19 October 1993

Home is where the art is

It's knock-off time. Time to wend your way back to your quarter-acre of heaven, your dream home in the 'burbs. But something's not quite right here.
There are 36 perfectly formed sand castles on the back patio, and three chocolate brains in the kitchen, gathering mould. The upstairs toilet is wall-papered with signs warning"Danger - Corrosive" and in your daughter's bedroom there's a neon sign blaring "No never means yes".
And where's the TV gone? Someone's put it in the roof, but you can watch it through the periscope in the walk-in wardrobe. Suddenly you scream: "This is not my beautiful house | This is contemporary art |"
You have stumbled into Sweet Dreams, a satellite exhibition for Perspecta, the Art Gallery of New South Wales's biannual survey of contemporary art.
Sweet Dreams is the brainchild of the curators Isobel Johnston and Suhanya Raffel. They have chosen eight artists to design work specifically for"Balmoral", a dream home at Homeworld II, the country's largest project home village at Prospect, near Blacktown in Sydney's west.
"I think this is a pretty logical step," says Johnston. "Many artists today are working with domestic ideas and this house can provide a venue where you have an audience which was already prepared to look at the notion of the home when they come to view the work."
Raffel says the show is another example of the growing interest by artists in working outside museum and gallery spaces.
"But we were also aware that a lot of art in public spaces has been difficult and not particularly successful because the work was usually in 'nowhere' places like billboards or in transit on the backs of buses," Raffel says. "This site, however, comes with it's audience. The audience has come to buy a home, not to go to an art gallery.
"Sweet Dreams also shows that there is a growing awareness at the art gallery of its responsibility to greater Sydney."
The curator Victoria Lynn has talked about this year's Perspecta as dwelling on, among other things, "the shadowy side of urban nightmares and suburban utopia", and Sweet Dreams embraces that spirit to the letter.
Eugenia Raskapoulos chose the daughter's bedroom for her neon installation for obvious reasons.
"Neon can be such a seductive, beautiful source of light but the message it carries here isn't such a pretty sight," she says.
"Because alongside all those dreams of owning a house and having a wonderful family, there are many women out there who have been oppressed within this environment. Rape can and does start at a very young age with incest and my piece is dealing with all those issues."
A number of the works are time-based sculptures which emphasise decay and disorder, such as Neil Wing's chocolate brains and Therese Saaib's 36 sand castles. Saaib fully expects the elements and visiting children to gradually destroy the precisely formed castles.
It was Robyn Bracken's idea to watch TV through a periscope in the closet. Her piece plays formally with the mechanics of perception but there's also a symbolic dimension.
"In a house like this the television is often the focal point of family life so I just wanted to dislodge it from that pride of place into a secret, closeted place."
So why would a commercial builder like Clarendon Homes willingly let a bunch of artists loose in one of their packaged dreams?
"Ultimately the public's perception will be that we are involved in what's happening today," says Clarendon's marketing manager, Peter Brown.
"It's not about house design or development of future housing trends. It's a personal view by the various artists of their interpretation of the family home."
The exhibition runs seven days a week until November 21.
Caption: ILLUS: Step inside for chocolate brains...the artists with marketing manager Peter Brown (right), all part of an unusual project. Picture by Ben Rushton.
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 19-10-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 23
Section: News and Features
Length: 756

1 October 1993

Ian burn lost in rescue drama

THE art world is in mourning as news of the death of Ian Burn, Australia's leading conceptual artist, begins to circulate. Burn drowned on the South Coast yesterday while swimming with his daughters.
Milton police told the Herald Burn, 53, of Rozelle, was swimming at Pretty Beach, an unpatrolled beach in the Bawley Point area, about 35 km south of Milton.
THE art world is in mourning as news of the death of Ian Burn, Australia's leading conceptual artist, begins to circulate. Burn drowned on the South Coast yesterday while swimming with his daughters.
Milton police told the Herald Burn, 53, of Rozelle, was swimming at Pretty Beach, an unpatrolled beach in the Bawley Point area, about 35 km south of Milton.
"He was there swimming with his two daughters between 10 am and 11 am when the incident occurred," said Constable Greg Crumblin. "They had gone straight into the water and were swimming for a while with no dramas until a large wave came and everyone was in deep water. They were caught in a rip and got pulled out.
"One of the other girls there started screaming. Burn went to help her and held her up. Some guys on surfboards came to assist. Burn then actually made it back into shore, and then went back out to help someone else - just who, we're not sure.
"There is a feeling that it may have been one of his own daughters who he thought was still out there but I can't confirm that. Then one of the surfers went back out to help him but Burn had already gone under by the time he got there."
Constable Crumblin said Burn's body was eventually located and resuscitation was attempted with no result. His body was taken to Milton Hospital where a routine post mortem will be held today.
Burn had been an outstanding student at the National Gallery School in Melbourne. He left Australia to work in London and New York, where he became involved in the growing conceptual art movement and was a member of the influential conceptual art group Art and Language.
He returned to Australia in 1972 with a firm international reputation and became a key figure in Sydney's leading conceptual art gallery, Central Street Gallery.
In the late 1970s Burn kept a low profile, preferring to teach, write and work rather than pursue a gallery career. Eventually he left his teaching position in the Fine Arts department at the University of Sydney to become a founding member and director of Union Media Services. He continued to create, write and curate until his death.
Indeed, in the past year public interest in Burn's work reached a peak, with a retrospective at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Minimal-Conceptual Works 1965-1970, and the show Looking at Seeing and Reading, which he curated at Paddington's Ivan Dougherty Gallery with Nick Waterlow.
"There aren't many of whom you'd say they're indispensable but he really was," said Waterlow yesterday. "So seldom do find someone who is an artist, a writer, and a curator of exhibitions - Ian was all three and he wasn't only concerned with his own area - conceptual art. I remember reading his incisive writing on Sidney Nolan and Fred Williams, an incisiveness you wouldn't necessarily expect from a conceptual artist."
Obituary page 21
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 30-9-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 24
Section: News and Features
Length: 602
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

5 September 1993

Walk into a garret today

In an innovative move, the Museum of Contemporary Art has linked up with six inner-city galleries to promote young contemporary artists.
In an innovative move, the Museum of Contemporary Art has linked up with six inner-city galleries to promote young contemporary artists.
Directors of the six galleries played host yesterday at an open day to museum members. Today, members and the public will be able to visit and view the work of 17 emerging artists in their studios.
"Originally, the event was exclusive to members," the museum's Natalia Bradshaw told Inside Sydney. "But, because the museum is still so new, we've decided to open up Saturday's studio walk to everyone, so people can experience the type of member benefits the museum offers.
"We want to be the catalyst for people to take an interest in, and learn more about, contemporary art. And these visits to artists' studios will be the perfect introduction."
The six galleries behind the venture are the Beatty Gallery, Kunst, Legge Gallery, Lime, ROM and Pendulum.
The idea for the visits came from Rosemary Luker, director of the ROM Gallery at Taylor Square.
"It's really all about two things: making the art more accessible to people, and making the public - and potential patrons - more accessible to the artists," she explained.
"There are similar studio visits held every year in the Marais district in Paris and in Berlin, and they're extraordinarily successful."
Luker said the artists would work in their studios throughout the day, on hand to discuss their work with anyone who popped in.
Participating artists work in a wide range of media, stretching from Brad Allen-Waters's metal sculpture to George and Ilza Burchett's large murals and frescos.
Those interested can pick up a map of the studio locations from the MCA in Circular Quay.
Caption: Illus: Show-offs ... from left, Faith McGirr, Constantine Nicholas, Gary Christian, Stuart Watters, George Burchett, Liz Miller, Simon Hartas, Joe Filshie, Maree Azzopardi, Brad Allen-Waters, Ilza Burchett, Jose Garcia-Negrette. Picture by DEAN SEWELL
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 4-9-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 15
Section: News and Features
Length: 417
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

28 August 1993

An injection of commonsense

Law enforcement temporarily reduces the drug supply and thus causes prices to rise. Higher prices draw new sources of supply and even new drugs onto the market, resulting in more drugs on the street. The Government reacts with more vigorous enforcement - and the cycle starts anew.
- Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate economist, New York Times, May 9, 1993.

