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Artel B I AN N UAL #1 - AU T U M N/ W I NT ER 2019

$4 | Free for Members

Maitland Regional Art Gallery Members’ Magazine

Celebrating 10 Years of MRAG

Exhibition Program Meet an Artist - Michaela Swan Five Ways to Experience MRAG Plus: Members’ Competitions

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – PA B LO PIC A S SO




Maitland Regional Art Gallery, known affectionately as MRAG (pronounced ‘em-rag’). 11 exhibition spaces, a beautiful gift shop and café, an inspiring arts and community hub. With a three-metre-tall fibreglass dog in the gardens.

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 Open: Tues–Sun 10am–5pm Ph: 02 4934 9859 artgallery@maitland.nsw.gov.au

Represented by volunteers on the MRAGM Committee, elected annually. mragm@gmail.com


Contents Welcome 5 Exhibitions 6 Celebrating 10 Years of MRAG


Creative Kids


News for Members


Meet a Member


Five Ways to Experience MRAG


Creative Insight


Meet an Artist


Collection Peek


Social Gallery


Art About Town


Inspired! 34 Cover Image MRAG staff member Anna Buxton-Soldal views Charles Blackman’s Figures, photo silkscreen prints on paper, in Charles Blackman from the MRAG Collection. Photo Clare Hodgins

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MRAGM Committee Chairperson Sui-Linn White Vice Chairperson Leeroy Chapman Council Representative Councillor Ben Whiting Treasurer Alasdair Smart Secretary Olivia Sophia Magazine Secretary Sally Denmead Events Coordinator Andrea Pugh General Committee Member Holly Fisher-Bidwell MRAG Representative Keryl Collard

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. Artel is produced by MRAGM volunteers and MRAG staff. Printed copies are free for members and are also available to purchase at the MRAG front desk. Available to read online via mrag.org.au Designer Jaime Pritchard Editorial Coordinator Sally Denmead Advertising enquiries artelmagazine@gmail.com Printed by WHO Printing

Look Out! Look out for some familiar artworks from the MRAG Collection throughout Artel. On pages marked with the symbol, you’ll see works, mainly from the Collection, which are on permanent or semi-permanent display around the Gallery. See page 23 for artwork details.

Contributors Johanna Bartels, Kim Blunt, Bill Carney, Sally Denmead, Cheryl Farrell, Holly Fisher-Bidwell, Genevieve Graham, Clare Hodgins, Anne McLaughlin, Olivia Sophia, Brigette Uren and Jaslyn Rose Walters. Thanks to Bliss Cavanagh, Dorothy Compton, Michael Rolfe, Margaret Sivyer OAM and Chloe Tomlinson. 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.



Dear Readers Welcome to your new look Artel magazine! We’ve listened to your feedback and now return with something a little different, which we hope you’ll enjoy. Message from the Gallery After three years as Gallery Director, Brigette Uren left MRAG in January to take up a new role as Director Arts in Health, Health Infrastructure NSW. Here is her farewell message to members: “I adore MRAG and shall miss it greatly. The fabulous City Librarian Keryl Collard will be interim Director until my replacement is appointed and she, together with the fabulous team MRAG, will hold you in excellent stead. There is so much goodwill embodied at the Gallery, and though I’m sad to leave it is also wonderful to be signing off knowing there is so much energy afoot, not just amongst members but across the community! Thank you for being a deeply valued part of my MRAG experience.”

Just as the Gallery works hard to create many opportunities for visitors to creatively engage with its artistic program, so too MRAGM now offers you a more interactive Artel, which we hope further enriches your membership experience. We’ve introduced exclusive members' competitions (see page 17) linked to the exhibition program and - on the occasion of the 10 Year Anniversary of MRAG’s grand reopening - we invite you to share with us some of your highlights from the last decade of fabulous art and events.

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.”

We welcome your feedback. Please email us at artelmagazine@gmail.com and let us know what you think! Sui-Linn & Sally On behalf of the MRAGM Committee



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Exhibitions From the early sketches of Charles Blackman to the theatrical world of Andrew Antoniou, MRAG’s Autumn/Winter exhibition program has something to inspire and challenge everyone.

23 February – 11 August

Charles Blackman from the MRAG Collection One of Australia’s most iconic artists, Blackman forged a significant career from his debut solo exhibition in 1952. He was also a strong supporter of MRAG and, since 2005, had donated more than 280 works on paper and paintings to the MRAG Collection. This exhibition showcases Blackman’s early drawings and quick studies which, like entries in a diary, track the story of his personal and artistic life. Charles Blackman died in 2018 and this exhibition pays tribute to the artist’s life, work and legacy to Maitland.

Charles Blackman, Figures, n.d., photo silkscreen print on paper, 73 x 49.5cm. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Charles Blackman, 2012



Until 28 April

The Poetry of Space: The art of Tim Winters Touring from Orange Regional Gallery, this exhibition surveys the career of one of Australia’s most respected landscape artists and art teachers. Winter’s abstract work is essentially a poetic or lyrical interpretation of space and the visual articulation of his engagement with the land. Tim Winters, Pinnacles Desert (detail), 2010, acrylic gouache, pigment, gesso on polycotton canvas, 150 x 150cm

23 February – 26 May

Maitland International Salon of Photography For over 60 years the annual Maitland International Salon of Photography has attracted thousands of entries from around the world. The top 500 prints, in categories including colour, monochrome and nature, are displayed at Maitland Show, with 50 selected for exhibition at MRAG. Valentina Sokolskaya, Friendship (detail), 2018, digital print, dimensions variable

23 February – 19 May

Andrew Antoniou: Props, Masks & Magic Andrew Antoniou’s highly symbolic works open the curtain to reveal a carefully staged cast of characters existing in a theatrical dreamlike world. Drawing inspiration from Absurdist theatre, memory and the imagination, his work invites exploration of the mystery of the subconscious and our interior worlds.

