Sullivan+Strumpf Contemporary Art Gallery Sydney, Australia and Singapore - July 2020

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July 2020

FRONT COVER: Sydney Ball, Delta: Link Series, 1970-71, acrylic on linen, 229 x 145 cm

INSIDE COVER: eX de Medici, The Wreckers, 2019 (detail), watercolour on paper, 114 x 594 cm





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Contents 06 08 16 24 30 36 42 48 52 54 58 60 62

In Splendid Isolation Sydney Ball: 1963-1973 Interpreting colour Sydney Ball: The Stain paintings Kirsten Coelho: The Shaping of Changes Irfan Hendrian: Precious Things – The New Life of Paper in Irfan Hendrian’s Art eX de Medici: The Wreckers Hiromi Tango: Looking Back/Looking Forward In the Studio with: Sam Leach Industry Voice: David Stein At home with: Glenn Barkley Quick Curate: Ceramic Last Word: Penelope Seidler on Sydney Ball Upcoming Exhibitions


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Ursula Sullivan and Joanna Strumpf. Photo credit: Anna Kucera

In Splendid Isolation Ursula Sullivan+Joanna Strumpf

Wonder what Sydney Ball would have made of the Covid crisis? We met Syd in 2004, and as long as we knew him, Syd lived in splendid isolation, in his both simple and magnificent 1980s Glenn Murcutt designed home, set in relatively untouched bushland, in Sydney’s Hills District. He made the trek each day, from the house, to the studio and back again – about 400 meters all up. He went to the local shops once or twice a week, he came to the gallery a couple of times a month. His contacts were few in his later years and we like to think that if he were still alive, he probably would have been ok through all this, and would now be proficient in Zoom! This month, we are celebrating the great man with a show titled Sydney Ball 1963-1973: Works from the estate. In these decades, Syd was certainly not in isolation – he spent much of this time in New York City, where there was lots of contact – contact with some of the most revered figures 20th century art: Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Helen Frankenthaler and Lee Krasner, to name a few. The show includes some treasures – some of which have not been exhibited in Sydney before, and one particularly special Canto series work, Blue Vertical 1964 which has never been seen in Australia. With essays by Wendy Walker and esteemed critic, curator and friend, Patrick McCaughey, we hope that this gives you some insight into this exciting period of the artist’s long career. Wendy Walker has also been busy, writing a book on the sublimely talented ceramic artist Kirsten Coelho. Kirsten is the 2020 South Australian Living Artist recipient and the monograph, an outcome of this award, will soon be published through Wakefield Press, and will also

be accompanied by a solo exhibition at the Samstag Museum, University of South Australia. This month, we can read about Coelho’s otherworldly ceramic works which she has been creating in her home studio in Adelaide for the last three decades. We also focus on contemporary Indonesian artist Irfan Hendrian and delve into his paper world. Director of Jakarta Biennale, Farah Wardani, looks at his latest body of work – a reminiscence of his hometown of Bandung Indonesia – and a meditation on the preciousness of paper. For the first time we focus on a single artist’s work - eX de Medici’s magnum opus, The Wreckers 2019, a six-metre long watercolour construction of car, drone and plane wreckage which was recently acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. With Nostradamus-like prediction, The Wreckers is a powerful allegorical statement. Conservator but not conservative, David Stein talks about his passion for mid-century art and architecture – and how an encounter with a Camille Pissarro changed the course of his career. For the voyeurs amongst us, we go home with ceramic artist Glenn Barkley, meet his cats, Matthew and Milky and find out more about how serious collecting habits started with Star Wars figures. Sam Leach takes time out from preparation for his next show to give us a hilarious account of building a home studio in the age of Covid. And we go back in time with Hiromi Tango, to look over her vast body of work. So hope you enjoy our latest issue. – Urs and Jo


Sydney Ball, Blue Vertical, 1964, acrylic on canvas, 134.5 x 126 cm

Sydney Ball: 1963-1973 Interpreting colour “Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s Sydney Ball developed a sophisticated, dynamic and continually evolving visual language – predicated on his ‘holy trinity of colour, space and light’ – which confirmed his status as a leading figure of Australian abstraction.“ By Wendy Walker


Sydney Ball: 1963-1973 Interpreting colour

‘[I]t is the case of an artist caught at a moment of immense self-confidence, very nearly of ecstasy, as he summons from within himself, a series of geometries so sumptuous and grand as to leave the spectator breathless.’

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Sydney Ball: 1963-1973 Works from the estate presents paintings, drawings and a laminated plywood sculpture that are indicative of Ball’s six consecutive series of powerful and stylistically diverse colour abstraction, fuelled by two formative periods living in New York at the epicentre of the post-World War II art world. In the early 1960s, while studying painting and lithography at the renowned Art Students League, Ball immersed himself in the exhibitions of first and second-generation American abstractionists – memorably Hans Hofmann, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Mark Rothko. ‘… [T]he whole scene was one of complete energy – it was all there, all happening on the spot – not only painting, but writing, theatre, dance, music – sets by Rauschenberg, music by John Cage.’1 Central to this period is the charismatic figure of abstract expressionist artist Theodoros Stamos – lecturer, friend and mentor – who introduced Ball to artists of the New York School such as Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Robert Motherwell and Rothko. (A member of the Irascible Eighteen, Stamos had earlier taught at the experimental, inter-disciplinary Black Mountain College.)2 One of the first exhibitions I saw was the Morris Louis at the Guggenheim – the tremendous sustained light that he got from his colour –and what was important was that the whole painting left the canvas. It wasn’t something static within the confines of its support–the whole painting went beyond the confines of the canvas. I think seeing their exhibitions made me want to polish up my own work on colour; so I read a whole lot of books on colour …3

Presented in 1964 at the Westerly Gallery on Manhattan’s West 56th Street, Ball’s solo exhibition of the (retrospectively-titled) Band series – vertical stripes of variable width in an assertive palette of orange, black, white, yellow and red – heralded his unambiguous espousal of the formal reductionist vocabulary of the new hard-edge, geometric idiom, which constituted a subset of colour field or post-painterly abstraction. (The show was reviewed positively, albeit pithily, by Donald Judd in New York’s Arts Magazine.) As part of The New Edge – an exhibiting group, which included Carl Andre and Robert Barry – Ball unveiled his first Canto painting in their inaugural show at the Westerly Gallery in 1965. American collector Larry Aldrich (founder of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum) acquired Ball’s ‘Blue Vertical’ Canto (1964) – an emphatic cobalt column within a white disc on a brilliant orange ground – from the Westerly Gallery. Compelling in its clarity and featuring in Sydney Ball: 1963-1973 Works from the estate alongside a suite of Canto drawings, it is an outstanding early example of the Canto paintings, which critic Elwyn Lynn considered ‘like nothing else I had seen’, when he viewed them in Ball’s studio on a 1964 study tour of Europe and the United States.4 Exhibited as the series Cantos: In Great Praise in 1965 – at John Reed’s Museum of Modern Art Australia (MOMAA) on Ball’s return from New York – each vibrant, carefully differentiated work consisted of a vertically or diagonally striped disc within a square. Permutations seemed almost inexhaustible. Radical in their economy, the crisply delineated edges, the disavowal of representation

