SPENCER SHAKESPEARE 'SERAPH'
Spencer Shakespeare is a UK born, Queensland based artist, originally trained at Bournemouth College
of Art + Design, where he specialised in Natural History Illustration.
After relocating to Australia 27 years ago, Spencer eventually settled in the Tallebudgera Valley. Here, surrounded by the lush foliage
of the Gold Coast hinterland, the artist creates bold abstract paintings and mixed media works, buzzing with vibrant positive energy.
Named after the celestial creature, ‘Seraph’ explores themes of magic, manifestation, positivity, love and empowerment.
‘The natural world is like the best type of magic.’ - Spencer Shakespeare.
A BRIGHTNESS FALLS BY ADRIANA PICKer
‘A flower falls, even though we love it. A weed grows, even though we do not love it.’ Shunryu Suzuki.
In a return to botanical inspiration, this exhibition has been an exploration of colour for Sydney artist Adriana Picker. Best known for her distinctive
works on paper, characterised by painstakingly intricate line work, Adriana has relished the opportunity to extend her practice into mixed media painting.
Retaining elements of this signature style, Adriana’s latest body of work leaps head first into a joyous new world of bold colour, movement and texture.
Vibrantly lush, hyper-real foliage and flora appear almost other-worldly, in a heady palette of vivid pinks, mauves and deep aubergines.
A Brightness Falls is a celebration of Adriana's life-long passion for nature and the botanical form, seeded in early childhood by time spent in her Grandmother’s garden.
The often-overlooked beauty and texture of ordinary ‘Nana plants’ - Nasturtiums, Pelargoniums and Bromeliads - is rediscovered in a bold, contemporary context.
UNDER WILD SKIES BY FRED FOWLER
Fred Fowler is a visual explorer of wormholes, between civilisation and nature, native and invasive species, conflict and resolution.
His paintings are seductive tableaux that subvert colonial traditions of landscape painting, and articulate the Australian condition past and present.
Under Wild Skies transforms Australia into densely textured walls of colour, torn between a complex past and an uncertain but bright and optimistic future.
These works are based not only on the physical landscape, but also the cultural and psychological landscape of Australia.
Fred’s distinctive paintings bring together a collage of symbols - the local pool, sections of bushland, ghost nets, boats and buildings all combine to make place.
With the addition of spirits, figures and animals comes biodiversity and interactions, which is where the paintings start to come alive.
GONDWANALAND BY CASSIE BYRNES
Cassie Byrnes is a Melbourne based artist and textile designer. Since completing her studies at RMIT in 2014, she has quickly become
known for her distinctive prints and patterns, commissioned by brands including Kuwaii, Verner and Country Road.
In parallel with her textile practice, 2016 has presented Cassie with the opportunity to create and exhibit her original artwork for the first time. ‘Gondwanaland’,
brings together a series of paintings on linen inspired by Pangea, a supercontinent that existed 200 million years ago.
This body of work is the natural progression of a fascination which has consumed Cassie’s work over the past two years. Inspired by evolutionary themes,
the works reference the prehistoric landscape, rock formations, vegetation and flora thought to have covered the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana millions of years ago.
Playing on the deepest of human curiosities, Gondwanaland creates an imagined view of a bygone habitat, channeled through the study of the subtropical landscape.
The prehistoric protea, a species which has relict lineage dating back to this era, is a recurring theme. These works combine both abstract and figurative forms, symbolising
the mystery that surrounds the landscape of the mesozoic era.
MOUNTAIN SKY BY BELYNDA HENRY
Mountain Sky is the latest collection of works by three-time Wynne Prize finalist, Belynda Henry. Belynda is based in the Dooralong Valley, NSW, where she is surrounded by 40 acres of unspoilt countryside and national park. It is this rich visual backdrop that is the primary source of inspiration for her work. From towering gum trees to the rolling hills beyond her property, Belynda captures her environment with joy and sincerity. For this latest body of work, Belynda has worked outdoors, immersing herself in the landscape.
The resulting works explore her familiar subject matter with a new-found sense of intimacy.
Working with acrylic paint and pastel, Belynda paints intuitively. Her canvases are layered with deceptive detail – sparkling water shimmers in the foreground, while mountain peaks rendered in soft pastel hues recede into the distance. Influenced by pioneering Australian landscape artists including Clarice Beckett, Max Meldrum and Polly Hurry, Belynda’s contemporary works offer a new interpretation of the Australian landscape.
