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Over the past couple of years there has been a noticeable change in the landscape of artist-run galleries in Sydney. An entire generation of successful galleries has experienced difficulties as a result of a lack of government support (from either the New South Wales Ministry for the Arts or the Australia Council) and escalating rental prices in the property boom leading up to the Olympics. With the closure of spaces such as Pendulum, and serious recent doubts over the survival of veteran First Draft, it would seem that artist-run spaces in Sydney are under serious threat.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this situation is the recent spate of new galleries. In the last six months two new spaces situated in the city, Herringbone and Gallery 19, in addition to the re-location of Particle from Clovelly to Annandale, is evidence of a renewal of activity.
The most prevailing and consistent of these relatively new spaces is Regent Street Gallery. One of the most interesting exhibitions to occur there this year was titled Accumulated Errors and featured the work of Harriet Parsons, Natsuho Takita and Lisa Owen-Burke.
In the first room of the gallery Harriet Parsons suspended a strange conical structure from the ceiling. Glass Sponge Endoskeleton was woven and crocheted from wool and cotton, which were combined to form a loosely delicate yet relatively lifeless object: the work resembled an abandoned cocoon. Parsons’ interest in insects and their remarkable life patterns is also evident in other works of hers. The series of embroideries shown last year, for example, consisted of exoskeletons of various small insects, such as dragonflies and beetles sewn with the artist’s auburn coloured hair onto midnight blue satin. This use of hair establishes a curious corporeal connection between humans and insects.
Natsuho Takita's pair of untitled oil paintings explored the processes of visual recognition. Although her works were renditions of cropped images taken directly from photographs Takita is best known for blurry, yet colourful abstract paintings. In a slight departure from other works, Takita's paintings in this exhibition had references to recognisable objects. The two grey tonal paintings, one a lighter version of the other, were seemingly identical. At a distance they appeared to be photographs taken with different light levels. Interestingly, the image in each of the paintings was more difficult to decipher the closer you viewed them. From afar the paintings could have been a detail of a chess piece, but a closer analysis confused any attempt to read them.
A white lace tent secured by satin bows was Lisa Owen-Burke's contribution to the exhibition. Titled 'Eureka' Two Man (White) Owen-Burke's life-size two man tent possessed a series of interesting references to Australian history. The title itself gestured towards the Eureka blockade, one of Australia's few uprisings, in addition to more general ideas about our colonial history. What does it mean for Owen-Burke to have re-made the tent into white lace, a material with its own associations of marriage and purity? One could only guess that she was attempting to suggest the shared responsibility of women in the shaping of Australian history.