Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gaff on the Green - speaker

Gaff on the Green.
Special Guest speaker. 3pm.

Assoc. Professor Adrian Hall (retired) will give the keynote talk at Gaff on the Green.

This is a unique opportunity for us. Adrian, since moving to New Zealand after leaving COFA, has been unavailable for events such as this. For me, and many others, his absence and his past frequent calling to account of art practices lacking critical rigour, has been sorely missed – along with his humour. So it is great to have a chance to hear from him again.

Adrian Hall, as an artist and educator, has been an inspirational and catalytic presence in Australia as well as in a number of countries overseas. He has an uncompromising integrity in his approach to his work and a commitment to the compelling and enigmatic nature of art as a vital process of knowing.

As a key figure at SCA in the 1980s, he has had a lasting influence on students and colleagues alike.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gaff on the Green


We would like to inform you of an event to take place in the centre of Gosford City, and to invite you to join us.

The event is Gaff on the Green, and will take place on Saturday the 1st of December in Kibble Park. It is part of a series of contemporary art activities collectively titled “Click Here” organised by Brown’s Cows Art Projects and carried out in conjunction with GAFF (Gosford Art Flux Forum) incorporated.

We will be joined for Gaff on the Green by eO incorporated, the Central Coast Contemporary Art Initiative.

Gaff on the Green, as part of “Click Here,” is supported by a Cultural Grant from Gosford City Council.

Marie Andrews, member of state parliament for Gosford, will open the GAFF at 3pm.

The directors of Brown’s Cows and GAFF are working to bring art and cultural activities into the heart of the town; to contribute to its regeneration and redefinition as a vibrant regional capital, and to involve local emerging artists in practices and issues at the leading edge of art.

For Gaff on the Green, a tent will be erected on the “hill” in Kibble Park, where discussion groups and forums will take place in the afternoon, with a visually illustrated seminar, “at the Still Point” scheduled for the evening.

Discussions will canvass a number of issues concerning local artists including:
Resources for contemporary practices.
Priorities in infrastructure support planning.
Future art.
Keeping and nurturing emerging artists in the region.
A “Creative Gosford” action taskforce.
The Spaces and Places Framework Report.
The Creative (?) Industries
Provision of education for contemporary art professionals.
Etc. BYO
If you have any issues you would like to have added, forward them to us, or bring them along on the day.
Outcomes from the discussions will be taken forward appropriately.

Schedule at this stage:
2pm. Artists and artists groups Open Discussion.
3pm. Short addresses by Maries Andrews MP for Gosford, Gosford Councillors and Debra Schleger, Manager Art and Culture.
3.15. Key note address. (Surprise guest)
3.30 –4pm. sessions for future plans and strategies as a consequence of ideas emerging from previous discussions and conversations.

In the evening we will hold a “seminar” presentation on the subject of live art; performance, body work, dance and hybrid forms. It will take place after dark so that video projections can be used to complement the discussion.

For further information, contact:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Interupted service

After being out of commission for the past week due to the quality of Telstra’s service (or lack of it), Back Page is operating with a cobbled together dial-up connection and a very long cable to a neighbouring phone.

Sorry for the scarcity of updates in the lead up to Gaff on the Green.

More soon.

Election 07. Liberal

Liberal’s Arts Policy.
James Larson, Jim Lloyd’s Press Officer, assured us Mr. Lloyd would comment on it when it was released.
That the Liberals have no interest in including the arts in any future plans, they might have, is comment enough.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Election 07. Greens.

In response to our invitation to candidates for the seat of Robertson in the Federal Election to share their arts policies with us and to comment in relation to the Gosford region, we received the following letter from Mira Wroblewski.


The Art and Culture Policy for the Central Coast should be based on the cultural and artistic needs of our community, its talent and the attraction of tourists to the region. This would entail an integrated approach to cultural infrastructure planning for Gosford. There is a need to embed arts and cultural development into the life of the city and the community. Art and cultural development are a necessary and integral part of the redevelopment of Gosford as the regional capital of the Central Coast.

The development of a cultural precinct and a regional cultural facility are crucial to the animation of the city and the generation of local talent and local jobs. There is an urgent need in Gosford to develop a critical mass of arts and cultural development activities and amenities in the city for the community and the greater region. This precinct must be close to the foreshore area and compatible amenities such cafes, restaurants, public open space and importantly, public transport. An emphasis must also be placed on the importance of outdoor cultural spaces. We need to create a vibrant hub of cultural activity that is accessible to the public.