‘My paintings are mix of the valley I live in, the places I have been. and the places I imagine’ - Belynda Henry.
FLOATING WORLDS BY STEPHEN BAKER & SARAH KELK
Floating Worlds brings together a collection of recent works by Melbourne artists Sarah Kelk and Stephen Baker. The exhibition draws upon botanical themes,
and the interplay between the natural landscape and manmade world.
Complementary yet distinct, Stephen and Sarah’s works are a surprisingly happy pairing. Where Stephen’s meticulously rendered scenes play with two and three
dimensionality, Sarah’s abstract planes appear to float and shift across the canvas.
Stephen Baker is an accomplished self taught studio and mural artist, with a formal background in design. His distinctive figurative works incorporate clean lines and bold geometric landscapes, where faceless figures appear to occupy a futuristic world. Stephen’s works in this series explore how we bring elements of nature into the spaces we inhabit, seeking connection with the natural world.
Sarah Kelk is a Melbourne artist and designer, whose gestural abstract works on canvas combine deliberate shapes and accidental brushstrokes. Working with a predominantly muted colour palette, Sarah experiments with subtleties in texture and pattern. In this series, Sarah draws inspiration from American nature essayist John Burroughs - ‘I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order’.
DOUBLE CREAM BY EVI O
Evi O is a Sydney-based artist and multi-disciplinary designer.
In addition to her art practice, Evi is an award winning book designer, previously of Penguin Australia. She’s also co-founder of new homewares brand Anekka.
Evi’s bold, kaleidoscopic paintings originate from observations of objects, cities and landscapes, recreated in vivid colour combinations. Her abstract compositions are reminiscent of surreal landscapes, where dusty pink skies meet multicoloured snow-capped mountains.
Double Cream is Evi’s first solo show. This body of work features her distinctive fluid abstract forms, in a gelato inspired palette.
SILK SKIN MOON CAKES BY SKYE JEFFERYS
Skye Jefferys is a Melbourne-born, Singapore-based artist.
Drawn to the idea of limitations, whether real or imagined, Skye’s vibrant gestural forms and distinctive colour palette reference her current surroundings. The emerald greens
of the tropics, orchid mauves and dragon fruit pinks are influenced by the fragrant melting pot of cultures that come together in Singapore.
Exploring the concept of having no boundaries, no start or finish to the paintings, Skye works on undefined, unstretched canvases, moving around the works to eliminate any sense of ‘top’ or ‘bottom’. This intense creative process results in vivid abstractions, buzzing with bold colour and energy. ‘Once a painting starts to feel resolved, I approach from
a new orientation and begin again, this time using a new perspective,’ the artist explains. ‘I try to push the composition to an unexpected resolution and, in so doing, find its edges.’
Skye's dynamic brushwork is layered, intertwining and endlessly overlapping. Once complete, the compositions find their balance, yet remain unending. They are imbued
with potential twists and turns, possibilities that might breathe beyond the works’ boundaries.
The Design Files Inaugural Annual Fundraiser
An exhibition for the ASRC
In July 2015, for the first time, The Design Files will host its first dedicated charity fundraiser event, a special exhibition of original artwork by 28 respected Australian artists.
Each artist has generously donated their work, with all proceeds going to Melbourne’s Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, which provides much needed support and services
to refugees and asylum seekers in the local community.
‘This fundraiser will support and strengthen many of our vital programs. Because of our incredible team of over 1100 volunteers, the ASRC delivers $20 worth of life-saving
and empowering services for every $1 donated’ says Greer Allen, Key Support Coordinator, ASRC.
The exhibition aims to raise over $40,000 for the ASRC. This donation could provide :
• 100,000 Hot Lunches to asylum seekers
• Groceries for the ASRC Foodbank for 6 months, feeding 200 families per week.
• Medication for the ASRC Health Program for the entire year, supporting over 3000 medical appointments to asylum seekers without income or access to Medicare.
• Funding for the position of the ASRC’s Legal Coordinator for 1 year, who manages the advice and representation to over 550 asylum seekers.
