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Article

John Hovell

(b Wairoa, Hawke’s Bay, NZ, Aug 27, 1939).

Maori painter, carver, weaver, costume and stage designer. His involvement with art began at Te Aute Maori Boys’ College (1954–7), Hawke’s Bay, Waipawa County, and continued with formal art training at Ardmore Teachers’ College (1958–9) and at Dunedin Teachers’ College (1960), where he trained as an art specialist. He subsequently worked for the Department of Education as an arts and crafts adviser and served on committees for national art education policies, the Historic Places Trust (with particular reference to Maori sites), art museums and tribal committees (dealing with traditional and customary art forms and architecture). He helped to promote contemporary developments in Maori arts for community buildings, meeting houses, churches and public sites, serving on private and governmental commissions. In his own work he maintains a balance between the conservation of older traditional materials and forms of Maori arts and the experimental use of new materials, such as composite chipboard, synthetic dyes, plastic-coated basketry fibres and composite, laminated board. His painted and woven-fibre works are notable for their rich but subtle colours and controlled sense of line. They vary in size from complex architectural installations or stage designs for the Royal New Zealand Ballet to designs for postage stamps. At Te Huki Meeting House (...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Sunshine, Victoria, March 26, 1961, d London, Dec 31, 1994).

Australian fashion designer and performance artist. He arrived in Britain from Australia in 1980 and set up as a fashion designer in London’s Kensington Market, selling clothes he had made with his partner. His regular and increasingly outlandish appearances on the club circuit led to his opening the club Taboo in Leicester Square in 1985, within which he developed his performing persona. In 1988 he made his first foray into the mainstream London art scene with a one-week performance at the Anthony D’Offay Gallery. Every afternoon for one week Bowery improvised a performance in front of a one-way mirror, wearing a different costume each time and accompanied by a soundtrack of traffic sounds; the narcissism of his outlandish preening and posing, exposed to the audience with a literal transparency, was all the more comical and outrageous given his large and ungainly appearance. His subsequent performances include an appearance in 1993...

Article

Rory Spence

(Russell)

(b Daylesford, Victoria, May 6, 1939).

Australian architect and stage designer. He graduated from the University of Melbourne (1966) and then studied at Yale University, New Haven, CT (1966–9), and worked briefly for several notable architectural firms in the USA, including those of Paul Rudolph and Philip Johnson. He was impressed by Robert Venturi’s attempt to use popular culture to forge a new regional idiom (see Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown), and, on his return to Australia in 1974, he began to develop a new ‘poor architecture’ based on a provocative, angular reinterpretation of everyday suburban forms and materials, combined with elements from canonical works of Modernism. In 1975, together with Maggie Edmond (b 1953), he formed the firm of Edmond & Corrigan; and he also began to teach at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in the late 1970s. His work and teaching subsequently had a powerful influence on younger architects in the city. Corrigan typically used bright clashing colours, patterned brickwork and awkward colliding and distorted forms in his buildings. Notable early work included the Resurrection Church, primary school and housing (...

Article

Paul Foss

(b Santiago, Oct 6, 1946).

Australian painter and performance artist of Chilean birth. He studied law and fine arts at the University of Chile. Following the coup of 1973, he arrived in Melbourne as a tourist after meeting an Australian in Buenos Aires, and later took up residence. He exhibited widely in Australia, Europe, and South America, returning frequently to Chile, which, thematically and politically, remained a focus for his art. He worked primarily with the quotation of cultural ephemera (e.g. newspaper photographs, advertisements, etc.). Originally noted for his adaptations of Pop art in an effort to rewrite the international history of painting from a provincial or Third World perspective, he increasingly developed a hybrid pictorial language that refused the strict confines of Modernism or Postmodernism, seen, for example, in Fable of Australian Painting (1982–1983; U. Sydney, Power Gal. Contemp. A.). His art deals with fragments, attempting to present a utopia of narrative from another place and time. In canvases such as ...

Article

C. Barton

(b Nelson, Dec 8, 1951).

New Zealand sculptor and performance artist. He studied at the University of Waterloo, Ontario (1974–6), and at the University of Edinburgh (1975). Between 1976 and 1981 he worked primarily as a performance artist. Using gallery spaces and other locations outside the institutional framework, he undertook a variety of ritual activities involving a carefully selected range of materials—bones, skin, willow, copper and wax—which he used to explore the connections between human and animal, natural and cultural, in an attempt to restore a psychic and physical balance between the two. Earth Vein (1980) is a performance and photodocumentation piece in which Drummond inserted 500 m of copper pipe into a disused water-race in a remote region of Central Otago. By sealing each segment of pipe with muslin and beeswax, he metaphorically alluded to the healing of the body, a gesture that clearly articulated his attitude to the land....

Article

Nancy Underhill

Australian artists’ co-operative gallery that existed in Sydney between 1970–72. It was the first co-operative gallery in Australia run by artists and it championed conceptual and performance art. The core organizers were mike Parr, Peter Kennedy and Tim Johnson, but anyone who contributed to the rent could be a member and exhibit. While it had no manifesto, nor formal pattern to its exhibitions, Inhibodress challenged dominant aesthetic practices and social structures, including American cultural and military imperialism. The burning aesthetic issue was, what constituted art? For the avant-garde, co-modification of the precious object was unacceptable, so alternatives to commercial galleries, museums, the singular art-maker, or even oil painting were sought.

Inhibodress and, in particular, Parr and Kennedy, espoused Marshall McLuhan’s ideal of a global village and developed a network with overseas artists, venues and magazines, which included the Nova Scotia Art School, Guerrilla Art Action Group of New York, Fluxus, Patricia Minardi’s Feminist Art Journal and the magazine ...

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

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

Jane Clark

(Robert)

(b Melbourne, April 22, 1917; d London, Nov 28, 1992).

Australian painter, draughtsman, printmaker and stage designer. Australia’s most honoured and internationally acclaimed modern painter, and one of the most travelled artists of his generation, he worked prolifically in a variety of media on themes that often related closely to the story of his own life. He remained a controversial figure, considered by Kenneth Clark to be one of the major artists of the 20th century, but often criticized for trying to do too much. Alternating bright moods with blackest drama, he tended to work in series, reviving formal elements and iconography from previous works and maintaining a spontaneous style by devising new painting techniques in the process of execution.

Nolan was enrolled twice at the National Gallery of Victoria’s School of Art (1934 and 1936) while employed as a commercial artist, but he preferred to educate himself in the public library. Reproductions of works by Picasso, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse and the Surrealists influenced his idiosyncratic, quasi-abstract works of the late 1930s, for example ...

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

Stelarc  

Juliana Engberg

[ Arkadiou, Stelios ]

(b Limassol, June 19, 1946).

Australian performance artist of Cypriot birth. Stelarc is his legal name. Stelarc immigrated to Australia in 1950 and after gaining a teacher training certificate in Art and Craft went on to study Art and Technology at Caulfield Technical College and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), both in Melbourne. After moving to Japan in 1970, he taught art and sociology at Yokohama International School, returning to Australia to teach sculpture and drawing at Ballarat University College. In 1995 Stelarc was awarded a three-year fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts. He was appointed Honorary Professor of Art and Robotics at the Carnegie–Mellon University, Pittsburgh, in 1997. In 1998 he was artist in residence for the City of Hamburg, Germany. Other appointments and residencies have included Ohio State University and MARCS Auditory Laborartories at the University of Western Sydney, Perth, Australia. In 2010 Stelarc was awarded the Ars Electronica, Golden Nic, in the category ‘Hybrid Art’, from the City of Linz, Austria....