Monday, 17 September 2018

Suellen Symons

14 September - 29 September      Redfern, then and now
Link to artist's website

Suellen Symons, who has lived in Redfen, not far from Slot for many years is now moving on. By way of farewell she has assembled an exhibit that recalls a moment, generations ago when Redfern was subdivided to provide terraces for that generations gentle folk. Patiently Suellen has watched as the gentle folk of her own generation have reclaimed the same streets of terraces. Just as patiently she has watched apartment blocks replace the warehouses built over demolished terraces that had replaced the farmlets hewn from the not so virgin bush of Aboriginal Australia. There is weariness to Suellen’s patience in her departure. We discover a-new in the glorious now of our arrival, blissfully defined by what ever was there on the day. Then something changes; there is an improvement, other things wear out. Decay does battle with sentimentality then, almost before we notice there is comfort in the bits that survive from whenever it was that then was. The joy of Suellen’s parting gift to these streets that we have only ever known as old is the moment of their newness. For me it evokes an eventual yet equally remote completeness that we will never see. For Suellen this is an obituary to now and a lament for what was and longer is, offered as she is subsumed into the glorious now of elsewhere.

- Tony Twigg

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Mark Dubner

22 July - 25 August      Progeny

Link to artist's website

Mark Dubner. Progeny. 2018. Plaster heads.
Mark Dubner lists his teachers as Bob Boynes, Merilyn Fairskye, Ruth Waller and Mandy Martin. He was a student at the Canberra School of Art where he studied painting. After art school he put an economics degree he had picked up at uni to good use in a job at the Bureau of Statistics in Canberra. The job as a statistician lasted about 30 years. But he said he always maintained a studio, as a shrine to the idea of being an artist, perhaps, or as a locus of reflection, simultaneously physical and metaphysical?

Now Mark’s time is split between projects in the Solomon Islands and Timor arranged by the Australian Government as foreign aid, short courses at the National Art School where he studies metal sculpture and a studio at Addison Road in Marrickville, which is where Progeny came into being.

Progeny is a “respite from intuition” for Mark. Progeny he said is something more deliberate. A considered meditation that responds to the window space of SLOT and some of the 15 or so ideas the window threw up for him. He wanted something that was an illusion not an explanation of a fatalistic idea. He came up with lumps of clay that are like the stuff people are made from. “It’s fatalistic, all those heads present different pathways that end up in the same place.”

It’s pointless of course to ask an artist what their work is about. Their considered response to that question is staring you in the face. It is the work itself. Here a meditation on destiny and desire that encapsulates the kinds of lives lived around here these days. A life that has a beginning and an end lived across a passage of lives that reaches beyond any particular beginning or end.

Progeny proposes a question for me – is it fatalistic that our lives turn out pretty much like most other people‘s lives or is it that we are all living pretty much the same life? Either way, Mark's cypher, the traced outline of his partner walks lightly through this landscape of lives lived.

Tony Twigg


Mark Dubner. 2018. Progeny. Installation with figures and heads, plywood and plaster.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Stephen Flanagan

17 June - 21 July      No Fork

Stephen Flanagan. No Fork, 2018. Assemblage of found industrial blue prints on Botany Road.

Stephen Flanagan is not an artist.

He is a little cagey about what he is but he is clear on the fact that his working life started at 16 as an apprentice Instrument Artificer. That translates as, a mechanical craftsman who worked on instruments. They might have been, hydraulic or pneumatic or electrical, but they were all calibrated. They were tuned and they were maintained with the attention that a craftsman brings to art. For Stephen it is a bygone era of delight. Now digital instruments self-calibrate at the press of a button; or, don’t, in which case they are replaced in an economically rational manner.

In his own words, Stephen is “a discerning collector of useless materials” who came across a case of antique blue prints while exploring one of the redundant industrial sites along Botany Road. It doesn’t matter whether or not these drawings are art, their lines do a mindful dance in blue.  The blue print process gives them a legibility that rests in the blur of something that doesn’t quite become a photograph. They are mechanical, 100% in form and content.

“The theme is the demise of the manufacturing industry and the dominance of residential development” is how Stephen described his work. And sure enough the mechanical era is being brushed aside to make way for technology, in the relentless march towards a just utopia, a revised abundance of material benefit that is and has been Botany Road.

Along this march, Stephen, the connoisseur, found pause for thought in a bundle of drawings, meticulously crafted, judiciously archived that he has given the mantle of art. A transitory state where words like speculative and conditional remind us that art is not an answer - it’s a question. A sort of half way house between the stuff of reality and the stuff of museums where things can make it clear that it’s not only artists who make art.

-Tony Twigg