Pick of the Pops…

Two of our fave glassies are in the comp spotlight atm…

Tevita in the Woollahra Sculpture Prize 2017 (opens Saturday week, 14th Oct)…


Tevita Havea, Tuna



And Netty in the Still: National Still Life Award 2017 at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery (exhibition opens 24th November)…


Annette Blair, A Place for Everything. (photo: Adam McGrath)


Big big love to both and fingers crossed for the win.

Meanwhile the field for the Woollahra has been posted, find it here, and we must confess to being a tad conflicted given that Mariana also made the cut…


Mariana del Castillo, The Feral Suitors. 


Voting can be done on-line for the Viewer’s Choice Award, so get on that!

[Meanwhile we’ll be posting a feature on Netty shortly, stay tuned… n(Ed)]



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

Good things really do come in small packages…

Especially when you yearn for a piece from your fave artists but just can’t quite stretch your budget to full-on exhibition work.

Enter the miniature – domestically trained and eminently affordable.

Bilk’s miniature show opened last night and if you’ve been lusting after a Tevita Havea piece, then here’s your big chance…


Tevita Havea, glass, wood, hair, twine. 7x26x6cm

Tevita Havea, glass, wood, hair, twine. 7x26x6cm


Tevita Havea, glass, wood, twine, hair. 6.5x27x6.5cm

Tevita Havea, glass, wood, twine, hair. 6.5x27x6.5cm


Tevita Havea, glass, wood, twine. 8x23x9cm

Tevita Havea, glass, wood, twine. 8x23x9cm


Tevita Havea, glass, wood, twine. 9.5x9x9cm

Tevita Havea, glass, wood, twine. 9.5x9x9cm


The only difficulty now is choice – you’re spoiled for it!

[Get in quick, that’s our advice. n(Ed)]

From Tevita…

Tevita’s been getting jiggy with some experimental new work: mucking around (to quote him) with some glass, wood, alcohol and pig’s hearts [sounds like a party at the Hideout! n(Ed)]…



Needless to say we think that all 1.5 x 3.5 metres of it is utterly fabulous.

Gotta love that Tongan spear action.

Surprise visit from Maureen…


(above) Klaus and Maureen at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery today.

Maureen paid a flying visit to the BVRG today to check out Tevita’s work in situ. It was a lovely surprise to see her – and of course we all immediately went off for a lunchtime meeting at Red Café (as you do…) For those not in the know, it’s Maureen (Glass Art Gallery, Glebe) who takes Tevita to Collect and SOFA.

Contemporary Primitive, the show…



The Bega Valley Regional Gallery is privileged to present, in concert with NAIDOC week, an exhibition of indigenous art featuring the work of three prominent emerging contemporary practitioners; Michael Brogan, Janet Fieldhouse and Tevita Havea.

Contemporary Primitive (named after a series of work made by Tevita Havea in 2007) explores the practices of three artists who successfully straddle the creative demands of cultural duality. While their work is informed by a complex of traditional customs they nonetheless find ways of expressing themselves in a distinctly modern idiom.

The work in this exhibition celebrates indigenous culture firmly set in the context of the present day. All three artists are making sense of contemporary social narratives once removed from mere stereotypical decorative motifs. Their language is current and relevant and quite groundbreaking in a way that still honours tradition and customs, without being confined by it.



 Michael Brogan, A-Jar: Tales for the Modern Home, paint on mission blanket

A-JAR: Tales for the Modern Home: Artist Statement

A-JAR: Tales for the Modern Home was exhibition that had became an opportunity to reconcile aspects of my past in order to move forward. These images incorporate my own personal experiencesto illustrate specific events that have had a significant impact throughout my social development.

The glass jar crystallizes the concept of the self as a living being. In some ways the jar comes to represent the psychological self, the mental self, the emotional-self in a transparent state. The Jar like a body has become a vessel fragile and vulnerable that can easily end up hitting a brick wall smashed, broken or trashed! The image of the jar and the subject matter along with the social content contained within this visual imagery is childlike and innocent, evoking a vague recognition and yet a sinister familiarity to a subtext created out of memory as the trigger for the encounter.

The original idea and concept for this artwork was based on a previous artwork called ‘The Medicine Jar’ back in the early 1990’s. The Medicine Jar was based on the notion of a journey and my concept centered on the journey of life. By highlighting one’s journey, I identified physical scars on the body in contrast to the mental and emotional scarring that comes from the things we learn, accept or discard about ourselves from the forces of life we encounter along that journey.

These particular artworks represent the internal and external aspects of the self. The means through which I am able to give an audience the cues to reading and interpreting the artwork so they became part of the narrative or dialogue I am having with the audience.