Sydney Ball, Khamsa, 1967, enamel on laminated plywood, 2 parts: 270 x 61 cm; 120 x 61 cm

and painterly gesture, they initially provoked outraged newspaper coverage, but as historian Christopher Heathcote has observed: In ‘galvanising a younger generation of artists … Ball managed to swing the momentum of the entire [Australian] art scene … the idiom they had been searching for had appeared.’5

reinvention of what sculpture could be, came in part from his encounters with the paintings of Frankenthaler, Noland, Gottllieb … on his first trip to the United States in 1959. Like his painter friends, Caro made eloquent dramas out of interval, extension and edges, realized in wholly sculptural, spatially articulate terms.’7

A rarity within Ball’s oeuvre, the undulations of the red-enamelled sculpture ‘Khamsa’ (1967) demonstrate a pronounced affinity with the distinctive, fluid forms, which characterised the Persian series – and in particular a 1967 screen print titled ‘Khamsa Pink’. It is therefore not surprising that ‘Khamsa’ was exhibited in the 1967 group show Engine at Sydney’s Farmers Blaxland Gallery, in tandem with five Persian paintings including ‘Isfahan’ (which later featured in the landmark 1968 The Field exhibition, for which Ball designed the poster).6 In his introduction to the Engine catalogue – arrayed with photographs of Sydney’s urban streetscape – Kym Bonython declared: ‘They are concerned with modern architecture, modern forms, modern synthetics. They blend the hard-edge statements of the modern designer with the warm sense of evangelism.’ With its use of lustrous enamel on laminated plywood – in tandem with Ball’s stated desire to ‘take painting out of the picture frame’ – ‘Khamsa’ anticipated the sculptural Modular works which followed (1968–’69).

Aligning matt canvas components with glossy enamel boards, the Modular series marked a dynamic investigation of strict geometric/architectonic form and spatial relationships. In works including ‘Zonal Turn’, ‘Beam’ and ‘New Seasons’, Ball dispensed with the voluptuous arabesques of the Persian series, manipulating chevrons, L-shapes and other angular components in varied, non-prescriptive configurations. Very positively reviewed at the time by critics Donald Brook and Elwyn Lynn, in 2003 when the Modular series was restaged, it elicited a rapturous response from critic Bruce James: ‘[I]t is the case of an artist caught at a moment of immense self-confidence, very nearly of ecstasy, as he summons from within himself, a series of geometries so sumptuous and grand as to leave the spectator breathless.’8

It was British sculptor Anthony Caro and his deployment of ‘negative space as an active field’, Ball cited as an inspiration for the dazzling Modular series of 1968–’69. Karen Wilkin has made an interesting point about interdisciplinary exchange; namely that ‘Caro’s radical

Although Ball’s methodology was to work through a series to a satisfying resolution, following his return to New York in 1969, practical considerations prohibited the continuation of the acclaimed Modular series. Six original Link paintings and several accompanying gouache drawings (1970– ‘71) in this exhibition provide – as the title of the series makes explicit – a connection between the crisp geometric abstraction of the 1960s and the painterliness of Ball’s Stain series of the 1970s. Originally shown in 1971 as Paintings from New York at Bonython


Sydney Ball: 1963-1973 Interpreting colour

Gallery in Adelaide, five of the transitional paintings were subsequently exhibited in Macquarie Galleries’ Tribute to Ian Fairweather in 1991. Reviewing the Bonython exhibition, critic Stephanie Britton noted that ‘the strength of these single-minded statements will remain.’9 The uncharacteristically sombre palette of the Link paintings is reflective of events in Ball’s personal life at that time – including the disastrous loss of the contents of his Chelsea studio in a fire. During his second sojourn in New York, Ball worked as an assistant in Rothko’s studio assembling the series of major works for the Menil Chapel commission. In February 1970 Rothko took his own life and Ball was asked to help Roy Edwards in compiling an inventory of Rothko’s works. ‘Rolling out the large paintings,’ Ball recalled, ‘was a revelation.’

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Gone are the sharply delineated edges of previous series, supplanted by subtle vertical oblongs, which appear as discrete, hovering lozenges of glowing colour on muted hessian grounds. In a 2007 interview with Anne Loxley, Ball stated that Helen Frankenthaler’s pioneering technique of saturating raw, unprimed canvas on the floor with a flow of liquid pigment, which she then reversed ‘to use that lovely delicacy as the main painting [was] very informative.’ However, this particular reversal strategy proved ineffectual for the Link paintings; ‘I kept to the frontal surface, but I used a very rough hessian and tested the process of working with a softer colour. The Link paintings are very much New York paintings.’10 In adopting and adapting Pollock’s innovative process, Frankenthaler developed her own influential vocabulary (removing what one commentator has referred to as the ‘heavy breathing’11 from abstract expressionism) and thereby creating a link between that canonised movement and colour field painting. In Sydney Ball: 1963-1973 Works from the estate, Link’s floating oblongs reappear in two Stain paintings, which were part of a triumphant sell-out exhibition of the series at Bonython Gallery in 1973, following Ball’s return to Sydney in 1971. Part of the first phase of the tripartite Stain series of almost 100 paintings, the evocatively titled Jackson Summer (1973) and After Tiepolo (1972) are notable for the subtle allusions to earlier paintings. There are for example, traces of the lapis-lazuli blue of the Persian body of work, while surviving geometric forms assume either a fresh transparency or a fragmented shardlike quality.

It was a productive period; two Stain paintings were included in the inaugural 1973 Biennale of Sydney at the Sydney Opera House and Ball was represented in Patrick McCaughey’s international touring exhibition Ten Australian Painters (1974) with a further four Stain works. Associated with the exhibition, a 10-part ABC documentary series revealed Ball manoeuvring around a large canvas on the floor, working on an unprecedented scale and freed to access all sides of a painting – a development which dissolved all conventional notions of orientation. ‘For me it’s the scale which envelops the viewer; that whole nebula of colour, the ocean of colour, which just soaks you in.’ Ball treasured his copy of Barbara Rose’s 1970 monograph on Frankenthaler and the title of the Stain series is an acknowledgement of his debt to the artist’s aforementioned soak-stain technique. Moreover, the merging of image and ground, ‘the expansiveness of an all-over surface’ – for which Monet’s late series of superlative water lily paintings were an additional and enduring point of reference – provided a catalyst for the exploration of a painterly form of (considered) abstraction Ball referred to as lyrical abstraction. Recognising a movement away from the geometric and hard-edge towards softer, more sensuous abstractions, in which the trace of the artist’s hand was visible, Larry Aldrich curated a touring exhibition titled Lyrical Abstraction – presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1971. Although Ball’s earliest hard-edge abstractions were realised in oil paints, the availability in the 1960s of fastdrying, water-soluble acrylics (potentially both thin and opaque) transformed the possibilities for abstract painters. As awards and accolades flowed throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Ball developed a sophisticated, dynamic and continually evolving visual language – predicated on his ‘holy trinity of colour, space and light’ – which confirmed his status as a leading figure of Australian abstraction

Wendy Walker is an independent author, art critic, editor and occasional curator. In addition to numerous art reviews and catalogue essays, she has written extensively on the visual arts for national and international journals. She is the former editor of Broadsheet: Contemporary Visual Art + Culture..

