Posts Tagged ‘sculpture’

Michael Cartwright
Michael Cartwright

La Rondine Gallery is in Hong Kong!  Flying like swallows to warmer climes, the nomadic artists of La Rondine Gallery have sent their art to Hong Kong. Seven of us will be represented here, at Gallery ZZHK, a lovely space with an eclectic, almost Parisian character, in a small laneway, Wu Lane, just off Hollywood Rd in Central.  The exhibition is from 14th till 28th May.  We are really excited.  In celebration of our inaugural flight and for the opening night, Marc Danays, a high profile master mixologist, has created the artists’ cocktail and called it La Rondine.  Absolut Vodka is sponsoring us and has supplied the vodka for the drink.  It’s amazing to have been offered this opportunity to show our work at this high time of the HK Basel Art Fair, when collectors are everywhere about town and all the galleries are pumping.

Kevan Halson
Kevan Halson
Sollai Cartwright
Sollai Cartwright

Our artists are great!!  Jacob Cartwright, Kevan Halson, Sarah Danays, Sollai Cartwright, Candido Martinelli, Michael Cartwright, Shona Nunan.  They range from 74 years of experience and love for the arts to 24 years of age, the youngest no less for his age.  They are photographers, sculptors, painters, drawers; creating marble sculpture and bronzes from the famed studios of Michaelangelo’s Pietrasanta; photography of mountain people, reflections and exquisite atrophy; themes of ancient myth, the human journey, the balance of life; the artist’s hand representing the spiritual beauty of our world culture.

Sarah Danays
Sarah Danays

Michael and I have been here in Hong Kong for the last three weeks.  We brought over in our luggage huge frames and photographs, lugged them up fifty million stairs to our little room on Hollywood Rd.  We also sent over a box of marble and bronze sculptures which have arrived and surround us on every available space in our room.  Our room would make a great gallery at the moment, one person at a time to view an amazing selection of art.  I love lying in bed at night with the art perched up all around us, the energy huge, and it will be strange to be without it when finally the work goes down into the gallery.

Jacob Cartwright
Jacob Cartwright
Candido Martinelli
Candido Martinelli

We have been so busy since we arrived here.  We have an Artist in Residence at the Chinese International School in North Point.  It has been great to be here, in our studios everyday, working .  We have heaps of lovely visitors, young students, teachers, parents, cleaners – it has been really beautiful.  Every night we almost fall into bed but not before doing all the funny bits and pieces you have to do to get an exhibition ready; press releases, invitations, meetings with sponsors, hunting supermarkets and drink places for ingredients for our La Rondine cocktail, invitation lists….. Our energy gets expanded to the max when we come here.

Shona Nunan
Shona Nunan
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Shona and the Guardians

My ears are aching from the wild ocean wind.  The cobalt sea is peaking in ragged white out beyond the break water.  We are in Warrnambool, a country town in the south of Victoria, in Australia.  Warrnambool is not far from the twelve apostles, the stony giant monoliths cut off from the mainland by the fierce erosion of wind and sea. We are here to install my ‘Guardians’, male and female, 2.4 metres high, for the Warrnambool Art Museum, outside the entrance to the gallery on the Civic Green.

The Guardians have been part of my emerging language as an artist since the time my childish world was happily turned upside down at the age of 10. I was brought up in a slightly unusual family as my father, Brian Nunan, is an artist and was totally supported in all his dreaming by my mother.   One year, he packed all six of us up in an old landrover and trailor and took us up into the desert where we finally settled in a derelict world war 2, concrete army block house across the bay from  Darwin, near an aboriginal settlement.  This period of time brought us in contact with the art of the local people, their corroborees, their connection to the earth and their own earthy characters.  Their art seemed spiritual, with the figures of animals and people drawn in the caves and on bark feeling almost ethereal, as though the real message is their essence.  I was aware even then of how extraordinary it was to be here in Australia amongst a people from an original culture, over 60,000 years old.  Not much had changed till we got here 200 years ago.  So it was still possible to touch that ancient history through the people themselves.  From my perspective as a young girl, this was at odds with the strong physicality and ‘realism’ of the normal life I had come from down south and far from the figurative works of Rodin and Michaelangelo, artists who would become important to me as a growing teenager.


