE, always a great achievement amongst a talented competitive group.   

In this exhibition he paints mostly nocturnal suburbia, stepping out with his camera at sundown and dusk to find that quiet alone space chasing euphoria.  He then returns to the studio to recall this alone-ness and the dark tones of evening through direct photographic reference, memory and dreaming the streetscape back up into conscious thought and actions.  Patrick is influenced by the German Expressionists and Kandinsky.
Contact Patrick via email: patrickmavety@gmail.com

Jack Barnes is studying at the University of Newcastle to be an art teacher.  He talked of the masks that we all wear and the pretending that occurs within contemporary social-media culture.  Two figures in Love is Love are depicted wearing masks.  Jack does however do something that other works do not do, or did not appear to do when I viewed them at the opening, and that is to show himself to us by removing his rabbit costume head and standing before us with cigarette in hand, face front on to the viewer. 


Jack tries hard to not take selfies but has taken the longer road and painted one out for the audience with his self-portrait.  I neglected to ask him about his costume and whether he was Alice in Wonderland’s White rabbit and late, very late for a very important date.  He did seem to have a strong group of fellow students waiting to embrace and catch up with him on the night. Always a richer conversation when talking face to face with an artist and not through a disconnected social-media platform.
Find Jack on Instagram: _barnz

Gallery 2
Reframing our Flaws
Emily Amaryllis

In Gallery 2 Emily Amaryllis is showing us overtly political work that focuses on the female body, consent, sexual assault and Queer studies. Emily is undertaking studies in Fine Art, Honours at the University of Newcastle and referred to herself as a feminist and Queer activist.  Her medium is textiles and she also works in interactive performance. Some of the issues Emily tackles may still be confronting for some audience members.  Even today some subjects are still considered taboo and not to be openly discussed, but I hope we have come a long way in recognising our differences as something uniting and something to be embraced, rather than hidden.    


Her bedroom quilt carries the words from shared stories gathered from the audience, as part of an interactive performance. These same words about sexual experience and consent are now stitched onto the surface of the quilt.  Emily’s work references the boundaries of ‘the normal’ and the flawed or ‘not normal’, however, it is difficult to find a workable contemporary definition of what is normal and what is just human, at least for me at this time.  Emily mentioned the influence of the work of textile artist, Magdalena Abakonowicz.
Contact Emily: facebook.com/emilyamaryllisart

Overall I should not have liked some elements in the combined NAS show particularly from my experience of being an older female, and having gone through early teen years just prior to the women's liberation movement, but I loved it all, innuendo and hidden messages (real or imagined).  The most significant experience though was meeting the seven artists whose own collective intelligence, talent, initiative, beauty and zest for art and life, actually superseded the beauty and wonder of the art itself.  That is saying something because as I said, I loved the work and their confidence and courage to put it all out on the line for art.

When you come along to visit, and you will, allow time to see the full range of works in this space. It is a rewarding experience. If you have time to talk to the artists in the gallery, this is also guaranteed to be interesting.

Chris Byrnes
NAS Blogger

Friday, July 15, 2016



Current on Show at Newcastle Art Space and open this weekend from 12noon to 5pm

Works by four artists, Gina Ermer, Nathan Keogh, Maddyson Hatton and Lise Anita Stenberg

Everyday Observations
Gina Ermer
Gallery 1

Gina grew up in Newcastle watching her artist father Mario Ermer paint and is known for her fashion wearable art pieces as well as painting.  Gina left Newcastle to study fashion design and fine art in Sydney and returned to live in Newcastle two years ago.  She noticed a different kind of light and an intense large sky across the city upon her return and paints with reference to light falling onto and illuminating her subjects.  Some of her influences are Margaret Olley, Margaret Preston, Margaret Ackland, Lucien Freud, Geoffrey Smart and Di Chirico’s use of space.  Significant teachers were David Eastwood and Guy Gillmore.  Gina has worked as a textile designer and continues to make garment pieces while teaching shibori and natural dyeing on natural fibres such as wool and linen.
Works by Gina Ermer
 This exhibition though, is about painting and showcases smaller works about domestic spaces and objects and how light is interpreted through drawing and painting.  Gina paints with acrylic within a traditional framework, although her more recent works are about outdoor views of landscape, water and harbour and display a lighter, freer array of mark-making as Gina responds to new spaces. I think there is a lot more to come and to see from this experienced designer, illustrator and painter as Gina opens herself up more to painting and the painted surface.  Two larger works in particular resonate in this space, while the smaller works draw the viewer into the colour, composition and painted light.

Design Page Link and contact details: http://www.gina-ermer-design.com/

Twists and Turns
Nathan Keogh
Gallery 1

Nathan Keogh is an accomplished and skilled sculptor with a Master Philosophy (Fine Art) from the University of Newcastle.  He was a winner of the Jennie Thomas Travelling Scholarship and received a tertiary scholarship to assist with his post-graduate study.  A professional and practicing artist Nathan has worked at The University of Newcastle as a Fine Art technical Officer and is currently working at Maitland Regional Art Gallery. In this current exhibition Nathan talks of twists and turns in life and how our paths can change at any point. Nathan says...”I have used the “egg” shape to represent life and in my sculptures some of these shapes seem to be at precarious points, some are sheltered and safe and some optimize balance.  All of them are surrounded by twists and turn, bends peaks and troughs...such as we all experience on the path of life.”
Works by Nathan Keogh
I wondered and questioned how the expertly formed timber ‘egg’ shape remained in place in some precarious locations within the metal surrounds.  Some appeared to be in a state ‘of pre-fall’ where a slight movement would dislodge it from its tenuous position and permit it to roll onto another plane. As always, Nathan’s highly developed technical skill, combined with his own aesthetic and conceptual language, results in fascinating objects that invite viewer interaction and yes, I must admit, I did secretly want to slightly push the egg to see if it would hold or roll into another position.  I restrained myself but this kind of work can open a dialogue with a wide audience and I think this is a great thing for art and for Nathan’s art practice.

