Artel #5 ~ MRAG Members' magazine (Autumn/Winter 2021)

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B I AN N UAL #5 - AU T U M N / W IN T E R 202 1

Shadow Boxer

$4 | Free for Members

Art, Grit & History in the Boxing Ring Community Art - Adaptation Meet a Member - Pat Corrigan Artist Profile - Justine Muller


“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole.” ― C. G. JUNG

MRAG

MRAGM

Artel

Maitland Regional Art Gallery. 11 exhibition spaces ~ diverse artistic program ~ gift shop and café ~ inspiring arts and community hub. In a beautiful heritage building lit by night with a happy-sad neon rain cloud by Maitland-born artist Nell.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery Members. The vibrant community of MRAG supporters who, through their membership and fundraising, help sustain the Gallery’s creative learning programs.

‘Artel’ is of Russian origin and refers to an arts or crafts cooperative. The ‘Artel of Artists’ (1863) was formed by a group of St Petersburg Academy of Arts students who’d rebelled against the rules of its annual art competition. Artel has been the name of the MRAGM newsletter, now magazine, since 2007.

230 High Street, Maitland, NSW 2320 Open: Tues–Sun 10am–5pm Ph: 02 4934 9859 E: artgallery@maitland.nsw.gov.au mrag.org.au

Represented by volunteers on the MRAGM Committee, elected annually.


Contents Welcome 5 Exhibitions 6 Feature Story

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News for Members

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Meet a Member

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Five Ways to Experience MRAG

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Art and Community

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Meet an Artist

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Collection Peek

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Gallery Life

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Art About Town

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Inspired! 34

COVER IMAGE

Karla Dickens, Pound-for-Pound #3 (detail), 2019, mixed media, 161 x 41 x 41cm. Purchased by Maitland Regional Art Gallery, 2020. Photo: Clare Hodgins.


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MRAGM Committee Chairperson Sui-Linn White Vice Chairperson Holly Fisher Bidwell Council Representative Cr Ben Whiting Treasurer & Secretary James Marshall Membership Coordinator Michaela Swan Magazine Secretary Sally Denmead Events Coordinator Leah Riches General Committee Members Sarah Crawford, Liz O’Brien, Catherine Kingsmill, Jannette Rush Gallery Director Gerry Bobsien

Maitland Regional Art Gallery and its members acknowledge the Wonnarua People as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land upon which the Gallery stands.

The Committee wishes to gratefully acknowledge the support of Maitland City Council as well as Patron Jenny Aitchison MP.

Look Out!

Artel is produced by MRAGM volunteers and MRAG staff. Copies available at MRAG front desk Read online via mrag.org.au/support-us Original Layout Jaime Pritchard Issue Designer Jaime Pritchard Editorial Coordinator Sally Denmead Advertising enquiries artelmagazine@gmail.com Printed by WHO Printing

On pages marked with the symbol you’ll find artworks from the MRAG Collection, which are either on display around the Gallery or behind-the-scenes in the Collection Store.

Contributors Celeste Aldahn, Joshua Anderson, Kim Blunt, Gerry Bobsien, Sarah Crawford, Sally Denmead, Janice Escano, Cheryl Farrell, Simona Graham, Ashley Grant, Clare Hodgins, Elicia Krisenthal, Julien Poulson, Jannette Rush, Richard Tipping and Sui-Linn White.

See page 23 for artwork details.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without written permission from MRAGM. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information and to secure copyright permissions, we apologise for any oversights, which we will correct in future issues. Maitland Regional Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of:

Maitland Regional Art Gallery is a service of Maitland City Council and is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

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W E LC OME

Message from the Gallery I hope this new edition of Artel greets our members with the same feeling of gusto and excitement for 2021 that we’re feeling here at the Gallery. Over the next year we will present a dynamic program of exhibitions and events to showcase our Collection in new ways, bring art to the region from the National Gallery of Australia and inspire our visitors with music and performance.

Dear Readers

Over the next six months our exhibitions will explore Maitland’s boxing heritage, highlight the breadth of talent in our high school students through ARTEXPRESS and immerse us in strange worlds through virtual reality. This will also be a year (fingers crossed) that we welcome larger public programs back to the Gallery following the challenges of 2020. We kicked off this year with the first in a series of beautiful 1:1 CONCERTS and are thrilled to be a host venue for this extraordinary musical experience.

Welcome to the Autumn/ Winter edition of Artel! I hope you enjoyed the Gallery’s fabulous Summer of free activities for all ages. In 2021 we are particularly excited to see how MRAG continues to deliver art to us in new ways, as it did in 2020, adding to our art experience with amazing digital content, home delivery of art workshops and artist talks. Thank you to our members – individuals, families and businesses – who make this beautiful publication possible. Your membership, and continued advocacy of the Gallery, is an important expression of support for vibrancy and creativity in Maitland and beyond. If you are not already a member, please join and dive into the community of MRAG lovers!

We look forward to seeing our MRAG members at the Gallery this year enjoying our diverse program of events, lectures and workshops. Gerry Bobsien Gallery Director Maitland Regional Art Gallery

Sui-Linn White Chairperson, MRAGM Committee 5


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Exhibitions Step into the boxing ring, go on a choose-your-own virtual reality adventure, or consider the beauty of the landscape along Thunderbolts Way. There’s so much on offer in MRAG’s Autumn and Winter exhibition program.

Richard Lewer, Northside Boxing Gym, 2013, charcoal on wall drawing, Fremantle Arts Centre

29 May – 8 Aug 2021

artists who explore race, gender, class, and the sheer physicality of boxing. Featuring work by Karla Dickens and Nigel Milsom, amongst others, as well as Les Darcy memorabilia from the MRAG Collection, Shadow Boxer brings to vivid life the grit of the contest.

