PRAISE YOU
ARTIST: RACH PONY GOLD

ARTIST: RACH PONY GOLD

Every now and then, a show comes along that really shapes the course of creative compassion, and sets a standard to be remembered. ‘Praise You’ is one of these shows.

INTERVIEW: SARAH HAZLEHURST


This September, aMBUSH Gallery and Lusid Art illuminate the complex subject of women’s body image, and self-confidence, with the unveiling of one of Australia’s largest female group shows.

Working in support of Australia’s leading charity organisation for eating disorders and negative body image, The Butterfly Foundation, this giant group show will feature over 30 national and international female artists, all joining forces to educate, inform and challenge the accepted ideas of body image and comparison, by appreciating and empowering all elements of the female form through visual art, (with all proceeds being donated directly to The Butterfly Foundation). 

We catch up with Praise You curator and organiser, Lusid Art and feature artist Rach Pony Gold to talk women, working in the industry, and a collection of incredible artworks. 

Below left to right: Amy Clemens / Kate Pullen

NC: What’s the ideal goal you want to achieve with this show?
LUSID ART: Normality and self-acceptance to put it simply. To me, these are the biggest contributors to mental health and in turn body image. Being confident in everything you can offer, and in turn being able to empower those around you. Praise You has obviously evolved from the seeded idea of body image to really educating and challenging what we know as a society about our preconceived expectations. Praise You will turn what we know on it’s head and celebrate everything we’ve done.

NC: What does ‘Praise You’ as a concept mean to you?
RACH PONY: I like thinking about the exhibition title as both an inwardly and outwardly directed imperative: as in, you celebrating you, but I'm also celebrating you, and that's going to be passed around among our community. A collective acknowledgement and celebration of badassery. 

Below left to right: Bree Auty / Elana Mullaly / Nikkita Ra / Chanelle Rose

NC: Talk us through the piece you created:
RACH PONY: Stylistically, I wanted to draw influence from decadent, romantic Art Nouveau themes, with a bit of a psychedelic feel but also that low-brow/comic style crispness. It's also taking a lot from the distilled intensity that I feel when I'm at home (the farm where I grew up); I always catch myself in these borderline poetic, trippy nature scenes that make me forget about the vessel for a while, because I'm just so in awe of the powerful world. 

LUSID: The piece I created, titled,  'Emma' really hits home for me, although it's on the most simpler side of my style, the photo itself is actually a recreation of the photo that inspired Praise You for me. The woman in the photo is a dear friend of mine who has been a long time supporter and the photographer is a friend of hers. So it's really full circle. The piece itself represents freedom, normality and positivity - I think there's a bit of this woman in all of us and it's just a matter of setting everything aside that's negative and letting her shine.

ARTIST: LUSID ART

ARTIST: LUSID ART

NC: Have you ever felt that your body, and/or your gender defines how you’re perceived as an artist?
LUSID ART: I have been looked down on in the past more so maybe because of my age. I think if anything being female and creative and fucking driven has been a blessing - because it’s not only shown people that I’m unstoppable when I set my mind to something, but I’ve really proved to myself in the last year - quite literally ANYTHING is possible with the drive and passion.

RACH PONY: My gender and body have had less of an impact on how I'm perceived as an artist than maybe they would have in a different field... Although there are times and areas and fields within art where there is inequality and maybe judgement, in my experience it's a lot less split along gender lines. Maybe that's a natural consequence of the arts being a bit more progressive? I felt differently about my gender when I worked in journalism or in corporate roles, where there's more structured management and comparable salaries. But all that being said, my gender defines what I produce as an artist, and in that light it is a very positive thing. 

Below left to right: Sarah Howell / Tiffany Atkin

NC: What does 'empowering women' mean to you?  
LUSID ART: To me empowering someone means you are first confident in yourself and what you offer to life. Empowerment affects every aspect of someone's life, when you give someone that support to break through issues such as body image, career development or even just general assistance, it really shines on both parties and ripples into the community. I think without empowerment, the world would be a very self conscious and bitter environment. 

RACH PONY: I think it's providing the opportunity to work unfettered by those disadvantages, criticisms or internalised strange ideas that have been used to control and marginalise women forever. It's unfortunate, but true that the world isn't equal, so there needs to be a conscious exploration of that and allocation of time and space to those who have been shortchanged on space, validation, opportunities or respect. And, of course, there's intersectionality to consider in that too. I think it will come from banding together, supporting each other, and applying a lot of strength and sensitivity.

