Blak Douglas 

NATIONAL AN’ THEM (suite) 2017

This latest series of canvases attribute to a festering irritation I experience when forced to accommodate a continued societal allegiance to ‘being Australian’ and generally endorsing ‘Australiana’ and its ensuing cultural amnesia through devout patriotism.

Arguably one of the first Tory grandees to visit the great Southern Land, Sir Joseph Banks, likened the Southern landscape (when viewed from the Endeavour) as resembling the ‘back of an emaciated cow’. Was this what prompted the the Colonials to employ an ensuing 229yr mentality of… ‘dig it up ‘cos it bears now resemblance to the Cotswolds’. (?)

We’d all have to wait some 150yrs after the Colonies became fully fledged to be aesthetically convinced that we actually live in a beautiful place and one that was unique on a global scale. We’d have to wait until the Heidelberg School had had their homogenised way with the bush. Many of whom would “tastefully” omit any sign of Aboriginal presence. Moving forth a hundred years and it became fashionable for the Old Money cashed up Bush Cockies to acquire the larrikin efforts of an esteemed redneck like Pro Hart or the mono-cultured landscapes of Max Mannix. Then in the 90’s we’d immerse ourselves in the wondrously panoramic innovative preachings of the the (then) most coveted landscape photographer Ken Duncan. How rare then were artists like Gleeson, Drysdale, Tucson, Preston and of course the swathe of originators within the Indigenous arena. Unearthed talent whom had to wait until 1967 before permitted in to town to enter the abyss of carpet bagging exploitation.

This series of landscapes acts as a dedicated reminder to the above mentioned celebrated artists and every Indigenous artist who’s portrayed ‘Country’. Artists that read way beneath the surface. Beyond mining orifices. Beyond the saline bleached ‘wetlands’. Beyond the cracks of fracking and the polluted water ways spewing from the mouth of the Murry / Darling.

Feel the cracked textures that I’ve created in Acrylic paint. Touch it and reminisce the ‘wide brown land for me’ that Dorothea McKellar claimed on behalf of the Colony. What of the ‘wealth for toil’ that old mate Peter Dodds McCormick coined and the ‘girt by sea’ phenomenon. If you look closely, I’ve painstakingly mashed lines from both ‘epic’ writings to add to a disturbed surface within the outline of the top half of the continent in the piece- Wealth for Soil. Further, in the piece- Electoral Dysfunction, we see a quirky comment re the phallic fallacy of the hypothesised notion of land ‘ownership’ through title deeds and mortgaging. I’ve attempted to visually interpret that emaciated cow’s back by creating these continental landscapes as well as termite mound shaped ‘Queensland’ protrusions.

Out on the patio we’d sit,

And the humidity we’d breathe,

We’d watch the lightning crack over canefields

Laugh and think that this is Australia.

(GANGgajang, 1985)

Adam Douglas Hill was born in Blacktown (1970), Western Sydney to an Aboriginal Father / Australian Mother. Originally trained in illustration & photography, observing a family of artisans, became self – practiced in painting with a style influenced by the study of Graphic Design & devoutly politicised per social justice. Works collected by AAMU (Utrecht), NGA, NMM, Town Hall Collection, Taipei Museum & Regional Councils.

A classically trained Yidaki (Didgeridoo) player. Performances include- Festival of the Dreaming, Australian Idol final, The Deadlys, Rugby World Cup opening ceremony, ‘Requiem’ Peter Sculthorpe & Inter/national tours (Musica Viva) and Paul Jarman Projects.

Chico Monks

Imagine living in a country where the constitution does not yet recognise the first peoples of the land. Yet at all important events, it is protocol to have either a welcome or acknowledgement of country to recognise Aboriginal custodianship.  As the audience listens in silence they are quietly thinking about the event, the wine and the nibbles.

So do we question this contradiction? I feel beyond confused and embarrassed about the paradox found in a country whose history is maintained with untruths.  Our Black history is not publicly recognised nor acknowledged.

Imagine no longer.

Through this series of art works I remind the viewer to remember the frontier wars.  Wars that were not publicly recognised and were not given status, statues, markers or public days of mourning.

I have produced a series of weapons (Bundies) using traditional techniques and materials thereby practicing culture.  The weapons are decorated with contemporary comic symbolic words and font that makes the meaning and use of the weapons clear to all.

I have painted a compilation of abstract landscapes adorned with comic text representing the battles that occurred between Aboriginal people and the colonisers.  These paintings are an attempt to uproot the lie of terra nullius.  The comic text draws the viewer into the excitement of war.  The painting then progresses to the sorry landscapes.  “Sorry” has become an identified Aboriginal word, we even have a public day of mourning holding its name.

Chico Monks was born into a world of creativity, both parents teaching and practicing artists. From the moment his life began, he was encouraged to communicate through art, creative expression an intrinsic part of everyday life. With all of his immediate family being artists, there was no other way to explore the reason for being.

As a boy, Chico Monks was exposed to the diversity of the globe early, living in Europe & the UK for 2 years. That was in stark contrast to his Australian home, a backdrop of rainforests and natural habitats. Those extreme environments made for a great platform to base Chico Monks’ art, his talents being recognised early with his acceptance into ‘Art Express’.

Chico Monks graduated from Southern Cross University in 2001 with a BA in sculpture. He taught Aboriginal art in various schools, organizations and communities, including Grafton, Lismore and Eora TAFE, Yulang Aboriginal educational unit, Long Bay Gaol, Juvenile Justice, Community workshops & High schools.