Field Notes
Maddyson Hatton
Gallery 2

Maddyson discovered art during her Year 12 studies and is undertaking a Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) programme at the University of Newcastle where she is examining Google imagery and censorship and works as a casual academic. Previous solo exhibitions have been held at Watt Space and Back to Back Galleries.   In her current exhibition Maddyson’s images are pulled from imagined landscapes, places not yet visited, dreaming landscape in search of her own language and vision for the space.  Maddyson talked about cultural displacement, the transitory nature of landscape, and that longing for something not yet found.
Works by Maddyson Hatton
Among her influences are contemporary Chinese and Japanese art.  She practices what she calls ‘blind drawing’ where she keeps her eyes focussed on the subject and draws onto paper and copper directly with an automatic response.  Her love of the print as object is significant and she is experimenting with new techniques incorporating printmaking and the medium of clay. 

Field Notes
Lise Anita Stenberg
Gallery 2

Lise is currently working in Melbourne and thanks to our many ways of communicating across distance, sent me this little story about herself and background for her current exhibition.

“I am Norwegian.  I grew up in a small village in Northern Norway called Skutvik (200 inhabitants).  I moved away from home at the age of 16, and at the age of 19 I started travelling.  My concept is based around the search for both home and the feeling of belonging.  I take inspiration from the nature I was surrounded by growing up, mainly mountains to reflect the memories of home. I just finished my Bachelor of Fine Art, and when I return to Norway I plan to continue my studies and set up a studio. I adore the work by Kim Van Someren.”  
Works by Lise Anita Stenberg
Lise and Maddyson’s work in Gallery 2 is a cohesive exhibition and appears to be the result of a successful collaboration between the two artists.  Looking at their work was a joyful and absolutely delightful experience for me highlighting a confident style of mark-making, ceramics and image interpretation. There is a lot to see in this space with strong ceramic and printmaking pieces from both artists.

The exhibition is open Thursday to Sunday 12noon to 5pm until next Sunday 24th July.

Sunday, June 19, 2016



Two unique female artists are exhibiting in the NAS Gallery - Chris Byrnes and Barbie Procobis. One early visitor did say that it was the best joint exhibition she had seen at NAS so Barbie and I will both take that as a welcome compliment to our diverse art styles.


Gallery 1

Moving Forward While Looking Back 

Chris Byrnes


How do I blog about my own work without sounding pretentious?  Well here goes.  In Gallery 1 Chris Byrnes is showing early works from around 1996 onwards, predominantly printmaking works before her practice merged into alternative and experimental photography.  Chris started classes at Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc in the 1990s with Megan Lewis, Cherie Winter and Anne Maree Hunter as some of her first teachers.  Becoming a member of this community art group provided opportunities to learn and exhibit as a group.  Chris was secretary for a number of years, wrote proposals that saw exhibitions staged in local galleries and gained funding for a project with Ribbons of Steel, the closure of BHP in Newcastle.  The works on the wall show different techniques, black and white, colour, single and multi-layered works.  They speak about the history of art making for this individual artist.  Yes, there is humour and tongue in cheek involved at times.



 It was as a result of a solar-plate etching (photographic) workshop which took Chris back around to photography and works on paper.  Chris is currently undertaking a Master of Fine Art with the National Art School in Sydney and exploring the way towards abstraction and how we ‘read’ and attach meaning to the photographic image. 






Gallery 2

Discarded Shrines

Barbie Procobis



I first saw Barbie’s work when she was a first year student exhibiting a drawing at Watt Space.  It was a self portrait with a Holga and a Canon (I think) digital camera swinging around her neck.  Besides the fact that it was a fine and beautifully rendered drawing, the title referred to ‘the medium being the art’.  I remember thinking this was a very intuitive artist.


Some years later and Barbie is completing her PhD Candidature at the University of Newcastle.  The Gallery room is staged in a series of alter-like tables draped in cloth.  Each alter is lit by a single LED light reminiscent of a single lit candle offered in remembrance.  Barbie is burning a candle of investigation and paying homage to the unknown, invisible writers of the discarded messages and notes she collects.  Barbie references the writing with a finely detailed drawing based on her interaction with the words themselves.  Some writings are only visible via the darkroom light of the photogram process.








Barbie talked about a trace of the writer being abandoned and left behind on the notes.  The notes themselves now carry the DNA of the writer, anyone else who has touched it, and the artist as collector.  There is the direct history of the writer as outlined by the message at the time it was written but the before and after story is unknown.  Through her processes Barbie also collects time passed and brings it out into the present with her acceptance and investigation of the discarded artefacts from daily lives.

Fabulous drawings, photograms and sculpture from Barbie.