Last days: current RMIT Gallery exhibitions close on 30 May

RMIT Gallery Unfolding: New Indian Textiles, RMIT Gallery, 20 MAR 2015 - 30 MAY 2015 - photo by Mark Ashkanasy.

RMIT Gallery Unfolding: New Indian Textiles, RMIT Gallery, 20 MAR 2015 – 30 MAY 2015 – photo by Mark Ashkanasy.

The current exhibitions at RMIT Gallery – Unfolding: New Indian Textiles, Backs of Banaras by Terry Burrows and Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla close at 5 pm on Saturday 30 May. Don’t miss seeing these visually compelling shows. Here is what others are saying about them:

“Loving these brilliant colors!” That’s a typical comment from audiences who come to Unfolding: New Indian Textiles, which celebrates the handmade and strong tradition craftsmanship in Indian villages, and the innovative designers who meld the old and the new to reach out to a global audience.

“This is an outstanding exhibition of color and texture, that has opened our eyes to an India of which we were unaware,” is a comment in our visitor’s book.

This is echoed by other comments – “Indian textiles – wool stitching is incredible – excellent exhibition!”; “Visually and technically magnificent!”; “An amazing, inspiring, surprising, beautiful exhibition…a truly memorable and very beautiful experience to behold.”

RMIT Gallery: Unfolding: New Indian Textiles, 20 MAR 2015 - 30 MAY 2015 Indian textile designers are the envy of the rest of the world because they continue to have close, easy contact with all manner of hand production and crafts no longer available elsewhere. Photo by Mark Ashkanasy, 2015

RMIT Gallery: Unfolding: New Indian Textiles, 20 MAR 2015 – 30 MAY 2015
Indian textile designers are the envy of the rest of the world because they continue to have close, easy contact with all manner of hand production and crafts no longer available elsewhere. Photo by Mark Ashkanasy, 2015

The complementary exhibition Backs of Banaras, by Terry Burrows, presents a display of large photographic prints that lines up many torsos along the ghats of the Ganges at Varanasi (Banaras). Banaras is known as the city of Shiva, one of India’s most revered sites of Hindu ritual, and the exhibition invites viewers to explore another side of India.

The exhibition provides a visual contrast with Unfolding: New Indian Textiles and this dichotomy between high fashion and the textiles worn by villagers in rural India is a deliberate choice by RMIT Gallery Director and Chief Curator Suzanne Davies.

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies with artist Terry Burrows at his RMIT Gallery exhibition Baccks of Banaras, a curated selection of works from his book which they are holding. Photo: Evelyn Tsitas

RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies with artist Terry Burrows at his RMIT Gallery exhibition Baccks of Banaras, a curated selection of works from his book which they are holding. Photo: Evelyn Tsitas

“The aim of the exhibitions is to showcase the 21 st century application of Indian craftsmanship to an international audience, and to reveal also the everyday, ordinary textiles worn in rural areas,” Ms Davies said.

“We wanted people to have a meditative experience when they viewed Backs of Banaras, and pause to enjoy a sense of calm.”

And it worked – in the visitor’s book, someone notes; “Terry Burrows photos were outstanding. An intriguing set that kept revealing more and more on many levels; aesthetic, social, patterns, texture, shapes – wonderful. Thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition and it opened my eyes to new ways of seeing.”

RMIT Gallery 20 Mar 2015 - 30 May 2015 Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla: photo by Mark Ashkanasy, 2015

RMIT Gallery
20 Mar 2015 – 30 May 2015
Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla: photo by Mark Ashkanasy, 2015

One of the great strengths of a university public art gallery is its ability to explore often provocative ideas and challenge viewers, showcasing how artists have responded to certain events or ideas. This is the case in the third exhibition at RMIT Gallery, shown alongside Unfolding: New Indian Textiles and Backs of Banaras.

The exhibition Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla is curated by Associate Professor Linda Williams, RMIT School of Art, and draws inspiration from two major events in Japan that led to radioactive contamination: the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and the 2011 tsunami. Art After Fukushima questions the benign effects of the use of nuclear power, as explored through the work of six Japanese artists.

One visitor commented; “An excellent showing of three very different exhibitions. The Indian materials are stunning. The Japanese exhibition is so powerful and hauntingly beautiful in its vulnerability. The Backs of Banaras captures each moment in time with exquisite human stories. Thank you!”

Here at RMIT Gallery we work with a passion for the arts and are firm believers in the power of cultural diplomacy and the ability of the arts to move and affect people. Perhaps it is too big a task to ask any artform to be able to change people’s perspectives, but we do believe that well curated exhibitions have an impact on people, even if it is just an opportunity to take a moment to think – and view – things differently.

RMIT Gallery 20 Mar 2015 - 30 May 2015 Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla:  close up of new commissioned work by Yutaka Kobayashi - ‘Absorption Ripples – Melt down melt away’ 2015, made from  Zeolite, Lichen and mixed media.  Installation photo by Mark Ashkanasy, 2015.

