Monday, June 13, 2011

Cheese vs Topspin

A friendly warm up between team 'Rad' and team 'Smells Like Team Spirit.'
Final count down style...

A ping-pong death match at Gaffa?? Really?? I love the strangeness of the whole idea. Normally when you think of art galleries you think of places that are reserved for quiet and reflective times, where subconsciously people’s conversations turn to whispers.

Surely it’s the last place you would think to find an indoor sport tournament complete with flying balls, and a cheering crowd… but then again, we’re not your average gallery. The arcade spaces on the bottom floor have recently become home to a family of ping pong tables, a much loved addition to the Gaffa space and so it was really only a matter of time before we organised such an event.
Costumes and beer would play an essential role.
As a last minute thought I threw on some tie-dye. Tie-dye is always my go-to when I forget about a dress up event, and I kind of liked the play on words, ‘Die’ in a death match. Surely people would know we meant business.
Team Tie Die
After a beer, and a friendly hit in the warm up room it became very clear to me that I was surrounded by two types of competitors. There were those who were there for the laughs and the beverages, and those who were there for the glory, or as I like to call, the ‘serious heads.’ People who refrained from any alcohol as to focus solely on their game plan, perhaps because they thought booze would be a distraction. Personally I had always felt that the consumption of alcohol enhanced my performance and made me an ultimate sporting champion.
Mini Pong!(so much harder than regular pong)
Round One: 'Team Tie Die' Vs 'The Hot Wok Pros'
These two ladies were no such serious heads; constantly fighting back giggles and squeals of excitement with every point, regardless of who won… Tie Die was looking good.
Final result 11-4 Team Tie Die
Word on the street was that Topspin were the favourite to win. I approached the two men cautiously, game face on in the hope of discovering their strategy. The two explained how they worked at a firm around the corner, and had since discovering the pong tables, practiced daily on their lunch break in preparation for the tournament. Indeed, we were in trouble. Perhaps another beer would help.
Team Strong looking worriedly on...
Round Two: Team 'Tie Die' Vs 'Team Tastic'
I was a little bit more concerned about these guys, two tall, slightly shy men with glasses, both wearing friendly grins on their faces. You should always be weary of the quiet ones, I told myself. Surely those smiles are just a game strategy to fool us into thinking they aren’t a threat.
Sneaky bastards.
Just as I had suspected Team Tastic proved quite the challenge for team Tie Die, but there was still hope for us hippies yet.
Steve (the other member in my fantastic duo) and I decided early on that the power of the mind could, if we got into trouble, be our secret weapon. In an effort to ‘physc our opponents out’ we applied our ‘game faces’ and crouched into ready positions, swaying our hips from side to side like professional tennis players. Big high fives and the occasional ‘come on!’ also helped promote our universal dominance.
Final score 11-8
Another win for team Tie Die.
It was around this time when I began to hear talk of a team ‘Eddie Murphy’. With long straight hair, and tight floral pants matched with bow ties, these two boys were more reminiscent of 18th century vampires than dynamite ping-pong players. However their match against team ‘Topspin’ proved to be one of the most exciting and thrilling of the night!
The trendy vampires were unexpected masters on the court, focused and determined against the smartly dressed ‘Topspin’ team. Each and every point seemed like life and death as the crowd cheered, gasped, and applauded accordingly
The final result was the closest yet
Topspin victorious.
View from the grandstands
Round three (Semi finals)
Tie Dye Vs Cheese
We were definitely in trouble, and something told me that our attempts to phsyc out our opponents would inevitably fail. Team Cheese were like the terminator, a strong superior force that would be unaffected by such trivial mind games.
Time for another beer.
There were certainly highlights for team Tie Die throughout the match. Steve even earned the ‘point of the day’ with a sneaky through the middle shot, but when it cam down to it, the Cheese was far too strong. (I never thought I’d say that)
Cheese went on to win the entire tournament against Topspin, who I later found out were work colleges at the same firm. I can only imagine the jokes that would be made at that office the following day.
The award ceremony was short and sweet. Cheese were given a kid sized ping-pong game and roman wreaths made of ping-pong balls to wear. 
Cheese Champion
The rest of the night was spent, laughing over friendly games, and answering trivia questions from the multitude of Carlton Draught bottle caps. All in all a delightful night, which was really just what I expected.
A politician pose... Zoe awards Team Cheese with the champion's trophy

Sunday, May 22, 2011

By Golly!

