: ISSUE THREE : 00.17 $5.00
WHILE YOU WERE
There’s a barrage of thoughts that lodge in a traveller’s mind. I’ve travelled a fair bit over the past few years, and I often find myself preoccupied with a stream of concerns that sound something like this: Money. Is my passport definitely in my bag? Money. I want to go home. What is this rash? I never want to go home. Money. When are you too old to stay in a dormitory with eighteen 18-year-olds? Money. I should probably get a big-girl job when I get home. Where am I, and why am I still lost when I have a map? How do you say ‘rash’ in Spanish? Money. When are you too old to borrow money from your mother? Travelling also makes you think about space. Not - like - the moon, Mars, black holes, distant quasars, gas, stars and dust. I mean, travelling makes you navigate and negotiate space all the time. For an interval of time, you put space between you and your regular life: your desk, stethoscope, taxi, apron straps, whatever. You put it between you and your friend(s), local pub, supermarket and family. You board buses, trains, taxis and planes, traversing the landscape to see things you saw in a movie when you were a kid, or in a National Geographic magazine, or wherever. With Rome2rio, you plot a loose itinerary across a great expanse — from Big Ben to Berlin, and down to Bucharest.
All the while, you continuously grapple with space inside your backpack. (Folding and unfolding — never enough space to store your perennially damp quick-dry traveller’s towel.) You compress space too, with sporadic emails, and the occasional Skype call from a cheap, bedbug-ridden dormitory in Buenos Aires. In 2014 I was in San Pedro de Atacama. It’s a little town in the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile. Droves of tourists enjoy mild altitude sickness to visit the awe-inspiring landscape that encompasses the town, such as Valle de la Luna. Visiting Valle de la Luna is like visiting Mars (handy for the space-curious, intrepid traveller on a modest budget). The national reserve is made up of endless moon-like sandscapes, punctuated by weather-worn rock formations; littered with clusters of sand dunes with crests that look like the dimpled rim on the crust of an empanada. Soon after, I headed down to Valparaíso. (That’s a 23-hour and 45-minute bus ride down 1662.4 km of Chilean terrain.) As the bus idled, waiting for all the passengers to board, I tucked myself into a nice little window seat and put my toys on my lap (book, music, etc.). The seat next to me was empty. I looked out of the window, praying to the travel gods that it would stay that way. (Xaman Ek, St. Christopher, Meili, K’uei-Hsing or Fortuna Redux — I was not fussy. Whoever wasn’t busy and was happy to help me out.) They were all busy. After stuffing his bag into the overhead compartment, a hombre sat next to me. He took the beige brim of his chupalla, slid it down his right cheek, resting it in his lap before his knees splayed open like double doors. He laid his arm down on the communal and contentious middle armrest.
I coiled up like a slater and moved my cheek closer to the windowpane. Twenty-four hours on a bus, mid-summer in the Chilean desert is hell (the Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth). And that hell rises a few degrees when you have no space. So I nestled my elbow onto the hot black vinyl armrest. We looked at each other. With no words, just a gentle nod, we agreed to share the space. It stayed that way as the bus cut through the vast pastel-hued stretches of sand and mountains. Past nimble vicuñas eating their way through sporadic tufts of salt grass. Past pale-pink flamingos eating the algae in the twinkling salt lakes. Past volcanoes as their craters kissed the sky. Past desert lagoons — a blend of indigo, cobalt and teal-coloured water that looked incandescent contrasted against the beige, thirsty earth. All the way into our descent to Valparaíso’s bus station. I collected my backpack, unskillfully and ungracefully mounting it on my back. I looked up to the ether and nodded to the travel gods. There is a lot of space out there, and it’s nice to share it. This edition is dedicated to space. Whether that’s on the green expanses of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, underneath the ceiling of a Parisian studio, on the lines of musical staves, or onto a galaxy of pixels — it’s about making it, taking it and sharing it.
Photographer Lisa Garland lives and works on Tasmania’s North West Coast. Her large-scale, black and white photographs document the area’s unique people and places. By giving us a glimpse of her subjects in their personal spaces — their bedrooms, offices, backyards, sheds, living rooms, gardens and workshops — Garland’s raw, intimate images capture their character and eccentricities. Meet Kim, Mr Atkins and Marlene.
