Nicole Polentas & Christopher Earl Milbourne ‘Psychomanteum’ @ Counihan Gallery

14 10 2011

Tonight (which is now last night by the time you’re reading this) was the opening of Nicole Polentas [artist profile] and Christopher Earl Milbourne ‘Psychomanteum‘ [link] at Counihan Gallery (Brunswick Town Hall).

What a wonderful event! Such a great show of support for these two artists. And an incredible body of work, displayed most especially sympathetically.

installation; photograph taken with artists permission

Exhibition media: “Christopher Earl Milbourne and Nicole Polentas explore the intersections between history and cultural memory. Symbolic evocations of place are manifest in jewellery, small-scale sculpture and song.

Two artists explore the qualities of materiality through sculpture and jewellery to provide a shared contemplation on the past, present and future.

Nicole Polentas and Christopher Earl Milbourne have designed their shared exhibition space to resemble the psychomanteum; the naturally occurring rockpools where people would go to consult the Oracles in Ancient Greece. Using cellular clusters of concrete, water and light to invert external space, the ambient and immersive gallery environment enables a consideration of the linkages between place and memory that each artist explores in their own practice.

installation (works of Nicole); photograph taken with artists permission

The opening speech from Associate Professor Robert Baines (who was head of our department when Nicole and I were studying our undergraduate degree) was pretty fabulous actually. He described the sense of giving a material form to the evoked image … I felt it really did pay due respect to the artists.

The plinths were made by the artists – so exacting and definite is the story of their work. It’s something special that they want to go to such lengths to show their work in the ‘right’ way. The tops of the plinths are concrete and many (I think most) filled with water to create the looking-pool. I also understand their hexagonal shape references the beehive, though I was so excited by the work and seeing my friends that I’ve now forgotten how this connected in (it was important, so will find out!). The exhibition design is seriously fantastic and looks great in the space.

installation (Chris's work); photograph taken with artists permission (sorry it's a bit fuzzy, the lighting was very low in this room - quite wonderful for experiencing the work though)

I am already a big fan of these two artists – they are friends of mine, and I love that I can say I’ve seen their work develop over the last six to seven years or so since we met. There is an amazing amount of work here – and their work has an exceptional two-way dialogue that really works.

Lastly, huge thanks to Nicole and her family for the wonderful Greek food spread – now THAT’s how to do an opening!!

Psychomanteum‘ is at Counihan Gallery until 6th November; there will be an artist talk this Saturday 15th October 2011.

Please click below to read more of the media release:

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Artist profiles

16 05 2011

I’ve been thinking it may be time to write another post in my ‘Artist Profile’ series … though who to ask? … while I consider that question, I’ve very much enjoyed reading my previous artists profile posts:

  • Nicole Polentas (13th May 2009)

    Nicole Polentas; Exile: The Blackest Night necklace 2008; silver, gold, copper, plastic, epoxy, image, glass powder, paint, pearls; 420 x 180 x 60 mm

  • Katherine Wheeler (10th June 2009)

    Mini Teapots; image by the artist

  • Claire O’Halloran (1st October 2009)

    Necklace for The Grande; image used with artist permission; copyright belongs to the artist

  • Lucy Hearn (26th March 2010)

    e. g. etal pendants, 2008, Sterling silver, copper, enamel and plastic - photo by Terence Bogue

  • Michelle Taylor (24th November 2010)

    Drifting Ranges, Michelle Taylor; photograph by Tom Roschi; courtesy of the artist; not to be reproduced without permission

images published with permission of artists, not to be reproduced without permission

‘XAOS’ @ Hellenic Museum

3 04 2010

I was honoured to be invited by Nicole Polentas (see my previous artist profile) to the formal opening of the ‘XAOS‘ exhibition at the Hellenic Museum a few weeks ago now. Unfortunately, I have been so incredibly busy that I haven’t been able to write about it before now, and it is only on until 9th April – so get your skates on (hours are limited: Tue-Thur 10am-3pm, or by appointment).

This was the most formal exhibition opening I’ve attended. It was invitation only, there were a few speeches (which all started with lengthy acknowledgements of distinguished attendees, including a number of politicians and a representative of the Prime Minister) and wonderful canapes were enjoyed, all before we were permitted to go upstairs to the exhibition itself.

formal speeches

Nicole is exhibiting alongside fashion designer Christiana Livaditis and photographer Elli Ioannou. As Nicole explained in her artist profile, her work is strongly connected to place and identity, and her work in this exhibition is heavily influenced by her recent trip to Crete.

I understand Nicole approached the Hellenic Museum with her idea for this exhibition. It’s excellent that the museum explored this idea with her and we now have a fantastic exhibition showcasing the work of three Greek-Australian women.

All photographs taken with artist and gallery permission; amended copyright notice: the below photographs are not to be reproduced without author permission.

photograph taken with artist permission; amended copyright notice as above

The colouring of the pieces in this collection had a special impact on me. Previously I had associated much of Nicole’s work with blues and whites and silvers; and I was excited to see a few strong new colours here – moss green and a yummy yellow (I don’t usually like yellow, but this one is lovely).

photograph taken with artist permission; amended copyright notice as above

The ‘plinths’ weren’t your traditional and boring old blocks, but had a fabulous feel of ancient ruins – I’m pretty sure that wasn’t coincidental either (I understand Nicole’s Dad worked really hard on this – yay for Dads!).

photograph taken with artist permission; amended copyright as above

Under the clear dome at the back of the above image is a brooch of luscious yellow gold (I think from memory it’s 22ct) – so gorgeous…

I think there are three rings, one bracelet, nine brooches and three necklaces … the necklaces, below, are wonderful (I’d love to see one on the body). The white one in particular (second from the right) attracted quite a lot of attention and admiration on the opening night, many people were connecting with it.

photograph taken with artist permission; amended copyright notice as above

Each piece has a story behind it, and it’s a shame that I can’t share all of them here … perhaps a book, with stories beside gorgeous photographs of the pieces, is the next project Nicole?!

XOAS‘ is at the Hellenic Museum until 9th April 2010 (limited opening hours as above).

‘XAOS’ @ Hellenic Museum, opening tonight

23 03 2010

A new exhibition ‘XAOS‘ is opening tonight (invite only) at the Hellenic Museum. It will be open to the public from tomorrow. I’m particularly looking forward to the work by Nicole Polentas (see my previous artist profile).

with permission of a participating artist