Saturday, 15 December 2018

Christopher Hodges

09 December - 12 January      I'm Dreaming
Link to artist's website

Christopher Hodges is a Renaissance man, neighbor, raconteur, tourist, connoisseur, motorcyclist, art dealer, loving husband of Helen and artist.

As an artist, he celebrates modernity with an alertness that embraces sensuality and wit. Modernism casts a long shadow in Waterloo, here the tall grey apartment blocks reiterate Le Corbusier’s fabled “machine for living”. Beside them Christopher Hodges’ graphic sculpture speaks directly with an understanding of history and an innate experience of now.

This exactly scaled work ascends and descends through a perfectly calibrated scale connecting a square with a rectangle that incidentally might be a slot before returning it to a square. It also conceals a light in a delightfully inadequate manner. By day a string or two of pearls are glimpsed, as tasteful as the white on white minimalism of the work itself. Across the evening and into the night it’s a different story. The work dips into the blackness of an apparent bacchanalian abandon to blazing red and green.

Forget about stop and go it’s Christmas, it’s go go go – go the Bunnies, and if you didn’t get it there are a couple of rabbits lurking about to make sure you do, “let’s dance”, and dance, dance, dance the night into light, the morning’s clarity and then the reason of the day.

This work doesn’t waste a second of its 24-hour cycle as it shuttles us from mood to mood. Sure it’s a perfect work but it avoids the singularity of perfection. And that is why Christopher is more a Renaissance man than a Modernist.

- Tony Twigg

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Glenn Locklee

04 November - 08 December      Commute
Link to artist's website

Glenn Locklee is a mysterious artist. His conversations, like his urgently painted pictures are littered with insights and confidences that avoid facts. His pictures, like his urgently delivered conversations craft “snap shots” into deliberate looking abstractions. The mystery of course is how the artist weaves life into art and then weaves art back into life.

These pictures seem to begin with a photograph, a snap shot of an image caught on the run between one place and another that is rendered with the sureness and brevity of reality. The rest of the painting recasts that “snap shot” as a bit player in a formal rendering of the painting as an abstract composition. One section of the picture may be a detail of the “snap shot” another may be a meditation on a surface texture drawn from the detail while another is simply an area of paint applied to the surface of the picture. But the subject of the painting might not be the “snap shot”; it might be the passage of thought from one place to another place that is literally in the painting. This would be the fictional journey from an allusion of reality to a concrete fact, as truthful as the painting is real.

The passage of fact shifting through time is a device in popular culture. Simplistically it’s Post Modern Theory and in art history it is Cubism. This is the idea that a real-truthful-factual picture of something is an amalgamation of various views of it. Modern artists in Paris came up with this portentous idea a century ago. And in a physical and a meta-physical way it accommodates the “bumpy” nature of our universe where light travels, not in straight lines, but in board arching curves that invite the observer to simultaneously observe the observation.

In that sense, these graphically arresting pictures are a bit like comics that are parables of fact.
-Tony Twigg

Monday, 8 October 2018

Juni Salvador

30 September - 03 November      Fairy Lights and Fairy Fails
Link to artist's website

Juni Salvador tells a migrants' tale. Not of riches won or of disgruntlement but of a man who has not found a home. It is the observer’s tale.

He came with his family to a good and steady life in Australia, job, car, a town house and weekends in his artist’s studio at a corner of the dining room table. In Juni’s hometown, Makati a city in Metro Manila, his collage works are exhibited with a cohort of artists who are engaged in a protracted dialogue about art and anti-art.   Here the same work seems out of context. In response Juni has adopted the new role of observer, a position he has explored across an open-ended series of installations made for SLOT.

These works have their materials in common, second hand art prints sourced from thrift shops in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Re-exhibited as ready-made art, usually with the price tag intact Juni points out that our visual culture is what we hang on our walls. Like the artist himself his materials hover in a provisional space between belonging and not belonging. Discarded by their owners they wait for someone with less discriminating requirements and a comparatively smaller budget to claim them. For Juni this charity collapses the province of poverty and opulence into fiction.

Here the handsomely framed print, value $15, which by the way is attributed to Goya on the back has become the provisional context for a photograph. The image is of a homeless person’s washing hung out to dry on the wire fence of a parking lot. It’s a common sight in Manila where it is a function of necessity. Here draped in fairy lights Juni weaves it into his migrants tale, be that from the province to Manila or from the third world to the first world, it is of moths drawn to those flashy lights and the migrants' loss to their allure.

