Bridie Gillman

Bridie Gillman

Bridie Gillman’s practice is grounded in her experiences of living in Indonesia when she was younger and further experience of being ‘in-between’ places and cultures since. Her work explores ways in which experiences of awkwardness and the ‘unknown’ can be translated through found materials, installation and photography.

Gillman is an emerging artist based in Brisbane, Australia and completed her Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours at Queensland College of Art in 2013. Since graduating she has conducted a residency in Indonesia and exhibited nationally and internationally.

She was in residency at Hotel Penaga from August to October 2015, where she researched the transient space of hotels, tourism and souvenirs in our increasingly globalised and transnational world. Her residency culminated in an exhibition titled Round Island Tour, held at Run Amok Gallery in Georgetown. For more information on her work, visit her website.

left:  Souvenir: Tropical Fruits of Malaysia 2015, oil on canvas. right: In Thailand I got a girl in every club 2015, oil on canvas board.

left: Souvenir: Tropical Fruits of Malaysia 2015, oil on canvas. right: In Thailand I got a girl in every club 2015, oil on canvas board.

Left: Sprite at night 2015, Batik painting. Right: Local Lingo 2015, Set of 6 digitally printed postcards, edition of 100

Left: Sprite at night 2015, Batik painting. Right: Local Lingo 2015, Set of 6 digitally printed postcards, edition of 100.

Omar Musa

Omar Musa

Omar bin Musa (b. 1984) is an award-winning author, poet and rapper from Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia. He won the Australian Poetry Slam in 2008 and the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam in 2009. He has released two solo hip hop records (The Massive EP and World Goes to Pieces), two self-published books (The Clocks and Parang) and a self-titled album with international hip hop group MoneyKat. His debut novel Here Come The Dogs was published in 2014. Here Come the Dogs received praise from novelists Irvine Welsh and Christos Tsiolkas, was long-listed for the Miles Franklin Award and Musa was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year in 2015.

Omar is the son of Australian arts journalist Helen Musa and Malaysian poet Musa bin Masran. He studied at the Australian National University and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Omar has combined hip hop music and poetry throughout his career. He was runner up in the 2008 Australian Poetry Slam, before winning in 2009 at the Sydney Opera House. He went on to win the Indian Ocean Poetry Slam in 2010. In 2010 he also did support for Gil Scott-Heron in Munich, Germany. In 2011 he was a guest panellist on ABC’s Q&A. In 2013 he received a standing ovation at TEDxSydney at the Sydney Opera House.

He has been a guest at numerous international writers festivals, including Jaipur Literary Festival in India and the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival in Indonesia, as well as touring extensively in Asia, Europe and Australia. He has collaborated with numerous musicians and hip hop artists, including Akala, Soweto Kinch, Impossible Odds, The Last Kinection, Hau Latukefu from Koolism, Candice Monique, The Tongue, Lotek, Koolta and Geoff Stanfield.

He did a split residency in Hotel Penaga and Rimbun Dahan from June to August 2015.

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. While in Penang, she started a project FACE IT:

“What do you wish you had known when you were younger? For the duration of my art residency I posed this question to the guests and staff at Hotel Penaga, trishaw drivers, backpackers, food vendors, people I met on the streets and bars. Then I drew their portraits, often on the spot or later from a photo. FACE IT is an ongoing project. The aim is to create a meaningful interaction and a space where people let their guards down and show their vulnerabilities.

Portraits and answers are uploaded daily at http://ninarupena.com.au/faceit/ or follow on Facebook and Instagram. You can find out more about her and her work at her website.

Sangeeta Sandrasegar

Sangeeta Sandrasegar

Sangeeta Sandrasegar works within a research-based practice, building narratives in which every new work connects to previous projects. Her practice consolidates postcolonial and hybridity theory, exploring her context within Australia and its relationship to migrant communities and homelands. Her work concerns itself within the overlap of cultural structures – sexuality, race and identity, in contemporary society – and interpreting and representing these shifts. These themes are explored through a visual language concerned with shadows. From installations of paper cutouts, material works and/or sculpture, the constructed shadows of the installation become a motif for themes of self-hood, otherness and in-between spaces. By extending the scope of the art object the cast shadows simultaneously engage with the history of the shadow in Art, and hint towards cognitive alternatives and sites of transformation.

In 2004 Sandrasegar completed a Doctorate of Philosophy across the Victorian College of the Arts and the Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne.  The content of the exegesis was to formalize a visual practice centred on the creative space of shadows into a theoretical tool.  She proposed that the shadow subject could be re-examined and liberated from its historical representations and to be employed as both a positive and salient visual device for representing the ideas being examined in post-colonial and hybridity studies.

Sandrasegar has been represented in group and solo exhibitions since 1996, and is the recipient of several fellowships and prizes. In particular, national showcases for emerging artists: Primavera, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, NEW04, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne. As well as the Auckland Triennial and SCAPE: New Zealand Community Art & Industry Biennial in New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 05, Gallery of Modern Art Queensland. Last year her work was shown in the Incheon Women Artists Biennale in Korea, and Slash: Paper Under the Knife, Museum of Arts and Design, New York.

Sangeeta was in residency at Hotel Penaga from October to December 2012.

Links to Sangeeta’s work
http://sangeetasandrasegar.photoshelter.com/
http://sangeetasandrasegar.blogspot.com

You Ask Me About That Country

You Ask Me About That Country

Jumaadi

Jumaadi

Jumaadi, an artist of Indonesian origin but practicing in Australia, completed a three month residency at Hotel Penaga in 2012 with a stunning performance of wayang kulit, the traditional shadow play of Southeast Asia.  This one, though, stretched tradition in a new direction, being based on a Chinese folk tale about the Moon Cake, a timely performance as the festival is just around the corner at the next full moon on 30th September, when children parade through neighbourhoods carrying candle lit lanterns in animal and fantasy shapes. Jumaadi’s wayang was produced with the help of the curator of the Penang State Museum, Puan Haryani Muhamad. Developed with students from KDU and with the puppets made by one of the museum’s janitorial staff, and the gamelan music was provided by museum staff, it was a wonderful collaboration of talent from all directions.

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 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.

He was one of the resident artists for Rimbun Dahan’s residency in 2009, and did a short residency in Hotel Penaga in 2014.

Rimbun Dahan Artist Statement (2009)

danLately, 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

Penaga Residency Artist Statement (2014)

During his stay, Wollmering will be researching and documenting architectural forms from a variety of sources in George Town − as a catalyst for new abstract sculpture. Using the rich and diverse cultural make-up of Penang and the built-environment structures emanating from Malay, Chinese and Indian influences, Wollmering will be locating and referencing unique constructs as a conduit to new sculptural forms in his practice. Using mainly cardboard and low-tech construction methods, he will be creating hypothetical sculpture maquettes with a chosen few being made in steel by a local sculpture fabrication firm in Penang. These new works will then be exhibited in the Penaga Hotel and at Flinders Lane Gallery; a commercial gallery in Melbourne that he has been exhibiting with since 1990.

 

 

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.