Shadow Boxer The boxing ring has long been a compelling site for artists, inspiring many books, songs, paintings and films. What is it about the fight that speaks to artists through the ages? Shadow Boxer highlights this cultural fascination, showcasing the work of contemporary Australian

This MRAG-curated exhibition is supported by the Dobell Exhibition Grant, funded by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation and managed by Museums & Galleries of NSW.

Please note that exhibition details are subject to change. 6


E X H IBI T ION S

13 Feb – 2 May 2021

Made/Worn: Australian Contemporary Jewellery From intimate pieces to large scale works, Made/Worn showcases the practice of 20 contemporary Australian jewellery artists. The works on display are by turns playful, intricate, conceptual, personal and political, spanning a wide range of materials, techniques and meanings. An Australian Design Centre (ADC On Tour) national touring exhibition.

Pennie Jagiello, What We Leave Behind: Heirlooms of the Anthropocene #4, 2019-2020. Image: Bewley Shaylor.

20 Feb – 2 May 2021

Terminus | Jess Johnson & Simon Ward Inspired by sci-fi, comics and fantasy, this virtual reality (VR) installation transports the viewer into an imaginary landscape of colour and pattern. Johnson’s drawings are transformed from analogue into digital by Ward, then animated, creating a mysterious universe of alien architecture and humanoid clones.

Jess Johnson and Simon Ward, working drawing for Terminus, 2018. Image courtesy of the artists; Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney; A National Gallery of Australia touring exhibition. Ivan Anthony Gallery, Auckland and Jack Hanley Gallery, New York

20 Feb – 23 May 2021

An Unending Shadow: Works Exploring Dementia | Ann & Sophie Cape This exhibition by prominent Australian mother and daughter artists, Ann and Sophie Cape, examines the emotional and psychological ‘spaces’ that people with dementia – as well as their family, friends and loved ones – inhabit. The works include portraits and large abstract paintings.

Ann Cape, The Black Dog (detail), 2015, oil on canvas, 122 x 122cm

A Mosman Art Gallery touring exhibition. 7


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27 Feb – 30 May 2021

ARTEXPRESS An exhibition of 36 works created by high achieving Year 12 students for the 2020 HSC, from predominantly Hunter-Central Coast schools. Each ARTEXPRESS exhibition is unique, reflecting the students’ individual explorations of concepts such as culture and personal identity, presented in a wide variety of expressive forms. ARTEXPRESS is a joint venture of the Department of Education and the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW.

India Gaddes, Ascendance Charcoal, 2020, chalk pastels and eraser on paper, Warners Bay High School

13 Mar – 6 Jun 2021 {Art Factory}

Saturday: When Commercial Artists Go Rogue Six young creatives respond to a noncommercial brief, each allocated a day of the week to explore. Andy Gallagher is Saturday, delving into digital technology to create an immersive virtual reality world. The Monday to Friday artists are Andy’s lab rats, creating individual responses to his work.

Melissa So, Monday Mantras, 2020, gold ink on black paper, 21 x 29.7cm

8 May – 1 Aug 2021

Just Not Australian Bringing together 20 artists from diverse cultural backgrounds, this exhibition examines contemporary Australian nationhood. With creative invention and fortitude, the artists explore the politics of images and language, addressing historic and contemporary mistruths and injustices. Curated by Artspace and touring nationally with Museums & Galleries of NSW.

Liam Benson, Red Flag, 2017, glass beads, seed beads, sequins, cotton thread, cotton poplin, 30 x 59cm, courtesy of the artist and Artereal Gallery. Photo: Zan Wimberley. 8


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5 Jun – 29 Aug 2021

Impressions of a Journey: Landscapes Between Walcha and Paterson | Paula Jenkins Paula Jenkins grew up near Paterson, a place of fond childhood memories. For the last 13 years she has called Walcha home, making many journeys along Thunderbolts Way between Walcha and Paterson, capturing the vast landscape in oil on canvas, and gouache on paper.

Paula Jenkins, The Descent I (into the gorge), 2020, Apsley Gorge, oil on canvas, 153x153cm

In Brief 27 Feb – 30 May 2021

Maitland International Salon of Photography A selection of 50 images from the annual Maitland International Salon of Photography competition. For over 60 years the salon has attracted entries from photographers around the world, in the categories Colour, Monochrome, Nature, and Travel.

Justine Muller and the Wilcannia community, making footprints in river clay for installation River of Hope, 2018

12 Jun – 5 Sep 2021 {Art Factory}

Barka: The Forgotten River | Justine Muller & Badger Bates

7 Aug – 12 Sep 2021

MRAGM Art Sale 2021

This collaborative exhibition highlights the degradation of the Barka-Darling River and the determination of its people, the Barkandji, to fight for its survival. Works include carvings and linocut prints by Bates, portrait paintings on tin by Muller and an installation of footprints in river clay.

The Art Sale is back! This major biennial fundraising exhibition of paintings, prints and sculptures raises funds for the MRAG Members program to support accessible arts initiatives at the Gallery, such as Free Art Sunday.

Touring from Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery. 9


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F E AT U R E S TORY

Feature Story Gallery Director Gerry Bobsien takes us into the boxing tent to explore the themes and artwork featured in Shadow Boxer, MRAG’s major exhibition for 2021. There is a lonely roadside memorial on Chichester Road, Dungog that marks the life and death of Dunghetti man Dave Sands. In 1952, a truck rolled off the verge and ended the life of this extraordinary athlete and man of great character at the age of 26. It seems fitting that his life is memorialised both in a modest shelter on a country road in the Hunter Valley and in the World Boxing Hall of Fame in Los Angeles. Both serve as a reminder of the loss of a sporting legend considered one of Australia’s greatest boxers.

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this article contains the names of deceased persons.

