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

Luna’s opening at gallery bodella…

The Gang beat a track up to gallery bodella (swinging by Wapengo to pick up Brigitte on the way…oh yeah, and a quick stop at the Gelati joint at Bermagui…) on Saturday arvo for the opening of Luna’s show. Well, not hers exactly (it was a group show featuring Loons, Frances Luke and Cecile Galiazzo) but of course, from our point of view, Luna was the focus. Our peeps, as Blanchie would say.

It was all a bit hot and frazzly but plenty of red dots by the looks, which is always heartening. Megsie opened the show, and Les sang a few ditties. And Babs and Jane and Jacqu were there, and Diana and Chris and Mandy…and lots more bods besides. We were a tad bushwhacked, frankly, from weeks on the tear – and must confess to being somewhat less than scintillating company. But we had managed to drag Sammy along, so that made up for it we fancy.

Afterwards we sloped off quietly for fush’n chups at Bermi, followed by a vino or two with the pussies.

Snaps of the faithful here.

Where’s Luna…?



We’ve not caught up with Loons for such a long time ‘cos she’s been ultra busy – not only on her Mamana Mamanta rounds of Orange and Bathurst but also with the launch of CRT ECycle in Adelaide (a firm that’s recycling television sets), where her tele-casts took pride of place. Go Luna!!



…(above) Luna at the CRT launch and (below) proof of the pudding…


We love that television glass!!

Meanwhile, her touring show (Mamana Mamanta) looked fabulously dramatic at Orange…



 …where she shared the spotlight with an exhibition by outsider artist David Toombs (both snaps courtesy of Peter Elfes.)


Thanks for the news, darl. We’ll have to catch up once you find time to stop!

Mamana Mamanta in Adelaide…




Luna’s sent through some snaps of the launch of the Mamana Mamanta : Gradual Friendship tour at Tandanya in Adelaide. Loons, of course, went across for the opening – and to give a presentation for the public program component of the show…





Brenda, Brooke, Luna and John the night before the opening…





She had a lovely time catching up with the Adelaide glass mob, and is over the moon that the show is finally on the road. Next stop Bathurst…

For tour dates, go here.

On the road…

The Mamana Mamanta express is off and running…




…first stop Tandanya in Adelaide.

Darlings! Jas has just sent through this cute snap of the kick-off of Jock and Luna’s historic travelling exhibition – capping off an action packed week for Loons, who also just picked up a prestigious Canberra Critic’s Circle Award. Congratulations sweets – seriously deserved.

The tour dates for the exhibition are as follows…

(Media release courtesy of CraftACT) 





Mamana Mamanta

Gradual Friendship

Mamana Mamanta: Gradual Friendship

Luna Ryan and Jock Puautjimi

An exhibition of ground breaking sculptural glass works by Luna Ryan and Tiwi Island artist Jock Puautjimi. Mamana Mamanta is the story of a gradual friendship and a celebration of cultures.


Tandanya, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, SA

9 January – 1 March 2009


Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW

13 March – 26 April 2009


Orange Regional Gallery, NSW

8 May – 28 June 2009


Territory Craft, Darwin NT

15 – 30 August 2009


Wagga Wagga National Glass Gallery, NSW

15 January – 7 March 2010


Artisan, QLD

3 June – 10 July 2010


For further information go to the Mamana Mamanta website at CraftACT (…and check out Megsie’s ripper education kit!!)

Luna’s visit…


No time to bring you up to speed, too busy faffing around with Luna – (above) at Bar Beach and (below) at the Merimbula mud flats….



Yeah well, it is what it is. The moment we get a chance we’ll bring you last Friday night’s fahhbulous heppening at Candelo…

Luna Ryan: the road show…


Luna came through yesterday for an overnight stay on her way to Melbourne to deliver her work to Kirra Gallery for the Capital Glass exhibition (opening next Thursday.) She’s certainly set up for some serious travel nowdays – bike rack ‘n all.  



And while she was down here she received confirmation from Craft ACT director Barb McConchie that the touring of Mamana Mamanta  – see previous posts and, more to the point, Craft Act’s curatorial coverage  is thunderbirds-are-go. It’s all been given the thumbs up by Visions of Australia and will travel in 2009/2010 (to Adelaide, Bathurst, Orange, Darwin, Brisbane and Wagga Wagga – though not necessarily in that order.)

So a huge congrats to both Luna and Jock – and how fabulous that the show will get so much well deserved exposure. We toasted the deed with Megsie’s Blackberry Nip (which is really, really, really, really good – even if we do say so ourselves.)

Which reminds us – filmmaker Les Herstik has made a great little film about Loons and her practice, and it’s up on YouTube. For a serious treat check out…


And speaking of films…in the mail today we received a wonderful surprise from Mr Marvellous Tom Moore – a preview dvd of his ‘glass-o-rama’  episode for ABC’s Artscape. How excitement! You’re gunna have to wait because it’s not scheduled for airing until sometime in November apparently – but we can assure you that it’s classic Tom, very entertaining, and not to be missed.  And it’s peppered with interviews with Nick Mount, Deb (The Leader of the Free Glass World) Jones, and Tom’s very lovely trouble and strife, Rosie. We even caught a glimpse of the Netster. It’s a ripper. We’ll give you a little reminder nudge closer to showtime.

It’s the big-Hawaiian (as in 5-Oh!!) for movie-star-glass-artist Luna Ryan today…


A big happy birthday to Luna Ryan, who clocks up half a century today – welcome to the ranks of ‘an oldie but a goodie’, lovie. 

Luna’s had a hectic week leading up to the big day; in between making work for two shows in January and ruthlessly culling/spring cleaning the studio post her Mamana Mamanta exhibition, she’s had a film crew in the workshop documenting her practice. 

Film-maker-producer Les Herstik and Carl Drury have been following Luna at work all week, and will be finishing up with some gallery footage of Mamana Mamanta at Craft ACT later today.

No rest for the wicked, old darling. Lots of love and best wishes (and see you at the party tonight – after the wrap!!)

It’s Take One, Action at…

Mamana Mamanta: the floor talk…


(above) the hands of Jock Puautjimi…

Before Jock winged it back north, he and Luna gave a floor talk at Craft ACT; a photo-journal of their two year collaboration, covering everything from Tiwi Designs, Jock’s fabulous ceramics, Luna’s various trips to the island, Jock’s return trips south, and everything in-between. All in all the ‘mamana mamanta’ (gradual friendship) has been an epic adventure for both of them.

There were more ceramicists than glassies at the lunchtime event, which was kind of…’different’ (!!) Well, not really, of course – many a ‘glassie’ started out as a ‘muddie’ after all. And it seems that Jock may be doing a residency out at Strathnairn sometime later next year.

Mamana Mamanta: the exhibition, meanwhile, is attracting its fair share of deserv-ed attention – word from CraftACT is that the travelling calendar for 2009 is practically fully booked already. Damn fine.

There’s a smattering of snaps at…