Artist Index



The Fair Isle Exhibition - some notes from Desirée de Kikk, reconstructed by Nora Fleming.

I apologise for my dear friend Desirée de Kikk, who has gone away on a short trip (AWOL as she would say). In my capacity as Dr Regularis’ personal assistant, I checked in his diary (as you know he is in Portugal) and noted that she had offered to write a paragraph or two on the Fair Isle exhibition. In fact, she has made a few notes - a surprise in itself. Brief as they are, I will try to make some sense of them to send you something intelligible that genuinely reflects the manner of her extraordinary insights (fortunately I did see the show and was very favorably impressed by many of the artworks).

Desirée is not easily impressed. On rare occasions she has been heard to say, “I wish I had thought of that.”   Such a note appeared more than once in her notes for Fair Isle.

At the top of her list she wrote after coming upon Margaret Roberts’ black rectangles, “What the f.... is going on here?”  In her inimitable way, she prowled around these dark objects waiting for the sense of them to come to her. (Dr Regularis often calls her, affectionately, “Wittgenstein’s predator.”) During this “tour of duty” she took in commentaries made by other viewers who were actually wearing some of the pieces, which were at those times transformed from the inanimate into living shields or “... exoskeletons for the paranoid” as her notes tell us. (I’m sure this is a thinly veiled barb for the oversensitive Noel Farina - another artist in the “stable” of Dr Regularis). At times they were like slabs of gigantic, impossible jewelry - dark baubles of an iniquitous nature. Then they popped up all over the place. No longer hard board slabs - sometimes outlines and even “... a nasty looking fur thing.”   And “what was that tiny one doing hassling a stray domino square? Surely, all the domino tile wanted to do was strike up a conversation with the large gridded wall pieces” by Barbara Halnan.

Another “What the f....?” appeared in her notes. I have noted in the past, that grids of all kinds are particularly irritating for Desirée. “I like to construct my own systems of constraint. Yes, my own rules of engagement.” However, after discussing Barbara’s Sodoku walls -  a puzzle and a solution, I could see the flickering light of recognition in her eyes. She was struck by “the sheer perfection of the endlessness of mathematical possiblility.” Aha! What sweet little intruders, the domino square and its tiny Artschwager friend!

Now, I could tell (from the urgency suggested by her untidy writing) that Desirée had understood the conceptual sense of the Fair Isle exhibition. “I wanted to hunt down some more intruders.” I believe by that she means, other works that interact with their neighbours. Margaret Robert’s dark slabs could physically move among other artworks. John von Sturmer’s domino tile had silently slipped into place pitching a small missile at its Goliath.

At this point in her notes, the paper is heavily stained by a large slosh of red wine, her remarks are particularly barbed. A few weeks ago I over heard an argument between Desirée and Vicky (Versa). Desirée was giving her young colleague a tongue lashing about the levity of the humour in the texts etched onto each mirror piece. Now however, after her Fair Isle experience, Desirée could see the connection between humour and the possibility of an “accident” popping up in unexpected places. Her notes conclude with this comment: “Just the same, I would have done it quite differently!”



and open 11-5pm, sat and sun 26 and 27 April. 

Clara Chow

above Photos Alexander Vine

above 3 images: Peter Murphy





The second FAIR ISLE opening is 6-8pm Wednesday 23 April with work by: Linden Braye, Sue Callanan, Sach CattsClara Chow, Brigitta Gallaher, Barbara Halnan,  Justin Henderson,  Andrew Simmons Sardar Sinjawi,  Vicky Versa, John von Sturmer and Skye Wagner. This is the third iteration of FAIR ISLE, and will be open 11am - 5pm  Sat - Sun 26 - 27 April.


Andrew Simmons JERK (detail) 2014 

Justin Henderson Redfern Gold 2014
John von Sturmer Turtle's Head 2012



Hanging by a thread, or Fair Isle on the line (April - May 2014) 

Part 1

Wednesday 16 April: The idea of the homunculus, the little man, remains. A fixed element that has emerged slowly – but it was there from the start, more or less. The initial impetus was the ‘sleeve’ I found on the street – and then there was another sleeve, both made of brown paper, beautifully. I thought they were for flowers but I think T’s guess is correct: the prototypes of sleeves and thus suggestive of arms. We go from there to other body parts and the body itself. And the notion of the figure as an element of design.

Knit me a cardigan, please do, and knit me a cardigan

Later I would understand that the body is what dominates and shapes the room. Architecture is the art of the body. And so to enter architectural space …
And then the notion of pattern, the many layers of the epidermis …
It took one look at the room with the objects in it, many of them well crafted, one of them (Sturgess’s paper piece) beautiful: refined, elegant, I could stick it in the elegant apartment that I don’t have. Here, in my actual apartment it would join the general high-class grot!