Last November, Tasmanian visual artist Amber Koroluk-Stephenson packed up her paints and brushes and went to Paris. For two months in the middle of a long, chilly Parisian winter, Koroluk-Stephenson was a resident at the Rosamond McCulloch Studio, a renovated 18th townhouse in the world-renowned Cité Internationale des Arts complex. The complex extends across two sites in the Marais district of Paris. Close to the River Seine, the Marais has a thriving arts scene, with many museums and art galleries dotted along the historic district’s cobblestone lanes. Every year the complex accommodates more than 1000 artists, musicians, performers and writers from all over the world. Owned by the Tasmanian College of the Arts, the Rosamond McCulloch Studio has been a temporary home to Tasmanian visual arts graduates since 1992. Since returning to Hobart in January, Amber has been busy. She’s been preparing for two solo shows. She’s also been included in four group exhibitions, and she has two public art commissions on the go. Her upcoming Devonport Regional Gallery solo show Homeland is a subversive take on traditional depictions of Australian landscape and identity. These are regular motifs for Amber, whose practice also encompasses notions of paradise, the suburban facade and the relationships between natural and man-made environments.
UNDERTOW: Tell us about your residency? AK-S: My application was based on searching for the exotic in Paris, which I guess is a bit of an oxymoron. Yes, it’s a very romantic city, but it’s not traditionally very exotic. I wasn’t sure when I’d be doing my residency. It turned out I went in winter, so any chance of experiencing something that might be slightly more exotic seemed harder to discover. I wanted to look at motifs from primitivism and Orientalism through the likes of Rousseau, Gauguin, Delacroix and Ingres. I’ve especially loved Rousseau’s work since I discovered him in high school. He painted dark, imaginary jungle scenes without ever having been to the jungle, which I find very intriguing. I was really interested in the idea of the city dweller imagining different realities of the exotic from a very unexotic place. While I was in Paris, I was also really drawn towards surrealism — there was a fantastic Magritte exhibition at the Pompidou at the time — and symbolist painters, as well as depictions of nature and wilderness in the National Museum of Natural History. This got me thinking about parallels between natural and artificial landscapes, the wild and the tame, the familiar and the unknown, and the ironies of reanimating dead animals into ‘lifelike’ poses. It also made me think about how I defined or understood the exotic, and how foreign or unfamiliar things relate to the term — especially when considering the Australian landscape from a European perspective. I did these enactments in my studio in response to my search for the domesticated exotic of sorts. My work turned out to be more thematic and a bit more surreal. Some of the works I saw over there, such as the surrealist photos at the Paris Photo fair, informed me in different ways that I wasn’t expecting. UNDERTOW: Did you get the travel bug after going away? I hadn’t been to Europe for ten years, not since before I started art school. I was itching to go there because it’s obviously so culturally rich in terms of the art that’s accessible in the big cities. It was incredibly exciting being exposed to so many wonderful and varied museums and galleries, but it was also really exhausting because I felt this need to see absolutely everything. But once I was there, I got really homesick. Also, my work is very labour-intensive. So I found it challenging to find the right balance between seeing everything and making at the same time. I think if my work process was more immediate, maybe I could have found a happier medium between making and seeing things to the extent that I would have liked. But that said, I love the process of painting. So for me, it’s the ultimate state of indulgence. UNDERTOW: What’s your work process like? Some people work very intuitively. But my stuff is really planned and meticulous. I tend to make my images using found and captured imagery and composing them on Photoshop. The construction process often takes as
long as the painting time. Before I even put the brush on the canvas, I usually have a relatively clear idea of how the painting will end up looking. I really admire people who are able to successfully work intuitively. I’ve been working in a very planned manner since I was at art school, and I just haven’t managed to break out of that structure. UNDERTOW: Wow. You must have a pretty intense work pattern. When I’m in project land, I like to be 100 per cent in it — physically and emotionally. When I’m working towards a big show, I have periods that are completely manic, just focused on the task at hand. I’m not fantastic at multi-tasking. When I’m not doing a big project, I get agitated because I’m not working on something. It’s all or nothing for me. Some people are good at having a balanced lifestyle. I would love to. But I just haven’t found the right balance yet. When I’m not painting, I start to twitch. UNDERTOW: Do you enjoy manic alone-time? I love it. Deep down, I’ve always been a bit of a lone soldier. I enjoy the solitude of working on my own thing in my own space and time. Although I dedicate most of my time to producing art, or undertaking art-related admin such as writing grant applications, it certainly doesn’t put all the bread on the table. I have multiple sources of income. I’m a shop assistant at Artery, a gallery attendant at MONA and I also do cleaning jobs. While I’m in my zone, I’m putting myself completely into something that brings me immense pleasure and joy. I’m quite aware that what I’m doing is a very self-interested pursuit, and that I’m not doing it to please anyone else. I guess it’s very indulgent to be able to do what you love. Not many people get to do that. Homeland runs from July 15 — August 27 in the Little Gallery Project Space at Devonport Regional Gallery.