Such a cultural arts and performance precinct must include a mixture of uses to complement the diverse range of artistic and cultural performances and talent we have in our region. A cultural and performance precinct of this kind will invigorate the cultural sector and achieve the cultural objectives that are necessary to create quality living, recreational and social environments that are both appealing to the wider community and visitors. This will attract and stimulate investment around the precinct. Above all else a cultural and performance precinct for Gosford must incorporate the community identity, aspirations and the spirit of place which must include the indigenous community to ground art and culture within an area that allows for the growth of artistic talent and its performance. This place must feel neutral and central to everyone gathering. Such a place will have historical and cultural meaning for the whole community on the Central Coast.

Gosford needs a world class facility as part of a cultural and performance precinct that meets the growing need of art and cultural performances this would include a venue for musical and operatic performances, rehearsal spaces for music and dance, spaces for environment and art. A cultural and performance precinct will allow for and enable the greatest variety of art forms within the region with an emphasis on indigenous culture, community arts as well as 'high' arts such as classical concerts, art exhibitions sourcing local and travelling exhibitions. Drama and dance included.

The emphasis is on a cultural and performance precinct that celebrates our natural heritage and expands on the artistic talents that abound in our region."

Mira Wroblewski
Greens Candidate for Robertson

Many thanks Mira for providing us with the Greens Policy, and for the attention you have given to addressing the specific circumstances facing the future of the arts in the Gosford region.

Some specifics of the overall policy for the 2007 election are available, and we will discuss Gosford issues further in the next week.

As with the state election, the Greens have researched the substance of matters relating to art and culture as they directly impact the community. Their demonstrated commitment to listening to input, and addressing specific objectives, is greatly appreciated.

Election 07. Labor.

In response to our invitation to candidates for the seat of Robertson in the Federal Election to share their arts policies with us and to comment in relation to the Gosford region, we received the following letter from Belinda Neal.

"Thank you for your recent enquiry regarding Labor's Art's policy.

Federal Labor have release a detailed Art's policy recently launched by the Shadow Minister for Arts, Peter Garrett MP. A copy of this policy can be found at -

The Central Coast is a unique region with many people choosing to live here to take advantage of the relaxed coastal environment. I am very supportive of measures that will add to this lifestyle and this includes advocating for additional entertainment and increased participation in all forms of Art.

Labor's Arts Policy 'New Directions for the Arts' includes an extra $10 million for the Australia Council over four years, with an emphasis on funding for projects in regional areas, including the Central Coast.

In addition to this Labor has promised to establish new arts innovation centres, of which one may be located on the Central Coast, along with greater financial support for indigenous artists.

I trust this information is of assistance and I am determined to be a strong advocate for our region in a future Rudd Labor Government.


Belinda Neal."

We would like to thank Belinda for taking the time to respond, and to note with gratitude her respect for the arts community in doing so at this busy time.
Peter Garrett's policy statement has been discussed already on this site, and details about "innovation centres" has been released. We will talk more about this in the next week.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Common Ground

One more before we go on.

“Shall we go on?
Yes, lets go.
They do not move.

Before Shifting Ground.

“Estragon: Recognise! What is there to recognise? All my lousy life I’ve crawled about in the mud! And you talk to me about scenery!… Look at this muckheap! I’ve never stirred from it!
You and your landscapes! Tell me about the worms!”
(Waiting for Godot, Act Two.)

Having commented on the relationship, using an overly simplistic dichotomy, between the image and the word in Irish art, it must be acknowledged that even before the Celtic Tiger was a cub, contemporary Irish art was producing leading edge practice, particularly in the field of socially engaged work.

Reflecting this development, in 1995 I invited Ailbhe Murphy (Unspoken Truths Project, Dublin), Marie Barrett (Artlink, Buncranna, Donegal) and Ailis O’Baoill (Catalyst Arts, Belfast) to the Chimera Conference in Sydney. In 1998, Dun Laoghaire, near Dublin, was chosen by Ian Hunter (Projects Environment – now Littoral) and the Critical Access group (Mick Wilson and Martin McCabe, Dublin) for an international conference, Critical Sites: Issues in Critical Art Practice and Pedagogy. This conference, Chimera, and Littoral (Salford, 1994) were important in identifying the new area of practice later to be theorised as Dialogical Art by Grant Kester in his book Conversation Pieces (2004).

Another group in Ireland, Ground Up Artists, has been doing some interesting projects with rural issues and the changing nature of non-urban life.