Last year MRAG acquired several works by Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens. Now part of the Collection, these works look at the celebration and exploitation of Aboriginal tent boxers who toured regional Australia in the boxing troupes of the 1920s–1950s. These acquisitions led to a spirited conversation about boxing and art with my colleague Lisa Slade, who is Assistant Director Artistic Programs at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

“Shadow Boxer explores the continued fascination the prize ring holds for artists.”

From here, many threads converged. I started thinking about the act of making art, the repetitive and disciplined practice of many artists, along with all the boxing films I’d seen (I have a thing for sports drama), the artists now working with boxing as its subject and, indeed, Maitland’s own boxing legacy and MRAG’s stewardship of the Les Darcy collection.

Immersed in a family of boxing legends, Dave Sands – a middleweight boxing champion – fought with his brothers Clement, Percival, George, Alfred and Russell, who followed after their father George Ritchie and grandfather Bailey Russell. This was a time when Aboriginal participation in sport

And so we have curated Shadow Boxer, which explores the continued fascination the prize ring holds for artists and its role in drawing out ideas of redemption, struggle, mortality and championship. 11


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provided alternative employment and a proxy for citizenry previously denied. Between them, the brothers contested 494 official fights with 301 wins, and toured regional Australia with the boxing troupes made famous by the likes of Jimmy Sharman.

the 22nd Biennale of Sydney. These works, Pound-for-Pound #3 (see front cover) and Ms. Ready and Mr. Willing, will be shown in Shadow Boxer alongside other work in the Collection, including the images and personal memorabilia of Maitland’s Les Darcy who, in 1915, captured the hearts of the nation, becoming a boxing world champion and national hero.

Artists Karla Dickens and Nigel Milsom shine a light on the men who fought in tents like this during the early 20th century. Based in the Hunter, Milsom shows us athletic power and grit of character in his portraits of Sands, Les Darcy and others, while Dickens casts back and reframes the way we view the Aboriginal tent boxers of the time.

In an interview for Ocula Magazine, Dickens speaks about the two characters represented in Ms. Ready and Mr. Willing, and in her mixed-media installation A Dickensian Circus in the vestibule of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The installation included a powerful sculptural sentry of boxing gloves, Pound-for-Pound #3 amongst them,

In June 2020, MRAG acquired works by Dickens that were exhibited in the Art Gallery of New South Wales for NIRIN, 12


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found objects and two large-scale banners featuring the two figures in MRAG’s recent acquisition.

Two artists featured in the exhibition who combine the sport with their practice are Victorians Fiona McMonagle and Richard Lewer. For these artists, boxing is both a subject and a way of life. Lewer begins his day in the studio and ends it at the Northside Boxing Gym in Preston, Melbourne, where he is a boxing trainer. Fiona McMonagle’s watercolour animation of female boxers, The Ring, reflects on her own personal

Dickens said Ms. Ready represents the ‘leg girls’ who would also tour with the boxing troupes, standing tall and defiant before the colonial backdrop of the Art Gallery of New South Wales entrance vestibule. Mr. Ready stands powerful and unwavering. For Dickens, both characters reflect resilience and survival.(1) 13


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“In my role as reporter I had witnessed men and women at ringside behave like animals and thought little of it. Yet in any other context I would have zero tolerance for the same conduct.”

connection to the physicality of boxing. It is an unlikely subject for watercolour, but its treatment lends itself to the mutable colours and fleshiness of bruised skin. For both artists, the discipline of boxing has parallels with the regimen of an artist’s life. David Matthews is a London-based writer who has lived and breathed the life of a boxer after witnessing a fight in 1998 that challenged his complicity and role as reporter/observer in the spectacle. He writes in his book Looking for a Fight:

prospect hailing from Tehran via Margate” and Jawad Khaliq, a “sinewy Pakastani with the physique of a skinned rabbit”. He decided then to step inside the ring himself and embark on a two-year journey that formed the basis for his book. David has much to say about boxing and all its motivations. His training and first professional fight as a boxer also taught him more about the sport and its culture than he imagined. David will be in discussion with myself and other artists through our digital program and we look forward to sharing these discussions with you.

In my role as reporter I had witnessed men and women at ringside behave like animals and thought little of it. Yet in any other context I would have zero tolerance for the same conduct. In the cauldron of emotions that is the boxing arena, I somehow accepted that racism, bigotry, intimidation and violence came with the territory. I felt mildly ashamed that I could be so hypocritical about my feelings. I also felt disturbed by the pleasure I derived from watching men fight and my inability to reconcile this pleasure with whatever principles I held as a human being. I concluded that if I was not part of the solution, I was part of the problem. Whether inside or outside the prize ring, boxing exploited people like me – working class blacks, white-trash, the rednecks, the browned off.(2)

Also in the exhibition, poet Keri Glastonbury responds to the literary fascination of boxing and its usual blokey terrain through poetry, and a series of dramatic ringside photographs taken by AFL chief photographer Michael Willson celebrates the athletic power of Australian boxer and AFL women’s league star Tayla Harris. Australian champion bantam weight boxer Bianca ‘Bam Bam’ Elmir will also be a key part of the program, offering her insights as part of our discussion panel

The fight Matthews witnessed was between Mehrud Takalobishi, a “twentytwo-year-old light middleweight 14


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and facilitating boxing workshops for girls and women. While fighting professionally, Bianca is passionate about community and cultural identity, using her sport as a platform to promote change.

Shadow Boxer is showing at MRAG from 29 May – 8 August 2021. Check the MRAG website for updates about the public events program accompanying the exhibition. IMAGES

In December 2020, MRAG was awarded the NSW Museums and Galleries Dobell Exhibition Grant with significant funding to enhance the education and public programs accompanying the exhibition, to showcase new and existing works in the Collection and to present an intriguing and entertaining show. We hope you enjoy the breadth of ideas presented by all of the participating artists in Shadow Boxer.