1. Laurie Thomas, The most noble art of them all, St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1976, p. 217 2. Other members of the Irascibles, who in 1950 challenged the exhibiting policies of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, included Louise Bourgeois, Adolph Gottlieb, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still. 3. Thomas, op. cit., p. 217 4. Elwyn Lynn, ‘Leadership Challenged by the Best Show for Years’, The Bulletin, 1969, p. 56. Lynn was an important supporter and friend throughout Ball’s career. 5. Christopher Heathcote, A Quiet Revolution: the rise of Australian art 1946–1968, Melb: The Text Publishing Company, 1995, pp. 188, 189. In 2002, John Stringer, co-curator of The Field (1968) referred to Ball as a ‘prophet at home generating large canvases … that seemed to have no precedent in Australian culture.’ 6. ‘Khamsa’ was also exhibited in 1967 at Sweeney Reed’s Strines Gallery in Melbourne and in 1969 at Perth’s John Gild Galleries and Bonython Art Gallery in Adelaide. It was later included in a 2003 survey exhibition of Australian mid-century sculpture at Melbourne’s Heide Museum of Modern Art. 7. Karen Wilkin, Color as Field: American Painting 1950–1975, Washington DC: Smithsonian Art Museum, 2008, p. 73 8. Bruce James, ‘Three Generations, One with Youth on its Side’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 April, 2003, p.16 9. Stephanie Britton, ‘Far from gloomy’, The News, Adelaide, 23 October, 1971 Sydney Ball, Sparta: Link series, 1970-71, acrylic on linen, 229 x 145 cm 10. Anne Loxley, interview with the artist, 28 July, 2008 in Sydney Ball: The colour paintings 1963–2007, Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, 2008, p. 14 11. Michael McNay, ‘Helen Frankenthaler Obituary’, The Guardian, 29 December, 2011 All unattributed quotes by Sydney Ball are from interviews and email communications with the author, 2007–2013.


LEFT: Sydney Ball, Sketchbook, 1970, Link Series

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RIGHT: Sydney Ball, Levant: Link Series, 1970, acrylic on linen, 229 x 145 cm


Sydney Ball, After Tiepolo, 1972 (detail), acrylic on canvas, 243 x 242 cm


Sydney Ball: The Stain Paintings By Patrick McCaughey

Sydney Ball arrived on the Australian art scene with a bang in the mid 1960s with his series Cantos. They were bold and memorable and took Australian painting in a new direction. Here was a painter who thought in colour and saw it as the subject of his art, not just an agent of form. The range of his colour spoke to his originality, from highkeyed sunbursts of light to a melodious set of lower tones. The format of circle and square framed in bars of colour was a firm and effective.

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Had he wanted to, he could have had a lifetime painting the Cantos, become an antipodean Josef Albers. But his character as an artist would not permit that. To keep himself moving forward in his exploration of colour, he had to vary the formats. We had the architectural and decorative richness of the Persian series, followed by the Modular paintings where colour became substance in solid blocks and panels – the constructivism of colour. But nothing quite prepared his critics or his admirers for the surging change of the Stain paintings in the 1970s. At a stroke Ball broke free of being typecast as a ‘sixties artist’. The new paintings had an expressive freedom, a sense of release that stood on end the tight-fisted manners of the 1960s. They were undoctrinaire. Ball discovered the volatility of colour as well as its iconic luminosity, which the earlier paintings had espoused so handsomely. He now saw colour as the inherently unstable force in painting, generating its electricity and charge.

The change came about for many reasons. Ball was concerned not to paint himself into a cul-de-sac. The late 1960s and early 1970s brought increasing outcries that “painting was dead”, that it was finished as a medium for new and serious art. Minimalism and the variety of post-minimalist modes – from installations and informal sculpture to video and performance, conceptual art, documentation and photography – were now the acceptable advanced forms of art. It was a testing time for painters. Their commitment to painting was questioned and challenged. What sustained Ball and took him into the new direction of the Stain paintings was his knowledge and love of earlier painting. His admiration for Tintoretto, especially the Scuola di San Rocco cycle or the immense paintings done for his parish church in Venice, the Madonna dell’ Orto, is one of the surprises of his taste. The scattering of incidents across large expanses of canvas in Tintoretto, without dissipating their intensity of feeling, moved Ball as man and artist and inspired in part the scale of the Stain paintings. His admiration for the modernist tradition, from Monet to Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, has never wavered nor has his delight in Cézanne and his descendants in the School of Paris. I can vouch for Ball’s concentrated looking at paintings from numerous visits around New York galleries and museums and from trips we did together to Buffalo to see the Clyfford Stills at the Albright-Knox Art

LEFT: Sydney Ball, Jackson Summer

(detail), 1973, acrylic on cotton duck, 218 x 381 cm RIGHT: Sydney Ball in his studio

Gallery, or to the Barnes Foundation in its original iteration in Philadelphia. These experiences consistently enriched his sensibility and strengthened his faith in his own art. Looking at the Stain paintings forty years on, what strikes me is how different they look from each other today, how much variety there is from canvas to canvas. Each painting is a fresh encounter, as though Ball explicitly set out never to repeat himself. (They looked more homogeneous in the 1970s for reasons I find hard to pin down.) He varies his favoured colour propositions – blue and gold, red and green – with slashes of earth tones and royal purple. If you work in such a spontaneous, improvisatory way, you risk looking arbitrary, one slash of colour after another. Manifestly that’s not how we read the Stain paintings today. They seem so purposeful, brimming with conviction and feeling. What refutes the charge of arbitrariness is the constancy of the rhythms from painting to painting. In almost all of them forms rise from the bottom edge or cascade down from the top, meeting and making for the turbulent, energetic centre. I notice too how adamantly the paintings read from left to right. Of course, all western paintings do, from Giotto to Cy Twombly. Ball makes the rhythm such an explicit part of abstractions that it gives the paintings aquasi-narrative quality as though we are being swept along by the action of colour on colour, ragged stain on ragged stain.

The Stain paintings are one of the triumphs of Australian art in the 1970s and have been somewhat overlooked in the accounts of that difficult and puzzling decade. How good it is to see them again and what miracles of vitality and enterprise they are. Like all major works of art, they renew the senses and the soul. Upcoming Exhibition: Sydney Ball: 1963-1973 Works from the estate / Sydney / 30.7.2020

This foreword was written by Patrick McCaughey in 2013 and was originally published in the book Sydney Ball: The Stain Paintings 1971-80. Patrick McCaughey is a former director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; and the Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut. He has published widely on Australian art including a monograph on Fred Williams, and writes for a number of journals including the Times Literary Supplement and the Yale Review. His friendship with Sydney Ball spanned over four decades.


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Watch writer, critic, and occasional curator Wendy Walker interview Sydney Ball on his time in New York and his iconic Stain series.

RIGHT: Sydney Ball, Jackson Summer (detail), 1973, acrylic on cotton duck, 218 x 381 cm


Sydney Ball: Timeline 1960-1980

1960-62 — Ball studies part time at the South Australian Institute, Adelaide, taught painting by James Cant. Ball decides to study at the Art Students League of New York, he sets sail for New York in 1962.

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1963 — Ball commences full-time studies at Art Students League studying painting under Theodore Stamos (one of the Irascible Eighteen). Ball visits galleries and museums on his afternoons off, sees a major survey exhibition by Mark Rothko, whom he meets later that year. He begins the Band series.

1967 — Ball begins the Modular series. The Persian series is widely exhibited and shown in group show Engine in Sydney, with Col Jordan and Ken Reinhard.