Andrew Antoniou, Props (detail), 2017, colour pencil on paper, 94 x 130cm


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30 March – 23 June

Lucas Davidson: Casual Forces (Art Factory) In Casual Forces Davidson presents two installations, above and below each other on the two floors of the Art Factory, which use geometric shapes, repetition and scale to challenge viewer perception. The intersection of each mirrored surface allows multiple perspectives to occur simultaneously.

Lucas Davidson, Casual Forces (detail), 2018, mixed media, installation detail

4 May – 21 July

David Griggs: Between Nature & Sin Drawing on political imagery, local histories and personal experience, David Griggs explores the social hierarchies and underground culture of his adopted home, the Philippines, through painting, photography and film. This Campbelltown Arts Centre touring exhibition is the first major Australian survey of his work.

David Griggs, Zoloft Nation (self portrait) (detail), 2009, acrylic on canvas, 282 x 232cm. Germanos Collection, Sydney. Image courtesy the artist

25 May – 18 August

Cutler Footway: My North This is the first exhibition of Cutler Footway’s work, which is richly steeped in the stark environment in which he lives in northern Queensland. His paintings are displayed alongside work by Grace Cossington Smith and Margaret Preston, whom he cites as major influences. Cutler Footway, Dry Tropics - Plantation Creek (detail), 2017–18, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 40cm



In Brief Read more about these exhibitions in the Spring/ Summer issue. Del Kathryn Barton: Oscar Wilde's The Nightingale & The Rose

Riley Campton, Dougal (detail), 2016, chalk on paper, Age 7, The Rock Central School

1 June – 11 August

27 July – 3 November

Operation Art

The behind-the-scenes makings of Del Kathryn Barton and Brendan Fletcher’s hauntingly beautiful short film interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s classic. An Australian Centre for the Moving Image touring exhibition.

This touring exhibition showcases 50 artworks by students, including from Hunter and Central Coast schools, who have been invited to create uplifting works for other children. An initiative of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in association with the NSW Department of Education.

Lottie Consalvo: New Work

29 June – 13 October

27 July – 3 November

Stories from Wonnarua Country (Art Factory)

Newcastle-based Lottie Consalvo’s work traverses painting, video, photography and sculpture, with a strong focus on performance. It explores psychological shifts and ideas surrounding desire and longing.

A series of artworks made by students from nine local schools exploring what it means to be living on Wonnarua Country today. The artists have worked with student members of the Junior Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.

Please note that exhibition details are subject to change. 9

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Feature Story Celebrating 10 Years of MRAG


“This Gallery really is incredible. And it’s here for all the people of Maitland to enjoy.” – MARGARET O LLE Y, G RA N D R E O PE N I N G SPE E C H , M RAG, 1 5 AU GUST 2 0 0 9

On a sunny winter’s afternoon ten years ago, as 1500 people gathered outside MRAG for its grand reopening, 86-yearold artist and national treasure Margaret Olley AC explored the new Gallery Shop keen to be the first to peruse its wares.

The opening of the new MRAG complex on 15 August 2009 represented the culmination of years of hard work and millions of dollars of support from Council and generous benefactors. Led by former Cultural Director Joe Eisenberg OAM from 2004, the visionary redevelopment project delivered a major art gallery for Maitland and the Hunter.

She bought a few items destined for the eclectic clutter of her Paddington home, before emerging from the building to give an entertaining speech marking the beginning of a new cultural chapter for Maitland.

From its origins as Maitland City Art Gallery (1975–2003) across the City in historic Brough House, to occupying part 10


Now, ten years later, MRAG has gained a reputation for its welcoming atmosphere and diverse artistic and creative learning program, offering hundreds of learning experiences for the community and more than 20 exhibitions each year. Michael Rolfe, CEO of Museums & Galleries of NSW, says, “With a long history embedded in communities of the Lower Hunter, MRAG is considered to be one of the premier regional galleries in NSW. Dynamic programming and widespread audience support has guaranteed its place as a cultural signpost of envious quality and connection. Artist support and education programs, along with collection and curatorial strength, ensure a bright future for the value it adds to Maitland and the wider Hunter.”


of the front gothic-arched building on its current site, it was now more than twice the size it had been - with 11 exhibition spaces, an expanded shop, new café and dedicated youth-focused exhibition space and creative learning hub, The Art Factory.

Founding Director Margaret Sivyer OAM says that at the core of the Gallery’s identity is “support for cultural endeavour” and “free access” for everyone; MRAG has never charged entry to its exhibitions and she hopes this continues well into the future.

All of this on a site steeped in history, home to a candle factory and tailor’s in the 19th century, and Maitland Technical College from 1910 until the 80s, which had included a museum until most of its contents were destroyed by the 1955 flood.

The Grand Reopening “Looking back, I can’t believe we actually did it” says Senior Curator, Kim Blunt, who’s worked at the Gallery for 16 years. Because of delays in completing the building works, MRAG’s small team of staff had just enough time to install the exhibitions for the opening event, working until 2am the night before. But they had, and still have, a “secret weapon” to get them over the line - a dedicated team of volunteers.

