Christopher Strong

Christopher Strong

During my residency I will continue my recent practice of finding small instances of beauty in every day life and magnifying it. By limiting my focus to a tiny space, I can find shapes, forms and colours that always around me but not often the focus of me attention. Usually my subject is nature thriving within an urban environment, but sometimes I focus on food or industry.

During my residency I want a new artistic experience by letting the environment change my work, both in the subject matters that will capture my attention as I live at Rimbun Dahan and travel in Kuala Lumpur, and how the physical environment that is very different to Melbourne.

I am a self-taught visual artist, painting with oils and watercolour. See more information about me and my work at my website.

Elise Luong

Elise Luong

Elise Luong is an Australian-born artists’ manager who has spent the last ten years working extensively within a diverse number of contemporary art platforms. Bilingual in English and French, her work includes the project management, development and curation of wildly unique exhibition spaces in Brussels, Berlin and Hanoi, showcasing visual arts, performing arts, and new media. A recent co-author of the internationally distributed book Street Art Today, Elise is dedicated to working alongside and within an international network of artists, designers and creative thinkers.

During her residency at Rimbun Dahan she will be continuing her research concerning artist-in-resident programs following on from her recent residency at Bamboo Curtain Studio in Taipei which saw her produce the podcast What’s up with Taiwan?

Using Rimbun Dahan as a starting point for her research in effective residency management, she will explore the surrounds interviewing a range of residency managers, artists and creative activists in order to gauge the attributes and problematics facing creative hubs based in Asia. During her time in Malaysia she will be focusing on a new topic: that of the artists’ experience in residency settings. She will also be developing her own residency project which shall see the light in Hanoi during the course of 2017.

Elise is co-founder of Undecided Productions to see more of her previous event work click HERE.

Laura Wills

Laura Wills

Laura Wills is an Adelaide based visual artist. She has a multidisciplinary practice and a strong interest in using found materials, collaboration and basing projects on social/ environmental themes. She is represented by Hill Smith Gallery Adelaide. She will be in residency at Rimbun Dahan for 5 weeks until mid-February.

At Rimbun Dahan I will be developing a new series of works on maps. My research will be drawing and painting based and also involve exploring the local environment to inform the development of new works, particularly the Taman Sari, vegetable and spice garden. I am interested in the social relationship and connection people have to it. I would like to continue in this line of thinking about intimate relationships, memories and habits we have towards culinary plants and nature.

For more information on Laura’s work, visit her website, Instagram, or Hill Smith Gallery’s website.

Laura’s residency was supported by a professional development grant from the South Australian Government through Arts SA.

 

Grace Blake

Grace Blake

Grace Blake is a visual artist working between Canberra and Sydney. She is currently completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts in printmaking and drawing with a Bachelor of Arts art history from ANU.

Her fascination with the virtual landscape manifests in works that map the line between real and simulated. Blake acts as a cartographer of boundless digital space where the tension between the natural dimensions has been compressed into binary logic.

Currently Blake’s studio practice is working to examine ecologies, resulting in attempts to parallel dense natural ecologies with those that exist in data centers and online. Trans-humanism and future predictions of dense mega-city infrastructure lead toward an interest in arcologies. Various Archo-structures will be examined across animation, installation and interactive web platforms with using both recorded-footage and 3D generated material.

Blake was recently included in group show ‘My Feet Would Hurt If They Still Existed’ at Alaska Projects, ‘Personal Geographies’ at the ANU School of Art Foyer gallery and ‘SafARI 2016’.

She is currently on the Australian New Colombo Plan Scholarship studying and interning in Thailand and Singapore and will undergo a three month residency at Rimbun Dahan from August to October.

