"Decorating the Apocalypseis a playful investigation of themes related to cultural identity. Images of masks and faces function as the primary signifiers in Fowler’ work. Through sculpture, painting and printmaking, he is questioning the ‘mythologies’ or artificial constructs surrounding issues of identity. Cheap, plastic, Chinese-manufactured toys are sourced locally before being deconstructed and re-configured, to finally emerge – through the ancient process of casting – as intricate, bronze masks. Kitsch wooden ‘primitive’ masks, found in flea markets in Paris and Melbourne, are methodically vandalized, painted and re-presented as cultural artifacts of contemporary society.
Also on display at the exhibition will be a 72 page book showing selected works from 1996 – 2012 both on and off the streets.
Selected solo and joint exhibitions include Raiders of the Lost Art, A.R.T Gallery Eden, Melbourne 2001; Productivism, Fine Art Gallery of Ballarat, 2003; No Comply, Federation Square, Melbourne, 2006; Refil 7, MTV Gallery, Sydney, 2007; Bootlegger, Until Never Gallery, Melbourne, 2007; Highland Chamber, Until Never Gallery, Melbourne, 2008; The Outsiders, Kristian Pithie Gallery, Melbourne, 2009; Surface, Michael Koro Gallery, Melbourne, 2009; Space Invaders, National Gallery of Australia, 2010; Larger Than Life, The Substation, Melbourne, 2011; South of the Border, Lo Fi Gallery, Sydney, 2011; VCA Graduate Exhibition, Melbourne, 2011.
Fowler’s work is held in the National Gallery of Australia collection, as well as various private collections in Australia and overseas."
Head over to Collingwood this Friday night to see it all – gunna be grand.
Who: Fred Fowler What: Decorating The Apocalypse Where: Backwoods Gallery, 25 Easey St, Collingwood, Melbourne When: Show opens Friday 17th August from 6pm til 9pm, and runs until the 26th August.
What we saw sure didn’t disappoint. Street art meets folk art meets new meets old. Somehow, Civil managed to merge the best of all forms with his own aesthetic, creating something entirely different that we hadn’t seen from him before. To us, this is the mark of a successful show, and of a great artist.
With most of the pieces in Long Story comprising dedications to his late brother Ned, Long Story also holds a touching, but never overwhelming, poignancy. From great love, comes great things, and the love within this show blazes throughout.
Melbourne is in for a treat this week, with the return of Tom Civil with his show “Long Story” at House Of Bricks in Collingwood.
Tom Civil is a name known to most of those who follow the Australian street art scene, and his work across the years with social advocacy and his immediately recognisable, iconic characters and scenarios speak for all. In “Long Story” Civil presents a whole range of hand-printed woodcut and lino Prints, stencils, carvings and engravings – something different, as to be expected, and definitely cool.
“Tom Civil’s work can be found in many tucked away nooks of the city. He is interested in how street art and graffiti create community, mark space and act as a human-scaled anarchic form of urban architecture. His stencil and street work has been featured in various publications including Melbourne Stencil Art Capital, Street|Studio, Space Invaders (NGA), the film Rash, as a feature artist in the Melbourne Stencil Festival 2004/05/09 and the Cans Festival in London in 2008. He has also exhibited walk-through installations and worked closely with his brother Ned, who died from cancer in late 2010, under the guise The Evil Brothers.Tom and his brother Ned also exhibited with their Dad, Tony as Sevil & Sons. Tom has given workshops and talks in different communities about murals and the political nature of street art, and is also the co-founder of small Melbourne-based radical publishers Breakdown Press.”
Tom Civil is, in our opinion, one of the nicest, most genuine artists practicing in Australia today, and his work amongst the community is both commendable and admirable. His art is just plain cool, and any show from him is a must see.
We also just had a chat to Tom about this upcoming show, and a little bit about the long story behind it, so stay tuned … and don’t forget,he’ll be talking about human rights and street art over at RMIT on Wednesday night talongside a bunch of other great speakers.
Who: Tom Civil What: Long Story solo show Where: House of Bricks 40 Budd Street, Collingwood, Melbourne When: Show opens Friday May 25th from 6pm til 9pm and runs until the 3rd June
CDH, a Melbourne street artist, recently sat down for a chat with reputable collectors, fans and all round wonderful philanthropists of Australian Street Art, Sandra Powell and Andrew King …
I never fully understood the expression ‘jaw dropping’ until I went to Sandra and Andrew’s house. Walking around corners, I found my mouth dropping open at the amazing art on display; Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and so many more street artists, nestled among Sidney Nolan and Brett Whiteley. Andrew and Sandra tell me that they’re slowly selling their modernist Australian artworks to make way for more street art. There’s a subtle irony in that because there’s an obvious comparison to be made between this couple and John and Sunday Reed. Andrew and Sandra are more than just collectors; they are people who are trying to facilitate and grow street art in Melbourne.