“Great art deserves a pilgrimage and an intimate discovery at the end of the voyage,” wrote Joe on the occasion of the opening. For him, the new ‘infill’ building linking the two heritage buildings had created a “wondrous” space in which such ‘voyages’ could occur. Architect Paul Berkemeir won several awards for his design the following year. 11

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A Decade of Highlights Over the last ten years MRAG has hosted a dazzling program of art and events, from nationally touring exhibitions, such as the Archibald Prize, to in-house curated exhibitions focusing on Maitland’s Jewish heritage, Les Darcy and the Greta Migrant Camp; to major solo shows, a recent highlight being Wendy Sharpe taking paint pots directly to the walls of the Gallery for her exhibition Secrets (2018).


On the day itself, part of Maitland's High Street was closed to traffic so the gathering crowd could enjoy food, wine and entertainment from circus performers. After the official speeches and the ribbon was cut, nearly 4000 people streamed through the Gallery during the course of the afternoon. “It was bumper to bumper and so very exciting,” Kim recalls.

It’s had two vibrant Directors in this decade, with Joe Eisenberg making a definitive mark on the development and growth of the MRAG Collection. For his parting gift to the Gallery in 2015, he invited artists to create and donate works on paper inspired by the Tom Waits song The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me). He received more than 170 donations from artists Australia-wide, including Reg Mombassa and Elisabeth Cummings.

What Kim remembers most about the day was the generosity and goodwill of everyone. “I don’t know how to explain it but it was, and continues to be, palpable.” Brigette Uren, who has recently left her role as Gallery Director, describes this as that “marvellous MRAG magic.” The “grand opening feast” (as Joe described it) of five major exhibitions included Different Tracks, contemporary indigenous Australian works from the collection of Patron Ray Wilson and his late partner James Agapitos, and Intangible Collection by Fiona Davies, an installation referencing the history of Maitland Technical College. 12


“MRAG is considered to be one of the premier regional galleries in NSW.” – MICHA E L R O L F E , CE O , MUSE UMS & GA LLE R IE S O F N S W


Brigette Uren has steered the Gallery into more of a ‘see-make-do’ creative learning direction, with Free Art January springing to life in 2015. She’s also given MRAG a stronger ‘arts in health’ focus and extended its program to include music, dance and theatre collaborations. When asked to pick a highlight from her time at MRAG she says - “That’s like choosing a favourite child. Impossible!”

demonstrated the positive impact art can have on health and wellbeing in the community. A Newcastle-based artist with a lived experience of Tourette syndrome, Bliss creates colourful, inclusive and accessible sensory installations. Inspired by Otherworldly at MRAG, staff at Thornton Public School commissioned her to design a sensory room for its additional needs students; and a secondary college in Gosford also asked her to create a calming space for its students to help them self-regulate their emotions and reduce levels of anxiety.

The Art Factory exhibition spaces have been home to many playful, multisensory and interactive installations over the decade. Bliss Cavanagh’s popular Otherworldly: a sensory experience of art (2017) clearly

Bliss says that the support and encouragement she received from 13


MRAG staff made her experience as an exhibiting artist “an absolute pleasure”. She says she still receives positive feedback about Otherworldly, which is “reflective of MRAG's passion and commitment to inclusivity and its strong arts health focus.”

materials developed by the MRAG team to engage audiences with Lindsay’s detailed prints included sensory bags, a mobile App, art cards and an awardwinning children’s story book. Reflecting on the decade, Kim Blunt speaks of the amazing privilege, excitement and “sometimes just plain old fear of getting to not only meet, but work with, my artistic idols”, from Judy Cassab to Jim Anderson. She and Cheryl agree that Tracy Luff’s majestic ivy-like cardboard installation Above Below All Around (2013), which extended from floor to ceiling, has been the best use so far of the two-storey-high ground floor Gallery space.

The arrival of Fetch Boy in the Gallery grounds in 2011 can’t go unmentioned here; this three-metre-tall fibreglass man-dog sculpture with an environmental message immediately caused a sensation, attracting new visitors and media interest alike. Donated by artists Gillie and Marc Schattner, it quickly became the final destination in the MRAG children’s art trail ‘Search for the Golden Poo’. For Collection Management Curator, Cheryl Farrell, who has worked at MRAG since 2007, the exhibition she is most proud of over these years is Lionel Lindsay from the MRAG Collection (2017–2018). The multi-faceted creative learning

So much colour and creativity has coursed through the veins of MRAG in the last decade, and there is so much more to come - just look at this year’s program. Ever looking to the future, Kim says the Gallery is “all about the next generation - it’s about sharing a creative life and hopefully passing it on.” Were you at the grand reopening event? What have been your favourite exhibitions and experiences at MRAG over the last decade? We’d love to know! Email us at artelmagazine@gmail.com and we’ll share some member highlights in the next issue. Story: Sally Denmead Acknowledgments: Joseph Eisenberg OAM, MRAG’s Grand Opening catalogue essay, 2009; Emma Swain, ‘Gallery for all the People’, Maitland Mercury, 17 August 2009


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A Newcastle Music Festival performance at MRAG to the backdrop of Wendy Sharpe’s Secrets, 2018 The crowd gathers awaiting MRAG’s grand reopening, 15 August 2009 Margaret Olley at the opening, 2009 Bliss Cavanagh’s Otherworldly installation in the Art Factory in 2017 Lionel’s Place: Story Book - MRAG’s award-winning children’s book


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Creative Kids Every Sunday, all year round, kids can visit MRAG between 11am–1pm to enjoy a free tutor-led art activity. We asked some recent Free Art Sunday participants what they most enjoyed about the day’s activity. Activity: Painting of Aboriginal symbols and patterns Tutor: Ileana Clarke In brief: Visit the exhibition Finding Country and look for symbols and patterns that connect to a story. Go back to the Art Factory and design a painting based on what you found. Start with two colours on a coloured background.