Ball is invited to hold a solo exhibition at the Westerly Gallery, West 56th Street, New York, and the show is reviewed by Donald Judd. He participates in a group show at Westerly Gallery alongside Carl Andre and other students of Robert Motherwell at Hunter College, and is awarded the Ford Foundation scholarship. He develops the first Canto series works, the title of which is based on the poems by Ezra Pound. Ball meets other members of the Irascible Eighteen, including Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell, and is invited to Rothko’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. He travels to Jackson Pollock’s studio and meets Lee Krasner. One of his Canto paintings is sold to the Aldrich Museum of Art – his first museum sale.

Ball returns to Australia via Japan. His first solo show, the Canto series, is shown at the Museum of Modern Art Australia arranged by John Reed. Reed purchases two works from the show and one other work sells, however the show is not reviewed favourably. In October, Ball is unanimously awarded the Mirror-Warratah Invitation Art prize, and is appointed Lecturer at the South Australian School of Art.

Ball wins the Georges Invitation Art Prize, judged by Clement Greenberg, and is included in The Field at the newly opened NGV (he also designs the poster).

1966 — Ball exhibits at the Watters Gallery in Sydney. Newcastle Art Gallery acquires Canto XIX, 1966 There is keen support from Elwyn Lynn and Patrick McCaughey. The National Gallery of Victoria acquires Canto XXI. The Persian series begins.

1971 — Ball begins the Stain series, and continues to work in Rothko’s studio preparing catalogues for touring shows. Commits to an exhibition of the Link works in Adelaide, returns home to Australia, via Japan.




The Modular series is shown at Bonython Galleries, Adelaide and Sydney. Ball returns to New York, and begins studies for his new Link series.

The Stain series is shown at Bonython Gallery, Sydney to great acclaim, and further successes in subsequent shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide. Ball is included in Ten Australians ABC-TV documentary, with an international tour of Paris, Stuttgart, Milan, Florence, Rome and Venice. Ball, who now lives in Sydney is appointed Senior Lecturer in Art, City Art Institute, Sydney College of Advanced Education. Survey exhibition held at Newcastle City Art Gallery.

Ball buys 10 hectares of land at Glenorie to build a home and studio with partner Lynne Eastaway. A survey exhibition of his Stain series works is held at St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane.

1970 — Ball’s studio is destroyed by fire – including all paints and materials. He meets up with Greenberg again and is introduced to Ken Noland, Jules Olitski and Jack Bush. Travels the East Coast of America with Lynn and McCaughey. Following Rothko’s death, Ball is asked to clean the studio, where he had been working and assembling Rothko’s Menil Chapel commission.

1977-80 — Works from the highly acclaimed Stain series are acquired by James Mollison for the National Gallery, Canberra.


Tony Albert, Brother (The invisible prodigal son) II 2020,

Kirsten Coelho Portrait. Photo credit: Daniel Noone

glass, digital print glass decal, lead, painted steel

Kirsten Coelho: The Shaping of Changes Kirsten Coelho works in porcelain creating functional forms and vessels of a distilled and otherworldly perfection, which represent her preferred fusion of the formal with the abstract.

By Wendy Walker


Kirsten Coelho: The Shaping of Changes

Deeply grounded in North-Asian ceramic history and the powerful influence of the British studio movement, which encompasses the Leach/Hamada legacy, as well as the Viennese-inflected modernism of Lucie Rie, her refined interpretations of humble domestic wares nevertheless possess a distinctly contemporary and Australian sensibility. The recipient of multiple awards, she has exhibited extensively and increasingly widely – predominantly in Australia and the United Kingdom, but also Denmark, Hong Kong, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Taipei and the USA. Included in major international ceramic publications authored by Emmanuel Cooper, Louisa Taylor and Edmund de Waal, her work has been acquired for significant private and public collections, such as the Devonshire Collection of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Illustrated in both Cooper’s and de Waal’s publications, her trademark porcelain interpretations of historical Australian enamelware – distinguished by their painterly iron oxide articulations – recall the rusted and chipped enamel household items favoured by Australian artist Rosalie Gascoigne.

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In Kirsten Coelho – the first major publication on her practice spanning thirty years – Grant Hancock’s immaculate images of Coelho’s porcelain vessels are interleaved with fragments of poetry and reproductions of paintings by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Russell Drysdale, Vilhelm Hammershøi and others. A foreword by ceramicist Glenn Barkley precedes a series of short essays, tracing the evolution of Coelho’s textured practice, in which an ever-expanding framework of art historical, literary and other cultural references has driven a succession of formal shifts – a shaping of changes. Inherited vocabularies are assimilated in hybridised, multiple forms that are astonishingly without replication. With the adoption of an ensemble mode of presentation, Coelho’s small universes of transcultural objects transcend the familiarity of their everyday contexts to enshrine narratives of migration, of transition and resettlement.

Woven into, and lending context to this narrative, are disparate, yet relevant aspects associated with the immensely rich history of ceramics, including (to cite a few examples): die Porzellankrankheit and the dangerous, alchemical allure of porcelain; the significance of a lineage of women ceramicists; the importance of collaborations and friendships for the studio potter, and the ongoing art world reappraisal of ceramic history, reflected in a growing number of publications, exhibitions and the comprehensive realignment of certain museum collections. As author/curator Glenn Adamson exclaimed earlier this year: “And then, suddenly ceramics seemed to be everywhere: at the fairs, in the galleries and on auction blocks.” Throughout her career, Coelho has been the beneficiary of scholarships, as well as state and federal funding assistance, facilitating international travel and the development of new work. In 2019, a fruitful research trip to Greece and Italy provided the impetus for the meditative, entirely white tableau, conceived for her solo exhibition Ithaca later this year at the Samstag Museum of Art. Representing Coelho’s most sculptural installation to date, it is emblematic of her bold approach towards the contextualisation of objects – enhanced by the inherent drama of an interplay of light and shadow – which made her authoritative Transfigured Night installation of seventythree exquisite porcelain objects and vessels for the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art so memorable.

Kirsten Coelho’s exhibitions of new works in porcelain will be presented at the Samstag Museum of Art: 26 October – November. Wendy Walker is the author of Kirsten Coelho, Adelaide, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2020 Glenn Adamson, ‘Why the Art World is Embracing Craft’, Artsy, 15 January 2020

Kirsten Coelho, Daphne, 2019, porcelain, satin white glaze, 27 x 26 x 23 cm, 3 pieces


Podcast - Kirsten Coelho

Travels through the Australian outback, listening to a recording of Homer’s The Odyssey, as well as a research trip in Europe, made artist Kirsten Coelho think deeply about travel and the idea of home. Listen to artist Kirsten and Joanna Kitto, Associate Curator at UniSA Creative, discussing Kirsten’s forthcoming exhibition Ithaca at the Samstag Museum, Adelaide and along the way, learn about the history of porcelain and brush up on your Greek classics!

