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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

Helen Ennis

(b Melbourne, March 19, 1943; d Melbourne, Nov 6, 2009).

Australian photographer, film maker, and video artist. Ford studied photography at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1961 and worked intermittently in the field of commercial photography in Melbourne until 1967. Her daughter Emma was born in 1967 and son Ben in 1968. Ford was a key figure in the development of the art photography movement in Australia and was one of the first women photographers to establish an independent art practice. Her earliest photographs, portraits of her female friends, were not exhibited at the time but were eventually shown at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, in 1982 and published in the book Sixtieth of a Second (1987). Ford’s first solo exhibition, Metamorphoses, was held in Melbourne in 1971 and her first Time series was exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, in 1974. She continued to exhibit regularly at public galleries and art museums in subsequent decades. ...

Article

Charles Green

(b Sydney, Dec 13, 1972).

Australian photographer and video artist. Gladwell graduated in 1996 from the Sydney College of the Arts with a BFA and then from the College of Fine Arts, University of NSW, with an MFA in 2001. He then studied at Goldsmiths College, University of London, between 2001–2. Gladwell’s rise to acclaim was immediate, accelerated by the art market boom that lasted until the financial crash of 2008 and the proliferation of biennales around the globe, in many of which Gladwell participated (Venice Biennales, 2007 and 2009). With extraordinarily gorgeous, slow-motion cinematography but, importantly, a minimum of post-production digital manipulation, Gladwell’s early works consistently portrayed understated, seemingly casual feats of physical coordination, grace and physical endurance by young skateboarders, break-dancers (see fig.), capoeira practitioners or BMX cyclists. In his iconic early work, Storm Sequence (2000), the artist twisted and pirouetted in balletic slow motion on his skateboard in the face of an approaching storm as ocean waves crashed against the Bondi Beach foreshore upon which he was poised. In ...

Article

(b Melbourne, July 31, 1937).

Australian painter. He studied graphic design from 1954 to 1957 at the Swinburne Technical College in Melbourne, where Robert Rooney was a fellow student. For the next two years he worked as a graphic artist for ABC Television in Melbourne and in 1964 had his first one-man show at the Toorak Galleries there. His early work of the mid- to late 1960s was based on a reduction of mundane objects into a geometrical pattern. Untitled (1967–8; Melbourne, N.G. Victoria), for example, is derived from an eiderdown and like many works of this period creates an ambiguity between flatness and depth through trompe l’oeil modelling. This process of reduction was carried to extremes from 1967 to 1970 with, for example, an exhibition of fences in 1969.

Hickey’s interest in mass-produced objects and patterns led to a pictorial search for the essence or archetypes of objects in the 1970s. The Cup Series...

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 Hornchurch, Essex, May 19, 1929).

Australian painter, video and film maker and teacher. After World War II he studied part-time at St Martin’s School of Art, London. In 1951 he learnt about Islamic art and architecture by working in Algiers on the restoration of the Marabout tombs. Returning to England, he attended Toynbee Hall, London (1952–3) and Shoreditch Teacher Training College, Surrey (1954–7). In 1962 he emigrated to Australia, where he taught art in a high school in Sydney. In the late 1950s, when he became disillusioned with abstract painting, he began to develop his personal style of Pop art. He became known for the paintings in which continuous lines and small dots of colour were applied with hypodermic needles. In his Pop, figurative works he placed models (frequently his wife, Pat) in patchworked, bizarre and often obscene positions. In Rollover (1984; Pat Larter priv. col.), he resorted to shock and humour to challenge accepted moral boundaries. Apart from these figurative works, often mural-sized, he produced many abstract paintings and video and film works....

Article

Roger Horrocks

[Huai, Leonard Charles]

(b Christchurch, July 5, 1901; d New York, May 15, 1980).