RMIT Gallery
20 Mar 2015 – 30 May 2015
Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla: close up of new commissioned work by Yutaka Kobayashi – ‘Absorption Ripples – Melt down melt away’ 2015, made from
Zeolite, Lichen and mixed media. Installation photo by Mark Ashkanasy, 2015.

We are always attentive to the comments in our visitor book, and are often very moved by what people choose to spend time to write and tell us about their experience. Here are some more highlights:

“As a disability support pensioner with acquired brain injury, it was wonderful to attend an exhibition free of charge…thank you very much for what I saw and this wonderful opportunity.”

“Positive – positive – positive! A challenge to deadly uranium. Keep it in the ground. This art is revolutionary!”

Easter opening times at RMIT Gallery

Enjoying the exhibition Unfolding: New Indian Textiles at RMIT Gallery. Image - Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.

Enjoying the exhibition Unfolding: New Indian Textiles at RMIT Gallery. Image – Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.

RMIT Gallery’s opening times over the Easter break are as follows:

Good Friday April 3rd: CLOSED

Saturday April 4th: 12-5PM – normal Saturday viewing times

Sunday April 5th: CLOSED

Monday April 6th: CLOSED

Tuesday April 7th: 11-5PM – normal times resume

Wednesday April 8: 11-7 pm (late night viewing)

If you are in the Melbourne CBD when we are open, please drop in to our three new exhibitions – Unfolding: New Indian Textiles; Backs of Banaras; Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla.
And to everyone – sincere wishes for a safe and peaceful time of the year.

Three RMIT Gallery exhibitions opening 26 March 6-8 pm

 

RMIT Gallery official opens the exhibitions Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla, Unfolding: New Indian Textiles and Backs of Banaras on Thursday 26 March from 6-8 pm.

The gallery will also be showcasing a series of free artist and curator talks as part of the opening week.

Artist Yutaka Kobayashi at work at RMIT Gallery on his installation 'Absorption Ripples' for RMIT Gallery's exhibition Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla - official opening 6-8 pm Thursday 26 March 2015.

Artist Yutaka Kobayashi at work at RMIT Gallery on his installation ‘Absorption Ripples’ for RMIT Gallery’s exhibition Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla – official opening 6-8 pm Thursday 26 March 2015. Image Evelyn Tsitas

Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla – Curator talk

Associate Professor Linda Williams will give a talk about climate change – a curator’s response, to celebrate Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla (26 March – 30 May) in which Japanese artists respond to the events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 and its environmental implications.

Title: Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla – curator’s talk

Date: Wednesday 25 March

Time: 12.30-1.30 pm

Venue: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street Melbourne

Bookings: (free) (03) 9925 1717

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Unfolding: New Indian Textiles – curator and artist talk

At visual artist Parul Thaker's workshop in India. Image: Helen Rayment

At visual artist Parul Thaker’s workshop in India. Image: Helen Rayment

Curator Maggie Baxter’s exhibition showcases contemporary Indian textile designers and artists. She will talk about the reinvention of traditional textiles within the wider context of international art and fashion with Indian designers Himanshu Dogra (Play Clan), Parul Thaker (visual artist) and Bappaditya Biswas (bai lou).

Title: Unfolding: New Indian Textiles – curator and artist talk (26 March – 30 May)

Date: Friday 27 March

Time: – 12.30 – 2 pm

Venue: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street Melbourne

Bookings: (free) (03) 9925 1717

Backs of Banaras

This curated selection of anonymous portraits from The Banaras Back Book, taken along the banks of the river Ganges in Varanasi, provides a strangely impersonal view of private moments of contemplation or indifference.

It is also a visual essay in the textiles of the everyday and conveys much of the cultural wealth and contradiction that is contemporary India. Terry Burrows is a Research Affiliate of Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney.

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Inspired by India – two new exhibitions to open at RMIT Gallery

Photographer Terry Burrows will be giving an artist talk on Friday 20 March 2015, 12.30-1.30 pm at RMIT Gallery.

Photographer Terry Burrows will be giving an artist talk on Friday 20 March, 12.30-1.30 pm at RMIT Gallery.

RMIT Gallery throws open its doors to the public with two new exhibitions inspired by India with the official opening on Thursday 26 march from 6-8 pm. The exhibitions – Backs of Banaras and Unfolding: New Indian Textiles will run until 30 May, and be officially opened from 6-8 pm on Thursday 26 March with an address by Ms Manika Jain, Acting High Commissioner of India.

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Backs of Banaras

Banaras is known as the city of Shiva, one of India’s most revered sites of Hindu ritual. In this exhibition, Sydney based photographer Terry Burrows captures the cultural wealth and contradiction that is contemporary India. Selected from the complete series of 1008 photographs (an auspicious number for Hindus) that feature in his The Banaras Back Book, this parade of backs, mostly male and strangely impersonal, conveys much of the cultural wealth and contradiction that is contemporary India.

