WRITING SERVICES

Natalie Lavelle 20220204 LR-16.jpeg

Exhibition Essay
Natalie Lavelle: Ways of Being, Jan Manton Gallery 9–27 March 2022

Brown. Blue. White. Natalie Lavelle’s newest body of work exclusively uses these colors. Each conjures the natural world: dark handfuls of dirt, midday skies, the ocean’s depths, and a landscape lost to a thick Winter’s snowstorm.

Thinking of these paintings as transformations of nature operates in two spatial directions: as an endless spilling out and an almighty gathering in. If you stand close to Lavelle’s larger canvases, so they fill your field of vision, you might imagine their washes of colour stretching forever, echoing the vastness as the Earth. Yet if you stand back from each painting to see their divisions—sliced in halves and thirds, and always marked with Lavelle’s signature edging strips of (semi-)exposed linen, it feels as though she has corralled Nature’s infinity into the neat geometry of her canvas. 

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Libby Derham, Morning Call, Wonga, Watercolour

Exhibition Essay
Libby Derham: Transcribe, Maroochy Regional Bushlands Botanic Gardens, 7–29 January 2022

Alluring lyricism. Drips and splashes. Landscape and song. 

 

Libby Derham’s watercolours are visually light and loose, yet dense with meaning. Each work deftly records the sometimes-figurative, sometimes-abstracted colours of her surroundings; the scrawled song of local birds; and the mark-making hand of the artist, who stands—immersed in nature—at her easel. 

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Michelle Vine The Search

Exhibition Essay
Michelle Vine: Soft Touch, Caboolture Regional Art Gallery, 4 December 2021–29 January 2022

Dearest reader,


Hello! It’s a special pleasure to have you here: reading, thinking, experiencing and imagining Michelle Vine: Soft Touch. I’m writing to tease out some of the themes in the exhibition. I want to do this in a way that supports the luxury, generosity and personal narratives of Michelle’s work, making this a languorous read for you and for me.

I’m sitting in my backyard, surrounded by the greenery of too many pot plants and a scattering of fallen jacaranda flowers. Overhead I can hear the squarks and chirrups of magpies and miner birds. 

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QUT Art Museum, Emma Coulter, Rainbow Pride

Review
Thinking into Being: QUT Alumni Triennial, The ReviewBoard, 12 October 2021

Out the front of QUT Art Museum, a wooden bench painted in Rainbow Pride colours marks the gallery as a safe space, and the university as a place where art, design and architecture effortlessly combine. Just beyond the seat, an installation by Emma Coulter extends from the gallery’s windows. Although only the latter is part of Thinking into Being, the two speak the same visual language of bold multichromatic geometry and serve to entice us into the show.

Thinking into Being showcases 11 alumni from the university’s Schools of Architecture and Built Environment, Creative Practice, and Design. In the gallery foyer, a brief exhibition text promises: “a wide-ranging exploration of the often unseen creative processes that bring into being the objects, products and experiences of our culture”.

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Natalie Houston

Artist Q&A
Natalie Houston, Lone Wolf, Queensland College of Art, 6–17 December 2021

Louise: I'm really interested in your visual vocabulary. Your works feel equally fresh and familiar. Your secret language reminds me

of Egyptian Hieroglyphs while your sculptures recall the angles of Pablo Picasso and your dreamy paintings conjure Paul

Delvaux. Which artists are significant to you? Or are there other cultural referents closer to our world of social media and

smart phones that you'd like to illuminate?

Natalie: I love that it reminds you of Egyptian hieroglyphs; I’m intentionally making very contemporary works that also hint at precious cultural artefacts. I’ve always loved the mystique of ancient cultures . . .

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Petalia Humphreys SB#14-18

Exhibition Essay
Petalia Humphries, Odessa Mahony-de Vries, June Sartracom, Betwixt, Queensland College of Art, 28 September–10 October 2021

180 years ago, the French painter Paul Delaroche viewed an early daguerreotype and uttered his famous words: "from today, painting is dead." Rather than killing the medium, the invention of photography forced painting to reinvent itself: as expressive, durational, self-reflexive and confessional. At the halfway point between then and now, American art critic Clement Greenberg argued that Modern painting should excise figurative narratives and illusory space to concern itself exclusively with flatness. His medium-specific Formalism corralled painting toward a second death, this time via the dead-end of pure abstraction. 