Guy Morgan

Guy’s inspirations range far and wide – from impressionism to postmodernism and abstract expressionism to pop art. His recent paintings often contain divergent subjects, surprising visual planes and layers of conceptual subject matter – often hinted at in the works’ titles.

After completed his undergraduate studies at St Martins School of Art and the London College of Printing, Guy migrated to Australia in 1981. He worked in the advertising industry as an art director and writer, supplementing his activities by lecturing in Graphic Design at the Queensland College of Art and Advertising Design at KvB (later Raffles) in Sydney.

After an absence of nearly 30 years, Guy turned again to painting abstracts and landscapes in 2003. In 2012 he started portraiture to demonstrate to others what he now sees after suffering a major retinal detachment in his left eye. His portraiture investigates ‘Recognisable Identity without Visual Fidelity’. In the last four years, Guy’s paintings have been selected for the Archibald Prize and travelling exhibition in 2013 and 2015, and the 2015 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize. Four other portraits were chosen for the Moran Prize semi-finals in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Guy’s work has featured in numerous art awards and group exhibitions, including the Mosman Art Prize (four times), Hazelhurst’s Art on Paper Award and the inaugural Arts Access Australia Art Award.

Guy was shortlisted in the 2013 International Emerging Artist Award and was a Chippendale New World Art Prize finalist in the same year. In 2014 he won the inaugural ‘Who is Looking at You?’ Portrait Prize and awarded a solo show in Melbourne. He was also a finalist in the 2014 and 2016 Percival Prize in Townsville and the 2014 Black Swan Prize in Perth.

Guy also holds a Master of Studio Arts (Painting) from Sydney College of the Arts where he served on the Academic Board.

My Chengdu

‘MY CHENGDU’

…is a photographic exhibition which captures the friendly and seemingly carefree nature of people living under the veil of a Communist regime.

Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwest Sichuan Province, boasts a population of over 11 million people. Its history dates back to at least the 4th century B.C, when it served as the capital for the Shu Kingdom. Chengdu’s famed for being the home of the cute giant panda bears and known for its hot and spicy food.

Journalist, Liz Deep-Jones was inspired by the warm character of the locals while filming stories for the SBS Mandarin News & Current Affairs program she was producing. “I was struck by the vitality and friendliness of the people I met. They surprised me with their outgoing nature and curiosity about Australia.”

The vibrant images of this exhibition unearth the heartfelt nature of the people who bring the streets alive with their friendly smiles and happy veneer.

My Chengdu shares the many faces of a people striving to live comfortably under a regime which governs with tight control. It’s a place with a fascinating history, smeared in mystery and mixed with the beat of a thriving modern city.

This photographic exhibition aims to share the warmth of an intriguing race of people living in a harsh reality where freedom is a distant fantasy and democracy a far off dream.

 

Photographer / Journalist – Liz Deep-Jones

Technical Specialist – Evan Christie

Proud supporter of

Simon Chan has established a reputation as a professional gallery director who has helped many aspiring artists by showing them in his Art Atrium Gallery. Mixing exhibitions of established artists with younger artists, he has created a perfect way to promote living artists in difficult times.

Simon has also endeavoured to get prominent figures in the art world to open his exhibitions, which is a good way to publicise and promote younger artists. I commend Simon’s activities, and hope that the artists he has promoted will not forget who first gave them a helping hand. It is the first step up which counts so much in today’s very competitive art world.

Lou Klepac OAM
Art historian, Author, Curator & Publisher

Art Atrium is the invention of Simon Chan, an Architect who has a passion for art, especially indigenous art and architectural drawings. He is one of the few people with the breadth of experience and opportunity to hold such shows at his gallery that demonstrate his discerning eye and appreciation for the unusual and the best of art.

Professor Philip Cox AO
Professor of Architecture UNSW & Founding Partner of Cox Architecture

Simon Chan is a practising architect with a passionate commitment to promoting contemporary art that reflects Australia’s multiculturalism, and in which Australian Indigenous art has an important dynamic presence. In 2009 he founded Art Atrium in Bondi Junction to provide a dedicated space that would allow him to share his artists’ works with audiences, and also to enjoy the physical experience of curating the exhibitions. I have observed the superb way he manages the launch of these events, and I know that all of his artists appreciate the encouragement and advice that he never hesitates to offer.

Dr. Mabel Lee PhD FAHA
Adjunct Professor of Chinese Studies, School of Languages & Culture A18, The University of Sydney

Simon has established an active platform at Art Atrium to encourage cross cultural expression and collaboration among artists from different cultural background. I was honoured to open an exhibition of Chinese Australian women artists, as well as to conduct an Artists in Conversation event when artists directly communicate with art lovers. His passion towards art goes beyond his Gallery, and leads him to generously support art endeavours in public art institutions. He offers guided tours as a Community Ambassador at Art Gallery of NSW, and also serves as a Director on the Board of VisAisa which plays a vital role in promoting Asian art in Australia.

Yin Cao
Curator of Chinese Art at ART GALLERY OF NEW SOUTH WALES

I love the paintings I have bought from Art Atrium - they have really struck a chord. It's also been an absolute pleasure talking with and buying from Simon; it's clear he's in it for the love of the art and that makes the whole experience so much less 'transactional' and more emotional.

Amanda Falconer
Management consultant & business storytelling specialist