proppaNOW in Bega…


It will come as no surprise to anyone that the Gang is heavily into proppaNOW, the artist-activist collective from Brisbane: Richard Bell, Laurie Nilsen, Megan Cope, Gordon Hookey, Jennifer Herd, Vernon Ah Kee and Tony Albert. Nothing like a double shot of healthy irreverence and up-the-culo of the status quo, eh – and that’s just for starters. So so crucial to the integrity of all things art-farty, indigenous or otherwise.

proppaNOW was spurred into action back in the 90’s (though it also partly evolved from an earlier group, Campfire) when members of the urban collective were dismissed as inauthentic (aboriginal artists) on the grounds that they weren’t proper, desert blackfellas.  Unsurprisingly, they took umbrage. Who was whitey (let’s be frank, the art market is an entirely artificial white construct) to deny their aboriginality? [Oh the irony – in pre-millenium Queensland, of all places! n(Ed)] And who was whitey to dictate the tenor or nature of their art practice, period?

proppaNOW, consequently, now runs a no holds barred socio-political agenda, tackling all the hard issues of racial injustice with the grit and determination of a Maroons front-row pack. Or as Richard Bell would no doubt say, ‘bring it on, mother-fucker.’ Pure universal zeitgeist. We love that.



proppaNOW has landed in Bega, as the continuation of the BVRG’s annual Contemporary Indigenous program; aimed at encouraging local indigenous artists to fight hard for their right to party (…to borrow from the Beastie Boys.) Given that Aboriginal Art undeniably commands the lion’s share of the Australian art bourse and that art is the power tool in the struggle for social change, it makes far more sense to encourage local artists to find their own voice instead of submissively nobbling themselves to the stereotypical demands of the ‘ooga booga’ (to borrow a proppaNOW term) low-end tourist market. It’s all way more complex than that, of course, but a line needs to be drawn in the sand somewhere and at this point in time proppaNOW pretty much encapsulates the broader indigenous political mood.

The exhibition, proppaNOW: existence/resistance, opened at the BVRG on Friday the 13th July and runs until the 18th August. The perennially entertaining David Broker, Director of the Canberra Contemporary Art Space, performed the honours as opening speaker (seriously apt given that his association with various members of the group spans some 3 decades) and artists Richard Bell and Laurie Nilsen were on hand for both the launch and a Yarn-Up at Jigamy the following day.



This is work that gnaws at the comfort zone – and, actually, is way kinder than it could be. Clever, funny – but nonetheless a very clear admonishment. Fair enough and all, we reckon.

The show we got at Bega was (as Megan Cope’s piece subtly infers) whitewashed for local sensibilities.

More snaps here.

Additional background: Artlink article, Kickarts Continue reading

Just in from Jas…

Louise Upshall

written on the body

now showing

jas hugonnet gallery

media release

This series is about reclaiming the perfect, idealised images of models in fashion magazines.Upshall creates an alternative fashion parade where the artificial manner of the subjects is contrasted with cut out sections and scratches akin to physical and emotional scars.These broken subjects with fragmented titles take on a new persona, closer to Upshall’s own experience and ideals.”The women become whole, not despite, but because of their brokenness and imperfections. They carry traces of experience written on the body.”

To arrange an appointment, to view, or for media images, please call 0417 235 916 or contact the gallery via the website.

Image: Louise Upshall

she looked enviably radiant 2012

oil on card, 26 x 19cm

Tour de Bunbury…

Honey darlings, the Gang’s not long back from a red-eye to WA (last Friday) for the Tour goes West segment of our favourite travelling glass-o-rama show. Fast and furious it most certainly was, yet fabulous nonetheless.  Megsie was giving a floortalk at the Bunbury Regional Gallery, and what a gorgeous old place….and so pink!!



Yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s an old convent. An amazing place (Grace) and of course the main gallery is the old Chapel…



Not many snaps because, as you know, once Megsie gets talking there’s absolutely no stopping her. But we did manage a few of the balconies, etc…



…and we wondered if the Bunbury Theatre Ensemble had ever thought to stage Romeo & Juliet there (we’d travel just to see it – Shakespeare in the Convent, too marvellous for words.)

The only thing we weren’t too keen on was Sister Mary…



…you wouldn’t find us working back late, no way. Last one out would have to be absolutely scared shitless.

Many thanks to Julie and Donna and the lovely peeps at Bunbury who made the trip so comfortable. Even the weather was good. And the digs were sooo cute…



…we felt like we were drifting around the set of a BBC tele-drama.



What a perfectly sweet little interlude.


The Shirley Hannan social rounds….

Well darls, we’re gunna make like the Canberra Times and bring you the Shirley Hannan post in the final week of the exhibition(!)

It’s been super hyper down in the old Burg de Bega and we’ve barely had time to  get the culture mulcher cranked up. But here, at last, are the snippets from the last month –  and we are talking snippets, schveeties – most of the time we’ve been far too distracted to even remember the camera…

Never mind. The Shirley Hannan was bigger and better than ever before (we do take this on general advisement) and it’s been an incredible ride  – irrefutable evidence of the very real and abiding affection held by the community for the Award’s late patroness. Shirley continues to provide the glue for the local arts community.

175 entries, 35 finalists – five of which were locals; something that would have pleased her no end. There was a serious buzz right from the get-go. At least a third of the interstate finalists travelled for the media launch/opening/traditional Artists’ Lunch (the following day.) And what an enjoyable reunion it was – which of course has become one of the salient features of the Shirley Hannan, that sense of collegiate bonhomie. This was, for example, Raelene Sharp’s 6th consecutive hang as a finalist, representing an association of some 12 years standing. She wouldn’t miss it for the world, she reckons.

Proceedings kicked off with the media launch; perfect photo opps for all concerned and the first point of contact for the attending finalists…



After which the artists repaired to the pub for lunch and an afternoon bonding session (which the Gang was sorry to miss)  and the BVRG went into lockdown while Michael Desmond got into the nitty-gritty  of the judging – a task which nobody envied him. It was an incredibly strong field and he clearly wrestled long and hard over his decision.

Which of course wasn’t revealed until about halfway through the evening’s opening, by which time the capacity crowd (close to 200) had worked itself into a veritable lather of anticipation…



Needless to say it was a fairly big night – followed by a very civilized recovery luncheon the following day at Thornliegh-on-Newtown, hosted by Brian Settle and the Shirley Hannan Trust. The Artists’ Lunch had been held by Shirley since the early ’90’s, a tradition that’s been continued by Brian. Held in honour of the finalists, it’s become a celebration and tribute to Shirley herself in many ways and is one of the most enjoyable events on the SH program.




And ever since it’s been a huge month of high gallery visitation (as one would expect.) The highlight mid-way was the ARTspeak with winner Neil Moore…



What a wonderful floortalk, it was – and what an erudite speaker he is. He brought something, dare we say it, that we rarely see down this neck of the woods – intellectual rigour! Goodness, what a concept. Though with buckets of charm (reminded us of a young Patrick McCaughey, actually.) Fabulous.

And then, just as Megsie was thinking things couldn’t possibly get any better, in popped her two favourite pollies…



Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Thanks Shirley, it’s been a cracker year.

Glimpses of the good times here.

The background (in case you missed it) here.

New work from Hils!!!

The Gang was so happy to finally hear from Hils, who’s been operating well under the radar for the last coupla years. What a blast! And a seismic shift by the looks (and the titles of the work…)



She’s been off in some remote mining town (we gather from general g(l)oss, though no confirmation) so we can’t be more expansive, having not yet had an opportunity to chat to her ourselves. Watch this space.