 

These histories haunt Betwixt. 

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Kate Bohunnis Kate Power Mucosa 2021

Exhibition Essay
Kate Bohunnis + Kate Power, Mucosa, Outer Space, 28 August–25 September 2021

Punctured / Cradled
Wounded / Healed Brassington / Gober
Hang Up / Die
Barthes / Lippard
Form / Content
Making / Made
Now /Then
You / Me
Us / Them
Kate / Kate

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Megan Cope

Exhibition Essay
A Collecting Family: Brisbane 1980 - 2020, Brisbane Club, 4 June–6 September 2021

Leonard Brown once lamented: “A sale is a sale”, as Gertrude Stein would say. When an institution buys a work, that’s great; yet it comes with a kind of sadness, a future sealed, seen usually under fixed lighting and, when not on show, committed to life in a rack, seeing the light of day or the artificial light but occasionally. However, when a painting is hung domestically, it retains its wild, untamed nature. This is the joy of private collections. In lounge rooms and dining rooms, away from institutional discourse, art has new things to say. By bringing together works from local families, this exhibition welcomes us into these conversations, and shares some of the secrets that they speak of people, place and home. 

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Lachie Rhodes, Kelly Gang After Sidney Nolan, 1947, 2020

Artist Q&A
Lachie Rhodes and Daniel Sherington, landscape, landscape, landscape, cityscape, Queensland College of Art, 8–19 June 2021

Louise: Something shared across your practices is this idea of redoing; revisiting, restaging and recycling pre-existing imagery and tropes. What attracts you to redoing as a creative strategy? And who are you thinking about or referencing, both explicitly and secretly?

...

Lachie: [Laughing] Daniel says "Henri Lefebvre" and I say "Dolly Parton."

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Mieke van den Berg

Exhibition Essay
Miele van den Berg, In-Between: [Re]Winding Life's Thread, The Old Ambulance Station, Jul 2021

This exhibition follows a bright red ball of wool. Here, it appears in the hands of the artist. There, it tangles around chairs. And everywhere we imagine it in our own hands. To make this sensation real, Mieke van den Berg sets a ball of wool in a wicker basket and invites us to unwind and rewind it’s thread. Drifting in and out of mindfulness, the simple task encourages patience, slowness and daydreams of craft, childhood and home. As you return the re-wound ball of wool to the kitchen table, the artist encourages us to leave these thoughts behind, signalling her desire to alleviate our daily woes or deeper troubles.

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Jeanette Stok, Vault

Exhibition Essay
Jeanette Stok, Point of Reference, Shoalgaven Regional Gallery, Jul 2021

At the metaphorical heart of Stok’s exhibition is Vault (2021). The sculptural installation is a materially fascinating form, comprised of large geometric panels and embellished with small decorative stitches. It’s twisted geometry proposes a state of anthropomorphic metamorphosis: hinged panels hint at the possibility of movement, as though its panels might walk, while its intricate and shiny surface alternately conjures an arachnid’s body and its web. 

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Anna Gonzalez

Exhibition Essay
Anna Gonzalez, Something Fishy, Queensland College of Art, June 2021

Anna Gonzalez’ photographed dioramas belong to a world without sunlight. Strange cut-out figures navigate her dark interiors and landscapes with disturbing fear, menace and glee. In Running Away (2020) a husband flees the scene. With oversized teeth the family dog lunges for his leg while his wife brandishes a dagger. Behind them, two figures pose in dramatic dance shapes atop a two-dimensional sea and a staircase. Their nonchalant lack of engagement with the violence of the foreground suggests the displaced emotions and confusing logic of dreams.

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Daniel Sherington

Exhibition Essay
Drawn, Redland Art Gallery, Feb 2021

Moving through this exhibition, drawing shifts from figuration to abstraction, photorealism to hastened sketch, scribbly line to neat typography. Collectively, Drawn champions the multiplicities of these lines, and favours art that is open to iteration, redoing, re-seeing and starting again.