By golly it’s another opening! But it’s not just your run of the mill, Gaffa Thursday night amazingness, oh no, this time we are taking the fun a few hundred meters down the road, to our wee little pop up gallery situated in the very heart of the Rocks.

I arrived at 3pm more than a little bit excited.

The space was ridiculously charming, and the addition of Geoff Farquhar Still’s, Dan Lorrimer’s and Marina Neilson’s interactive works added to the already quaint atmosphere. I walked around the gallery testing that each work would, with the press of a button or the turn of a handle spring to life….

Mmmm mechanical poetry, we are in business gentleman.

After a quick catch up with the delightful JD Reforma, I write a short list of tasks that need to be done before the magic begins. I discovered a while ago now that lists are spectacular. I am the mistress of list writing and nothing makes me happier than crossing things off…

Get ice for the booze,check

Put bollards out the front, check

(It’s important to put a few easy chores amongst the more

challenging ones so as to make you feel more productive. )

get coffee from café, check….:)

It’s around 5pm when Dan arrives (One of the lovely artists) with a bag full of delicious power tools.

As like with any show there is always last minute adjustments to be made, and with the help of Lilly, Marina’s friendly curly haired dog, Dan begins to tinker with his dream-like creations.

That’s one off his list.

It was around 6pm when the first people started to trickle in, slowly and cautiously at first, it seemed the public was still a little confused about what was exactly taking place. Many just peered in from the side walk whispering to their friends….

“Hey there! Come on in!” I cried.

If there’s anything I am sure of, it’s that smiles are the fastest way to help people feel at ease. Well, that and alcohol.

With good company and bartender Mitch’s Elderflower Spritzers, Gaffa’s first pop up opening was going to be a relaxing and welcoming event.

And indeed it was!

I spent the rest of the night swirling and chatting amongst artists, friends, and strangers, discussing art, and all things unrelated. I could quite possibly have the best job in the world….

Hmmm what else is on my list???


After a quick round collecting the empty glasses, the lights are switched off, and the doors locked.

“Wanna go for a quick one Kelly??”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rocks! Rocks! Rocks!

You'll have to excuse my excitement, but exciting things don't happen to me often. Unless of course you count switching conditioners, purchasing stationary items, or receiving junk mail as fun filled events.

Than that's a whole other matter that we wont be discussing later.

I'm delighted to inform you all that, for the next 6 months Gaffa will be partaking in the 'Rocks pop up project,' an event aimed at showcasing Sydney's creative community, supported by the NSW government through Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, and Arts NSW.

Hot diggity.

We have received a quaint little space within the heart of the rocks, which, after a little elbow grease and a trip to Bunnings, will be the perfect location to showcase the diverse range of talented artists that regularly exhibit at Gaffa. You can come and check things out in the 12th of May, however the official opening won’t take place until 19th at 7.30pm. To starts things off artists Geoff Farquhar-Still, Dan Lorrimer, and Marina Neilson, will be exhibiting their interactive art work titled ‘Semi Automatic.’

I remember their 2010 Gaffa show 'reflex' fondly...

Whimsical poetic machines that, at the flick of a switch, or the press of a button, spring into action. I mean, come on, who doesn't like to poke objects and make them move?? The whole effect was smile inducing, and I honestly can't wait to play with these magical creations all over again.

I suppose I could end with a joke that encourages you to 'come and press my buttons' on the 19th of May, but I'm sure everyone will agree, that would be poor form. Instead I will simply suggest with a grin that you can 'flick my switch' on the 19th of May, 7.30 pm at #85 George street.

Infact I will insist on it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rodeo Rider

At Gaffa at 10am and I figure it’s going to be a long one…

Not such a bad thought really.

I take a quick stroll around the gallery with coffee in hand. As always there’s an interesting and diverse bunch of artists lined up for tonight’s opening and I’m keen to see how the night will unfold.

