To write about light: two texts about photomedia

Ioulia Terizis, Slivers and Shard (detail), 2017, Gelatin silver photograph, 115.0 x 83.0cm. Courtesy the artist.

It’s wonderful being asked to write catalogue essays for artists. The process, particularly studio visits, give a special insight into an artist’s practice and their world more broadly. Recently I was commissioned to write two artists texts: Ioulia Terizis’ exhibition Quanta at PhotoAccess in Canberra, and Lucas Davidson’s A Strange Loop at Dominik Mersch Gallery in Sydney.

Both artists use photography in different and intriguing ways and this was a great chance to really sink my teeth into ideas around photomedia, expanded photography, and light.

Lucas Davidson, ‘Death as a Companion to Living’, 2017, pigment print, 112 x 90 cm, ed. of 3 + 1a.p. Courtesy the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery

Art Fair Philippines: A thriller in Manila

Maria Jeona Zoleta, Forced Farts … until Hell Freezes Over is a Freak Show, 2017, installation view, 5th Art Fair Philippines, Manila, February 2017; image courtesy Art Fair Philippines 


It was a pleasure to be invited to Manila to cover Art Fair Philippines for Art Monthly Australasia. This complex city has an intriguing history and thriving art scene. My fair wrap-up was published in full in the April issue of the magazine with a preview on the AMA blog.

World Material: Between accident & intent

A few hundred words into writing this, I clicked ‘Save’ and Word suggested the filename ‘between accident and intent’ – a fragment of text still floating at the top of the page. It seems apt to embrace this chance title. While the intention of World Material was to explore the resonances within and between the works of these artists, many of the connections that have arisen during the show’s subsequent development and installation have been surprising and even uncanny. The expanded material, spatial, geographic and conceptual potentials of these works collide at a number of points.

World Material installation view featuring Lisa Sammut (L) & Louise Weaver (R). Image courtesy the artists and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

World Material installation view featuring Lisa Sammut (L) & Louise Weaver (R). Image courtesy the artists and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

Fictions are employed in order to reveal new truths. Louise Weaver’s paintings might appear to be encased in the bubble wrap and packing tape that would have protected them in storage or transit, but are actually constructed from ‘skins’ of paint that have been built up on another surface before being applied to canvas as abstract colour fields. Like Weaver, Connie Anthes confounds expectations in her construction of a painting’s surface, her work Untitled (Shadow Figures) employing a soft sculpture as a stencil, with the perceived depth of the resulting two-dimensional impression disrupted by a scattering of flatly-painted glyphs. The River Red Gum ‘branches’ nestled among Yasmin Smith’s Ntaria Fence are actually slip-cast ceramic proxies, glazed with wood ash collected from the same area of Hermannsburg, Central Australia as the branches themselves.

Lotte Schwerdtfeger. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Lotte Schwerdtfeger, Prospect (Geological Study of Fryers Forest) 2016 -2017. Quartz bearing iron stained rock fragments and secondary banded clay, mixed, sieved and kiln fired – harvested from Fryerstown area, Central Victoria
Paint, plywood, pine, eucalyptus branches. dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

Yasmin Smith. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Yasmin Smith, Ntaria Fence 2015. branches: mid-fire slip with Hermannsburg wood ash glaze (River Red Gum, Mulga, Palm Tree), nepheline syenite and ball clay; bucket: earthenware slip with arctic blue underglaze and clear gloss glaze; ice cream container: earthenware slip with yellow op. dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist, The Commercial and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

Like Smith, Lotte Schwerdtfeger and Rebecca Gallo also present expanded understandings of landscape through the materials and forms they employ. Using natural clay sourced from the goldrush-ravaged Fryers Forest region of Victoria, Schwerdtfeger houses pieces of shattered local bedrock in specially-shaped plinths, interspersed with conventional pottery forms evoking a human presence. In Gallo’s sculptural installations, objects that once lay inert in places like Hill End, Fowlers Gap, Emu Plains and Sydney’s inner west have been reactivated, carefully incorporated into totemic compositions that are both fragile and playful.

Rebecca Gallo. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Rebecca Gallo installation view, World Material, Darren Knight Gallery. Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

The perfectly mundane is conjured into significance in the hands of these artists. In Gallo’s works a fine balance is quite literally struck between found, carved and cast objects; An upturned ice-cream container rests jauntily on one of Smith’s Red Gum branches; In Weaver’s hands the trappings of a gallery stockroom become a lunar surface; Michelle Nikou transforms clothes dryer lint into domestic motifs; The notorious Mac ‘spinning wheel of death’ hypnotises in Anthes’ Mantle Piece.

