The latest from handmark articles

shauna mayben – women’s art prize

Published 26 November 2021

shauna mayben’s golden wreath, 2021, sterling silver oxidized, gold paint, 24ct gold leaf, plastic and a 0.35ct GHsi natural diamond.

Handmark Jeweller, Shauna Mayben, has added to her glittering career by being crowned People’s Choice in an important Art Prize.

Shauna’s spectacular Golden Wreath was crowd favourite at this year’s Womens Art Prize Tasmania. The beautifully delicate headpiece – crafted from gold fifty-dollar notes – is a comment on money. Shauna says her wreath explores both “the beauty of currency” and social complexities around money. It references ancient times where a victorious general was adorned with a golden crown of leaves as he led a parade of chariots. Slaves held the wreaths while whispering “remember you are mortal” into the General’s ear, to remind him that “life can be fragile and transitory, even in triumph.’

vika fifita – covid colour

Published 26 November 2021

vika fifita, 201 days, acrylic and ink on canvas, 106 x 81cm.

There’s no mistaking the bright abstracts of Vika Fifita that depict day-to-day life. Now, a small selection of her new paintings has just been unveiled at Handmark Gallery.

Unwittingly stuck in Melbourne during the city’s seemingly endless COVID lockdowns, Vika turned to painting as a means of survival. Trapped alone in her studio apartment, art gave Vika an outlet to express feelings of loneliness and despair. One of the most powerful works is a self-portrait which, according to Vika depicts “the mental health impacts of lockdown.” In this “big bright orange painting” she depicts herself with hollow eyes, while trademark text warns her not to “overthink.”

But these new paintings also hint at better times ahead. In a rare two weeks of freedom between lockdowns, Vika expresses unbridled joy at being able to celebrate with friends in Ghost of Birthdays Past. Ordinary things like birthday cake and music – even an Uber ride – are glorified and looked forward to with joyful abandon once life returns to normal. While Vika’s six new works burst onto the canvas with bright colours and pastels, her palette is more limited than usual. Purple and green dominate, and this has as much to do with practicalities as emotional representation: “The simple fact of the matter is, that during lockdown in Melbourne with all the shops shut it was almost impossible to get new paints. Yet another disruption caused by life in lockdown.”

hadley’s orient hotel exhibition – the language of textiles: unravelling ornament

Published 26 November 2021

julie payne with her beautiful textiles.

Is there no end to the talents of Julie Payne? Sculptor, sketcher, furniture designer, architect and now seamstress extraordinaire. Julie is putting the finishing touches to a beautiful textile tableaux that comes with a dark message.

Fabric rabbits, cats and starfish surround a life-size mannequin topped with deer antlers and draped in a long intricate Victorian-era dress. Aptly names Invasive Species, Julie’s cloth creation reflects on the British occupation of Tasmania: “Early arrivals brought adornments, customs, possessions, animals, plants and other diverse forms of baggage for settlement. All were invasive to the indigenous landscape.”

Julie’s tableau is part of a nine artist exhibition, The Language of Textiles: Unravelling Ornament, which opens at Hadley’s Orient Hotel in Hobart, on November 25 until the 25 January, open 10:30am – 4pm daily. Joining Julie is jeweller Janine Combes, drawing on the lush décor of Hadley’s, and the European fascination with Chinoiserie, Janine has created a series of stunning brooches. Inspired by Chinese-style plates and crafted from delicate wire mesh to imitate the look of fine, woven fabric Janine’s jewellery transports us to faraway exotic lands.  Also be entranced by the works of Chantale Delrue and Jan Dineen.

olivia moroney – out of the weather

Published 14 October 2021

Tasmania’s stark, yet striking Midlands is captured beautifully in the upcoming exhibition of Olivia Moroney’s, Out of the Weather, which also explores a dramatic use of wallpaper.

From her studio at Jericho, Olivia has a ringside view of her beloved Midlands in all its climatic moods: “It looks so different depending on the weather. And it is the interplay between the sun and the clouds and the landscape that I really love to bring to life in my landscapes,” Olivia tells us. But, in Out of the Weather, a stunning collection of etchings and charcoal drawings, Olivia adds another dimension – shelter.