At The Design Files, we feel strongly connected to the ASRC. ‘The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre create a welcoming environment and unrivalled support network for so many people working hard to make a second home for their families in Australia,’ says Lucy, editor of The Design Files. ‘With our focus on the importance of a sense of ‘home’,
we are in awe of the incredible work the ASRC do to make those less fortunate feel welcome, supported and at home in Melbourne.'
This inaugural fundraiser exhibition also provides a unique opportunity for local art enthusiasts to invest in some of Australia’s
most collectible young artists at an accessible price point.
Kirra Jamison (VIC), Leah Fraser (NSW), Yvette Coppersmith (VIC), Julian Meagher (NSW), Miranda Skoczek(VIC), Laura Jones (NSW), Laura Skerlj (VIC), Belynda Henry (NSW), Fred Fowler (VIC), Barbara Kitallides (VIC), Elizabeth Barnett (VIC), Emma Lipscombe (WA), Liam Snootle (VIC), Sandra Eterovic (VIC), Sarah Kelk (VIC), Sean Fennessy (VIC), Rachel Castle (NSW), Stephen Baker (VIC), Billie Justice Thomson (VIC), Leila Jeffreys (NSW), Emily Ferretti (VIC), Skye Jefferys (VIC), Lucas Grogan (VIC), Evi O (NSW), Jennifer Tyers (NSW), Madeline Kidd (VIC), Minna Gilligan (VIC), Anna Varendorff (VIC), Louise De Weger (QLD).
IN A TEMPERATE CLIMATE BY ELIZABETH BARNETT
In a Temperate Climate is the latest body of work by Melbourne artist Elizabeth Barnett. This series of paintings depicts intimate domestic spaces filled with exotic and interesting plants, colour, treasured objects and furniture.
Barnett’s imagined interiors are strangely familiar. Overflowing with Fiddleleaf Figs, Philodendron and Hoya, these lush green domestic sanctuaries are comforting and renewing.
Each painting encourages a voyeuristic glimpse into the unattended space of its occupant. Whether it’s a hot cup of tea, pair of garden secateurs or plate of biscuits orphaned momentarily, the interior setting suggests finer details about the inhabitant’s life and daily rituals.
‘Plants are wonderful subjects for paintings. The breadth of species on offer is endless and exciting. Every plant can look different in changing light, if pruned into different shapes or set in different settings. Each collection of plants tells a story about the owner of the space. The interiors become portraits in their own right’ - Elizabeth Barnett.
Elizabeth Barnett has a Bachelor of Arts from The Victorian College of the Arts.
ANOTHER DAY IN OCEANIA BY FRED FOWLER
Another Day in Oceania is the latest body of work by Melbourne artist Fred Fowler. Completing his Masters in Contemporary Art at the VCA in 2012, he has since been practicing art full-time from his studio in Footscray.
This exhibition utilises the vehicle of landscape painting to explore ideas about the conflict between native and invasive species, and more specifically, the relationship between birds and cats - a relationship that poses a a serious threat to native wildlife in Australia. While Freddoes refer to his works as landscape paintings, the scenes he creates are more concerned with the beings that inhabit the land than the land itself. The paintings in this series also convey the growing divide between civilisation and nature, and the clash of urban and remote cultures.
Pictorial elements such as flashes of movement, symbols of urban and suburban culture, and various representations of flora and fauna are set against flat vibrant expanses of colour, creating distinctive ambient compositions.
'Fowler’s paintings evoke all that is ancient and beautiful about this land, and simultaneously, subtly, that which is more recent, brutal and confronting. They are a much needed, thoughtful exploration of these issues of land, animals, plants and humans, adding much to the discussion of Australia’s past and its present condition.'
Emily McCulloch Childs
Art historian, writer, researcher, publisher and curator. Co-author of McCulloch’s Encyclopaedia of Australian Art.
Overgrown by Belynda Henry
Overgrown is the latest collection of works by Wynne Prize finalist, artist Belynda Henry. Belynda paints from her home studio in the Dooralong Valley, NSW where she is surrounded by 40 acres of unspoilt Australian countryside. It is this rich visual backdrop that has been the artist’s primary source of inspiration for this exhibition.
