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:

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.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


Gallery 1 & 2 and the Blackbox Theatre Space

27th May to 12 June 2016

One of Newcastle Community Arts Centre’s many successful and rewarding community art programmes is the Arts in Recovery Programme.  This programme provides monthly workshops at NCAC in art and craft for anyone with a lived experience of mental illness.  This culminates with an official exhibition of work made by participants, their carers’, health professionals, artists, and volunteers.  Titled Bounceback #6 it is currently in its sixth year.   Participants come together to share and learn new art and craft skills, to socialise with others, and be part of their own support programme towards maintaining wellness.  There is always an air of fun, friendship and learning in the room and the day provides a lovely lunch, a BBQ, or home-made soup and fresh bread, while refreshments are available over the day.  For some it is the noisy chatter of social activities while for others it is a quiet place to observe. The works are always colourful and diverse and this year over 80 artists have their work on display and it is all available for sale.
The work is on display from Friday 27th May to Sunday 12th June in the Newcastle Art Space (NAS) Gallery and the Blackbox Theatre.
For information on the Arts in Recovery Programme visit:
A few of the works on display are pictured below:

Monday, May 9, 2016

Art 4 TROG Exhibition

Gallery 1 & 25th to 22nd May

The current exhibition at Newcastle Art Space is in support of cancer research, specifically the Trans Tasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG).

There are so many personal stories on the wall in the gallery; all stories about lives interrupted and altered by cancer.  While reminding us of our vulnerability and mortality these stories speak loudly of determination and hope.  The artists have opened their own particular dialogue about their experience but the collection of stories unite us all as every adult knows or will know someone who is affected by cancer of some kind in their life.  It is a fight we need to take on as one community.

The exhibiting artists are Joerg Lehmann, John Sorby, Sarah Orrett, Linda Adams, Gael Connop, Mitch Revs, Christina Frogley, Michéle Heibel, Judith Bee, Marika Osmotherly, Shirley Cameron–Roberts, Brian Roberts (1934-2015), Megan McCarthy, Dorothée Heibel, Michelle Louise and Polly Rickard.  

While the art is wonderful and inspiring, it is their stories that resonate with life.  For this reason I am not posting images only the artists’ own words.  The images need to be seen and experienced in person in the gallery.

In March last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  The next nine months saw me having surgery, six months of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation. These works are reflective of my experience at this time, the loss of control over my own life.  My body was no longer mine, but an object to be “treated” by the medical profession. However, I was still in there somewhere with a life to be lived and I got through it. My two works are watercolour, pencil and ink drawings that are A3 size.  The works are reflective of my treatment experience.  Feelings of unreality during that time, and a feeling of disconnectedness while trying to stay grounded. The figures are only partially visible amongst a swirl of unrelenting colour and movement around them that they have no control over.
Julie Ingle

In 2010 my husband, Brian Roberts, was diagnosed with throat cancer and went through an intensive course of radiation and chemotherapy. After the treatment he returned periodically to the Mater for follow up examinations and scans and eventually a full body scan which showed no sign of cancer - that was the good news - but did reveal a large abdominal aortic aneurism that needed prompt attention. When we saw the AAA scan we were fascinated to see that the interior of our bodies repeats patterns we see all the time in the world around us in trees, the roots of plants even watercourses. Most of my painting is concerned with these patterns.
Brian’s life threatening aneurism was repaired and we thought it amazing that if he had not had throat cancer and a full body scan we would not have known it existed. At that stage we did not know that there was more in store for us and that Brian would be diagnosed in early 2015 with pancreatic cancer. My painting Repetition in Nature – Interior World was heavily influenced by this experience.
Shirley Cameron-Roberts

Brian Roberts’ landscape and seascape paintings were concerned with atmosphere and movement around Australia’s eastern coastline. Bays and waterways were especially interesting to him inspiring moody paintings in thick swathes of pure rich oil paint. His aim was to flow with natures ever changing energies. His paintings were expressions of pure joy at the wonder of the natural world heavily influenced by childhood hours on the beach and sailing near his home in Victoria, travels along the east coast in Australia and twenty four years at Eccleston near the Barrington Tops state forest and national park.
Brian Roberts