K’s remark was decisive: ‘Make it yours’. Not only did I take that on board, abandoning the ‘sleeves’ but gradually converting whatever I was to produce into my own history. All art is biography, I might say – and so it is. But it doesn’t come automatically, as it were; it’s not auto or self in that sense. But it does come unbidden

Thursday 17 April: The room as I saw it yesterday is a mess: confusion, a tangle, competing egos. The wall still dominates – for indeed it is a space in which the wall does dominate. Sue’s concertina pipe (Sue Callanan, Fixtures and Fittings) has the virtue of adding width to the space as it ‘worms’ around, ‘knitting’ the room together. Otherwise it is a mad jumble sale, all competing for attention. Alone much of the work would be good but with these odd juxtapositions in which there is no real communication, everyone heading towards their own Godhead!

But isn’t that how it is, the modern condition, the gaggle-babble insistence of voices all broadcasting on their own special frequency – and a sense here that everything is enlarged beyond what it or the room can endure? Too big too big too big, the death of intimacy – and control. Incomprehensible. And we, those trying to take it all in, uncomprehending, confused, alarmed even. It’s disconcerting. When I left the room I said to myself ‘space debris’.

Mostly when I leave a gallery – certainly the AGNSW – even with its mediocre or fatigued art - I look afresh at my world, the world, the world out there. All becomes art. In this case it wasn’t that the outside provided unexpected artistic pleasures – but it came as a relief. I’d escaped the abattoir, the slaughtered carcases of ideas that, smaller and less aggressive, might have appealed. What might have thrived as bilbies became monstrous charolais, a scene from Fassbinder’s In einem Jahr mit 13 Monden (1978). In the actual abattoir the bodies of the slaughtered animals create a sort of seriality – so that they get reduced into themselves – and into the ‘row’. There is a rhythm: tick tock, the dread metronome of death rings out, tick tock tick tock. And we are driven to look at Man Ray’s metronome with a new – if again uncomprehending – eye. For in the metronomic the repetition is in the action, a sort of reverse pendulum – not in the object itself. It reduces all time to a simulacrum of itself

Maybe this is true of all objects

Ah, the room, space. There are the walls, the floor, the ceilings, the ‘cubicle’ that is created by these elements. Three surface spaces (look up, look down – but principally look across) and a space that things fold or disappear into, die almost like tombstones. This is why I like Sturgess’s work: it is a flue, it sends some vapour up into the air. All the better that this vap’rous substance is invisible - an untainted if not entirely safe exudation. (No exhalation is entirely safe!) It creates a flux in itself, it lives and breathes. It’s stillness is only apparent. It may even speak – a silent voice but not mute, not by any means. An extended sigh – or a secret growl

I look for a fourth dimension – even though I may have found one: the cubicle with its heavy air at the bottom and its lighter air at the top. For mostly everything seems wedded to the wall – or the floor. I think if I had my choice again I might just put in a concrete pipe – one of those Hume pipes, diameter about 4’. The fourth – or is it a fifth? – dimension is a passage, a moving through: a liminal space, some might say, a worm hole, a tunnel, the sort of cave speleologists are so fond of, a tight squeeze which cannot be too cluttered. In this respect Sue’s piping only has exteriority: we can follow it with the eye but we can’t place ourselves inside it. We cannot experience the interiority of the pipe, of being enclosed in that half-exuberant blood vessel …

There is a sort of echo of this outside: a bathtub in the shop window of an establishment that sells bathroom items. Just across the road. It’s an elegant shape. Across the bottom in large regular letters it says PARADIS. Maybe for someone. I treat it as an anagram: SID A RAP, RAP SAID, PAR SAID, PARSED, PARSLEY, PERHAPS … The shape and run of associations, the gradual deformation and re-working of the original impulse which – paradoxically – only emerges later, virtually at the end of the day. We in fact work backwards, towards the original impulse[1]

We head towards Body Parts …

continued -  PDF of Diary of an Art Event parts 1,2 & 3

John von Sturmer

[1] From PARADIS we might have gone down a different route: PARADIS … PARODY … PARODIC… PARDON! There are threads – and threads



The second FAIR ISLE iteration is open on the weekend of 19 and 20 April, showing the work of  Linden Braye, Sue Callanan, Sach Catts, Bettina Bruder, Fiona Davies, Brigitta Gallaher, Barbara Halnan, Fiona Kemp, Rose Ann McGreevy, Alan Rose, Helen L Sturgess and Skye Wagner.

