Behind the scenes - group exhibition
Wednesday 23 August - Saturday 9 September 2023
Have you never wondered who are the people behind the materials that fill an artists’ studio?
Those who make the paints so lovingly spread on canvas, who mix oily mediums and crystal varnishes, who lovingly measure out pure pigment-colour. Those who organise the requests for materials, who pack the boxes to be shipped across the country? And those who greet you as you enter that candyland of colours, the art store? Guiding and offering advice when needed? They’re artists themselves.
Founded by David Coles in 1992, Langridge Artist Colours’ original factory was situated just around the corner from this very gallery, at 120 Langridge Street, Collingwood. It’s from this address that the company got its name. Although we moved to Yarraville a few years ago, the inner-north still holds a special place as the spiritual birthplace of the business. As an independent colour-house we are dedicated to making the worlds’ best oil paints and mediums for artists both here and across the world. We believe that what we do is driven by a creative impulse, not purely commercial, and that our products are inspired by the artists who work with us.
St Luke Artist Colourmen was established in 2000 by Louise Blyton, originally in Gertrude Street but since relocated to its brand-new space at 47 Smith Street, Fitzroy. The store was originally founded as the flagship store for Langridge, showcasing every product line made by its sister company. Since then, it has grown to offer a comprehensive range of highest quality paints, canvas, brushes and everything the artist needs. Underpinned by the information base supplied by Langridge, it has always valued above all else in providing genuine information to truly support artists in their practice.
At both Langridge and St Luke, the input from our employees, as artists in the own right, has fed back into ideas and decision-making. Their input continues to reinforce our original vision; to make the highest performance ‘tools’ on behalf of the makers of art.
Over the course of 30 years, we have had so many employees working for us either in the making or selling of art materials, the vast majority of whom have been artists. It was for this reason that we wanted to put together this exhibition; to celebrate their creativity and show that behind the brand are artists who spend every free moment working as hard in the studio as they do at work.
Featured artists: Jake Baglin, Kat Bak, Louise Blyton, Oliver Bradley, Aylice Byatt, David Coles, Grace Cram, Jessie Ford, Stephanie Gabriel, Rafal Liszweski, Sara Manser, Alex Slattery, Sebastian Zylinski
The subject is in close proximity either to the studio or the home, it is an ordinary space we may not recognise as a place of interest. The paintings are visions of daily life in public places: dog walkers, people running, trees in parks, apartment blocks and motels are enlivened with thick, bright paint. Being close at hand also facilitates Baglin’s process of drawing the subject everyday, then taking the drawing into the studio and working it up into a painting, a process that can go on for many months.
Through simplistic minimal lines and fluctuating brushstrokes and tones, Kat Bak focuses on abstract elements of the human landscape, exploring our relationship with society, our surroundings and within ourselves. Working in design and illustration, Bak facilitates Life Drawing sessions and workshops to encourage creative expression and intuitive confidence. As well as painting and drawing, her passion includes collecting too many art books.
I’m always looking for a kind of quietness, harmony and a certain levity when making my works. It’s the accidental beauty in nature that really captivates me. When this occurs it’s a duty in us to stop, for us to be still, for us to move to the side and simply attend. Not to consume and grasp but to allow some enchantment to happen. A shifting shadow, a play of light can be needlessly beautiful and continuously revealing if one takes the time to be in an ever changing moment.
Oliver Bradley champions the strength of the medium he is utilising through manipulating perspective, light source and composition. Bradley speaks to the potential of the material as it describes the images created in his compositions. His perspective draws from his experiences as a paint-maker as well as a painter. Bradley is a necessary element in facilitating the material coming into being. Both paint making and painting is a mix of modernity and tradition, innovation and meticulous continuity requiring the facilitator to commit foundational knowledge in tandem with intuitive, responsive process. These works are not merely paint as a means of representing an image nor are they material explorations at the expense of the image…. In these works, the paint represents the image and simultaneously the image represents the material. They are not either/or, but rather both.
Since a young age, I’ve always had a passion and curiosity for the vibrancy of the world of colour. As we grow older, it has become increasingly apparent to me how much people day to day take the vibrancy of the natural colours in the world for granted. The cobalt teal of the ocean, the brilliant green of the grass, the breathtaking neon and pastel hues of sunrise or sunset. I consciously chose a fluorescent colour palette to capture the eye. To make people stop, think and find beauty in the vibrancy of colour ahead and around them.
My work explores the nature of the beautiful image and the objects we desire. Although the original images are photo-sourced, they are about the process of painting, not photography. The mechanical eye of the camera fixes the image, in particular, light, but the painted image is distilled, refined and re-imagined. It straddles an awkward divide between the traditions of painting and a critique of the codes of taste that inform the attribution of cultural authority.
The beach is a great leveller; everyone can relate to the feeling of sun on their skin. These works explore the ease of physicality people experience at the beach. There is a distinct humanness involved in baring skin in this way. Working with cropped snapshots I am interested in capturing the intimacy, vulnerability, humour and personality inherent within bodies on display in such a public space.
Jessie Ford’s botanical pieces celebrate the intrinsic beauty and detail found in nature while highlighting the connection formed between artist and plant. Through careful observation and recording of each detail, Ford’s work brings the natural environment closer to us where it is visible to pause and appreciate.
Within this painting, I have searched for ways to disassemble the viewer's perception. Contradicting the focal point within the work has been derived from my fascination with irony. As the innocence of the dog is overshadowed by the shotgun ammunition, which is being held in its mouth, questions are raised about the true nature of the True Blues dog.
Feelings of nostalgia and melancholy have been slowly turning to obsession in my mind's eye. I want to establish various visual motifs that allow me to engage with these feelings and memories - narrative driven and influenced by the symbolists. A horse and a fallen figure are just one of the many pieces of a future visual collection that will eventually collate into an emotional tapestry.
I continue to make work that expresses connections between us and nature.
I often paint simple architectural motifs which suggest houses, or the built environment, placed together with softer rounded forms reminiscent of nature. I am always aware of the tension and delicate balance we have with nature. My work is quiet and usually muted in palette.
The Chrysalis Phase is part of a series of paintings that depicts the slow transformation that my art practice has. While reflecting the familiar shapes of pointed roofs and soft curves, here I have merged these shapes in a more playful way.
This portrait series explores our admiration for stoic characters in story telling. The search party embodies unwavering resolve, quiet strength and enduring commitment. I take inspiration from how filmmakers convey these values with cinematography and colour. I intend the archetypal characters to capture our appreciation for resilience, heroism and an indomitable spirit in the face of life's challenges.
Investigating the thresholds of the natural and the constructed, focussing on the process of urban decay. My practice aims to critique the ‘utopian’ ideologies that one holds of their environment. Through manipulation of surface and colour I explore the complexities of city-living through the lens of less-travelled paths. Deconstructing the image to explore the history of past layers in my surroundings.