Studios: 2021 highlights the important role ACE Open’s annual studio program plays in the career development of South Australian emerging artists. Each year, five artists are given the opportunity to broaden their practice with a rent-free studio space in the heart of the CBD, along with an active program of professional development.
The 2021 group – Sundari Carmody, Loren Orsillo, Jonathan Kim, Anna Gore and Oakey – have spent the past 24 months building relationships and experimenting with new materials, forms and concepts to expand their practices further. While the artists had to deal with disruptions due to the global pandemic, the program was extended from its usual 12 months to 24 months, which allowed them to become fully immersed in the experience.
Through the works on display in Studios 2021, the audience is given a glimpse into life as an ACE Open studio artist and the benefits this brings. The exhibition is laid out so there is plenty of space between the different bodies of work, so visitors can spend time absorbing each artist’s practice.
Walking into the exhibition you are immediately taken with Gore’s Installation of Studies for a Large Painting. This mixed-media work (pictured top) is intended to reflect her current project, a 10m-long canvas due to be finished next year. While the painting is still a work-in-progress, the installation highlights the drawings, studies and other processes undertaken by Gore to produce this major piece. It’s as if part of her studio has made its way into the gallery.
In the same space are paintings from Kim’s Mediation Series (2021), which continues his exploration into Gong-gan-seong (spatiality) – the relationship between material and the environment. The minimalist works are quiet and reflective, and show the processes of his practice. Kim suggests they can be seen as the pre-stage to his sculptural works because he approaches them in the same way. They all start as drawings in his sketch book but some are coloured and framed, while others become sculptures.
Next to Kim’s presentation is Oakey’s large-scale sculptural piece, Resonance (2021). Influenced by her experiences of natural environments such as the rainforests of the Amazon, the English woods of her childhood and the Adelaide Hills, Oakey’s works are about creating a balance of hard and soft materials and man-made and natural objects. Through her practice, she is creating a place for healing and contemplation where we can think about our relationship to nature and the world around us.
Also featured in the main gallery are the bold green assemblages by Orsillo which reflect her exploration into different materials. Orsillo collects lots of objects which she surrounds herself with before deciding how to incorporate them into her work, thus repurposing them to create an alternative narrative. At the core of her practice is painting but she combines the paint, canvas and stretchers with her found objects and forms new compositions.
Heading into the back room, visitors can experience a few more pieces by Orsillo as well as works by Carmody. Much of Carmody’s practice revolves around giving form to things that we can’t see, things that are at the edge of perception. In this exhibition, she presents a series of plaster forms titled Models for Cosmic Architecture. These works are the result of recent experiments in clay and plaster, and reveal her exploration into landscapes and spaces that hint at the sky or the void.
Looking at the works on display in this exhibition and visiting the ACE Open studios, you get the sense that these artists have gained a lot from the program, and the opportunity and support provided to them has helped elevate their careers. Studios 2021 also gives visitors access behind the scenes so they can view some of the processes involved in being a contemporary artist today.
Three of the next group of five were announced this week and they include South Australian artists Dani Reynolds, Chelsea Farquhar and Ash Tower. The remaining two artists are awarded by the Helpmann Academy and the Adelaide Central School of Art, and will be announced in the coming months.
On Thursday, December 9, from 4pm to 7pm, the artists will open their studios to the public, allowing people the opportunity to meet them and purchase works created throughout the 2020-21 studio program (details here). The Studios 2021 exhibition runs until December 18.
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.