Canberra Visual Arts

Review: Visual Arts
May 2014 Visual Arts Exhibitions at M16 and the CCAS (Canberra)

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Once upon time Canberra had heaps visual arts galleries to visit on weekends. Now there are but a few left.  Last weekend I visited two publicly funded visual art spaces; being the M16 Gallery in Griffith and the Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS) in Braddon. I can happily report that things are looking good and suggest you get out there and see for yourself just how both of these are traveling.*

What follows is a short set of comments.

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I have found over time that the exhibitions at M16 are very mixed. Therefore I was pleased to walk in on this exhibition of photographs and video by four artists . There’s more words about the exhibition on the gallery website (click here), although whoever wrote it has spent too much time at art school and not enough time learning how to write for a general arts audience. Ignoring that, I suggest it is worth the trouble to see this exhibition.

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I suspect this exhibition, as is the case with many artists’ exhibitions, would have benefited from having a curator rather than the artists putting the show together themselves. Despite that shortcoming, the works in the exhibition point to some talented people here in Canberra.

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In amongst all the works by the four artists, Caroline Huf, Ellis Hutch, Blaide Lallemand and Genevieve Swifte, there were several stand out pieces. I strongly suggest a visit and devote the time to take in some of them. And to buy if you feel inclined and want to be supportive.

Over the CCAS at Braddon, there was an exhibition of three artists – click here. (if you are looking at this after mid June 2014 – you may need to look at past exhibitions, May-June 2014).

I did like the work by Aldo Iacobelli. He is a well established Australian artist. So it is good that the CCAS is still following the time-honoured and intelligent curatorial line of showing locals and national artists.

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I counted about 200 frames on that wall. Made me think of all the things I could have done with all those frames over the years that have passed through my hands. As usual Aldo Iacobelli’s work is fascinating. I could not resist this extra image – below. One artwork and one door plus one sign – ‘art in context’.

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The other artist I was there to see was Dean Butters and his large colour works, Batman and Robin.

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These works presented a new version of an old story but this time with the realities of domestic life for these two.

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In summary, these two public art spaces are continuing to exhibit a range of works by locals and others and continue to offer engagement with local audiences.

This is more remarkable given the lack of leadership for the visual arts from our politicians, especially from our federal lot. Such visual art spaces do much better when the country is being led well by people with a real and tangible commitment and interest in the visual arts. When this happens the message gets out that support for the visual arts is rewarding experience. It has been a while since we have heard that message.

The rating below applies to both in the context of being local contemporary art spaces. I recommend a visit – and revisits to subsequent exhibitions.

Recommended: Rating 7/10

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* I declare a long distant interest in the CCAS. I was chair of the CCAS when it was first established too many years ago, following the amalgamation of the then Arts Council Gallery and the Bitumen River Gallery. Despite my many years of non-involvement since, I remain supportive of such arts spaces.

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Paul Costigan, 19 May 2014

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