Everything Fades to Blue
Hobart Band EWAH & The Vision of Paradise released its debut album Everything Fades to Blue in February this year. Bandleader EWAH (who you may know as Emma Waters) grew up in the farming town of Scottsdale, North East Tasmania. But she spent her formative years in Melbourne, moving there in 1999 to study creative arts and pursue her music career. “I was chasing the dream of the sticky-carpet music scene, where some of my heroes had tread and continued to perform,” EWAH says. She spent 14 years gigging around Melbourne as a solo artist (under the moniker E-wah Lady), and also collaborated with bands such as E-wah Lady & The Open Road and post-punk outfit Insult for Injury. EWAH has released multiple independent albums including Gospel Dance in 2010. The same year, she won the APRA Darebin Songwriters’ Award. But afflicted by homesickness she couldn’t shake, EWAH returned to Hobart in late 2013. She began working on electro demos, and soon realised she needed more people and more instruments. “I needed a band to achieve a larger sound to represent the ideas and atmosphere of the songs I was working on.” Enter “mates from way back” Charles Donnelly, Paul Brooks and Stuart Hollingsworth. Together they form The Vision of Paradise, and as well as supplying the synth and a gritty rhythm section, they give EWAH motivation. “It’s a team, and I want to work hard for them. It’s also fun collaborating. It gives you an energy and confidence that is quite different from the solo experience.”
In this essay, EWAH discusses the artists who have carved their way into a space in her mind, and influenced her music. EW: There have been numerous and numinous entities that have informed my ideas, preoccupations, dress, speech, movement, chord progressions, editing choices and all those other factors that weigh into the creative process. Yes, I could tell you about the series of Peter Pan songwriters who are each in their own way feminine/masculine bastions of transgressive storytelling : Bob, Lou, Nick, Rowland, Serge, Leonard, John and Iggy. I could go on to mention my ongoing attraction to the androgene: Patti, David, and Nina. Maybe I could talk about the exhilarating, exploratory nature of new wave French film (Francois and Jean-Luc). Or the anthropological eye on the Australian interior in films like Walkabout and Wake in Fright; or anything by Rolf de Heer. I could confess that I owe a lot of my understanding of human chemistry — aka ‘the birds and the bees’ — and the human condition to comedy: Monty Python, The Comic Strip Presents, Woody Allen, Steve Coogan, Larry David, Richard Ayoade, the Broad City girls, or Amy Schumer.
FOOTNOTES I Yep, you’ll notice they’re a bunch of blokes; these boys swaggering and stumbling and staggering into adulthood, armed with an axe and a pen, punching away with a great sense of importance at pianos and typewriters. Many have been derided for their treatment of women, both on and off the page. But personally, I find their depictions of female characters mystical, mythical, magical, everyday, gender-bending, powerful and vulnerable. In a way, you could well say an extension of the songwriters themselves.