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Listen to podcast

TOP: Kirsten Coelho, Passages, 2019, porcelain, matte white glaze, banded iron oxide, saturated iron glaze, 29 x 130 x 34 cm, 11 pieces RIGHT: Kirsten Coelho, Bottle with Cup, 2019, porcelain, matte pale grey white glaze, banded iron oxide, 30 x 17 x 15 cm, 2 pieces


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Irfan Hendrian, Installation view, Some Other Matter at Aloft at Hermes Photo credit: Edward Hendricks

Irfan Hendrian: Precious Things “At first glance, we see a massive stack of bricks, enough to build a small house. But a closer look reveals that they are bricks mixed with books created from white office paper with covers of a brick-like terracotta colour...“ By Farah Wardani


Irfan Hendrian: Precious Things– The New Life of Paper in Irfan Hendrian’s Art

...The apparent concreteness of the books echoes the solidity of the bricks, these very different materials always, in fact, closely related to each other. In another work, we see towering, sturdy pillars with a colour gradation of curious hues. When we take a closer look, we find they are made from meticulously crafted layers of used offset paper. The two works are Tropical Ephemerality: Brick Stack and Piles of Ink & Paper, by Irfan Hendrian. In Irfan’s works, paper is not a delicate, easily destroyed material that most of us still see and use every day. It is a strong and powerful material. But Irfan’s works are far more than ingenious paper sculptures. Irfan’s love of paper, and his conscious choice of industrial printing paper as subject-matter, can be traced back to his high school years. He came of age in Bandung at the turn of the millennium, a city in West Java popularly known for its fashion and creative industry. The early-noughties were an interesting time in the Indonesian art scene. With the spirit of 1998 still in the air, many independent art spaces and collectives were mushrooming into existence, giving a new generation of young artists a platform to begin their careers. At that time, the Bandung art scene was closely tied with the ‘distro’ (distributor outlet) subculture, an ecosystem of small-scale, independent creative industries which stretched across music, fashion, zines, and graphic/ product design. Both the art scene and the distro culture helped to define Bandung’s identity and its status as a center of creative industry in Indonesia in the early 2000s.

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Irfan took part in this distro culture from his teens, which was when he started developing his craft as a graphic designer – still his professional vocation. At that time, digital culture was still in its infancy. Whilst designed on a computer the printing process was very much analogue, with offset printers and silkscreen, now regarded as vintage. Visual communications and branding during those times still relied heavily on printed materials, especially

in the distro culture of books, booklets, posters, flyers and album covers. All of this changed drastically with the rise of digital technology and social media, which also transformed the notion of graphic design practice in general. As Irfan says, “The digital has made graphic design move away from, and marginalise, its origins in print and paper.” Yet, Irfan maintained his belief in the medium of printed paper, even after finishing a course in design at Wanganui School of Design, New Zealand, in 2009. Aside from being a sought-after art publications designer in Bandung, he also teaches at Sekolah Tinggi Desain Indonesia – Indonesia Design Academy teaching the history of design, branding, typography and production methods – including analog printing processes. As a designer, Irfan has been integral in the branding of prominent art spaces in Bandung such as Lawang Wangi, Rumah Proses, Common Room and Platform 3 - all of which nurtured Bandung’s emerging contemporary artists of the 2000s and 2010s. Around 2012 he started to focus on being an artist. He bought an abandoned mushola (a type of small mosque) and turned it into his studio. The relations between paper, analog printing, and imbuing old, abandoned things with new value and meaning became his subject-matter. Irfan gave me a virtual tour around Pagarsih, an ecosystem of small printshops in downtown Bandung that has now become central to his working life. It is a street occupied by more than a hundred print-related services and workshops, most of them still operate solely for smallscale print-on-paper demands, with old analog printers and industrial paper. Pagarsih was the centre of resources and production during his distro days, long before he was professional designer working on art publications. The shops are typical of small business in Indonesia, shabby, crammed, messy but lively and busy – with rusty print and cutting machines, and endless stacks of paper, new

and used, visible in every corner. This modest place is where Irfan took his paper and print materials for Tropical Ephemerality: Brick Stack shown at Aloft @ Hermès last year, and Piles of Ink and Paper, which was acquired by the Singapore Art Museum. There was a mall-like building called ‘Plaza Pagarsih’ built a few years back that was supposed to replace the small shops, but it is mostly left empty and most of the business owners and workers remain in their original place. They are also not threatened by the emergence of big new digital printing companies in the suburbs or the franchise digital print shops that have become common. In a way, I see how the resilience of Pagarsih, and also Irfan’s own devotion to working with print and paper, reflect not only the changes of the print and paper medium, but also the changes of Bandung itself. It used to be known as the ‘Paris of Java’, the hilly city was famed for its cool air, flowers and cozy street corners with a rich legacy of colonial architecture and now it has become a commercialised and hyper-gentrified place. New commercial places built every year to accommodate tourists and shoppers, and the streets are filled with traffic jams and billboards. The city has rapidly changed since Irfan and his generation came of age. But Irfan does not base his work on nostalgia or romanticism about the old or things that are or will be obsolete. His perspective is more about being open to change while at the same time not taking things for granted, and to give those things new value and meaning. As Irfan says, “I don’t think that paper will be gone. On the contrary, the data shows that the demand for paper and print now is actually higher – for packaging purposes, and it’s actually due to the rise of e-commerce. I see it as an interesting shift of how we see paper, as a material of protection.” In a digital world the tangibility of paper gives it a new value, it’s a durable medium in an ephemeral age.

Then again, he does acknowledge that the function of paper and print as a conveyor of information is being overshadowed by digital media. And this knowledge affects how he develops his subject-matter, returning them to their essential materiality, physicality and original form. This relates so much to his interest in the relationships between people and object. For him digital technology makes people increasingly detached from materials; it makes them lose their sensitivity to the value, quality and virtue of crafting things. He uses the example of cheap, mass-produced furniture, which people throw out and change for something new when they are bored. “People no longer fix or renew things themselves,” Irfan says – and this is what he does with the endless stacks of paper in Pagarsih, giving them new life, identity and existential purpose. Irfan’s focus on the preciousness of paper and print challenges how we comprehend materiality and the things we use in everyday life. Writing this during the physical distancing of the Covid-19 pandemic, with everyone and everything shifting to digital mediums and virtual space, physical things – just like the body, and life itself - suddenly feel so startlingly precious .

Farah Wardani is an art historian, writer and exhibition organiser from Indonesia, active since 1999. Between 2007 and 2015 she was the executive Director of Indonesian Visual Art Archive (IVAA) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Farah served as Assistant Director of the Library & Archives of National Gallery Singapore from 2015 to 2019. She currently resides in Jakarta and is Director of Jakarta Biennale.


