Gunyah artists-in-residence program 2016

Thank you to all the artists who applied to the 2016 Gunyah artists-in-residence program. There will be eight artists' residencies next year, the selected artists are: 
Michele Morcos, a visual artist working across painting, drawing, coil weaving and photography; based in Sydney 
Julie Pennington, a ceramic artist; based in Bowral NSW
Oliver Bown and Ben Carey, experimental musicians working with interactive performance systems; based in Sydney NSW and 
Tracey Coutts, a visual artist working across digital media, painting and printmaking; based in Geelong VIC  
Dean Cross, a multidisciplinary artist working across contemporary dance, performance, painting and printmaking; based in Sydney NSW 
Bridget Kennedy, a visual artist working across installation, jewellery and sculpture; based in Sydney 
Lesa Hepburn, a botanical fibre artist, working with handmade paper and plant materials; based in Moreton Bay QLD 
Charlie Sublet, a writer and photographer; based in Melbourne VIC

Gunyah waterfront, photo by Kath Fries

Janet Meaney: artist-in-residence November 2015

I had the most wonderful time at Gunyah. What an amazing retreat - not that I was closeted. Quite the opposite, I enjoyed the outdoors, breakfasts on the balcony, strolls down to the jetty, lolling in the lounge. And all importantly, working on performances - I spent time contemplating the water and the rocks at Gunyah, as well as the beaches and dunes across the cove at Tea Gardens, Jimmy's Beach and the Nature Reserve.

Janet Meaney, Gunyah track down to the water, 2015

What a luxury it was to spend time in such a fabulous house in a bush setting on the waterfront. So calm, peaceful and perfect for coming up with new ideas. Despite my plan to work with the degradation of the beach and the rising sea level I concentrated instead on the oysters from the area. Besides eating them (they were so fresh and delicious) I was fascinated by the way they cling to the rocks below the house and impressed by the fact that their numbers in the wild are rising, indicating the health of the water and the lack of disturbance that allows them to grow and procreate.

Janet Meaney, Old Oysters, 2015

I developed quite a relationship with the oyster shells. As I was lolling in the window seat looking out across the water I was thinking of how sedentary I had become and it struck me that the perfect application for the shells was to attach them to my body with the intent that the viewer would gather that I was so sedentary that the shells began to grow on me. It was also a bit about age and its process.

Janet Meaney, Sedentary sculpture and Sedentary arm drawing, 2015

I also used my new fabulous sound recorder for many hours recording the wonderful lapping of the water on the rocks and the birds as they planned their mornings and settled in the evenings. The recorder picks up 5 times the sound that our ears can hear so after listening for an extended time then taking the earphones off, the sound flattens with a thud - totally flat and one dimensional. What a luxury it was to spend such time listening and contemplating. It has given me all sorts of ideas for performances such as playing the lapping while raising and lowering a sheet for instance in a tub as if washing by hand to test the reaction of the viewer - will they realise that the sound is not that of the washing in the absence of water in the tub, it sounds the same. Another performance I planned is for Amsterdam at the Festival of Unnoticed Art. I recorded the sound of me walking in the bush with the cracking of twigs and leaves underfoot to be played back on a portable speaker that I will carry as I walk the streets of Amsterdam. So the sound will be noticed but not necessarily as art.

Janet Meaney, Re-erosion and Bucket, 2015

My Gunyah residency was a very productive time for me, new ideas are continuing to develop as a result. Thanks again Kath for such a wonderful opportunity to absorb the atmosphere and put it to use.
Janet Meaney
November 2015

Janet Meaney, Low tide at Jimmy's Beach, 2015

Venita Poblocki: artist-in-residence October 2015

Venita Poblocki, Curatorial residency at Gunyah. Day 1. Endless options... ‪#‎gunyahartists‬ ‪#‎northarmcove‬

The benefit in the self-directed Gunyah residency is having uninterrupted time and space. In contrast to my frenetic office job as a Curator, the days in North Arm Cove are long… in a really valuable way. In a welcome change of applying my mind to several different things at once, all in various stages, and being pulled in all directions, the residency offered opportunity for a single focus. It’s been so long since I can say I have truly had that. In my motivation to write and read texts that had been banking up by my bedside table, I developed a relaxed and indulgent daily routine only dictated by day/night and my dog. 