-Tony Twigg


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 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


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 

Friday, 25 May 2018

Jenny Pollak

13 May - 16 June      Dictionary of Love and Loss

Link to artist's website

Jenny Pollak. Dictionary of Love and Loss, 2018. On view at 38 Botany Road, Waterloo.


Jenny Pollak’s work, Dictionary of Love and Loss is about language. The Dharug language of the indigenous inhabitants of the Sydney basin, which includes the lower reaches of the Hawkesbury River where Jenny lives.

Chillingly, the absence of that language along the banks of the Hawkesbury recalls Kate Grenville’s colonial history, The Secret River and the TV series of the same name that documents the xenophobic slaughter of the Dharug speakers.

Those people live in a way in the bones scattered across Pollak’s chairs each marked in language as a family group, mother, father, daughter, son. They live as a lament in a world that progresses inexorably towards a utopian global homogenization.

The uniformity of material satisfaction comes with it’s own xenophobia that silences the other as effectively as the Dharug speakers were slaughtered two centuries ago. Our bones might be added to Pollak’s chairs and shrouded there in a mist of language that speaks only of this place, Dharug.

Language is the tool of colonization. It’s the open door into our brains where the work of ours soon to be masters is completed. But while Dharug survives, and we are thinking of it now and in defiance perhaps, it permits a love of our land.

Tony Twigg

At the mouth of the Hawkesbury river, north of Sydney, lies a body of water called Broken Bay. Although I have often wondered what this bay was called by the original inhabitants of this country I think the name well reflects the violent history that took place following the invasion of these lands by the British in 1788.

The four chairs in this installation represent a family unit: mother  father  daughter  son:   enale  enalgun  beung  niae
Images of bones superimposed on the front of the chairs are superimposed with the very first map of the area to be made by the British after the arrival of the First Fleet and are a metaphor for connection to place. 

The words that form a screen between the viewer and the chairs are from a word list of the language spoken by the original custodians and inhabitants of this land.

Jenny Pollak

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Sally Clarke

link to artist's website

8 April - 12 May       The Wonder Quilt, 1998-2018

Sally Clarke with assistance from Lesley Clarke, Brenda Factor, Frances Factor and Trudi Factor, The Wonder Quilt, 1998-2018, Wonder Cloths (for domestic cleaning),150 x 200cm.

Sally Clarke’s “Wonder Quilt” could be part of a small but concise exhibition currently on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Three works from the 1970’s and 80’s, each made in a technique usually associated with women’s craft. Ewa Pachucka a Polish artist then living in Sydney crocheted a vast sculptural installation, a Melbourne artist Elizabeth Gower contributed a wall sculpture sewn from diaphanous fabric while the American Miriam Schapiro’s work is a collage of appliqued fabrics. Each work, like Sally’s has one foot in the male orientated tradition of fine art and another in the home spun female craft of sewing and each stakes a claim for the Feminist with in our understanding of art.

In a satiric manner Sally evokes a further analogy with “women’s work” by choosing a domestic cleaning product “Wonder Cloths” as her quilting medium. She further challenges the masculine concept of the author, the so-called auteur by working from within a collective of collaborating artists - Lesley Clarke, Brenda Factor, Frances Factor and Trudi Factor.

This is not a heroic expression of individuality that proposes an alternate reality. It is a subversive conversation that seeks to alter and succeeds in altering our collective understanding of reality. It is the project of Feminism.

- Tony Twigg

Sally Clarke with assistance from Lesley Clarke, Brenda Factor, Frances Factor and Trudi Factor, The Wonder Quilt, 1998-2018, Wonder Cloths (for domestic cleaning), 150 x 200cm.  The wonder quilt exists as both a domestic quilt and geometric painting. Its underlying grid structure is shared by decorative patterning and high modernism. As an organising structure for painting the grid goes back at least to the Renaissance period; as an organising structure for pattern it has existed for thousands of years. Many machines and hands have contributed to the Wonder Quilt. The Wonder Cloths - synthetic and lurid - were manufactured in Taiwan before they travelled the high seas to their distribution point in Sydney. The quilt was made with assistance from a small collective of women family members in my lounge room, an antidote to the model of the lone, tormented genius artist. The quilt was revised in 2018.