Fiona Woods - Ground Up Artists Collective.

The rapidly emerging world where urban experience is the default for contemporary life leads to a weakening capacity for people in rural communities to define their own lives and retain their physical and cultural heritage.

Mangrove Mountain, where my family have been farming for generations, and which is still a rural district, is now designated a suburb of Gosford in the City Council planning instruments. At a recent ‘community consultation’ meeting we were asked to describe the “scenery” or “landscape” that defined where we live.
I wanted to tell them “about the worms!”. They did not have the language to ask a question that could be answered meaningfully.

So congratulations to Ground Up Artists for important work (and a great name).
Do check their website.

Monday, November 12, 2007

SPI Vehicle in town.

On Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of November, Sydney based artist Astra Howard will be bringing her SPI Vehicle to Gosford city centre. Astra regards her artwork as action-research. She mostly works in public places where she can engage in “conversation” with people about things of interest to them.
So if you see Astra in her mobile SPI Vehicle, she will be very pleased if you come over for a closer look, and exchange some thoughts.

Watch for Astra and the SPI Vehicle in Kibble park, William Street and Mann Street.

Astra is regarded as one of the interesting emerging artists in Australia. She has worked in major urban centres in Australia and overseas, and also worked extensively with homeless people and other marginalised communities. She has adopted a social science methodology in her art practice with a goal of calling for greater recognition of the dynamic and interactive relationship formed between individuals and external urban environments – collectively envisioning a vibrant and vital public space.

Astra Howard’s SPI Vehicle is part of “Click Here”, a series of art projects organised for the Gosford City centre by Brown’s Cows Art Projects together with GAFF (Gosford Art Flux Forum). It is supported in part by a cultural grant from Gosford City Council.

Romantic Ireland Part 1

Kiera O’Toole’s exhibition “Romantic Ireland’s Dead and Gone” opened last Saturday and gave rise to a few thoughts, as did her accompanying text. Apologies for the length of this post, but it contains a few notes I promised to some of you.

Part 1 this week.

The relation between the written and literary forms of art on the one hand, and that of imagery and the visual on the other, has long been a matter of conjecture in art.

While it is common to have some text or catalogue essay accompany an exhibition, these are often merely explanatory of process and technique, or of the exhibition’s conceptual underpinnings. Frequently they contain gratuitous biography, offering an explanation for the origin of the “inspiration”, and give voice to the exhibiting artist’s self interpretation and theoretical contexturalising - however as Freud warned us, artists are not reliable in representing themselves outside their work. There are exceptions of course, Mike Parr being an example.

Kiera’s graphic images, based on bluebottles, show a refined drawing technique and feeling for materials. The organic drifting shapes are metaphors for the dispersal of the Irish people around the world.

In the exhibition Kiera also uses literary text in a powerful and evocative way. A poem by W.B.Yeats, September 1913, from which the title of the exhibition, Romantic Ireland’s Dead and Gone was taken, is presented together with the drawings, but the relationship is not one of illustration or the expression of parallel concepts, but of a concurrence of values and emotion expanding out from that passionate centre; back into the history of Ireland on the one hand, and on the other, forward into the familiar world of globalised consumer culture and (collateral) forced migration.
Kiera has managed to link Yeats’ dark and cynical view of commerce driven culture and its extinguishing of the heroic and romantic shared Irish cultural identity, with drawings based on the organic forms of bluebottles; those little drifters on the tides of chance and circumstance, who like the Irish and others before and since, have washed up and been grounded on the Australian shore.

Australia, being as it is “girt by sea”, has always been a haven for those displaced and adrift who, like the Irish, are "beyond the pale”. [“Beyond the Pale” was term for those living outside the Pale of Dublin, the fence around Dublin Castle dating from the 14th century within which the English were supposedly safe from the barbarous Irish.]

Perhaps Australia itself could be the ‘Pacific (peaceful) Solution’. 120 different nationalities were represented at the ABC last week to celebrate the diversity of Sydney culture.

'We must tolerate each other or we must tolerate the common enemy,' [Thomas Davis, quoted by John O'Leary]

The Irish are certainly not now beyond the pale in terms of literary reputation, but the question has been asked why the visual arts have been so relatively undeveloped in a nation with such a rich creative culture. Perhaps it is simply a reflection of cultural tradition, given that both (or all) forms of art spring from the poetic imagination (a common language and structuring of thought processing; a unique and recognisable blend of cognitive, perceptual and affective skills).

