The first Castlemaine Visual Arts Biennial opened last night with exhibitions in two town venues and public art through the greater township. The theme Art of Making: Artisanship and Invention responded to the kind of artistic community in the area, which draws from its light industrial history to create work through foundries, forgies and workshops.
A good example of where this work might be heading is the artist Noah Grosz who won the CVAB prize with his sculpture ‘Blockie’. A long time resident of Castlemaine, Grosz manages to bring together two opposing sides of the town. While there is a rough and ready guild of contemporary artisans who create beautiful objects for contemplation, there is also a large tribe of Hot Rodders, who soup up cars for enjoyment of speed and noise. But connecting them both is a love of fabrication. With the help of a glue gun, Grosz joins these together in a version of a 1934 Ford (favourite of the band Zee Zee Top) made from a local reed called Phragmites Australis, which is light, found in the gullies where once was gold, and valued greatly by the Indigenous inhabitants of the region.
The CVAB was opened by Chris McAuliffe, director of the Potter Museum of Art and a local resident – who generously demonstrated his own craft by brewing 100 bottles of beer for the event. Chris spoke with determination about the handmade as an expression of humanness. They’ll be more humanness on display this Sunday with an Open Bench program at Lot 19. For more information go here.
Congratulations to Festival Director Martin Paten and Visual Arts Coordinator Zoe Amor for constructing such an important new place in the Australian visual arts calendar. The CVAB promises to be an ongoing space for that very embodied experience of world that comes through contact with materials manipulated with skill, thoughtfulness and invention.
For more images of works, go here.