As the illicit drug trade continues to exact its tragic social cost unabated, a sea-change in attitudes towards drug policy is beginning to sweep the international community. MICHAEL HUTAK sought some expert opinions.
As the illicit drug trade continues to exact its tragic social cost unabated, a sea-change in attitudes towards drug policy is beginning to sweep the international community.
That Milton Friedman - arguably the most influential right-wing economist of the postwar period - should be putting forward such views of the illicit drug trade would have been unthinkable in the Reagan/Thatcher years of the"war on drugs".
Friedman was speaking in favour of the Hoover Resolution calling on the Clinton Administration to end the United States' 20-year "war on drugs", a policy which concentrates on restricting drug supply through rigorous prohibition.
The resolution notes that the billions of dollars spent on the drug war -which escalated to $A64.4 billion under the Bush Administration - has led to widespread corruption and violence, and has undermined governments throughout the world without any reduction in drug abuse and drug-related crime. And the international drug trade continues to boom.
The ever more obvious failure of this unwinnable war is finally seeing the official tide turn in favour of a harm minimisation policy.
Harm minimisation aims to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug abuse without necessarily eliminating drug use.
While the policy still attempts to limit illicit supply and use, it places equal emphasis on reducing drug demand in the community.
Officially, harm minimisation has been Australian policy since The Drug Offensive was launched in 1985.
And that commitment was reaffirmed last month when a National Drug Strategy was endorsed by all Australian governments at a meeting of the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy, the peak body through which the country's health and law enforcement ministers determine national drug policy.
But the professionals in the field - from policy analysts and lawmakers to police, health and social workers - are asking just how committed the Government is to harm minimisation, while Australian drug laws fill our prisons with drug offenders.
As a consequence, many are calling for new and radical solutions - such as the decriminalisation of marijuana, or even the open legalisation of all drugs of addiction.
MICHAEL HUTAK sought some expert opinions.
Dr Alex Wodak, director of the Drug & Alcohol Service, St Vincent's Hospital:
"It all boils down to this: once you recognise drug use is essentially here to stay, does the community want to preserve the present system where responsibility for selecting and supervising people who get heroin has been delegated to underworld criminals?
"Or do we want to see whether an imperfect medical system would be any less bad?
"Despite all our inadequacies in running the health system, I can't see how the possibility of providing clean drugs - of known concentration - could fail to be less evil than the present system.
"I think initially the community will only allow us to prescribe heroin within a program that encourages rehabilitation. Whether or not that's defendable is another question."
Peter Baume, Professor of Community Medicine at the University of NSW, and a former senator in the Fraser Government, who chaired the Senate select committee which produced the landmark 1977 report, Drug Problems in Australia- An Intoxicated Society:
"First, whether drugs are legal or illegal is a matter of fashion, not absolute knowledge. Second, drugs themselves are neutral - it's what people do with them. Third, prohibition has very major costs which, many believe, far outweigh the benefits.
"And of the deaths from drugs, 97 per cent are from the legal drugs. If we're worrying about drug policy, that's where our attention should be going. Ask yourself what the people in favour of prohibition are trying to achieve?They want a drug-free society - and there has never been one in all of history.
"It's a load of garbage, and we said as much in that very first report way back in 1977 - that a drug-free society is not an option. And that's why, on balance, I'm in favour of legalisation of all drugs. It's not desirable to use drugs but all we can do is work out ways that are accommodating to the reality that people do use drugs.
"At the moment all we are doing is filling our jails full of young offenders, making the drug producers and suppliers wealthy, and producing corruption in our police, our Customs, our magistracy and our prisons."
Justice Michael Kirby, the president of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal, who was recently invited to sit on a new international tribunal on drug policy, based in The Hague, The Netherlands:
"I don't know that Australia really has embraced harm minimisation. Ministers can, at meetings, agree on sensible policies. But getting national and State laws changed from the present supply-reduction strategy - not to mention the international conventions which bind Australia to that strategy -is much more complicated.
"Despite the very stern measures adopted, a large number of cases before the courts are still drugrelated. There is no easy solution to this problem. What we have to look for is the least worst solution.
"I support a strategy which treats the issue as a public health problem, rather than a law-and-order problem - because the latter is only of random, intermittent and unpredictable success. But I don't see myself as entitled to defy the law. And while it is as it is, I will enforce it.
"There's no doubt that if people are addicted, they are sick. And a civilised society will treat them as sick people not as criminals - that's the bottom line."
Jim Snow, the Labor MP for Eden-Monaro, now lobbying Federal Parliament to make drugs of addiction, such as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines, available on prescription:
"When I was apprenticed to a pharmacist in 1952 people were able to get linctus heroin, which was prescribed for a cough. We had to report suspected addicts. It was treated then as a health problem, rather than a legal problem
"My proposal will be better for poor people because it will be cheaper -you'd only have to find $50 rather than $2,000 - and purer.
"Currently, the wealthier you are, the better quality you can get and the more reliable your source. The poorer you are, the poorer the quality of drug, the less reliable your source and the more likelihood of contracting AIDS or hepatitis B.
"I'm not interested in hardened addicts - we've got to tolerate the fact they'll keep using. I'm interested in reducing crime and the number of new recruits.
"Both doctors and pharmacists should be entitled to prescribe and dispense for recreational use - as long as the users are prepared to be recorded. And I do think it should be kept out of pubs.
"It's just recognising that if people want to do it, it should be safe for them to do so.
"While it would still be illegal to supply drugs other than on prescription, I wouldn't prosecute for possession. But I think that's an issue which should be debated."
Frank Costigan, QC, whose Royal Commission into the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers' Union, 1980-84, revealed widespread organised crime on the waterfront:
"The 'war on drugs' as practised by the Reagan/Bush administrations was madness. And while there's not a lot of empirical evidence about, the argument that legalisation reduces the influence of organised crime is a strong one. Nobody could talk seriously about buying drugs at Woolworths, but the question is, shouldn't we be dealing with this in a different way?
