Judy Watson & Helen Johnson: the red thread of history, loose ends

10 September – 12 November 2022

Monash University Museum of Art

Two leading Australian artists explore complex and varied perspectives on colonisation, with an emphasis on the experience of women.

Watson, a Waanyi woman, based on Jagera/Yuggera and Turrbal Country of Meanjin/Brisbane and Johnson, a second-generation immigrant of Anglo descent based on Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Country in Naarm/Melbourne, have each developed new works that speak from their individual and Ancestral cultural experiences living in Australia. Originally commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia for the Know My Name program, and as part of the Balnaves Contemporary Series, at MUMA this exhibition is brought together with existing works by each artist that explore the significance of family and motherhood, the importance of matrilineal lineage, and the tensions between individualism and connectedness.

While the red thread of history, loose ends brings disparate histories and subject positions into proximity, it also celebrates the artists’ shared love of materiality. Watson and Johnson engage with the cultural and political significance of image and mark making, with both addressing the relationship between layering and memory, body and material. Working primarily across painting and printmaking, their works individually and in conversation draw on colonial archives, reclaiming female experiences and perspectives. Both artists acknowledge the ongoing nature and legacies of colonialism and the importance of making change.

At MUMA Judy Watson & Helen Johnson: the red thread of history, loose ends is accompanied by Judy Watson’s recent publication skullduggery (2020) and a new artist’s book by Helen Johnson made with MUMA and Negative Press.


Hannah Gartside at Bayside Gallery

Congratulations to Hannah Gartside, one of five finalists in the Ellen José Art Award, on view at Bayside Gallery, Brighton, Victoria 2 July to 28 August 2022

Gartside has created an installation of four sculptural works collectively called Gorgeous. Made with deadstock fabrics, vintage scraps and factory offcuts, Gartside says,

“I want to share the pleasure and delight that I feel in making art and in art being a form of communication and connection.

I think of my art practice as a lover, one that is consistent, generous, surprising and true. So in part this is a show of gratitude for this relationship.

These works consider the physical gallery space as an abstracted version of a lover’s body. The gate marks an opening, it contains a threshold and an invitation; to walk through is an active ‘yes’.

The sculpture Wall kisser is hand-cranked by the viewer. On turning the handle the wall receives the repetitive, kiss-thud, kiss-thud of the velvet hearts, padded with lavender from my garden.

The lamp light here is a way-finder, illuminating a rendezvous. The name for this imaginary place is ‘Gorgeous’. It’s spelt out in fabric, thread and paint, the font enlarged from a 1970s coat label.”

Installation image by Mark Ashkanasy, courtesy Bayside Gallery.


Elizabeth Willing – Judy Wheeler Commission at PICA

Congratulations to Elizabeth Willing who has just been awarded the inaugural Judy Wheeler Commission by Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) for 2023. The site-specific work responds to PICA’s entrance, defining how visitors engage with the space as they step in from Perth’s vibrant cultural centre.

With her practice’s strong connections to food and hospitality, Willing embraced PICA’s institutional entrance way as a meaningful gesture that acts both as a physical entrance and a space that performs the “welcome of hospitality”.
Willing will develop a large-scale textile work that delves into the Perth locale’s olfactory and sensory offerings, such as the nearby Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River), botanic gardens, and wine region. From these explorations she will create an inventory of symbols that form their own performative, multisensory lexicon.

The inaugural commission will be launched in February 2023 and will remain in place for a one-year period. Read more at PICA.

Image: Elizabeth Willing, courtesy Museum Of Brisbane, photo: David Kelly.


Judy Watson acquired by MCA and Tate

Congratulations to Waanyi artist Judy Watson (Queensland) who was announced this week by Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Tate as one of the five artists alongside Simryn Gill (Sydney and Malaysia), senior Gija artist Mabel Juli (East Kimberley, Western Australia), senior Yolŋu artist Noŋgirrŋa Marawili (East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory) and Kokatha and Nukunu artist Yhonnie Scarce whose works have been acquired as part of the International Joint Acquisition Program for contemporary Australian art.

memory scar, grevillea, mangrove pod (& net) (2020), pictured, first exhibited at Tolarno Galleries in 2020, is one of Watson’s most significant recent works. Whereas much of her practice engages with collections and archives, this painting is distinguished by its origins in the artist’s lived experience. Visually, it exemplifies Watson’s unique approach to building layered compositions on unstretched canvas by combining washes of pigment, transposed motifs and other forms of mark making – in this case intricately stitched line work that refers to scarring as a sign of trauma, but also of repair. Watson made this painting during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organic materials were gathered from her garden and on walks. The red lines, meanwhile, are based on a graph that was circulating in news media showing the effect of Australia’s economic recession on household savings.