In this series Belynda explores nature in its purest form. From her front porch, surrounded by towering gum trees, to the rolling hills beyond her property, Belynda collects and archives her ‘landscape memories’. No scene goes unnoticed. She takes fleeting moments of nature at its wildest and most unruly, depicting the landscape she calls home with joy and sincerity.
Belynda’s paintings are emotional responses to the seasons, as observed from her 360 degree vantage point in the valley. In this series, her distinctive muted palette gradually transforms from the cooler tones of winter to warm coral and pink hues, pointing to new life in spring. Working with acrylic paint and pastel, Belynda paints intuitively. Her canvases are layered with deceptive detail – sparkling water shimmers in the foreground, while peaks and valleys delicately rendered in soft pastel hues recede into the distance.
Influenced by pioneering Australian landscape artists including Clarice Beckett, Max Meldrum and Polly Hurry, Belynda’s contemporary reimagining of her surroundings offers a new interpretation of our nation’s romantic backdrop.
Shadow and Soul by Laura Jones
Shadow and Soul is the latest collection of works by Sydney-based artist Laura Jones. Laura works from her studio in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, where she paints still life portraits of flowers, foraged from her daily surroundings. Drawing from her previous experience as a florist, she creates floral vignettes in her studio, intent on capturing their fleeting beauty.
Laura has a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Sydney and a Master of Arts from COFA.
The hydrangeas in our garden bear flowers of an unmarketable hue. The base colour is grubby, faded apple green, like the upholstery on a collection day couch. On top is a rash of rosacea pink. These are the colours not of romance, but of neglect and root damage caused by a neighbouring conifer. Yet every summer the starved shrubs divert massive resources to their mopheads. The flowers are layered like scales and the upper petals (they are actually sepals but let's call them petals for now) shelter their understudies from the sun. And beneath each sunburnt, topmost petal is its own shadow, stencilled for perpetuity on the petal below, in a colour as pale and fresh and unblemished as a cabbage leaf. It’s magic.
I love these hydrangeas because they remind me of the enormous generosity represented in the act of blossoming. A flowering plant gives everything it has, even when it hasn’t enough. ‘This is my best’, says the plant in full bloom. And it is the generosity that is beautiful, as much as the material result.
This is what I see, and love, in Laura’s work: every painting is a blossom of her soul, and like my hydrangeas, every painting has her best. Her generosity shines brightly, even when the paint is dark and she is feeling dark inside, as she was, she told me, when some of these were painted. Bits of underpainting are visible in the final works, like cardigans half-buttoned and hair untied. Vulnerable, sensuous, earnest and disarming, Laura’s paintings have everything to give and nothing to prove. They are not shown so much as entrusted, and they make me feel worthy.
Flowering is an act of biological compulsion performed with the grace and humility of love. This is what I imagine painting must be like for Laura Jones.
- Lucy Kaldor, June 2014
Decoding the Jungle by Barbara Kitallides
Decoding the Jungle is the latest collection of works by Melbourne-based artist Barbara Kitallides.
In this series, Barbara Kitallides navigates the emotional jungle that sometimes lives within and around us. Through her abstract landscapes, Barbara explores the chaos of both our physical and emotional worlds. The resulting works are where these two worlds intersect.
Barbara approaches each painted landscape from dual perspectives – from the sky looking down and from the ground looking up – giving each work a layered complexity.
It is the artist’s desire to connect both perspectives and analyse their commonality, discovering that they habitually co-exist.
Barbara’s influences are apparent in the overall feel, technique and palette adopted in this body of work. The artist cites the pop colours and flat black of Andy Warhol’s screen prints, Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach’s personality inkblot test, and the romantic undertones of Australian landscape artists as key reference points.
The presence of colour in Decoding the Jungle is psychological. The contrasting nature of the palette symbolises the spectrum of human emotion: candy pink represents the heart, the deep and alluring camouflage green embodies the jungle, while the intense golden yellow and orange is a vehicle for new and unchartered opportunities that await. Acting as an antagonist, and indicative of our personal fears, is the heavy black acrylic, simultaneously liberating and repressing the surrounding movement and colour.
On a surface level, each artwork in this series takes on the abstract form, but when inspected a little more closely, presents itself as a unique jungle landscape. The works in Decoding the Jungle invite the audience to navigate and explore their own personal jungle, and seek clarity through the lush density of the jungle labyrinth.
‘It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder’ – Grand Master Flash