Holiday in October 2010

Jayanto Damanik - Conversations

Gallery Tuesday

The phone call from my friend Kate came at about 5.30 this afternoon. “What are you doing? Have you already left work?”

By chance I HAD already left work, and was on my way home.

It didn’t need much convincing, however, for me to backtrack and to head towards the new Central Park development for two new art exhibitions Kate was asked to open.

The first was in a pop-up arts space on the third floor of the new shopping centre. I think it’s really fantastic they’ve made the space available to artists, and hope they’ll continue to do so, even when they have more tenants.

The exhibition was by Jayanto Daminik who “recycles” teabags, turning them into beautiful works of art.

The second exhibition was at the nearby NG Gallery and featured the works of Bryden Williams, who won a scholarship for a residency at the Red Gate Gallery in Beijing, which Kate has worked at over a number of years.

Bryden Williams - China Is Real

Bryden Williams – China Is Real

He also “recycles” things, and spoke tonight of the large recycling centre not far from the Red Gate residency.

His work includes video – a terrific piece where he contrasts beautiful lilyponds in the foreground with industrial construction (very evident in Beijing) in the background – and sculpture.

A particular favourite work was a piece which featured a recycled water bottle. In China, many people rely on bottled water, as there’s a high degree of unreality with the local water supply. Bryden’s work takes a recycle water bottle and combines it with a string of LED lights, creating something completely new, asking you to take a look at the water bottle in a whole new way.

So that late afternoon call, as I made my way home, turned out to be quite a lovely way to spend an hour or two after work on a Tuesday night.

Matching Shoes

Australian Arts in Asia

“That’s fantastic! Do you mind if I take a photograph of your shoes?”, I said to the woman nearby as I noticed her taking off her high-heeled shoes only to replace them with some similarly glamorous flats. At first, she seemed a little reluctant. As far as she was concerned I could have been some weird bloke with a foot-fetish. As it turns out, I later discovered she’s a reasonably well known actor who is currently appearing in a program running on national television. So, on top of the foot-fetish, I could have also been some crazy stalker. In hindsight, I understand her initial reluctance. But when push came to shove and realised I was neither, she happily posed for a photograph.

Despite the modern day equality enjoyed by men and women, women still have to go that little bit further when it comes to formal events. My friend Kate, for example, agonised over what she was going to wear, taking advice from her mother who actually supplied her with an outfit she had originally worn back in the 70s. I, on the other hand, wore exactly the same outfit I’d worn to work during the day.

Kate had invited me to be her “date” for the inaugural Australian Arts in Asia Awards held at Sydney’s Luna Park. The Arts Minister, Tony Burke described them as “the first, and if we’re elected to government, they won’t be the last” when he spoke. The whole idea behind them is that lots of Australian artists are now working in Asia, and, in keeping with the Asian White Paper, there was a feeling that work should be recognised.

Kate was a finalist for the work she has been doing encouraging cultural exchange between artists in Australia and China. In the end, she didn’t win, but I’m very proud of the work she has been doing, and was so very proud that she invited me as her “date” for the night.