The jointly acquired artworks by Mabel Juli, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce, will soon go on display for the first time at Tate Modern in London as part of their expanded rehang of the acclaimed collection exhibition A Year in Art: Australia 1992.


Opening Saturday 28 May: Elizabeth Willing – Forced Rhubarb

28 May – 18 June 2022

Forced Rhubarb is a new body of work from Elizabeth Willing, an installation of hand-printed and embroidered linens, accompanied by a floorwork made from sherbert-filled straws. Food is the catalyst Elizabeth Willing uses to reflect on the performance of eating, and facilitate multi-sensory experiences. 

Willing made a statement at the 2018 Melbourne Art Fair with the installation Strawberry Thief featuring a William Morris-inspired wallpaper print using native Brisbane ingredients, hand-carved wooden sculptures, the Anxiolytic cocktail performance and collages of fruit cakes accompanied by a bright pink carpet. Since then, Willing has since held solo exhibitions at University of Queensland Art MuseumCaloundra Regional GalleryKuiper Artspace Brisbane (all 2019) and Museum of Brisbane (2020). She was included in the group show Amuse Bouche: The Taste of Art at Tinguely Museum, Basel (2020). 

From October 2022 she will take up a four month Open Studio residency and exhibition at Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).

The linens present an inventory of symbols from Willing’s own performative and multi-sensory lexicon such as sedatives, yeasts, medicinal plants, and digestive processes. Implicated in the logic of hospitality, the compositions of the Linens speak of the labour embedded in needlework and the service of hosting. 

The floor installation Moviprep (pictured below) stretches across the gallery in huge loops, one continuous tube made from over one thousand individual sherbet filled straws. The sculpture hosts the colour inside its intestinal-like body, and it spills them too, creating an expressive platform, accompanied by an overwhelming aroma.

Read more in 20 Questions with Elizabeth Willing in Art Guide Australia (May/June 2022)


Tim Maguire and Patricia Piccinini at NGV Australia

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square
13 May 22 – 11 Sep 22
Open 10am–5pm daily

Featuring groundbreaking prints by Megan Cope, Shaun Gladwell, Tim Maguire and Patricia PiccininiNew Australian Printmaking at NGV Australia launches the work created by these artists during the Australian Print Workshop Artist Fellowship program.

Established by the Australian Print Workshop (APW), this major fellowship program is the most significant of its kind in Australia and was awarded annually between 2017 and 2021. The Fellowship enabled these leading Australian artists to research, develop and create a new body of work in the print medium.

In a series of vibrant colour intaglio prints produced during his fellowship in 2020–21, Tim Maguire has taken his recent body of work Dice Abstracts to new ground. Deriving from six simple charcoal drawings and using only the three primary colours cyan, magenta and yellow, the composition of each print was determined by the roll of dice – resulting in an extraordinary and unexpected range of colour combinations.

Patricia Piccinini, who had never engaged with printmaking before, completed the Fellowship in 2018–19. In collaboration with APW printers she created two suites of colour prints. The first, titled the Weavers’ Suite, used etching and lithography to bring a new inflection to her long-standing investigation of nature, the body and the uncanny. Her second series features her provocative Skywhale family hovering over a variety of brightly coloured landscapes and combines hand-drawn and computer-generated images to create a suite of lithographs.

This exhibition has been organised by the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Print Workshop.

Contact Tolarno Galleries for enquiries about available works from Tim Maguire and Patricia Piccinini: mail@tolarnogalleries.com

Images: Portrait of Tim Maguire with his work CMY Dice Abstract 2021 at the Australian Print Workshop. Portrait of Patricia Piccinini and her work Skywhale Suite 2019 at the Australian Print Workshop. Photos by Eugene Hyland.


Finalists in the 2022 Telstra NATSIAAs, Wynne, Sulman, Geelong and National Works on Paper prizes

Congratulations to Tolarno Galleries’ artists who have recently been announced as finalists in several major awards.

Kieren Karritpul and Wanapati Yunupiŋu are finalists in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) 2022 at the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory. 

