Epidemic: Emerging Artists Exhibition

Epidemic: Emerging Artists Exhibition

8 April - 22 May 2010

Emma Bock | Peter Bollington | Jen Fullerton | Michelle Grimston | Penina Huho | Aaron Kowald 

Focusing on the outbreak of talent emerging from The Australian National University School of Art, University of Canberra and Canberra Institute of Technology, Epidemic highlights Canberra as a breeding ground for artistic practice. Selected by Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre, this award exhibition of six graduates showcases the break out of young artists into the craft and design scene.

Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre is a leading Centre for Australian craft and design and a key organisation supporting the development of contemporary craft and design in Canberra. Through partnerships with peak education institutions, Craft ACT provides opportunities for emerging artists and designers to establish a successful professional practice.

Michele Grimston’s installation Suburban Imagination is a collection of objects exploring the connotations of suburban Australian life. A child of suburban Melbourne, Grimston is fascinated by nuances of suburbia, describing them as ranging from a manifestation of ideal family life to a cultural wasteland. Grimston’s focus for this body of work is to highlight the spaces between these stereotypes, paring back to the essence of domestic life to the people who live within. A sea of red rooftops interspersed with glittering bountiful trees, blueprints of dwellings and a series of fairytale garden spaces tell of a utopian imagining of the potential of these spaces within a city and its fringes.

Peter Bollington’s furniture design practice focuses on creating a harmony between the object and its environment. Tomo I and II and Cause and Effect: Birds and World are created from a necessity – furniture designed for small living spaces while maintaining a sleek aesthetic appeal and comfort. The works are multifunctional, unobtrusive in size yet bold statements of a creative process employed by Bollington that transcends the humble piece of furniture into the realm of the designed object – a blend of material, form, pattern, function and artistic intention. The work also carries the undertone of Bollington’s research and the possibilities of plywood as a quality fine furniture material. With pressure on dwindling supplies of furniture timbers, Bollington identifies a need to source and use sustainable options. Bollington successfully transforms a material considered humble in the furniture industry into high quality designed object.

Esther’s Gift by Penina Huho, is an inspiring fashion collection that encourages fashion followers to place greater value on a garment, by inviting them to interact with a garment and create their personal expression and aesthetic. Multilayered garments allow the wearer to interact and interchange how the pieces work with their body and in essence they are then creating their own garment collection. Huho has used Kanga or Leso, an East African cloth, as the main fabric for the collection drawing additional layers of cultural expression and social connection into the collection. The choice of fabric, vibrant colours, patterns and cultural undertones has created work that is engrained with ethical and social aspirations for a sustainable fashion industry.

Jen Fullerton describes her practice as creating artworks that make people question and think differently about everyday things. Working across disciplines and media, Fullerton selects materials and techniques suited for the expression of a particular piece, refunctioning everyday found objects and redesigning drawings into sculptures with complex undertones. Reminding us of our impact on the environment, Fullerton’s installation uses discarded domestic objects to expose the uncomfortable consequences of our expansion and consumption of land for domestic residences. The works juxtapose the domestic object with a jarring message targeted at us all. Fragile, for example, references a colonial oil painting, but waits for the discovery of the message ‘fragile’ stamped repeatedly across the map of Australia, referring directly to the fragility of our environment and animal extinction.

During her studies in Industrial Design, Emma Bock began to rethink the application of new materials to create contemporary home wares. Bock’s major research project explored the techniques of manipulating and using leather to create new products. Inspired by medieval armor processes, Bock explored boiling leather techniques and introduced acrylic components to create her Hyde Collection and Twist bowl and vase. Bock’s prototype Stik concept jewellery, components of resin and magnets, have an element of play waiting for the user to design their jewellery piece by connecting piece. The result of Bock’s explorations is a series of objects that seek out a new market within the established retail sector. 

Industrial Design graduate, Aaron Kowald looked beyond the redesigning of existing products, identified a niche within the market and set about filling it. Collaborating with teachers and students at a local Canberra school, Kowald designed and produced the Study Nook, a portable study area for students with intellectual disabilities. The Study Nook creates an individual area designed to reduce distractions, while still being inclusive within the classroom. Showing the signs of wear and tear is testament to its success and the value to the teachers and students who use it. Kowald is now investigating how this prototype can be manufactured to fill the need identified within the market for products for children with disabilities.

Resonating through the practice of these six young professionals is a commitment to creating objects that have a vision of a sustainable and ethical future for consumerism. The objects highlight our drive to consume, from fashion to the great Australian dream, presenting innovative solutions to living harmoniously with and within our environment.

Diana Hare, Curator and Exhibition Manager, Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre

Image: Jen Fullerton, Fragile (detail), 2010, found map, vellum, gold frame. Photo: Creative Image Photography.