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Karla Dickens, Ms. Ready and Mr. Willing, 2019, digital photograph, 180 x 120cm. Purchased by Maitland Regional Art Gallery, 2020.

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Richard Lewer, Northside Boxing Rules, enamel on steel, 100 x 70cm

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Michael Willson, Tayla Harris, 2019, photograph.

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Unknown artist, Blums Touring Boxing Troupe, 1950s, boxing tent wall, mixed media, 175 x 233cm. Purchased by Maitland Regional Art Gallery, 2004.

NOTES

1 Karla Dickens, ‘the more you know the rules, the more fun it is to break them’, In Conversation with Emma-Kate Wilson, Ocula Magazine, Sydney, 12 June 2020

Words: Gerry Bobsien

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David Matthews, Looking for a Fight: How a writer took on the boxing world - from the inside, Headline, 2005


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News for Members Keep up-to-date with MRAGM events and activities.

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Gallery News

Art Sale is Back!

Welcome to Celeste Aldahn, who has been appointed as MRAG’s new Gallery Coordinator. Celeste comes to MRAG following roles as the Tim Fairfax Program Producer for the National Gallery of Australia and the Teen Program Officer at the Art Gallery of South Australia, where she implemented the highly successful teen program, Neo.

The MRAGM Contemporary Art Sale is on again this year (having been postponed in 2020). Please come along, treat yourself to an affordable artwork and enjoy this beautifully curated exhibition of paintings, prints and sculptures by artists from the region and beyond. All proceeds go towards funding accessible arts programs at MRAG. Runs from 7 August till 12 September.

In other news, the MRAG building has recently been refreshed a bit, with the stained glass above the marble staircase given a sparkling clean, the Art Factory workshop space a lick of paint, and a new lounge space created.

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Members' Exclusives We are thrilled to be offering more members’ exclusive events in 2021 (all being well COVID-wise). Keep an eye out for updates about members’ exclusive talks and workshops each exhibition season, like the AGNSW Fieldwork Curator’s talk in December, and the first 1:1 concerts in January.

MRAGM Artist Bursary MRAG Members, through the MRAGM committee, will be funding a new bursary in 2021 to support local artists. Funding will be provided to two artists within a 100km radius of the Maitland LGA (up to $5000 per artist) and one artist collective (up to $3000) within the Maitland LGA in response to the challenges experienced by artists during the COVID crisis of 2020. Applications close in March 2021. Contact the Gallery for more info.

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Lionel on Tour! The MRAG Collection exhibition of Lionel Lindsay works, Lionel’s Place, goes on tour this year. It will be showing at:

Due to COVID we will be announcing members’ exclusive and other Gallery events closer to the time we run them. Please check the website for updates.

New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) Armidale | 5 Feb – 4 Apr 2021

The MRAGM Committee wishes to thank all members for your support of the Gallery. You can contact us via email at mragm@gmail.com

Bank Art Museum (BAMM) Moree | 7 May – 19 Jun 2021 Manning Regional Art Gallery Taree | 14 Oct – 28 Nov 2021

IMAGES

Banana Shire Regional Art Gallery Biloela, QLD 13 Dec 2021 – 25 Feb 2022

1 Opening night at the last MRAGM Contemporary Art Sale in 2018 2

Excerpt from Lionel's Place – Story Book (2017) featuring Lionel Lindsay wood engraving, Kookaburra, 1923. © The estate of Lionel Lindsay by permission of the National Library of Australia. 17


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Meet a Member Patrick Corrigan AM MRAG Patron and Lifetime Member Lives in Sydney

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Patrick Corrigan was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia medal in 2000 for “service to the visual arts, particularly as a philanthropist to regional galleries and through a grant scheme for artists.” He has been an advocate for, and benefactor of, Maitland Regional Art Gallery since 2005.

I was born in Hankou, China (which is part of the greater city of Wuhan) but during the Second World War my parents decided it would be best to move to Australia. We only made it as far as Hong Kong, where we were caught up in the 1941 Japanese attack. My mother and I were interned there in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp for four years. We eventually made it to Australia. I began working in freight as a teenager, then built up my own freight business. It was through transporting artworks that I came to know artists and fall in love with all things art.

I’m nearly 90 – how long have you got?

Donations to the MRAG Collection: 726 items with a total value of $790,465.

So as a quick description of myself I would say I am a businessman who loves rugby, sailing, jazz, books, art, artists and I love collecting and sharing and supporting those loves.

Pat in his dining room

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ME E T A ME MBE R

What is your connection to/why do you support MRAG?

bare for nearly three months (so I took the opportunity to have the place repainted!). I did a count of the artworks hanging in my apartment last week – and I have 270.

Joe Eisenberg introduced me to MRAG when he became Director in 2005. I began donating artworks to the MRAG Collection that year, became a Lifetime Member in 2009 and MRAG Patron in 2011. I prefer not to put my artworks in storage if I don’t have room to hang them; instead I like to share my collection, so my paintings are on loan and on display in universities and galleries around Australia and I also like to gift artworks from my collection.

In 2012–2013 Cheryl and I selected 30 great artists from a list of 1000 artists that I helped support through the Pat Corrigan Artists' Grant scheme (which ran between 1990 and 2004). The MRAG exhibition Inspiring Artists highlighted how artists’ careers can benefit and flourish from the validation, and financial support, of such encouragement in the early stages of their careers.

I donate to galleries such as MRAG to help grow their collections and this year I donated to MRAG some of my black and white photographs, which included photographs by Lewis Morley who I met in the prison camp in Hong Kong.

What are some of your favourite artworks in your Collection and why? I have always liked Brett Whiteley. My favourite artwork in my collection is a pen and pencil self-portrait that he made when he was in Paris. I also really like Guy Maestri’s portrait of me which was selected for the 2011 Salon des Refusés at S.H. Ervin Gallery Sydney. I donated this to MRAG – it’s too big for my apartment!

