Skateboarding & printmaking: performance Saturday 21 May


Out of the Matrix: Joel Gailer makes tracks in his live performance art. Photo: Tobias Titz

Skateboarding and printmaking? This Saturday 21 May from 1-2 pm at RMIT Gallery, the printmaking collaboration Performprint will create a work for the exhibition Out of the Matrix using a board, ink and skater Chris Buckman – be there!

Out of the Matrix – the RMIT Gallery printmaking exhibition that celebrates new directions in printmaking, is currently showing at RMIT Gallery until 11 June. Curator Richard Harding says printmaking embraces performance. Think about it – artists move to make prints, turning the wheel on the press, dipping a plate in an acid bath to make an etching. It can be a dazzling show and the best bit is there is never, ever any certainty as to how the print will turn out until it is separated from the matrix.

In the case of Performprint’s performance Bearings, beauty and irrelevance”    the matrix is the carved skateboard wheels.

Artist Joel Gailer, who is completing his PhD in printmaking at RMIT, used to do the action and as these photos by Tobias Titz reveal, he is not slouch when it comes to handling a skateboard. But Gailer says ‘age and knee issues’ have caught up with him when it comes to the great acrobatic tricks that thrill the crowd.

Enter experienced skater Chris Buckman.

Chris Buckman

Skater Chris Buckman will be adding his own marks to Performprint’s live art performance at RMIT Gallery on 21 May as part of the ‘Out of the Matrix’ exhibition

Gailer says that Buckman will be adding his own authorship to the resulting work, having requested skating in four spots of ink rather than one. The print that emerges will all depend on the movements and jumps and falls of Buckman’s skateboard. His actions and prowess on the board will determine the finished artwork.

“Performprint is a collaborative group of artists who are interested in divesting ownership in the work,” Gailer explains.

“Printmaking is very concerned with formal ownership, but we are interested in printmaking that hasn’t been recognised. For instance, branding is a type of ownership.”

Gailer pauses.

“I’ve been branded as a part of my performance.”

In fact, Gailer submitted to the hot branding iron not once, but twice in pursuit of his art and research. You could say it’s the ultimate commitment for his art – and doctoral studies. In two separate performances, Gailer had the phrase “A cool breeze on your hot eggs” seared into his flesh, and then “hot process” branded into his other thigh.

“Yes, it was an extreme act, but it was part of a very intense, 10 hour performance, so I got into a particular head space.”


A spot of ink, carved skateboard wheels and performance – don’t miss watching Performprint in action. Photo: Tobias Titz.

Performprint’s work “Beauty, bearings and irrelevance” created by Buckman is in the exhibition as the performance on 21 May only – the resulting print will not be on display at RMIT Gallery, although audiences are encouraged to photograph and video the action.

The action will take place in the laneway (Rodda lane) behind  RMIT Gallery on Swanston Street. However, audiences are asked to meet at the gallery and follow the signs to the performance.

Join the performance! What can you expect? This is a four channel work created by Performprint as part of Skater Editions for the Signal projection screen. It features a range of performers making experimental prints on canvas using carved skateboard wheels.

What: “Beauty, bearings and irrelevance” Performprint’s live art performance, featuring skater Chris Buckman

When: Saturday 21 May from 1-2 pm (event may finish after 45 minutes)

Where: Rodda lane, RMIT (behind RMIT gallery, 344 Swanston Street Melbourne – follow signs posted at the gallery and walk around the corner)

Bookings: FREE event (with music) more information: 


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.


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(, 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:

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

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

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.

Behind the scenes of Sensorial Loop

Interview with Michele Elliot, artist, Sensorial Loop: 1st Tamworth Textile Triennial

(exhibition dates: 10 February – 24 March)

by Evelyn Tsitas, RMIT Gallery

 8 February, 2012

Hi Michele and welcome to RMIT Gallery. You’ve actually been here for a few days now, installing your work. Tell us about that, and about the piece – hemispheres, drawn to you, still, (2011).

Michele: We started on Monday and just finished about half an hour ago. So that’s been two and a half days of tying knots and pushing pins into paper discs on the wall.

Let’s get this straight – how many handmade pins are there?

 Pretty close to two thousand pins.

That’s a lot. And each one of those holds a thread which looks about two meters long?

Well, it’s just over three meters. I guess the pieces are about three meters wide and sit out a little bit off the wall.

People who haven’t really come across contemporary textiles would probably be surprised by your work because it’s very sculptural. It’s really an art piece isn’t it? It’s not what people might consider traditional textiles.

First of all I should say that I’m primarily in installation and I work a lot with drawing installation, sculpture and object making. So it’s come out of a number of different projects. In some ways it’s still quite a curious piece to me. It’s come out of research that I do in the studio with materials. I work a lot with fabric, thread, with timber, paper – various materials – but often ideas come through the making of working itself.

I can see the hanging threads blowing against the wall, it’s very beautiful. Where did the idea for this work come from?

It sounds a bit strange to say that but when I’m working with one project, I start to have ideas about where I might take the particular work, in different directions. So yeah I guess it’s material research that will start me thinking in a particular line. But then it also can come out of writing or drawing.

Can we talk process? I saw you install the work, but how did you make this large, conceptual piece?

This piece is made primarily of wooden pins, which are all hand made, and lengths of thread so it’s a work that in some ways has removed the fabric of textiles and it’s just working with the bare bones with the joiners.

Pins and threads are used with materials to make other things so in that sense it’s quite a temporal work in a metaphoric sense, also in a physical sense too because the work goes up in the gallery and at the end of the exhibition it’s taken down.

In the next venue it’ll be re-made again so it’s made each time in the different spaces that it’s touring to.

So it’s a bit like a performance piece?

It is, it’s a bit like a performance and it’s a performance in the making of the work in that each of those pins have been hand made but then installation has become a performative work as well, that’s right.

The really interesting part about walking through Sensorial Loop is seeing how the different works relate to each other in the space. What’s your feeling about the exhibition?

Oh, I think it’s a fantastic show; I’m really excited to be in it. It’s great looking at the connections between materials that people are working with; the techniques that different artists are using – there’s a lot of overlap.

Also, I think curator Patrick Snelling has done such a great job with the theme and calling it ‘Sensorial Loop’. It makes you think about textiles in terms of the physicality of the work, but there’s also the loop in a conceptual sense; in the terms of pattern and repetition and it’s materially.

All the works are so different. What I also enjoy is there’s a lot of the hand-made. I make a lot of my own work and I love to see the way that other artists work with techniques and material.

Finally, your piece is actually deconstructed in a spectacular fashion just before the exhibition ends. In a way it is a performance piece in itself. That will take place at RMIT Gallery on March 22nd when we have our final floor talk for Sensorial Loop.

Can you tell me what is going to happen to your work then?

I don’t know if I should! [laughs]. I think we should keep it a surprise and get people to come down and experience it! But it will be dramatic – and final.

Exhibition details:

Sensorial Loop: 1st Tamworth Textile Triennial

Exhibition dates: 10 February – 24 March 2012

Curator: Patrick Snelling

Sensorial Loop – Public Events To Come:

The following free event explores new directions in textiles. Bookings essential on (03) 9925 1717.

What: Floor talks with contemporary textile artists
With Lucy Irvine, Anton Veenstra, Verity Prideaux and Paula Do Prado

* Plus – deconstructing Michele Elliott’s work: hemispheres: drawn to you, still (2011)

When: 2pm – 3.30pm, Thursday, 22 March (includes afternoon tea)
Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne