14 Dec – 7 Jan
“For this exhibition I was inspired by my immigration situation,” says Leonardo Uribe, a Colombian artist who has been in the Australia for nine years, and living and making art in the Blue Mountains for the last several.
“I had a difficult time recently, when I had to give the Immigration Department a lot of evidence about myself and my intentions to become a permanent resident. It is the same every few years, when I have to re-apply for my visa.”
These immigration interviews and evidence-gathering, resulting in mounds of paperwork, often leave Leo feeling frustrated. He has begun channelling these feelings into his artwork, resulting in work that reflects no only his immigration journey, but more fundamental questions about family, identity and belonging. Probare, the exhibition’s title, is a Latin word, meaning to prove, demonstrate, get accepted.
“For me the best proof of who I am, and who I will be in Australia, comes from photos and objects that belonged to my family. I have taken inspiration from this, for example re-creating family photos and immigration documents using my family’s hair.”
Leo grew up surrounded by hair in his mother’s salon, which he had to walk through to get to his house. Using hair as an artistic medium is, according to Leo, both “beautiful and symbolic.” It is also a literal marker of his identity, with hair containing both his and his family’s DNA.
Another significant influence for Leo is religion, having grown up in a religious family in the majority Catholic Colombia.
“I am working with some religious elements that remind me of my childhood. For this exhibition I have used rusted metal to recreate ‘niches’ – the traditional little shelters that contain sacred images.
“And I have used LED lights and motors in some of the sculptures, inspired by the movement and light found in the traditional Nativities in Colombia.”
Probare is a powerful meditation on immigration, religion and identity, expressed through sculpture, assemblage and painted works. The artworks may be based on Leo’s personal journey, but the themes – and the works’ appeal – are universal.
16 November – 10 December
Join us for opening night, Friday 16 November at 5.30pm.
“We’ve reached an unprecedented moment in planetary history – the Anthropocene,” says artist Kevina-Jo Smith. The Anthropocene is a term used to describe the current epoch, characterised by significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems.
“I have been investigating the idea of the cyclical nature of human behaviour - the idea that we’re going in circles. I envisage a cyclone, where there is an inward-moving cycle and an outward-moving cycle. That is how I feel humankind is behaving – some people doing everything they can to undo or at least not contribute to the problem, and some people are just winding deeper and deeper into environmental chaos.”
Kevina is known for her practice of creating large scale weavings using upcycled materials. For this exhibition, she has taken inspiration from the image of the cyclone, creating scaled-down circular weavings that reflect the tension between the inner and outer cycles, not only of the weather system, but of how humankind is dealing - or not - with anthropogenic climate change.
“There are now so many of us, using so many resources, that we’re disrupting the great natural cycles. Almost all the planet’s ecosystems bear the mark of our presence. As Oxford University geographer, Professor Andrew Barry says, our ‘impacts are now connected, and systemic.’ This interconnectedness is what I have tried to reflect in my artwork.”
“While creating these artworks I have also been preparing to give birth for the first time – and so it is important for me to consider not only my personal impact on the environment, but also the impact my child will have on this planet.”
“I have been reconfiguring my practice, adjusting to working on a smaller scale. I have been researching and speaking to other artists about how they have continued their creative practice once becoming a parent, and I hope the meditative nature of this process and my art practice encourages the audience to stop and think about their own personal impacts, and what they can do to change it.”
19 October - 12 November
Join us for the exhibition opening at 5.30pm Friday 19 October - featuring mini tarot readings by Emma Magenta and a talk by Niki Read of The Groundswell Project, a community organisation that uses art to increase death literacy.
What if, instead of desperately trying to avoid discussions about death and dying, we brought it out into the open? What if, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, and trying to cope with it on our own when it inevitably does happen, our society was primed to talk about what it’s really like at the end of your life, or about grief, or about how death is just a natural part of life?
In The Great Divide, eight current and former Blue Mountains artists explore these themes, offering up their own concepts of mortality in order to help lessen the fear and denial around what it means to die or be dying. This exhibition is designed to help start a conversation that is long overdue in Western culture.
Artist Hayley West, who has reimagined a series of ceramic cremation urns, taking found vessels and creating new custom lids for each, is fascinated with the objects that get left behind when someone dies. “Ordinary objects can become significant keepsakes, at times revered like a reliquary of histories,” says Hayley.
Yoka Terzic, who has produced black and white ink works that serve to heighten the contrasting nature of life and death, says “death scares us because life is all we know. It is the role of the shaman and artist to visit the world of the dead and then return with the obtained wisdom; born again.”
Along with the big philosophical questions, this exhibition also delves into artists’ personal experience with death. “My images were inspired in part by my grandmother, who recently passed away,” says Mount Victoria artist Nina Lipscombe. “I wanted the images to express that feeling of loss, but also of letting go.”
Join us for this beautiful, poignant exhibition, and join the conversation about death and dyling, guided by the beliefs, insights and practices of the artists.
21 September - 15 October
“These goddesses and female winged creatures come to me as stories, and often act as my guardians,” says artist and printmaker Jan Melville. “They are created from my own mythology, and protect not only me, but the environment.
I feel that they have a big role to play in the landscape.”
The strong women and female beings featured in Jan’s exhibition include butterflies, moths and birds, as well as goddesses. One powerful presence is Insect Girl, who, according to Jan’s mythology, lives in the gardens along with her tribe of insects.
“The winged insects face an uncertain future. My ongoing concern is their decline due to habitat destruction, climate change and pollution. Insect Girl is here as a watcher and protector.”
Insect Girl is one of several lino prints in Wings for Flight. The exhibition also features assemblage and mixed media, including a series of printed cockatoo feathers, a woman’s flight helmet made of woven feathers and paper flowers, and a fertility totem featuring two winged goddesses.
“All of my mythological creatures are beautiful and iconic. They represent freedom, beauty and peace.”
Every piece in the exhibition is hand made, created or printed by Jan in her Blue Mountains studio (except Insect Girl herself, which was designed and cut by Jan but printed by master printmaker Gary Shinfield).
Jan will be sharing her process in a relief print workshop in the gallery on 6 October, where Jan will discuss topics such as safe carving, how to transfer images onto the plate, and the differences in various types of paper, before participants create their own lino or vinyl cut print on the day.
24 August - 17 September
“This series arose out of my love for fashion,” says artist James Gordon. “I especially love making the jewellery – I’m in heaven when I’m doing the tiny diamonds and emeralds.”
James’ art has been described as a combination of collage, fashion and sculpture. He works with scissors, scalpels, pencils and watercolour to create intricate paper relief sculptures, layering detail upon detail of delicately carved and painted paper artworks.
“I start by making their faces and hands, then I make clothes and jewellery, and play around with combinations until it looks right. The first few I made were these striking men in black and white tuxedos. If a man doesn’t look good in a tux, he will never look any good.”
"If a man doesn’t look good in a tux, he will never look any good.” - James Gordon
If anyone should know about fashion and a good tux, it’s James. His artistic career has been studded with couture collaborations, from styling Collette Dinnigan’s shows for fashion week, to working on covers for Vogue, to causing a scandal on Little Collins Street in the 1970s as a visual merchandiser for the department store Georges.
As a renowned event producer, James styled some of Australia’s most high profile weddings, including those of James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch. But in between these brushes with celebrity, it is always his paper sculptures that James comes back to.
“If it pleases people and makes them feel happy, then I’m happy. I love seeing people smile with pleasure when they see my work. I hope that when they look at it they get a sense of my love of doing it, because I really do love it.”
We look forward to seeing you at the exhibition opening at 5.30pm Friday 24 August.
27 July - 20 August
Join us for the opening on Friday 27 July at 5.30pm
The Lost And Found by Blackheath artist Rebecca Waterstone is a suite of found objects, forms and abstract reliefs, exploring the elements of shape, colour, line and composition. These found forms take on new life, combined into fresh compositions with a quiet, solid presence. The themes of resurrection, veiled beauty and preservation run through these works.
Through a hybrid approach that references minimalism, modernist abstraction, colour-field painting and constructivism, relationships are formed between the shapes, proportions, textures, and colours of discarded and redundant items. These objects, now devoid of practical use, find new life and value through being composed into works that retain, and highlight, the materials’ inherent aesthetic qualities.
The geometric language is one of squares, rectangles, circles, arcs, and truncated segments. The works can be thought of (individually, and as a group) as akin to that of a jigsaw puzzle, with the individual components coming together to make up a complete, unified whole.
Within the assemblages and collages, attention is drawn to the materiality and character of residual surface markings, wear and tear. These serve as potent fragments, revealing a concentrated sense of the objects' history. There is great beauty in their weathered nature. Muted, distilled, applied (or found) colour defines and delineates space within the edges of the vertical plane. The symbiotic duality that characterises the reconfigured forms, lends gravitas to the individual elements. They are stronger together than apart.
The works are arranged on the wall as a single mass of related components. The negative architectural space surrounding them plays an important part in holding the group together as a whole, creating harmony, and unity with the physical presence of the works.
29 June - 23 July
Join us for opening night Friday 29 June 5.30pm
“I feel like this time the inspiration has come from doing the work, rather than the other way around,” says Blackheath artist and designer Hannah Surtees.
Hannah, together with husband Mark, is the winner of this year’s Sculpture at Scenic World major prize, for their work Geronimo. With The Unexpected In-Between, Hannah is showing a body of solo work featuring sculpture, painting and prints. We talked to Hannah about how her process for this work evolved out of a creative block, which she pushed through by returning to childlike play with paper and pen.
Join Hannah for her Unblocking Creativity Workshop on Sunday 1st July.
“A few years ago, I was struggling to rediscover my own style, after years of producing commercial work for other people. I was blocked, creatively. We were heading overseas for a family trip, so I brought some sketchbooks with me, in order to get back to the basics.
“I found the act of doodling very cathartic and freeing for my creative process, where I didn’t have to worry about the end result; just being present in the moment. It took me back to when I was about five, spending many happy hours repeatedly drawing the British flag, filling sketchbooks with my drawings, trying to find the perfect one.
