Thinking art in Wollongong

Issue 

By Sean Moysey

WOLLONGONG — Mary-Anne Breeze (Mez), Walter Brecely and Tania Daniels are three young artists who met last year in Goulburn while completing an associate diploma; they all now study art at Wollongong University.

In April the three organised an exhibition of their work at the small but vibrant Artism Gallery. Titled "Trans ...", the exhibition focused on the presentation of ideas and concepts rather than art as a discrete commodity.

Their work also challenges the boundaries between forms of art. Brecely works mainly with metal, Mez paints on different mediums and Daniels is print based, but they intermingle disciplines.

"We don't want to just make landscapes", Brecely said. "We want to make people think about the work we are doing, make them question the ideas presented."

According to Mez, "Trans ..." was about "ideas we can convey that we haven't seen in Wollongong previously or ideas we want to encourage that we have seen here".

Daniels added that in organising their own exhibition the "passion towards your work becomes evident. It would be very easy to sit back and say, 'Well, I'm in a different environment now ... there's only a few galleries around ... I'm not good enough.' But we always challenged those obstacles and started our own shows in Goulburn, and now Wollongong."

"What is important for us is not to get entrenched in the world of high art or reflecting high art ideals", says Mez. "We did 'Trans ...' to show people that art is not just framed pictures on a wall, and to say that everybody can get something out of art."

"We try to get away from the commodity notion. A lot of inspiration [involved in the work] you can't buy", continued Brecely. "Tossing around ideas in the art is ultimately more important than having to pay for art and 'having' art as an object.

"Most of the art in the exhibition was not made to sell as a piece."

Brecely explained that during the opening of "Trans ..." a person wanted to "try on" a work of his that could be worn as jewellery. "It would've been harder if it was a painting and someone asked to take it home to try it out in their living room.

"Most people see jewellery as craft, which is a load of rubbish. It is just a different form of art", he added.

Each artist presented work that didn't let the status quo have its way. Brecely's work seemed a little safer because some of it took the form of jewellery. However, all the work conveyed ideas and emotions, not just beauty.

"The installation work was a challenge for me to try to get across some feminist ideals and see how people react", said Mez.

Daniels said, "It is impossible to separate politics from art. Politics is something that exists in everyday life. Thought processes which connect with social actions in our everyday life, and things we recognise aesthetically, come together in our art.

"People pretend that confronting things don't happen in everyday life, but they do. Three prints of mine, have a lesbian theme; they are blatantly saying, 'I'm not straight'. I like the fact that people have to deal with that, they have to think about it."

Mez added: "You can't really divorce yourself from your social climate. The notion of censorship and the internal censor is interesting. For example I've just put some work up in Aardvark's Cafe and I thought, 'Would someone want to look at a clitoris while they are eating?' Yet the owners and patrons are pleased."

An exhibition of work by Daniels and Mez will open in June at Art Arena Gallery, while Brecely is planning an exhibition at the end of the year.

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