Made to last…

1 Feb

One of the great things about taking the time to visit regional galleries is seeing exhibitions and artworks  in environments which often have a focus on their locale, history or the procilvities of benefactors or directors.

As a new resident of Victoria, I have been slowly making my way around the state to visit regional and private galleries and am always delighted by the variety and flavour these excursions provide.

Today I visited the McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park for the first time,  to take a look at the Made To Last: the conservation of art  exhibition before it closes on Sunday 2 February 2014.

Made To Last: the conservation of art  is an intriguing exhibition featuring five very different artists, including Penny Byrne whose work I have highlighted in a previous post. This wonderful exhibition gives insightful entries into artists materials, methods and reasons for choosing them, as well as some very interesting information on how work is looked after in transit, in the gallery, longer term concerns and how the artists themselves consider their work over time. Curator Sherryn Vardy is a recent graduate from the Master of Conservation of Cultural Materials (which I am currently undertaking), and am pleased and encouraged to see such a strong exhibition coming from an interdisciplinary approach.

I took these photos myself today with my iPad, and thank gallery staff for permission to do so.

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With materials ranging from live plants, wood block prints on handmade paper and neon/timber/video composites to lollies, oil on canvas and synthetic turf, issues of permanence, reproduction and longevity are easily recognisable as conservation issues worthy of consideration. The interesting thing for me, was the emphasis on communication and indeed collaboration between conservator, artist, custodian, curator and venue which is necessary but usually a hidden and mysterious aspect of the public presentation of artworks.

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The exhibition holds together very well, with works selected all of an intimate scale, allowing the viewer to contemplate the materiality of each work up close and personal. It is playful, humorous and even includes a rather gorgeous packing crate which could easily be mistaken for a contemporary work in its own right.

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‘Made to last: the conservation of art brings together five living contemporary artists who use a range of complex materials in their work: Brook Andrew, Penny Byrne, Juan Ford, Ghostpatrol and Claire Anna Watson. While some materials a conservator encounters may be unstable, a different kind of instability is evident in the themes of the five artists included in Made to last, involving the impact of humanity on the world – past, present and future’ (Sherryn Vardy 2013)

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If you missed it, please follow the link to the exhibition which has wonderful texts and a really interesting video. The exhibition will be travelling to Darwin in late March and is well worth a visit if you happen to be in the tropics! Details of dates and venue will be posted here shortly.

Cash Brown 2014

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