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Australian group of mixed-media artists active in 1962. They formed for the purpose of staging an exhibition of the same name. Ross Crothall (b 1934), Mike Brown and Colin Lanceley worked together in Crothall’s studio in Annandale, a suburb of Sydney, in 1961. They shared an interest in assemblage, collage, junk art, objets trouvés and in non-Western art. Brown, who had worked in New Guinea in 1959, was impressed by the use in tribal house decoration and body ornament of modern urban rubbish such as broken plates and bottletops. Crothall delighted in the altered objet trouvé, for example egg cartons unfolded to become the Young Aesthetic Cow, or pieces of furniture crudely gathered into frontally posed female icons, sparkling with buttons and swirling house-paint, with such titles as Gross Débutante. Lanceley was deeply influenced by his teacher John Olsen and through him by Jean Dubuffet. He covered impastoed surfaces with junk materials, often decorating distorted female forms with strings of pearls, broken plates and other items; in ...

Article

Wystan Curnow

[Bates, Barrie]

(b Auckland, Jan 1, 1935).

New Zealand sculptor and conceptual artist. He studied at the Royal College of Art in London in the early 1960s and first showed his work alongside that of fellow students such as David Hockney and Derek Boshier, helping to mark the emergence of British Pop art. The pseudonym that he adopted in 1962 reflected his obsession with different ways of representing fruit. On moving in 1964 to New York he began to produce neon versions of popular icons. In 1970 he established Apple as one of New York’s first artist-run ‘alternative’ art spaces.

The conceptual element in Apple’s early Pop work became dominant in the late 1960s and 1970s. From 1975 to 1980 he concentrated on the deconstruction of the ‘white cube’ gallery exhibition space, proposing alterations to or actually changing existing interiors, notably at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York (1977, 1978, 1980) and at a number of public galleries in New Zealand (...

Article

Bio Art  

Suzanne Anker

From Anatomical studies to landscape painting to the Biomorphism of Surrealism, the biological realm historically provided a significant resource for numerous artists. More recently, Bio Art became a term referring to intersecting domains that comprise advances in the biological sciences and their incorporation into the plastic arts. Of particular importance in works of Bio Art is to summon awareness of the ways in which the accelerating biomedical sciences alter social, ethical and cultural values in society.

Coming to the fore in the early 1990s Bio Art is neither media specific nor locally bounded. It is an international movement with practitioners in such regions as Europe, the US, Russia, Australia and the Americas. Several subgenres of Bio Art exist within this overarching term:

(i) Artists who employ the iconography of the 20th and 21st century sciences, including molecular and cellular genetics, transgenically altered living matter and reproductive technologies as well as the diverse fields of neuroscience. All traditional media such as painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking and drawing are employed to convey novel ways of representing life forms. Images of chromosomes, the double helix, magnetic resonance imaging body scans and neuroanatomy comprise this iconography. The molecular underpinnings of the living world have also become visible through high technological instrumentation when artists incorporate such pictorialisations as part of their practice. Representations span both genotypic variations and phenotypic ones. Artists include Suzanne Anker (...

Article

Susan Best

(b Sydney, Aug 8, 1919; d Sydney, April 19, 2005).

Australian sculptor, video, installation artist, and sound artist. Brassil received her initial art training at Sydney Teachers College, East Sydney Technical College, and Newcastle Technical College (1937–9). She taught art for 20 years at Campbelltown High School before commencing her exhibiting career in the early 1970s.

Brassil’s first recorded work is Trilogy: Twentieth Century Perception (1969–74; Sydney, U. W. Sydney). Trilogy is composed of three components: Sound Beyond Hearing (900×900×150 mm), Light Beyond Seeing (900×600×150 mm) and Memory Beyond Recall (1050×1050×150 mm). Unlike Brassil’s later works, these three components can be wall mounted. They are beautiful, highly finished, shallow black boxes, and two out of the three are electronic. Memory Beyond Recall has glowing lights veiled behind layers of paper that appear and then dim down and disappear. Light Beyond Seeing has a central lit portion that uses mirrors to suggest an infinitely deep space. The main themes of Brassil’s career—perception, sound, memory, and the transcendental realm—are all signalled in this early work....

