Seasons Greetings (Earthlings) from the desk of Dave.
In another challenging year for the arts in Australia CCAS has been kicking goals and as 2018 draws to a close I can say with confidence we are in a very positive frame. 2018 kicked off with Blaze Twelveour annual emerging artists exhibition curated by Alexander Boynes. Always eagerly awaited Blaze introduced Luke Aleksandrow, Riley Beaumont, Rowan Kane, Sanne Koelemij and Mei-Lynn Wilkinson as Canberra’s latest high achievers; all rad painters except for Luke who is (a literally) world-shattering ceramicist. Next came Obsessive Impulsion bringing together a colourful team of obsessives including Jodie Cunningham, Michele England, U.K. Frederick, Ann McMahon and Suzanne Moss, who smashed CCAS’s visitor number records, once held by the indomitable Erica Seccombe. For NAIDOC week with the theme of ‘Because of her we can’ acknowledging the ongoing contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, CCAS programmed shows by formidable First Nations women, Brenda L. Croft and Amala Groom. Brenda’s heart wrenching show focusing on her late mum heart-in-handwas acknowledged in the Canberra Critics Circle awards in November. Amala Groom’s video masterpiece, Does she know the revolution is comingquestioned the motives of Australians buying Aboriginal art and blew audiences way with its hilarious but deadly serious critique. Amala described her time at CCAS as a ‘career highlight” – thanks Amala- the feeling is mutual ! It was so much fun having Brenda and Amala around I almost felt guilty.
For the next series of exhibitions we joined forces with the fabulous Nancy Sever showing the Canberra/Melbourne legend Janenne Eaton’s 18 meter FENCES B/ORDERS WALLS – Keep Clear, and Braidwood based Kate Stevens’ Drones over Aleppo. Jess Higgins ultra-darkBlack Elephantfurther contributed to these topical exhibitions dealing with current global issues such as the refugee crisis, immigration, war and torture. Not the happiest period of 2018 but three exhibitions that really hit a raw nerve … and things lightened up considerably when Kate won the $50,000 inaugural Evelyn Chapman Art Award. Congratulations Kate. The final show of the year is in partnership with The Embassy of Brazil in Canberra and I have to say that Embassy staff, Romero Mais and Ana Paula Lacerda have been an absolute delight to work with. Prof. Christus Nóbrega, University of Brasilia, is currently in Canberra and his wonderful exhibition that celebrates the women lace makers of Northern Brazil will be showing into the New Year. The new Brazilian Ambassador came to the opening and we hope this will the beginning of a beautiful relationship with Brazil’s national capital. It’s always been great to have Alison Alder, one of CCAS’s founding members, back and true to form her Newscrap launches an attack on the iniquitous role of politicians and media moguls in 21stcentury reportage.
Working with the ANU School of Art and Design Gallery we were also privileged to have Christopher Ulutupu in Canberra for his amazing exhibition of video works that focus on the many challenges experienced by people of Samoan heritage in New Zealand. This will hopefully be the first of many projects working with sister city, Wellington. Never far from CCAS Canberra dynamo S.I.A X Ray brought Japanese artist Asuna to Canberra with 100 Keyboards, for an extraordinary sound performance piece from Performance Space in Sydney. Another highlight of the year was my tour of Australian Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) looking at the ways artists are making theor own opportunities in a time when arts funding is in crisis. Thanks to the Gordon Darling Foundation I visited the inspiring people who energetically have contributed to their communities in Brisbane, Hobart, Adelaide and Melbourne. I have only scratched the surface and will follow up with other centres as time permits.
As our residents Shagsy Shags, Dean Cross and Joshua Sleeman-Taylor gear up for the 13th Blazewe look back over a year that welcomed Justine van Mourik and Adam Peppinck to the board bringing huge skills in arts and law. We said goodbye to Chair Andrew Klein and Rachel Bowak who have given years of dedicated service while Tina Baum, Karina Harris, Paul Magee Amanda Biggs and Ian Whyte have fortunately stayed on. You may have also noticed a new face around CCAS in recent times, well its Danielle Toua, who is working casually to fill the void left by Shagsy Shags. In a few weeks Dan has made an indelible impression on everyone involved in CCAS activities and we hope she will continue to do so into the New Year. Big thanks to all the artists, volunteers, and our intern from ANU Art History and Curatorship Bohao Jia, for making this a wonderful year and thanks to the staff Alexander Boynes, Alex Asch, Fay Duffey, Shagsy Shags and Danielle Toua for making sure that CCAS remains central to a vibrant Canberra arts community. As we look forward to some monumental historical changes in 2019 and beyond, we can feel well pleased with 2018. But right now lets just have a safe and enjoyable holiday season so that next year we are ready to go for it !