"My view is, yes, you've got to pursue the people making immense profits from drugs - the criminal organisations involved in major trafficking and importing should be dealt with with the full severity of the law. But the problem of users should be treated as a health issue with rehabilitation, counselling, treatment and so on."
Tony and Judy Foley, whose son died from heroin use, and who vehemently oppose the decriminalisation of drugs of addiction:
Tony Foley: "Our memories will be of the people out there selling drugs and involving young people - and that to me is just so destroying. I hope one day the Government thinks about the influence drugs have on our society, and what drugs are doing to our children.
"Heroin is a destroyer and there are not too many survivors."
Judy Foley: "The regulations are very hard in countries like Thailand and Malaysia. I can't understand why we don't have a similar system in this country. Any person who's brought in millions of dollars of heroin or cocaine is nothing better than a mass murderer.
"I don't think legalising heroin or cocaine will ever fix this problem."
Milton Luger, the founder in 1977 of the Odyssey House McGrath Foundation rehabilitation program:
"There's been a big push to get heroin legalised. But it didn't take off, so now they're pushing decriminalisation as the first step. I believe this is a pay-off for all the board members who are snorting coke on weekends; for the yuppies who don't want to get busted with marijuana; and for everybody who's making money and using drugs recreationally ...
"None of this will help the kids who are in despair, who have nothing going for them in life, who only use drugs to block out their pain because they've been sexually or emotionally abused by their parents or whoever.
"These are the kids who won't be satisfied with a regular supply - they'll want to use more and more. They'll never get enough.
"Does harm minimisation mean telling young kids it's OK to use drugs? Does it mean you tell them it's normal to use mind-altering substances? Sure, the answer is not to send anybody to jail, but to give them a chance to get off the drugs - and then expunge their record after a year."
Ann Symonds, NSW Labor MLC, and member of the Australian Parliamentary Group on Drug Law Reform, a national bipartisan group, which in October will formulate a national charter on drug law reform.
"I belong to the group because I believe this is the way to declare publicly that the 'war on drugs' - which we've adopted from the Americans - is a failure, and it's not serving our society well.
"The bipartisanship between the major parties in support of the status quo really annoys me because what hope is there for change? These politicians are afraid of the media because this issue is usually dealt with in such a sensationalist way that nobody wants to be condemned for apparently being uncaring about the plight of drug users.
"Our National Charter will show another kind of bipartisanship exists for those who want change.
"What our more vocal supporters have in common is they're either independent or retired - people like Sir Rupert Hamer, Nick Greiner, Neville Wran, Frank Costigan, Don Dunstan and Sir John Gorton. And that's an indication of how vulnerable politicians feel about talking about drug law reform.
"If we can generate a wide-reaching, backbench movement, then we believe ministers might develop the courage to follow our lead."
Craig Thompson, a Sydney magistrate and the president of PRYDE (Parents Reaching Youth through Drug Education).
"The big missing factor is education. Advocating responsible use is a pro-drug message - it says use the drug, but do so responsibly. For kids to hook into that is not a good thing.
"Laws which stop kids getting legal drugs up to 21 years of age are there for a darn good reason - because the immature nature of growing cells makes them much more susceptible to harm than adults, particularly during puberty.
"Making drugs like marijuana and heroin more easily available to young kids is not good for them or society."
Gabriel Bammer, Australian National University fellow and the co-ordinator of a study investigating the feasibility of prescribing heroin to registered addicts:
"The ACT Government became alarmed at the spread of AIDS/HIV and decided new responses were needed. One such response is the provision of heroin to registered addicts in a controlled manner.
"So the Government asked the ANU's National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, and the Australian Institute of Criminology, jointly to conduct what has become known as 'the heroin trial'.
"It's a long way from legalisation. It's not about wholesale ready availability. It's a feasibility study about whether or not the ACT should implement a new method of treatment for people who are heroin-dependent.
"My fear is people will pre-empt the study. Once people take a position it's hard to get them to change - and I'm worried about prematurely polarising people's views."
Wesley Noffs, the director of the Ted Noffs Foundation:
"I can see the arguments for prescribing heroin. But just say you did. Some people would require the drug four times a day - because it's one of those substances which the more you have, the more you want.
"They would spend virtually all their time in a clinic using the substance. You'd get a situation where the addicts tended not to go home. Of course, you could argue they're not overdosing or using dirty needles. But let's see the models of how it would work.
"Anyone in drug and alcohol work would be watching the ACT 'heroin trial'with interest. I do support harm reduction completely. It's something which should be taken up by every drug and alcohol agency. And magistrates should make themselves aware of it - and I don't think they are.
"The very top echelon of the police is aware of the strategy, but I don't think it's filtered down yet."
Chris Puplick, former Liberal senator, commissioned by the NSW Minister of Health to investigate law reform appropriate to the National Strategy on HIV/AIDS:
"We'll be looking at things such as the operation of the needle exchange program, the methadone programs in prisons, and situations in general where people share needles - in essence, all aspects of drug policy as they impact on the way we manage the AIDS crisis.
"We'll also look at whether some drugs, particularly marijuana, have any relationship to the therapeutic treatment of HIV/AIDS conditions.
"There is a considerable body of evidence suggesting that in the later, almost terminal stages of the virus, marijuana does in fact offer some physical and psychological relief.
"Given that marijuana use constitutes a serious offence under NSW law, the question arises whether that is appropriate in this situation. But it's unlikely there will be a spate of prosecutions - after all, we're talking about people who are terminally ill.
"I expect to report to the minister by the end of November."
Tony Day, the NSW Police Association president:
"Of the drugs described as illicit, we would favour seeing them remain that way, from your soft drugs to your hard drugs. But we do see a need not to jail people for the use of marijuana, for instance, which could be treated by way of an infringement notice - as is done in South Australia."
Caption: Illus: Dr Alex Wodak ... "I can't see how the possibility of providing clean drugs could fail to be less evil." Picture by PALANI MOHAN
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 28-8-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 46
Section: Spectrum
Length: 2695
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

