Classic methods, current concerns

Adventurous: Shaun Gladwell’s show opens Saturday at The Lock-Up. Pictured, a still from his digital video, Tangara.The long-running holiday shows at our major galleries are coming to a close.
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Newcastle Art Gallery’s exhibition of recent acquisitions and its presentation of Holding,featuring the work of 25 local, national and international fibre artists finishes on Sunday, February 5.

The gallery’s deservedly popular John Olsen:The City’s Sonends on Sunday, February 19.

Newcastle Art Gallery’s opening exhibition for 2017 from February 18 will be the eagerly anticipated sculptural installation,The Island,from one of Australia’s most highly regarded sculptors, Alex Seton.

Seton works across many mediums and is regularly represented in the world’s major biennales and art fairs.

He is best known for his highly polished, finely detailed carved marble sculptures of everyday objects.

With incomparable skill, Seton uses age-old approaches and methods combined with modern technology to transform rough stone into dazzling art works of rare power and beauty, whichdirectly address immediate social and political issues that few contemporary artists are willing to explore.

Central to this exhibition is the workSomeone died trying to have a life like mine, from the Art Gallery of South Australiain which an array of 28 marble lifejackets snake around an imaginary shoreline transformed into a poignant, timeless memorial to all refugees who have lost their lives in pursuit of the peace and security we too often take for granted.

The Island runs until May 7.

Seton has also produced the major workAs of today… in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, where 41 carved marble, ceremonially folded flags commemorate the lives of the 41 Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

GLADWELL AT LOCK-UPControlby Shaun Gladwell, which opens on Saturday at the Lock-Up, continues the gallery’s policy of presenting the most diverse and challenging forms of contemporary art from some of Australia’s best known artists. Like Alex Seton, Shaun Gladwell has very close connections with the Australian War Memorial, having been our official war artist in Afghanistan in 2009 while also being Australia’s representative at the Venice Biennale in the same year.

This survey of his video work, for which he has achieved international attention, has been selected by curator of art at the Australian War Memorial Warwick Heywood, who uses the Lock-Up’s former prison cells to amplify the themes of rebellion, control and containment, whichare central to many of the pieces. It would seem to be the perfect venue for this project.

SOFT TO THE COREAlso opening this weekend at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery is another exhibition of contemporary sculpture,Soft Core.

Twelve Australian and international artists, including Patricia Piccinini, Tony Oursler – who is currently exhibiting at MoMa in New York, and Michael Parekowhai from New Zealand, use a broad array oftraditional and non-traditional sculptural materials to engage with notions of softness in a show that would seem to be full of fun and wit and thoroughly entertaining.

Lake Macquarie gallery continues to support local artists through its Artist Focus project and the selection of Braddon Snape to exhibit his seemingly soft, billowing clouds and pillows of inflated steel alongside theSoft Coresculptures seems to be an ideal choice.

Snapeis an artist whose reputation continues to expand. He is also the founder of The Creator Incubator art studio complex in Hamilton North, one of the newest studio-workshops to arise since the demise of the Newcastle Community Art Centre’s headquarters at Parry Street.

NEW HOME OF ARTIn some very pleasing news it has just been announced that at the eleventh hour the Newcastle Community Arts Centre (NCAC) has found a new home for the next few years in Block O of the TAFE campus at Tighes Hill.

There will not only be studio spaces but teaching rooms, a rehearsal room and ceramics studio, an office and a new home for the Newcastle Art Space so almost all of the centre’s activities can continue with minimum interruption.

This is a great outcome due to the dedication and persistence of the NCAC board and administrator, and they should be congratulated for their efforts and success.

Also opening this weekend are group exhibitions from many well-known local artists at Gallery 139 and Acrux Gallery in Hamilton.

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