About Sally Clarke
Informed by a background in both social sciences and visual arts, Sally Clarke's practice critiques the hierarchical and, in particular, gendered constructions of space and the way spaces, materials, and bodies become defined from one another through the attribution of visual, social and cultural codes. Clarke engages with the way power, and the desire for it, drives such divisions and how this plays out in artistic representations and the cultural contexts from which they emerge. Her works explore how these types of relationships can be re-imagined.

Much of Clarke's work has been preoccupied with material and visual significations of domestic space and all that entails. She explores how low-status materials, forms and representations can take their position among very public and dominant discourses including high modernism, the master narratives of landscape painting and contemporary conceptual art through media such as paint, plasticine and floor vinyl and formats that range from two-dimensional surfaces to installation.

Clarke completed her PhD in Philosophy (Fine Arts) in 2008 and, after fourteen years of working as an academic at the College of Fine Arts UNSW, Sydney, established AirSpace Projects with artist and designer Brenda Factor in 2014. AirSpace Projects formed part of her artistic project until 2017 when it transitioned into its new life as a not-for-profit association. 

- Sally Clarke

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Adam Laerkesen

link to artist's website

11 March - 7 April       My Song is not Your Song


Adam Laerkesen. My Song is not Your Song. 2017. Wood bull head, anchor rope, painting on wood.

Adam is a northern European, born in New Zealand who arrived in Sydney, as a 15 year old via the Gold Coast, but that probably isn’t why his song is not your song.

Drawing, 9 hours a week of it was the basic training he received while studying sculpture at the National Art School. According to Adam it’s “a method of honing the eye”.  After a stint at the Sydney College of Art it was still there when his education gave way to the need for making. And it’s here. This is a drawing.

Adam Laerkesen. My Song is not Your Song. 2017.
Hearing Adam talk about his work is like listening to a detailed discussion about the function of drawing: “always about taking inanimate forms and animating them”; “try not to make it about the self, to make it about the other”; “keep it open ended”; “suspend logic as a way of holding the viewer to the work”.

We must look and look again at this precariously attractive image that is drawn from intuition.  There is no plan here. History is little more than a license to practice assemblage. Intuition for Adam is filtered through daydreams. He describes states of mind at the edge of sleep, when in tiredness dreams flash across our eyes and the space between waking and the assertion of consciousness. “It mirrors the narrative of found objects, which have lost their function and are in the process of finding a new one.”

A key to the work is the yellow painting in the top left had corner.  Visually it’s a crucial element that Adam says was painted by his son, playfully in his studio somewhere in the past. For Adam, it offers fatherhood as a premise for the work, “the camel trying to pass through the needle's eye” as Adam comments in a fractured metaphor that draws the melancholy on a quest for innocence.

Tony Twigg

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

SLOT@Macquarie University Art Gallery | Tony Twigg

Tony Twigg. Ubu's Chair 1986.

A Macquarie University Art Gallery exhibition in collaboration with Brenda Colahan Fine Art from 9 March-10 May. 

To be opened by Dr Andrew Simpson, Honorary Fellow, Department of Ancient History, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University on Wednesday 14 March at 6pm.

Abstraction 111, opening at the Macquarie University Art Gallery will feature a puppet installation Ubu’s chair by Tony Twigg, first exhibited at Performance Space in 1986. The installation was purchased in entirety by James Baker and included in the opening exhibition of his Museum of Modern Art, Brisbane, Contemporary art in Australia, a review in 1987. Later the work was sold to Peter Bohem who has donated it to the collection of the Maquarie University Art Gallery.

Curators Rhonda Davis and Kate Hargraves 
Artists James Doolin, Geoffrey de Groen, Dale Hickey, Christopher Hodges, Robert Jacks, Alun Leach-Jones, Ildiko Kovacs, Rocket Mattler, Harald Noritis, Ti Parks, Robert Rooney, Jenny Sages, Rollin Schlicht, Joseph Szabo, George Ward Tjungurrayi, Tony Twigg, Craig Waddell and John A White. 

Below is a snippet of the review written by Terence Maloon when Ubu's Chair was first shown at Art Space 

The Sydney Morning Herald 14th July 1986. Arts and Entertainment Review by Terence Maloon.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Pamela Leung

link to artist's website

10 February - 11 March       Sorry I No Understand



Pamela Leung. Sorry I No Understand, 2018. Neon light with broken egg shells

Pamela Leung. Sorry I No Understand, 2018. Neon light with broken egg shells

Pamela Leung’s artworks draw on the idea of hope, which is integral to the migratory experience. Hope underpins relationships and customs, which are profoundly affected by displacement and diaspora. Leung’s found materials and everyday objects, epitomize the routines of daily life, while their functionality provides a symbolic reading for the sculpture and installations –  in which red and white connect to the cultural, spiritual, Zen, meditation, memories and emotions.