Article

Edward Hanfling

[William] (Franklin)

(b Port Chalmers, Jan 23, 1935).

New Zealand photographer, sculptor, installation artist, and painter, active also in France and Great Britain. Culbert consistently explored the workings of both natural and artificial light in his works, as well as the transformation of found objects and materials. A student at Hutt Valley High School, his artistic ability was fostered by the radical art educator James Coe. From 1953 to 1956, Culbert studied at the Canterbury University College School of Art in Christchurch. Moving to London in 1957 to attend the Royal College of Art, he became interested in the photographic works of László Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray, while his paintings were informed by Cubism. In 1961 Culbert moved to Croagnes in Provence, France; he remained in France and the UK for the rest of his career.

During 1967–8, Culbert shifted his focus from the analysis of form and light in painting to the analysis of actual light, often arranging light bulbs in grid formations. In ...

Article

Traudi Allen

(b Trieste, 1947).

Australian painter of Italian birth. De Clario became an Australian resident in 1956. He began to win art awards from his early 20s: the Italia Prize for painting (1969), the Perth International drawing Prize (1971), the Corio Prize for Painting, Geelong Art Gallery (1973), the Minnie Crouch Drawing Prize (1973), the Mildura Non-Permanent Sculpture Prize (1975), the University of NSW acquisitive prize (1987), and the University of Queensland Museum, National Artists’ Self Portrait Award (2011).

The conceptual thrust of his work has been expressed in painting and drawing and in performances with atleast part installation settings. His early interest in psychologically driven autobiography gave way to deconstructions of religious iconography, from the Catholicism of his Italian background to Hinduism and Buddhism. Performances have often centred on the artist, blindfolded to stress his role as medium, playing all night piano improvisations that stand as a trope for the temporal, visual, aural, and emotional sensations of mindful attention. His painting is also psychologically and spiritually orientated and translates his interest in the phenomenology of life to layers of physical paint....

Article

Anne Kirker

(b Maryborough, Queensland, Feb 6, 1957).

Australian Aboriginal installation artist of the Kuku and Erub/Mer peoples (see fig.). Deacon became an artist after receiving formal university training in politics and spending 10 years as a teacher. Her first substantial debut as a self-taught artist was in 1991 at Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative in Sydney. By 1995 her staged photographs, installations and videos, which radically reappraise black feminine subjectivity, territorial rights and western canons of ‘high art’, earned her a place in the Johannesburg Biennale of that year and in Documenta 11 (2002). Effective through its pointed rawness and wit, Deacon’s work debunks the myths of ‘white fella’ histories of national identity and reclaims the kitsch of popular culture. Destiny Deacon: Walk & Don’t Look Blak, an exhibition held in 2004 at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), was her first solo museum exhibition.

Deacon’s imagery largely falls within the realm of social portraiture and satire, partly fictitious and partly autobiographical. Her characteristic use of dolls in her rudimentary photographic tableaux brings her troubling messages home through childhood toys. The dark-skinned dolls are often depicted as mutilated or are placed in simply constructed settings that present Aborigines as second-class citizens: impoverished or socially maligned. For instance, we are encouraged to imagine two trouser-clad males sitting in a gutter near a graffiti wall with a box of matches alongside ready for striking, or a woman hanging clothing on a line, in domestic servitude, or a female child (from the so-called ‘Stolen Generation’) captioned ...

Article

Edward Hanfling

(b Hastings, March 21, 1930; d New Plymouth, Dec 8, 2011).