6 August 1993

The Day of Ascension*

"But it's not a sad death - it happens out in the fields, in the bright sunshine, bathed in a light of pure gold." 1
The Day of Ascension continues Andrew Frost's stated goal to 'gesture towards the absolute reduction of image', but in an important shift, this gesture now more formally adheres to materialist imperatives.2
The constitution of the televisual image as a cinematic object, and of the surface of the monitor screen as the pro-filmic space are both still evident however where Frost used to write with the televisual, he now paints.

1 August 1993

AGNSW defends controversial donation scheme

AMID debate over the launch of the NSW Art Gallery's Contemporary Benefactors' Scheme, administrators defended the move yesterday as the only option to counter dwindling government support.
The controversial scheme - designed to entice younger, free-spending collectors into the gallery's circle - will be launched at a $75-a-head gala dinner in the gallery's main entrance hall next Saturday.
Amid debate over the launch of the NSW Art Gallery's Contemporary Benefactors' Scheme, administrators defended the move yesterday as the only option to counter dwindling government support.
The controversial scheme - designed to entice younger, free-spending collectors into the gallery's circle - will be launched at a $75-a-head gala dinner in the gallery's main entrance hall next Saturday.
At the heart of the art world's angst is a proposed auction on the night of works donated by Australia's leading contemporary artists, with the proceeds going back into buying more contemporary Australian art.
"Some artists have been a bit iffy about the idea," confirmed Sydney artist Rosemary Laing, who's donated one of her works now hanging in the gallery's"Strangers in Paradise" show.
"And I understand the argument: it's a disturbing trend, in that artists are always expected to make the work and mount the show for next to nothing, and now they're being asked to donate work to attract benefactors.
"This sort of thing has been going on for 10, 20 years. But this time it's the art gallery instead of, say, Artspace."
But the gallery's curator of contemporary art, Tony Bond, is adamant the move is a one-off.
He explained: "I've always been dead against the idea of getting artists to cough up in this manner. There's a lot of it goes on all the time at the alternative spaces but it's the first time we've done it here.
"However, these are modest works which don't compete with the artists'commercial practice.
"The real issue is we don't have any funds for buying contemporary Australian art because of government cutbacks."
Bond said a "massive gap" had emerged between State Government grants and the gallery's actual running costs. As a result, areas such as local acquisitions and maintenance of the collection have slowly had funds siphoned off simply to run the gallery.
The gallery's international programs had remained buoyant because they were supported by fixed bequests. But Bond says the Australian contemporary collection program has been starved of funds: "We have the Rudy Komon Memorial Fund, which produces about $25,000 a year. But that's it.
"We need at least $100,000 a year to get a decent program going."
Sydney galleries have been encouraged to book entire tables at the launch, and Roslyn Oxley and Gene Sherman are two directors who've already taken up the offer.
"I knew Roslyn and Gene would participate, but Stephen Mori has been a bit equivocal about it," Bond noted.
"I know one of his artists felt it was not an appropriate sort of thing for an artist to be doing, and I don't have any problem with that. It's a personal decision."
Mori declined to comment.
After a pre-dinner stroll around the Surrealism exhibition to the tones of a wind quartet, patrons will sit down to a menu designed by renowned Sydney chef Anders Ousbach.
Sotheby's Robert Bleakley will conduct the auction of the works of 16 of Australia's leading contemporary artists: Ian Burn, Debra Dawes, Anne Graham, Bill Henson, Michael Johnson, Janet Laurence, Rosemary Laing, Lindy Lee, Hilarie Mais, John Nixon, Bronwyn Oliver, Mike Parr, Julie Rrap, Imants Tillers, Mark Titmarsh and Ken Unsworth.
Bond expects the event to raise at least $20,000, but added: "During the evening we also hope to sign up patrons for the benefactors' program, which means a commitment of anything from $500 up."
Meanwhile, Laing sees the initiative as long overdue. "I support the event because, from a broader outlook, it's in my interest as a contemporary artist."
Caption: Illus: Art for auction...Tony Bond with a self-portrait by Mike Parr which will go under the hammer next Saturday. Picture by Ben Rushton.
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 31-7-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 15
Section: News and Features
Length: 765
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

25 July 1993

Art college friction isn't fiction

Premier John Fahey's announcement this week that Sydney College of the Arts(SCA), now amalgamated with the University of Sydney, will be relocated to a new $19 million facility at Rozelle means, publicly, an end to 18 years of poor accommodation and inadequate funding. But behind the scenes the country's leading art school remains embroiled in a bitter power struggle among senior management.
At the end of last year, the friction became so intense that the university's vice-chancellor, Don McNichol, was forced to intervene.
He commissioned an inquiry and appointed an independent facilitator to bring the college back from the brink.
The inquiry's confidential report - Inside Sydney has obtained a copy -finds a prevailing climate of "distrust, side-taking, suspicion, low morale"resulting in a "lack of effective decision-making and action ... a climate not conducive to allowing an obviously talented and committed staff to give of their best".
In the eye of the storm is internationally recognised Sydney artist Richard Dunn.
SCA's director since 1988, he sees the genesis of the problem dating back to the college's amalgamation with Sydney University in 1990.
Dunn commented: "If you join an institution and they say 'this is how you must be' - and it's very different from how you were - then there are bound to be difficulties.
"The uni created a school within the college and then appointed a person to head the school. It hadn't been structured that way before and there was confusion about roles and duties."
And according to the vice-chancellor's own report, this led to escalating conflict between Dunn and the head of the school, Associate Professor Helge Larson.
As the acrimony grew, lines of communication collapsed and, notes the report, "previously neutral staff (were) being drawn into factionalism ..."
Inside Sydney was unable to contact Larson but, according to Dunn, his current job will no longer be there when he returns from holidays next month.
Dunn revealed: "He will be my deputy, now that the vice-chancellor has decided to remove the school from the college and adopt a structure where the director also has the duties and responsibilities of head of school."
Dunn said he was willing to work with Larson on his return.
"I'm sure we'll develop a good working relationship, but we need to sit down and talk about where we go from here.
"There are ongoing problems with a minority of people, but that's nothing surprising."
While the new structure is still to be ratified by the university's senate, the independent facilitator, former Dean of Arts Dr Pat Lahy, took up her role last month.
"I'm trying to move the college more into line with the way a faculty at the university works," Lahy explained.
"In a faculty there's more collegiality, people have more input into the decision-making process and some say in what happens.
"And I'd like it known that the process is working."
Constituted by the Whitlam Government in 1975, SCA has coped with sparse funding and poor accommodation ever since.
Scattered over three ramshackle campuses in Glebe and Balmain, it has produced a steady stream of graduates who have slotted straight into the vanguard of Australian contemporary art - such as Jane Campion, Lindy Lee, John Young, Janet Burchill and Dunn himself.
The acting vice-chancellor, Professor Susan Dorsch, told Inside Sydney SCA was an asset to the university, and the move to the heritage-listed, 19th-century Kirkbride buildings at Rozelle Hospital would go a long way to solving the college's problems.
She said: "They've been labouring in bad accommodation for such a long time that Kirkbride must have a positive effect, mainly because it removes that climate of uncertainty."
Dunn agreed that staff relations had improved since Lahy came on board.
"It's slowly being worked through," he said. "Essentially, we have a staff working under appalling conditions producing students who are incredibly good."
Caption: Illus: SCA director, Richard Dunn ... hoping for an end to the bickering. Picture by GARY McLEAN
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 24-7-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 15
Section: News and Features
Length: 808
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

18 July 1993

Artspace turns 10 as it changes its emphasis

INSIDE SYDNEY: Artspace, Sydney's first publicly funded contemporary art gallery, celebrates its first decade next week, culminating with a party at its expansive new home in Woolloomooloo on Saturday. Artspace, Sydney's first publicly funded contemporary art gallery, celebrates its first decade next week, culminating with a party at its expansive new home in Woolloomooloo on Saturday.
Gallery director Louise Pether recalled: "Looking back, there have been such phenomenal shifts in the last 10 years.
"Originally Artspace seemed a real 1970s concept, in that anybody could exhibit and it was catering for people straight out of art school.
"But gradually the artist-run galleries have become more numerous, to the point where today you have spaces like First Draft WEST, Arthaus, Black and Lime all filling that gap.
"That leaves us somewhere between them and the Museum of Contemporary Art or NSW Art Gallery."
Before shifting last year to the new $1.5 million Gunnery Visual Arts Centre at Woolloomooloo Bay, Artspace occupied the first floor of an aging Surry Hills warehouse for nine years.
"Artspace was important because it was the first space in Sydney to address contemporary art, as it was practised at the time," explained artist and former Artspace committee member Merilyn Fairskye. "It combined an international outlook with a commitment to local artists and writers. But, just as crucially, it provided a place where artists could learn to negotiate the art world and begin to take control of their careers."
Pether - who succeeded previous directors Judy Annear, Gary Sangster and Sally Couacaud - estimates that 550 artists have participated in more than 200 exhibitions since Artspace opened but said the Gunnery necessarily meant a shift in emphasis for the exhibition program.
"Suddenly, we're in these quite splendid premises. It's corporate - almost glamorous - and the art really has to look good, otherwise everything falls apart.
"So, in terms of experimentation and risk-taking, the sorts of shows we have here will be different to those we experienced at Surry Hills.
"We've decided we're no longer a place for first exhibitors. But we are still a place for emerging ideas, and these can come from any generation or an artist of any experience."
Caption: Ilus: Art of time ... Abby Mellick, Julianne Pierce and Louise Pether, of Artspace, ready to celebrate the gallery's 10th birthday.Picture by PETER RAE
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 17-7-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 15
Section: News and Features
Length: 476
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

11 July 1993

Oxley makes plans on a fresh canvas

INSIDE SYDNEY: Leading Sydney gallery owner Roslyn Oxley yesterday confirmed major changes to her contemporary art business, including a dramatically smaller stable and plans to move from her Paddington landmark. "We had an offer for this space which really surprised us," she explained. "So we're considering the move because, economically, it's really too good an opportunity." With commercial galleries enduring a sluggish market, Oxley said she has no option but to meet the challenge.
"What we're doing is contracting. We're fairly small, in terms of personnel, and it's become very hard to manage artists properly. So we're paring down our stable.
"At McDonald Street (her earlier Paddington exhibition space) we could have five shows running at once. But in this gallery we can only have one or two at the most - and I find we're only concentrating on the artists we're really interested in.
"It's not fair to the others. So perhaps they'll get full attention somewhere else."
Oxley nominated 17 artists as a workable target - and said claims that she had 72 on her books at the height of the 1980s boom were "absolute garbage".
She added: "At our peak we probably had 35. But that's not full representation. At any one time you've only got the capacity to represent fully 12 or 15 people at a maximum."
In slashing numbers Oxley is echoing the trend set by new players on the Sydney scene such as Gene Sherman's Goodhope Gallery and the Sarah Cottier's new gallery in Newtown (scheduled for launch late this year).
Both are entering the market with small, select stables - and have secured representation of some of the biggest names in contemporary Australian art, including former leading lights from Oxley's gallery such as Dale Frank (now with Sherman Goodhope) and John Nixon (Sarah Cottier).
Oxley worked for 20 years as an interior designer (both in Australia and in New York) before returning to begin her gallery in an old rented warehouse in McDonald Street, Paddington, in early 1982.
Showcasing risky, emerging artists, Roslyn Oxley Gallery was an inst ant success.
Oxley had the foresight to buy a warehouse in Soudan Lane, Paddington, before the 1980s property boom - and relocated there in March 1990 after a lavish refurbishment.
"We always planned to move here, if we couldn't buy McDonald Street," she recalled.
"And we're not thinking of selling this place - just renting it out and relocating the gallery.
"But the whole thing is still under wraps, and I'm not going to tell you anymore until we've completed it."
On the current market, she summed up: "It's become more and more difficult... Quite frankly, I'd prefer to sell socks.
"But the art's the thing and, although it's hard, it's a fabulous business to be in.
"I'm very optimistic about the art that's coming out of Australia. It has a real edge that keeps coming through, and this is without doubt a very exiting time."
Caption: Illus: Roslyn Oxley ... "Quite frankly, I'd prefer to sell socks." Picture by DEAN SEWELL
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 10-7-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 15
Section: News and Features
Length: 605
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

11 June 1993

More snapshots of the rising generation

WHILE we're still dining out on our trans-Tasman triumph at Cannes, it's worth remembering Jane Campion found her first mainstream audience at the Short Film Awards which preface the Sydney Film Festival each year.
Campion's A Girl's Own Story, winner of the 1984 Rouben Mamoulian award, had the State buzzing that year with talk that a stunning new talent had arrived. What wasn't new was the talk itself - the awards always generate much debate, and are viewed in the industry as a snapshot of the coming generation
The Dendy Awards, as they are now known, are on again at the State Theatre tomorrow, beginning at 9 am, and the screenings are open to the public.
Taking the name of the current sponsor, the awards have traditionally occupied the festival's opening day since their inception in 1970. A cigarette manufacturer was sponsor until 1978, when the Greater Union Organisation took over. Sydney's progressive arthouse cinema, the Dendy has been sponsor since 1988.
This year, from more than 100 entries, 20 films have been chosen for screening and will vie for $2,500 in prizes in five categories.
Strictly speaking, the Dendy sponsors awards in just three of these: fiction, documentary and general.
The two other awards are the Yoram Gross Animation Award, first presented in 1987, and the Ethnic Affairs Commission Award, instituted last year to encourage films which reflect Australia's cultural and linguistic diversity.
Another $2,500 prize, The Rouben Mamoulian Award, is chosen from all the finalists by a panel of judges made up of overseas guests at the festival. This year the Taiwanese director of Wedding Banquet, Ang Lee, heads the panel
There are four entries in the fiction category (which begins screening at 10.30 am) - Flowers by Request, directed by Susan Wallace, Just Desserts, directed by Monica Pellizari, Mick Connolly's Opportunity Knocks and Anne Pratten's Terra Nullius - with Pellizari tipped to win.
Among the entries in the documentary category is Jan Aldenhoven's and Glen Curruthers's Kangaroos - Faces in the Mob, which was shown earlier in the year on ABC TV. The film follows the progress over two years of a mob of eastern grey kangaroos.
Other entries include Noriko Sekiguchi's When Mrs Hegarty Comes to Town, an examination of cross-cultural exchange between Japan and Australia, and Steve Thomas's Black Man's Houses, which seeks to redress the myth that Tasmania's Aborigines are extinct.
In the general category, for films which don't quite fit into any other category, Ross Gibson's Wild is favoured to win. Wild is a melange of docu-drama, cinemaverite, experimental cinema and academic film essay.
In the Ethnic Affairs Commission Award, Christina Andreef's loosely autobiographical Excursion to the Bridge of Friendship is among the entries. It was also selected for Cannes this year.
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 10-6-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 25
Section: News and Features
Length: 604
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

4 June 1993

Americans now the largest collectors of aboriginal art

INSIDE SYDNEY: Gallery director Helen Hansen has returned from this year's prestigious Chicago International Art Exposition reporting a surge of interest in Aboriginal art in North America.
"Aboriginal art is starting to break seriously into the United States, which is why we've made two trips there in the past six months," the co-director of Paddington's Hogarth Galleries told Inside Sydney yesterday.
Hansen returned on Tuesday from Chicago, where Hogarth became the first gallery ever invited to show Australian Aboriginal art.
"There's enormous interest," Hansen said. "They were fascinated by the connection between the land and the sand and dot paintings. On the other hand, a high percentage of people knew something about Aboriginal art because they had seen the Dreamings Exhibition at the Smart Museum in Chicago in 1989."
Hogarth's showing in Chicago was boosted by the enormous interest generated by Aratjara: Art of the First Australians, a major survey of Australian Aboriginal art showing in Dusseldorf, Germany, until July.
Hansen noted: "By our reckoning, the largest collectors of Aboriginal art in the world are in America."
She added that works of Emily Kame Kngwarreye - paintings of the desert country for which she's responsible as a tribal elder - attracted great interest.
"People were just bowled over by the energy of this woman," Hansen said.
"They'd ask if she'd seen the work of certain contemporary European artists and we'd say not only has she not seen it, she's an 82-year-old Aboriginal woman who lives in the Australian desert and speaks very little English. They'd be amazed at the artistic overlaps and similarities."
John Mawandjul's bark paintings were also a hit with the Americans, with one major work selling for $6,000.
Hansen said the surge in international interest in Aboriginal art was not merely a romantic return to the West's obsession with exotic, so-called"primitive" art.
"The American market has gone beyond that," she said. "It's more sophisticated, and Australian Aboriginal art these days is part of mainstream contemporary art. That's the way we show it - certainly not as primitive art -and people judge it on its own merit. And on that basis, it does extremely well."
Caption: Illus: Helan Hansen, co-director of the Hogarth Galleries in Paddington... found enormous interest in Aboriginal art in the United States. Picture by STEVE CHRISTO
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 3-6-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 504
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