SORRY I NO UNDERSTAND is a new work using text to reflect on the experience of dislocation, and the humanity within social justice. The line of the title has been said thousands of times whenever there have been immigrants. But how often has it been neither heard nor understood?

Sorry I don’t understand this country.
Sorry I don’t understand the culture.
Sorry I don’t understand the language.
Sorry I don’t understand the people.
Sorry I don’t have a choice.
Sorry I have to escape.
Sorry I need to live.
Sorry I need to survive.
Sorry please listen to me instead of yelling.
Sorry please be patient with me instead of annoyed.
Sorry please give me a smile instead of anger.
Sorry please share some empathy instead of pity.

Pamela Leung

Pamela Leung. Sorry I No Understand, 2018. Neon light with egg shells.
Pamela was born in Hong Kong with the desire to be an artist.  She became a window dresser, when as an adult she left home with a 3 month Australian tourist visa Australia in her pocket. Here she became a wife, a mother, a businesswoman, and a hard worker, then, about a decade ago she turned her back on home for a second time with nothing more than the desire to make art in her pocket.

Education, the Australian key to change began at TAFE for Pamela. A one-year Diploma in Art became an undergraduate course in sculpture at the National Art School then an honors year in drawing and finally a master’s degree in painting. It was an education in Australia that has given us this, art works that Pamela flatly states, “draw on the idea of hope”.  It is of course the migrant’s vision. It’s a glorious one that is tempered by dislocation, social injustice and the plea, “sorry I no understand”.

Pamela asks, “the title has been said thousands of times but how often has it been heard or understood?” When I read it I can’t help recalling Pauline Hanson’s infamous retort, “please explain”.  Explanation and understanding don’t often include empathy. Empathy is something we leave to artists who, however educated in our societies manners have the need to be heard, in this case gloriously so in neon above a carpet of trampled eggshells. This is a work of innuendo read in material and metaphoric terms that propose tolerance, not of anything in particular but as an act of faith.

Tony Twigg

Sorry I No Understand on 38 Botany Road, Alexandria

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Ana Pollak

link to artist's website

12 January - 10 February       Towers

Ana’s farther and her grandparents came to Australia as refugees from Europe. Ana herself has lived for the last 30 years, since 1987 in a house she built with her partner David on Dangar Island, about an hour and a half north of Sydney in the Hawkesbury River. Ana is no stranger to the Australian landscape where these towers began to form in her imagination.

They are an idea she carried with her to Hong Kong, another island where the verticality of the eucalypt gives way to the built environment, literally towers.  Hong Kong offers the unique urban experience of encountering multi story buildings at the middle level. As with Ana’s towers, buildings are appreciated without reference to the top or bottom. The towers of Dangar and the buildings of Hong Kong are each a set of pragmatic structures that pulsate with rhythms without reference to the narrative constraints of a beginning or end.
In Hong Kong as a guest of the Nock Art Foundation to study calligraphy, as she described “people embraced me in the brotherhood of the line.” Ana makes drawings.  Impressively she won the celebrated Dobell Drawing Prize in 2007, and before all else, these towers are drawings made with lines collected “outside the front door” on Dangar Island.

Looking at Ana’s towers I found myself reflecting on the bamboo scaffolding used on the building sites of South East Asian cities. Structures Ana said she had marveled at in Hong Kong where they are tightly wrapped in a fabric covering hinting at “the bones” beneath the “skin”. All these enigmatic structures have something in common. It is that a person made the decision on the spot, about how to fit one bit into another, about which bit of material was best suited to bridge a particular gap. Here a person has solved a problem and it’s that solution that becomes art because it carries with it someone’s humanity. Birds, animals even insects make comparable structures that in fairness have an equal claim as ART. Their work points to the universality of Ana’s expression. It reaches from the devastation of war-torn Europe across the Australian isle to our Asian future, “the brotherhood of line” indeed.

Back in Australia and after 6 weeks in her studio Ana’s work is offered as art, prompting the questions. What do you seen in your imagery? Her response, “pass”. What is your process? – “pass”. How do you begin? – “pass”. And how do you conclude? “That’s the tricky thing that everyone’s having a problem with, when the tower falls over, when it gets too tall for the studio”. Apparently this is a liner experience without beginning or end.

- Tony Twigg