he sees red

congratulations to todd mcmillan.

not only as the winner of the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship, but to his obvious penchant for red heads. flanked by his good friend Chris Hanrahan and his dealer James fromGrant Pirrie(who could be separated at birth), there was a definite presence of red flowing locks about him after the award was announced.

the man understands the power of red. already a winner, in my book.

I don’t really know todd, but I like his work, a lot. the alone alone show at grant pirrie was amazine and I actually would have liked to buy one of his smaller works. I’m not a fan of NICK DRAKE, but I remember I wanted an E. and for those that are having a quiet giggle, I don’t take ecstasy any more, but even I said to myself while typing it ‘hey, who wouldn’t!’

anyway, back to the Helen Lempriere and the esteemed Todd Mcmillan.

I picked it. in fact I picked it months ago when Zanny told me who the finalists were, I knew it would be Todd that won. and today when the office thought about running a sweep to see who the winner would be, again I said it would be Todd. I had to say it quietly ‘cos I didn’t want Jaki to feel like I wasn’t hoping that she win, but when you’ve got a gut feeling, you’ve got a gut feeling. Next year I’m going to start taking bets.

I’m usually extremely cynical about these kinds of things – the whole show was full, and I mean chock-full of the it-kids of the Sydney art scene right now – artists who are at the peak of their game and producing some really cool shit, but they’re also the names you’re hearing a lot of, so I could easily have whinged and bitched about the winner. and I know that todd is also part of the ‘in’ crowd, but I’m not going to begrudge him this success. he seems like a good guy, plays a good game of netball and isn’t afraid to give his dad a hug, or stand in boxer shorts. artistically he’s also sincere. and I like seeing work that is sincere. ernest even. but not so serious that there isn’t a wry smile in there somewhere.

I’m pleased he won the prize. as they kept banging on in the speeches, the prize has been going a really long time and is one of the largest prizes for emerging artists and it feels nice for once to know that it’s gone to someone who deserves it.

and to someone who chooses his friends by the colour of their hair.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

more biennale and alumni sentimentality

After having to deal with ridiculously toxic fumes seeping into our building yesterday, we all scampered off from work to save what was left of our vital organs and I found myself with an opportunity to catch up on some more of the biennale.
I decided to catch up on the ACP to see the work by Olga Chernysheva and to wander up to the National Art School to check out the Ranjani Shettar, a work I had seen a preview of in the ‘comfort zones’ intranet terminal at the MCA and was busting to see it. I popped into the other gallery space at NAS first, to check out the other 2 works as a token jesture. The space itself was amazing – it was where i used to spend many an hour – where the library got moved to in my 2nd year and rightly so (or perhaps coincidentally, although i like to think not) the Emily Jacir book works were there. Both aspects of it looked amazing and the story behind it was great as well, although I really was just there for the Ranjani Shettar.

Ranjani Shettar Just a bit more

Now I’ve been banging on about the Antony Gormley Asian Field since the first day of the Biennale and thought that nothing came close to topping it. Well, Ranjani’s work has marching in to a very close 2nd on my list of alltime favourite works from Zones of Contact, as I knew it would. The work is exquisite to the same degree that the Gormley is grand. The beads of dyed wax held together by jute are amazing and are almost stellar in their composition. The huge nets of colour gradation are set out in waves, which relate to the theme of water (according to the interview on the afformentioned intranet), and although i saw that aspect and was impressed, my own personal joy came from the idea of these works being constellations, mapping out stars, planets, universes, peoples, systems, souls. The whole thing seemed quite cosmic and a non-hippy kind of way and it made my spine tingle. That’s 2 works that have made my spine tingle from this festival – that’s not bad. And because the Shettar was a single work in an amazing gallery space, previously the gaol chapel, it was given the reverence it required. I know that not quite as many people will see it as if it were in the AGNSW, but I think it deserved the quietitude and solitariness of the NAS Chapel, over and above marrauding hordes of school kids and pensioners on bus tours.