Peggy (9) & Bonnie (6) Bidwell, Morpeth

“I love doing dot painting and Aboriginal signs.”

Cooper (8) & Isabella (7) Thomas, East Maitland

“Finding pictures in the Gallery. The painting!” Edith Trewin (4), Cessnock

“My favourite part is everything.”

Free Art Sunday is supported by MRAG Members and CleverPatch.


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

MRAG Contemporary Art Sale

Welcome to our new members and thank you to ALL members for your ongoing support of the Gallery.

We’re delighted to report that our art sale fundraiser last October raised over $15,000 for the Gallery, which will go directly towards supporting its creative learning program. A highlight of the event was the inclusion of artworks created by young MRAG Members (see image above), which were sold for $50 each. Thank you to everyone who contributed or purchased an artwork!

A special note of thanks to our first Business Members - AV Chartered Accountants, italktravel (High Street, Maitland), Jenny Aitchison MP, Julie’s Folk Art, The Learning Bar and Maitland Region Society of Artists Inc. This is a new membership category, offering businesses an opportunity to support MRAG whilst also receiving benefits such as discounted venue hire and an invitation to a special annual event.



Member Events MRAGM events provide fun opportunities for you to enjoy art, meet other members and to help us fundraise. Save the dates for now and we’ll send you more information closer to the time. This year, each weekend during Cool Art July you can help us fundraise by purchasing classic melamine plates for children to decorate - great as a gift or special keepsake.

· Competitions! · Visit the Gallery this Autumn and Winter for two chances to win a $50 Gallery Shop voucher. All you need to do is email your answers to the questions below to artelmagazine@gmail.com before the closing dates.

Save the Dates


Cool Art July Melamine plate fundraiser

Closing Date | 18 May Name any three of the eight artworks in Andrew Antoniou’s exhibition Props, Masks & Magic that feature a cake. (Cakes represent gifts in Andrew’s highly symbolic work.)

23 August 10 Year Anniversary Cocktail Party 29 November Members’ Christmas Party


Did You Know?

Closing Date | 10 August

You can enrich your experience as a member by becoming an MRAGM volunteer. If you’re able to help us out from time to time with events, such as set up, food service or photography, please contact us at the email address below and we’ll let you know when and what help is needed. Get more involved with the MRAGM community and receive our grateful thanks!

In the exhibition Charles Blackman from the MRAG Collection, who is the letter addressed to? Open to members only (one entry into each competition per membership category). Emails should have the subject line Autumn or Winter Competition. Winners will be selected at random and notified by phone or email within 7 days of the close of entries. Prizes (one $50 voucher per competition) will be available for collection from the MRAG front desk. Member discount not applicable when redeeming vouchers. Winners’ names will be published in the next issue of Artel.

Thank you from all of us on the MRAGM Committee. You can contact us via email at mragm@gmail.com


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Meet a Member Elicia, Nate, Aubrey (6) and Esther (2) Live: Bolwarra Heights Family Members since 2017

What do you do for a living and what are some of your interests? Elicia: I’m lucky to have a job that I love, as a primary school Assistant Principal. I get a lot out of being involved in my local community and have volunteered at a couple of Maitland’s multicultural events. I’m also a part of a few groups that meet regularly - the ‘Sew ‘n’ Sews’, a book club and a fancy ladies’ movie club. Nate: I’m also a primary school teacher, a Deputy Principal. My main loves are basketball, music and coffee. However, I just bought a new Royal Enfield motorbike and this has overtaken the others as number one. I’ve started a riding group with my mates called the ‘Maitland Mudbloods’ - we just plod along, ride to new places and drink coffee. Aubrey: I love BMX riding, playing soccer and hanging out with my family in the garden. Over summer my sister and I became pretty good slip ‘n’ sliders! Ess: Loves dinosaurs, swimming at the beach, dancing and riding her bike.



What do you like about MRAG and what have been some of your favourite experiences at the Gallery so far?

What are some of your favourite things to do in the Maitland area? Summer is spent at Maitland Pool and Jubilo Gelato! Winter by the fire in various friends’ backyards. We have so many good food options in Maitland now, so we’ll pop out for something yummy more often than not! Reading Cinemas are fab and we often catch a movie there. We do BMX at the Tenambit track and are often riding, walking or feeding ducks at the local parks. We go to the Grand Junction Hotel for a boogie when we can and went to the last Dashville Music Festival at Belford. #MaitoRulz

MRAG is such a wonderful place for the people of Maitland to come together and it caters to families and children so very well. We take all our visitors to the Gallery! Our favourite exhibitions have been All That Glitters, Finding Country and Trevor Dickinson’s Greetings from Maitland. We’ve especially loved coming to Free Art January and Sunday with the kids, and meeting friends at the Olive Tree Markets. Oh, and how beaut were the kids canvases at the Art Sale?! Aub was quite chuffed to see his work on display - what a fabulous idea!

