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Tales from the sketchbook an exhibition by Barek

offthekerb

Barek is really quite an extraordinary artist. Today, I spent some time having a preview and a chat, at Off The Kerb Gallery  with Barek and Shini, the director of the gallery. Barek’s first exhibition in Melbourne called ‘Tales from the sketchbook’ will open on 17th October, 2014 at Off the Kerb and is just wonderful.

Barek’s art is recognisable by his signature character drawings. His drawings often depict a similar face, including the Barek eyes and round face. Yet, in this face, emotion is captured that invokes a certain empathy. This is how I came to the works of Barek, and still understand the art of Barek, personally.

Speaking to the director of Off the Kerb, I realised that there is a word that captures some of the feeling, and it is my favourite word; Melancholy. We held a shared understanding of melancholy as a beautiful concept. It can’t be universally defined, yet it invokes empathy. This empathy speaks to something we know, feel or have experienced. It is difficult to understand yet easy to feel.

Tales from the sketchbook

opening 17th October, 2014

6pm

at Off the Kerb Gallery

66B Johnstone street, Collingwood

Barek window

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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]

 

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Shida : Ecstasy in the Abyss

SHIDA-PROMO-PRINT1I’m totally enamoured with the art by Shida. Such an incredibly original style and artistic ability that is baffling. Ive had the privilege of seeing Shida create some of the amazing art on the streets and I always feel astounded. I’m delighted that Shida will be having a solo exhibition opening on April 19th at Backwoods Gallery. Check out the following promo video.

 

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Evolving Street Art: Be Free

Having grown up in Sydney’s innerwest during the 1970’s and 1980’s, I was privy to the developing graffiti scene around me. Initially, it was tags around train stations, on trains and around the industrial areas that were experiencing a decline.

I lived up the road from the Pye Television factory during my childhood. This was the first factory that my mother worked in when we arrived to Australia. She was in the production line, putting together television sets. However, that factory shut down leaving the building uninhabited for the many years that I lived there. All the kids in the neighbourhood were curious about the empty factory buildings and we would ride our bikes to them to have a peek in to see what we could see. The same street had lines of factories shutting down and becoming empty shells. This was Marrickville South, also called ‘The Warren’.

The Warren, bordered the suburb of Tempe. The division between the two suburbs was marked by a train line. On the Tempe side was a cliff edge, a great big blank wall of concrete, with housing up the top. On the Marrickville side were the industrial buildings. This became the face of graffiti in the area. As I remember, it started with tags and then tags started to transform to larger pieces on these walls bordering the train line. Watching the transition always fascinated me and continues to do so….

That was a long time ago… since then the transitions have continued and my fascination has intensified. This is the reason I started documenting art on the streets. I love watching the changes. I revisit places continuously to observe changes. Now my observations are not only with the eye, but with photographs to document the changes. I sometimes focus on the changes that are a result of different lighting, other times it’s the changes as a result of the elements weathering the art, or art being capped, buffed, tagged over and so forth.

However, there is one piece in Fitzroy North that has captivated me with the interactive changes and evolution over the course of a few months. It is the three dimensional Be Free artwork installed on a side wall of a cafe. I love this piece and many times over the past few months elements have disappeared, it has been added to, taken away from and then added to again. The natural elements of greenery have started to grow and weathering of the artwork has appeared too. The following photos are in chronological order demonstrating the evolution of this artwork as I have photographed over the course of this year.

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Street art verses Advertising?

Living in Melbourne provides the wonderful opportunity to experience an amazing urban gallery. The art scene is an incredibly healthy one with diverse artworks adorning lane-ways, buildings, warehouses and gallery spaces. Urban art contributes to the joy of life as it provides moments to stop and ponder, contemplate some ideas, or just enjoy the talent that is given to the world free to enjoy.

As a personal preference, I welcome urban art more than the unsolicited advertising assaulting our public spaces. Banksy’s position on advertising is an interesting one and, whether you agree with it or not, it is certainly worth pondering in this context.

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are the Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

…Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.