American film maker, sculptor, and painter of New Zealand birth. He began work in New Zealand, then moved to Australia, Samoa, and England (where he settled in 1926). Tusalava (1929) was the first of his 24 films. He pioneered various methods of ‘direct’ film making, eliminating the camera by painting directly on to clear film (Colour Box, 1935), developing the ‘rayogram’ technique (Colour Cry, 1952) and scratching black film (Free Radicals, 1958). He experimented with colour processing in Rainbow Dance (1936) and Trade Tattoo (1937).

The batiks (e.g. Polynesian Connection, 1928) and oil paintings (e.g. Jam Session, 1936; both New Plymouth, NZ, Govett-Brewster A.G.) that Lye exhibited with the Seven and Five Society (1927–34) and in the International Surrealist Exhibition (1936) were influenced by his profound study of tribal art. In 1944...

Article

Aurélie Verdier

(b Melbourne, May 9, 1958).

Australian sculptor. He spent 20 years in Australian and British television and advertising, where he was already making the mannequins that he later adapted to sculptural purposes. He started his artistic career when collaborating with his mother-in-law, Paula Rego for the Spellbound exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1996, for which he made a Pinocchio figure. Introduced by Rego to Charles Saatchi, who immediately began to collect his work, Mueck took part in the exhibition Sensation at the Royal Academy in 1997 with mixed media sculpture Dead Dad (1996–7; London, Saatchi Gal.), an unsettling illusionistic rendition of his own deceased father, half life-size. Made from memory, the sculpture became as much the focus for a strong emotional involvement as it was a mere object treated with Mueck’s rigorous eye for detail. As the artist explained, the miniaturized representation proved a more emotionally involving depiction of death (an initial study was done in full scale) by compelling the beholder to ‘cradle’ the corpse visually. His concern with illusionistic verisimilitude has been linked to the uncompromising Northern tradition of portraiture exemplified by Jan van Eyck or Hans Holbein (ii). Mueck sculpts in clay, makes a plaster mould around it and finally replaces the clay with a mixture of fibreglass, silicone and resin; the technical skill involved, though taken for granted by the artist himself, has often been foregrounded by critics to the detriment of its content. Such psychological density was evident in ...

Article

Megan Tamati-Quennell

(b Te Hapua, N. Auckland, NZ, 1939).

Maori painter, sculptor, writer and film maker. His tribal affiliation is Ngati Kuri, Te Aupouri, Te Paatu, Ngati Rehia, Murikahara, Te Whakatohea. He studied at Ardmore and Dunedin Teachers’ College, but he left teaching in 1962 to concentrate on his art, holding his first one-man show at the Ikon Gallery in Auckland in the same year. He was largely self-taught as a painter and sculptor, believing ‘all creative artists are self-taught’. His philosophy of art closely followed the view of Picasso, whom he much admired, that artists should be honest to their own personal experiences and strengths. Muru’s paintings have often been characterized by their narrative political content, from the series telling the story of Parihaka (1972) to the 14 panels of Whakapapa, painted for the Kohia ko taikaka anake exhibition at the National Art Gallery in Wellington, NZ, in 1990. In later years he increasingly combined his skills as an orator and a painter, making extensive use of language in his works to address issues concerning the status of the ...

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

Robert Smith

(Leslie)

(b Melbourne, Nov 23, 1929).

Australian cartoonist, printmaker, writer, illustrator, film maker and sculptor. After employment as an illustrator in Melbourne (1949–52), he worked in London as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist (1954–60). On the return journey to Australia he formed a lasting interest in South-east Asia, publishing the resulting perceptive and deceptively simple drawings with commentary in the first of his many illustrated books. He worked as a freelance artist in Melbourne until his appointment as resident cartoonist for the Sydney Daily Mirror in 1963 and the newly established national daily, The Australian, from 1964 to 1973. He quickly achieved popularity and repute, especially for his penetrating visual comments on involvement by Australia and the USA in the Vietnam War. He had little formal training in art and developed for himself a free-ranging personal style, which was widely emulated.

From 1970 Petty made or scripted numerous films, often combining actuality with animation and incorporating his own caricatural kinetic sculptures. After some earlier pioneering sculptural works, he created the first of what he called his ‘machine sculptures’, the ...

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....