Connie Anthes. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Connie Anthes, Untitled (Mantle Piece) 2015. installation with air-dried ceramic, projector, apparatus
dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

The folding and unfolding of planes that occurs in Mantle Piece, as a three-dimensional object is flattened into two dimensions then reprojected onto itself, creates an ambiguity in spatial comprehension. To do this Anthes uses orthographic projection, a technique that has been employed since antiquity to map star systems. Lisa Sammut’s work form deforms you is also a spatial map, in which organic and geometric motifs are connected atop an indigo velvet surface to create a sense of cosmic time, distance and scale.

Lisa Sammut. World Material. Chloe Wolifson

Lisa Sammut, Form deforms you 2017, embroidery on velvet, plywood, red cedar, beech, pine, acrylic paint, ink on paper, collage, cement, rock, clock mechanism, ping pong ball. 149 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

The flat-sided forms in Sammut’s microcosmic cosmos feature painted or collaged surfaces which transform their diorama-like simplicity into dimensional portals. Eloïse Kirk also employs collage, exploring its intersection with painting in abstracted landscapes that are forged in the connections between organic elements and in the space between the romantic and the surreal. The title of her painting Ultra Plinian alludes to volcanic eruptions, and a geological form in the centre of the composition oozes black resin.

World Material installation view featuring Eloïse Kirk (L) & Connie Anthes (R). Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

World Material installation view featuring Eloïse Kirk (L) & Connie Anthes (R). Image courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Simon Hewson

The works in World Material embody a sense of expanded possibility. Our world has held these materials, and these materials now hold new worlds for us.


Thanks to the artists, those who supported the transport and installation of their works, The Commercial , & the Darren Knight Gallery team.

World Material continues at Darren Knight Gallery until 25 February 2017.

WORLD MATERIAL at Darren Knight Gallery



My latest curatorial project, World Material, is currently on show at Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. The exhibition features the work of eight Australian women artists: Connie Anthes, Rebecca Gallo, Eloise Kirk, Michelle Nikou, Lisa Sammut, Lotte Schwerdtfeger, Yasmin Smith (courtesy The Commercial Gallery), & Louise Weaver.

World Material brings together the work of Australian artists whose works explore the spaces between strength and delicacy, between the material and the conceptual, between accident and intent, between the real and the fictional, and between representation and abstraction – embodying an exploration, recontextualisation, and sometimes deliberate obfuscation of natural, found and human-made materials. The exhibition is intended as an exploration of these tensions, suggesting totem-like resonances within and between the works of these artists.

Images of the exhibition are here, artists biographies here, and exhibition text here.

The show runs from 28 January – 28 February 2017. If you are in Sydney I hope you can make it.

TAKE on Writing Series: The Book Ensemble

Phew! My last few writing deadlines for the year are out of the way, just in the nick of time. I am honoured to be invited to Delhi by TAKE on art Magazine to join a great bunch of artists, writers and curators from around the world for ‘The Book – Ensemble’.

Curated by TAKE editor and publisher Bhavna Kakar and curator and assistant editor for TAKE, Anushka Rajendran, the Ensemble will, over the course of two days, exchange ideas and discuss the endurance and material legacy of ‘The Book’, including the ways in which it continues to influence contemporary processes of knowledge, community and history.

Words, words, words

I’ve been writing up a storm lately but had nothing published to show for it! Well as they say, it never rains but it pours. Here are a few of my recent missives that have finally hit the [digital] news stands:

Primavera 2016 at the MCA, published by Art Monthly Australasia, December 2016
D_O_T, review published in ArtAsiaPacific, December 2016
Jogja Calling, review published in ArtAsiaPacific, December 2016

And, ICYMI, here are some other highlights of my published year:

Exhibition essays:
It’s always great to collaborate with artists on their exhibition or catalogue essays. Here are a couple of recent texts:
The work of art in the age of digital reproduction, Kate Tucker exhibition essay published by Galerie pompom, October 2016
Lara Merrett: Casus Fortuitus
, exhibition essay published by Karen Woodbury Gallery, August 2016

I added a new string to my bow when I began writing for ArtAsiaPacific earlier this year. Some of my reviews included:
After Voices: Jompet Kuswidananto, review published in ArtAsiaPacific, August 2016
Invisible Forces, blog published in ArtAsiaPacific, 27 July 2016
Constant Negative: Kenzee Patterson, review published in ArtAsiaPacific, July 2016
Review: When Silence Falls at Art Gallery of NSW, in ArtAsiaPacific, pub. 6 April 2016

In print:
How exciting to be included in Melbourne University Press’ recent publication Art + Climate = Change, edited by Guy Abrahams, Bronwyn Johnson and Kelly Gellatly, with my essay Charmaine Pike and Sue Lovegrove: Landforms and Lagoons; Martin King: Forest of Dreams.