Aub and Ess at the MRAG Contemporary Art Sale

What do you like about being MRAG members? We want to do what we can to support the Gallery and it feels good to be part of a community. We enjoy keeping up to date with what’s happening and coming along to the swish events now and then. How long have you lived in Maitland for? We’ve lived in Maitland for four years. We both spent our teenage years in Lake Macquarie - we actually met at Warners Bay High School. We’ve also lived in Sydney for three years and in a remote community in the Northern Territory for two years, where we both taught.

At Dashville Skyline festival

Quilt Elicia is making in Sew 'n' Sews


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Five Ways to Experience MRAG


1. Look Closer

2. See Make Do

Can you find a little man pushing a piano in a wheelbarrow (on a tightrope!) somewhere in MRAG? If you look carefully up towards the Juliette balcony from the main ground floor exhibition space, or go upstairs to the balcony and peek down, you’ll spot him. This is John Turier’s Piano B (2002), one of several fun sculptures he has donated to the MRAG Collection. You can also see Piano B on page 17 of this issue of Artel. There’ll be an exhibition of works by Turier and his partner Nicola Hensel in the Gallery later this year.

Free Art Sunday is on from 11am–1pm every Sunday for children and their families to see-make-do with free art activities inspired by exhibitions. Now adults can also see-make-do at the Gallery’s new Sunday Studio program on the fourth Sunday of every month. These free drop-in workshops, led by MRAG’s talented art tutors, will explore the practice and themes of exhibiting artists, with an exhibiting artist as guest presenter every three months. See the MRAG website for more details.



4. Start a Conversation MRAG is a great place to not only meet up with friends but to meet new people. If you spot one of the Maitland Verses Poets in Seraphine Café, why not ask them about their work? Or strike up a conversation with a fellow art enthusiast in the Gallery? We hope the exhibitions, activities and events on at MRAG will inspire you to want to talk about them with friends, family or colleagues long after you’ve visited.


3. Take a Piece of MRAG Home With summer finally waving goodbye, you can embrace the cooler months with the fabulous selection of artisan products in the Gallery Shop. A sustainable and handwoven scarf made by Bonsai Woman will help you brave those cooler mornings and Giselle Penn’s incredible wearable art will brighten up even the dreariest of winter days. Choose from a wide selection of wonderful children’s books to gift to a little friend, such as local artist Nicola Bolton’s You Can’t Catch Me. Or buy a beautiful wildflower mug by Jane Burbidge to enjoy warming cups of tea. Don’t forget members receive a 10% discount.

5. Challenge Yourself If you’re feeling particularly inspired by an artwork on display at MRAG, why not challenge yourself to explore it further? This could take any form you like. You could read more about the artist when you get home, write in your journal about the ideas or emotions it triggers in you, or perhaps - if you love yoga or dance see if you can express an aspect of the work through movement. See ‘Inspired!’ on page 34.


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Genevieve Graham, Garden Dreaming Collage (2018), created for Free Art Sunday activity Felt cushions by Giselle Penn, wildflower mugs and coasters by Jane Burbidge, You Can’t Catch Me by Nicola Bolton


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Creative Insight

MRAG art tutor Genevieve Graham shares an insight into the fun of facilitating free art activities at the Gallery. I’m Genevieve Graham, a Maitland based artist. I’ve been an MRAG art tutor for four years. As an art tutor, I encourage people of all ages to appreciate art and share in the importance of the Gallery.

For both these programs activities are inspired by current exhibitions, with each tutor utilising their own expertise and experience. My activities incorporate paper craft, drawing, collage or sculpture. For inspiration I explore the social media treasure trove of art and craft, Pinterest, and collect ideas from other galleries.

I particularly enjoy tutoring the Free Art Sunday and Free Art January programs, both of which create a welcoming environment for the community. Individuals from all walks of life and backgrounds come to the Gallery to participate in artmaking, sometimes for the first time.

I have to admit I not only facilitate these activities but am the biggest kid at the table, crafting alongside my fellow mini art enthusiasts. At MRAG I’m particularly interested in using our free activities to expand on both the conceptual and material uses within art.

I begin the activities by providing information about exhibiting artists and artworks and encourage visitors to think about the art from a creative perspective.

Some of my favourite activities have included blind drawing, with visitors 22


drawing an object without looking at the page. The temptation to peek and gain control is overwhelming, but the point of blind drawing is to let go and relish in the immediacy. I also enjoy creating sculptural forms which are activated through movement, sound or light. For James Hazel and Victoria Pham’s exhibition Sonant Bodies (2018) visitors made chimes from everyday materials like paddle pop sticks, dried pasta and beads. The chimes were then played over guitars and a viola. For some children this was their first interaction with a stringed instrument and they were thrilled to create and experiment in a new way.

Genevieve Graham is a photographic installation artist who uses darkroom practices, such as liquid light and cyanotype. She is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Newcastle and working in the local arts sector. Genevieve has recently exhibited and presented her research at HIDDEN - Rookwood Cemetery Sculpture Walk, This is Not Art Festival (TiNA), Herart Open and The Reimagining Death and Dying Conference, and she was a finalist in the 2018 Brenda Clouten Travelling Memorial Scholarship for Young Achievers in the Visual Arts at MRAG.