27 May 1993

Purves calls off closure of paddington galleries

INSIDE SYDNEY: Australian Galleries director Stuart Purves yesterday revealed that he no longer intends to wind down his Sydney operation.
"I've done enough airing of my emotions," Purves told Inside Sydney. "It's been tight. I've been wounded and depressed and said we would close.
"But then I gathered myself again, and now it's business as usual. I probably should have said nothing."
Purves announced in January that his million-dollar, four-year experiment at the sumptuous Paddington gallery would close - and Australian would consolidate from its Melbourne base.
"We'd made all the necessary arrangements and our bank was encouraging us to close," he said. "But right at the point when we were about to make the move - literally in the last few months - the market began to lift.
"And there's nothing like a couple of sales to give an art dealer a personality change."
In response, Purves has restructured his organisation to revitalise the Sydney end.
"Janine Purves, my wife, will be taking a much more active role," he confirmed. "She'll be based in Sydney, and I'm going to oversee the whole thing more from Melbourne.
"I'm taking my Sydney administrator Marie-Claire Courtin with me. She's the best personal assistant in the gallery world."
Purves has also appointed Stella Downer, who managed Macquarie Galleries for seven years, as his Sydney manager.
Australian Galleries was established in Melbourne in 1956 by Anne Purves(Stuart's mother) and her late husband Thomas, and has been a mainstay of the country's art establishment ever since.
But the Sydney gallery was Stuart Purves's initiative: "I started Sydney because I wanted to make a stroke in my own lifetime.
"Tim Storrier found this building for us, and Brett Whiteley designed it on the back of an envelope. Alexander Michael, the interior designer, then did all the detailing and we worked on it for 57 working weeks.
"It cost just under $600,000 to purchase - and we spent a good deal more than that again just doing it up. We realised we were over-capitalising, but we felt that wasn't the point.
"We had to spend the money - not only to get the sort of space we wanted, but also to demonstrate a commitment to Sydney."
That commitment was shaken earlier this year when John Olsen, after 20 years with Australian Galleries, went to Gene Sherman's nearby Goodhope Gallery.
"I certainly felt flat when John moved on," Purves said. "But there's life after Olsen and I wish him well."
Purves added he's ridden the "boom and bust", and that the art market has finally begun to stabilise.
"From 1986 to 1988 it went through the roof - and we all thought we were catching up with Europe and our hard work was paying off," he recalled.
"But what you found out was the money wasn't there. Like everything else, people were buying paintings with money they said they were going to make.
"So it all went over the top and we were just kidding ourselves.
"But the markets are like the oceans - they find their own level. And prices have come back to a level where everyone can participate."
Australian has Sydney shows planned for John Coburn, Daevida Allen and Justin O'Brien.
Caption: Illus: "Enough of airing of my emotions...." Stuart Purves to keep galleries going. Picture by MICHELE MOSSOP
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 26-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 675
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

26 May 1993

AIDS painter captures canvas of life

INSIDE SYDNEY: At 26, William Barber has already seen 130 friends and acquaintances die from AIDS.
Two years ago Barber himself discovered he had the virus - and tonight at Newtown's Bare Gallery he'll open his first exhibition of paintings and poetry which tell of his experience.
"I want to show that, even though you have a terminal illness, there's always the opportunity to do more," he said yesterday.
"My art is straight from the heart. When a friend dies, that's when I paint or write.
"Or sometimes I'll paint a friend who has just found out they're HIV - to catch them when they're happy and healthy."
Barber painted one work the day he found he was going to die. He called it Diagnosis. "A couple of days later I was so depressed I ripped it to pieces," he said. "Since then I've stuck it back together, to show I've felt that way but worked through it."
The show chronicles not only the human impact of the AIDS pandemic , but one man's efforts to come to terms with it.
"I've lost so many friends to AIDS, and this work is about them," he said.
"At least when I die, there'll be a record of how somebody felt as they went through it.
"But the main reason I'm having the exhibition is to show those people who've helped me out of the doldrums, that their support has paid dividends."
People like Sister Noelene White of the Good Shepherd Community at Kings Cross.
"William is a person who's confronting HIV," said White. "He hasn't given up on life.
"Instead he's made the courageous move to bring something positive out of his situation.
"He's using his experience to educate others. He addresses adolescents and helps them understand that people with HIV are, first and foremost, people."
Barber believes his exhibition of vivid, semi-abstract works is premature. But he realises time is not on his side.
"I always thought I'd be a serious artist when I was 50 or 60," he said. "Now I know I'm not going to have the chance to get to that stage.
"I don't want to make people accept me. I just want them to understand."
Caption: Illus: Fighting on ... Artist William Barber with his dog Monty in front of his painting Headspace. Picture by ANDREW MEARES
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 25-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 480
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

21 May 1993

Venice selection boosts Cottier's launch

Sarah Cottier's Newtown gallery, due to open later this year, is the talk of the Sydney gallery set - especially with the selection of one of her young stars, Hany Armanious, for the prestigious Venice Biennale next month.
Armanious is one of only five Australian artists ever selected for Venice.
Cottier had planned to stay quiet about her venture - not scheduled to open for six months yet - until her stable was finalised. But her hand has been forced by the selection of her hottest prospect for the 45th Venice Biennale.
Cottier told Inside Sydney yesterday: "Hany has been selected for Aperto, which functions as a platform for emerging artists under 40.
"It's very prestigious - and Hany was delighted, if bemused, when he found out."
Armanious's star is rising rapidly - his work has appeared in four major shows in the past year: the Sydney Biennale; Wit's End at the Museum of Contemporary Art; Shirthead at Mori Annexe; and Monster Field at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery.
Cottier described Armanious's work as disconcerting.
"Hany takes everyday objects directly around him and assembles them into a sophisticated, perverse personal index.
"His work ranges from the whimsical to the grotesque."
Cottier, a former editor of Interior Design magazine, left Yuill/Crowley Gallery last month.
The Sarah Cottier Gallery, as it will be known, will be based in the former smallgoods factory now used as a photographic studio by Cottier's business partner and husband, Ashley Barber.
"We see setting up in Newtown as taking the art to where the artists are,"Barber said.
"The art community is moving away from the city core," Cottier said. "When the Paddington galleries were setting up, there was a community there which supported them. But they've exited now."
With the Sydney art world undergoing a turbulent period of readjustment in the wake of the recession, rumours have been rife about who Cottier will be representing.
"The full picture will be clearer when I've massed a stable," she said. "But it will be small and focused - probably about eight to 10 artists."
Apart from Armanious, Barber confirmed that former Roslyn Oxley stal wart John Nixon had also made the move - a coup for the new gallery.
"We have five or six artists we're sure about, but John and Hany are the only two we can discuss at the moment," Barber said. "We don't want to be ruffling feathers at this point.
"Because of all the movement going on, it's not politically expedient to discuss it.
"However we're not offering artists huge financial incentives to come across to us. We're attracting people with a new context and focus, a new identity."
Caption: Illus: Sarah Cottier ... "The art community is moving away from the city."Picture by PETER RAE
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 20-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 565
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