Venita Poblocki, Fallen Giants. ‪#‎gunyahartists‬ ‪#‎northarmcove‬, Gunyah Oct 2015‬

She and I would start our mornings by jogging along the few roads or the fire tracks marked out in the bush. Through this I learned the habits and lifestyles of the local residents, and probably they too of mine. With the fresh air that filled me every morning I also was immersing myself in the bush and in turn, it continued its impression on me. Time was there to really see things otherwise neglected in a busy city life. So many subtleties, nuances of place and this amazing landscape. My senses were piqued, like my dog’s. I think both she and I felt a wildness returning. She shaking off her canine domesticity and me realising again my profound need to reconnect and stay connected to the Australian bush that has been in my blood since birth.

Venita Poblocki, Twinkling water. ‪#‎gunyahartists‬ ‪#‎northarmcove, Gunyah Oct 2015‬

My days were spent writing overlooking the cove and watching sunlight dance on water or the ocean be bullied by the wind. I would break to munch or read on the balcony and watch the sky wars above between the colourful varieties of bolshy birds. Twice I was also treated to a low -flying air show of F-18 fighter planes in a simulated dog fight above me. The roar of their engines cutting through the natural soundscape and announcing their arrival. Then as suddenly as they appeared, they would bank and disappear back to the nearby air base. On the few rainy days I lay and read on the day bed from the safety of the house and watched the tall trees bend and lash about. At high tide, which was erratic (even the internet was at a loss to predict it!), the dog beckoned me down to the jetty to throw the stick in the ocean for her. Like a little jet engine, those short staffy legs powered back n forth, back n forth, back n forth. Pistons at full bore! Then I would return to resume my reading and writing, at my leisure, until it was time again continue my series of long walks around the streets to watch the sun peter out.

Venita Poblocki
October  2015

Venita Poblocki, An early morning visitor. ‪#‎gunyahartists‬ ‪#‎northarmcove‬ ‪#‎jellyfish‬, Gunyah Oct 2015‬

Janet Meaney: upcoming artist-in-residence

Janet Meaney, Great Australian Wava, 2014, Amsterdam, Dortrecht Friedrichshafen
(absent minded fly swatting gesture, performed by a large group of people in a public space) 

Janet Meaney is an international performance artist based in Canberra. After growing up in Adelaide, Janet moved overseas in her early twenties to travel widely throughout Europe and eventually settling in the US where she gained a BFA majoring in sculpture at CCS Detroit Michigan and went on to establish a successful practice exhibiting in the USA and Canada. Returning to Australia in 1984 Janet's practice grew through sculpture into installation and video as she exhibited throughout Australia. Alongside her active practice Janet continued to study, gaining a Grad Dip in Art History and Curatorship and later completing her PhD in performance art at ANU in 2011. Over her career Janet has received numerous scholarships grants and awards, most recently these include a 2012 Asialink residency in India and a 2013 artsACT travel/residency grant to Finland and Estonia. Her performances have also been executed by proxy in Amsterdam and Dortrecht the Netherlands and Friedrichshafen Germany in 2014. Earlier this year, Janet performed in a contemporary arts festival in Sri Lanka, and she will be visiting Bangladesh in February 2016 to participate in the Dhaka Art SummitHaving exhibited in Australia, Canada, India and the USA, Janet's work is in private collections in all four countries and articles have been written in local newspapers and published articles.
Find out more about Janet's practice

Janet Meaney, Puppeteer, 2013, Tallin Estonia
(the precariousness of an artist pulling her own strings)

During my residency at Gunyah, I plan to examine the local shoreline looking for indications of the rise in sea level such as erosion of the sand and receding shoreline and or changes in nearby estuaries and sand bars. I will also look for ways in which these issues have been addressed and their effectiveness. My findings will be documented through photographs, video and drawings, which, after examination in the studio, will be employed to formulate a performance that I will execute on the beach before a live audience. A video of the performance will be screened in subsequent venues in Canberra. An example of this type of work is a piece titled 'Running Against Time' in which I run between two enormous one metre long glass egg times placed at either end of the narrow section of a sand bar that divides the sea from a low lying estuary. My running gives a sense of urgency to the piece and tipping the timers up in turn points to the futility of trying to manipulate time. An umpire’s seat situated at one end the sandbar invites the viewer to observe the inevitability of the sea breaking into the estuary, but left empty it stymies any true view of the immanent danger it poses to the coastline by flooding and the impact on the community.