But for now there’s plinths to paint, lighting to play with, and room sheets to print.

I wish I brought my overalls and head scarf.

I suppose my boring jeans will have to do. (sigh) With no drop sheet or protective clothing, my painting duties become more challenging than first conceived. My hands and fingers quickly turn to splattered white….

A few people stumble into the room looking slightly lost, and apologetic, art works, ladders, and paint tins lay at random throughout the space.

“Sorry” I explain, “the openings at six tonight.”

One man even confuses me as part of a performance work. I chuckle. I love that this is really not such a strange question to ask, especially within the Gaffa space.

Now onto the lighting. I gaze at the aluminium Ladder and the high ceilings with anticipation. It may sound bizarre (since I am a six foot woman) but I have an irrational, and at times, crippling fear of heights. Maybe I could reach from the bottom step? No, that was silly.

Luckily Kelly comes to my rescue, and like an experienced rodeo rider she climbs to the very top and casually begins to play. Her movements are relaxed and precise, and I mentally begin taking notes like a good little intern while passing her lights.

Within no time the entire gallery is lit.

Mrs efficient.

With the painting and lighting now complete, I turn my attention to the room sheets. It always amazes me how such a simple and straightforward task can pretentiously cause such frustration and confusion. Placing numbers next to art works and matching them to the associated printouts sounds easy enough. That is unless, each work is named untitled, and is constructed by the same materials…


Mark Coulston’s wooden geometric sculptures are truly striking creations, however I’m not quite sure which order they follow. Surely I can’t ask for help from the gaffa girlies for this??

Perhaps a coffee will help.

My dear friend Mr Caffeine is always a fantastic idea, and with a fresh set of eyes I begin to place numbers throughout gallery two, and than on to three and one.

How delightful it is crossing things off the list.

I quickly set up the bar down stairs and it’s around this time that gallery goers begin to arrive.

My goodness is that really the time??

With the Animal Collective in Gallery one it proves to be a very busy opening. For the next few hours I squeeze through gaps in the crowd collecting bottles and placing black dots on purchased artworks. The whole thing makes me smile really…

Thanks Gaffa.xo

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hot Diggity

My first solo show.

With two and a half weeks to prepare I deliberate…

Of course I have some old works that I could probably throw together, but that would be far too easy. No, I must create something new, something better. My living room will become my studio for the next two weeks, as I splatter, glue, cut and draw my new creations. The kitchen table is no longer for eating, the lounge, no longer for chilling. For the next two weeks I will not do laundry nor make the bed…

My poor boyfriend.

For the past year I have been exploring the contemporary medium of Facebook and so it seems only fitting that “Status Update” be selected for the title of my show. I have always found it fascinating, the things we like to broadcast about ourselves online, and I hoped that this exhibition would not only expose this façade, but also make fun at it.

“My boyfriend is the greatest man on the planet!”

“My baked dinner smells so amazing”

“Look at my new Prada shoes!” (I bought because I have such a wonderful high paying job)

really?? Come on, where are all the comments about your failed attempts at baking, your secret flings with your work colleges, and weight problems because of your self esteem issues??

Facebook, allows us to escape, and it’s this ability to portray the person who we wish we were, or perhaps who we think others expect us to be, which I find most interesting.

Installation day.

I Arrive downstairs with a giant cardboard box. Already I have a rough idea of how I want things to look, and so without wasting any time I grab a spirit level and drill and set to work!

I am slightly intimidated by Sanaz Hosseinabadi, currently setting up in Gallery one. Her large scale geometric shapes are impressive and with two hired men to help her for the next two days, I can only image how spectacular the finish product will be.

And here I am, all on my lonesome.

Well, luckily I have Kelly to help me out.

“Just a few cm higher” she speculates, as I balance on a ladder with artwork and spirit level in hand. The “Like Project” posses more installation problems as the tightly spaced photographs and my amateur hammering skills cause quite the disaster for my wee thumb.

The small price you pay for art I suppose.

Slowly but surely the works begin to fill the room until I can’t help but smile at the result.


Time for a sit down and a beer.

Opening day.

