Behind the scenes of Quiddity: join our curator talk

Quiddity at RMIT Gallery, installation image by Tobias Titz, 2016

Quiddity at RMIT Gallery, installation image by Tobias Titz, 2016

Ever wanted to go behind the scenes in a museum? Have you wondered how are works are packed, preserved, stored and cared for? Join RMIT Collections Coordinator Jon Buckingham on Tuesday 26 July from 1-2 pm at RMIT Gallery as he provides an insight into the aspect of an art collection most people never see.

Buckingham is lead curator of the current RMIT Gallery exhibition Quiddity, which is drawn entirely from the RMIT Art Collection. The exhibition approaches a materially diverse array of artworks from the perspective of the conservator and the registrar in order to emphasise their physicality, explore the limitations environment and entropy place on their display, and reveal something of their existence outside the context of an exhibition.

Works are displayed on storeroom boxes, crates and on wire racks, recreating the ‘secret life’ of the works when they are not displayed in exhibitions.

Quiddity has been produced in collaboration between RMIT Gallery and students from the RMIT Master of Arts Management program. In this talk, lead curator Jon Buckingham will explore how artworks are handled, packaged, stored and conserved.

Quiddity installation image - close up of work by Ken + Julia Yonetani. Photo by Tobias Titz, RMIT Gallery, 2016

Quiddity installation image – close up of work by Ken + Julia Yonetani. Photo by Tobias Titz, RMIT Gallery, 2016

“When on display, artworks naturally tend to be viewed within a carefully constructed cultural, historical or thematic context. Behind the scenes though, aesthetic and cultural significance are at least on an equal footing with – and sometimes must play second fiddle to – physical requirements if a collection is to have any life expectancy,” Buckingham said.

“Artworks are scrutinised in minute detail. They must be catalogued, researched, regularly monitored for change, and appropriately stored.”

What: Quiddity curator talk with Jon Buckingham.

When: Tuesday 26 July

Time: 1-2 pm

Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Bookings: Free – register to attend

 

 

Curator + Conservator in Conversation: RMIT Gallery talk 8 July

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Taking its name from the Latin meaning ‘the essence of a thing’, Quiddity (RMIT Gallery, 1 July – 20 August) seeks to unpack the RMIT Art Collection both literally and figuratively. The exhibition explores the idea of thinking about artworks as physical objects rather than seeing them as items invested with meaning or expressing emotion.

Join us on Thursday 7 July from 5.30-6.30 pm when exhibition curator Jon Buckingham and Danielle Measday, Conservator of Natural Sciences, Museum Victoria focus on the different ways the two disciplines approach permanent collections and the challenges of putting together an exhibition.

In Quiddity, works such 19th century Australian artist Hugh Ramsay’s nude (1895) will be displayed in its unrepaired state to highlight the process of conservation. The piece is one of the most notable in RMIT University’s Art Collection and it was damaged an transit with paint flaking off the surface. It is now stabilised and has been specially patched with Japanese paper.

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About the speakers

Jon Buckingham is the Collection Coordinator for RMIT University’s art collection. He is responsible for generating, researching and maintaining records on provenance, intellectual property and the history of RMIT’s artworks, and for their ongoing storage and conservation.  He facilitates the acquisition of new artworks for the University and project-manages the commissioning and installation of large scale artworks in public spaces. Jon also produces a variety of exhibitions and events from the collection, coordinates the display of works around campus, and organises loans to external institutions.

Danielle Measday is conservator of Natural Sciences for Museum Victoria. Her love of museum conservation began the first time she saw an X-Ray of a painting. She trained as an objects conservator at the University of Melbourne’s Masters of Cultural Material Conservation program. She works closely with collection managers, curators and researchers across the zoology, palaeontology and geology fields to find solutions to facilitate access to the collections, and preserve them for the future.

WHAT: Curator + Conservator in Conversation – Quiddity public program

WHEN: Thursday, 7 July 2016

TIME:  5:30 PM to 6:30 PM

WHERE: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street Melbourne

BOOKINGS: Free. Book tickets

Quirky preview: RMIT Gallery pop up performance for launch of RMIT 700s Arts Festival

Mick Douglas performing Library returns at the launch of the 700s Arts festival, Swanston Street library, RMIT.

Mick Douglas performing Library Returns at the launch of the 700s Arts Festival, Swanston Street library, RMIT. 

It was a celebration of the printed book, of the delicious page of a large hard cover from the 700s section of the library, and the sturdy library trolley wheeling in returns. It was quirky, combined art and performance, and above all, it was engaging and much fun – welcome to Mick Douglas’ Library Returns.

The pop up performance at the launch of the 700s Arts Festival on 13 August at the RMIT Swanston Street Library was a taster of things to come – in RMIT Gallery’s brief hiatus while our gallery undergoes soon to be completed building works, we were keen for RMIT staff to know that a new exhibition opening was just around the corner.

