I’ve always believed that there’s power in paying attention. The artist and conservationist Leila Jeffreys gives birds the intimacy and respect reserved for human subjects. Her images are proof that the wildest of creatures have something to say about us. I was lucky to spend time with Jeffreys ahead of her new shows High Society, in Sydney and New York for the cover of Spectrum in the Sydney Morning Herald this weekend. You can read the whole piece here.
It was an honour to host an in-conversation with the artist Desmond Lazaro at Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of New South Wales last week. Lazaro’s The Sea of Untold Stories II, an incredible painting that riffs on grief, memory and the universal nature of voyages is part of In One Drop of Water, an exhibition that explores the poetic significance of water in contemporary art. It shows in Sydney until December 1.
The Kenyan painter Michael Armitage makes ravishing paintings of everyday life in Nairobi. Past and the present, heroes and villains meet in pictures that recall Goya as seen through an especially painterly kaleidoscope. I profiled Armitage for The Saturday Paper while he was in Sydney for his show The Promised Land a couple of months back. You can read it here.
Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of home. What makes a place home? What happens when you swap one country for another? Is it a straightforward exchange, or something altogether messier? At the end of last year, photojournalist Noel McLaughlin and I started working on a long-form story that followed the lives of immigrants who, for better or worse, had carved out lives in Australia over the last five decades and how this experience reflects and resists Australia’s rhetoric around immigration. The piece, which features studio portraits of five Australians, was published on The Guardian in August and you can read it here.
Posted on June 07, 2019
Love is the Message has been shown everywhere from Sant’Andrea de Scaphis in Rome to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and turned Jafa into a reluctant art-world celebrity. But never mind the accolades. The work’s true import is visceral and personal. It compresses, over seven transcendent minutes, all the joy and pain of the black experience. It bends space and time and splices past and present the same way the pioneering African-American DJ Larry Levan — one of Jafa’s touchstones — dropped the soul tracks he grew up with at 1970s nightclub Paradise Garage. Or later, modern hip-hop greats such as Kendrick Lamar would sample the funk legends that ruled the same era. For Jafa, music has always been the truest expression of identity.
– Was such an honour to talk art and aesthetics with artist Arthur Jafa for a long-form profile in The Sydney Morning Herald’s SPECTRUM section last weekend. Jafa’s time and space-defying short film Love is the Message, the Message is Death screened here in Sydney as part of Vivid and it’s proof of what can happen when you place images together in quick succession. You can read the piece here.
Late last year, I had the opportunity to collaborate with acclaimed Sydney photojournalist Isabella Moore on a longform feature about women, ageing and cultural invisibility. In the last few years, there’s been an incredible boom in age-positive coverage of women in the media (I’ve been lucky enough to profile iconic older women like Linda Jackson and Deborah Conway for Broad, a wonderful publication aimed at women over 50). But I was also curious about the ways in which ageing looks different for women who are less high-profile, who maybe don’t have the protections afforded by middle-class whiteness. The reporting process put me in touch with so many wise, wonderful and complicated subjects who taught me that ageing is just as much about moving towards your self as it is about leaving behind a self that’s so often shaped by a culture that conflates women’s value with their appearance and willingness to please others. You can read the whole feature, accompanied by Isabella’s portraits, over at The Guardian Australia here.
Posted on January 15, 2019View this post on Instagram
Beaches. Road trips. Spiegeltents. Along with accidentally finding yourself shoeless on blistering-hot sand, attending arts and culture festivals are a defining ritual of inner-city summers in Australia. With the help of input from some of the most acclaimed festival directors and curators around the country, I investigated this topic for the cover of SPECTRUM in The Sydney Morning Herald — the year’s final print edition. You can read the piece in its entirety here!
Run, don’t walk, to the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial up in Brisbane which I had the privilege of reviewing for The Saturday Paper and which you can read my thoughts on in full here. Tropical-themed wunderkammers. Video art that’s the sensory equivalent of swimming inside a pearl. Artists from dozens of countries. What’s not to love?
Posted on September 05, 2018
Thrilled to have a new long-form essay, on growing up in suburbia and the architecture of whiteness (via John Brack, apocalyptic nightclubs and shopping malls) in the online edition of the new Griffith Review, themed ‘Who We Are.” The anthology, which is co-edited by Peter Mares and Julianne Schultz and features contributions from writers like Randa Abdel-Fattah, Maria Tumarkin, is available at good bookshops around the country now.
I can’t imagine ever being able to figure out how the world works for women without the conversations I’ve had with my best friends. But it’s only after interviewing post, a theatre collective featuring performers Mish Grigor, Nat Rose and Zoe Coombs Marr that I started rethinking the ways in which we’re conditioned to dismiss the exchanges between women as petty and insignificant when they really play a serious role shaping the culture. I wrote about post and the trio’s intriguing new performance, Ich Nibber Dibber which is about to open at the Opera House and is based on a decade of archived conversations, for SPECTRUM this week. You can read it in full here.