Clearing the decks…

Post the BVRG we’re slowly clearing the decks here at the Hideout – and keep coming across all sorts of goodies that have been lost under the perpetual pile of gotta-dooz.

Way back in early 2007 we’d promised to do a post on an exhibition Megsie had curated for Craft ACT entitled A Little Drop of Kindness…which we then neglected to follow up on at the time. So we’ve decided to drop it in, if only to register it formally on this (now predominantly archival) forum.

The revisitation, much to our dismay, reveals a disturbing element of groundhog day. Nothing has changed contextually – not in the sector and certainly not from the socio-political perspective of the world at large. If anything it’s worse. The Libs were still in government back then (Kevin 07 not even a betting likelihood) and the fiscal rack so favoured by the conservatives was stretching national wellbeing beyond endurance. Remember that? The only reason the Libs had a surplus was because they spent no money on essential services, relentlessly wearing down the cogs of social infrastructure until there was a virtual screech of metal on metal. Tragic. That Abbott and Hockey have now come back meaner than ever should be a surprise to no-one.

So. Here’s for a shot of Alice through the looking glass…

From the room brochure…

A Little Drop of Kindness.

Long before the introduction of the sedition laws in this country, the arts and crafts appear to have drifted languidly into the doldrums of arch conservatism. Whether herded by insinuating market forces or simply the reflection of the general malaise inherent in our astonishingly apathetic society, the crafts (and glass in particular) seem to have settled for a safe existence that smacks of little more than interior décor. The ubiquitous arts-craft debate that so dominated the last century has now petered out to a whimper in the rush for commercial status, and the concept of professional practice has been literally duffed and nose-ringed into a cattle run of design and product, where concern is less about the individual expressionism of the artist and more likely to be specifically tuned to the coffers of the art sector shop facades (aka galleries.)

In an era of celebrity mania it’s hardly surprising that the trend has tainted the creative well, and that practitioners now spend an inordinate amount of time plotting self-promotion rather than nurturing that most difficult of mistresses, the muse. Not everybody has sold out, of course. A few years ago, a dowager patroness of the arts froze me with a rheumy, gimlet eye and haughtily proclaimed, in her very best Bracknell-esque manner, ‘there is no place for social or political commentary in the decorative arts.’ Most of the serfs comply. Not all, thank goodness. A small number of artists who work in glass are driven by a stronger imperative – and foray beyond the mere object to investigate and address issues of contemporary social justice in a pervasive political climate where compassion is sadly thin on the ground. The glass exhibition A Little Drop of Kindness has been dovetailed to coincide with the National Multicultural Festival at a time when we can no longer simply take homogeneous co-existence for granted. One glimpse around the global stage should be sufficient to inform us that we can’t keep ignoring the plight of people so pitifully less fortunate than ourselves, neither beyond our shores nor within.


Itzell Tazzyman, A Little Drop of Kindness

Itzell Tazzyman, A Little Drop of Kindness


The genesis for the exhibition followed a visit to glass artist Itzell Tazzyman’s studio in Mitchell. Tazzyman, whose work has always dealt with the big picture: life and the universe (and the relentless struggle for a sense of redeeming humanity) happened to show me, amongst other things, a small marquette – a beautiful, quite understated, piece that was so full of pathos that it made one weep. It was a classic visual essay in black and white – a withered breast mounting the breach once more to squeeze yet one more drop of human kindness into a well of unquenchable need – a time immemorial piece, and it both set the tone of the exhibition and supplied the title.

Tazzyman is joined by four others. Harriet Schwarzrock’s A Common Thread contemplates the tide of desperate souls that clamour for succour at our shores. Her piece, a virtual rash of blown ventricles, addresses the harshly clinical nature of the process of/for refugee status, the lack of dignity inherent in the scrutinizing procedure, and the mounting bloom and comfort for those lucky few who manage to make the grade.


Harriet Swarzrock, A Common Thread

Harriet Swarzrock, A Common Thread

Harriet Schwarzrock


Luna Ryan, who for the last several years has worked with indigenous (specifically Tiwi) communities, presents a boxed crowd of Tatwamasi (lit.trans, thou art that), a benevolent creature that first emerged in 1988, in her student work, and has recently made a comeback. Cast from a disparate mix of glass (from lead crystal, to uranium glass, to melted television screens) the group, interspersed with new characters somewhat more hardened in nature, present nonetheless a harmonious community regardless of the mongrel mix in cast(e).


Luna Ryan


Luna Ryan, Tatwasami

Luna Ryan, Tatwasami


Brenden Scott French’s installation of blown glass objects, Catastrophic Engagement, also ponders the group dynamic – in a compositional arrangement (to quote the artist) ‘in which if something was removed it would still balance, yet one in which each piece is totally dependent on the other for inclusion.’ An appropriate analogy for community if ever there was one. This is typical work from Scott French, who invariable makes work with a quizzically conscious, urban-angst edge.