Could it be that language is more ‘slippery’ and elusive as a means of communication, these being useful attributes in a society, like that of Ireland, that has been in constant rebellion for so long, and that the printed text is more democratic/subversive, being both affordable, mass produced and transportable?

To quote Seamus Heaney in England’s Difficulty.
“I moved like a double agent among the big concepts……

An adept at banter, I crossed the lines with carefully enunciated passwords, manned every speech with checkpoints and reported back to nobody.”

And also from Heaney – “What ever you say, say nothing.”

Many Irish have lived in forced or self-imposed exile yet continued to engage with Irish issues through their words in a way that, in the past at least, images would not have been able to do. Indeed Joyce and Beckett were able to radically change the English literary world from ‘exile’ in France.

Romantic Ireland’s Dead and Gone opened the door for us to the power of the Irish poetic tradition without being overwhelmed by it – the connection between the images and text being almost paradoxical, given the apolitical nature of bluebottles. But the buoyant little bladders adrift in the flux and flow of their watery world, are also grounded in the physical world of pain and death by stranding; a return to the earth.

This connection with the earth, the soil, is a noticeable theme in Irish writing.
To stick with Yeats, he writes in The Municipal Gallery Revisited:

"(An image out of Spencer and the common tongue).
John Synge, I and Augusta Gregory, thought
All that we did, all that we said or sang
Must come from contact with the soil, from that
Contact everything Antaeus-like grew strong…."

And Seamus Heaney, (excerpts) from Digging:

"By god, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man."

"The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it."

And in consigning “Romantic Ireland” to the earth in O’Leary’s grave, we come back to Kiera’s quote from Yeats’ September 1913.

(First stanza)
“What need you, being come to sense,
But fumble in a greasy till
And add the halfpence to the pence
And prayer to shivering prayer, until
You have dried the marrow from the bone?
For men were meant to pray and save:
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

[Ironically Yeats was later a Senator of the Irish Free State and chairman of the Commission of Coinage.]

O’Leary, was a poet and Fenian, sentenced to penal servitude by the English and then exiled to France. He returned to Ireland and died in 1907. He wrote:
“It seems a very simple thing to say that the first thing an Irishman should feel is that he is an Irishman. But, unfortunately, the matter is not so plain after all, and certainly not plain to all, for there are many men, not only born in Ireland, but whose ancestors have been there for generations, who foolishly, not to say wickedly, fancy that they are, after all, only some sort of Englishmen.” These days we might say, in agreement with Kiera’s view as I understand it, that they are some sort of Europeans or consumers of global culture.

Next week – Part 2. Some notes on the Celtic Tiger and Creative Industries.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sensibility of Light & Fabric
Meredith Brice and Myung-Sook Chae
Monday 5 November 7:30pm Exhibition OPENING at 'Rewak' The Art Gallery, College of Fine Arts and Design, University of SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates.

A couple of artists known to many of you.
Meredith first met Myung-Sook , when she participated in the Nine Dragon Heads Symposium in Korea. Sandy James, Maumer Cajic and Meredith, as emerging artists recently graduated from the (now defunct) Fine Arts program at the Ourimbah campus, were sponsored to travel to Cheongju for the event.
It is good to see these opportunities leading to new initiatives.
Many will of you will recall Chae, Myung-Sook from the Dawn Light Symposium.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Art spaces and places

Reflecting the extensive and successful lobbying by FOPAP (Friends of the Performing Arts Precinct), background to the CSPF (Cultural Spaces and Places Framework) report presented to Council for approval focussed on a Performing Arts Centre. Those from other professional art disciplines should take some temporary comfort from the recommendations made by the consultants that any progressing of a performing Arts Centre should be part of an integrated plan including all elements of an Art and Culture Precinct.

The following report (edited) was presented to Council on the 2nd of October, 2007.

“(IR 3873107)
Directorate: Community Services and Organisation Development
Business Unit: Arts & Culture

The key finding from this stage one report is that there is broad community appeal for the development of a performing arts facility as part of a wider cultural precinct, warranting further investigation and consideration by Gosford City Council (ie. moving to stage two of the project).

Should Gosford City Council agree with this finding and proceed to stage two it is recommended that the brief for stage two (key objectives, scope of works and tasks) be revised. The rationale/reasoning for this recommendation is as follows:

• The stage two scope of works (brief) focuses on developing a business case / feasibility study for a performing arts facility in isolation. Whilst it is an important element, stage one findings identify that a performing arts facility and cultural precinct are interrelated and integral to each others development, sustainability and success.
They are not mutually exclusive and as such should not be planned in isolation from one another.