Janet Meaney, Sitting on Ones Hands, proposed performance for Brazil 2015
(ten people sitting on their hands as the sea rises towards high tide)

Janet Meaney, Halo, Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 2015
(a performance in collaboration with Pakistani artist Zoya Siddiqui)

Janet Meaney, Rocks in Her Head, 2015
(you know the old saying)

Sharon McKenzie: artist-in-residence Sept 2015

Sharon McKenzie, Gunyah studio, September 2015

After a nine-hour drive from Ipswich to North Arm Cove and arriving in the dark I immediately unpacked and set up the studio, the children excitedly chose the loft as their sleeping quarters and promptly went to sleep. I awoke at dawn to be greeted by a wonderful sunrise and several local birds, bees and a leaf tailed gecko. 

Sharon McKenzie, Gunyah excursion, September 2015
The days quickly took on a routine of working through the morning, drawing and painting the colors of the Australian bush surrounding the house with afternoons spent exploring and photographing slightly further afield. During our stay the weather was a challenge with 40-knot winds and pouring rain we spent a lot of time in the beautiful tree house, reading and researching our own interests. However we also took trips to local beaches (during a brief break in the weather) and to the tallest tree in NSW (despite the pouring rain). We also made a visit to Newcastle Art Gallery and picked up a Sun print kit I later used to make prints from some of the fallen leaves and branches.
Sharon McKenzie, Gunyah foreshore, September 2015

The stay at the house was a wonderful opportunity to combine work and family without TV/digital distractions. Over the week I could see the change from frantic excitement to quiet relaxation take place among the family members helped along by the lovely warm fire and winter like weather we experienced. The children enjoyed watching the daily eating habits of the local wildlife including the resident wallaby who had an occupied pouch and would come close to the house easily viewed from the studio, decking or favorite window seat. During my time at Gunyah I generated a lot of ideas and works towards my solo exhibition next February and enjoyed the break from the normal routine of daily life. 

Sharon McKenzie
September 2015

Venita Poblocki: upcoming artist-in-residence

Venita Poblocki, guest curator of The John Fries Memorial Prize 2012, 
with Kate Shaw's painting Milkwater

Venita Poblocki is a Sydney based curator and arts writer. Originally from Adelaide, she currently lives in Newtown. Since 2012 Venita's been the Curator & Visual Arts Coordinator at Willoughby City Council, alongside maintaining her professional freelance curatorial and arts writing business. Venita received her B.A. (English Hons.) from Flinders University in South Australia in 1999, then worked in advertising in Sydney for several years before she decided there was no ‘soul food’ or personal satisfaction from selling other people’s products; so she began studying Arts Administration at the College of Fine Arts (UNSW) to pursue a more challenging and satisfying career and to be part of something that matters – culture. Since then, Venita has been engaged in a broad scope of roles within the visual arts from working in the Aboriginal Art Department of Menzies Art Brands, managing galleries, writing exhibition catalogue essays, curating art prizes and curating exhibitions of both Aboriginal and contemporary art. She was also awarded the Emerging Curator Grant by First Draft Gallery in 2012. Most recently, she had her essay for Robin Eley’s solo exhibition, Prism published in the exhibition catalogue by Los Angeles gallery, 101/Exhibit. Venita is presently rolling out a new initiative, the Willoughby Visual Arts Biennial. She is an associate member of the Art Consultants Association of Australia (ACAA) and was guest curator of The John Fries Memorial Prize in 2011 and 2012.

Venita Poblocki, The Space Between exhibition catalogue

One aspect I most enjoy is writing the exhibition catalogue essay. Researching relevant texts and speaking one-on-one with the exhibiting artists allows me to delve further into the artists’ practices, as well as better understand all threads of the narrative I intend to convey to the audience. Having a degree in English, I have always been intrigued by the power of words to allow access to other ways of thinking, experiencing, imagining and seeing. Writing has the ability to guide readers into ‘other worlds’ perhaps not experienced before. Much arts writing can be academic and exclusive in language, style and content. When I write, I challenge myself to be inclusive so a broader audience can gain insight into the exhibition. For time immemorial, story-telling has been used to convey important knowledge. I am interested in hybrid styles of writing where fiction and non-fiction work together to tell the story of the artwork or exhibition. I plan to use my Gunyah residency to further develop the voice, style, structure and content of my writing to seamlessly propel the reader through a familiar structure while also providing understanding into the exhibition.