II In case you couldn’t guess, these dear sirs are: Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Rowland S Howard, Serge Gainsbourg, Leonard Cohen, John Lennon (where it all began) and Iggy Pop (who is his own thing altogether - IGGY!). III Patti Smith (whose books Just Kids and M Train are magical, lyrical and pretty much compulsory reads), David Bowie (the teenage crush that endures into adulthood), Nina Simone (her voice embodies the androgene — ambiguous and tempestuous as her moods, shifting from fierce to frail to thorny to velvety). IV Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard: you make me dizzy with excitement when I watch your films. Precocious with experimentation and brimming with philosophy, hip talk, music, fashion, enigmatic characters, gender politics and new approaches to cinematography. V Both Walkabout and Wake in Fright screened at Cannes Film Festival in the same year, 1971. Can you imagine? VI As a kid, I’d sneak out of bed and watch Monty Python, Blackadder, The Young Ones and other comedies deemed ribald by the ABC — ripe with double entendre and violent slapstick. Moving stealthily in bed socks, I deftly nudged the door to the living room just far enough open to swat on adult humour. VII Richard Ayoade is a dang funny guy, and he’s into Serge Gainsbourg, French new wave cinema and all that existentialist bizzo. Word. VIII “Gross” is now back in my vocabulary. These broads taught me it can be used broadly. VIIII Oh yeah, I forgot David Lynch. And how can I give a mention to Brian Eno here, too?
Online documentary series Women of the Island was conceived at the Hobart Aquatic Centre. Local filmmaker Rebecca Thomson was swimming with her children when a woman came running up to her, sopping with enthusiasm: “‘I’ve just been doing laps with this lady,’ she said. ‘She has an amazing story! I think it could be a great film. You guys should talk.’” “I didn’t who she was. But she knew I was a filmmaker,” Thomson says. So they talked. “She was right. It was an amazing story.” Thomson listened as the woman told her a story of generational abuse and neglect, reconnection and hope. Ideas floated through her mind as she waded through the water. The lady-stranger got her thinking about all the great stories within this little island. Women of the Island is about sharing our women folk’s stories. It’s also about making space in the media sphere for stories that might otherwise be overlooked. Documentary is a departure from Thomson’s usual repertoire. “I normally do these crazy, outrageous comedy and horror films,” she says. So she enlisted the help of Lara van Raay and Ninna Millikin — a pair of media gems with a diverse suite of skills.
In August 2016, Wide Angle Tasmania and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School launched a knock-out style funding competition. “It was like Survivor for filmmakers,” Thomson says. At the discretion of the audience, 16 teams were whittled down to three contenders for a production cash prize. When they reached the top three, Thomson, van Raay and Millikin pitched to a panel of judges. They won. The trio put $14,000 in their top pockets. They also raised $6,000 through a crowdfunding campaign – enough to film the first three episodes. In May 2015, Screen Australia released some bleak data. Its study, Gender Matters, revealed the gender disparity in the Australian film and television industry. The statistics show the gender imbalance is stark in feature films. Women represent only 32 per cent of producers, 23 percent of writers and 16 per cent of directors in the industry. Women are, however, represented a little more in the documentary film realm: making up 46 per cent of producers, 33 percent of writers and 38 percent of directors. In light of the grim figures, Screen Australia launched a five-pronged, $5 million arsenal of tactics aiming to foster female-led projects, create more female protagonists and tell more stories about women. With the Gender Matters Taskforce at the helm, Screen Australia intends to ensure its production funding for creative projects is at least 50 per cent female by the end of 2018. “It’s so important we make sure women’s stories get told,” Thomson says. The significance of a positive female onscreen presence struck her earlier this year after watching the controversial female-led remake of Ghostbusters. “I’ve got a couple of daughters and a son. The girls always relate so much more to female characters. They just gravitate to those stories. And it has an immediate, obvious power.” After the credits rolled, the family headed out of the cinema, when Thomson’s four-year-old daughter made an announcement: “I’m going to be a scientist!”. As they move further along the filming process, Thomson, van Raay and Millikin also want to use Women of the Island to support Tassie women in the film industry. They plan to mentor budding filmmakers to help out at each shoot and run workshops for the public teaching filmmaking basics, aiming to create a community of “story-catchers” who can contribute to the project.