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Irfan Hendrian, Piles of Inks on Paper, 2018, offset lithography on layers of paper and wood. Collection of Singapore Art Museum


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eX de Medici : The Wreckers

TOP: eX de Medici, The Wreckers, 2019, watercolour on paper, 114 x 594 cm BOTTOM: eX de Medici portrait by Gary Grealy

Earlier this year, the National Gallery of Australia announced the major acquisition of eX de Medici’s masterpiece, The Wreckers. A painstakingly-constructed watercolour tableau spanning almost six metres, The Wreckers escalates the artist’s interrogations of the global political, economic and environmental crisis and the devastating ramifications of power and greed. It is a sprawling scene of violence and destruction, created in de Medici’s unique aesthetic, drawing on her background as a tattooist. The heavily-coded work shows a mass of wrecked cars against a black star-spangled banner, adorned by flowers and interspersed with the names of “the worst people responsible for doing the worst things in the world”. Begun in late 2018 and shown at Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney in November last year, this work foreshadows a much larger metaphorical car crash: the unfolding of the climate catastrophe and the collapse of the West as we know it. The paradox of beauty and ruin raises questions about the growing opacity of government and indifference of the masses, who are distracted by a tidal wave of entertainment.


eX de Medici : On being in the moment By Dr Jenny McFarlane

eX de Medici, The Wreckers, 2019 (detail), watercolour on paper, 114 x 594 cm

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My little dog sits on my lap as I write this. She exists in the moment of my being still long enough for her to feel the sun on her back and doze. She has an enviable capacity for being, existing purely in the moment. The past and future are opaque to her. For a moment as I write, I notice her experience of time. We are advised to learn this capacity and find this time where neither past nor future press. Adult colouring-in books, watering the garden, gazing at the blue sky, yoga mats, meditation, time out, these are all strategies to be turned to this purpose. To feel the passage of the clouds across the sun as the sensation of a shadow cooling the skin and then be present to the returning warmth. To hear the distant sound of a car stopping at the lights and the wind in the trees, to take time out of life, and make time stand still, and to simply experience moments stretch into hours. But where true meditation is a disciplined, purposeful practice, much of our current conversation about being in the moment is escapist; an act of denial

in the face of recurrent trauma. As a society this escapism bleeds into a way of life. For when we choose to disappear into the moment, the corollary is a refusal to take issue with the bald-faced lies, blatant self-interest, and cowardly misuse of legal frameworks set up to protect the vulnerable. Are we taking the time to challenge theories once held in good faith, now made over into increasingly threadbare veils to greed and self-interest? In choosing to be in the moment, in choosing to ignore the press of past and future, and not to act, have we rather slid into some sort of time-distorted crystal cave, frozen out of time, unable to act, but only watch? There is good reason to seek time out. The everyday has become a traumatic experience where time crashes in on itself, one traumatic event after another, piling up every which way. There is no space to analyse and make sense of events. The sensation of time in this situation is quite different to being in the moment, rather we feel

jettisoned from the ordered progression of time. In a car crash each millisecond is experienced frame by frame with heightened senses, each deferred blow and repercussion is separated by long intervals. The slow crunch of metal, the slip of break-pads, the halt in forward momentum, the slow slide of bags from the front seat to the floor are each experienced in sharp detail. And nothing can be done. We are extracted from time, unable to act. Frozen, we can neither prevent the inevitable crash nor recover sufficiently from each impact to meet the ricocheting consequences. This is not the periodic crash of waves striking a beach, no cosmic metronome is at work here. Rather we are caught up in a jangled traumatic pile-up of recurrent trauma. Trapped in this distempered, freakish frequency it would take near superhuman strength to step back, mark the disrupted patterns and trace their source. If this is a turning point in historic time, we find ourselves T-boned at the intersection. How can we expect to both notice the bald patch on the tire and link it to the unexpected weather event, truly engage with the short

cut taken on our safety device, or anticipate the chain of events that sees an automatic guidance system wrest control from the human pilot? One or two manageable irregularities spiral rapidly into the unmanageable on a daily if not hourly basis. So, we find ourselves tossed from one event to another, distempered, disempowered and finally incapacitated by our failure to order events, slow our mind and retrieve the ability to intervene usefully and halt the pattern of crunching, folding metal, police tape and arterial flow. Standing in front of this work is not the moment to speak of reassurance. This is a moment for realisation, to recognise the car crash and to take a moment, step out of the crystal cave and understand what it would take to extract ourselves from this awful pile-up.


Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop

Opens 2 October 2020 A major survey exhibition by influential Australian artist Lindy Lee. Featuring works from the 1980s to the present day, Lee looks at art history, cultural authenticity, identity and our relationship to the cosmos.

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Seeds of a New Moon, 2019, flung bronze, image courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney and Singapore, Š the artist, photograph: Aaron Anderson

Exhibition Major Partner

Exhibition Supporting Partner

Exhibition Patrons


Government Partners

Supporting Exhibition Patrons

Susan Rothwell

Gutman Family Foundation

Jennifer Stafford & Jon Nicholson

Kirsten Coelho

Kirsten Coehlo creates functional forms and vessels of otherworldly perfection. In Kirsten Coelho, the first major publication on a practice spanning thirty years, author Wendy Walker traces the evolution of Coelho’s textured practice, in which an ever-expanding framework of art historical, literary and cinematic references has driven a succession of formal shifts – a shaping of changes. This beautiful, lavishly illustrated book of 176 pages will be released in September 2020. For pre-orders and enquiries, please contact publisher Wakefield Press at or phone +61.8.83524455.


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Hiromi Tango, Insanity Magnet 4, 2009, pigment print on paper, 61 x 86 cm


Hiromi Tango: Looking Back / Looking Forward By Hannah Sharpe

Ahead of Hiromi Tango’s upcoming solo exhibition, New Now, opening September 3 at Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney, we look at the moments which have shaped and defined the multidisciplined artist. Tango is a Japanese-Australian artist, who creates visually rich, immersive sculptural installations that invite audience interaction and reflection. Her artistic practice draws on personal experience with universal mental health challenges - loss, fear, depression and alienation. Interested in the therapeutic ability of art, Tango looks to neural science for inspiration, and explores the notion that light, colour and the process of creation can encourage emotional healing - both for the artist and her audience. Born in 1976 in Shikoku, Japan, Tango grew up in a culture entrenched in tradition, one where women frequently experienced gender inequality. Her childhood observations of this disparity within her own home, and the combative environment that it activated, were pivotal in establishing her practice of embracing the meditative and healing qualities of art making. Tango’s works often incorporate her family’s kimonos. Through the process of weaving and thus changing the kimono’s form, she unwraps and resolves “the relationship between generations of women, the challenges of reconciling traditional expectations with contemporary realities, and the strength and depth of our connections in spite of these challenges”.

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Tango migrated to Australia shortly after completing her studies at Japan Women’s University in 1998. She presented her first formal exhibition in Australia, a live installation piece at Brisbane’s Raw Space Galleries in 2006. Pushing the boundaries of personal and public space, Tango lived in the gallery windows for six weeks. She invited people passing by to enter her private world and engage with her belongings in what became a synergetic performance. LEFT: Hiromi Tango, Hiromi Hotel, Mixed Blood, 2011, Primavera,

Museum of Contemporary Art RIGHT: Hiromi Tango, Kimono’s Will - Nature, 2020, kimono silk and textile, 28 x 100 x 55 cm. Photo credit: Aaron Anderson

Opening a dialogue of exchange, this significant project was the beginning of her ongoing installation habitation

series, Hiromi Hotel. Often collaborative, these sitespecific sculptural pieces incorporate Tango’s collection of donated fabrics and materials that the artist says “contain significant memories – of the mother, the broken relationships, childhood or deceased family members. This approach is central to why I make art – the healing and therapeutic properties and the process of dealing with difficult memories”. Motherhood, for Tango, simultaneously sparked immense happiness and triggered a difficult period of postnatal depression. This profoundly challenging condition was the impetus for several powerful and momentous performances. Conceived during the infamous dust storm which engulfed Brisbane in 2009, Insanity Magnet was the first of this series. Tango adorned herself in her signature woven textiles and confronted her depression against an apocalyptic backdrop in New Farm Park. “On November 7th, 2008, I became a mother, and then for approximately one year was unable to engage with others through art. Those collective feelings, emotions and thoughts, along with my own, grew so big inside of my body and mind that I became completely unable to engage in everyday life at the time. This was one of the most threatening experiences for me”.

