CHECK OUT HOW GREAT MY FRIENDS ARE

Words –  Jessica Knight

Photos –  Leong Chan

Check out how great my friends are, Library Art Space, Fitzroy

‘If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do, kid.’  Bill Cunningham.

The resonance of this statement echoes through my head as I stand in Library Art Space, J Studios.  A statement made by a man who with a sense of ceremony, tore up his first pay check in his art director’s office.  The spirit of that action is a violently bright beacon that shines over the entire creative content of the exhibition entitled Check Out How Great My Friends Are.


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This exhibition is like that person you see at a party who stands out from everyone else. The person who seems to simply shimmer with the hum of a unique point of view and a killer outfit. You are too shy to approach them. You watch and blush and figure you are not cool enough and are better off not even trying, so you go get drunk from other peoples beer chilling in the bath. It happens that you finally do get caught in a conversation (you trip over their killer boots) and low and behold the person proves not only to be all you expected but also incredibly kind and gregarious and wickedly funny.

The motivated lady responsible for the visionary feast is Tamasin Simpkin, curious to find out what would transpire should she involve all her most talented and incredibly maverick friends, to get together and display their own personal form of creative expression. Hence, a show culminating 25 individuals involved in installation, sculpture, film, drawing, performance, photography, painting and objects de art was born.

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“So many of my friends have phenomenally creative minds. I wanted to get people excited about ideas, to stimulate creativity, to motivate people to just make something.” says Tamasin.

The three-week interactive exhibition presents fixed gallery works and special events, including a market day and a pop-up cinema night. Tamasin invites curious community-minded art-lovers to come along and CHECK OUT HOW GREAT MY FRIENDS ARE.

The very first thing you see on entering the art space is a product created by the  banner queen herself; Ashliegh Easten. A banner displaying the name of the exhibition in hand stitched letters onto a basic black background. The banner makes a simple statement but it is more than that; it is a rally cry of joy. Do you have creative friends? Do you let them know how great they are? I heard a person at a party say once that they only surround themselves with friends that can bring something of an entertaining nature to their life, something that they can learn from or be changed by. This person would want to add all the contributing artists of C O H G M F A, to their social circle.

Christine Pavone’s Lycra, cotton and love filled work entitled esCAPE. Is a series if five capes hanging on hooks in a row. Each cape is created to be unique. There is a sense of wonder and glee in this interactive work that begs you to engage and enjoy.  The artist’s aim is to spread the fun. She wishes to allow anyone to see just how much better life is when you are in costume.  I notice that one of the capes is missing and assume someone had enjoyed their cape wearing romp through the gallery that they had purchased the cape in an honest and amicable fashion.

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Xenon Elis, A Long Walk Home Shows a series of three photographic prints on ILFORD semigloss paper. It is a dark and beautiful depiction of the artists face as they make the late night long walk home alone.  These photos instil within an understanding of the solitude and introspection that encapsulates such a journey.  Is it safe for this person to be walking home alone? Is it safe for any of us? Is there an undercurrent of fear or fearlessness? Who is afraid of the dark? Why? These photos unleash a cacophony of ideas and contemplation. They take me back to my childhood out in the wide vast yonder, where streetlights were nonexistent and the scattering stars were all you were presented with. Elise does more then simply document a personal uneventful walk home. Elise provides a timid whisper of an idea that you take away and develop into a silent shout of understanding.

The series of portrait photographs printed on fuji pearl paper by Cesar Salmeron attempt to show through the various expressions of the subjects photographed; the struggle of finding the ideal way of delivering the art piece. At first glance it is easy to pass it off as a series of photos showing people pulling awkward faces. And if that is all you take from it then you have never tried to create something or make something happen.

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Have you ever wondered what to do with your old credit cards?  I mean apart from simply throw them away or tearfully cut them up in a vow to never get so in debt ever again? Amongst the mixed media extravaganza that is  Acid Drop Outs: Artefacts from the early 21st Century, are the alternative answer to your credit card quandary.  Ashleigh Easten has spent months collecting the expired credit and debit cards of friends and family in order to create capitalist themed jewellery.  The cards are cut into triangles and strung together on silver chains. There are also earrings! It is a brilliant and sustainable form of art, design and function. It questions your relationship with money and spending.  Deeply embedded in this form of jewellery could be considered a raison d’etra. It being that to make a statement on the impoverishment of todays art, on the way that the business of selling your art objects can reduce them to mere expensive fetishes. I for one would be proud to wear my disrespect for consumerism around my neck or dangling jauntily from my ear lobes. I wonder if they are expensive.

There is undercurrent theme that ties the majority of works exhibited in  C. O. H. G. M. F. A, and that is sustainability, environment and the world in which we live. Tim Burgin’s Nest sits in the centre of the gallery’s floor space. Created from sticks and organic materials it reminds us of the beauty that can be found in the undisturbed nature.


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Tamasin Simpkin’s Cubby house work entitled Calm Space is white canvas with black marker. The black marker is used to create the outline of a curtained window, door and slate paved roof. The black outline door is slit open so you can venture and sit inside. On the ground is paper grass. As you sit you feel peaceful and contemplative. You are given the opportunity to think about your relationship to  solitary  time and the peace that can come from being in a space separate from the thriving metropolis of beloved Melbourne. I love this city but it is a love not without confusion and nuance. This interactive sculpture makes you consider place, home and the people that make your world.

This is an art show that has the irreverence of a crunk  dance breaking out in the middle of a church service.

Get Crunking, I say.

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