Michael Brogan’s work, A-JAR; tales for the Modern Home, is a metaphoric layering of early life experience as the indigenous ‘jungle bunny’ growing up in middle-class white enclaves in Europe over the course of his formative years. Here the memories, both good and bad/ spiritual or emotionally scarring, are preserved like vital organs in specimen jars; never quite forgotten and stored away in perpetuity. The army, or mission, blankets are redolent of the anecdotal experiences of extended family and are loaded with disaffected social history. His latest work (below) is a point of departure for a new series of work – snapshots of manmade marks (graffiti, signage, etc) on the environment, reconfigured into a fresh way of interpreting country.

Michael Brogan is the Director of the Oorala Centre at the University of New England.



Michael Brogan, Untitled, photographic arrangement


 Michael Brogan, Untitled, photographic arrangement





Janet Fieldhouse, Ancestor Series-Kupmarri, smoke fired Raku clay porcelain, porcelain, feathers & Dance Series, flexible porcelain 

Artist Statement

My work is an expression of my Torres Strait Islander heritage: the material culture, rituals of social and religious life, and artefacts which are created to fulfill the functional and spiritual needs of the Torres Strait peoples.

I would like the viewers to explore the Torres Strait Islander culture through my art and recognise the significance of Torres Strait Islander art. I demonstrate all this through my individual art pieces that tell a different story about my culture.

Janet Fieldhouse


Janet-Fieldhouse-2 Janet Fieldhouse, Ancestor Series-Kupmarri, smoke fired Raku clay porcelain, porcelain, feathers 

Janet Fieldhouse’s Torres Strait Island background is reflected in her woven baskets and smoke fired clay vessels, whereby she uses a distinctly refined, new material (the flexible porcelain) to reproduce an ancient craft. The body of work in this exhibition celebrates customary family get togethers, replete with feasting and ceremonial dancing and song. The artist, who graduated with a Masters of Philosophy in Ceramics this year from the ANU School of Art Ceramic Workshop, has only recently returned from a residency on Thursday Island – where she spent time developing a visual dialogue with the women, particularly the elders, of that community. She’s been primarily influenced by her grandmother and while the works in the main are women’s narratives, the drum (the piece with the cassowary feathers) is traditionally men’s business – and she was amazed to find that women were now encroaching onto what has hitherto been a distinctly male domain. A kind of equality is starting to take hold – and women are quietly shifting away from the confines of gender specific motifs. The turtle is her grandmothers totem and the raku fired vessels represent the coconut baskets used for cooking food in fire pits.

Janet Fieldhouse was the winner of the Inaugural Indigenous Ceramics Prize in 2008.



Janet Fieldhouse, Dance Series-Rhythm, flexible porcelain


Tongan born Tevita Havea explores and reconciles the polar demands of his Pacific Islander heritage and current Western/urban existence (Sydney) by making work that underscores the mutual inclusivity of both. He once described himself as a ‘contemporary primitive’, caught in-between worlds. “There are always contradictions when there are two opposing forces, but instead of one dominating the other, I aim to make pieces that are neither ancient nor contemporary, but operate to explore the tensions of the space between.”  His work is a lyrical interweave of  Tongan mythology, creation stories and custom; stories about regeneration and the symbiotic relationship between the feminine and masculine. Vesica Pisces, for instance, pays tribute to the mother figure and the balance of mind body and soul…



Tevita Havea, Vesica Pisces, mixed media


Vesica Pisces


…while Vaka Ika holds the viewer in literal suspense with a breathtaking manifestation of the physical tension wrought between the liberation of the mind and the mortification of the flesh; the soaring (and baring) of the spirit despite the drag and anchoring of the body by the agonising fishhooks of life.



Tevita Havea, Vaka Ika, mixed media




Tevita Havea is a graduate of the ANU School of Art Glass Workshop. He has recently returned from New York where he received the prestigious UrbanGlass New Talent Award 2009. He shows annually at Collect at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and at SOFA (Sculptural Objects Functional Art) in Chicago and New York (with Glass Art Gallery, Glebe.)

The exhibition is on until the 8th August. For more gallery snaps go here.

Mea culpa, mea culpa…

Sincere apologies to all our regular readers; we’ve been under the gun installing Contemporary Primitive and, between that and a run of house guests, we’ve not had a minute of time to blog – so everything’s going to be a tad delayed…ah, doesn’t matter!




The main excitement of the week was the install of Tevita’s fabulous Vaka Ika, central to the contemporary indigenous show that the Bega Valley Regional Gallery was kicking off for NAIDOC week.





Tevita brought his gorgey cousin Tal with him as roadie, so we had a few days to shoot the breeze and give our fave local wine (Rocky Hall) a thorough nudge.




More snaps when we get to the opening…