They also recently organized and curated the recent show ‘Young & Free’ in San Francisco, featuring thirteen Australian street artists. They have a small flat at the back of their house that is set up as a guest space for visiting street artists. ELK, D*Face, Kid Zoom, Lister and Dlux have all stayed here and left their tag behind to mark their visit. At the end of the interview, Andrew and I sit around and just chat about art and life over a few beers, then later we talk at length about how to grow street art in Melbourne – he’s a genuinely nice guy who enjoys a few beers and loves talking about street art.
You only need to speak to them for a few minutes to be able to see their enthusiasm for street art coming straight through.
“We want to dedicate ourselves to this,” Sandra tells me later.
Do you think that street art is the art movement of the day?
Andrew: It’s the first movement of the internet age – without a doubt it’s the biggest art movement, ever. There are more people involved in it than any other movement in art history, in the world. You can’t go to any city or town in the world where someone hasn’t made their mark on a wall.
Sandra: …well we went to a little town in New Zealand recently and that wasn’t the case.
Andrew: Yeah, but I fixed that up. [I had a good laugh at that]
What type of art are you interested in collecting?
Sandra: What we’re especially interested in is Melbourne art. Australian, yes, but especially Melbourne art. We’re really interested in getting art from the 1990s onwards and just getting anything historic because so much has been lost. Andrew and I wish we had started collecting street art earlier when it was such an exciting time in Melbourne between 2000-2004. That whole stencil time when Melbourne street art really hit its straps. The artists say it wouldn’t have really made a difference, then, because they were doing it for themselves.
When they had empty shows, they were only for other artists and artists’ friends. They weren’t gallery shows, so the people who have got most of the early stuff are the artists themselves.
Can I put one thing to you? You’re clearly very close to Everfresh and you often describe Melbourne’s street art through the prism of their experiences. But there are so many other things that came before and have come since then like yarn bombing, guerilla gardening, video projection, installation art; these are all part of the same urban intervention movement. I don’t share your view that the best has already happened, I think it’s broader than that and there are many innovative and interesting things happening today.
Sandra: Sure – but my interest is in aerosol. I love looking at tags. I love anything that’s done with paint. So I think our interest is very much from a painterly point of view, not so much from the craft or sculpture. I love stuff on walls. I might start loving yarn bombing or something else, I think it’s really terrific but the smell of aerosol drives me crazy.
You both organized and curated the ‘Young & Free’ show in San Francisco. I know organizing artists is a lot like herding cats. I like to imagine the two of you as the mum and dad at a children’s birthday party where someone has spiked the red cordial. Are there any anecdotes you can share of artists running amok?
Andrew: One of the supposedly amusing ones was several of the artists went out one night and did some illegal stuff. We got a photo pretty early one morning of the escapades from the night before of some pretty good work on the wall of a church and they’d put Sandra’s mobile phone number below.
Did it have ‘for a good time call…’ above it?
Sandra: No. It looked like I had done the work. It had my name and my phone number on it. Then it became a joke that they started calling us ‘Sandrew’, so then they started signing everything ‘Sandrew’. It was like organizing a children’s birthday party. That’s a good analogy. I don’t know that there had ever been so many Australian street artists in one place overseas. They were all staying in the same hotel. We very wisely stayed down the road.
Andrew: We had Ironlak as our sponsor for the ‘Young & Free’ show. They were really supportive and they gave us every piece of paint we could ever hope for – but one of the artists didn’t like the smell …
Sandra: …There was some confusion amongst the artists that played out in a huge email exchange.
Andrew: After this email exchange, we got an email from Ben Frost, saying he used Ironlak for aftershave. Then he said, ‘perhaps that’s why my wife left me.’
Sandra: It was just so funny – hysterical.
You collect a huge amount of street art, but you also advise and facilitate street artists. I don’t know if you’ve been asked this before but are you the John and Sunday Reed of our time?