New Zealand sculptor, painter, printmaker, and installation artist. His art primarily involves assemblage, often with an eye to colour relationships; it also incorporates diverse sources including American modernism, African, and Asian art. Driver had little formal training and worked as a dental technician before he began sculpting with wood, clay, and dental plaster during the 1950s. Between 1960 and 1964 he produced assemblages and collages reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg, though Driver was not aware of the American’s work then (e.g. Large Brass). In the United States from March to August 1965, he developed an interest in Post-painterly Abstraction as well as in Jasper Johns’s works. References to New York are manifest in his mixed-media wall relief La Guardia 2 (1966; Auckland, A.G.). The Painted Reliefs (1970–74) with their horizontal panels and strips of varying width and depth, mostly painted but sometimes aluminium, indicate the impact of American abstraction, notably that of Kenneth Noland. ...

Article

John R. Neeson

(b Ballarat, Victoria, 1946).

Australian photographer, film maker, painter, and installation artist. Dunkley-Smith studied at Ballarat Teacher’s College (1964–5), Melbourne Teacher’s College (1966), Ballarat School of Mines and Industries (1967–71), and at Hornsey College of Art, London (1974–6). Since the late 1970s, Dunkley-Smith has made an enduring foundational contribution to analogue and digital, time-based, and venue-specific installation practice in Australia. Initially trained as a painter, Dunkley-Smith’s work with film and multiple slide projection installations date from the mid-1970s when he was living in London. His installations are characterized by duplicate and triplicate screens and sequences of images of time-based works that utilize procedural methods addressing the relation of pattern to indeterminacy, aspects of representation, and audience desire.

In 1982 Dunkley-Smith was awarded an Overseas Fellowship at the Institute of Art and Urban Resources PS1, New York. From 1987 all his works were styled Perspectives for Conscious Alterations in Everyday Life...

Article

(b Auckland, Jan 25, 1917; d Canberra, Oct 23, 1999).

Australian mixed-media artist of New Zealand birth. First exhibiting in 1974 at the age of 57, she had a rapid rise to acceptance, being included in a survey exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1978 and chosen as the first woman to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1982.

On marrying astronomer Ben Gascoigne in 1943, she lived at Mount Stromlo, near Canberra, moving to the Canberra suburb of Pearce in 1969. Drawing on her environment, both for visual stimulation and materials, she crafted an original three-dimensional approach to the Australian landscape that captured a place somewhere between the city and the red outback. With the use of old wooden crates bearing brand names such as Waratah Mustard, Tarax soft drink, and cardboard cut-outs of the Arnott’s biscuits Crimson Rosella logo, her work also held appeal for its oblique national nostalgia. She is best known for a minimal assembled art that depicts the pale, open landscape and the sharp clean air of the Canberra region that, from ...

Article

Patrick Hutchings

[Thomas] (Henry)

(b Salford, Lancs, May 10, 1928).

Australian mixed-media artist of English birth. Gibbons is, as a visual artist, largely self-taught, though he attended briefly the Royal College of Art Kingston-upon-Hull and the Cambridge College of Art and Technology. He arrived in Australia in 1955.

He has worked in a wide variety of media, often mixed, and believes ‘We live in a world constructed for us by images… I’ve always been interested in design, typography and printed ephemera’. The Vanitas series of hand-coloured Xerox collages (1981–8), splendidly re-uses such ephemera, joining them to scenes from Duccio’s Maestà very aptly indeed. Gibbons has called himself an image recycler and while he may recycle, he does so with serious wit, high irony and even spirituality. His Annunciation (1971; Perth, U. W. Australia, Lawrence Wilson A.G.) is at once eclectic, local and reverent. His Dancer No. 3 (1971; Perth, priv. col.) recycles an image of Fred Astaire as a ‘holy dancer’ in a trinity of spotlights; Laurel and Hardy are for Gibbons ‘holy clowns’ (e.g. ...

Article

Anthony Gardner

(b Singapore, July 12, 1959).

