Exhibition roll-call this coming Friday…

Yet more news from Jas Hugonnet…ObfuncWith exhibitions opening across the state from Orange to Canberra to Bega this weekend, there’s no way the Gang can physically cover all our preferred options. Never mind – you can go for us!!

If you’re in Canberra, head for M16 for Jas’s Obfunc launch (we love that name, Jas.)

If you’re in Orange, head down to ORG for Brigitte Enders’ exhibition Sentinels 2 (we’re desperately trying to sort an image for this – we don’t have an electronic version of the invitation….)

 

[Post script: in lieu of an invite, we’ve dropped in a snap of a pair of Brigitte’s gorgeous Wapengos recently showcased in the foyer vitrine at the BVRG. n(Ed)]

 

And if you’re hanging around in Bega at 6pm on Friday evening (and why on earth wouldn’t you be?) it’s box fest time…

 

 

…a fun show of creative constraint (featuring artworks that squeeze into a small AusPost gift pack) – and, consequently, the perfect opportunity to splurge on a locally hand-crafted objet d’art for that special xmas prez.

This show has a light-hearted entertainment factor  – but with a competitive edge; muso Phil Moriarty, recently returned from the Edinburgh Festival, has bravely agreed to step up to the judging plate this year (joining Megsie and Rachel on the selection panel), and there’s many a keen eye on the $1,000 winner’s purse (…well, it’s a tidy little chrissie drinks kitty, eh.)

 

Sentinels…

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We’ve dropped in Megsie’s speech for the opening of Brigitte’s exhibition at Gallery Bodalla on Saturday (see previous post), for your general edification…

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At the risk of being shockingly ungallant and mentioning a lady’s 40 years of practice, I’m nonetheless going to give you a potted history – no pun intended – because if this is your first encounter with the work of Brigitte Enders, it will put into context the depth of commitment and the aggregate expertise that underpins her artistic practice. 

She began her odyssey at the Academy of Art in Kassel, in Germany, in the late 1960’s, studying music and craft – but was soon drawn to ceramics, which at that time held the high, innovative ground in the European Craft Movement. By the completion of her studies she had already attracted a growing reputation, which led to an invitation in 1970 to design on a freelance basis for the State Porcelain Factory in Berlin. She continued her studies at the at the School of Ceramic Design in Hoehrgrenhausen, before moving to Hamburg where she set up her own studio while concurrently teaching ceramic therapy to children with behavioral difficulties. From 1975-1980 she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg, graduating with a degree in industrial design. 

By 1982 she had fallen in love and was transported for the term of her natural life to Australia, with partner Klaus Moje. And on arrival in Canberra, she immediately established a studio workshop at the Yarralumla Brickworks, followed by another in Rivett and, finally, by her current studio at Wapengo on the far south coast of NSW. Throughout this time she engaged in further study (both at the University of Canberra and at the ANU School of Art, in industrial design and visual arts respectively) interspersed with sessional teaching at the ANU’s School of Art’s Ceramic Workshop. In other words, it would be safe to say that she is a serial ceramicist. 

From her earliest selection into the prestigious ‘International Triennial of Decorative Arts’ in Stuttgart, in 1969, she has continued to show in significant exhibitions internationally – as far a-field as Washington DC and New York and, of course, in Europe most particularly. Her work is held in eminent museum and private collections in Germany, the US, and Australia.

And that’s not all – into this mix must also be thrown the female artist’s lot of ‘practice interruptus’ – aka the family. Because while motherhood hasn’t stopped her from practicing, she nonetheless inevitably prioritises in favour of family and associated responsibilities. It’s a hormonal imperative (as other women artists here today will no doubt attest.) 

All of that sounds terribly busy, of course – and might give an impression of a gushingly prolific practice – a practice that pumps out lots of crafty product, which of course patently isn’t the case. Her practice is extraordinarily considered. She makes, instead, fewer pieces – all of which are meticulously conceived. And while the statistical nuts and bolts of her CV give notice of the success, they only go part of the way towards illuminating why it is that her work is so strikingly singular. 

Her early training in Bauhaus-influenced German industrial design certainly has something to do with it – the architectonic modernism, the strong purity of line, the beautifully balanced, sophisticated restraint of her work; all of this contributes to her signature constructivist/design aesthetic.  

But while she remains faithful to the premise of the crafted tradition, and her pieces invariably reference the vessel, her work transcends materiality and function in a way that pretty much answers the age-old craft versus art debate. (In this new millennium the debate probably ought to be declared defunct. Many ceramicists focus on glaze or ornamentation or function in a way that cleaves to tradition, making craft something more akin to a cult of tradition. Glass is much the same. But an artist is someone who masters the craft and then, in full cognizance of its history and traditions, breaks through the pedantry and takes wing.) Brigitte definitely falls firmly into the artists’ camp. Her practice is sculptural – and if you had to give her work a label, it’d be  ‘functional abstraction’. It’s a representation and expression of the very complexity of function itself.  