That exhibition will be Performing Mobilities, curated by RMIT senior lecturer Mick Douglas, which will open on 25 September at RMIT Gallery. And in the meantime, audiences can view Against The Grain, a pop up exhibition of works from the RMIT Art Collection at the Swanston Street library, launched at the 700s Arts festival with a keynote speech from Professor Paul Gough on “The Art of Browsing (and the Browsing of Art)” as well as performances from Mick Douglas and Baron Von Choice.

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Until 25 September, RMIT’s Swanston Library will host exhibitions, talks and a series of workshops to celebrate the university’s arts book, journal and DVD collection as part of the 700s Arts Festival. The Library is seizing the opportunity to present pop up exhibitions celebrating the arts at RMIT made available through preparations for the Swanston Library Transformation, including Against The Grain, a pop up collection from the RMIT Art Collection, curated by RMIT Collections coordinator Jon Buckingham.

For the pop up, a section of space in the RMIT Swanston Street library’s former shelving area has been transformed by RMIT Gallery into an exhibition and reading space, allowing students to enjoy works from the extensive RMIT University Art Collection by artists including John Brack, Noel Counihan, Jazmina Cininas, Juan Ford, Maria Kozic, Trevor Nickolls, Polixeni Papapetrou and Antoni Tápies.

Against The Grain, RMIT Gallery pop up exhibition. Photo: Margund Sallowsky, 2015.

Against The Grain, RMIT Gallery pop up exhibition. Photo: Margund Sallowsky, 2015.

As part of the Festival, books from the 700s section that relate to the artists and works will be available to browse through, illustrating the abiding connection between the Library and Gallery collections. Many of the works on display are by RMIT staff and alumni, and the University’s ongoing commitment to Australia’s cultural history.

Against The Grain, Art from the RMIT Collection., with books from RMIT library. Photo. Margund Sallowsky, 2015.

Against The Grain, Art from the RMIT Collection, with books from RMIT library. Photo. Margund Sallowsky, 2015.

This collection is classified within the 700s of the Dewey Decimal System. Swanston Library’s “700s” are recognised for their strength, diversity and as an inspirational browsing collection. They are now the largest collection held on-site at Swanston Library.

Audience participation required: the launch of the 700s Arts festival saw crowds gather at Mick Douglas' pop up performance

Audience participation required: the launch of the 700s Arts festival saw crowds gather at Mick Douglas’ pop up performance “Library Returns”.

Audiences at the launch certainly engaged with Mick Douglas’ Library Returns, which bodes well for the interactive aspect of his upcoming exhibition. Performing Mobilities seeks to creatively and critically explore forms, forces, dynamics, meanings and consequences of performing mobility through a program of new experimental work. This dynamic show will include mobile performances that depart from and return to RMIT Gallery.

P-E-R-F-O-R-M-I-N-G  M-O-B-I-L-I-T-I-E-S is the Australian regional cluster contribution to Fluid States(www.fluidstates.org), a networked, year-long program initiated by Performance Studies international (PSi). Over 2015, fourteen regional performance gatherings will be staged in diverse global locations in order to rethink performance ideas and practices in terms of shifting geopolitical and socio-political realities.  

These include:

TRACES
exposition of movement projects
25 September – 24 October, RMIT Gallery
8 October – 7 November, Margaret Lawrence VCA Gallery

PASSAGES
mobile performance program
3 October to 9 October
departing RMIT Gallery + Margaret Lawrence VCA Gallery

ASSEMBLY
symposium presentations, performances, events and discussions
8 to 11 October
RMIT University + University of Melbourne Victorian College of the Arts

Launch night: Susan Wyers, who curated Referencing Artists (Works from RMIT alumni, staff and past staff) and Jon Buckingham, who curated Against The Grain (works from the RMIT Collection) Curated by Susan Wyers.

Launch night: Susan Wyers, who curated Referencing Artists (Works from RMIT alumni, staff and past staff) and Jon Buckingham, who curated Against The Grain (works from the RMIT Collection)
Curated by Susan Wyers.

In the meantime, the launch of the 700s Arts Festival gave audiences a chance to see the library in a temporary new light, with pop up exhibitions which can be enjoyed until 25 September:

  • Referencing Artists
    Works from RMIT alumni, staff and past staff
    Curated by Susan Wyers
  • Art Against the Grain
    Presented by RMIT Gallery
    Curated by Jon Buckingham
  • Grazing the 700s
    Works from students and staff from RMIT School of Art
    Curated by Phil Edwards
  • Screen art programs
    A variety of screen art programs from RMIT staff, students and alumni
    Coordinated by Kim Munro
  • Sound programs
    Sound installations and programs
    Supported by Audio Kinetic Experiment (AkE) Lab and Design Futures Lab.