with a traumatic indigenous history and a staggering rate of youth suicide. Tango worked with children from the Derby Youth Centre to create Lizard Tail. The large sculpture embodied the many painful memories from the community, forming the shape of a lizard tail, a metaphor for the seemingly endless cycle of poverty and suffering. Since its original inception, the Lizard Tail series has evolved and has been exhibited in several different iterations - Magic Object: 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art; Lizard Tail (Breaking Cycle) Singapore Art Museum (2016) and most recently at Melbourne Art Fair and TarraWarra Biennial (2018). In her upcoming exhibition at Sullivan+Strumpf, New Now, Tango presents a rich accumulation of sculpture, paintings and drawings developed in 2019 and 2020, a period in which her hometown of Tweed Heads was engulfed in bushfire, and she was isolated from her ageing parents in Japan due to COVID-19. “The series that make up New Now”, Tango says, “each represent an artistic response to overwhelming situations, and a quest for healing. How do we define now? How can we build resilience? How do we adapt to new realities? How can we build hope in this challenging time?”.

Mixed Blood, Tango’s work for 2011 Primevera at the Museum of Contemporary Art, also stemmed from the emotional complexity of motherhood. Performed in an embellished cocoon-like enclosure, the work was inspired by the impending birth of her second baby and focused on Tango’s feelings of anxiety concerning how her new child would once again change her sense of self. Creating open and honest conversations about mental health through community engagement projects and exploring the potential for art-making processes to promote healing is fundamental to Tango’s practice. In 2012 Tango began what she describes as a “life changing” residency in Derby, Western Australia, a town 45

Hiromi Tango, Kimono’s Will – Nature, 2020 (detail), kimono silk and textile, 28 x 100 x 55 cm. Photo credit: Aaron Anderson

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Hiromi Tango, Lizard Tail (Breaking Cycle) #3, 2015, pigment print on paper, 102.5 x 250 cm

Hiromi Tango, Hiromi Hotel, 2011, Mixed Blood artist performance, Primavera Museum of Contemporary Art

Hiromi Tango, Dance, 2013, Jackson Bella Room, Museum of Contemporary Art


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In the Studio with: Sam Leach

Sam Leach portrait, In the studio

A couple of years ago my daughter started high school and we thought she might need a room of her own. I gave up my home studio (the biggest room in the house) and we all shuffled rooms so that my two daughters each had their own space. I had long daydreamed about building a new studio and this was the time. I managed to work through all the council requirements and submitted my plans – a beautiful shed, as high as possible and with a balance between keeping outdoor space and useful working area. Of course, they were rejected, and I needed to re-work my design. I spent a couple of years sulking about my plan rejection and dithering on the redesign, renting a studio space in an old warehouse. By November I realised that I could not face a second summer in that place, so I bit the bullet and paid someone to finish my studio plans. We broke ground on the studio in February. The engineering plans called for 2m deep pylons, and if Grand Designs has taught me anything it is that groundworks are always complicated and cost more than expected. Ours went smoothly though – no rocks, no collapses, no underground rivers. The concrete was poured, and all looked good until I came out to find our yard was a lake of sewage. I called the plumber and it seemed that the drilling had cracked the old ceramic pipe. The emergency plumbers trenched down around 3m across the yard to replace all the pipes. The digging had raised the soil level of the whole yard by about 300mm. I called the shed builder to see if we could lift the base of the shed to clear the new ground level. I worried whether raising the height of the shed would breach planning, but the builder thought it was “probably fine”. In the week that Covid-19 lockdown started the materials arrived. I was unsure if we would be able to progress, but the builder was absolutely unconcerned, declaring that Covid-19 was “all bullshit”. Luckily, the shed went up very fast – in about two days. Unluckily it was built backwards – the shed has a large roller door, and that was at the wrong end. The builder was sure that he checked that with me, but he definitely didn’t because I do know which way the shed is supposed to face. He might have asked me in a way that I didn’t understand.

We managed to resolve it (they moved the door to right end) and with the shell erected, I needed to get the building inspector to sign off before I started the fit-out. This was a tense time for me since I got it into my head that increasing the height of the shed meant it was not built according to the approved plans. The inspector missed two appointments, and then stopped returning my calls. To manage my anxiety, I started work on paving the sides of the shed a little. Getting the pavers up to the edge of the shed was a little tricky due to the different soil heights and one of my bricks slipped under the edge of the shed wall. I reached down to retrieve it but lost my grip, so my arm jerked back up…and into the bottom of the shed. Which is to say that the shed went into my arm. I called Emma to tell her “I’ve done it again” and then basically fainted. Luckily due to Covid19 stopping people from playing sport or going out drinking, the hospital emergency department was completely empty. A few stitches and some slight nerve damage, but this was my non-painting arm, so no problem! The inspector finally came and spent less than a minute glancing at the shed before saying “Yep, all good”. I expected the fit out to take a few days. A couple of weeks maybe. With homeschooling underway I developed new routine: get up at 4am to paint, homeschool with my daughters from 9am until 2pm. Then from 2pm until sunset work on fitting out the shed. It turned out to take longer than I thought to do the fit out. I wanted to make sure I got the details right, after the warehouse I wanted to get the insulation right, so I spent some extra time on that. Nice high walls are great for a studio, but it is hard to get up there to patch and fill, and it was pretty scary being up that high installing the ceiling and lights too. I have broken my brain with the 4am starts and now I am in that habit even though I don’t have to do homeschooling. Luckily in the shed I can fire up the hi-fi even before dawn and thanks to my excellent work insulating it is barely audible outside. Having a purpose built space is an absolute luxury, I am loving it!


In the Studio with: Sam Leach

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Sam Leach portrait

Sam Leach’s studio in progress

51 Sam Leach portrait

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Industry Voice: David Stein

David Stein in his Alexandria studio, 2020

I am one of those lucky ones. From an early age I found a life-long career that I adore. I am a fine art conservator. I care for artworks and my specialisation is the conservation of paintings. Restoration and the repair of art has been around ever since art was created. Art conservation, however, is a newish profession and when I went to university to start my studies straight after leaving school in 1980, it was a brand-new profession in Australia. Conservation is the scientific approach to the maintenance and preservation of works of art and historical artefacts and the protection from future damage and deterioration. Today, a qualified conservator needs to have a recognised university degree in conservation. I graduated with my degree in 1985 from the University of Canberra. Most conservators work in government art institutions such as museums and galleries and I started my professional life as a conservator at the National Gallery of Victoria, then the Art Gallery of New South Wales and later the Museum of Contemporary Art. In the early 1990s as the art market began to really gain momentum in Australia, it struck me that there was a growing demand for museum-quality conservation in the private sector. I started my conservation practice in 1991, (almost thirty years ago). Today, I employ seven qualified conservators in a busy, state-of-the-art studio in Alexandria. My interest in art started at school and with family travels abroad visiting museums and galleries. It was the 1970s and my art teachers were psychedelic abstract painters, hippy tie-dyers and ceramicists. Materiality of art objects started to become interesting to me. I loved learning history, particularly art history. I loved visiting museums and galleries. When Robert Hughes The Shock of the New screened on the ABC in my final year of school, I was enthralled. I became entranced by the exciting new American avant-garde artists and particularly the ABEX’S (abstract expressionists) as they became known. I was not drawn into creating artwork myself, I’m not that creative, but rather drawn to the artworks themselves and the history behind them. Artworks, did then and as they continue to do today, speak to me. I like to understand their context, their purpose, their spirit and emotion.