If women’s stories are less-often told, it is not because of a lack of tales or inspiration. Thomson says her project has received a substantial response from women who want to share their stories. “People are doing amazing things all over the island; incredibly interesting and inspiring things. And they are just doing it in their own little world.” For Thomson, hearing the diverse stories of the women of Tasmania has strengthened her resolve to share these stories with the world. “It’s been such a joy finding these women and hearing these stories that probably won’t get told otherwise.” The first three episodes are released in late July. The filmmakers are hoping to raise funds to make more episodes. Their goal is 20 episodes over the next two years. Head to their website to learn more about the project, or how you can get involved. www.womenoftheisland.com facebook.com/womenoftheisland
the burrow.. . . . :
hobart has a new creative space
The Burrow is a book-laden, subterranean haven tucked below the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens’ Succulent restaurant. The space is relatively unknown – frequented mostly by a handful of Hobartians and a trickle of the waves of tourists who visit the garden. “The Burrow feels like the kind of space where people who do know about it don’t tell other people because they want it to be a secret,” The Burrow curator Melinda Antal says. The gallery has been home to a number of local artists so far, such as Xan Nunn, Graziano Di Martino, Beth-Emily Gregory and Chris Mister. The Burrow was originally launched as a community library and sensory room in 2012. Along with its extensive book collection, the space was fitted out with braille resources and textured art pieces. The Burrow was established by Able Australia, a not-for-profit organisation serving people with a disability. Able’s mission was to forge a space that fostered a sense of community, and a place to escape from the city. In February last year, Able gave the space a bit of a revamp. The sensory room has since been dismantled, but the open-air library remains. Stacks of books pile into a crosshatched-shaped shelf that stretches along the entrance wall. More books line the windowsills. The space holds a motley crew of décor –remnants of its former life. A bunch of wooden stumps is wedged into a lime green Besser Block wall; cushions covered with images of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn’s faces sit on black leather armchairs scattered throughout the room; black and white pages torn out of old dictionaries arc around the doorframe, which leads into the former sensory room – now a small, quiet gallery that looks down the slopes of the garden, and out across the River Derwent.
Antal hopes artists will embrace the space, making The Burrow a regular destination on the creative circuit. She also wants more punters to leg it across the Queens Domain to come and visit. “People think it’s really far away. But it isn’t. It doesn’t take long to walk over from the city.” Throughout June, The Burrow hosted a series of knitting and crocheting workshops, culminating in a yarn-bombing exhibition in July. Antal also launched a winter artist-in-residence program, and she’s looking for artists to exhibit throughout the rest of the year. In line with The Burrow’s community ethos, she’s open to all kinds of proposals from all kinds of artists. “I want emerging and established artists to feel like The Burrow is a space they can be comfortable to experiment with. Because it’s such a small space, you can really make it your own.”
If you want to get your work in The Burrow, contact Melinda at: email@example.com
Growing up in Tomsk, Russia, Lucy Parakhina found her family photo albums fascinating. “I was always looking through them, almost obsessively. I loved looking at photos of times before I was born, and feeling a connection to the people and places in those images,” Parakhina says. She was ten years old when her family moved to Sydney in 1997. She went on to study physiology and neuroscience at the University of Sydney, with Honours in Visual Perception. After graduating, Parakhina was uncertain about her future. “I knew I didn’t want to keep going with science. So I started working at the Australian Centre for Photography.” “I literally fell into photography. I started photographing gigs and exhibitions. Then I started getting paid for my work, and it just snowballed from there.” Lucy moved to Hobart in 2015 to study photography at the Tasmanian College of the Arts. “I’d like to think that my photography is connected to my previous study, because it’s about visual perception and how you see the world. But that’s more of a philosophical approach, rather than a nuts-and-bolts scientific approach.” Lucy lives and works as a freelance photographer in Sydney and Hobart. Along with her creative practice, she is the online producer at RealTime magazine, and a board member of local arts organisation Constance ARI. Undertow: What drew you to photography? LP: Initially, I was drawn to it as an observer of photographs. They have the ability to connect moments across time with an immediacy and vividness that, to me, nothing else can. In terms of photography being a tool that I use, I am drawn to it because I feel it allows me to share my perspective and experience of the world in a way that I can’t express in words. What do you like most about your job? Like most people in the creative industries right now, I have several jobs; all of which are equally important, and I feel they feed into and inform each other. What I value and enjoy the most in all these roles is the variety and constant challenge. I feel like I am always figuring something out, learning something, doing something I’m not comfortable with, or don’t know how to do yet. Funnily enough, this is also the thing I dislike most about my work when I do feel frustrated or stressed.