Using a partially complete Aran cabled sweater and many balls of my spun Angora yarn from 1989 I have created this artwork in 2015. I used Angora fleece from my own goats … shorn, spun, plied and knitted. It depicts the life journeys of my three adopted children with all the bends and twists that life has thrown at them and allowed me many hours of contemplation and appreciation for all the experiences in my life. It also allowed me time to reminisce about my father’s life journey with his three primary cancer diagnoses. Dad was a farmer and he would have appreciated the process of using natural resources and the time and energy that were  associated with its’ creation. The twists and turns represent the bumpy roads we experience in our journeys through life. The threads represent ‘hiccups’ in life, including false starts and unfulfilled notions and ideas; the cables are the ‘ties’ or connections of my children to each other and myself, my family.  I found the process of making the artwork very cathartic as relationships and reflections are always important in our lives.   
Judith Bee

These paintings are representations of Newcastle's very active working harbour viewed from the water. I have seen the struggle of my partner Louise’s mother and sister, who both succumbed to lung cancer in the last few years. They were great supporters of my work and this exhibition provides an opportunity to make a contribution toward cancer research in memory of them.
John Sorby

A. has been battling cancer since a young age. She recently had a small tumour surgically removed from her left breast. She fights and lives on as a strong and beautiful woman.

This set of applicators from an x-ray unit was used in an operating theatre to treat the cavity in the breast after surgical removal of a tumour with the intent to neutralize any remaining cancer cells. The size of the applicator was selected based on size of the cavity. The x-ray source was in the middle of the spherical applicator tip.

Being a carer for a loved one suffering with breast cancer is an emotional experience, particularly when it happens early in a person’s life or career. But in every new day, there is hope. These early morning images are symbols of hope and joy.
Joerg Lehmann

Cancer has touched my life in many ways. When my partner was diagnosed with cancer we were not to know that this was the start of a lengthy, deeply upsetting journey. After keyhole surgery to remove the tumor had gone dreadfully wrong, he ended up in Intensive Care for three weeks clinging to life and enduring countless surgical procedures. The significance of our being on this earth and our relationships with others were brought into question. But we never lost hope and he managed to slowly partially recover although still burdened with the fallout, both physically and mentally. This was again highlighted when I did an artist-in-residency at the Mater Hospice. What I noticed was, that however heavy the burden is, hope is very often still present which I am trying to convey with this sculpture.
Marika Osmotherly

When I first met Audrey, she said, “Should I shake your hand, or give you a hug?” She had me pegged in five minutes. She was a wise old lady then, a devout Catholic with a love of music and an open heart. I was in my early twenty’s, carefree and ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ irresponsible. Audrey was a breast cancer survivor, eventually it took her, but only when she was ready. Ready to go meet her maker and see her husband again. When the time came, she gave me a rose, a hug and said goodbye. Five Years Later, follows the statistic that 66% of people diagnosed with cancer in Australia are still alive five years later. It's a reminder to all of us, to have fun, have an open heart and enjoy the small things in life.
Megan McCarthy

No matter what is happening in your life, there is always a light at the end of a tunnel. For me, this was my battle with cancer in what should have been the prime of my life. Light illustrates hope, and hope should be held on to tightly, no matter what the circumstance. 
Sarah Orrett

My husband was originally diagnosed with aggressive, invasive bladder cancer in August 2013.  After surgery and chemotherapy he was declared clear at each follow up scan until and including March 2015.  In June 2015 it had returned and he was told not to expect to see Christmas of that year.  He didn’t.  I nursed him at home until the end. When my husband first learnt that his cancer had returned and that it was terminal he immediately started the process to donate his body to science.  This and to die at home were his two main wishes. He was accepted, although his biggest fear was that he would die before receiving this acceptance.  Regrettably he did not time his death well and the University was unable to take him due to lack of room.  By the time we found this out he probably was not aware so was hopefully spared the pain of regret.  He did die at home. I therefore had his body cremated.  This series is stage 1 of a group that will eventually use his ashes at its core.  Although he was unable to achieve his goal of donating his body I am sure he would love to have known that he will be immortalised in art and that he will always be in his garden at home.

