Sunday, 27 April 2014


A solo exhibition by Prince Emerald Aydin

reviewed by Jacqueline Larcombe

AMEER ZOMORRADA translates as Prince Emerald Aydin. Spelt out in English characters the title reflects the artist’s Arab identity. This identity appears to be a highly subjective one, played out in the colourful liberality and self-explorative tone of Aydin’s work. The all-encompassing impression one gets from the works is Prince’s strong assertion of ‘self’. This notion is not confined to an Arab experience or a queer identity, which is of course an overriding theme, but ultimately the work is dealing in what it means to be human. 

To be human is convoluted and by no means clear, as humans we are ultimately flawed and full of contradictions driven by the absurdity of our desires, needs wants and perversions.  However it is this understanding of the absurd nature of the human experience where we find the humour that lies in the artist’s work. Prince states that their work is about life. Life is hard and we suffer. Yet life is also beautiful. There is an intimacy to the work as the artist shares with us their successes and failures, their highs and lows. There is a lot of humanity in this sharing alone.

The iPad drawings including ‘Merboy’ and ‘Guerrilla Girl’ are visual monologues as much as they are self-portraits of the artist. We are reminded that our minds cannot stay in one place illustrated through these busy tableaus that are laden with text that is personal, perverse and always hilarious. There are of course dark and personal themes reflecting on gender, social, and family issues yet they are cleverly camouflaged by, punchy lines, garish icons and references to art and popular culture.

In ‘Resume’, and ‘Cover letter’ (2014) we get a personalised insight into the artist's mind. A rambling train of poetic thoughts and intimate experiences, Prince is exposing their inner self and personal life to the unsuspecting reader. Copies of this resume have been sent off to a number of real life prospective employers, the documentation of this process will have to be another exhibition in itself. The work is intimate and heartfelt and highlights the phenomenon of the public and private self.

The video work ‘Paint like a Man (Apparently)' is a documentation of a previous performance by Prince in 2013.  Here we see the artist dressed as a man earnestly painting a large scale abstract painting and 3 monochromes. There is an absurdity to the act of men painting in this way, the self-assuredness as they moosh paint around a canvas, an act that is far too ridiculous not to be ridiculed. Should we not be asking why abstract painting is still valid practice? This question is of course provocative but it is the lack of debate on this subject that is disconcerting. 

Art history is made up of a lineage of men and all the good and bad paintings that they have painted. This is not to say that the ‘other’ hasn’t asserted itself aggressively and effectively onto this patriarchal trajectory- halting its course, but art history has always been a male dominated story. This story is well known, it is the one about the male genius who paints fearlessly, brazenly with a masculinity that no one can deny. Is painting itself a form of role play? The video begs the question, when we pick up a paint brush and apply medium to canvas, do we all paint like men?   

AMEER ZOMORRODA runs until May 4 2014

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Window Art Shares A Post Apocalyptic Vision Of The Future

Adam Kelly in the NANA windows April 1 - 30 2014 

Reviewed by Madeleine Cruise

Untitled Plastic 2014 creates shadows at night
A mysterious black creature looms large in NANA’S window on Perkin’s Street and like a foreign animal in a zoo exhibit it’s strangeness has attracted an audience. Not all have been willing attendees with some passers having experienced a rather frightening surprise after casually gazing into the former David Jones window expecting a display of hosiery or handbags. Unsuspecting window shoppers have been known to look twice only to take a quick side step away from the glass. This is understandable as the unidentifiable creature towers over two meters high and features two long antennae that reach down and probe the ground. Even upon comprehension that this leering monstrosity is in fact inanimate and a protected species of contemporary art, the glass window remains a welcome protective barrier between the art world and the street population of Newcastle.

As art history demonstrates it is this simultaneous experience of revulsion and intrigue of the audience that is indicative of a successful piece of art.  One has to only recall one of art’s biggest names: Duchamp, to understand the significance of provocative art. Fountain caused immense controversy when Duchamp reinterpreted the identity of a urinal by placing it in the art gallery. But it was the academic and public discussion that ensued that resulted in the expansion of art practice and public perception forever. Just as Duchamp elevated the banal if not ugly refuse for discussion as does Adam Kelly in the untitled piece of 2014.