When I was considering doing conservation at university, I organised a visit to the conservation laboratory at the Art Gallery of NSW, for which I am forever grateful. There I saw, for the first time, a painting undergoing treatment – a Camille Pissarro out of its frame, fragile, vulnerable, having some tiny areas of paint flaking stabilised under a microscope and to my impressionable eye, it was the point where micro surgery met art history, a fusion of science and art, this was better than anything I knew (and still is!). I always enjoy taking people through my studio, showing and discussing the conservation process. As a conservator I work with paintings every day. From all periods, all areas of the globe and of all financial values. I’m often asked what my favourite painting or my favourite period or movement is, but there is no single favourite. When in the moment anything can become my instant favourite, as my emotional response captures me. As a collector, my interests are mid-century Australian Abstraction and African and Oceanic art. I started collecting from the moment I could afford to. Our house is filled, wall to celling, with abstract art, sculpture, African and Oceanic objects, books and ceramics. I come home from a studio filled with art to a home filled with art. That is happiness. Conservation is a technical skill. It’s not creative, but a considered, behind the scenes, slow and meticulous labour of love. It can be extremely rewarding and satisfying for the conservator, but the real rewards are for the artworks. Conservation, in the right hands, will maintain what the artist intended so that they can continue to excite, inspire and thrill for future generations.

Follow David Stein Website: Instagram: @davidsteinandco_artrestoration


At home with:

Glenn Barkley



A/ I live and work between Camperdown in Sydney and Berry on the South Coast. I grew up in Sussex Inlet and my parents are still there and the South Coast feels like home to me.


I have a large studio in Berry that was built by my mother-inlaw, the potter Lyn Havilah, and it’s a very relaxing place to work. There is also an expansive garden that needs constant love and care. I’m very fortunate.

A/ Yes, I have collected things since I was a kid and I still have my original Star Wars figures. I have collected a lot of art over my life – as an artist and a curator it’s part of the job, right? We also have a lot of objects that relate to places we have been and people we have met. I’m also a bit of a bibliophile so have a large book collection too.



A/ I live with my wife Lisa and two cats Milky and Matthew.

A/ I’m a good cook – Lisa is a great cook. I tend to cook comfort food – curries, soups and stews. Iso has been good for cooking - I stockpiled one pot wonders!

Q / DOES CAT FUR GET ALL OVER YOUR POTS? A/ Yes, although they aren’t so furry! You learn to live with it because it’s worth it!

Q / WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW? A/ I’m reading the Getty’s recent publication on the painting materials of Sidney Nolan written by Paula Dredge, Head of Painting Conservation at the Art Gallery of New South Wales – it’s a really fantastic - deeply researched and insightful - if you like that kind of thing! And I have just bought Sahel: Art and Empires on the shores of the Sahara – I’m a huge admirer of African ceramics and this book has ample examples – I can’t wait to read it. I’ve also set myself the task of watching every Academy Award winner of best movie since 1950 – I’ve seen some great films I would have otherwise ignored and revisited some others – The Apartment, All About Eve, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Lawrence of Arabia are stand outs so far.

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Glenn Barkley in his studio. Photo credit: Simon Hewson

Glenn Barkley, Love calls you by your name, 2019, earthenware, 69 x 50 x 31 cm

55 39

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Glenn Barkley, Fat man power vessel with Gladstone and Morris, 2020, earthenware, 25 x 31 x 31 cm Photo: Simon Hewson/Fatografi


Quick Curate: Ceramic

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RAMESH MARIO NITHIYENDRAN Monkey with silver mask, 2019 earthenware, glaze and wooden beads 61 x 28 x 14.5 cm $5,500

HIROMI TANGO Heart, 2019 ceramic and mirrored perspex 11 x 19 x 9 cm 7 x 8 x 8 cm $6,600

RICHARD LEWER Crucifixion #63, 2018 fired stoneware 28 x 19 cm $770

KIRSTEN COELHO Intent, 2019 porcelain, matte white glaze, banded iron oxide 21 x 32 x 26 cm, 3 pieces $4,000

GLENN BARKLEY blue and white vase, 2018 earthenware 35 x 26 x 26 cm $3,850


Last Word: Penelope Seidler on Sydney Ball Penelope Seidler AM LFRAIA

It is not surprising that Sydney Ball commenced his career in the 1950s as an architectural draughtsman before he embarked on art studies, as his work has always maintained a strong sense of spatial awareness and a commanding appreciation of colour and light. I recall seeing Ball’s work in the pioneering exhibition The Field in 1968 after his return from his studies in New York. Since then I have followed his career for almost 50 years and I remember his exhibition at the Bonython Art Gallery in Adelaide in 1969 with his ground-breaking Modular series. He returned to New York soon after where he then had direct contact with the formidable abstract expressionists, who dominated the art world, and with the revered art critic, Clement Greenberg. Ball then produced his astounding Stain paintings from 1971-79, which dazzled us all. I am proud that his huge luminous painting Herriot Wall was selected by myself and Harry to hang in the Ambassador’s apartment in the Australian Embassy in Paris, where it held pride of place for many years and attracted international acclaim. Ball received much recognition during those years but in the next two decades while he travelled extensively and was teaching, his presence was not so visible. It is always difficult for an artist to maintain credibility over a lifetime, but with the dawn of a new century there came a renewed appreciation for his earlier work and his new Structures series was widely praised by art critics and enthusiastic collectors. His oeuvre was re-evaluated and his work was back in vogue. Ball was recognised as an exceptional artist throughout his career: the Art Gallery of New South Wales purchased his Infinex Lumina 4 2010 in 2011 and his Great Falls 1976 in 2013, while architects regularly sought him out for new commissions and collectors continued to support each new body of work.

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Sydney Ball, a quiet and gentle man, was still producing excellent work into his eighties. He was an inspiration to us all.

Portrait: Penelope Seidler


Upcoming Exhibitions





Hiromi Tango


Angela Tiatia


Alex Seton


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Natalya Hughes

Michael Zavros

SINGAPORE 27.08.20

Violent Attachment (Group Show)


Dawn Ng


Juka Araikawa and Enggar Rhomadioni

63 61 47

DUTY OF CARE TONY ALBERT Canberra Glassworks Curated by Sally Brand

JULY 2020

With thanks to

11 Wentworth Ave, Kingston T 02 6260 7005 48 open Wed to Sun, 10am to 4pm

SYDNEY 799 Elizabeth St Zetland, Sydney NSW 2017 Australia P +61 2 9698 4696 E

SINGAPORE 5 Lock Road #01-06 108933 Singapore P +65 8310 7529 E

UNTIL 2 AUG 2020

Presented in association with the Adelaide Festival, and with generous support received from the Art Gallery of South Australia Biennial Ambassadors Program and Principal Donor The Balnaves Foundation. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments. image detail

Polly Borland, Australia, born 1959,

MORPH 4 , 2018, archival pigment print, 200.0 x 162.5 cm; Š Polly Borland/Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney.