Sunday, 24 October 2010

Edwina Wrobel - Artist in Group Show

Opening this coming Friday

From the Balmain Watch House Site:
Seven artists are ‘doing time’ this weekend. These ‘prisoners of artmaking’, 3 female and 4 male, however, are hoping for clemency by presenting a very colourful array of their artworks. The inmates are all from Sydney but each with a different cultural background. Brought together by a passion for art and ‘crime’ this is their first collective initiative.

Opening Fri, 29, 6-8.30pm  - runs: Sat 30, Sun 31 October 2010 10am - 5pm 179 Darling Street Balmain NSW
I first came by Edwina Wrobel's (1) work in September 2004 via Irene Schroder who ran Mura Clay Gallery in King Street Newtown for almost 20 years.
The invite card for an exhibition featuring Edwina's work that arrived in the post had a picture of Joy's Birth: for Joy Hester (2), which I liked a lot & kept on display so as not to miss the show.  During the afternoon before the exhibition opening, I chanced by the gallery for what was becoming a regular chat with Irene - we would save the world, change politics or talk about artists & this time was no different except there was an opening that night so we talked about the art - I couldn't talk about much else and Irene agreed the work was wonderful and, with a wink said that they take layby.  I kept coming back to the invitation card work and it was settled.  Laybying "Joy's Birth" cost me more than the rent and more than my weekly wage but I was totally seduced and it hasn't stopped since. 

Five years and one month later, I was sitting in Edwina's home listening to her story about really wanting to own a piece of art by a particular artist held in the stockroom of an upmarket gallery and talking them into letting her layby it.

I see Edwina's work as being personal thought that turns a corner only to hit a wall being the intrusion of a sometimes nasty world.  Using her own symbols along with an illustrative attraction to
Día de los Muertos after spending time in Mexico as well as the Heide Circle of Australian artists - the later most obvious in Joy's Birth: for Joy Hester. The daughter of avid Australian art collectors, Edwina grew up around Woolloomooloo and was one of The Gunnery group; a squat & artists community that began around 1985 until 1991when they were all booted out so the State Government could refurbish it to become an arts administration building & gallery. 
Objects and art Edwina collects are as interesting as the art she creates including the remains of the famous Kings Cross sign (3) questioning the (suspected) murder of Juanita Nielsen rescued from questionable storage in an outhouse.
It was a treat to visit her & see some of her other works I hadn't seen (image #4).

Edwina often has me in stitches with her anecdotes about people in the workplace, family, past & present adventures and this mixing bowl of feeling: humour, frustration and irony can be seen in her work and for me, Being in the Office (5) says it all.
In her previous group show at the Balmain Watch House her works included disturbing paintings depicting scenes from Thomas Keneally's The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith along with contrasting &, I think, stronger paintings to do with travelling to Broken Hill and relationships (image #6) - needless to say, all the paintings sold out that weekend.

Art makes me happy and feeds my mind - the original Wrobel's in our house delight both me and my partner (AH) daily.
I haven't seen any of Edwina's new work for this coming weekend's group show but I've held off on completely paying AH back my half of electricity bill, just in case I need a layby deposit...

Images as numbered:
1. Ed & Ted (4th October 2009 - photograph © Anne Bentley)
2. Joy's Birth: for Joy Hester 2004 Edwina Wrobel
(oil on tin © the artist - collection of Anne Bentley)
3. Whatever Happened to... Juanita Nielsen (circa late 1970s artist unknown - paint on chipboard - custodial collection of Edwina Wrobel - photograph Anne Bentley)
4. titleTBA - Edwina Wrobel
(oilpaint on canvas © the artist- collection of the artist)
5. Being in the Office 2008 - Edwina Wrobel
(Gouache © the artist - collection of Anne Bentley)
6. I Don't Want a Boy Who Won't Hoe Corn 2008 - Edwina Wrobel
(Gouache © the artist - collection of Anne Bentley)
7. Scarred - Edwina Wrobel
(© the artist- collection unknown - I found it on the net)

All photography except image#7 by Anne Bentley.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Rebecca Clarke: Belongings

In June, AH and I were asked to attend a reading of playwright and actor Rebecca Clarke’s new work Belongings. I felt both honoured and flattered to participate and so, on the wintery Wednesday evening of June 23rd, we and umbrellas battled tiny footpaths full of trees and home-time workers to get to the rehearsal rooms in Surry Hills.
I asked the lovely Rebecca if I could write some notes about her work for my blog & got the ‘go for it’ reply. It was a bit tricky to write about, I didn’t want to give away any secrets but I don’t think
there’s any need for a “spoilers warning” so read on:

In Belongings Rebecca layers themes of family, loss, belonging, sexual tension and desire against a backdrop of rural Queensland.The first protagonist we meet is a young woman preparing for the funeral of her grandfather who is also the man who raised her.  Seemingly world weary and cynical but also naive and uncertain, she’s been shaped by her upbringing, by the land, loneliness and the need to want to belong somewhere – preferably somewhere else.

Enter young jaded city male, wound tight & also lonely, he wants to think he knows the girl;  feeling a connection and the need to protect mostly due to his connection with dead granddad and the big company that wants the land.   To me, he seeks out where he belongs not to place but to people.  He is not a grunting cocky, nor is he a slick big business exploiter.  He is out of place in his job and out of place way out nowhere. He’s a bit of an ordinary, modern man with heart and some well scripted vices.

We then meet middle-aged (& wonderfully played by a guest actor), woman who runs the bar and… has secrets – well, she may have some answers.

There are 3 featured humans but another protagonist is an abandoned house on the property belonging to the young woman’s family.  It’s ghostly but the interior has life and material belongings from an era only just past.  Humans did live here but they are so obviously absent that the possessions scattered through it belong to the house itself rather than humans.

Without any theatrical extras, we sat through the whole reading totally involved the story and walked out of the building with an enthusiasm to see the full production.  Belongings has grit, drama and some very nice humour.  Rebecca’s writing is instinctive and intelligent.  She won awards and critical acclaim for her 2005 play Unspoken, which was also adapted and broadcast on ABC Radio National.   It is my good fortune to have met Rebecca Clarke and call her a friend and it is Australia’s luck to have her in its creative realm.  Onya Bec!

Shortly after that evening her work was shortlisted for the
Queensland Premier’s Drama Award along with Marcel Dorney & Philip Dean.

Thanks to this, all three artists have the opportunity to focus completely on fine-tuning their work with expert advice and one of the three will have their work produced by the Queensland Theatre Company as part of the 2011 season.

- Gosh, how exciting!
The Queensland site tells us this about Rebecca’s play:

Belongings is a poetic three-hander play set on a remote Australian rural property, and also at the Hotel at the nearest small township. It's inspired by the land around Many Peaks and Kalpower, outside of Gladstone, combined with an old family property near Banana in the Callide Valley. The story explores isolation, heritage, community, and the change that results from the death of a powerful patriarch and an 'old way'; the rising up of ghosts and secrets. How does a person find themselves again when all that has been seemingly 'known' and solid has shifted irrevocably? To what do we 'belong' to when so much has been stripped away?

Cool synopsis & I hope she does well. I haven’t named any of the protagonists as now Belongings is a work in progress, things can change and I really, really hope it ends up on stage for you, dear reader to come along with us one evening.