I also enjoy working with artists and curators and I think MRAG is doing great things. I have worked with MRAG Collection Management Curator Cheryl Farrell on a few exhibitions at MRAG over the years which I have really enjoyed. In 2011 almost all my artworks, that were hanging in my home in Sydney, were loaned to MRAG for the exhibition Pat Corrigan: Collector. My walls were

What are some of your favourite places to visit in regional NSW? Well, I like visiting Maitland of course to come to the Maitland Regional Art Gallery.

Guy Maestri and Pat with Guy Maestri’s painting Portrait for Pat, 2011

Cheryl Farrell with Pat in his loungeroom

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Five Ways to Experience MRAG 1. Look Closer One of the impacts of COVID has been the increased prominence of signs in our everyday lives, demanding more than ever that we pay attention to rules and regulations. COVID-Safe signs can provoke emotional responses, awkward technological and social encounters and, in some cases, defiance. Artist Richard Tipping has been paying close attention to signs for many years. Since 1979 his altered road signs, or “artsigns”, have been poetically interrupting audiences with playful thought-provoking intrusions into the everyday. Wander upstairs in MRAG, near the lift, and you can see Tipping’s 3 Hour Barking. What penalty for more than three hours of barking dog, one wonders with a smile? His End Artwork, Artwork Ahead and Prepare to Shop signs have also often been displayed at the MRAG entrance, though, alas, are currently replaced with a COVIDSafe sign.

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2. See Make Do MRAG’s “See Make Do” creative learning program has become more accessible than ever in the last year, with a fantastic wealth of “MRAG from Home” activities and educational content now available on the website. From artist videos to Free Art Sunday activities, there has been a creative explosion of digital content to enjoy from home at your leisure. For those with kids, keep an eye out for the Cool Art July school holiday on-site program and, whatever your age, look out for the dynamic program accompanying Shadow Boxer! 20


FI V E WAY S TO E X PE R IE NC E MR AG

4.Put Your Feet Up

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3. Take a Piece of MRAG Home Being resourceful is not new to jeweller Kes Harper, who has been a ‘gleaner’ her whole life. With a practice, brand and lifestyle that epitomises upcycling, her ever-evolving collection of silver and steel jewellery expresses both beauty and meaning. Kes is well-known by locals in Wollombi, her pocket of the Hunter Valley, who often leave mysterious deliveries of both exquisite and banal tins (many otherwise unrecyclable) at the doorstep of her gallery Studio Gleaned, knowing they will be put to good use. Intrigued? Visit the Gallery Shop to learn more and explore the small stories captured within Kes’s works.

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Take a peek inside the new display drawers in the Gallery Shop and don’t forget that members receive 10% off purchases all year round! IMAGES

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Richard Tipping, 3 Hour Barking, 2003, reflective tape on aluminium sheet, 44.9 x 29.9cm. Donated to Maitland Regional Art Gallery through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Patrick Corrigan, 2009

2 Upcycled jewellery by Kes Harper. Photo: Kes Harper @ studiogleaned 3

Take time out on a comfy couch at MRAG, in the new lounge space beneath the marble staircase (formerly the children’s section of the Gallery Shop). Browse through an art magazine, jot some ponderous notes in your journal inspired by an exhibition you’ve just explored, or take a breath. The artworks in this space will change from time to time, and a selection of children’s gifts is now available in the main shop.

5.Make a Puppet Portrait Jump online to enjoy an 'MRAG from Home' activity led by art tutor and Gallery Officer Annie. Watch the video to learn how to create a puppet portrait inspired by Claudia Moodoonuthi’s Mrs Gabori, which was on display in the MRAG Collection show Hello Again – it’s nice to see your face. Who will be the subject of your portrait? Visit the MRAG website (What’s On > MRAG from Home) for full activity details and share your creations with us on social media! #MRAGfromhome

Make a puppet portrait with Annie, an ‘MRAG from Home’ activity inspired by Mrs Gabori by Claudia Moodoonuthi 21


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Art and Community

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Communities around several regional galleries, including Maitland’s, were invited to participate in a large-scale collaborative creative project during 2020, the result of which is now touring New South Wales. Two Maitland-based community groups, Mai-Wel, which provides disability support services, and Inside Out, an inclusive artist collective, participated in an exciting creative collaboration during 2020, alongside community members from Grafton, Bathurst and Albury. The resulting large-scale sculpture was exhibited at MRAG in January.

were then adapted into large collages – often merging four or five artist’s work together to create one cohesive whole. These collages were then shaped into soft sculptural forms and integrated into a giant inflatable sculpture – an expressive, complex organic structure which viewers can experience by walking through and around, taking in colourful textile patterns as they explore. The sculpture is a burst of colour and curiosity, as though strange but happy plant life has taken root and risen up from the bleakness of COVID lockdown.

The Adaptation project was a series of online creative workshops led by Goldberg Aberline Studio during the peak of social distancing, which used drawing, music, movement and a sense of fun to encourage participants to find their ‘happy place’ and vibrant creative release. Small-scale works produced from these workshops

Other community groups involved in the project were those connected with the regional galleries of Grafton and 22


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Bathurst, as well as Albury City Cultural Activation. The sculpture was to have been launched at Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney in 2020, but as it was cancelled due to COVID, its debut showing was in Maitland, before touring on to be exhibited in other participating regions. Local artist Denise Duffy, the Special Projects Mentor at Mai-Wel, an NDISregistered organisation providing support to people with a disability throughout the Hunter, says of the experience: “it was a fantastic opportunity [which] complimented our approaches to art making here at Mai-Wel, ensuring art is for everyone, bringing joy and creative response to the world around us.” She explains that MaiWel’s vision is to deliver vibrant services that “provide opportunities for people with a disability to achieve their dreams and goals through inclusion, partnerships and embracing community.”

