Lee Grant – Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘marion drew

Still Life: Nostalgia and Domesticity

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Had the pleasure of having coffee with Marion Drew today thanks to Anne O’Hehir. It was brief – I stole away for half an hour from work to meet them – but great. Interesting to talk to Marion about her still life series particularly as I’ve been obsessing over this genre in the last few weeks. I’m chuffed to say that we exhibited together in the Josephine Ulrick Award up at the Gold Coast Art Gallery. Marion showed this work:

Rainbow_lorikeet_on_Queensland_needleworkRainbow Lorikeet on Queensland Needlework (courtesy Marion Drew)

She told us that the needlework had been made by her mother many years ago which I thought was a really lovely connection. Which then made me think more about some of my own intentions with the still-life genre, namely to use the trinkets and objects I’d inherited from my grandmother as a way to stay connected to her. My Gran, Judaline, was quite a formidable presence in our lives – we spent most of our summers in the one-horse town where she lived in Northern NSW. It was without fail, hot, dusty and often (to a precocious suburban kid) boring, but we always managed to occupy ourselves; exploring the farm (when she lived out of town) and imagining ourselves as wild cowgirls (I was Calamity Jane!) taming the wild beasts of the bush… and when she moved into town, spending all hours of the day (and sometimes night) at the local pool across the road. When trips to the local milkbar wore us down we always had her fabulously retro TV to watch all those fantastically wrong American 80s shows. Ah, it was the good life. My fondest memory though was always the kitchen and the dining table setting. Vintage tablecloths with a variety of crockery (the blue Willow china only coming out for Sunday lunch) and a mish-mash of bone-handled cutlery as well as the ubiquitous salt and pepper shakers cast in a variety of animal shapes! The picture of that table is still clear in my mind and I know for my own still-life work, that I want to recreate the memory of that, to somehow hold on to that distinctly Australian vernacular aesthetic. Distracted by other things in life, I wasn’t really photographing at the time my Gran died, a regret I still feel deeply. She was always very houseproud and her home was very much a reflection of her consummate collection of things. I suppose I would have liked to have some kind of tangible memory of that domestic space in which I spent a large part of my childhood, photographs then as momento mori. Instead I find myself recreating that nostalgia though images like this one, using inherited and thus precious objects:

_MG_9856…still-life from a work-in-progress

Written by Lee Grant

June 30, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Black Holes and Greener Pastures: making photographic art in Australia

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I’m still navigating my knowledge of contemporary Australian photography, ironic given that I’m an Australian myself, but it seems to me that the very best artists are those that are quietly pursuing their art without much fanfare (and often without much opportunity to show their work, which is a sorry state of affairs really). The NGV said it well when they suggested that, “photography has come to dominate the contemporary art scene but despite the photo rich days we live in, large-scale surveys of Australian photography are relatively rare.”

Two Australian photographers chipping away at their art are Jane Burton and Marion Drew. Whilst they do exhibit inside Australia (and I believe Drew has shown in NY) I would really like to see more Australian photography like this pushed to a broader and more international audience. We are still trumpeting the likes of Bill Henson, Trent Parke and Max Dupain (a lot of men)!! I am not dissing their talent or their work at all, but isn’t it time for some new blood on the tracks? Why are Australian curators and selection panels so afraid of no-names? The NGA is soon to open a new photography exhibition for the inaugural Vivid Photography Festival. Titled Picture Paradise, it is yet another show of old brown photos. When will their senior curator of Photography begin to realise that brilliant contemporary Australian work is out there and needs to be nurtured. History has its place but the repetitive showing of the same work and the same core group of artists is beginning to take its toll! And I don’t think it does much for Australian contemporary photography’s international reputation either.

Jane Burton, Untitled, 2008

Jane Burton, Untitled, 2008

Jane Burton, Untitled, 2008 (All images courtesy of Johnston Gallery)

Vivid could have been an opportunity for a major institution in Australia to demonstrate a unique and supportive stance had it chosen to exhibit an all contemporary show. But the brown photos prevail it seems. The ACP in Sydney however, is about to set an example with its forthcoming show Hijacked, a dual exhibition of contemporary American and Australian photographers curated by Mark McPherson. If you’re in Sydney do go along, it opens today.

from the exhibition Hijacked

And yes, I bleet a bit about this issue but I do think its one that needs to be dealt with by somebodies (anybodies) sooner than later otherwise we might lose some brilliant working artists – as opposed to dead ones – to greener pastures overseas or worse to the obscurities of anonymity.

Marion Drew (from the Australian Still-life series)

Marion Drew (from the Australian Still-life series)

Marion Drew (from the Australian Still-life series). Courtesy of Robin Gibson Gallery

Written by Lee Grant

June 13, 2008 at 10:25 am

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