The Free Art Sunday and Free Art January activities can also be enjoyed by adults. I find grown-ups revel in the chance to sit in a quiet space and enjoy the meditative process of making. They appreciate being able to do something for themselves and to take time out from their chaotic schedules. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I can’t draw” or “I’m not very creative” from children and adults alike. People often surprise themselves once they get started on an activity and realise art is not about creating a perfect finished product. Instead it’s about experimentation, challenge, enjoyment and, of course, self-expression. Being an art tutor is a rewarding experience, enriching my personal art practice and creating a lot of laughs along the way.

Look Out! MRAG Collection artworks featured in this issue… Inside front cover Mark Aylward, Magpies, 2013, stencilled hand-cut mild steel plate, installation detail* Contents page Peter Speight, Trophy, 2006, timber and paint Pg 4 Paul Selwood, Points of Possible Surety, 2003, painted steel Pg 5 Peter Kingston, Return of the Killer Windshield, 1993, mixed media lamp Pg 12 Gillie and Marc Schattner, Fetch Boy (detail), 2010, fibreglass and bronze finish Pg 17 John Turier, Piano B (detail), 2002, bronze Pg 21 Mandalay Buddha, 19th century, marble, lacquer, wood, paint and glass *On permanent display at MRAG; not part of the Collection.


Chimes Genevieve made for her Sonant Bodies Free Art Sunday activity


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Meet an Artist


Michaela Swan is an interdisciplinary textile artist based in Newcastle. She was awarded the Brenda Clouten Memorial Travelling Scholarship for a Young Achiever in the Visual Arts at MRAG in 2014. At the heart of Michaela Swan’s practice is a fascination with how materials can be repurposed to create new meanings, and how textiles can trigger memories and associations in all of us. “Everyone has some sort of relationship with textiles,” Michaela says; “we all wear textiles every day.” It’s an intimate, often overlooked, relationship.

smaller more conceptual pieces created for group shows, and often includes a performance element. She draws inspiration from personal experience, textile techniques and the “previous life” of second-hand fabric. “I like using materials that have had another purpose or another life. I like the mystery that can bring to a work.”

Michaela's body of work includes large scale site-specific installations and

Michaela grew up in the small town of Laurieton on the Mid North Coast, 24


“I like using materials that have had another purpose or another life. I like the mystery that can bring to a work.” before moving to Newcastle in 2012 to study Fine Arts at the University of Newcastle. She was awarded the 'Brenda Clouten' at MRAG the year she finished her degree, travelling to Europe on her scholarship trip to immerse herself in the contemporary textile art scene. In 2015 she was awarded the Newcastle Emerging Artist Prize (Textiles).

of The Arm Knitting Project (2016), which was exhibited at MRAG, and a recently finished work called Comfort Piece (2018). For The Arm Knitting Project, Michaela applied a technique that’s most often used for making chunky scarves or blankets to an unexpected material - second-hand quilt covers. These she tore into yarn and knitted into sections that were hung in a beautiful sculptural installation, creating a metaphorical union of strangers through the interlacing of their bed linen. She also did a silent performance of the arm knitting process in the Gallery.

I met up with Michaela at Seraphine Café and she arrived, fittingly, with an armful of fabric - a vibrant blue wearable section

I asked Michaela about her 'Brenda Clouten' scholarship trip. She travelled to the European Textile Network Conference and Leiden Textile Festival in the Netherlands, before exploring European galleries and spending two days (“crazy not enough time!”) at the Venice Biennale. It was a “surreal and rewarding experience” to see some of her favourite artists, and the trip definitely gave her the ambition and inspiration to keep producing textile art. At the conference Michaela heard about Art al Vent, an outdoor textile art show in northern Spain, which she has exhibited in for the last three years. For this show, art quilts are installed over apartment balconies in the beautiful village of Gata De Gorgos, echoing a local tradition. 2


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Michaela has worked full-time in an eye hospital since she finished her degree, so has had to be very selective about the projects she’s worked on. Last year a two week artist residency at the Glasshouse in Port Macquarie, near her home town, gave her the opportunity to explore some new concepts, such as using her Dad’s road rollers to create a series of large monoprints of blankets.

when she was having trouble getting to sleep as a kid. At the halfway point, she took Comfort Piece to an event at The Lock-Up in Newcastle and invited audience members to share their word of the day with her, which she stitched into a separate blanket. It’s been a “cathartic but conceptually fulfilling” project. For Michaela, the relationship the audience has with her work is “the most enjoyable and stimulating part of being an artist.” People often share little anecdotes with her, especially childhood memories, which connect them to her work. “That’s special and it’s what I always hope will happen.”

For her most recent project, Comfort Piece (2018), Michaela embroidered a word a day for a hundred days into a satin edge blanket, each word encapsulating how she felt that day. “It’s probably one of the most challenging and honest works I’ve created because it’s so personal.”

Michaela’s ideal day off is spent either at the beach or “making something, anything! Earrings, clothing or whatever I’m inspired to make at the time.” This year she’ll be studying a Master of Secondary Teaching and is looking

The personal is not just expressed through the words - ranging from ‘uneasy’ and ‘melancholy’ to ‘illuminated’ - but also in her choice of material; satin edge blankets provided comfort to Michaela 26



forward to becoming an art teacher and to future exhibitions. What’s been your favourite op shop find so far? 100% silk hand woven in Thailand. Or gold/black paisley made into a bodice for my sister in 2012 for Newcastle Fashion Week. Which artists do you admire? Ah tough question. If I had to pick three, Yayoi Kusama, Chiharu Shiota and Joana Vasconcelos.


