Papercut: Hazelhurst Art on Paper Prize 2015


Above: Catherine O’Donnell, 'Threshold'

Since returning to Australia at the end of last year, I've been regularly making the train journey out to Gymea's lovingly termed 'regional' gallery, Hazelhurst, on the southern fringe of Sydney. Beyond the built-up city, the train takes-in lush Australian foliage. We cross the Georges River via the Como Bridge, and often, hearing a squawk, I notice cockatoos racing alongside the train.

Hazelhurst is a community art gallery and active making space, with six art studios incorporated alongside the exhibition spaces and a varied exhibition program of established, emerging and historical artists. Each year, the Art on Paper Prize is shown, and this year the exhibition is particularly strong.

A great variety of media are on show; photography, drawing, acrylic and watercolour, sculpture, prints, collage, film and animation all showcase the breadth of the genre of 'works on paper.' Many play with, or subvert the bounds of what we immediately consider to be 'paper' works. The paper-cut mountains in Lisa Sammut's video work you are sensible (pictured below) inhale and exhale, creating a breathing, delicate floating island out of jostling paper. Elsewhere, Laura Stark's Totems 1 (pictured above) cleverly mimics ceramic sculpture in this ever-more fragile medium, and Harriet Body's Earth Mark - Line (below) is the result of experimentation with clay, straw and fire on paper.


Harriet Body ‘Earth Mark – Line'


Indigo O’Rourke, ‘-33.843161, 151.284809’


Lisa Sammut, ‘you are sensible,’ [photo still of video]

A number of the works show true skill and technical bravura for detailed realism. Indigo O'Rourke's geographically named -33.843161, 151.284809 (pictured above) particularly stands-out in this respect. O'Rourke hones into a rectangular patch of the Earth and delineates the sea foam and spray found at the end of the lens in minute detail, and in unforgiving biro pen. Catherine O'Donnell's Threshold (above, top) is somewhat foreboding in its 'looking-glass' vision of shared space, whilst Jennifer Keeler-Milne's charcoal studies of 40 Feathers (above) illustrate the minute intricacy and beauty found in the natural world through their multitude and variety.

Teo Treloar's Black Geometry (pictured below) plays with realist depiction with a sceptical rasp of wit. Utterly opaque black shapes infiltrate his series of pencil drawings, and are utilised by the male figure to form odd tableau images. Whimsy is a strong theme in this year's selection of exhibited works, and elsewhere Daniel McKewen captures physicists in mid-sentence and in gold paint pen in Spectral Values, Sandra Winkworth itemises the mundane, kitsch and quirky objects of a house in her nostalgic Home Show (below), and Joan Ross uses acerbic wit to point to the damage wrought by European settlement in Australia as a lap-dog defecates on an early colonial rendering of the landscape, she asks 'Who is gonna clean up this mess.' 

Sculpture also plays an interesting part in this year's show; on a monumental and minuscule scale. Hyum-Hee Lee's White Tears greets us as we enter the gallery space. It is a vast cascade of folded, knotted paper, strung onto long cotton threads (see below); it catches in the movement of air as I walk past. On the other end of the scale is Abdullah M. I. Syed's miniature Money-scape 1 (pictured below). Like a magic lantern, the money-scape comes into focus from the fore, when all of the planes align. Each plane is cut from US Dollar and Chinese Yuan notes, folded up to show the image. Displayed on a low plinth in a perspex box, you approach Syed's work from above and as you crouch down, you experience the joy of encountering the complete image. 


Hyun-Hee Lee, ‘White Tears’ (detail)


Abdullah M. I. Syed, ‘Money-scape 1’

This year's winner of the Art of Paper Prize, Glen Clarke, also utilised paper money for his work Peacekeeper (pictured below). Peacekeeper presents a rocket comprised of shirts folded from US Dollar notes and Iraqi Dinar, and held in place by a cross-hatching of fine red cotton strands. The symbolism is clear, but the multiple layers of shirts, marking the dead and the complicit, compound the message of Clarke's work by building the rocket in the round.

Art on Paper runs until 26th July 2015. You have one week left to see it!


Glen Clarke, ‘Peacekeeper,’ [detail]


Visitors admiring Glen Clarke’s ‘Peacekeeper,’ 2015. Winner of the Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award for 2015. Clarke’s work is comprised of folded shirts made from paper US$ and Iraqi Dinar and cotton thread, and arranged in the shape of a rocket.