Brenden Scott French, Catastrophic Engagement

Brenden Scott French, Catastrophic Engagement

Brenden 3



Tevita Havea lends a Pacific voice to the show, in a piece called Push and Pull which encompasses the issues of identity, culture and the demands of contemporary (Western) life. Having an identity staked in one community, he suggests, doesn’t preclude meaningful relationship with another. The work, indicative of Havea’s wider art practice, balances the responsibilities of traditional culture with the demands of encroaching, outside influence. Though not the subject of the piece, Havea’s Oceanic sense of dignity and respect thoroughly puts to shame the very notion of interventionist actions as ugly and iniquitous as our own government’s ‘Pacific Solution’. What on earth were the spin doctors thinking? Havea contends ‘Beneath the surface of primal ideology there is wisdom and proof. Through these rituals and initiations you are drawn to something greater than yourself, you find the pieces of who you are and where you fit in.’


Tevita Havea, modern primitive

Tevita Havea, Push and Pull: modern primitive


Tevita 2

Tevita Havea


The world plainly doesn’t need another pretty vase, but it could certainly do with a solid dose of introspection. The arts and crafts are an extraordinarily suitable platform for ethical examination and societal reform. Even Da Vinci was known to daub the odd subversive socio-political thematic in his time.

Vive la différence.

Megan Bottari 2007

Winner of the City of Hobart Art Prize 2007


Itzell Tazzyman’s winning piece Revealing our First Nature (Trancendence) II. Photography, Rob Little.

Heartfelt congrats to Itzell Tazzyman who picked up this year’s coveted City of Hobart Art Prize for Glass at a gala event held last Friday night at the Tasmanian Museum and Gallery [TMAG].  (The winning entry for photography/digital media was Ruth Maddison’s Kiah River.) 

In addition to pocketing a tidy cheque for the princely sum of $7,500, Itzell and her mum were treated to some very swish hospitality courtesy of the Prize sponsor, Moorilla Winery;  the Pinot was exemplary and the accommodation plush, by all accounts. 

For further information regarding the prize (Jess Loughlin received a commendation from the judges) go to…

Meanwhile, for those intrigued by the winning piece, we’re posting the following ‘sketch’ of the work, direct to you from Itzell’s own quill: 

 Revealing Our First Nature (TRANSCENDENCE)  


Organic and free growing

Pine, once the great conifer, son of the Araucaria tree

The first tree

Habitat for dinosaurs, plant of my first country (Chile)

Basic and elemental;

Now, tamed, cultivated, managed

last of the cheap ‘real’ woods.

Is there still the beauty of the great tree in this wood? 


A place of rest.

Not a rock by the side of the road, a random shape

Basic in form the chair, fits the human body. Its anatomy defined by our shape. Seating height governed by the legs.

The base, a flat surface for the buttocks.

Is there any trace of the tree in this chair? Perhaps the wood grain?

Resting place,

refuge from the jungle, the forests, the roadside,

a harbor not just for the body, but also the  mind.

a silence.

a dark.

a meditation.

a pause.

a nothing, which is also a something.  


 Liquid contained in suspension

stillness becoming motion

Glass, the result of human efforts but foreign to Nature

Intense, heat forms, melts and shapes it

Its existence has given us eyes into the universe and into ourselves

(we and glass) have become more known to ourselves

and yet….. are you more than this?

a shape to the shapeless?

A presence.

A representation of ourselves? 


Is presence,

when there is no air

there is no life 


A gasp was the first breath,

when forced out of water,

air fills the space inside. 

The bubble is breath solidified.

AIR, expanded by heat, made you

but you would have formed a natural shape anyway.

You represent the edgeless


A moment in the being

it is not the air that is trapped inside

it is us trapped outside.

Inside you the world is magnitude, space and light


together, air and bubble are one….

And one day,




The chair is a link from daily life, the present. The bubble is undergoing a transformation, squeezing thought the junction of the chair, each bubble filling or emptying. Moving from the chair’s inner space to the outer space. As it does, a remnant memory of its last shape remains. But in all this the air is unchanged, it is the constant. 

We don’t expect the static object to breath. (sometimes we treat ourselves like static objects).

We see, but there is so much that is not perceived. What is perception if not another sense? A wonder, locked in the guts of our knowing, the child of intuition and wisdom. At birth, we come into being through our mother’s passage, this is not the only time we change. This experience leaves a trace. Our belly button is that point of junction. Architectural remnant of birth, a visible trace revealed only when naked. A link between outer and inner self. A portal – bodiless, shapeless, endless space. Known by many names in many cultures. This space inside us has no edges. From here we find our First Nature. From here happiness emerges, is cultivated. This work is about material and experience:

Wood, Glass, Air – Inside, Outside, Presence.

In our lives we sense this spatial connections as many things. It can be an absence we sense in our depths we may try and fill. An indefinable abstract element sometime called ‘a soul’ which we grow to know.

In any case it is a presence, an experience of being human.

Life’s journey is about stretching and changing shape, inside. Transformation is not effortless, most times it is driven by our hardships; loss, sickness, grief, death, fear, desires. Sometimes by deep meditation, the cultivation of love even happiness. The experience of time passing also changes us. Throughout our lives we feel and listen to learn – our own way.

There is nothing more than change and being. What we experience is transformation.

 This is what I’m representing in this work. 

Itzell Tazzyman29th January 2007   

Title of work – Revealing Our First Nature (TRANCENDENCE)Dimensions – H 950 x D 430 x W 400mm

Description – production chair, glue, metal, glass and air.

Date – January 2007

Artist – Itzell Tazzyman

Collaborators – Brian Corr, Janice Vitkovsky and Patricia Roan

Photography – Rob Little