Andrew: Hopefully there’s not a Sidney Nolan lurking in the background there somewhere! [laughs]
[I had a good laugh at that too - Sidney Nolan had an open affair with Sunday Reed]
Sandra: When we first started collecting art, we were collecting from the Heide artists. So we’re very familiar with that story – but we never really understood the connection they had with the artists. So when we started collecting art it was from artists who had either died or have died since; for instance Joy Hester and Sidney Nolan. So the excitement now is, without a doubt, collecting the works of artists we know and have become friends with. That completely changes the whole idea of collecting in a way I hadn’t realized it would. It makes you look at people’s art differently.
Andrew: We can’t go back to Albert Tucker and say ‘what’s the story behind this work?’
Sandra: Buying works that we have actually watched them paint is just extraordinarily exciting and are things I wouldn’t give up in a million years. You just have a totally different connection to the art that you collect when you have a relationship with the artist. So when you’re saying ‘Are we the John and Sunday Reed?’ well maybe in 10 or 15 years time when we’ve been at it a lot longer – but one of the things that Andrew and I want to do at the moment is to support the artists. I don’t think there’s an artist I’ve met whose ideal isn’t to be able to live off painting – they all want to be able to.
Andrew: As an example, Rone contacted us and told us that Meggs was going over to LA, and asked would it be possible for us to organise an introduction with Justin [Giarla] at White Walls. So I said, yeah, sure; I wrote a letter of introduction and Meggs went up to San Francisco – and now he has a solo show at White Walls this year! Cool.
Sandra: To be in a position to make a few connections like that is really fantastic, and it’s really interesting for the artists to trust somebody. I don’t think there’s anyone we’ve met that doesn’t understand that we’re not in it for the money.
Andrew: When we first met them, they thought ‘who the hell are these people?’ There was a lot of suspicion. I heard that at first they thought I was an undercover cop or something – now we’ve got their confidence, we’re just friends, and it’s no big deal.
Sandra: I think they know that our hearts are in the right place. They just have to talk to us to see that we’re just so passionate about it. They have more to teach us, more than we have to teach them. Then sometimes there’s an opportunity to give a little bit of advice – it’s a relationship on a different level. It’s more like family.
That reminds me of the parental-children relationship we talked about before.
Sandra: Definitely. That’s it, and if they get out of line I’ll tell them off, don’t you worry [laughing]. I think I’m more a mother than Andrew is a father.
Andrew: Yeah, definitely. I love going out with the artists. I love going out with them at night – just for the thrill.
Sandra: We have a running joke – ‘Andrew you are not a street artist.’
Andrew: I do love putting up stickers – I just find it really exciting.
Sandra: I get really embarrassed by this. I say ‘Andrew you shouldn’t do it’. But the artists really love it. They love going out with him, and they just think it’s a real hoot. It’s a bit like putting your money where mouth is. He embarrasses his wife and his daughter sometimes.
[Andrew got his phone to show me stickers he’d put up. One is on the rear bumper of a US police car]
[Laughing]That’s one thing I really love about street art. Sometimes it’s really quite creative, but others it’s just the sheer ballsy-ness of it.
Andrew: That’s part of street art. Even if it’s a simple tag, if it’s really dangerous to get to (physical danger or the danger of getting caught) that just adds to it. Anyone can go down a back lane when there’s no one around. That’s simple. This was another good one. [checking his phone] I was with Meggs.
Sandra: No, I was with Meggs. It was the three of us in London. A cop car drove past and you went chasing after the cop car (to sticker it). Meggs couldn’t believe it. So he and I took off. That was pretty funny.
You obviously collected a lot of Australian tonalism and modernism. With a view to your art collection history, how do you think street art will fit into broader Australian art history?
Andrew: I think it’s here to stay – a lot of people think it’s a passing fad. It’s not like impressionism or Dadaism or cubism or something. It’s here to stay, and it’s just going to evolve. In Australian art history I don’t know when they’ll say it first started, but it’s going to stay.
Sandra: I think it started in the 80s with train painting, but there’s still a heap of people who paint trains. I find that part of it really fascinating too. There is no doubt in my mind that the movement will have to be taken seriously in the history of art. It is evolving. We were talking about that before; has Banksy peaked? It does just keep on changing and evolving. Lately I’ve seen more tags. It turns into an abstract piece of art.
Andrew: If we achieve our aim of setting up a street art museum, that will help bring it to the fore. The Space Invader show at the NGA last year, that has given a lot of cred to the movement too. Also having the Everfresh boys in the Atrium (studio space in Fed Square) gave the movement a lot of credibility. We’ve been told that more people went to the Atrium exhibition space that month than went to the Vienna exhibition in the international part of the NGV – what does that say?