The subjects are draped in their personal cloth and form a visual essay in the textiles of the everyday. These photographs were taken during a five-month residency that Burrows completed in Varanasi in 2010/11. The contrast of traditional religious ritual amidst contemporary street life is intriguing and Burrows argues it is portrayed particularly prominently with Hinduism.

Terry Burrows will be giving a talk about his photographic practice and on photographing in India on Friday 20 March from 12.30-1.30 pm. Bookings RMIT Gallery (03) 9925 1717.

Who should be photographed – how and why? Terry will explore the politics of photographing a subject ‘by stealth’. Should an artist get permission – or not? Is photographing someone’s back the same as their face? Is it different in a country like India – especially if you are a Western photographer? A fascinating insight into a complex issue about rights and responsibilities of an artist to coincide with his exhibition.

Unfolding: New Indian Textiles

Image courtesy of Play Clan

Image courtesy of Play Clan

Indian textile designers are the envy of the rest of the world because they continue to have close, easy contact with all manner of hand production and crafts no longer available elsewhere.

This vibrant new exhibition places contemporary Indian textile designers and artists within the wider context of international art and fashion and examines the reinvention of traditional textiles through the sari, uncut cloth, street wear as well as textiles and fibre as contemporary art.

Unfolding: New Indian Textiles has been developed by independent curator, public art coordinator and artist Maggie Baxter to coincide with her new book on contemporary Indian textiles. Ms Baxter has travelled to India for more than two decades, where she has worked with traditional crafts in the Kutch region of North West India since 1990. The Indian village remains a constant presence in textile production terms of tradition and subject matter, drawing extensively on the daily life and popular culture of villages and marketplaces.

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Farewell Experimenta – behind the scenes of the ‘bump out’

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This week we bid farewell to Experimenta Recharge the media art exhibition that has attracted large crowds to its interactive exhibits since November, and delighted audiences on its final viewing at White Night Melbourne on Saturday 21 February.

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What a contrast RMIT Gallery is on the first days after the exhibition has ended, and we de-install the artworks. The images of the bustling gallery full of people and artwork are already are fading into memory. The main photo (above, top) is what remains of Khaled Sabsabi’s work 70,000 Veils – a massive piece utilising television screens projecting images to be viewed through 3D glasses (above, with the audience, at RMIT Gallery’s White Night Melbourne event on 21 February).

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The day after an exhibition ends it is always a surprise to walk into the main gallery and the magic has gone, and the space transformed. Where there were artworks and an audience, now it is just an empty space quickly filled with boxes, pieces of wood, material being recycled and everything packed up to be freighted to the next location. Above is the crowd arriving for White Night Melbourne and pouring through the gallery reception – below is the same view, two days later, filled with the massive stack of television monitor boxes that were used for Sabsabi’s work.

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The two week period of ‘bumping out’ the current exhibition and ‘bumping in’ the new one, means that RMIT Gallery is transformed in that time to something of a building site, with teams of technicians working under the direction of RMIT Gallery registrar Peter Wilson, to take down the current exhibition,  and then prepare the walls and perhaps new partitions for the next exhibition layout.

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Down comes Ei Wada’s Towering Records, the installation piece that transfixed audiences with its storytelling and visual magic.

Ei Wada (Japan)

Ei Wada (Japan)

Once all the artwork has been packed away to be freighted back to different locations, all that remains are holes on the walls to be painstakingly patched, and paint colors to be taken back to the blank canvas of the White Cube.  It takes a large team and an enormous amount of work to keep the gallery walls looking immaculate, ready for the presentation of the new exhibitions.Why do we go to this effort?

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RMIT Gallery Director and Chief Curator Suzanne Davies said “we want to intensify people’s experience and we can do that by making sure that the environment supports a pleasurable visual experience for the viewer and reflects the respect with which we hold for the artwork and the artist’s vision.”

WHAT’S NEXT????

In the next few blogs, we will explore the installation of our three new upcoming exhibitions, and behind the scenes details of the genesis of their ideas and curatorial rationale. These exhibitions are:

RMIT Gallery India Exhibition Consultant Helen Rayment's behind the scenes images in India of 'Unfolding: New Indian Textiles'.

RMIT Gallery India Exhibition Consultant Helen Rayment’s behind the scenes images in India of ‘Unfolding: New Indian Textiles’.

Unfolding: New Indian Textiles

20 March – 30 May 2015

Contemporary Indian textile designers and artists examine the reinvention of traditional textiles within the wider context of international art and fashion.

Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla

20 March – 30 May 2015

Japanese artists respond to the events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 and its environmental implications.

Backs of Banaras

20 March – 30 May 2015

Photographer Terry Burrows visual essay in the textiles of the everyday that conveys much of the cultural wealth and contradiction that is contemporary India.