Soraya Abidin

Soraya Abidin

Soraya Abidin (b. 1971) is a textile artist based in Sydney, Australia. The subjects and materials she uses to create her works are born of a love for the Primitive and Spiritual practices within her Malay cultural heritage. Soraya embroiders in natural raffia representing matter from the jungle and embellishes with gold leaf, as a mark of status and the prestigious gold culture worn by her aristocratic ancestors. During as recent visit to Malaysia, where her father is from, interpreted inquiries of her family members revealed her art making practice as an inherent genetic trait directly traceable to her Malay culture, which the artist expands on below:

“I am an Embroidress, the only member in the entire family that has inherited the passion for Benang Emas Sulaman from my Opah (grandmother). I have studied my parents wedding photos for many years, loving and attempting to recreate the motifs seen on all the wedding decorations. I had no idea these works even still existed, till I showed copies of the wedding photos to my family and the next thing I knew these incredible items where in front of me, in my hands to touch and marvel at the perfection of each piece. It was then that I learnt all the embroidered pieces in the photographs had been made by my Opah.

I never could have imagined what this information would do for me, so astounding that I am finally able to make this connection. Now I understand my passion for Embroidery has a strong thread directly linked to my inherent bloodline. This may seem simple but to me it provides powerful and auspicious meaning to the medium I have always instinctually gravitated towards as an artist. Now I have found the origins of my practice and that I am the one to carry on the family tradition.

During the residency I would like to study the use of motifs in traditional Malay textiles, Tekat and Songket, and gather motifs and their meanings to create a glossary for reference in my artmaking. I would like to create an artwork representing my cross cultural parentage, by use of the Traditional Quilting practices of my Australian mother, layered and embedded with embroidered Islamic Arts motifs of my Malay father.

The work will be embroidered with natural raffia and pure white silks and embellish with gold leaf, metallic threads and glass beads. My focus will be on the selection and placement of motifs that are layered over a quilt top created by my mother. The base cloth will be embellished with a combination of appliqued silks motifs then layered with interconnecting embroidered Malay motifs, intentionally leaving gaps and spaces to create a cross cultural conversation in both the positive and negative space.

The intention of the work is to portray a new found clarity and definition in my identity. Through the layering of motifs and utilisation of the powerful meanings in their symbolism to bind together the genetic behavioural traits of my two cultural heritages.”

Soraya will be in residency at Rimbun Dahan for the month of August. You can find more of Soraya and her work on Instagram.

Nina Rupena

Nina Rupena

Nina Rupena is a Bosnian born project-based artist currently located in Melbourne. She works across mediums and practices using both visual art and design as tools for communicating ideas. Painting and drawing are her passion and she has a great interest in collaborative work. Since 2008, Nina worked on numerous collaborative projects with artists, designers, filmmakers, organisations and communities.

We wrap ourselves in cotton wool and try to iron, bleach and polish our emotions. We constantly try to predict the future and ignore the uncertain and fleeting nature of our existence. But isn’t the intensity of human experience what makes that very existence beautiful? Pain is intrinsic to the human experience. Without it something of our humanity, dignity and beauty of human life is trivialized. Life without experiencing pain breeds complacency, ignorance and passivity. Beauty is all around us I look for it in human experiences such as disability, old age, displacement and tragedy.

Nina is currently in residency at Hotel Penaga in Penang from February to April 2015. You can find out more about her and her work at her website.

Felicity Fenner

Felicity Fenner

felicityFelicity Fenner is an Australian curator of contemporary exhibitions including Primavera 2005 at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the 2008 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art and Once Removed, Australia’s group exhibition at the 2009Venice Biennale. She is a contributing editor of Art Asia Pacific and publishes regularly in a variety of journals including Art in America and Art and Australia.

Felicity is Senior Curator at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales and Deputy Director of UNSW’s Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics. She is completing a PhD on curatorial strategies in major international exhibitions. During her time at Rimbun Dahan, Felicity is continuing her ongoing research into contemporary Asian art in preparation for a major exhibition exploring how artists and designers envisage our future urban and social environments in the context of global warming and climate change.

Dan Wollmering

Dan Wollmering

dan

Lately, I have been trying to reduce the clutter that inundates our lives. Whether its junk mail, email spam or just ‘things’ that build up over time in the bottom kitchen drawer, the backyard shed or those items that suddenly make their appearance when rifling through the wardrobe, closet, bookshelves or unopened boxes − throwing out is satisfying.

