I took my sceptical self to the VCA Open Day, and was most impressed by what I saw. Having already visited MADA, and RMIT, I thought my mind was firmly made up, as to where I might hope to continue my further study.
A brand new ceramic and sculpture facility mightily impressed, as did the Painting studios. Whilst not expansive, they boasted good natural light, due to the beamed and skylight, old factory ceilings.
The model of mixing in all year levels together, appealed, offering fostering, and cross pollination of ideas. The 9 to 5 work ethic, promoting a 40 hour working week of studio practice, struck a cord in this old proletariats heart.
I freely conversed with a sculpture student, an administrator, an academic, a lecturer, a painting teacher and an artist, John Campbell, one of my favourite Australian painters. I garnered factual information, insider tips for interview, and appreciated the positive, can do attitude. It gave me much to think about, and contemplate, and I admit I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw, who I met, and how it takes its place as a valuable training facility, in the visual arts field.
To complete my plan of further visual arts training in 2016, it will be necessary for me to deftly negotiate the VTAC site, surmount my growing horror in an interview situation, amass my huge body of work, and retrace my steps back to Southbank aka South Melbourne, the familial home of my misspent youth. The VCA is housed in the old factory where I began my working life as a staff clerk at Telecom Workshops. I can stride through the old costing area, above the sheet metal workshop and know that 35 years later I have made a triumphant return feeling more at home with a paintbrush in my hand, than I did with a P66, and an annual leave bonus.
The day had arrived, we were to submit our final printmaking folio. Despite many instructions and warnings, last minute printing was still to be done, under the close scrutiny of our class mates, also anxious to use the printing presses. We scarpered from the Context and Culture Class, without a backward glance or word of apology to our teacher, as we raced toward the print room, to grasp our elusive final submission.
Work benches were cluttered, students clustered around any remaining, scant work space, and the queue for the printing presses peaked at six workers in tandem, churning the lino-cut relief prints out. Prints were spread over table tops, in drying racks, between drying boards and across benches. Exclamations of surprise, or groans of anguish accompanied each print as it rolled off the presses. The maker was either thrilled with the result, or in the deepest of despair with the outcome. The back of the room saw students curled over visual diaries pasting and writing, fulfilling the brief fastidiously.
The submission deadline grew steadily closer, with notes being scribbled frantically, prints collated, and half dry prints being wrenched from their repository. One of our number needed assistance, and we all banded together and collated his many prints. To no avail, as he confided later he forgot to submit his visual diary. Grr! Safely stowing our work, we exited the print-room gleefully, stumbling towards our homes or studios in a post production daze of exhaustion. A job well done we are now at the mercy of the assessors. Its now time to concentrate on our final folio submissions, for painting and drawing.
Glen Eira Gallery, in the base of Glen Eira Town Hall ,has had a face lift . Supposedly . It was closed for two weeks ” for renovation ” . Walls have been whitened , floors polished and new art work hung .
Tonight was the re-opening of the gallery . It is exhibiting Loretta Quinn and Annette Cook . The former a sculptor, the latter a printmaker .
The gallery space appeared deserted, particularly compared to my last outing here, for the prestigious Silk Cut Award . The self opening swung open and I saw a group of people clutching wine and cheese, and staring at the expanse of a striking print pinned to the wall . The work was Annette Cook’s . It was a combination of stencil, and collage, comprising seven uniform sized panels, pinned to the wall with thin dressmakers pins, along the wall in a sequential, horizontal format, all prints abutting each other as an assembled piece .
The monochromatic black and white colour palette was lifted by the use of a striking olive green . Subject matter appeared to be horticultural representations of native seed pods .
On an adjacent wall was a distinctive, green tinted etching ,aquatint, stencil , and linocut . It again seemed to depict botanical matter with black and white magpies perched randomly at its edges . A large piece took up most of another section of wall . It was made from earthy tones, depicting leaves, made by lino cut and stencil . Printed on thick paper, pinned to the wall, it extended onto the floor of polished boards .
Other pieces by Cook included torn digital prints of native birds, and animals collaged onto a background of delicately carved lino prints.
The other half of the gallery space was devoted to the work of Loretta Quinn, a sculptor . Her pieces included whimsical child like figures made from resin, paint, sealants and plaster . With the cherubic faces of angels, they were dressed in rust coloured, fabric outfits dating from the victorian era with a proliferation of frills, flounces and ruching . The feet were rusted into place and some of the outfits were adorned with bird feathers, providing a disturbing contrast to the perfect faces of the cherub child .
These figures were grouped in a semicircle in the thoroughfare of the gallery and were confronting and demanding of your attention . Metal sculptures of layers of leaves, also formed part of her body of work . Several resembled large Faberge eggs, a pedestal arrangement with a gold metal egg on top constructed of many layered leaves . Continuing the child theme Quinn placed a turn of the century child’s gown or christening robe in a clear oval resin block, with stalks of wheat assembled around it .
Both exhibitions worked well in the space . The clean white walls and subtle lighting in the sculpture exhibition enhanced the spooky , mystifying atmosphere surrounding the strange , miniature humans of Quinn’s work . Their placement was pivotal to the exhibition and commanded attention . The sculptures placed around them were more brilliantly lit, and were strategically placed to stand alone, in their own right but also complemented the figures .
Cooks work was innovatively hung, with the majority of the work being directly pinned to the wall . Only two prints were framed in the traditional way. A nice touch was a vertical line of “Remnants”, several pieces of discarded prints, lined up at the edge of the exhibition which worked most effectively .
Cataloguing was simple, instructive and clear . Wine, cheese, fruit, and beer was on offer, as a pleasant accompaniment, to the gallery viewing . A small crowd where in, but as the exhibition progresses, it will almost certainly draw a greater crowd as the work is definitely worth a look .
The finishing VU students could benefit from a look at the hanging and display techniques, deployed by the artists .