19 May 1993

New dimension for Tokyo filmmaker

INSIDE SYDNEY: The visiting Japanese filmmaker Keita Kurosaka has made a whirlwind visit to Sydney where he was special guest at Matinaze, a survey of independent films screening this month at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Kurosaka - a leading figure in Japanese independent film and a lecturer at Musashino University near Tokyo - said his first visit to Sydney had added a new dimension to his work.
The visiting Japanese filmmaker Keita Kurosaka has made a whirlwind visit to Sydney where he was special guest at Matinaze, a survey of independent films screening this month at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Kurosaka - a leading figure in Japanese independent film and a lecturer at Musashino University near Tokyo - said his first visit to Sydney had added a new dimension to his work.
"I am encouraged by Australians," he explained. "I have new confidence that my films can communicate with overseas people, rather than just for the Japanese.
"Back home people take my films very seriously and are too self-conscious to laugh.
"But here they laughed spontaneously - and the difference was very stimulating. It was a cheerful, open and lighthearted response."
However, the harbour city left Kurosaka with some curious impressions. "I am particularly surprised that the public toilets are so clean | In fact, your city is very clean and well-organised. But where are all the people? There are hardly any people |"
He explained his dazzling animations: "I want to give new possibilities to the things we take for granted. I want new angles on daily life."
While he acknowledged a debt to traditional Japanese ways, Kurosaka said"the past is not so important - we use what is good and ignore the rest. More and more in Japan, it is not past versus present but commercial versus non-commercial. TV has all the power in Japan."
Considering its population, Kurosaka said Japanese citizens give much less public support to independent cinema than Australians - and it showed in the confidence of our films and filmmakers.
"Your young filmmakers, their themes and styles are not rigid but more relaxed and smooth," he summed up.
The Matinaze screenings continue on Saturday with a program of Japanese films including Kurosaka's latest work The Age of Box.
Caption: Port: Keita Kurosaka explained that his Sydney visit would add a new dimension to his work. Picture by PAUL JONES
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 18-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 465
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

13 May 1993

Art heavies rage over Sulman

INSIDE SYDNEY: This year's Archibald, Wynne and Sulman exhibitions at the Art Gallery of NSW may have closed on Sunday, but the debate rages on.
Surprisingly, the controversy has not sprung from the Archibald, but from the Sulman prize for subject, genre and mural painting.
Under the bequest from Sir John Sulman, the gallery's trustees choose an artist to select the works and judge the winner of the $5,000 prize. This year, the painter Imants Tillers had the task of sifting through more than 600 works in just one day.
But while Tillers emerged in the 1980s to join the leading rank of Australian contemporary artists, his Sulman selection has triggered a major debate.
Many Sydney art world heavyweights took the show as a slap in the face.
"It is an outrage," said the Woollahra dealer Rex Irwin. "They were the worst possible pictures, most with little or no merit.
"It was an intellectual wank at the expense of those selected - and an insult to those who weren't."
Speaking from his Surry Hills gallery, Ray Hughes declared: "I don't know what Tillers is up to, but the Sulman's just becoming a haven for undergraduate art - for people more concerned with stacking their CVs."
Irwin added: "Perhaps Tillers used the opportunity to make a political statement. But that's not what a prize is all about.
"All it did was make a fool out of the art gallery."
But the director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Edmund Capon, said the criticism of Tiller's judging was "extraordinarily pretentious".
"One expects to see the signature of the curator to come through, and good on him too. I don't have a problem if we ruffle a few feathers," Capon retorted.
He noted that Tillers represented a radical choice on the part of the Gallery's trustees, but a necessary one.
"Imants represents a different breed, a younger generation who are very active, very established," Capon said.
"They have a voice, and a right to be heard alongside the views of those more mature members of the art world.
"Personally, I didn't much like the end product either. It was rather like a fascinating chamber of horrors, with some truly fairground pictures."
However, Annandale Galleries director Bill Gregory said he "found it quite a lot of fun because it was very subversive".
"I thought it was a send-up at first. But I realised he was trying to explode the whole concept of selecting, of being a judge."
Tillers, who is mounting a show in Latvia, could not be contacted by Inside Sydney for comment.
Sue-Anne Wallace, senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay, believes this year's Sulman was "awkward", but that Tillers has, at least, shaken things up a bit.
"The Sulman is crucial to our artistic heritage," she said, "and one thing Tillers has done is make people think about the Sulman, about where it is going."
Caption: Port: Imants Tillers ... debate continues over the Sulman.
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 12-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 604
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

30 April 1993

Leading Aboriginal barrister honoured

Aboriginal barrister Robert Bellear will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Macquarie University this morning.
The award is in recognition of his professional and personal commitment to the advancement of his people.
"I'm sort of a doer rather than one who goes on about what he's done,"Bellear said last night. "But I'll certainly accept the award. It's not a token gesture, and I feel I've probably earned it."
Born in Murwillumbah, the eldest of nine children, Bellear left school early to help support his family, working as a mechanical engineer.
He graduated from the Law School at the University of NSW and was admitted to the NSW Bar in 1979.
From 1979 to 1983 he was a member of the NSW Corrective Services Advisory Committee and was appointed Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1987.
On behalf of the Northern Land Council he undertook a number of land rights cases for traditional owners.
Bellear co-founded the Aboriginal Housing Company in Redfern and worked as director of Redfern's Aboriginal Medical Service, Aboriginal Legal Service and Aboriginal Children's Service.
"It's the Year of Indigenous Peoples," he noted. "And people - both Aborigines and nonAborigines - have got to strive to educate each other in their respective cultures.
"While, slowly, there have been gains, Aborigines are still behind in education, health and housing to name just a few.
"But to gain a reasonable education, for example, one has to be mindful that kids have to go to school with a full stomach.
"Things are a lot better than they were 10 years ago, and multiculturalism has gone a long way towards bringing about equality.
"But I hasten to add there's still a long way to go."
Caption: Port: Bellear ... "sort of a doer".
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 29-4-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 393
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

28 April 1993

Redfern's new Access to art

Here is the writeoff or the first paragraph After almost eight years in Balmain, Access Contemporary Art Gallery is investing $1 million to move premises to a new warehouse in the heart of Redfern's emerging gallery belt.
"The building cost us in excess of half a million, and the refurbishment will cost the same," gallery director Brenda May revealed yesterday.
Access - which specialises in Australian contemporary painting and sculpture - will begin refurbishment of the Boronia Street premises next week and plans to move into the 550-square-metre space in October.
"At the moment it's actually just a brick shed," May said.
Robert May, of May & Swan Architects, will direct the refurbishment.
"He's also my husband, which means he's got a very difficult client," May quipped.
She explained the move was spurred by the realisation that, in Balmain, they were isolated from the nucleus of Sydney's art scene.
"We opened in Balmain in the first place because we didn't want to be seen as yet another Paddington gallery," she said.
"We wanted to do something different and develop a different feel. But, in retrospect, we made ourselves less accessible.
"Balmain's gorgeous and I love it. But it's become very gentrified, whereas the East Redfern-Surry Hills area hasn't yet.
"It still has that character where there are older residents who haven't been bought out and moved on."
May noted there were "heaps" of advantages in moving to Redfern: "When people go to galleries they don't usually just shoot out to one. They like to take a few hours and go to a few.
"And we're right in among the gallery belt here - next door to Yuill/Crowley, 10 minutes' walk to Ray Hughes, and Legge Gallery is down the road.
"People will start at Taylor Square, go to the artist-run galleries like Ten Taylor Street, then take in Ray Hughes, Yuill/Crowley, us and so on.
"Redfern is also one of the few areas that still has decent-sized warehousing."
Apart from Access, Redfern will also see a new gallery, Pendulum, open in June.
Pendulum directors Cameron Prince and Mishka Borowksi are seeking to support younger artists.
Pendulum will swell the number of exhibition spaces from Taylor Square to Redfern to at least 17.
Caption: ILLUS: Moving pictures ... Brenda May in the new gallery space in Redfern. Picture by BEN RUSHTON
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 27-4-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 482
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