In January 2016 I took myself off to Cuba – could I find many other places more exotic or challenging? This series reflects my moods, emotions and thoughts as I travelled.  At times sad and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel and at others a little opening crack that allowed a peek at what might happen.   Perhaps even a glimpse of the relief that he was finally released from this horrible disease.  
Gael Connop

It is both inspiring and heartbreaking to watch the sick looking after the sicker. Carers truly are our society's fragile superheroes and they deserve all the support and recognition we can offer them.
Michéle Heibel

These works express the fascination with the passing of time and the natural decay of elements. At the time of photographic these works my mother became terminally ill with bowel cancer and her body began to take on the appearance of being weathered and tormented by the illness. Although the photographs of the orphanage belong to a much bigger set of works and text which form part of a book, these works most link to my feelings about my mother and the memories of her struggle with the illness. Buildings once strong, shiny and young performed a function, but now take on a new future. Some become homes for the homeless, whilst others stand empty a reminder to commemorate its past occupants. My photographs trace the inevitability of the structure returning to its initial form. As brick turns to sand, metal to rust and wood decays, textures and patterns remind us of its past life.
Linda Adams

My father, a farmer in rural central west NSW, made the 200km round trip every day for 6 weeks to receive radiation therapy.  As this bird in the night prey on his lambs, so did cancer on his livelihood, his peace of mind and his way of life. 
Christina Frogley

As my husband's cancer worsened, I found it very hard to paint. It seemed I was unable to switch off and let go and there was an underlying sadness that blocked my usually joyful style. This butterfly was the first painting I did after Detlef's death. It was important for me to paint something that was full of life and symbolic of new beginnings.
Dorothée Heibel

It is difficult to express in words the grief and loss of losing our Dah, sometimes it I easier to communicate through art. Each of these wearable artworks draw on our memories and regard for our Grandfather, Frank Galvin.
Michelle Louise

I was 37 years old with two sons aged six and 17 when I was diagnosed with late stage cervical cancer, requiring a radical hysterectomy and vaginal reconstruction; not an easy thing to hear.  Everything happened very quickly from there.  The operation was successful and amazingly the cancer had not metastasised, so there was no chemo or radiotherapy to endure, but my life was completely changed.  Of course, there would be no more children and I struggled to come to terms with my altered body, but time brought acceptance and the realisation  that  when one has faced the possibility of death and been given a reprieve, everything that comes after is a gift not to be wasted.  All this happened almost half my lifetime ago, but I am still conscious that without the wonderful medical treatment I received I would not have met my six wonderful grandchildren, had a long career in the ABC or lived to find my passion for sculpture in later life.  Art is the expression of the artist and reflects the sum of life experience, and the sculpture I have submitted to the exhibition is a combination of the strength of steel with the ability to take flight.
Polly Rickard

The beautiful beaches of Newcastle are a constant reminder of not only how lucky we are as Novacastrians but how precious each and every moment is. This artwork was created during the winter of 2015, inspired by a friend who unfortunately lost his battle with cancer. The ocean is such a big part of my life and everyone around me. I am lucky to be able to share stories of adventure through these colourful artworks. Forever in the waves, my friend.
Mitch Revs

These works were created on reflection of how the lives of patients and carers are put on hold during illness and recovery.
Michelle Louise

Who is TROG?

The research Group is a global leader in radiotherapy research.  One in two cancer patients will benefit from radiotherapy and TROG is working hard on ways to continually improve their treatment. Working with doctors and researchers mainly in Australia and New Zealand, TROG focuses on cancers that can be treated with radiotherapy such as breast, lung, prostate, skin, head and neck.
Over 1,000 researchers and doctors have been involved in TROG research studies. Most studies require patients and so far over 13,200 people have volunteered to participate in more than 80 trials, helping our researchers improve cancer treatments.
For information on TROG, donations, research and volunteers please visit:

Visit the gallery to see these works and read the stories at first hand.  Gallery hours Thurs - Sunday 12noon to 5pm.