Out the back of Isadora Vaughan’s studio, there’s a small yard that looks onto a huge, semi-vacant lot. “They’ve been building warehouses out there,” she says. Last year, she watched as they dug enormous basalt boulders out of the ground. “There were these huge rock breakers out the back, turning these giant, giant rocks into smaller boulders.” The rocks got smaller and smaller. “They were making gravel,” she explains. “It was just one of the most amazing and insane processes.”
Vaughan likes working outside. From her spot in the yard of her Melbourne studio she can also see ponds that have been built to filter runoff before it reaches a nearby creek. “All these beautiful, very precise endemic species have been chosen and planted around it. There are reeds – a whole system,” she says. “There are these machines that are doing, on some level, these fantastical things. You can see how much destruction and chaos it’s causing, but then there’s also this industry and this real presence, despite it all, of the native flora and fauna.”
But will they? VAULT looks at the extraordinary amount of investment in bricks and mortar for the arts.
“You need that scale to convey its world class nature,” said National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) director Tony Ellwood, when the plans for the new 30,000-square-metre NGV Contemporary were announced late last year. Ellwood’s comments echoed Michael Brand in the early days of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ (AGNSW) Sydney Modern project, when he said: “Sydney is a global city and we have to behave like a global institution.”
The $344 million Sydney Modern project is now a quarter of the way there, and is expected to open in 2022. It has been a massive public-private partnership, with AGNSW raising over $100 million. In Melbourne, the funding for the first stage of NGV Contemporary is coming out of the Victorian Government’s $1.46 billion redevelopment of the Southbank arts precinct, but now the NGV must embark on a major philanthropy campaign, too. These projects are among the largest in a raft of arts building projects across the country – from the relocation of Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) and Perth’s recent $400 million Museum Boola Bardip, to the construction of new regional galleries and smaller refurbishments. Not all of these projects share Ellwood’s and Brand’s world-class ambitions, but they have a common, codified language.
“Repetition, the photograph, the copy—all of those were methods to find a deeper connection,” says Lindy Lee, reflecting on the threads running through her diverse 35-year practice. In that time, she has worked with photocopies, photographs, ink, wax, bronze, paper, steel and fire. She has developed a vivid and symbolic language of colour and then moved towards somethings much more austere. “To me, it’s this continuous journey,” she says. Continue reading “Lindy Lee”→
Patrizia Biondi works with discarded cardboard but, as she says, “it’s treated as if it was a precious material”. She labours over every piece—cutting, sanding, gluing and cleaning, often multiple times over. “I treat every little piece of cardboard with dignity.” Continue reading “Patrizia Biondi”→
“I’m not ever trying to just paint a photograph,” says Mark Tweedie. “The way I paint, I’m being very selective. My paintings are more like a memory…The things that I’m not interested in, or that may not be relevant or have little meaning to me, I make them less saturated, I use washes on those aspects, I keep the paint quite thin. Whereas if there’s something I really want to draw attention to, or it’s something that I remember, then I use colour or thicker impasto paint or a different technique, a more controlled or tighter technique.”
Full interview in the print edition of Vault, Issue 28, November 2019-January 2020.