• As such the stage two scope of works should be broadened to be a holistic business case which includes all elements of the proposed cultural precinct. A suggested revised scope would include (subject to Gosford City Council agreement):

- A refined schedule of uses for all activities/elements in the cultural precinct;
- Identification and recommendations on the optimum site;
- The development of a masterplan including design layout/concept plans;
- Indicative capital costs for all elements of the masterplan, including a performing arts complex;
- Potential capital funding mix and the identification of private developer partners (joint venture arrangements);
- The optimum model for governance and management of the precinct and key
- A business case for the public elements of the precinct – ie. those components of the precinct such as the performing arts complex owned by Gosford City Council (similar to the existing stage two scope of works).

The key object of the revised stage two scope of works would be for Gosford City Council to understand the total net costs (capital and recurrent) to Gosford City Council to deliver a masterplanned cultural precinct to:

• Achieve Gosford’s cultural objectives;
• Position Gosford as a regional capital offering a diversity of activities to a growing population; and
• Support Gosford’s wider economic and social objectives, in particular the revitalisation of the CBD.


(A ) That a revised scope of works in the brief for Stage 2, as outlined in the consultant report, be endorsed by Council and finalised with the Project Reference Group.

(B) That Council accept the KPMG consultancy ‘Cultural Spaces & Places Framework – Stage 1 findings’ report and proceed with Stage 2 of the project.

(C) That the revised scope of works in the brief for Stage 2 be fully integrated with any planning associated with the Gosford City Centre Plan, Waterfront Strategy, Gosford Pool, Civic Precinct and other elements considered for the establishment of a regional city and incorporate any changes critical to the seamless coordination of those projects.

(D) That Stage 2 of the Cultural Spaces & Places Framework be integrated though the management committee implementing the Gosford City Centre Plan and that the Sunset Committee be retained to provide further input as required.

(E) That Council approach State and Federal Governments to seek funding for the projects.”

The recommendation was passed with the deletion of “as required” in (D).

Artists and others with an interest in Contemporary Art in Gosford and the region are invited to a discussion about these and other issues concerning practitioners in the area, on Saturday afternoon, the 1st of December.
To manage the location, it would be appreciated if you could indicate your interest in joining the conversation via the Back Page email (see links on this site).

More information will be posted when our invited guests confirm.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ripples in the pond

Some ripples in the pond regarding communications between Council and art stakeholders.

Minutes from Gosford Council meeting 30th October.

The following motion adopted:
COMMITTEE (IR 3934299)

Councillor: Trevor Drake


One of the major outcomes from the Visioning 2025 Project is the recognition of the role Arts and Culture has in creating a sense of place and soul for a City.

The Community placed the focus on Arts and Culture as a high priority and this is reflected in the recent support in the Cultural Places and Spaces review for the creation of a Performing Arts Centre.

At the Meeting of the Caroline Bay Arts Precinct Advisory Committee on 19 September the
Committee recognised the important role Arts and Culture will play in the revitalisation of the City Centre and hence the future role of the Advisory Committee in this strategy.


A. Gosford City Council to have the Community Services and Organisational Development
Directorate prepare a report on the role and functions of the Art Gallery and Caroline Bay
Arts Precinct Advisory Committee taking into account in the historical function, present
functions and future functions.

B. Whether the Committee remains, disband or reforms into another advisory committee to
assist Gosford City Council in the future cultural development of Gosford City.

C. Gosford City Council to develop terms of reference for any Committee it recommends as a consequence of the review.

The motion was foreshadowed in a previous post on the Back Page but the language of the “Background” is interesting, as is the reference to the Cultural Places and Spaces review. Notable is the use of “Art Gallery and Caroline Bay Art Precinct Advisory Committee,” rather than the old "Gosford Regional Gallery Advisory Committee", which probably indicates a potential role that reflects the changing art and culture geography of Gosford.

And of particular interest is “the support in the Cultural Places and Spaces review for the creation of a Performing Arts Centre” as this is not the remit of the Advisory Committee.
In fact a motion adopting the Cultural Places and Spaces Framework Stage 1 Findings, was accepted at the October 2 Council meeting which made it clear that plans for a Performing Arts Centre should be part of an integrated Art Precinct masterplan incorporating other sectors of the Art matrix.

More on the Cultural Places and Spaces Framework is in the pipeline for Back Page.