The Hammerheads are a prime example of this – they’re a visual composition that relates to that period of time spent on the building site during the endless construction of her house and studio at the coast. The daily regimen of tradesmen, tools and relentless activity couldn’t help but infiltrate her consciousness, and the consequent distilling of the experience has produced an object that emanates a presence that is both powerful and almost aggressively progressive. These Hammerheads have a sense of strength and purpose, a certain posture of bluntly altered dimension, and a scratch patterned surface that bears the indelible signs of industrial wear and tear. 

Her vessels contain and even fortify her personal observations. We may be intrigued and curious about the Wapengos, so buoyant with a Zephyrus lyricism, but we are left to our own imaginings. Brigitte abstains, in the main, from discussing subject matter, and frankly I admire her for that (let’s face it, sometimes there’s nothing worse than an artist droning fatuously on about the meaning of their work.) The viewer doesn’t need to know the specifics, we are connected by the existential universality of the work regardless. Suffice to say that it is a construct of emotional response to private circumstance. The Guardians, standing sentinel at the entrance, protect those undisclosed essentials.  

I have to confess that I know very little about Bob’s practice – but I certainly appreciate how well the two bodies of work sit together. Sensitive and intelligent curatorship is critical in the arts and it’s fantastic to see it alive and well here at Gallery Bodalla. Congratulations to Valerie for a beautifully visually balanced show. Without further ado I officially open this exhibition – and declare it most definitely worth the drive!   

‘Sentinels’ at Gallery Bodalla…

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(above) Brigitte Enders at the opening of her exhibition Sentinels at the Gallery Bodalla.

Yesterday the Gang and Ginger took a lovely drive up the Princes Highway to Brigitte’s exhibition launch at Bodalla. (We can’t get over how lush and green it is again after that blighty drought – even greener than last time, Jacque and James!!) Megsie was giving the opening speech, so we figured we’d better turn up for moral support(!)

We’d not been to the gallery before, had no inkling of what to expect – and frankly you could’ve knocked us over with a feather. It’s a fabulous space – an old converted post office; white on white walls, gunmetal grey flooring, the loftiest ceilings imaginable and a really specko lighting system…in other words, a perfect exhibition space. Better than that in some ways – no harsh edges. The walls are tongue-and-groove, the floors softly carpeted and the space a series of rooms (because, of course, it had originally been a residence) – so it’s intimate and comfortable. And completely unpretentious. For Valerie and her gallery team (Brian, Pat, Bob, et al) this is obviously a labour of love – and they’re spreading that love with warmth and hospitality. It’s wonderful.

And we loved the work, as well!! Brigitte’s signature functional abstraction/formalist design aesthetic took possession of the space, aided and abetted by the astonishingly complementary paintings of Bob Baker. Hats off to Valerie for this intelligently sensitive curatorial selection (so critical to the visual success of any exhibition.)

It was all so unexpectedly sophisticated. Which sounds dreadfully patronising, and that’s definitely not our intention – it’s just such a joyful thing when you stumble across pockets of civilization out in them thar bucolic hills.

For the delights of the show go to…

http://www.flickr.com/photos/glasscentralcanberra/sets/72157604128773423/

(Meanwhile we’ll post Megsie’s opening ‘Ode to Brigitte’ as soon as we edit in her ad-libs!!)

The Gang’s big Sydney adventure…Part 1

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First stop: Goulburn and the Paragon Cafe.

Jacque and the Gang fanged it out of the car-park at the Hyatt and headed straight up the Federal Highway to Sydders, stopping only for a quick snap of the Big Merino and a burger at the Paragon in Goulburn.

We made the big smoke in good time to dump the luggage, tart ourselves up and wander down Oxford St to Brigitte’s exhibition (Core – ceramics and bronzes) at Sabbia (the raison d’être for the trip.) Fabulous exhibition – her first solo for 20 years, and it’s been in gestation for about half of that. This is seriously considered work – the real deal, darlings. We love it.

A commendable number of people trekked up from both the (Far South) Coast and Canberra to swell the predominantly Sydney crowd, including Nola Anderson who officially launched the show and Judi Elliot who was co-exhibiting in the little side gallery. A grand old time was evidently had by all – particularly those who went on to dinner afterwards…

And then of course the most dedicated amongst us dropped in at the Hollywood for a bitterly-cold on the way home…

For a perusal of the evening go to…(and we’ve also printed Megsie’s short blurb for the show for your edification – just ‘cos we can…!! See below.)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/glasscentralcanberra/sets/72157602572014455/

Core

 At the core of Brigitte Enders’ signature aesthetic formality lies a store of life experience, both professional and private, that sustains a resolute creative drive. The influence of her abiding predilection for architecture, and early training in Bauhaus-influenced German industrial design, is evidenced by the beautifully balanced, sophisticated restraint of her work, the strong purity of line and the diligent attention to detail. It is this sense of ‘the outer-shell’ of her ‘observances’ that most occupies, and perhaps defines, Enders’ practice. Her vessels contain, and even fortify, her most intimate thoughts and impressions. They are an exterior manifestation that guards the undisclosed essential. Perceiving her craft as ‘a composition in mood’, Enders’ bold move into the foundry most surely portends the longevity of a strong and intriguingly progressive artistic practice.  

Megan Bottari, 2007