Moving along…. A favourite pleasure is documenting the changing landscape and the wonderful contributions of artists to the streets of Melbourne. When artists pop in to visit from other places in Australia, or from other countries it is an incredible rush to dash and and capture the new artwork. As it is so ephemeral, what is here today may be gone tomorrow, the ability to document with a camera is one way of sharing and hopefully capturing the moment that was.

I’ve decided to share some of my photos that I capture on this blog and I will start with a small selection from Melbourne artists…

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Scaling the tower by Baby Guerilla in Clifton Hill

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Flight to Freedom by Baby Guerilla in Brunswick

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I stopped wearing a watch after the funeral… Collaboration by Kaff-eine and Precious Little in Brunswick

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Rainbow Shower, a collaboration with Suki and Be Free in Brunswick

 

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Ephemeral Street art ~ A Melbourne Story

Yesterday, Worker’s didn’t give a rat’s in response to yet another work, by Banksy, being destroyed in Melbourne. This echoes an earlier destruction of a Banksy work in 2008 of ‘The little diver’ as found in the following news report; The painter painted: Melbourne loses it’s treasured Banksy.

Today I’m sharing another artwork that has been ripped from public view by another international artist. Her name is Alice Pasquini. Click on the link to her name and explore, you wont be dissapointed.

This time the position of the artwork is not as high profile and I doubt the story of the STOLEN artwork will make front headlines. However, my discovery of the dissapearance of this work occurred on the same morning that the destruction of the Banksy work was reported. This resonates quite strongly in my imagination. It stirs feelings and debate amongst people, you only need to follow the comments feed on the stories reported in The Age to realise there is much division on the value of Street art.

My position on the situation is very clear. I love Street art. It brightens my day by providing me/the public with an urban gallery. It slows me in my tracks as I travel through the day. I stop, notice, stand back, move in close. I look at the details and take in the environment. I discuss the pieces with passers by, strangers and share moments that otherwise would not have ocurred… I document what I find and share on Instagram with an international audience delighting in the art of the streets.

I regularly pass by the Alice work and take delight in the enjoyment of the gift the artist has bestowed on the streets of Melbourne. I first photographed this work about six months ago in the suburb of Northcote, Melbourne. The artwork was in an obscure street, lined with warehouses amidst other streets of suburban houses. There were two works contributed by Alice and both were on Metal doors.

The first photo is the photo of the work that has been stolen. The second photo is of the artwork that still remains

Now there is only one work left as the metal door of one of the artwork above has been taken off. Someone has STOLEN the artwork. The only remnant of the artwork’s existence is the orange/yellow paint splash on the left.

This raises the concept of the ephemeral in Street Art and this is part of the reason I love Street art so much. The idea that one day an artwork can dissapear produces a desire to find artworks and see them, to share them. At the same time there is beauty in ephemera as the work fades with time due to the elements of wear and tear. The glare of the sun can dull colours, the glue of the paste-ups becomes affected by the rain, sun, wind cycles and slowly portions of the paste-up begin to unstick, fall off or wither away. This type of ephemeral I have decided to term as natural ephemeral. It is the artwork interacting with the elements. It transforms in it’s environment unaided by human’s. It shows how an artwork can evolve in a street setting. I walk past works often to observe the changes and have come across the beauty of a work as it seemingly becomes part of the brickwork in this natural process of change. This is the ephemeral nature of street art I love.

However, in the world of Street art there is another and more destructive form of ephemeral. This includes the destruction of artwork, as depicted in the news reports on the Banksy artworks, the stealing of artwork as has happened to the work of Alice, and the tagging, pasting, or painting over artwork.This ephemeral produces disdain, anger, disappointment and incomprehension. It is this ephemeral that is always difficult to reconcile.

Whilst this has documented a somewhat ugly side of Street art in Melbourne, and even the world, I am grateful for the tenacious nature of the artists and their passionate pursuits to colour the world of the streets for public view. I am very fortunate to be living in a city, that can sit proud amongst other cities as having a very healthy and prolific street art scene. It is wonderful to have so many talented artists contributing that are both homegrown and international. I can never thank the artists enough!

 

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