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Happy Days

17 Feb

I am thrilled to announce the Fascinator series of oil paintings and small works on paper has sold out. It was a great project which lasted 6 years!! Tackling the topic of the visibility of women artists for the last 500 years, I now feel the series is complete, although we are still a long way from equity. It is wonderful to finally see major collecting institutions making efforts to redress the gender bias and imbalance in public programming, collection management and exhibition development after years of advocacy from the sector.

Clio, gouache and ink on paper, after Artemisia Gentilleschi and Rachel Ruysch, 16 x 11 cm, Cash Brown, 2018

Elvis Richardson has led much of the charge with Countess – making women count in the art world. I believe without the reports Countess has generated since 2008, exhibitions like Know My Name, currently showing at the National Gallery of Australia, would not have evolved.

Take a look at the 2019 Countess report here.

The Covid pandemic has been a trying time for many of us, especially those living through harsh lockdowns in Victoria. I am fortunate enough to live close to the sea in the beautiful Mornington Peninsula so it hasn’t been too terrible. When I knew contract curatorial and conservation work in in collecting organisations would dry up, and interstate travel become unreliable, I decided to back myself and open an art conservation business. While I gained my Master of Cultural Materials Conservation back in 2014, and worked in museums and galleries since, while privately conserving paintings on the side, I longed for a conservation studio where the general public could visit.

In July 2020 The Art Doctor was born!! Its a wonderful small business tucked inside the very fabulous & GALLERY in Sorrento.

Painting restorations in progress at The Art Doctor, 163 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento, Victoria.

My dream of becoming a full time paintings conservator has come true, and I am so grateful for the wonderful clientele who have supported this new venture. I will still make art, but find the work of the conservator very interesting, satisfying and sometimes pretty damn hard!!

This lovely little beach scene was covered with grime and cigarette smoke staining and after three cleans for the three layers of dirt, it came up rather well!! I will post more before and afters soon.

BOAA launches tomorrow

19 Sep

The installing is in its final stages – and I am very excited! So much great art to see from all over Australia. Wonderful to catch up with and meet so many fabulously talented people!

For details go to boaa.net.au

 

So nice to be painting again!

17 Aug

Cash _Brown_Fascinator 18_2018_webThose familiar with my practice will already know it is rooted in appropriation, borrowing images and re-engineering them into critical yet playful comments. My current work muses upon contemporary Australian life as experienced by a middle-aged woman.

I am fortunate to have been selected to hold a solo exhibition at the Biennale of Australian Art (BOAA) which launches on 21 September 2018 and runs until November 6 in Ballarat, Victoria. The line up of artists, events and exhibitions looks incredible and I hope you can make it to this important inaugural event.

 

My exhibition, Golden Years reflects on ageing, the transience of portraiture and memento mori (Latin translation ‘remember that you have to die’). By employing techniques and motifs from Old Master paintings by women, Brown pulls the past into the present, drawing upon symbolism to code new meanings and comment on the visibility of female artists during the Renaissance and how this is relevant to the current issues faced by women in the arts.

 

The featured image is Fascinator #18, Philip II as Grand Master of the Order of the Golden Fleece (after Sofonisba Anguissola and Rachel Ruysch). Oil on linen, 107 cm x 97 cm, it is one of a series of Fascinators (the name given for floral headwear worn by women) which will be shown in the Golden Years exhibition.

To see more, go to http://cashbrown.com.au 

Thanks for stopping by.

Cash

 

 

Publishing Conservation Research | A recent graduate perspective

13 Sep

Like many, after graduating from a Masters of Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne at the end of 2014, I was so tired, that the idea of extracting juice from my minor thesis and producing a pulp free condensed version for publication, or to present research as a conference paper on my topic seemed onerous. This was especially in light of this being an unpaid activity and in a narrow specialty area likely to benefit few conservators, allied professionals and artefacts in their care.

It may therefore be no surprise that despite rigorous training in the process of submitting and peer reviewing papers, a very small percentage of graduates from my year have submitted minor thesis research outcomes for posters and papers at symposia, conferences and peer reviewed publications. Partly this is due to fatigue, but there is also the possibility of lack of incentive. For many, financial reasons can affect decision making around presenting, particularly for those of us who are in geographically remote parts of the globe.

Additionally, institutionally supported researchers, conservation professionals whose tenure is predicated on presentation of papers, researchers seeking professional affiliations which require publications as criteria for membership, and those simply seeking opportunities to share are compelled to make economic and ethical decisions. These are rarely made lightly.

Perhaps this is one way to explain the relative voicelessness of the private sector wading into debates on contemporary conservation issues and contributing to knowledge through formal avenues.  Cultural and linguistic borders added to financial and capacity issues have resulted in established academic western voices from Europe and North America being heard loudest and clearest in the sector.

These factors combined mean that issues in contemporary care of cultural materials from many conservators, their grassroots progress, innovation and valuable research made by students is often not disseminated. This can result in duplication of research efforts, and much valuable and useful knowledge remaining unpublished and inaccessible.

How can this be addressed at an educational level? Does there need to be consensus in the education and training sector to facilitate better dissemination and coordination of resources? There are many problems with few pragmatic solutions which are affordable, sustainable and have sufficient interest, voluntary participation and uptake.

United or maverick, change does happen. Sometimes this occurs naturally through uptake of informally structured open membership platforms – like Conservator-Restorer on LinkedIn (7,226 members, while ICOM as a standalone organisation has 4,668 followers and ICCROM 3,149 followers at 16/8/2015).

To address low participation rates in publishing and dissemination of research, do there need to be more groups, social media sites and blogs? Or is dissemination through existing channels enough and increased participation to be encouraged? How do we encourage participation in voluntary models, and expand conferences and symposia to be more inclusive of economically, geographically and culturally marginalised contributors to the field?

Encouraging students and recent graduates difficult to go that extra step and publish their research is clearly a difficult task. I have spoken with many of my peers who despite best efforts say they just can’t face the exercise, even though their research was well received by reviewers and they understand it is an important step toward professional accreditation. I have also heard a ‘what is the point if I am not to be paid’ argument.

Some possible solutions…
It has been suggested that postgraduate research papers could be loaded (with student permission) onto a central searchable database once graded. As a recent graduate, I feel it would be useful if examiner’s comments were included in the upload- but not the grade, and students could opt for this. Papers and assignments could be even more useful as a resource for both students and teachers if the actual assignment details, grading criteria and assessment matrices were available for each ‘group’ of assessed material.

Such an initiative would potentially benefit staff across different universities in developing educational content without giving up university intellectual property (IP). If staff from universities undertook this task, and removed the reliance on students to perform it, bulk uploads would be possible with little administrative challenge. The real challenge is subscription by universities. Who would hold a central database and who would pay for its upkeep? Are there IP and copyright issues which would need to be addressed? Could INCCA expand to accommodate this? As a relatively small and new profession, can we look to medicine with all of its branches and areas of specialty for models of sharing knowledge? Or is the next generation of conservation professionals to continue frustrated calls for cooperation and dissemination as part of their learning only to be thwarted by proprietary and participatory barriers?

For educators to have a centrally located resource of marked papers, a model of opt-in sharing by students could increase participation in dissemination, thereby sharing innovation, reduce duplication of research topics and plagiarism while encouraging dialogue around pedagogical models. For students, such a resource could provide expanded research opportunities, examples of excellence and innovation to learn from beyond their institutional limitations while fostering an appreciation for the benefits of contributing to voluntary participatory knowledge sharing models.

Your comments are welcome on this topic which is on the ICOM -CC Education and Training working group blog. Please post comments there for the group and moderators to access. We look forward to your responses!

Cash Brown

Not all students who graduate from Masters programs are in their 20’s

Cash Brown MCMC, BFA

M.A.D.E for this job!

8 Aug

I am happy to announce that in June I commenced my new position as curator/conservator at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E) in Ballarat. Now that I have settled into it after a handover from my predecessor and climbing a steep learning curve with help from the great team of M.A.D.E s, I am up for airing and sharing a bit about what I am up to.

Eureks Flag at M.A.D.E

Eureka Flag at M.A.D.E

It is a fantastic role combining skills learnt over many years in the art world and newly acquired conservation skills after completing my Masters at Uni Melb in 2014. It is a part time role, which involves looking after the iconic Eureka Flag and other items in the permanent collection, developing temporary exhibitions, all aspects of collection care and management and developing programming initiatives to increase audience awareness and visitation to this wonderful museum.

M.A.D.E is largely an interactive space, where visitors are encouraged to touch digital screens, use apps, watch films and learn about democracy, freedom and the ways in which human rights are battled and won.

The temporary exhibitions and activities are thematically aligned with the values of M.A.D.E and often involve local community engagement initiatives.

It is a privilege and a pleasure to be contributing to M.A.D.E’s programming and I look forward to sharing updates with you in future!

Everyone is busy

25 May

It seems the older we get, the busier we get. I for one will readily admit that often when I say I am busy, I am just taking time out for me, or working quietly on something in the background.

Well it’s been 6 months since my last post, but I have definitely been working on many things in the background, including moving to Victoria’s beautiful Mornington Peninsular to set up Cash Brown & Co., a small business dedicated to the preservation of fine art. In between restoring artworks and the long process of setting up a conservation atelier from scratch, I am still making art, albeit very slowly.

Conservation work is painstaking, but it it  really rewarding to see works restored to their former glory, like this little oil sketch on cardboard by British artist Sir Alfred Munnings.

Oil painting before treatment

Sir Alfred Munnings_The Postman’s Pony, Dedham, Suffolk_circa 1910_oil on cardboard_225 x 300 mm. Before treatment.

Oil painting restoration during treatment.

Sir Alfred Munnings_The Postman’s Pony, Dedham, Suffolk_circa 1910_oil on cardboard_225 x 300 mm. During treatment.

oil painting after treatment

Sir Alfred Munnings_The Postman’s Pony, Dedham, Suffolk_circa 1910_oil on cardboard_225 x 300 mm. After treatment.

As a conservator, the main aim in caring for artworks is to maintain or revive the artist’s intention. As you can see above, the varnish is old and yellowed and there are losses of paint. The board was also really buckled and the paint was cracked and lifting. None of these things are likely to have been how the artist intended the work to look. The varnish did however protect the painting over the years, and artists knew they would yellow and require replacing at regular (say every 50 – 70 years depending on conditions).

Once flattened, cleaned, filled, in-painted and re-varnished, the lively little work has the freshness and vitality restored. Furthermore, the varnish selected will not yellow for hundreds of years, and will protect the paint pigments from UV degradation.

All materials used in conservation of paintings have to be detectable, reversible and not cause any damage or loss to original materials. This is where applied science comes into the process and it can me a complicated and time consuming process at that! As a painter, and conservator of paintings, I find that process very challenging, but equally rewarding as problem solving for a living is a wonderful way to life a life.

For more information about conservators, what we do and why, please see AICCM – the peak professional bdy for conservators in Australia.

http://aiccm.org.au/conservation

EMIT exhibition open and catalogue online now!

15 Aug

The online catalogue for EMIT is now available

EMIT

14 Aug – 24 Aug

Chapel off Chapel

12a Little Chapel Street

Prahran

10 am – 5 pm  7 days

Curated, written and designed by Cash Brown