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Janet Brereton, Modern Woman

Exhibition Essay
Drawn Threads, artisan, Dec 2020

Close observation of the physical threads on show offers one method for engaging with Drawn Thread. Find the smallest neatest stitches. Observe the radiant colour and possibilities of sequins. Admire the traditional skills and revel in moves beyond needlework conventions toward sculpture, installation, assemblage and craftivism. Think through what it means for Jill Kinnear to re/create woven forms with paper and transfer them to the digital screen. Imagine running your hands across the surface of each piece and sink into the comfort of Michelle Vine’s fur-lined bath. As you lie there, let me take you on another journey through this show. Follow the needle of my words as I weave between the artists and pull their artworks close.
 

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Cognitive Dissidents, installation view

Review
Cognitive Dissidents: Reasons to be Cheerful, Artlink, Sept 2020 

Stephen Jones describes Cognitive Dissidents as an exhibition that “looks at the range and possibilities that video opened up during its first two decades in Australia.” Jones knows, and is a part of, this history. His knowledge is made clear in his catalogue essay, which confidently reports one history of video art in Australia. Jones’ involvement is modestly tucked into footnotes and image credits. These reveal his role as technical assistant to Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman for their infamous 1976 Kaldor Art Project and, more recently, his role in digitising all of the works in exhibition. Rather than offering a definitive history, which might curtail selections, Jones’ curatorial premise feels expansive. It offers the works room to breathe and feels open to addition.
 

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Une Australienne.jpg

Review
The Past is Female: A Reading of Odd Roads and She Persists, Art Monthly Australasia, Spring 2020

Dressed in warm, layered textures of leather and fur, a striking young woman poses for her portrait. Around her neck, a brilliant chequered scarf in hues of orange, with browns and greys, mimics the delicate tangerine of her lips and the crowning persimmon of her hat. This painting, Une Australienne (1826) by Hilda Rix Nicholas, fills the cover of Odd Roads to be Walking: 156 Women who Shaped Australian Art. The sitter is close friend and fellow artist Dorothy Richmond, and Rix Nicolas casts her as a cosmopolitan Australian, equally legible in European and Antipodean settings. The book, designed by Kristin Thomas, borrows the paintings’ palette of a sunburnt orange and an understated teal for an elegant and solid publication. It brims with full-page colour reproductions. 

Read more in Art Monthly Australasia

Sean Crookes

Exhibition Essay
Sean Crookes, Generations, Grey Street Gallery, Queensland College of Art, Aug 2020

Sean Crookes’ lolly-coloured paintings conjure my childhood. They whisk me back to the sun-soaked floor of my bedroom, immersed in the colours and stories of illustrated children’s books. 

Pursuing these correlations between Crookes’ paintings and family life is easy. In each of his artworks we recognise the everyday-ness of the family home. This is not necessarily in the details of his paintings (that chair, that plant, that living room) but in the postures and poses of the people who inhabit them (an easy jog, an averted gaze, a hand on the hips mid-conversation) . . .

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Review
New Woman, Museum of Brisbane, Sheila: A Foundation for Women in the Visual Arts, Mar 2020

A self-styled “new woman” of the Gilded Age positions herself in front of the camera. Sitting down, yet leaning forward, her pose is at once reminiscent of Rodin’s brooding thinker c1881 and rich with the suggestion of contained forward motion, as though she is poised to spring into action, to make concrete the plans she is formulating as she takes another drag on her cigarette and brings a stein of beer to her lips. Her legs are crossed, not demurely with knees together, but boldly with one ankle resting above the other knee, revealing the boots and stockings beneath her skirt. 

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Chicks on Speed

Academic Writing

My research highlights women artists, from Australia's Women's Art Movement (WAM), to political poster collectives, and from cyber feminism to the recuperation of women's needlework/craftivism.
 

I'm fascinated by art's intersections with history, relationships, selfies and social media. And I'm secretly a formalist, with an undying love for international and Australian modernisms.

My research appears in international journals, including AAANZ's Journal of ArtAM Journal of Art and Media Studies, and Australian Feminist Studies as well as Art Asia PacificArt Monthly, EyelineImprint and more.

 

My full academic CV is available here. Abstracts and some papers are available here. For full copies of my articles, collaborations or conversation, I would love to hear from you: louisermayhew@gmail.com 

 

WRITING

I have over 10 years' experience in writing accessible art texts, clear reports and enticing applications. I write artist statements, biographies, exhibition essays, artist interviews, policy documents, grant applications, reviews and more.