Danie Mellor is a finalist in both the Sir John Sulman Prize and the Wynne Prize, while Patricia Piccinini is the subject of Natasha Bieniek’s portrait which is an Archibald Prize finalist at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Peter Atkins and Justine Varga are finalists in the 2022 National Works on Paper at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery.

Benjamin Armstrong and Georgia Spain are finalists in the 2022 Geelong Contemporary Art Prize.

Image: Danie Mellor After the end of the world, acrylic and gesso on linen, 152 x 213.4 cm. Sir John Sulman Prize 2022 finalist.


Danie Mellor – PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography

29 April – 21 May 2022

Danie Mellor’s latest exhibition redux is on view now and presented as part of the PHOTO 2022 festival.

Listen back to Danie Mellor interviewed on ABC RN The Drawing Room (11 May 2022).

Read more about Danie Mellor’s photography in the article More than meets the eye: Danie Mellor captures the things we cannot see | Using infra-red photography, the artist uncovers a haunting spectrum of people and stories from another time, published in The Age (28 April 2022).

Image: DANIE MELLOR The persistent light (bala yubanday) 2022. Chromogenic print on metallic photographic paper 188 x 116 cm. Edition of 3 + 2AP


Danie Mellor at PHOTO 2022

Tolarno Galleries will premiere redux, a new photography series by Danie Mellor as part of the PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography, 29 April – 21 May 2022.

redux reveals connections between disparate histories and experiences. The works are an uncanny reminder of environmental impacts, and contrast acutely with images of intact rainforest ecologies. It is also a reminder of the often-violent displacement of Aboriginal people and knowledge systems, with civilising enterprise failing to acknowledge the value of cultural systems embedded in story, Dreaming and Country. Featuring selected images printed on highly polished surfaces, the viewer is reflected and brought into the work as witness to changes that unfolded in and on our landscapes.

We invite you to join us for the up late opening from 5pm – 8pm on Friday 29 April. Danie Mellor will be in conversation with Tyson Yunkaporta between 6pm-7pm. Bookings not required, all welcome.

Tyson Yunkaporta is an academic, arts critic and researcher who belongs to the Apalech Clan in far north Queensland. He is the author of Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World (Text Publishing, 2019) and a senior research fellow and founder of the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab at Deakin University in Melbourne.

Image: Danie Mellor The far country 2022, chromogenic print on metallic photographic paper face-mounted to clear acrylic 180 x 240 cm overall, two panels each 180 x 120 cm.


Announcing representation: Hannah Gartside

Tolarno Galleries is delighted to announce representation of Hannah Gartside (born 1987, London, UK; lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne).

Gartside is currently on view at Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists, the annual Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney showcase of Australian artists aged 35 years and under.

Her installation of five kinetic textile sculptures each represent an iconic female figure of the past – dancer Loïe Fuller (1862-1928), painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-c.1654), Tarot card illustrator Pamela ‘Pixie’ Colman Smith (1878-1951), Biblical ur-woman Lilith, and actor Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923).

Made from 19th and 20th century clothes and fabric, the works were designed with their subjects’ personal histories in mind – splays of red velvet evoke the violent scenes of Artemisia Gentileschi’s renowned 17th century paintings, a sail of pink silk crêpe honours Loïe Fuller’s pioneering stage lighting designs and moving fabric costuming.

The suspended forms assert their bodily presence, choreographically revolving and whirring. These works highlight the erasure of women from the canon of art history, and ongoing gender inequality more broadly.

Embedded in feminism and material culture, Gartside uses vintage and found textiles to create installations, sculptures and costumes. Skills of dress-making, patchwork quilting and fabric dyeing accrued during her former career as a theatre costumier at Queensland Ballet are elevated to the conceptually rigorous. Both deeply personal and fiercely communal, Gartside’s works engage fundamental experiences and emotions of our human condition: longing, tenderness, connection, desire and wonderment.

Hannah Gartside is a finalist in the upcoming Ellen José Art Award at Bayside Gallery, Victoria, a $15,000 non-acquisitive award to a female visual artist aged 18-35 years, on view from July 2022. She will next exhibit in the June 2022 group show Text Tile, a showcase of textile based practices of over 50 artists within Australia and New Zealand, at Caves Gallery in Melbourne.

Tolarno Galleries will present a solo exhibition by Hannah Gartside in 2023. Visit her artist page for more information and images of her work.

Image: Hannah Gartside with her sculptures Lilith, Pixie and Artemisia at Primavera 2021: Young Australian Artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Photography by Louis Lim.