Hanging out at the National Art School, I caught up with dear friends, Sarah Mosca, Damian Dillon and Paolo Iarossi, great artists who work there, who I’ve previously worked with and who I went through the school with. It was fantastic to catch up on the gossip, discuss our dreams for the future, what we’d be willing to put up with as far as constraints on our work and what we’re working on now. And I realised that I have become incredibly sentimental about my old college! I missed seeing these guys on a regular basis, I missed aspects of the campus, I even want to exhibit in the new spaces once they become available (note to the new curator of the NAS galleries) -can you believe it?! If someone had’ve said to me 3.5 years ago that I would be having lunch with ex-classmates and TAs, I’d be cooing over the campus and wanting to exhibit as alumni, I think i would have spat in their face! Now, I’m realising how important it really is in my life. Now I don’t think I’m going to go out and sprout about the place or get all bombastic about it, but it’s kind of nice to think that I have a whole resource of ex-students and teachers that I can still use and that having that sense of ‘family’ or companionship in the mire that is the local art sector, is worthwhile. Now that I come to think of it, it was probably one of the reasons I went to art school in the first place!

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

ketchup and inspiration

it’s been ages since i’ve written a blog here and i’ve had so much to catch up on! last wednesday was a day of inspiration for me: went to the preview of the Sydney Biennale and saw some great stuff, but the Antony Gormley Field was fucking amazing. It’s been a really long time since I’ve stood in front of a piece of artwork and had goosebumps, and this piece gave me a serious case of them. It was sublime. Standing in front of it, i almost cried with the expanse of it all as well as, for me, a sense of history about the work. I felt like i was looking at a historical movement of a population for a greater cause.. may not have been the intention of the work, but it sent shivers down my spine nonetheless. the other highlight from biennale stuff is blatantly egotistical, but hey. when Fiona Tan came into town last year, i lent her some of my photo albums with which to do her vox populi work. When i rocked up to AGNSW, i had forgotten about the work and when i stumbled upon it, i found 2 images from my albums in there, neither taken by me. the first one is a hilarious photo of my stepfather with deep red lipstick on in a gaudy stylised smile shape.. it is both hilarious and awful at the same time! and then an image of me, taken by my ex-boyfriend, with my huge blue mohawk in the back alleys of Stanmore. it was a nice little treat for the day.

there were heaps of works throughout the other 2 venues i saw (MCA and AGNSW), but the truth of the matter is, i can’t remember a whole bunch of them. that, i think, is the reason that the biennale is on for 2 months. time to revisit and absorb so much. i’m really looking forward to going back to some of the venues i’ve already seen, and to venture to some of the smaller venues as well.

other major highlight for the day was the talk by Mike Parr. As part of the SafARI fringe contemporary art festival, Mike was speaking about the beginning of inhibodress, one of the first ARIs in Sydney as well as his own early practice of that time. In the SafARI zine, I’m quoted as saying Mike is ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ and i stick by that. He’s managed to continue creating thought-provoking, inciteful and insightful works for the last 35 years and when he spoke, i was captivated. Now, when some people contradict themselves, i’m the first one to tune out, but hearing Parr talk, i didn’t care that he did that. I didn’t care that I’d heard some of it before, like a mantra about not getting sucked into the lottery of government funding. I really needed to hear what he was saying. I loved hearing how important it is for ARIs to push the boundaries, despite it being impossible to do so these days, but that at the same time, it’s important for us to show works that will never get shown in a commercial gallery because its, well, not really gonna ever get there. I had also been driving myself nuts with the fear that i have all these ideas, not enough money and not enough time to get my artistic career where i want to go, and I heard the word ‘longevity’ that night. It was like a bright light in a dodgy park and seems to have been the salve for what was ailing me. It’s about continuing to keep plugging away, do what you do with as much integrity as you can muster in this cut-throat world. Perhaps a little dramatic, but hey.

I was so fucking inspired that within 24 hours, i had come up with 3 new ideas for projects about rhythm and time that i thought i was going to burst! This is, in and of itself, not a new phenomenon, but it felt different this time. I felt like i had been given a huge kick up the ass, with a lunchbox and swag with which to move forward. So watch out world, here i come. Even if i only arrive in 30 years’ time, it will have been worth it.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx