Off the Kerb

Words – Tabi Jackson Gee

Photos – Andy Donohoe

Off the Kerb Gallery, 66B Johnston Street, Collingwood.

Three shows opened in Collingwood’s Off the Kerb on Friday night. Occupying the intimate gallery for the next few weeks is Jerome Rush’s Direction Reflection, Nick Ilton’s Hope and Optimism and Kubota Fumikazu’s Between These Things And Those Things. Making use of the first small room, Jerome Rush’s large screen-prints are staged around mirrors, casting the viewer beside the caricatured figures. These figures lounge next to cars, trucks and striking arrows, to provide a changeable, self-conscious and, well, reflective visual experience. The figures in the pictures draw upon Rush’s own interest in comic books – his two adult graphic novels and his children’s book ‘Toes’ are also on sale.

Following through to Nick Ilton (aka Melbourne street artist Fred Bloggs) you’ll find the opposite of Rush’s ambiguity – two tall, imposing red templates. One states (spoiler alert) ‘This is a message of hope and optimism’ and the other, in a simple reversal – ‘This is not a message of hope and optimism’ – an unapologetic questioning of two divisive slogans that forces you to consider the value of each of them. Nick spends the rest of his time out on the streets, building sculptures around every day urban objects. His blog is really interesting and you may recognise some of the work documented there from the streets of Melbourne. Well worth a look if, like us, you’re compelled to know more after seeing this divisive and provocative installation.

Going upstairs after the first two exhibitions felt like travelling back in time. Kubota Fumikazu’s intricate drawings explore the complex patterns of the human mind through images that are largely reminiscent of 1920s sci-fi flying machines. Like blue-prints or beautiful technical designs of the brain, these pictures are assembled in a collection that works so well it’s a shame to be reminded of their imminent separation by the red dots underneath them. Melbourne Arts Club photographer Andy Donohoe was so entranced by Fumikazu’s work that he considered selling his camera, just so he could buy one of his own. (Or maybe that was the Little Creatures talking). Between Rush’s comic book aesthetics, Ilton’s demanding sculptures and Fumikazu’s explorative design of the human psyche, these three bold shows somehow create a surprisingly complimentary exhibition. A tasty aesthetic snack that would be a shame to miss.