What’s one of your most treasured creations? Probably the wearable piece I made while on student exchange in Hong Kong in 2013 - Untitled, Hong Kong (after Nick Cave) and the work I created with my twin sister Kirsten Two Piece, a common thread (2014).

The Brenda Clouten Memorial Travelling Scholarship for Young Achievers in the Visual Arts is awarded every two years to an emerging artist under the age of 30 at MRAG. Find out more about Michaela’s work at michaela-swan.format.com

Interview: Sally Denmead


1 2 3 4 5

Michaela in the MRAG gardens with a piece from The Arm Knitting Project, 2016 The Arm Knitting Project, 2016, installation view of Michaela’s 3 hour live performance at MRAG. Photo Amy Hamilton Michaela & Kirsten Swan, Two Piece (a common thread), 2014, live performance at Watt Space Gallery. Photo Ryan Farrell Comfort Piece (detail), 2018, hand embroidered satin edge blanket In the Wind, 2016, temporary textile installation created for Maitland City Council's Warming the Streets project


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Collection Peek The MRAG Collection comprises more than 5,000 artworks by Australian and international artists, with a focus on works on paper.

In Focus Artist Nell Artwork My Ex-Girlfriend Met the Piano Player, 2015, mixed media on paper record sleeve, 33 x 33cm. Donated to the MRAG Collection by the artist in 2015

Originally from Maitland, Sydneybased Nell’s artistic practice engages with Rock ‘n’ Roll, Buddhist philosophy and binaries such as life/death, light/ dark and happiness/sadness. She often draws on the power of language in her art, using handwritten fonts to convey raw energy and emotion. This work was created in response to former MRAG

Director Joe Eisenberg’s call out in 2015 for donations of works on paper inspired by the Tom Waits song The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me). Nell also generously donated her work Light up everything (2013) for the 2018 MRAG Contemporary Art Sale fundraiser and had a solo exhibition at MRAG in 2012 - Hometown Girl has Wet Dream. 28


A few of the works Debra viewed were: Rew Hanks Krefft's Chair, 2012 Linocut on paper 102 x 76cm Purchased by MRAG, 2015 Cressida Campbell Oblique View, 2000 Woodblock painting on board 29.8 x 51.5cm Gift of Margaret Olley, 2009 Tibet – 18th Century Rkang-gling (Tibetan trumpet) Cloissonne on bronze 40cm and 39cm Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Anthony Renshaw, 2013

Member Tour MRAG’s Collection Management Curator Cheryl Farrell recently took long-term member Debra McLean on a tour of the Collection room.

of Les Darcy’s belongings came to be donated to the Collection (he was one of my dad’s heroes), and the entertaining story behind Rew Hank’s large linocut print of Gerard Krefft, Curator of the Australian Museum who was fired in 1874 but refused to leave.

What did you know about the MRAG Collection before your visit? Not much. It was fascinating to hear about its origins and how it’s evolved. Which artist’s work were you most interested in seeing and why? Margaret Olley’s! Mum and I shared a great love of her work and were here for her speech at the grand opening event in 2009. I’ve made a special trip up to Murwillumbah before just to visit the Margaret Olley Art Centre.

What, if anything, surprised you about the Collection? I was surprised by its size and range. I have an interest in Tibetan culture and didn’t expect to see a beautiful pair of Tibetan trumpets in the Collection room!

What were some of your other highlights? Getting a sneak preview of a few works that will be in the Charles Blackman exhibition and seeing a woodblock painting by one of my favourite artists, Cressida Campbell.

If you would like to experience a one hour Collection room tour and would be happy to be featured on this page in the next issue of Artel, please email us at artelmagazine@gmail.com by 17 June 2019 to enter the draw. Open to members only. The winner will be selected at random and the tour scheduled for a suitable date in July.

What did you enjoy most about the experience? I loved the whole thing, but especially the behind-the-scenes stories Cheryl told me. Such as about how some 29

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Social Gallery From exhibition openings to member coach trips, MRAG encourages people of all ages to come together and enjoy art.

Brenda Clouten scholarship finalists at Spring exhibition opening, 8 Sept 2018

Sui-Linn White & Andrea Pugh at Sculpture on the Farm, Fosterton, MRAGM coach trip, 29 Sept 2018

MRAG Contemporary Art Sale opening night, 19 Oct 2018

Annual Arts in Health Fundraiser, 2 Nov 2018

Summer exhibition opening, 1 Dec 2018



Sandra & Frank Tweedie with Dr Jan Noble AM, MRAGM Christmas Party, 7 Dec 2018

Jaime Pritchard, Leeroy Chapman & Karen Steains, MRAGM Christmas Party, 7 Dec 2018 Merridy Childs, Mayor Cr Loretta Baker & Karen Flint, MRAGM Christmas Party, 7 Dec 2018

MRAGM Christmas Party, 7 Dec 2018

Chris and Verona Lucas, MRAGM Christmas Party, 7 Dec 2018

Free Art January 2019

Thank you Jaslyn Rose Photography for the MRAGM Christmas Party photos


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


Street Art Have you seen The New One yet? Artist and MRAG Member Patricia van Lubeck, who runs Studio Amsterdam on Maitland's High Street with her partner, Frank Winnips, painted this striking mural last year in The Levee’s Bourke Street Link to the Hunter River. It celebrates the welcoming of newcomers into a community: “The New One does not have to wait long before he or she is made comfortable and included in a diverse group of locals. The trees symbolise how we are all different yet similar and we are stronger together than apart.”