Some years later, when I was 20, I did a trip with my father into the outback to draw and paint and with a mission to find some caves near Arnhem land that he had been to in another year. We didn’t find the caves he was searching for, but we did come across another cave with a gigantic boulder at its entrance. Painted on the boulder were two big figures with their arms and hands outstretched warningly, their eyes huge and dark. To me they felt like ‘Guardians’. It felt as though we were entering a sacred area and these figures were warding away bad spirits.  So, with a feeling of great awe and careful respect we went into the cave and saw the artist’s space, an elevated rock, its surface well worn from the centuries, perhaps millenia, of artists lying in this space, the divits where he crushed his stone and the bits of twigs for painting.  All around the cave on the rock walls were beautiful xray drawings of animals and human figures hunting or collecting or just being. The space felt very peaceful and we left with a feeling of having experienced a profound spiritual connection.  I can’t tell you of the impression this made for me in my life. I return to it again and again in my work,  and I feel the presence of these Guardians always.

The Guardians emerged in my work at first as ‘Night’ and ‘Day‘ and then they became little fecund women figures on hilltops and single figures in the landscape, ethereal figures connecting to the spirit of the land. In other ancient cultures I have found Guardians too. The Etruscans,   the Cycladic Greeks, the Egyptians, the Africans, the pre-Columbians…  The Guardians are amongst the great archetypes of civilization and deep down,  even today, and without hocus pocus, we know we have to protect the things that are sacred to us, our inner selves, our children, our homes. The Guardians at an entrance are saying, come in, but be respectful. For me, these Guardians symbolically represent the balance of life,  they are yin and yang, male and female, conscious and unconscious, night and day.

John Cunningham, Director of the Warrnambool Gallery during speeches

The unveiling of my sculptures in Warrnambool took place on a mild Saturday, 10th November, 2012.   I had the blessing of aboriginal elder, Mr Robert Lowe, or Uncle Robbie, who performed a smoking ceremony to cleanse the land and the sculptures before their acceptance.  He placed burning gum leaves in front of the sculptures and their smoke billowed around us as we gave our speeches and the sculptures were finally unveiled.  It felt significant to me to have an aboriginal elder here at the gallery whose cultural heritage has influenced my own and in particular these Guardians.

The Unveiling

I am the luckiest person alive to have a patron like Professor Barbara van Ernst, who has been collecting my work for the past 20 years and has recently also bought my work for Hamilton Regional Gallery. Along with John Cunningham, Director of the Warrnambool Gallery, she commissioned me to create the Guardians for Warrnambool Civic Green.  John Cunningham has such a visionary cultural belief in Warrnambool and somehow my art fitted into part of the manifestation.  It is truly a great synergy when artist, patron and gallery can work together to help make culture grow.

Shona Nunan and Professor Barbara Van Ernst with the Guardians
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The Catch

Blood red, dripping, over the canvas, through the net, into the royal blue black sea.  The boat incandescent against a golden, almost a dirty gold, luminous light.  ‘The Catch’, huge and slaughtered, in the depths of the sea.  The colours are exquisitely beautiful and the subject poignantly ‘triste’, sad.  It’s an amazing painting in its full expression, that yet holds a poetic beauty and is able to be felt on all levels.  It is hung in the centre of the gallery space, dividing two enormous paintings of such peace and tranquility it seems at odds that they can all be shown together.  These two painting are water pieces too, one of a river in spring and the other of a pond with lilly pads.  This is Michael’s calling card.  ‘Eclectic’.  It is the name of his exhibition and and is a reflection of Michael the artist; many varying elements coming together to make up the whole. His painting and his sculpture is brave and inventive, he always remains true to the freshness of his vision, never resting for long in a new discovery of language, moving always with his bright curious awareness of everything he sees.  In his painting, his work is energetic, with big slashing strokes, and colour is his strength.  I would say light interests him less than the importance of colour playing against one another.

His freshness is also in his sculpture and this ‘inconsistency’ has puzzled and infuriated many people over the years, as he has defied the rules of constancy and yet remained a completely dedicated artist. I have lived with Michael for 31 years and I can say, coming from my own experience that I have sometimes taken years to catch up and appreciate a new work.  His language is playful and joyful and quirky, so he is irreverent to style, material or representation.  It’s more important to him that he captures the essence of the life force itself and to him this energy is always moving, always growing, always changing. Saying this, it does not mean that Michael is not serious.  He is deeply idealistic and his sense of responsibility for life is precious to him, so he often notes in his work, the environment and its balance, challenging without fear the greed of industry.  Hence ‘The Catch‘ series and his factory series.