“When we got back from our trip, I photographed all the work from my sketchbooks and uploaded them into my computer, playing around in Illustrator and experimenting with reversing the doodles, playing with negative space.
“It was a serendipitous way of work, and I felt able to look at the end result more subjectively. I enlarged some of the shapes and painted one onto canvas, just feeling my way with colours and framing, going with my gut instinct.
"This process has inspired me to push through my creative block. I’ve discovered that the good stuff can sometimes be hiding unexpectedly in the space in-between. If you keep looking hard enough, you’ll find it eventually."
If you would like to know more about Hannah's process and learn her techniques for breaking through creative blocks, join us for Hannah's Unblocking Creativity Workshop on Sunday 1st July.
Embroidered works by Jess de Wahls available for purchase. Please contact the curator, Kelly Heylen on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0414 771 439 for all sales enquiries.
Platform Gallery is a partner of Art Money, who offer interest-free art loans over 10 months to make art buying more accessible for everyone, and we are very happy to discuss this option with you.
1 - 25 June
View the full range of Jess' embroidered works here.
“I use my work to explore societal ideas of what it means to be a woman: from governments trying to restrict and legislate what women do with their bodies, to society judging women for both having and not having ovaries,” says artist Jess de Wahls.
“Traditionally ovaries are such an integral part of being a woman, and yet there are many other ways of being a woman, from being a transgender woman to having had reproductive organs removed surgically to just being born in a body that doesn’t conform to any gender.”
Coming all the way from London for her Australian debut and a series of workshops at Platform, Jess de Wahls is known as the ‘enfant terrible of British textile arts’ for her boundary-pushing, provocative artworks.
Learn from Jess in these intensive, small class size contemporary embroidery workshops:
The exhibition Big Swinging Ovaries will feature Wahls’ signature embroideries, where her ovary motif is stylised into various maximalist patterns, including ovaries as cacti, rainbows, and Frida Kahlo (Kahlovaries).
“Since I first developed it for a solo exhibition in 2014, the Big Swinging Ovaries name and design has very much become a brand and a visual tool for expressing many of my creative, political and social thoughts as a woman, a feminist and a textile artist,” says Jess.
“What matters to me is that people make up their own mind and interpret my art for themselves, no matter what I intended. What matters is whether or not the work speaks to you.”
Platform is hosting two incredible feminist embroidery workshops with Jess, alongside her exhibition. You can choose from creating your own Big Swinging Ovaries or a Vagestic Mandala, all the while taking your craftivism to new heights.
You don't need to be a seasoned stitcher to take part in the workshops. What's absolutely needed is an open mind to a contemporary approach to an old craft, and a little patience since embroidery is a time-intensive art form. All materials and lunch are provided – you can book on the Platform Gallery website.
Join us for the opening of Big Swinging Ovaries on Friday June 1, and for the workshops on 2nd and 3rd June.
11 - 28 May
Exhibition opening 5.30pm Friday 11 May.
“There are many ways a person can enter a state of transition,” says artist Heidi Axelsen.
“Major and minor shifts happen in life where a current state of being is no longer possible and transformation takes place. It’s this liminal space that I am interested in.”
Liminal is a series of delicate and meditative work that is drawn from not only Heidi’s personal transitions, but an entire universe of threshold space.
“The word ‘liminal’ for me represents that space between consciousness and unconsciousness; that quality of ambiguity and disorientation that occurs at times when you are neither here nor there, but swimming in a vast changing space.”
“Emerging from these liminal states are quiet, easily missed, in-between moments that I have tried to capture in this work. Being on the cusp of becoming a mother was one such potent liminal state for me, where both immense and subtle transformations take place in body and spirit.”
The forms, material and textures have been combined to express implicit memories; thoughts and feelings that couldn’t be expressed in words but found in material and form."
The forms, material and textures have been combined to express implicit memories; thoughts and feelings that couldn’t be expressed in words but found in material and form.”
As Heidi’s daughter celebrates her third birthday, Heidi has reflected on motherhood and other states of transitions, and brought together this body of work.
“I’ve been working with concrete, plaster, marble, lead, felt, steel, copper, which I’ve been moulding, carving, folding, casting, sewing and assembling to find a material presence to immaterial and ephemeral experiences. The forms, material and textures have been combined to express implicit memories; thoughts and feelings that couldn’t be expressed in words but found in material and form.”
Most people know Heidi from her large-scale creative collaborations with partner Hugo Moline, but with Liminal, Heidi is showing a lesser-known side of her artistic practice.
The small scale, natural hues and reflective surfaces of these sculptural works stand in contrast to Heidi’s collaborative works of large architectural and environmental structures.
Whereas Heidi and Hugo work in the public realm rearranging social and spatial relationships, Heidi’s solo work invites contemplation of internal landscapes and dreamy states of being.
Liminal offers an exciting and rare opportunity to see Heidi’s solo work. Join us for the opening on Friday 11 May.