Sandra: I also recognize that there must be many people in the movement who hate people like us – people who are supposedly trying to gentrify the movement, but that’s really cool too. I must admit, we’ve met quite a few rough nuts.
I think your enthusiasm for street art cuts through a lot of that. People who haven’t met you might feel that way, but I think once people meet you they see a more sympathetic side.
Sandra: I think that’s what happens. We have met a few guys who were not aggressive but were very nonchalant. They were like ‘who are you and why are you interested, and why do I care?’ But then, within a few days, they’re emailing me photos of what they’ve done.
Andrew: Some of the really hardcore artists, you could just see how stand off-ish they were. When you’ve got this dichotomy with the council; on the one hand they’re encouraging street art and using it for tourism. On the other hand you’ve got the Lord Mayor calling the artists peanut brains and graffiti vandals – I just don’t get it. A lot of people in the movement can’t speak up for the movement. I think it helps to have someone who knows the way of the world better than some of the artists do – hopefully that doesn’t sound too arrogant.
Sandra: We also know how to run a business. In bits like that we can help the artists because a lot of them are trying to run their businesses – we can help with things like that.
Who else have you met that stands out in your mind?
Andrew: Well Saber, what a guy he is! He’s done the biggest piece of street art in the world. We’ve been to his studio. One time he was being chased by the cops, he jumps over a fence (not very successfully) and impales himself on this iron spike. He’s got a piece of the fence and framed it. Luckily it stopped just next to his stomach lining. So he’s stuck on the fence and has to push up with the cops still following him – and he got away. He is as hard core as you can get.
Sandra: After the MOCA opening in LA (in April) we had a dinner at our hotel and we invited Swoon and her family. She didn’t get back to us and I assumed she had gone back to New York. I had booked a really nice table, so we asked Saber and his partner to join us instead. He’d just said yes and then we got a text from Swoon, saying ‘I’m sorry, I’d lost my phone, we’d love to come.’ So I thought uh-oh we’ve got Swoon and Saber. They are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Saber is a gang guy. He’s got these holes in his ears. They’re like plugs but they’re not plugs that can heal, they’re punched holes in his ear lobes. He told me it’s a gang rite thing. They’ve got some bit of iron – they bash out the center part of your ear and you’ve got to eat it.
… No way. That’s made up.
Sandra: No, no, no. It’s true. He had to eat it in front of people. This guy is really hard core – and Swoon is just so gorgeous. So, I rang her up and explained that I hadn’t heard back so I’d asked someone else to dinner. I said you’re welcome to come but I don’t know that you’ll get on with the person we’ve asked. She said ‘Oh, who have you asked?’ I told her it was Saber.
She replied, ‘Oh my god I love Saber. He’s my favourite person in the world.’ – we had such a cool night!
“Drawing and crafting have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. He gained an early interest in graffiti specifically while photographing a two-kilometre stretch of wall in his hometown. TwoOne moved to Melbourne at the age of 18 and quickly became a prominent part of the local street art scene.”
This free event is a wonderful idea and should go down a treat, TwoOne is a fantastic artist. So, if you’ve got an elderly friend, family member or just some nice old guy from the bus stop, let them in on this cool event, and help celebrate the festival of our elders!
Who: Twoone What: Space Invaders – Seniors Festival Live Painting Event Where: RMIT Gallery - 344 Swanston Street Melbourne When: Thursday 6th October 11am-12 noon
Moderator Jaklyn Babington, Eloise Peace, Sticky Institute and street artists Nails, Civil and Jumbo bring their expertise to us with this free event open to the public next Monday. Get down and take in some learning!
Who: Jaklyn Babington, Eloise Peace, Sticky Institute and street artists Nails, Civil and Jumbo What: Vandals or Vanguards? – Group Seminar Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street Melbourne, Victoria When: Monday 26th September 12-1pm
Also check out our recent articles on the Space Invaders Exhibition and Curators Talk for more details. Brush up and come prepared before the seminar!
Crush City in Brissy have been running their End2End competition, and so much great shit has been coming out from it.
"We dropped 20 of Brissy’s most active writers names into a hat, drew one out and armed them with 4 colours to display their style in it’s simplest form. No effects and no fancy business.. We let them start it off then pass it on to the next writer…
The rules are:
• Writers may only use BLACK, CHROME, WHITE & ONE OTHER COLOUR • Writers must nominate the next artist and make sure they rock up to contest… Punishable by methods we cannot disclose publically. • Writers must keep it fresh!
The upcoming Space Invaders exhibition is giving the public a chance to indulge their interests even further with a talk by the curator of the event Jaklyn Babington, Assistant Curator, International Prints, Drawings and Illustrated Books, National Gallery of Australia.
So book your seats, pack your lunch and get in some learning in – see what’s behind this awesome showcase brought to us by by the NGA and RMIT Gallery!
After the success of its grand opening in Canberra last year, Space Invaders has been touring nationally, and now the showcase of Australian street art hits Melbourne for its showing. Curated by Jaklyn Babington (NGA), and with over 40 Australian artists involved and comprising of 150 works, this massive gypsy-esque exhibition was inspired by street arts “transition from the ephemeral to the collectible and from the street to the gallery” since the turn of the Australian graffiti days in the early 1980’s.
“A major strength of Australian street art is its ability to mix pop-culture imagery with political messages. From hard-hitting protest to political satire, clever combinations of sarcasm, mockery and parody, the means to mix art, politics and the street press is now in the hands of a new generation of Australian artists. Space invaders also explores a paradox that has emerged in Australian street art in which an early flirtation with new technology has given way to a sentimentality for the traditional and the handmade…
This exhibition is supported by the Contemporary Touring Initiative through Visions of Australia, an Australian Government program, and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Government and state and territory governments. The Cultural Partner for Space invaders: australian . street . stencils . posters . paste-ups . zines . stickers is NewActon/Nishi and Molonglo Group. The exhibition is also supported by Special Media Partner Triple J.”
A very exciting venture indeed, this, sort of, acceptance of street art and graffiti into the realms of the contemporary and elite that the National Gallery of Australia does affiliate is a wonderful and hopeful thing! This is the continuation of a show that we, and many, believe is a step forward in progression, and positive of thinking, when it comes to artistic expression in the modern day. Not to go on a rant here, but maybe this is the kind of event that should be run on the front page of certain ‘propaganda loving’ publications instead of the regurgitated mess that has been gracing us of late!
Please get down to these exhibitions when they show up in your neighbourhood, not just as a spectator and lover of all things art, but as an activist and supporter of the right of self expression!
Who: Byrd ,Civil, Scott Clement, Samuel Condon, Cougar Flashy, Tim Danko, Andrew Darragh, Dead Xerox Press, Department of Post-Human Affairs, Dlux!, James Dodd, Donovanism, Virgo Kids Virgo HQ Virgo Crew, Jo Waite, Into Ware, Carol Wood, Xero, Yok, Luke You, Zap, Meek and many more! What: Space Invaders – Travelling exhibition Where: RMIT Gallery – 344 Swanston Street Melbourne, Victoria When: Friday 2nd September – 5th of November\
We love seeing news of any show from Vexta, and the neonic colour queen has another one coming up in Melbourne next week, and we’re all pretty excited to see what she has come up with.
"Across Neon Nights captures fragments of that elusive moment when our dream world and wakeful realities collide by rendering them forever more in saturated hyper-reality. These works draw upon a combination of hallucinatory perceptions, imagined dimensional shifts, night terrors and impossible, netherworld desires. Within them, we witness events that would normally exist only under the cloak of darkness.
Yvette Bačinova has been creating art since the mid 2000s under the pseudonym Vexta. She is recognised for her stencil paintings and wheat-pastes, which are shaped by her observations of the debris of modern day culture. Her psychedelic, neon drenched images are an amalgamation of symbolism and urban mythology, and are, at once, intimate and universal.
Vexta’s practice is an ongoing exploration of printmaking, painting and sculpture. Her work has been widely shown throughout Australia. She has recently painted murals in Paris, Berlin, London and Bogotá. In 2011, Vexta was part of the highly revered exhibition SPACE INVADERS at the National Gallery of Australia. Her work is due to be exhibited in San Francisco in the latter half of 2011."
Bones, neon and great designs from a soaring artist – grand.
Who: Vexta What: Across Neon Nights Where: Goodtime Studios, Basement 746 Swanston Street, Carlton, Victoria When: Show opens Wednesday August 3rd, 6pm til 9pm, and runs til 3rd August
Invurt webzine provides information on AustralAsian street, urban, illustrative, graffiti and other genre defying, nu-contemporary art to readers around the world. It specialises in events and artists who are working, displaying and visiting Australasia – particularly with a focus on exhibitions, live art and other events the artists are partaking in.