Venita Poblocki, Selection of exhibition catalogues

For more information about Venita please see her website

The Operative - Kelly Robson & Dan Hollier: artists-in-residence August 2015

We arrived at Gunyah on a sunny afternoon and were struck by the view and how lovely the house is. We were so excited to call it home for the next week. 

Kelly Robson & Dan Hollier, Gunyah view, August 2015

First things first, we unpacked the car. It felt like we had brought literally everything but the kitchen sink! But we were determined to not have to leave for any supplies, and with an almost-two-year-old, we thought better to have too much than too little! Seriously though - packing and unpacking was a two hour exercise in itself!

Kelly Robson & Dan Hollier, Car and dog, August 2015

Whilst familiarising ourselves with the place, Miss O decided that a spot of sweeping was in order. A professional procrastinator in the making.

Kelly Robson & Dan Hollier, Sweeping with Olive, August 2015

It rained for a few of the days we were there, with lightning even striking the house once and causing all the lights to go out. A bit of excitement for the day! Just a flick of the switch on the power-board and everything was all back to normal again though luckily. 

Kelly Robson & Dan Hollier, Gunyah rain, August 2015

As hoped, we were able to focus on all things THE OPERATIVE, and it was the perfect environment and opportunity to sit down and discuss projects that we're working on currently, and to workshop how we can distill what it is we want to provide through our company, and how to best communicate our range of services to those that need it. Excitingly, we also tweaked a few things on our new website which is now live!

Kelly Robson & Dan Hollier, The Operative website goes live, August 2015

Of course, when we saw an old advertisement on the kitchen cork-board with directions to the TALLEST *KNOWN* TREE IN NSW we couldn't resist a drive down the road to go and bask in its distinguished glory.

Kelly Robson & Dan Hollier, Tree walk, August 2015

All in all, a very special stay. Thank you to Kath and the Gunyah owners.

Kelly, Dan & Olive

Sharon McKenzie: upcoming artist-in-residence

Sharon McKenzie working in her studio, 2014, photo by Rob William, The Queensland Times

Sharon McKenzie is an artist based in Ipswich Queensland. She has a Bachelor of Visual Art majoring in illustration and a Graduate Diploma in painting from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. Last year, Sharon won the Wayne Kratzman Award in the Qld Regional Art Awards with her work Exquisite Corpse. In 2013, Sharon was awarded a Regional Arts Development Grant for her project Endangered. Focusing on endangered floral and faunal species, she undertook this project during 2013/14 as the Old Courthouse Cultural Association’s artist-in-residence. Sharon has exhibited extensively within Australia and has work held in many private collections. 

Sharon McKenzie, Exquisite Corpse: Regent Honeyeater, Grey Headed 
Flying Fox, Squatter Pigeon and Black Throated Finch, 2014, 
pen on paper, 2014 Wayne Kratzman Award Winner

Sharon's practice bridges scientific information with everyday assumptions, through a meticulous process of drawing and painting. She sketches extensively in the field, and also in the Queensland Museum and the Botanical Gardens Herbarium collections. These drawings evolve into delicate Frankenstein like re-assemblages combining a variety of species' features, challenging commonly held beliefs about endangered flora and fauna. Sharon also reads broadly on subjects related to her projects, creating layered understandings and responses in her work. 

Sharon McKenzie,  Exquisite Corpse: Marbled frogmouth, 
Squatter Pigeon and Swift Parrot, 2014, pen on paper

"During my Gunyah residency I plan to look at native flora and fauna of the local area, recording via sketchbooks and photography the local places that endangered species have lived and continue to live. I plan to focus on three species, which featured in my QLD Endangered project. These three are also listed as endangered in the Newcastle region: the Regent Honeyeater, Swift Parrot and Powerful Owl. During my Endangered project I worked mainly with the corpse of the animal, through the Gunyah residency I hope to see evidence of the living animal, within the local environment and record it. As the mother of three young children I also see this residency as a way of creating understanding within my own family about the importance of native environments and species."

 Sharon McKenzie, Wreathed Series: woman wreathed in feathers from Powerful Owl and 
Glossy Black Cockatoo, also Plectranthus harbrophyllus, Melaleuca irbyana, Notelaea 
ipviciensis (endangered and critically endangered plant species), 2014, pen on paper

You can see more of Sharon's work on her website