Art Against the Grain: The RMIT Collection pops up in the 700s Arts Festival from 13 August

RMIT Gallery Collections Coordinator Jon Buckingham with an RMIT student in the Swanston Street library, in front of Juan Ford’s work Degenerator, 2013, oil on linen, 180 x 240cm. Photo Evelyn Tsitas

RMIT Gallery Collections Coordinator Jon Buckingham with an RMIT student in the Swanston Street library, in front of Juan Ford’s work Degenerator, 2013, oil on linen, 180 x 240cm. Photos by Evelyn Tsitas

RMIT Gallery cordially invites you to Art Against the Grain, part of the RMIT Library’s 700s Festival, featuring a pop up exhibition of selected works from the RMIT University Art Collection, and Library Returns, a performance by Mick Douglas (curator/artist of upcoming RMIT Gallery exhibition Performing Mobilities opening 25 September).

700s Arts Festival at RMIT University Library 
Celebrating our arts, design and media collections with exhibitions, presentations and workshops.
13 August – 25 September

Opening Thursday 13 August 
6.00 pm-7.30 pm

Official proceedings will begin at 6 pm with a keynote speech from Professor Paul Gough on The Art of Browsing (and the Browsing of Art) and will be followed by a program of performances:

  • Mick Douglas, curator of the upcoming RMIT Gallery exhibition Performing Mobilities, performing Library Returns.
  • Literary art band, Baron Von Choice (featuring Martine von Choice on book, Jenelle von Choice on drums, Karen von Choice on bass and Kim von Choice on synth-wall) performing to a sweet synthetic beat, with “cringe-worthy words charting the course between poignant smut and the teenage ego.”

Location:
Swanston Library
RMIT
Building 8, Level 5
360 Swanston St
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

BEHIND THE SCENES: creating a pop up exhibition from the RMIT Art Collection

set up compositeA defiant protest against oppression, issues of social justice, environmentalism and power, and displacement and identity through the lens of art. These are the subjects explored in Art Against the Grain, a pop up exhibition of works from the RMIT University Art Collection, curated as part of RMIT Library’s 700s Festival.

From August 13, Swanston Library will host exhibitions, talks and a series of workshops to celebrate our arts book, journal and DVD collection. This collection is classified within the 700s of the Dewey Decimal System. Swanston Library’s “700s” are recognised for their strength, diversity and as an inspirational browsing collection. They are now the largest collection held on-site at Swanston Library.

As part of the Festival, Art Against the Grain  will enable students to enjoy being surrounded by works from both modern and contemporary Australian and international artists, including John Brack, Noel Counihan, Jazmina Cininas, Juan Ford, Maria Kozic, Trevor Nickolls, Polixeni Papapetrou and Antoni Tápies – many of whom have been staff or alumni of RMIT.

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According to the exhibition curator, RMIT Gallery Collections Coordinator Jon Buckingham, “art is a tool for understanding the problems of society. While we might wish it could, art cannot change the world. What it can do is help us realise that change is possible. ”

As part of the Festival, books from the 700s section that relate to the artists and works will be available to browse through, illustrating the abiding connection between the Library and Gallery collections. Many of the works on display are by RMIT staff and alumni, and the University’s ongoing commitment to Australia’s cultural history.

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RMIT Gallery is currently closed for essential building work and will reopen on Friday 25 September to the public with two new exhibitions, Performing Mobilities and Power to the People! 

 

Can sound be sculpture?

 

 

Can sound be sculpture? Hear it in Bill Fontana‘s beautiful Kiribilli Wharf room at RMIT Gallery when the new exhibition Revelations: Sculpture from The RMIT Art Collection is opened tonight by Ken Scarlett OAM at 6pm on 22 May 2014.  Ken Scarlett‘s publication Australian Sculptors was the first to present a complete survey of sculpture in Australia.

The sound sculpture room was designed to complement the Fontana work by curator Jon Buckingham. He says “we have presented Kiribilli Wharf here with a lighting component designed to de-emphasize the conventional ‘white cube’ of the gallery space, and to create a truly immersive experience. “

In his catalogue essay, Jon Buckingham writes;

That innovation is such an integral part of contemporary sculptural practice suggests that it isn’t simply a deliberate recycling of form. Krauss’ expanded field is a reformulation of what can be considered sculpture – a broadening of the term in line with an increasingly diverse approach to practice, but still within a closely defined set of parameters. This properly allows for the inclusion of works like Bill Fontana’s Kirribilli Wharf and Reko Rennie’s I wear my own crown, which use sound and light respectively to express form. Artist Gareth Jones finds this problematic: in jettisoning the concept of sculpture as object, sculpture risks losing the identity that defines it. Though one can respect this line of reasoning, it seems overly reductive. Fontana and Rennie’s works are just further examples of truth-to-materials, addressing the subject of sound with sound, light with light.  This is not to suggest that these works are simply formal experiments; both works are profoundly concerned with establishing a sense of place, and in Rennie’s case, a sense of identity as well.

Bill Fontana (b. 1947)

Kirribilli Wharf, 1976

8 channel sound installation

edition 2/3

duration 27 min 53 sec (looped)

Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2012

Sound Art Collection

RMIT University Art Collection SA.2013.3