What do you like most about being behind the camera? It’s definitely a distancing tool. And for someone like me with a bit of social anxiety, it allows me to enter situations I might otherwise feel unsure about how to behave in. It gives me a role, a structure, and a way of engaging with the world around me. I also love the way being behind a camera makes me present and focused, paying attention to things around me, and not taking them for granted. What’s the hardest thing about being an artist? Self-doubt. Especially with the low value placed on art in contemporary Australian culture. Also, the practicalities of doing stuff unsupported — the cost of materials and time, and the need for storage and space. This is why I think having a strong sense of belonging to a community is extremely important. How do you stay motivated? My extreme anxiety about being able to pay rent and eat keeps me motivated. But also remembering that I’ve chosen this life, so I am ultimately responsible to myself. That’s quite motivating. On a practical level, breaking things up into smaller chunks helps. And it gives you a sense of achievement once you’ve completed those chunks. And lists. Definitely lists. What are some of your favourite procrastination pastimes? 1. Watching videos of ships in big waves on YouTube 2. Eating 3. Cleaning In that order. What are you listening to at the moment? Over the last month or so, I have been on a completely unstoppable, obsessive binge of Angel Olsen and Laura Marling. I think I’m at the point where I really need to take a break from listening to them. I like music without words when I really need to focus on something, such as Max Richter. I also like this online radio station called The Lake Radio. It has a random stream of eclectic music and sound art. What are you looking at or reading about at the moment? I’m currently absorbed in watching the new Twin Peaks after binge re-watching the first two seasons. I also love Fargo and The Leftovers.
I’m not reading as much as I’d like to. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of things about migration, homes and housing; inspired by one of Constance ARI’s latest exhibitions House Show. I’ve been reading everything on RealTime, Landscapes by John Berger, Ecosexts by Nadege Philippe-Janon and The Loneliness of Donald Trump by Rebecca Solnit. You’ve photographed a lot of people. Have you gleaned any sage wisdom about human behavior during this process?
Most people hate being photographed www.lucyparakhina.com www.sometimesnotalways.com
IMAGE LIST Front and back cover: Lucy Parakhina, Death Valley 2016. Courtesy the artist. Page 4: Untitled. Photo: Emma Luimes. Page 5: Lisa Garland, Kimâ€™s Shack 2015, archival digital print, 130 x 105cm. Courtesy the artist. Page 7: Amber Koroluk-Stephenson, Chasing Temptation 2016, oil on linen, 40x50cm. Courtesy the artist. Amber Koroluk-Stephenson, Rise and Fall 2016, oil on linen, 40 x 50cm. Courtesy the artist. Page 9: Amber Koroluk-Stephenson, Soft Savage 2016, oil on linen, 40x50cm. Courtesy the artist. Page 12: EWAH, Untitled. Photo: Stuart Hollingsworth. Courtesy the artist. Page 15: EWAH, Untitled. Courtesy the artist. Page 16: Lisa Garland, Mr Atkins Backyard 2015, archival digital print, 130 x 105cm. Courtesy the artist. Page 17: Lisa Garland, Marlene 2013, archival digital print, 130x105 cm. Courtesy the artist. Page 20: Rebecca Thompson. Photo: Emma Luimes. Page 21: Chair Inside The Burrow. Photo: Lucy Parakhina. Page 22: Antal from The Burrow. Photo: Lucy Parakhina. Page 25: Gallery Inside The Burrow. Photo: Lucy Parakhina. Page 26: Lucy Parakhina, June 2011. Courtesy the artist. Page 29: Lucy Parakhina, Mt Wellington 2016. Courtesy the artist. Editor: Emma Luimes Page 30: Lucy Parakhina, Zzyzx 2017. Courtesy the artist.
Art Direction: Astrid W-J Issue Three : September 2017 $5.00 email us: firstname.lastname@example.org web us: undertowisamagazine.wordpress.com