I arrive with Mum and Dad, my number one fans. It’s always such a big event for the Gosford pair to head to the big smoke, and their expressions remind me of children on their first day of school, wide eyed and excited.

I lead them through gallery two where Erica Molesworth photographic and film exhibition is currently taking place. Images of barren landfills contrast lush green crops, and I instantly wonder how she was able to take photographs at such great heights.

A Helicopter perhaps?

The vibrantly coloured landscapes are beautifully portrayed and I instantly feel the need for a country escape.

Note to self, must organise a camping weekend away with friends.

Next is Sanaz Hosseinabadi, and just as I

had envisioned the final product of her show “Platonic Devine” was nothing short of remarkable. White, arithmetical shapes appear suspended as optical illusions throughout the monotone space…

It reminds me of a dream I am yet to have.

Perhaps because I have seen first hand the amount of work that went into installing, that I am able to appreciate the show from a deeper perspective.

Strangely enough nothing is for sale.

Now onto “status update.” My two friends Alex and Claire greet me with hugs and immediately begin commenting on the work.

“looks fantastic woman” remarks Claire

“Now I can’t afford your work!” jokes Alex.

For the next two hours I chat and swirl, talking art and life with a range of interesting people, some of whom I haven’t seen in a while. It’s at this moment that I feel the last two weeks of unwashed clothes and stacked up dishes has indeed, paid off.

Now for Thai at Sweeny’s with Mum and Dad.

It’s on my way out that I realise I haven’t popped into Lauren Hill’s Photographic show titled” Everything is horrible.”

“I’II meet you guys down there!” I call out.

I need a few moments to absorb the imagery.

Granny cakes with sinister messages, dogs dressed in pink jumpsuits..

So much Character it makes me smile…

Thanks again for another fun filled night Gaffa!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

laminating and pencil skirting

I arrived at Gaffa much earlier than usual this week to assist Penny in pre-show chores. Printing room sheets, setting up the bar, laminating drink tickets.... I actually enjoy playing secretary, and feel that at the very least I was appropriately dressed for the tasks, pencil skirt and all.

It was the first time I had ever used a laminator, and I think Penny was confused by my excitement.

"But it goes in one way and comes out all professional!"
Such a useful invention, think I'll add that one to my birthday list.

After enough laminating to make a girl blush I headed upstairs to see how everything was coming along.

As always I was delighted.

In gallery 1, Wendy Jones’s sinister oil works instantly had me thinking 1950’s Mad Men, however the women in her paintings are much more interesting than the house wives featured on that television show. Rat Sack, super glue, shot gun???...

me thinks these woman are up to something.

Their expressions where captivating, and each work read like a dark narrative that only the grinning girl could tell.

Eduardo Wolfe-Alegria’s colour explosion in gallery 2 i
s truly eye opening. So much detail, it is hard to know where to look. It is clear that an amazing amount of work was put into these creations...

"Well, I started not last June, but the June before that." Wolfe- Alegria tells me.

It's easy to imagine.

Each painting appears like a shrine, generously adorned with an array of decorative plants, animals and people.

His line work alone was enough to make me drool...

Reluctantly I continued on. I was, after all, just supposed to be placing run sheets in each room and perhaps there was a secretarial emergency that Penny needed me for downstairs.

It took a second for my eyes to adjust in gallery 3.

Old fairytale books, black text, winter trees and peep hole boxes with carefully placed pillows sparsely occupied the room. Like Wendy's mischievous women, there is definitely something rather sinister and secretive about Elodie Silberstein's work.

Kneeling down in front of one of the peep holes, I felt like Alice in wonderland about to discover a new world. And indeed I did. A black and white video installation along with a tiny diorama gave me a glimpse into a night sky somewhere far outside of Sydney. If there’d been a little bottle with the words “drink me” written on it I’d have been game. I made a quick mental note to return later in the night with wine.

The SPI space around the corner was still in the process of installing. Two trendy art types, Tully Arnot and Charles Dennington seemed awfully relaxed considering their exhibition started in under two hours.

Both were chatting and joking amongst the tools and art objects.

I headed back down the stairs and discovered a typo in Wolfe-Alegria's runsheet. Oh dear. This was just the secretarial mistake I was worried about.

Just a quick reprint and we were back in business. Pencil skirt power!

Thanks again Gaffa!

Miss Zoe in action at Sterling.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Another day another show

I think it's only fair that i dedicate this blog to James's coffee, without which I wouldn't be able to write due to my pounding hangover...

Thank you caffeine, my dear friend.

Another Thursday, another show..

I arrived at Gaffa and engaged in some small talk with Zoe, mostly about clothing, and the singing artwork upstairs. Excited to see it all, I grabbed a beverage and my boyfriend then followed the sweet melodies coming from above.

I strolled past the bathrooms and saw that, low and behold we had soap... Off to a good start.


And there she was, Patricia Alvarez in all her beautiful, hairy glory. Kath Fries had done an amazing job with the installation and I instantly felt like I was a part of the work, trapped in the very web that had captured a singing princess. With two glasses of white wine at her feet, (perhaps for stage confidence,) Patricia twirled and knotted her hair for two hours.

Her voice was reminiscent of Ariel from the little mermaid, and I suppose it was rather easy to imagine that we all where on the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by seaweed, drifting in it's currents. Seaweed, like hair, does have a textural quality that most find discomforting, and it's this discomfort which, contrasted with her soothing voice, was for me, what I found most intriguing.

As an urban woman, I spend a lot of money on hair. Colours, treatments, blow dry’s… Watching Alvatrez tease and split her ends was, certainly cringe worthy for me. However her expression never changed. Calm, composed and often trance like Alvarez remained, almost oblivious to the chattings of those watching on.

"Come here" I called out to my boy friend. When he arrived, I pulled hair off his back, only to have the strands slowly float down and stick to my shoe, dammit.

By now, hair balls were finding their way into every room of the gallery like dirty parasites…

but I kinda liked it.


Anything that has a warning on the door must be good. Perhaps this is my inner naughty child talking here, but either way I was keen to see what all the fuss was about with Steve Frizza’s ‘Connection Lost’.

His concept was brilliant. 5000 different individuals from around the world, given 5-15 minutes of webcam time, to do, pretty much what ever they wanted.

And it seemed that most wanted to get naked.

Stills from his conversations were then taken and transformed into wall paper which completely covered the walls, giving it a almost claustrophobic feel similar to Alvarez and Fries work from the room before.

The imagery was to say the very least, extremely confronting, and at times even physically confusing. To be frank, it was a genital party.

However what I found most interesting is that men where given only 5 mins of chat time, where as woman where given 15 mins. I guess this means woman need a little extra time and encouragement to take our pants off?

Personally I would definitely need at least a glass of pinot, a few compliments and perhaps even some Marvin Gaye before I would be exposing any nipples. Maybe Steve Frizza could fit all that into 15 minutes? Seems like he must be a smooth talker.


The oddly complimentary works of Ivan and Katherine Buljan Metropos awaited us in the next room. One artist’s bright, happy, almost child-like works contrasted by the other’s dark photographic imagery reminiscent of a hobbit’s vacation pictures from Mordor. Having the two displayed interchangeably in the same gallery space really made the observer acutely aware of the stylistic decisions each artist had made.

Ivan Bulijan’s work continued into gallery 3. Beer bottles, a stark filmless projector, burnt books hanging from coat hangers, staging miniature battle scenes. All very intense!

7.15 pm

We finished off the circuit in a room running 5 video portraits by Hugh Marchant. Unfortunately it was really crowded so we decided to return later and enjoy the films at our leisure.

Our heads full of art, we headed across the road to Sweeny's pub to meet my friend Alex. I’ve known her for years and her brutal honesty is always refreshing at arty events.

“A girl……knotting her hair into a web?? But why? Sure I’ll come!”

The sun was beginning to set over the city, and so we decided to stay for a cheeky one on the roof top amidst the nine to fivers.


Back to Gaffa. I was keen to see how deep Alvarez was in her web, but by this stage she had begun unravelling herself. A loud applause erupted as the last strands where detached.


Another lap, and it was time for good bye. On leaving I heard a broken glass, that makes two for two.

Maybe we should look at getting plastic cups.

Thanks again for a fun filled evening Gaffa!