Water study
The animal who loves itself

Michael’s exhibition in Ponte a Serraglio at La Rondine Gallery, is a powerful representation of his work.    He wanted to express himself fully in this show, curated only by himself.  His painting, prints and drawings are bold and beautiful. His sculptures are an ‘eclectic’ mix, expressing his gentle meditative side, as with ‘The Animal who loves itself’ and ‘Portrait of a Bird’, but also his sense of fun, with his ’Portrait of the emotional artist’ and also his ‘Walking Man’, works that while being found objects, still are fully considered aesthetically.

La Rondine Gallery, Opening Night
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Queuing to get onto the escalator

We’ve been in Hong Kong a month already.  Everyday walking with thousands of people, stepping into the continuous stream of people walking the subways, onto trains, up escalators, down escalators, onto minibuses, endless endless people, keeping rhythmic pace, shoulder to shoulder.  We have never done that before, been part of the workforce, everyday.  We resisted for ages, trying to find a time with less people in transit, but it seems the work day starts and ends at any hour of the day, or does leisure just merge into work, whatever, the system is chokkers all the time and it is seamless and perfect and continuously in flow.

Shona working in her studio at Yew Chung International school

The school has been great.  Yew Chung Secondary school in Kowloon Tong.  Its leaders are visionary and poetic in their endeavors to find their mission in Education and somehow we have slipped into a system that we never thought would fit us.  But here we are everyday doing our art work, undistracted by life, as the only thing to do when coming into the school is to do our art.  We each have a project of an artwork to beautify the school and to allow the older students to come and talk with us if they want to learn something from us or to advise them on their art.  Michael is starting a large mural in mosaic and I have started a ‘Harvest’ sculpture to be cast in bronze.  We also will do a lecture in a couple of weeks to interested students and parents on the inspiration of  art in life.  It sounds wonderful and is wonderful, yet every night, after a full day of intense concentration, of doing our artwork and being part of the huge energy of Hong Kong, finds us almost pathetically bleating and limp with exhaustion.   We love it.

Sai Kung waterfront

We are staying out in Sai Kung in the New Territories.  We were a little sorrowful at first, wanting to live in the mad mayhem of Mongkok or Kowloon or Jordon to get the true feel of Hong Kong, but now we are grateful for the space and to be in nature.  We are on the sea with its myriad of little hilly islands and sampans and fishing boats.  Sai Kung itself has a colourful waterfront, well touristed, with lots of fish restaurants featuring their catches in the big water tanks, awful really, (we are seriously vegetarian now), those poor old gropers, some of them 60 years or more old, stuck in tanks a little more than the size of their giant bodies waiting for the end to their misery. Last Saturday, we meandered through the old streets out the back of Sai Kung and found a bounty of interesting little hardware shops and massage places and small eateries that satisfied our yen for local life.  The waterfront was packed

60 year old Gropers - ready for the table... too wierd

with local people too, buying fish directly from the fishermen in the boats below the pier, and on the promenade, people with their weird dogs decorated in ridiculous tutus and strange hairdos were being showcased with all their pretty little tricks for an avid audience.  We have yet to discover the lovely beaches here and the great walks up into the hills surrounding the town and the boat trips out to the islands.  So far, we have been busy!  Hong Kong is very, very busy!  We are always doing something, meeting someone for lunch or dinner or an exhibition opening.  And everyone we have met is open and giving.  No one is threatened by the newcomer, everyone wants your name and your card in case you are the opportunity they are looking for.  Its an amazing place.  It feels like the place of new beginnings, where everything is a possibility and anything can happen.

Fish in the net


Every now and again, word comes to us from our friends in Bagni di Lucca that the whispers of spring are bringing glorious days and new growth and our hearts yearn for the colour and the richness of texture and age and art and eternal glorious vistas.  We miss it enormously sometimes, but how lucky are we to have such a life, to be here in all this abundant energy and yet to also have Italy, and to come from Australia, the epitome of freedom.  We have it all.

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