As a sculptor, clutter is a constant companion in the studio. I find it difficult to depose of anything that inhabits a sense of wonder and aesthetic potential – compounded by the fact that someday, it could form the basis of a new sculpture.

For the last five years or so, much of my practice has followed suit; whereby, my aim is to reduce and crystallise the essence of the form and thus the concept. It follows in the tradition of Minimalism – perhaps less of the ‘hard edge’ and more of the ‘organic’ type.

In this manner, the work is abstract, sometimes familiar and sometimes ambiguous in their final character. Stable and unstable, expanding and contracting, the forms may also suggest references to a secret and mysterious life form; one of less perplexity and in keeping with the forces of a self-ordering system of modular construction and organic unity.

As a sculptor, I am forever cognisant of the rich and marvellous history of both eastern and western sculpture traditions, and to that end, my small gestures and contributions to an expanding and vibrant culture and arguably, one of the most challenging disciplines in the visual arts.

clutter

About the Artist

Dan Wollmering was born in St. Paul Minnesota, USA and immigrated to Australia in 1975. He is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts and Sculpture Studio Coordinator, Faculty of Art and Design, Monash University.

Wollmering holds the following degrees: BA, MFA and PhD and has held 25 solo exhibitions and work included in over 40 group exhibitions internationally. Completing major public artworks in Australia, China and the USA, he was recently awarded the prestigious Contempora Sculpture Award for a socio/political work that part sculpture and part architecture. He has participated in overseas residencies including Malaysia, USA, and the Ninth Guilin International Sculpture Symposium in Southern China. A recipient of the Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Sculpture Award (CSA), he also received a Nomination Award for the Beijing Olympic Park Sculpture Design Competition. His work is represented in private, corporate and public collections including Regional Galleries and Universities in Victoria.

The artist is represented by Flinders Lane Gallery, Melbourne and BMGArt, Adelaide.

 

Gabrielle Bates

Gabrielle Bates

Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency 2007

BatesG1The 2007 Australian artist in residence at Rimbun Dahan is Gabrielle Bates (6. 1967). An honors graduate from the University of Sydney, New South Wales, she has exhibited professionally since 1993 and is the recipient of a number of awards, grants and residency placements. Gabrielle’s works have been acquired for corporate, institutional and private collections in Australia, UK, USA and Malaysia.

‘Mouth of flowers’ is Gabrielle’s new body of experimental paintings, objects and video work produced this year while in residence at Rimbun Dahan, Kuala Lumpur. Gabrielle’s exploration of patterns and figuration has produced a series of canvas-based works that combine water colour, Rimbun Dahan pond water, hand-embroidered nylon thread, Chinese ink and synthetic polymer paint. The works combine Southeast Asian motifs, signage and local media with figuration to explore the political and poetic subtleties of life for artists in Malaysia and southeast Asia.

Artists such as Saiful Razman, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Husin Hourmain, Donna Miranda, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Shaffudin Mamat, Low Shee Hoe, Lau Mun Leng and Bilqis Hijjas have all posed for Bates during her residency. In turn, she has transformed them into players within a fictional narrative that circles the conflicts, anxieties, insights and advantages of (self) censorship.

Her objects, collected from the ordinary Kelompang jari (Sterculia foetida) pods, have been reconfigured with nylon thread and decorative elements such as sequins and velvet appliqué, morphing the pods into a collection of anthropomorphous objects.

Gabrielle presented ‘Mouth of flowers’ at the 13th Rimbun Dahan Residency Exhibition, alongside the work of Malaysian resident artist Ahmad Fuad Osman, 13 to 27 January 2008, at the Rimbun Dahan gallery.

The elasticity of a golden thread

by Gina Fairley

Our lives are filled with pattern: The patterned regimentation of our actions; our personal ‘style’; the family that frames us; our cultural fabric; conservatisms and beliefs. We wear an invisible code that defines who we are, our DNA. Collectively, this is ourpattern.