Matthew Aberline and Maurice Goldberg of Goldberg Aberline Studio (GAS) create immersive public art experiences, deeply engaging with the communities and clients they work with and guided by their motto ‘Art + Happy’. Matthew was previously a feature film and live performance designer, and Maurice an architect and corporate leader. “Working with almost 100 artists in NSW communities was a highlight of 2020 for GAS. It helped inspire us to push the boundaries of our creative process in new and exciting ways.”

Inside Out, the other Maitland-based participant, is an inclusive group of emerging and established artists who live or work in and around the Maitland region, and who meet at MRAG on a monthly basis. The group was formed through a professional development initiative led by Octapod and supported by Accessible Arts and is now an independent entity.

Look Out! MRAG Collection artworks featured in this issue… Inside front cover Performance by dancer Belle Beasley and musician Ben Lambert at Walka Water Works with sculpture from the MRAG Collection The Red Guard by Christopher Hodges (circa 2005, synthetic polymer on cardboard), 2020 Contents Peter Speight, Pretty in Pink, 2006, wood and paint, 56.5 x 23.3 x 21.4 cm. Donated under the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts program by Geoffrey Hassall, 2016. Pg 4 Joan Ross, Collector’s Paradise (detail), 2019, pigment print on cotton rag paper, 87 x 139cm. Purchased by Maitland Regional Art Gallery, 2020. Pg 5 John Turier, Piano B (detail), 2002, bronze Pg 16 Paul Selwood, Points of Possible Surety, 2003, painted steel Pg 33 Peter Kingston, Return of the Killer Windshield, 1993, mixed media lamp

An Adaptation workshop for teens (16+) and adults was held on-site at MRAG as part of the Free Art January program, led by Maurice and Matthew from Goldberg Aberline Studio. IMAGE

1 Workshop participants with Matthew and Maurice from GAS enjoying the Adaptation sculpture on display at MRAG, Free Art January 2021. 23


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Meet an Artist

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Justine Muller is a multidisciplinary artist whose residency on a remote station north of Broken Hill, and a broken down car, led to a life-changing artistic collaboration with Uncle Badger Bates and the Wilcannia community. An unusual upbringing in the East Sydney Hotel, Woolloomooloo, which her parents owned and ran, has had a lifelong influence on Justine Muller’s identity, artistic practice, and sense of connection to community. The pub saw the likes of CEOs, barristers, actors, journalists and filmmakers rubbing shoulders with musicians, drag queens, folk down on their luck and the

underbelly of Woolloomooloo. Justine describes the pub’s frequent visitors as her “extended family”. Since completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National Art School in Sydney in 2007 Justine’s practice has spanned painting, sculpture, photography and installation, exploring themes of landscape, identity and human nature. 24


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In 2020 her portrait of her late godfather Jack Mundey was a finalist in the Archibald Prize.

In the arid landscape around The Ochre House, Justine painted every day, wrote, read, thought a lot, slept under the stars and cooked on an open fire. When her car broke down the mechanic who fixed it said “you shouldn’t be out here alone” and offered her a Blue Heeler he had rescued a week earlier. “He’ll look after you!” he said. Justine named the dog Denzel, after the mechanic, and he is still by her side years later.

The incredible sense of loss Justine experienced when The East Sydney Hotel, her childhood home, was sold in 2013, led her to seek isolation and solace in the landscape of far western NSW. Justine took up an artist’s residency at The Ochre House, a remote location of the UNSW-run Fowlers Gap Research Station, more than 100km north of Broken Hill.

After five weeks at The Ochre House Justine had produced a substantial body of work and began the return journey to Sydney. In the remote community of Wilcannia, Justine ran into car trouble again. While stranded there she met up with Uncle Badger Bates, an established Barkandji artist.

“I wanted to go somewhere by myself, with only a dog as company and protection.”

Justine painted Bates’ portrait on recycled Wilcannia tin, and sought his and the community's permission to publish photos of people and places for the work she was doing for Instagram blogger @everydayaustralia. Before leaving Wilcannia, she also took a photograph at the local cemetery in response to her shock and sadness at learning the local life expectancy was 37 years for men and 43 for women. The photo, Town in Mourning, was later a finalist in the 2015 Doug Moran Contemporary Photography Prize. Uncle Badger Bates and Justine kept in contact and, having seen that she went about things “the right way”, Bates invited her to collaborate on an exhibition exploring the collapse of the BarkaDarling river system. “So that’s what I did for the next three years,” says Justine.

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“I wanted my marks to capture a feeling of panic and urgency.”

She visited Wilcannia for long periods of time, learning about the degradation of the Barka through colonial mismanagement, producing work on Country where the community could see and be part of the process; “not just Uncle Badger, but the whole community.”

which Justine says: “It was sad that he couldn’t be there to see his portrait hang at the Art Gallery of NSW. [But] I felt it was nice to still have him seen in a public space, because he didn’t have the State Funeral he deserved [due to COVID restrictions].”

The resulting exhibition, Barka: The Forgotten River, features linocut prints by Bates produced over two decades, sculptures and delicately carved mussel shells. Muller’s own artistic responses include portrait paintings of community members on tin accompanied by audio recordings, photography, video and footprints of over 200 community members in clay from the Barka river bed. Of the collaborative nature of Barka, Justine says: “I would love this to be an example of how we can work together in this country.”

Justine’s time out on Country and collaborating with the Wilcannia community was life changing: “It informed my art practice and taught me a lot about my country, but when I look back at my art … there was always a little bit of an activist in me.” Justine believes this was a combination of the influence of the pub, her mother’s compassion, her father’s sense of adventure and having Jack Mundey as her godfather; “I feel like my life had prepared me”.