Untitled Plastic 2014 of a day
Untitled features hundreds of black plastic seedling tubes that have been inserted into one another so as to build a large three-dimensional creature. Polished with shoeshine the overlapping edges of the plastic containers reflect the light and enhance the impression of reptilian scales that fold over the sculptural limbs. What would have otherwise become individual pieces of rubbish have been united and reinterpreted so as to suggest an alternative reality. It is the manipulation of materials so as to question value that remains one of the most influential and useful tools of artistic practice. Kelly should be praised for procuring something into being that antagonises boundaries and encourages public reaction and discussion.

Kelly’s work can be understood as a macabre vision of a post apocalyptic future where frightening creatures such as his Untitled monster roam freely. In this dark wasteland all that remains of human civilization are the artifacts of our self-indulgent polluting lifestyle. Kelly’s work suggests consequences for our behavior on planet earth and by re represting familiar objects asks us to reconsider our attitudes and practices that impact the environment and ultimately determine our future.

The content of Kelly’s work whilst powerful isn’t overt and although structurally confronting is equally playful. Again, it is the careful balance of aesthetic opposites causing mixed reactions that enhance the accessibility of the artwork. Just as the audience isn’t entirely repulsed by it’s initial sinicism neither are we overwhelmed by its catastrophic environmental predictions. Perhaps this is because of it's reminiscence to Lego, whereby the interlocking seedling tubes create a nostalgia for childhood games. As such there is a subsequent innocence to the materiality of Kelly's work that invites participation and ultimately enhances its communicability. Untitled possesses a sensitivity for the application of art with ideas and as such this work creates maximum impact. 

Untitled is currently on display on Perkins Street Newcastle until April 30 and can be seen all day and night.

Adam Kelly at the opening of Out of the Woodwork April 2014

Sunday, 13 April 2014

School Holiday Workshops

 Tie Dye Workshop

Join local artist Madeleine Cruise in the Gallery and lean how to create wonderful tie dye effects. All Dye and expert tuition are provided as well as morning tea. Participants are asked to bring the garments of their choice that they would like to dye. Ages 6 + Bookings essential please Email to secure a place.
Wednesday 23 April 11am - 1pm
$15 per person
NANA contemporary art space
The Emporium
185 Hunter St Mall Newcastle

Story Writing and Illustration Workshop

Join local artist Madeleine Cruise and writer Nell Robertson in the gallery to write and illustrate your own short story. Children will receive expert tuition, afternoon tea and complete their own bound book to take home. All materials provided. Ages 7+ Bookings essential please email to reserve a place.
Friday 25 April 11 - 4pm
$45 per person
NANA contemporary art space
The Emporium
185 Hunter St Mall Newcastle 

Friday, 11 April 2014

Easter at NANA

NANA has welcomed a whole range of beautiful new products to her counter store thanks to the involvement of artisan Carrol Marshal of Newcastle. Just in time for Easter are her knitted rabbits which would make gorgeous gifts and are available as egg warmers or four legged friends. If cute bunnies aren't your style Carrol has also designed a limited edition Rebel Punk Bunny who wears a black hoodie with an embroidered scull and is complete with a safety bin earring. Like a lot of the products in NANA'S Store there is just enough attitude to balance the sugar and spice to make all the things nice. 

Carrol's Bunnies are available for a limited time only and are priced between $12 and $35.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Feature Artist from Current Group Exhibition

Eleanor Hanlon

NANA is proud to present Eleanor Hanlon a Newcastle based artist who formed part of the Out of the Woodwork Exhibition this April. Her two sculptural works : Buffer Zone and The Listeners were two highly tactile pieces that considered a temporal state of being and encouraged a reverent response from their audience.

Eleanor is a sculptor, jewellery maker and time-based artist who looks at collective narrative, colloquialism and story, and how these may construct rituals and patterns. Her artworks explore the absurd and harmonious nature of everyday happenings. She in interested in performative action, gesture and how the body interacts with objects and space.

She joined Renew Newcastle in 2013 and occupies a studio space in Suite 76, Hunter Street Mall.

 Out of the Woodwork is in its last week of exhibition at NANA. You can view Eleanor's works and many others this Friday 10am - 8pm and Saturday 10am - 4pm

“The Listeners” 
 Linen, Starch
 $ 65 (each)
 30 x 30 x 30 cm

“Buffer Zone”
 Copper, Twine, Felt, Artificial Fibres, Soil, Plants
30 x 30 x 30 cm