Gabrielle Bates has long used quasi-ethnographic motifs as a device to transfer information about the people she paints. In her earlier portraits the sitter reverberated across the canvas, floating on a flat colour field. Like a print slightly out of register, their ghost-like repetition, or flaw, reaffirmed their humanity. Bold black outlines held their pattern allowing us to decode who they might be.

While these early portraits offer a clear trajectory to these new works, the “Mouth of Flowers” series comes from a very different position: psychologically, emotionally and culturally. Their patterning goes beyond a descriptor to physically consume the form. The body and pattern have fused as one.

Malaysia’s hybridity makes an indelible impression on every artist visiting Rimbun Dahan. For Bates that engagement was filled with multiplicity: it offered an organic tangibility to the work spawned from its bounty of pods, natural patterns and pond water; it provided the solitude to rediscover embroidery, sewing a personal and emotional narrative; and it offered the gift of insight, journeying beyond perceptions.

Finding Malaysia’s pattern is complex. At an elementary level it lies in its graphic traditions of batik, henna decoration and Islamic geometry. At a cerebral level it is the patterning of socio-political / religious striations of a nation at a time when it is asking ‘what is its contemporary identity?’ Bates’ work traces a thread across these ideas, oscillating between reverie and bounce. Remove the exotic ‘pattern’ and it is a narrative caught in a web of time, territory and transition.

Bates found this narrative in a coterie of artists, dancers and musicians who explore the peripheral through their creativity. The narratives are dense but less self-effacing; the ‘outlines’ have become diffused. She replaces ethnographic patterning with a floral fragility, caught between romantic apparition and an earthy reality. Often clothed in little more than an organic epidermis, her players are exposed. But these characters are not vulnerable. If we look at the painting “Armour”, banana flowers (bunga pisang) rise up like a noxious weed, beautiful but threatening, clutching at a woman’s neck rendering her speechless. But she does not turn away; her gaze does not flare in distress – it is a knowing censure.

In “Stir” she sleeps enveloped by the same flowers. Is it the peace of submission, death or sleep? Is she weightless or weighted by her floral shroud? Paired with a mirror-image caught between cartoon and apparition, it sits against a brave white ground acting as a stark alter-ego to the velvety, painterly background of the sleeping figure. It is a kind of intermezzo between figuration and the ephemeral.

“KL-ing me softly” is equally charged from the outset, challenging protocols and permissions. But there is an inherent softness that sits counter to any overt act or statement. It mixes memory and ambivalence with a restless exoticism. These works are about a visual psychology. Just as a Rorschach drawing triggers association but has no one reading, Bates has moved beyond the clarity of descriptors to an elasticity of meaning. She pushes us beyond the desire to translate and give over to poetic nuance.

The materials of these new works take on a symbolism we have not seen before. Her stitched portraits have a latent violence or emotional trigger. The act of piercing the surface of a painting has that same duality as a tattoo; it is branding and an aesthetic expression. “First cut” captures this tension, the thread’s assertive lines slashing the canvas. The figure turns from himself but is denied a freedom, anchored by his own voice. Rendered speechless, we ask who has the power of censure over this voice? Caught in the strain between a sewn and brushed mark, it is a courageous embrace of new materials.

Bates similarly plays off the organic purity of seed pods against lurid plastic flowers and synthetic thread. The pods disgorge their floral centres, over-ripe with fleshy fertility. These are incredibly sensual objects that Bates lashes into control. The synthetic materiality of the flowers beg the question, are we fooled by beauty? It is another veil seemingly ‘natural’ yet contrived, controlled and plastic?

Many of these works teeter on the edge where things are raw and flirt with the unknown. To quote writer John Barrett-Lennard, “Accent can be thought of as a kind of excess, a disturbance in the smoothness of sound and communication.” (1.) An accent, like a pattern, has a personal intonation. It is about reading between the lines; it is the place of hyphens. Sometimes it is barely audible; sometimes it has the gentleness of a lover and at others the affirmation of belief. “Mouth of Flowers” is a place to hear things.
Gina Fairley

1. John Barrett-Lennard “Here and Now” catalogue essay for Simryn Gill, PICA exhibition, Perth 2001.