Malaysian conceptual artist, active also in Australia. Gill studied at the University of Western Sydney, completing her MA in 2001. Despite working in a range of media, she is best understood as a process-based artist who has consistently explored notions of migration and transformation within material culture. These include the effects of international trade on such everyday activities as cooking and eating. The spiral form of Forking Tongues (1992; Brisbane, Queensland A.G.), for example, entwines Western cutlery and dried chillies from the Americas and Asia, highlighting how foods and utensils from across the globe have come together to transform local cuisines and inform culinary habits. Gill’s later photographic series refer to other understandings of migration, such as the spread of the English language or of capitalist desire throughout South-east Asia in recent decades. For Forest (1998; Sydney, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery; see Chua), Gill cut out words and sentences from books written in English, placed the texts within tropical landscapes and photographed the results before the books’ paper began rotting into the humid environment. For ...

Article

David O’Halloran

(b Melbourne, 1952).

Australian collage artist and painter. Gower’s art explores the nexus between the temporal and the permanent. Gower trained at the Prahran College of Advanced Education, completing her studies in 1973. She met the artist Howard Arkley at art school and they married in 1973. Gower had a significant influence over the work of Arkley, including his important 1982 work Primitive. They separated in 1980. Gower had early success; her fragile collages of resin-coated, translucent, sewn paper works were championed by the Women’s Art Movement and by feminist critics such as Janine Burke. Despite early comparisons with the work of Eva Hesse, Frank Stella is a more appropriate early influence.

In 1983 Gower collaged shredded street billposters and magazine hoardings. The fragments of imagery in the shredded posters saw Gower move away from abstraction and towards a representational practice. This use of images consolidated when she moved to Hobart to teach at the Tasmanian School of Art in ...

Article

Anne Kirker

(b Grafton, NSW, Nov 14, 1953).

Australian photographer and installation artist. Hall began her career as a photographer in the mid-1970s, relinquishing a formal training in painting. She produced black-and-white modernist images of people embedded in their surroundings, favouring the incidental and over-looked. However by 1978, when she had lived for a time in London, Hall shifted away from the documentary tradition. Impressed by the Dada and Surrealism Reviewed exhibition at the Hayward Gallery that year, she started to create small yet dense tableaux from discarded objects. During 1978–82 she was a student at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY and, on returning to Australia, wholeheartedly adopted strategies of appropriation and intricate fabrication for her photographs. One of the first Australian artists qualified to teach photo-studies, Hall taught at the South Australian School of Art, Adelaide, from 1983.

Hall’s camera images became increasingly idiosyncratic, playful and interpretatively complex. Instead of seeing meaning in the world around her, she decisively devised projects that explored major philosophical themes. In ...

Article

John R. Neeson

Installation art is a hybrid of visual art practices including photography, film, video, digital imagery, sound, light, performance, happenings, sculpture, architecture, and painted and drawn surfaces. An installation is essentially site specific, three-dimensional, and completed by the interaction of the observer/participant in real time and space. The point of contention with any definition concerns the site specificity, ephemerality, and consequently ‘collectability’ of the work itself. One view has it that the category installation is presupposed on the transitory and impermanent, the second that an installation can be collected and re-exhibited as a conventional work of art.

In either case installation had its genesis in the environments and happenings devised by artists in the 1950s in New York and Europe (Nouveau Réalisme in France, Arte Povera in Italy). These in turn had antecedents in the architectural/sculptural inventions such as the various Proun rooms of El Lissitzky and the Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters...

Article

Nancy Underhill

(Alan)

(b Brisbane, April 18, 1945).

Australian installation artist. Kennedy has been central to Australia’s engagement with the international avant-garde, producing ‘Neon-Light Installations’ (1970) at Gallery A, Sydney and as a co-founder, with Mike Parr and Tim Johnson, of the artists’co-operative Inhibodress in Sydney, creating a programme of conceptual and performance art. His event, But the Fierce Blackman (1971), was Sydney’s first sound and body art performance, Trans Art 1, Idea Demonstrations (1971), done with Mike Parr, was the country’s first video exhibition and Communications (1972), involving 65 international artists, was Australia’s first exhibition of international conceptual art.