Highlighting the “need for shelter for both man and livestock,” Olivia recounts the motifs of trees and undergrowth as they offer vital protection from the elements. In her charcoal drawing, Taking Heed, focus falls on a hedge of pine trees in the distance. But it is her etching, Where We Find Shelter, with gumtrees looming large as they stand guard, that captures attention. It has also been replicated on Wallpaper, with this large image taking centre stage in the exhibition, demonstrating how all her works can take on this new adaptation.

At just 29 years of age, Olivia is one of Tasmania’s rapidly emerging artistic talents. She is also on a mission to record the changing landscape of the Midlands: “As agricultural practices change, so does our landscape. Hedgerows and stands of pine trees that once dotted the landscape are removed as we embrace larger scale farming. I want to capture these motifs before they are lost forever.”

Olivia Moroney’s Out of the Weather Exhibition opens on Friday 15 October.

martin rek― hadley’s honour

Published 14 August 2021

The 2021 Hadley’s Art Prize attracted a record field of 721 this year, and Handmark artist, Martin Rek, is thrilled to be amongst the final cut. In fact, Martin is still pinching himself that his Highly Commended work, Reverie, was selected as a finalist in this prestigious landscape award.

Known for painstakingly detailed carbon sketches of Tasmanian wilderness, the judges praised Reverie, as a “deeply sensitive and detailed drawing created with incredible precision which reveres a place as both real and imagined.” They further applauded the piece as “a reflection on the expansive views and fine details that form the cumulative experience of bushwalking.”

Martin created Reverie especially for the prestigious art prize, deliberately stepping outside his comfort zone during the process. He explains that in the past he has always started off with small scale sketches to plan out how his landscapes will finally take shape. But, with Reverie Martin threw caution to the wind and adopted a “very spontaneous and organic approach with no preliminary drawings.” Furthermore, rather than depicting one traditional scene, Reverie pulls together fragments of many of Martin’s favourite locations to roughly form a posed figure.

Now that Martin’s new-found sense of artistic adventure has reaped such impressive results, it would seem there is no turning back for this artist: “In the future I will continue to challenge and push myself with my drawings. You can expect the unexpected!”

The Hadley’s Art Prize Finalist exhibition runs until August 29.

nanna bayer ― museum pieces

Published 14 August 2021

Handmark artist Nanna Bayer is one of our island’s most renowned ceramists, and now the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is showcasing her unique designs. Using the beauty of nature as her muse, Nanna’s colorful and quirky style have attracted a loyal legion of admirers.

Her exhibition, I Know You Are There, explores the remarkable world of microscopic beings – such as bacteria, slime mould and diatoms – and is part of the Beakerstreet science event. As Nanna explains in her artist’s statement: “I know you are there you remarkable beings! Majestic. Inimitable. Invisible to our eyes. Me, an artist, lacks the lens to magnify your beauty and instead engages the imagination to find a fitting nomenclature.”

As well as drawing on her expertise with ceramics for this exhibition, Nanna tells us these works also draw on a background steeped in dressmaking, knitting and weaving. Her striking porcelain microscopic creatures are adorned with fibre, fleece and fur. They also feature pieces of copper wire, bright beads even optic fibre.

Nanna says she hopes her works will help to inspire us to further open our minds to the beauty of these often-feared invisible beings, with her artist statement finishing with, “I know you are there cradling my bare feet on the earth, blanketing my body on a morning swim, and in the cold winter air I breathe you in.”

Nanna Bayer’s exhibition runs until August 31 at the TMAG Bond Store.

ella noonan ― fantastic fish

Published 14 August 2021

The intricate rhythmic patterns of fish are the inspiration behind artist Ella Noonan’s stunning Handmark exhibition – And I Let the Fish Go.

Ever since she can remember Ella has had a special affinity with creatures – both great and small. But, in recent years it is underwater creatures that have captured her artistic eye: “I just love the patterns in fish. The exquisite detailing of their scales as well as the patterns they form as schools of fish move through the water are absolutely beautiful,” Ella explains.

In fact, the delicate pen and ink drawings and porcelain pieces in And I Let the Fish Go are a testament of Ella’s love and respect for the ocean’s creatures. We see fish wrapped in shimmering scales as they swim along in one tight seamless group. The naming of her exhibition pays homage to Elizabeth Bishop’s poem, Fish, which recounts the author’s experience of releasing a caught fish back into the water after she is struck by awe and connection with the small catch in her hand.

