Sunday, November 20, 2011

Li Gang - in the grey scale

LI GANG, Seoul Subway no.4 2008, chromogenic print, courtesy of the artist

Ararat Regional Art Gallery current exhibition, ‘Li Gang -in the grey scale’ features large-scale contemporary photography by Beijing-based artist, Li Gang. Using hand‐built cameras, Li Gang produces large and complex images of contemporary East Asian urban spaces, including Beijing and Seoul. The use of hand‐built cameras introduces risk and accidents to Li Gang’s work. In his photographs, instead of control and mastery, there is magic and mystery. The photographic darkroom was always a place of magic and Li Gang returns to those roots.

We were honoured to welcome to Ararat, Madam He Ta, Cultural Consul from the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Melbourne, who officially opened the exhibition on Saturday 5 November 2011 at 2pm. Madam He Ta was welcomed and introduced by Mayor Cr. Andrea Marian who spoke of the significance of Ararat’s historic and contemporary relationship with China.

Ararat's connection with China that dates back to over 150 years when miners from Guangdong Province came to Victoria in search of the rich deposits of gold. The city's contemporary relationship with China is underpinned an active sister city relationship with Taishan in Quangdong province, and friendship agreements with Ji'an in Jiangxi Province and Huzhou City and Yiwu City within Zhejiang Province. Given the important of this active contemporary relationship, it was a great honour to have Madam He Ta with us to offically open 'Li Gang - in the grey scale'.

Tony Trembath, the curator of the exhibition, also spoke at the opening and his remarks helped provide a context for better engaging with Li Gang’s work. Tony is an established and respected Australian artist who has maintained a studio in Beijing since 2007, where he works for several months each creating new work inspired by this vital and fascinating city. Tony is the driving force behind the exhibition and he has worked closely with Li Gang over several years to bring this ambitious show to Australia – the first ever touring exhibition by a Chinese contemporary photographer. A very fine, fully illustrated bilingual catalogue accompanies the exhibition, and includes essays by Tony Trembath and Dr Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator, Photography, National Gallery of Victoria.

'Li Gang - in the grey scale' is touring to six public galleries in four Australian states as part of the Year of Chinese Culture in Australia from July 2011 to June 2012. The exhibition was launched at the Monash Gallery of Art in September 2010 (check out the MGA link for a great interview with Tony Trembath about the show), and continues at Ararat Regional Art Gallery until 11 December.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Big Basket

Ararat Regional Art Gallery celebrated Children’s Week on Tuesday 25 October 2011 with a community art event leading to the creation of ‘The Big Basket’. Around 100 school children from Ararat, Stawell and the wider regional community participated in a one-day workshop led by basket maker, Cherree Densley, and held at Alexandra Hall, Ararat.

The theme of the project, ‘We’re all in the same basket’, aimed to maximise participation and encourage cooperation amongst children across a range of ages and abilities. The outcome of this intensive day of creativity was the creation of a one and a half square metre woven basket constructed from hay and wool and surrounded by a multitude of grass dolls. The dolls were individually created by participating children and placed around the basket to reflect the theme of community unity.

Now completed, ‘The Big Basket’ will tour to participating and host schools that will have the opportunity to create more dolls, ultimately representing hundreds of children from the community. The basket is presently on display at the Skene Street School in Stawell and will visit other schools in the region in the coming months. Following its tour, the basket will be exhibited at the Ararat Regional Art Gallery in February 2012 as part of a program to complement the 30th anniversary presentation of `Floating Forest’ - a basketry-based installation by the late American artist, Douglas Fuchs. Ararat Regional Art Gallery's Children's Week event was presented in partnership with the Victorian Government's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development