Voice of the artist:
The Copyright Agency released an excellent publication called Voice of the artist, co-ordinated by Nick Garner and edited by Tristan Chant. I loved putting together the essays The Hero Image and The Rise of the forgery: how the internet has increased instances of forgery and the misattribution of artworks – a change of pace from an exhibition-based writing focus.

Hong Kong missives:
I’ve visited Hong Kong a few times but nothing could prepare me for the behemoth art fair that is Art Basel HK. Here are the missives I filed once I’d recovered from Fair Fatigue:
Confronting the nature of representation: ‘Afterwork’ at ParaSite, review published in Art Monthly Australasia, Issue 289, May 2016, pp.68-69
Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central, report published in Vault, Issue 14, May 2016, p.14
Australian galleries seduce viewers at Art Basel Hong Kong, in ArtsHub, pub. 5 April 2016

ArtChat. Fast chats on hot topics!


I was invited by Museums and Galleries of NSW to present last night at ArtChat. Fast chats on hot topics!

In the fourth of this annual series, ArtChat featured a line-up of established and emerging independent curators who are all working with contemporary practice across the visual arts, craft and design, time-based and experimental arts. The evening explored imaginative ideas in a fast-paced, invigorating and sometimes humorous format, providing a snapshot of the exciting curatorial projects proposed by today’s creative thinkers.

Speakers included Joanna Bayndrian, Bec Dean, Micheal Do, Danielle Robson, Nina Stromqvist, Una Rey and myself. You can watch mine above (please turn up the volume – my voice was not being kind to me that day!), and view all the presentations on the MGNSW website.

Though a little nervous about presenting I enjoyed the night and it was great to showcase one of my ideas-in-progress to a wider audience. Thanks to Museums and Galleries of NSW and Regional and Public Galleries of NSW for the opportunity.

‘tensions/translations/transitions’ at Dominik Mersch Gallery




OPENING: Thursday 5th May, 6 – 8 pm
EXHIBITION DATES: 05.05 – 28.05.16


I have the honour of being awarded the second Dominik Mersch Gallery Curator Award. My exhibition ‘tensions/translations/transitions’ will bring together work by six artists employing physical and psychological markers and layers to evoke the tensions, translations and transitions occurring in our relationships with space and place. In bringing together these works I question if perhaps new or unexpected tensions, translations or transitions will emerge to the viewer.

‘tensions/translations/transitions’ opens on 5th of May. EXHIBITION DATES: 05.05. – 28.05.15

Read announcement here: DMG Curator Award 2016unnamed (1)

Revisiting Singapore



In January I was invited to Singapore to experience Art Week – my second such trip in as many years. I covered the major South-East Asian fair Art Stage Singapore, as well as the exhibition Time of Others at Singapore Art Museum, for Art Monthly. While I was there I also explored the recently unveiled National Gallery of Singapore, checked out the respected Singapore Tyler Print Institute, and, along with many others, braved the rain during cultural precinct Gillman Barracks’ Art After Dark. Highlights of that experience included the Joan Jonas survey exhibition They come to us without a word at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, and Antipodean Inquiry, curated by Owen Craven at Yavuz Gallery.

Gillman was also occupied by a collection of shipping containers re-purposed as exhibition spaces by emerging Singaporean artists. It was great to see Singapore’s cultural life on the up-and-up and I hope to have the opportunity to return next year to see how things are evolving.

The pieces I wrote in response to Time of Others and Art Stage can be read in the March 2016 edition of Art Monthly, which marks a turning point in the magazine’s history as it widens its focus to Australia and the Asia-Pacific. The March issue is an Asian special exploring Australia’s historic and contemporary engagement with Asia across the visual arts, in celebration of the magazine’s newly expanded masthead. It’s humbling to be in printed company with such contributors as Russell Storer and Mami Kataoka – I hope you have a chance to check out the newly re-titled Art Monthly Australasia.

50 things collectors need to know in 2016

Work by Abdul Abdullah on the cover of Art Collector Issue 75

Work by Abdul Abdullah on the cover of Art Collector Issue 75

Art Collector Issue 75 has hit the shelves. The 50 things collectors need to know in 2016 issue features profiles of standout shows and artists, trends and taste-makers. I’ve contributed pieces on up-and-coming photographer Ashleigh Garwood, and arts policy campaign #FreeTheArts. Get thee to a newsagent and get in on the action!