Of one of her recent artworks, Justine says: “I collected earth, clay and stones that were ground into powder and mixed with binder mediums to create paint. Using large brushes, I wanted to capture my memory of the huge, fast moving and more frequent dust storms that cover the country as a result of mismanagement of the land and worsening climate change. I wanted my marks to capture a feeling of panic and urgency.” In 2020 Justine’s portrait of Green Ban activist Jack Mundey, who was an enormous influence on her life, was a finalist in the Archibald. Jack passed away at the age of 90 in May 2020, of

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Justine is currently experimenting with works on paper and using pigments she has collected over her years of road trips. She builds up texture on hand-pressed cotton paper using the pigments, wax and oil paint then box frames them. “I’m thinking I want to push this further and start experimenting with other surfaces and making these works more painterly. I don’t know though! Where do I go after Barka? It was such a huge influence.” Words: Sarah Crawford

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1 Justine Muller, with her dog Denzel, in her studio in Pittwater, Sydney, in early 2020.

Barka: The Forgotten River will be showing at MRAG from 12 June – 5 September 2021.

2 Justine Muller, From Bush to Desert, 2018, earth, pigment, ink, charcoal, acrylic, beeswax, oil pastel, oil on hand-pressed cotton, 45.5 x 50cm 3 Justine delivering her portrait of Jack Mundey to the Art Gallery of New South Wales packing room for the 2020 Archibald Finalists exhibition.

A touring exhibition from Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery.

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www.saveourdarlingbarka.com See more of Justine’s work at @justinemullerartist

Justine Muller, Town in Mourning, 2015, digital photograph. Moran Photographic Prize Finalist, 2015 and included in Guardian Australia's list of best and most important photos, 2015.

5 Uncle Badger Bates and Justine Muller collecting clay from the dry bed of the Barka River around Wilcannia for the installation River of Hope, 2018. 27


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Collection Peek The MRAG Collection comprises more than 6,000 artworks by Australian and international artists.

In Focus Artist Sally Bourke Artwork I am the ghost of you, you are the ghost of me, 2020 Oil on ampersand board 45.8 x 61.2cm Purchased by Maitland Regional Art Gallery in 2020

Sally Bourke is a contemporary Australian artist who creates portraits and sculptural objects to reference and reconcile experiences from her past.

of those cheap, round watercolours that make ghostly marks on paper.” The faces she depicts reference those early ghostly markings. Painted “from the inside out”, her works capture a haunting glimpse into her characters, rather than a likeness.

Born in Dubbo, Sally has lived and worked in Newcastle for the last 20 years. “My earliest memory of making art was sitting on the veranda at my parents’ house,” she writes, “with a box

Words: Celeste Aldahn

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Some of the artworks Simona saw on her tour included: Lionel Lindsay Goat and Banksia (Banksia Tree), 1924, wood block and wood engraving print, 8.5 x 9.9cm. Donated under the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts program by Max and Nola Tegel in 2016. Chris Langlois Landscape (Vacy) No.4, 2006, oil on linen, 121.5 x 213.1cm. Donated under the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Chris Langlois in 2017. Henri Matisse Nadia Au Menton Pointu, 1948, aquatint on paper, 43.4 x 34.8cm. Donated under the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts program by Penelope Seidler in 2015.

Member Tour Collection Management Curator Cheryl Farrell recently took new MRAG member Simona Graham on a guided tour of the Collection Store.

Cheryl told Simona some stories about Collection works displayed in Hello Again, including the puppet Mrs Gabori by Claudia Moodoonuthi (see page 21 for an activity inspired by this work). In the Collection Store, intern Robert Connell showed Simona some exquisite wood blocks and a print by Lionel Lindsay, as well as ceramic pots belonging to Lindsay. A Matisse fan, Simona also got to see the two Matisse works in the Collection. Of her tour Simona says she was “excited, I even had goosebumps” and appreciated being shown “precious and notable” works in the Collection.

Simona Graham grew up in Romania and moved to Australia when she was thirty. Since living in Maitland she has retrained as a counsellor, volunteered with Maitland Repertory Theatre and become a puppeteer with Frank’s Fantastic Fairy Tale Theatre. Simona says she enjoys “all sorts of art that instantly intrigues me and keeps me wondering,” and is keen to learn more about indigenous and abstract art. She is “also curious about puppets and the way puppets express feelings through their body movement. I always enjoy visiting the sculpture festival in Wollombi. I feel that they are all clever highly expressive puppets that don't move.”

Interview: Sally Denmead The Collection Store is open to the public from time to time; check the MRAG website for upcoming dates. 29


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Gallery Life MRAG encourages people of all ages to come together and enjoy art.

Sue Groom (L), Jannette Rush (R) & Maree Skene (below), Ken Done exhibition

Adaptation workshop participants, Free Art January 2021

Aeon Escano (8) making shapes in Adaptation, Jan 2021

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Art Tutor Rosie Turner (centre) with Elicia & Melody, Sip & Sketch, Free Art January 2021

Gerry Bobsien & AGNSW Curator Nick Yelverton, members’ talk, Dec 2020

Michael Eyes & Gordon Elliott, owners of “Elliot Eyes” Collection, Sydney, Nov 2020

MRAG Curator Kim Blunt & Director Emeritus Joe Eisenberg on a visit to Euan McLeod’s (R) studio, Nov 2020

1:1 concert musicians visit MRAG, Dec 2020

Brenda Clouten Scholarship Winner Karri McPherson (R) with Scholarship sponsors Bruce & Vicki Woods, Sep 2020 31


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Art About Town A snapshot of arts activity happening around the Maitland community.

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Space Junk!

