Sydney Morning Herald Column

Bill Henson

April 9, 2011

Most artists would be delighted to find a TV news crew at their exhibition, but last week in Melbourne a Channel Ten reporter and her entourage were not allowed to film the first night of Bill Henson’s new show at Tolarno Galleries. Because television reporters apparently have a God-given right to go anywhere, the indignation … More

Photography & Place & An Edwardian Summer

April 2, 2011

In 1975 the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York, hosted the exhibition: New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape. It is still talked about as one of the most influential shows of the modern era, with an index of its significance being that second-hand copies of the original catalogue now change hands for … More

Decade of the Rabbit

March 26, 2011

As a second Art Month winds towards a conclusion, it’s still not clear that this initiative is winning new audiences for the visual arts. For 2010’s first-ever Art Month the program was even more packed, but the season that followed was a mortifying experience for most of the commercial galleries. It seems that all the … More

Singapore Biennale

March 19, 2011

In his grotesque installation, My We (2011), Filipino artist, Louie Cordero looks at a spate of violent murders perpetrated on people who sing Frank Sinatra’s My Way in Manilla’s karaoke bars. This is certainly the best story of the 2011 Singapore Biennale, and one with a sly message for the hosts. In a country recognised … More

Wendy Sharpe

March 12, 2011

Delacroix is reputed to have quipped that if an artist could not draw a man who had jumped from a fourth storey window before he hit the ground, he could never go in for “the big stuff”. Wendy Sharpe, who once painted a large-scale copy of Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalus, would be up to the … More

Erased / The Primacy of Drawing

March 5, 2011

Since its re-establishment as a fully independent institution, the National Art School has distinguished itself from its rivals by putting an exceptional emphasis on drawing. Even if a student is specialising in photography or ceramics, drawing remains a fundamental part of the course. The reasoning is simple: nobody ever suffered from being asked to draw. … More

Jim Anderson / Phillip Juster

February 26, 2011

“I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher,” said Dr. Johnson to his biographer, Boswell, “but I don’t know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.” Seeing the exhibition, Lampoon: An Art Historical Trajectory 1970-2010, I thought these lines were oddly appropriate for Jim Anderson. In a retrospective at Sydney University’s Tin Sheds … More

Anne Wallace / Fiona McMonagle / Sophie Cape

February 19, 2011

As floods follow droughts, the art dealers are hoping a new year will bring clients rushing back through their doors. The previous twelve months were so quiet and visitation so poor, that 2011 simply has to be better. This may be an optimistic view, but only an optimist would ever open a commercial gallery. The … More

Jeff Carter

February 12, 2011

Ideally we expect a steely detachment from our arts professionals, but Barry Pearce, the retiring Curator of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW, recently admitted that he couldn’t be objective about the works of Justin O’Brien. At the State Library last week I had the same feeling about the late Jeff Carter, one … More


February 5, 2011

Until about twelve months ago Tasmanian millionaire, David Walsh was the most mysterious presence in Australian art. He was the invisible man, much talked about but rarely seen. All this has changed with the launch of his long-awaited Museum of Old and New Art. The phantom has materialised in the form of a middle-aged pub … More