Originally from the Netherlands, Patricia and Frank moved to Maitland around 18 month ago, and this work reflects their positive experience of settling into the community. It took Patricia, with the help of Frank and another newcomer to Maitland, artist Andrew Bennett, approximately 200 hours to complete. The mural was part of The Levee’s #goingglobal theme supported by Council’s Place Activation program. www.mymaitland.com.au/street-art



Artastique Artastique is a new community-led art event designed to promote the work of Hunter-based artists in participating Maitland High Street shop windows. The inaugural event runs for ten days, from 9–18 March, coinciding with Maitland Taste Festival (9–10 March). Showcasing 40 artists in 40 shops, the event is being steered by Andrew Bennett, Patricia and Frank (of Studio Amsterdam) and Kate Muise, who they met at a series of Creative Coffee meet ups in Maitland in 2018. Artastique is inspired by Kunst10Daagse, an annual event in the small Dutch town of Bergen, where Patricia and Frank lived until the mid-90s. For Kunst10Daagse art is displayed in shop windows as well as in huts in a nearby forest, which are transported from local beaches each Winter. In 2018 the event attracted around 40,000 visitors to the town, which has a population of 30,000.


first People of Maitland Portrait Prize competition, with Margaret Sivyer as one of the subjects. Dorothy Compton’s winning entry is above. From 17 August this year, MRAG will be hosting an exhibition celebrating the group’s 21st birthday. For this, the group’s members - many of whom are also MRAG Members - are invited to create a work of art celebrating what Maitland means to them.


Maitland Region Society of Artists - 21st Birthday


Founding Director of Maitland City Art Gallery, Margaret Sivyer OAM, was instrumental in bringing local artists together in 1998 to form the Maitland Region Society of Artists. An active group who meet socially for lunch, workshops and painting weekends away, they have a major exhibition each August showcasing members’ work. Last year they ran their

IMAGES 1 Patricia van Lubeck, The New One, Bourke Street Link 2 Dorothy Compton’s prize-winning watercolour painting of Margaret Sivyer OAM


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Inspired! Which artworks exhibited at MRAG have really inspired you? Member Bill Carney was recently inspired by Rosemary Valadon’s painting Autumn Still Life to write an ‘ekphrasis’ poem. ekphrasis - noun. A literary description of, or commentary on, a visual work of art.

Still life spills from baskets, bowls and gathered cloth that spills from table height.

Bill stands before Autumn Still Life above the vestibule of the main gallery.

I’ve been a poet for some 20 years now. I write ‘proper’ poetry but also bush verse and doggerel works for weddings, partings, any 'fling'. I’ve been thrilled to be part Council’s Maitland Verses Poets program; Café Seraphine, within MRAG, has been very gracious in hosting my (and others’) presence.

Stilled light spills from blade, to linen folds and creases, charmed with colour. Life stills, in oils above plucked vegetables above stilled life crustaceous, lapinary.

I mostly write about what I see before me - a scene or interaction that stimulates my thinking. I write what comes, usually fairly quickly, and leave it there. This poem was written likewise - short and sharp, with quick lines. There could be many more facets to this painting; but see how this effort feels to you, as to length and emotional ‘depth’.

Over cloth and wood and withering leaf, or skin or flowers, that dull and droop. And all above stilled lives that gather, crane and swirl below or coalesce again, and still.  

In each issue we’ll share a member’s creative response to artwork on display at MRAG. It could be a literary, dance, musical or other interpretation. If you’re interested please contact us at artelmagazine@gmail.com for more info.

Rosemary Valadon, Autumn Still Life, 2014, oil on canvas, which was exhibited at MRAG in Textures of Desire until February 2019 34

Want your ad featured? If you’d like to advertise in this space in the next issue of Artel please contact artelmagazine@gmail.com Members receive 10% off advertising rates. By advertising in Artel you’ll be directly supporting MRAGM by subsidising the production costs.

ood food

Relax over breakfast on the garden deck, come for lunch with friends or enjoy a coffee and freshly made sweet treat after visiting MRAG’s latest exhibitions.

Open for breakfast & lunch 7:30am – 4:30pm Tuesday to Sunday Closed Mondays


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Seraphine Café @ MRAG

with fresh

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Fully licensed. See the menu & wine list at: mrag.org.au/café 02 4934 7264


Div e into M RAG

Become a member of Maitland Regional Art Gallery

MRAG Members support free, accessible, all ages arts education programs, including Free Art Sunday AND receive membership benefits. To become a member, or renew your membership, ask at the Gallery front desk or complete a membership form online and email it to artgallery@maitland.nsw.gov.au For a full list of membership benefits visit mrag.org.au


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Profile for Maitland Regional Art Gallery

Artel #1 ~ MRAG Members' magazine (Autumn/Winter 2019)  

In this issue: Celebrating 10 Years of MRAG; Meet an Artist: Michaela Swan; Creative Insight: art tutor Genevieve Graham on the fun of facil...

Artel #1 ~ MRAG Members' magazine (Autumn/Winter 2019)  

In this issue: Celebrating 10 Years of MRAG; Meet an Artist: Michaela Swan; Creative Insight: art tutor Genevieve Graham on the fun of facil...