Words – Nick Tapscott

Photos – J Forsyth

Some places are like people, some shine and some don’t. Old Bar Gallery, 74-76 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

I must admit to two previously held biases before I begin this review:

1: I fucking love The Old Bar. After same sex marriage becomes legal, I’m gonna start campaigning for man-bar marriage.

2: At the wedding, Slayer will be playing. I fucking love Slayer almost more than The Old Bar, and if Slayer started getting me drunk every weekend and let my mates hang out in them, I might even be convinced to marry them instead. Probably at The Old Bar.

So when I rolled into the classic Fitzroy venue on a quiet Tuesday night to find Slayer lyrics re-articulated as ‘Nanna Craft’ embroideries, I nearly squirted an unmentionable something from a private special place.

The show is the debut painting effort of costume designer Lisa “Lee Roth” Dottore and frequently awarded veteran photographer Nicole Reed, and is as conceptually successful as it is well crafted.

The work is exhibited as an attempt to explore the innocence of it’s subject’s while contextually removing them from their ‘bleak cinematic settings’ and features oil painted children in various levels of terror, suspense or threatening behaviours, accompanied thematically by shadowed and darkened photographic landscapes. As symbiosis between the media slowly tighten around the viewer’s throat the true power of the work emerges from beyond the quality of the craft to the extent that at one point a small child similar to that in one of the paintings ran through the room and I kind of freaked out a bit ’cause I thought it was part of the show. Pray for the end of your wide awake nightmare.

The strength of the artists pre-existing relationship clearly reflects from the singularity of purpose in the execution of the idea. With the exception of the Slayer craft, all pieces in the show contributed to the conclusive communication with an elegant and succinct functionality.

The crafts-ladyship of both painting and photography is indicative of the cultural output and humanity of The Olde itself; Confident but not arrogant, humble but potentially world beating. An illustration of classic rock ideologue shining from the pale green walls of a tiny room above a pub in Fitzroy; filled with several generations of close friends and families, the jerks being vetted years earlier by a culture geared to exclude them.

Above all this the popularity of the heavy metal tapestry acted nicely as the icing of the frost on the breath of the beast of the show, although it did feel slightly out of place amongst the other works. That being said it clearly resonated amongst the intended audience as sales of the these pieces out-stripped the others several times over and even resulted in numerous commissions as the works sold out in a good way.

As a debut the show is impressive, and will surely only be a matter of time before both artists, as a team, elevate above and beyond the humble and charming realms of friends and family and onto greater, broader repute.

I certainly hope they’re not in a rush, they’re pretty good where they are. Or at-least that’s what Slayer would say.