ACTease December 2013 / January 2014
by Courtney Symes
What are the best art exhibitions and shows you’ve seen this year? The last year has been a very special one for Canberra, with 2013 marking the centenary of this extraordinary city. Whilst I’ve enjoyed some of the ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions, such as NGA’s Turner from the Tate, there have been some unique experiences – who could forget Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhale hot-air balloon (June ACTease). If anything, 2013 has proven that Canberra really does know how to ‘do art’ (not that we ever really doubted that) and I’m looking forward to what’s in store next year. Until then, here’s a selection of super shows to round up a sensational Centenary year in Canberra …
It’s a busy month at Belconnen Arts Centre, with a varied program of events for everyone. One of the best things about art-making is that it’s an inclusive practice that’s relatively accessible for people of all abilities. The creation of art can be a very therapeutic process for people with a disability or mental illness, and can even assist them in exploring their identity or communicating their feelings. To raise awareness of International Day of People with Disability (I-Day) on 3 December 2013, Belconnen Arts Centre exhibition Self-Reflexion is a showcase of work facilitated by the ACT Community Cultural Inclusion Officers at Belconnen Arts Centre with the artsAbility group, Black Mountain School and independent artists. “Self-Reflexion provides viewers with the opportunity to share the unique perspectives, observations and reflections that are expressed through self-portraiture. This exhibition has been an exercise in looking and letting the artists’ eye tell their stories,” says artsAbility tutor Nicola Lambert.
En Route, an exhibition of paper-based artworks will also run in conjunction with Self-Reflexion. En Route has been facilitated by Paperworks, a paper making studio run out of the M16 Artspace. Paperworks’ aim is to “engage in activities that will increase the participation of socially marginalised (due to their disability or disadvantage) people in our community”. Works featured in the exhibition are a reflection on all facets of life – the joys, the challenges, and the journey. Paperworks tutor Susanna Pieterse explains, “In a sense, even though we may tell tales of actual journeys, ‘en route’ is as much a story about our individual life long commutes, shaped by road signs and unexpected detours. For this exhibition we figuratively board an explorer bus with art patrons and our community to sight-see our local intimate environment from within the hidden, private, dimensions of personal opinion and experience”.
Self-Reflexion and En Route both run until 8 December. Don’t miss the exhibition opening event on Sunday 1 December at 2pm – there will be short films from mixed-ability film makers, a performance from Jimmy’s Mixed Ability Choir and an Auslan interpreter will be at the event from 3-4:30pm, ensuring a welcoming and accessible environment for all.
The Ray White Belconnen Art Prize is a new award designed to recognise young talent in the ACT. In its inaugural year, the $400 first prize will be awarded to a student from Year 11 or 12. One lucky student will also be selected for the People’s Choice Award and will receive $100. Sam Faulks, Director of Ray White Belconnen explains that these prizes were created because “We love seeing the talented young people in Canberra flourish. We are really excited to present these awards and support young people in the community.” Students eligible for the prize will be selected from Belconnen Arts Centre’s College Express 5 exhibition, which will feature an array of work from students, including painting, drawing, photography, textiles, design technology and ceramics. Students participating in this exhibition hail from nine colleges and schools throughout the ACT. Last year’s exhibition included works from over 80 students. This event is an excellent showcase of young, local talent. The exhibition runs from 13 December 2013 – 26 January 2014 throughout all the exhibition spaces in the Centre and is a major highlight on the annual Belconnen Arts Centre exhibition program. The exhibition opening will take place on Friday 13 December at 5.30pm and visitors have an opportunity to meet the artists on Saturday 14 December at 2pm. www.belconnenartscentre.com.au
The traditions and rites of Indigenous cultures, such as the Inuit and Berber are the inspiration behind Haeli Van Veen’s latest exhibition, Hide at ANCA this month. A recent graduate of the ANU School of Art and recipient of the 2012 ANCA EASS Award, Van Veen is an emerging multi-disciplinary artist who has forged a unique style through drawing, photography and mixed media sculpture. Hide also explores the importance of animals in legend, as well as their link to the ethnographic tattoo. Highlight pieces include sculptures crafted from natural materials such as fur, bone, leather, and sticks; images of a tattooed baby, as well as large-scale ink drawings of ‘totem’ animals. Van Veen encourages viewers to step out of the mindset of their culture and appreciate the differences and important customs in other cultures. “The image of a tattooed baby is shocking and it is that initial repulsion to our western sensibilities that has inspired the photographic series in this exhibition. What one may see as protective another may deem harmful, the verdict lies in the eye of the beholder,” explains Van Veen. Runs from 4 –15 December 2013. www.anca.net.au
If you want to check out more emerging artists’ work, look no further than the 2013 ANU School of Art Graduating Exhibition. With works from students graduating with Bachelor of Visual Arts Honours, Bachelor of Visual Arts, Bachelor of Digital Arts and the Diploma of Art, this exhibition is a crucible of disciplines including drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, textiles, gold and silver smithing, ceramics and glass, wood, print media and media arts. Works included in the exhibition will be on display in the School of Art Gallery, Foyer Gallery, Photospace, and in Workshop spaces throughout the School. If visitors fall in love with any of the pieces they encounter, chances are they won’t have to part with them, as many of the pieces on display are for sale. Don’t miss the opportunity to snap up some rare pieces from new talent whilst supporting recent graduates. Runs until 8 December at ANU School of Art.
After working as a war artist with the Australia Defence Forces in Afghanistan, there were many questions that Ben Quilty needed to explore following this experience. In his latest exhibition, Ben Quilty: Trigger Happy, “Quilty conducts a raw and painful interrogation of national myths of landscape and identity in this new body of work”. Curator Michael Desmond presents a selection of Quilty’s recent paintings, in conjunction with rarely seen drawings and prints. The recent work is the result of “direct observation” and Quilty utilises “agitated paint, agile brushstrokes and an alert conscience” to reflect “the intensity of this experience”. This is an intensely powerful, emotionally-charged exhibition that explores some fascinating experiences and concepts. Runs until 15 December at ANU’s Drill Hall Gallery. dhg.anu.edu.au