However, Ella’s art also reflects her fears for our oceans as overfishing and plastic pollution increasingly take hold. And, with a focus on future generations Ella has drawn in a surprising young co-collaborator for the exhibition – her two-year-old daughter, Iris.

Ella is quick to point out that as she spends her days immersed in art, Iris is constantly by her side with a pencil in hand. And for this exhibition Iris has added some small touches of color to three of the exhibited works. As the proud mother laughingly tells us: “Both our names appear as the artists for these pieces!”

Ella Noonan’s And I Let the Fish Go exhibition opens at Handmark Gallery tonight, August 13 from 5 pm.

tonya gilbett― a unique gem

Published 2 August 2021

A stunning pendant handcrafted by jeweller Tonya Gilbett showcases an incredible gem for the very first time – an opal encased in a pearl.

It is almost impossible to conceive. An opal, beautifully cut and polished, is embedded in an oyster shell. Over the next couple of years as the pearl grows, its nacre envelopes the gemstone inside.

Tonya stumbled on this incredible gem via a friend – the daughter of an opal miner – and is the first to promote it to the world. As well as its beauty, Tonya is entranced with the story behind this gem. The opals are mined in outback South Australia at Coober Pedy then transported to an oyster farm in far northern Western Australia: “It is a beautiful coming together of land and sea,” Tonya explains.

Tonya has secured a handful of these precious gems, which she describes as “high-quality bright blue opals within high-quality beautiful white pearls.” A distinct silver pendant – featuring tiny scarab beetles representing transformation – has been fashioned out of one gem and is now on display at Handmark Gallery. She is already excitedly planning her next creation.

Tonya is known for a love of opals which have featured prominently in her handcrafted pieces for years, and this latest – as yet unnamed gem – opens up a world of possibility.

melissa smith ― from there to here

Published 2 August 2021

A quarter century of printmaking will be on proud display as a survey of Melissa Smith’s art is unveiled this Thursday, in From There to Here at Launceston College. We witness the evolution of Melissa’s unique style from its starting point – a graphic self-portrait – to the ethereal landscapes that are her signature today.

“I just followed my passion, while always keeping my door open to new possibilities and influences, and my artistic development was a natural progression,” Melissa tells us. “I shifted from internal reflection to looking at the landscape and responding to that.”

Melissa is one of Tasmania’s most in-demand artists. Employing a process of layering, interpretation and a softer pallet, her landscapes evoke a meditative feel and echo the stories of the natural world around her.

But, she must also surely be one of Tasmania’s busiest artists. As Melissa puts the finishing touches on new works for a solo exhibition, Without a Sound, at the Devonport Regional Gallery in October, there is also an invitation to contribute 15 prints to an exhibition in regional Victoria next month.

So, what’s in store for the next 25 years: “Well after the last few months I am just looking forward to a good sleep-in and a break,” Melissa laughs. “But, after that I just want to keep on working. I have a passion to create that never stops.”

denise campbell ― midwinter ice

Published 2 August 2021

It is the perfect subject for a midwinter showing. This Friday, Denise unveils her solo exhibition, entICE, at Handmark Gallery. A play on words, the artist hopes to ignite a yearning for travel by ‘enticing’ our imaginations into an unknown ‘icy’ world.

As Denise explains, her exhibition is “broadly centred on the theme of journeys as an historical and imaginative process”.
She draws inspiration from “one particularly significant mid-19th century expedition to the Arctic” which was the doomed voyage of Sir John Franklin who set off with two naval vessels, Terror and Erebus to find the North-west Passage – never to be seen again.

The new exhibition features paintings, etchings, mixed media works and prints. There are even seven unstretched canvas sails. All this art, rich with the imagery of vessels: “There is a great deal of symbolism associated with vessels; for example a sea-going vessel is often linked with the search for the unknown,” Denise says.

In one powerful piece, Hidden Beneath, canvas sails and what appears to be shards of ice imparts the feeling of a doomed journey at sea. This is further reinforced by a subtle piece of text by Charles Dickens: “O then, pause on the footprints of heroic men. Making a garden of the desert wide. Where Parry conquered and Franklin died.”

Denise Campbell’s entICE exhibition opens at Handmark Hobart on Friday, July 23.