Things go from bad to worse as he is soon moved on by coppers and starts seeing visions of aliens everywhere he goes. Is it real or is it a dream? With casting sessions held at MRAG; local twins starring as tap dancing aliens; and backdrops to scenes including the Indian Root Pills signage on Morpeth Road, the Metropolitan Hotel on Maitland’s High Street and 2CHR radio in the old Cessnock School of Arts building, this was a true local production inspiring creativity during COVID times.

Maitland has been on an incredible Super 8 sci-fi adventure in the past year. Julien Poulson from The Cambodian Space Project, local artist Helen Hopcroft and Western Australian filmmaker Mark Roy came together in Maitland in mid2020 to lead a community arts project, developing the short 50s style film Space Junk! Bringing together local creatives for acting, set design and music production roles, and a star from further afield, Steve Kilbey (from the rock band The Church) for the lead role as the “The Prophet”, Space Junk! loosely tells the story of a man on the run whose car (number plate: COVID-19) breaks down in Maitland.

Space Junk! starring Steve Kilbey (The Church) will be screened at mini-festival Space Funk Disco Dystopia – a carnival of masks, art, poetry, music and film – on Sat 27 February, Coffin Lane, Maitland. 32


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BOLTspace BOLTspace is a collaboration between two new to Maitland artists with quite different art practices, Sally Anderson and Andrew Bennett. The gallery’s aim is to present a diverse range of quality visual art through group exhibitions centred on a specific theme, and to inspire broad conversations about art. BOLTspace presented three exhibitions in 2020, Small Works, Wag the Tail and Primavera, and looks forward to showcasing more throughout 2021. 395 High Street, Maitland www.boltspace.com.au

Maitland Cultural Calendar Space Funk Disco Dystopia Coffin Lane, Maitland Sat 27 Feb 2021, 6pm till late IF Maitland (Indie Writers Festival) Mansfield House, Maitland 28 – 30 May 2021 | ifmaitland.org Aroma Coffee & Chocolate Festival Riverside Car Park, Maitland 14 – 15 Aug 2021 Live at the Levee (free live music) The Riverlink, Maitland 6 – 8.30pm, third Fri of each month

Art and Poetics WordXimage is Maitland’s latest art gallery and will present crossovers between visual art and poetry, painting and writing. The gallery’s subtitle, Art and Poetics, reflects the key interests of gallery director Richard Tipping.

*All events subject to change & COVID-Safe measures.

Exhibitions planned for 2021 include Chris Mansell, Denis Mizzi, Mazie Turner, Hossein Valamanesh, Nicholas Pounder and Polar Bear Press, and a growing list.

BOLTspace 395 High Street, Maitland Open Fri/Sat 9.30am – 3pm

Maitland Art Galleries

The Hunter Artisan Gallery & Café 48 Melbourne Street, East Maitland Open Thurs-Sun 9am – 3pm

Originally from Adelaide, Richard lived for many years in Sydney as well as Newcastle while lecturing in media arts at the University of Newcastle until 2010. He has a national and international reputation as an artist and poet, with works in many major collections; five of his works have been donated to the MRAG Collection by Pat Corrigan.

The Levee Art Gallery 282 High Street, Maitland Open Weds-Fri 10am – 4pm, Sat 10am – 2pm Studio Amsterdam 321 High Street, Maitland Open Fri-Sun 11am – 5pm

WordXimage, 445 High Street, Maitland www.wordximage.art (forthcoming)

WordXimage 445 High Street, Maitland Opening hours occasional IMAGE

1 Film stills from Space Junk! 2020 by Mark Roy

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Inspired! Joshua Anderson is a Maitland-based artist with a big love for shadow puppetry. We invited him to create a ‘fight’ scene in response to the exhibition Shadow Boxer. Why puppets? I’ve been asked this simple question many times. Was it Sesame Street, Peter Pan, Play School, Hi-5 or the odd neon black light puppetry show that toured to my primary school in Year 2? To be honest, I don’t know. What I do know is I love shadow puppets and puppetry more every single time I make, perform, or play with them. Shadow puppetry is an ancient art form and one of the oldest storytelling methods: a performed transmission of beliefs and values. I believe shadows are the most accessible and universal expression of the human experience; everyone and everything, casts a shadow.

Shadow puppetry boxers by Joshua Anderson, 2021

Battles scenes and sword fights are common in the shadow puppetry tradition, especially in Asia. For this boxing scene, with simple cardboard cutouts of bodies in strike and defence positions, I added visual drama with the red of the gloves. I’m not a boxing fan, but I think the shadow puppetry form conveys well the duality of beauty and violence in the raw grit of a fight.

Shadows provide a place of respite from the sun; enabled sundials to function as the forefather to clocks; and are often used as sinister representations of danger. But they have an undeniable simplicity and natural beauty. The shadow puppetry I have been exploring attempts to morph this ancient art form into multidisciplinary visual and performance-based artwork. I combine colour produced by refracting light with the traditional method of obstructing light, to produce shadow-based imagery that draws more on visual techniques than performative expressions to portray emotion and drama.

Joshua Anderson is based at the Maitland Space Project studio in the Levee and occasionally runs shadow puppetry workshops. He created ‘Shadow of the Day’, a creative installation of shadow puppetry in five shopfronts in Maitland, which changed each day for two weeks, for Maitland City Council’s Creative Streets ‘After Dark’ initiative in 2020. You can contact Joshua at anderpingson@hotmail.com 34


2021 Dates now open!

Walking tours of Maitland Discover Maitland on a bespoke small group walking tour. A MOVING FEAST A progressive dinner... some say like a pub crawl but with more class and food! 3.5 hours, 4 venues, all inclusive ticket price.

A TASTE OF MAITLAND History, coffee, artisian businesses and a passport! 3.5 hours, 6 stops, all inclusive ticket price.

www.umbrellaevents.com.au | 0429 304 030


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