artworks: centre: Rose Ann McGreevy, right: Sue Callanan
people: L-R Sue Callanan, India Zegan, Kathryn Ryan

left: Barbara Halnan; right: Rose Ann McGreevy

front: Sue Callanan, back: Alan Rose
 foreground: Sue Callanan

front-back: Helen L Sturgess, Barbara Halnan,
 Sue Callanan, Barbara Halnan

L-R: Brigitta Gallaher, Fiona Davies;
foreground: Bettina Bruder
foreground: Bettina Bruder; right: Fiona Davies

L-R: Fiona Davies, Sach Catts

foreground: Sach Catts, Bettina Bruder

L-R: Sach Catts, Bettina Bruder


FAIR ISLE 2 open Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 April 11am - 5pm

L-R: Rose Ann McGreevy, Sue Callanan (artwork& person),
John Von Sturmer (person), Helen L Sturgess, Brigitta Gallaher

photo Brigitta Gallaher
front: Sue Callanan, back: Alan Rose

Bettina Bruder

L-R: Rose Ann McGreevy, Barbara Halnan, Sue Callanan
Barbara Halnan, Helen L Sturgess
Skye Wagner


FAIR ISLE - first iteration with Amy Prcevich

Fair Isle: take one

Taking its name from a traditional knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colours, the works in Fair Isle form a tapestry of conversations around fluidity and structure.

Bettina Bruder’s Diagramatic Entanglements is an ensemble of elastic bands stretched to their limits and connected to each other and the corners of the building. The work gently directs viewers to draw their gaze to the periphery of the artwork and on to the structure of the building. The audience is encouraged to touch, pull and play with the bands causing them to bob, shudder and bounce. The viewer induced movement and mutation of the work makes us ponder the moments of fluidity and spontaneity that can occur within a fixed structure.

Fiona Davies’ Memorial/One shift November 30 presents a field of red crosses embroidered with buttons onto kitchen strainers and is coupled with Blood on silk: surgery – a woven stream of red ribbon. The latter is reminiscent of brick work or DNA strands, depending on whether your focus is drawn to the wall on which Blood on silk rests or its relationship to the accompanying work. Together the works are a prelude to a sense of medical emergency with a contingency plan already set.

Helen L Sturgess’ Another Life is quite literally a drawing with paper. High quality drawing paper cascades from the ceiling in a graceful crumple and the work hovers in a state of contemplation. What form have we just missed? What will evolve next?

In Rose Ann Mcgreevy’s work a sculptural cluster of wooden panels and pegs is arranged on the floor and interrupts our movement through the exhibition space. On opening night it was an olfactory as well as visual experience. The delicious aroma of newly assembled building materials calling to mind the very process that was involved in constructing the work. Knowing Fair Isle is only in its first of five incarnations this work seems a perfect entry point into ideas and forms to re-explore and build upon in the coming weeks.

Fiona Kemp’s selection of digital images make reference to water conservation in the Lockyer Valley. In one image a deep red gush of colour bursts forth from a sprinkler, in the other an assembly of water sprinklers are captured ‘at attention’ calling forth ideas about defence and weaponry. In humanising the simple technology at the heart of a water supply system the work has an almost visceral effect as it mimics the primal anxiety which comes from a threat to a precious, all-encompassing resource.

Alan Rose’s two panel light installation is a soft, gentle explosion of colour. The seamless transition from hue to hue in arrangements of angulated spheres across stark black boards is so subtle and sublime that it is more than dream-like, but meditative or hallucinatory.

At the heart of all these works is a curated conversation about states of transition and in each form we get the sense that we are merely looking at one point in the life-span of an object or idea. As viewers we have the responsibly to be imaginative and contemplative in order to create ideas about the past and future based on these momentarily fixed states that form a connection between what is and what will be.

Amy Prcevich

Alexander Vine - photostream of Fair Isle 1 opening

Lean Richards - alt media

Bettina Bruder
right: Fiona Davies
Fiona Davies

Luke (left) and Alan Rose (right)
mid: Helen L Sturgess
Rose Ann McGreevy

Fiona Kemp

Photos: Fiona Kemp



FAIR ISLE - first iteration

Fair Isle's first opening on Friday 11 April 6-8pm will show new work by Bettina BruderFiona Davies, Fiona Kemp,  Rose Ann McGreevyAlan Rose and Helen L Sturgess.  Fair- Isle will then be open 11am - 5pm Sat - Sun 12-13 April. 

Their work can also be seen on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 April, 11am - 5pm, with the work of the next group of 6 artists: Linden Braye, Sue Callanan, Sach CattsBrigitta Gallaher, Barbara Halnan and Skye Wagner.  

Alan Rose Cycloide in Vivid 2013