23 April 1993

Art row leaves bitter taste on the palette

Reeling from recent controversy at Australia's oldest commercial art dealer, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney's art world has been besieged with calls to get its act together.
"We all think the art world has this patina of gentility about it. But it doesn't," leading arts lawyer Shane Simpson told Inside Sydney. "It's not about chardonnay - it's about getting paid."
Bought by Eileen Chanin in 1978, Macquarie Galleries has been embroiled in acrimonious claims and counter claims about the use of artists'proceeds - and the brouhaha has renewed calls for commercial galleries to adopt more conventional business practices.
Australian Commercial Galleries Association chairman Frank Watters, OAM, owner of Watters Gallery in Darlinghurst, is moving to address the problem.
"Anyone we thought was guilty of malpractice has been dropped from the association," explained Watters, who's in the process of reviewing the group's guidelines for membership.
While he wouldn't cite the offending galleries, he did maintain it was the artists' responsibility to hold their dealers to account.
"You had everyone bitching away. But when we set up an ethics committee, we couldn't get a single artist to file a complaint," he noted.
"And what you often find is there's no clear understanding between the artist and the gallery in the first place.
"But we are taking steps. I feel quite optimistic, and I wouldn't have said that a year ago."
Simpson, however, believes the only answer is legislation: "Self-regulation might boost the reputation of the industry.
"But there'd be no enforcement of any guidelines, and not every gallery is a member of the association."
Ian Collie, director of Sydney's Arts-Law Centre in Woolloomooloo, advocates use of trust accounts and written contracts, and is organising a public forum on the issue.
"There's no reason why an artist-gallery relationship should be any different to that of a solicitor-client or a real estate agent-landlord," he said.
"Moneys held by agents should be kept in trust and not be made available for cash flow."
As for contracts, Collie claimed the visual arts were the only branch of the arts not to embrace the written agreement.
"They are the norm in music, film, theatre, almost everywhere," he said. "But visual arts people still rely on the good old verbal contract."
However, Frank Watters disagrees: "Contracts just don't work in these situations.
"We've never had a contract with an artist in 30 years, and our record as an agent would be unparalleled."
Inside Sydney surveyed other Sydney members of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association on their attitudes to trust accounts and written contracts.
* Gisella Scheinberg OAM, director of Holdsworth Galleries, Woollahra: "I couldn't care less about trust accounts. I never use anybody else's money. I have plenty in the bank.
"I tell the artist my policy, but I don't believe in contracts. You can't tie down artists. It doesn't go with the artist mentality. Anyway, you can't sue them, they haven't got anything."
* Brian Hooper, manager of Coventry Gallery, Paddington: "All arrangements here are by verbal contract. As for people jumping around saying 'trust account, trust account' - they involve legal and commercial obligations which require extra expense.
"The artist has ultimate power in any artist-gallery relationship: they can withdraw."
* Lin Bloomfield, of Bloomfield Galleries, Paddington: "We're not selling washing machines. It's a very personal relationship between an artist and a gallery. I've been representing some artists for 20 years and I've never had a written contract.
"We do keep trust accounts, but I don't think they're necessary. Where the trust comes into it is between the artist and the gallery."
* Robin Gibson, Robin Gibson Gallery, Darlinghurst: "Half our artists are in the red. We advance them money and pay things in advance for them - such as framing and so on. I don't know how one would work this if one couldn't dip into the account to actually pay it.
"But I know if I didn't pay my artists in time, they'd be screaming. And I've seen what were otherwise good relationships come to grief over contracts. I'd rather take the risk that the artist will stick by me, as I'm prepared to stick by him."
* Roslyn Oxley, Roslyn Oxley Gallery: "We've set up trust accounts for artists mainly on commissions. But we make it our business to pay up front, and quickly, so we don't have much need for them. And often we extend money to the artist and they owe us.
"A lot of people pay off paintings, which complicates it further. We have had contracts, but there's no point in a contract if an artist doesn't want to work with you."
* Rex Irwin, Rex Irwin Gallery, Woollahra: "I don't use trust accounts and I will do what I've always done. Our reputation is still fine. I'm against regulation in principle.
"Making lots of rules and regulations won't help. It hasn't in any other business, has it? I don't believe you can teach people ethics.
"But let's not be too hard on the art world. I don't think greed is a disease peculiar to us.
"It's shake-out time from all that excess of the 1980s. And in the end we'll be left with the people who were there in the first place - because they're the ones that aren't in it for the money."
Caption: Illus: Frank Watters outside his gallery. Picture by DEAN SEWELL
Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 22-4-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 1030
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

1 January 1993

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Dir. Francis Ford Coppola

As we have come to expect, Coppola has procured excellence from cast and crew to realise a work that is undeniable; in a word: BIG. Shot entirely on the Sony soundstage, this is a physical film, a juggernaut one endures rather than simply consumes: the sound design bodily assaults; the camera is forever dancing, trance-like and manic forcing the viewer to read the film; the use of colour is lurid, sensual, and oh so bloody red, as the costume design and art direction burn the idea of this Dracula deep into the memory.
Bar the appalling Keanu Reeves, the acting is exemplary with Gary Oldman again delving into his nether-regions to produce a genuinely enigmatic performance as the tragic, lusty Count Dracula. Playing opposite is winsome Winona Ryder who suffers from occasional
bouts of overactus hollywoodenae in amongst probably her most impressive role to date, while the supporting cast is led in cavalier fashion by the ever brilliant Anthony Hopkins, and impressive newcomer, English actress Sophie Frost.
Coppola's decision to tell this traditional screen romance by avoiding modern special FX technology (such as computer animation, morphing or blue-screen matteing, etc) in favour of old fashioned in-camera, "trick photography" (such as reversing footage and multiple exposure) works extremely well. The mood is like a Hammer film with production values raised to
the Nth degree but without the camp sensibilty in fact Dracula offers a lexicon of pre-cinema photographic illusionism. All FX were performed by second unit director, Roman Coppola, F.F.'s 27 year old son, continuing the rich tradition of creative nepotism that runs through his oeuvre.
On the level of performance Dracula bears no flaws, gaps, or gaffes: it's seamless, entertaining and engaging. Still all the brilliance doesn't seem to drag the resonance of the script above the archaic, perhaps because it keeps so true to Stoker's Victorian novel.
It IS a period piece and comes replete with Victorian social and moral baggage, but it begs the question: of what contemporary relevance is this?
Why do we need this movie now, today?
Just to clear Coppola's debts? Digging for clues, one interesting move is the backstage role christianity plays in the plot's denouement: the Count is a sort of underworld stand-in for Christ, forgoing immortality in the name of life rather than the other way round. It's a truly subversive moral manouvre: Dracula willfully brings about his own demise in the name of Love, not in the face of God's power. This is admirable but instead of being driven home it lays meekly buried 'neath all that silver screen "magic". Desperate for other sweeping metaphors, the AIDS epidemic is obvious: Blood + Sex = Death. But if it's Coppola's intention to draw his Dracula as a parable on the mythic, primeval link that humans make between sex and death then he's obscured it behind some extremely fancy footwork. Somehow a great film gets lost behind its dazzling archive of performance.

First published in Filmnews, 1989