When Inhibodress closed in 1972, Kennedy redirected his work to challenge conventions about museums being innocent repositories of precious art, the division between fine art and popular imagery, the artist as singular hero and to move towards a critical assessment of social turmoil. His two November Eleven (1981) museum installations paired the union banner format with videos by John Hughes. During the 1990s, Kennedy’s work became more biographical and concerned with memory as the creator and definer of personal and public history....

Article

Blair French

Australian group of performance, video and installation artists. The four members of The Kingpins, Angelica Mesiti (b 1976), Técha Noble (b 1977), Emma Price (b 1975) and Katie Price (b 1978), met as students at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in Sydney in the 1990s. Their first public performance as The Kingpins took place in early 2000. Later that year they won the Drag Kings Sydney competition. Their early performances involved sophisticated, dynamic and highly entertaining ‘dragging’ of overtly masculine music genres, such as gangsta rap and hard rock. This was continued in related video works emerging from their performances, extending their mimicry into the realm of music video art direction. This approach culminated in the video installation work Versus (2002), in which, in a confident act of appropriation, The Kingpins reworked a 1993 karaoke performance by Leigh Bowery’s performance group Raw Sewage of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk this Way’ (...

Article

Christine Clark

(b Sydney, June 19, 1920; d Sydney, June 19, 2001).

Australian sculptor, collagist and teacher. While serving in the Royal Australian Navy as a seaman during World War II, he was stationed ashore in 1943 to make scale models of ships and aeroplanes. After the war he studied sculpture, mainly wood-carving, under Lyndon Dadswell at the East Sydney Technical College, and in 1947 travelled to London, where he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art for a short period. He felt restricted by the conventional teaching methods of both these institutions and their inherent dependency upon the figure. While living in London he regularly visited the major museums, making thousands of drawings in order to develop a vocabulary of forms and shapes that he used as a basis for his sculptural ideas. He was interested in the relationship between organic and machine forms and the internal structure of these forms. This was the beginning of his developing sculptural language, which he called a ‘relationship of forms’....

Article

Bernice Murphy

(b Sydney, July 19, 1945).

Australian conceptual and performance artist, film maker and writer. He began writing poetry as a student at Queensland University (1965–6). Although he attended the National Art School at Darlinghurst, Sydney (1968), he was largely self-taught as an artist. He first became known for his conceptual works, filmed actions and performances and typescript pieces in 1971–2, when he ran Inhibodress, an alternative art space in Sydney, with artist Peter Kennedy (b 1945). In 1972 he travelled abroad for the first time for about a year, making Vienna his base (as he did again in 1977–8). In 1973 he carried out performances in Lausanne and Neuchâtel, Switzerland. These works (and the associated filmed record) were collectively entitled Performances, Actions, Video Systems and developed out of previous Sydney works: Word Situations (1971) and Idea Demonstrations (1971–2).

On returning to Australia Parr incorporated recent filmed records of performances into much larger, autobiographical film projects that occupied most of his artistic energy for ten years, producing three substantial, experimental films: ...

Article

Charles Green

(b Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec 14, 1965).

Australian installation artist, born in Sierra Leone. Resident in Australia from 1972, Piccinini graduated in 1988 from the Australian National University, Canberra, with a BA and then from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, in 1991 with a BA (Painting). She produced images and objects that embodied imaginary evolutionary jumps and mutations (see, for example, The Young Family; see image page for more views). To produce these, she worked in a succession of new, novel materials and media: from synthetic resins, plastics and silicone developed for special effects in movies to the digital manipulation used in commercial photography and animation. In her 1997 series of photographs, Protein Lattice, a naked female plays with a large hairless rat with an enlarged human ear growing from its back. The work combined the highly contrived language of mainstream fashion photography, brightly lit, glossy and free of imperfection, with an animal that appeared to be one of the hybrid clones then emerging from laboratories. Both glossy-haired model and mutant rat appear equally artificial and equally indebted to technology....