NC: What are you expectations for the exhibition? It's an insane lineup!
RACH PONY:  There's going to be some really beautiful and personal work produced by a very incredible group of women. And that body of work should set the vibe for lots of supportive, celebratory, feelings of love. Hopefully that leads to a significant contribution to the Butterfly Foundation, and gives us all an excuse to carve out a little time to think about the way we love and consider ourselves, both mentally/abstractly and physically/bodily. 

LUSID ART: After so long of dreaming, planning and organising I think seeing it all come to life. I’m looking forward to celebrating, seeing people enjoy themselves and I think most important how much of an impact this one event can make on The Butterfly Foundation.

To find out more about Praise You, visit www.praiseyou2017.com or follow the prompts on the facbeook event, here

Praise-You-Print_web.jpg
JOKER AND THE THIEF PLAYING CARDS - MAIDENS

Joker and the Thief is set to release THEIR new collection of playing cards – Maidens. We give you a sneaky look at the artwork by Kentaro Yoshida.

Designed over a period of 10 months by popular Sydney-based artist Kentaro Yoshida, the collaboration couldn’t be any more perfect. Known for his organic, bold style, Kentaro was inspired by Dia de los Muertos – central to Maidens’ theme of powerful and mystical feminine energy. 

Maidens truly is going to be a special deck of playing cards. Packaged in a gorgeous letter-pressed tuck box produced in San Diego, California – utilising premium imported papers, with interior and exterior hot stamped foil and embossing. All of this is capped by a vivid, custom shaped seal. 

To get your hands on this limited edition deck of cards, you can pre-order through Joker and the Thief's Kickstarter campaign launching on Friday, September 1st, 6PM PDT (West Coast, USA).

www.jtplayingcards.com

JUSTKIDS WRAPS UP AMBITIOUS ART CURATION IN FORT SMITH ARKANSAS FOR THE UNEXPECTED.
Doze Green

Doze Green

Justkids recently closed its third edition of The Unexpected, taking place this year from July 23 through the 30th, bringing together world renowned artists to create larger than life art experiences in Fort Smith, Arkansas. A challenge but also a game changer for the area.

In reference to the the curatorial focus of this edition, Justkids owner and curator Charlotte Dutoit states: “We were interested in putting together more interdisciplinary projects that would get viewers to revisit some of the historic landmarks in Fort Smith, discover hidden gems of the Downtown and participate in the creative process. We give the artists an opportunity to express themselves in an unlikely environment while building a beneficial cultural capital where it’s needed. Right in the heart of America.”

To kick off the week long art programming in the downtown area, legendary New York artist Doze Green introduces his metaphysical reinterpretation of life with “The Divine Sparks Project”  that opened in july 22nd. Encompassing diverse media such as  animation, muralism, light and sound installation, The Divine Sparks Project by Doze  intercepts various disciplines of art within Fort Smith’s former New Theater. Breathing new life into the former Art Nouveau playhouse originally built in  1910. The installation, who was produced in a time frame of 5 weeks, marks a revival for the historic landmark, which had remained dilapidated and closed to the public for more than 30 years.

London Artists Lakwena Maciver intercepted yet another monumentally ambitious project: the county’s Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Smith. Her brand new installation "Still I Rise" is a 360° mural inspired by the poem of Maya Angelou (who spent her childhood in Arkansas), painted on the walls and floor of the center’s courtyard  with the help and participation of the young detainees. Combining visual art, teaching and social action, this beautifully relevant undertaking received tremendous support from the local community as well as state officials with an inaugural visit by Arkansas State Governor Asa Hutchinson on June 28th. In relation to her experience working with the juveniles the artist stated; “Still I Rise talks about rising above adversity, rising above trials. I chose to put her words on the walls to hopefully inspire these kids. Everything in the design, all of the pattern and words are laid out trying to lift your eyes  up. Up into the sky”.

Spanish/Argentinian sensation Felipe Pantone delivered his massive  free-standing sculpture  "Multistabilitas”,  that doubled  as a “pop-up” skate park right in front of the  Fort Smith National Historic Site. The iconic op-art phenomena collaborated with local riders from Boardertown Skate shop in the design and fabrication of the ephemeral ramps which are now open to the public!

Felipe Pantone

Felipe Pantone

Pennsylvania based contemporary artist Crystal Wagner also joined the lineup creating Lithotroph, her most ambitious public sculpture installation yet. Her massive artwork is wrapped around the remaining facade of the historical Reynolds Davis building, pleasantly disrupting the Old West urban landscape of Downtown Fort Smith. The process required the daily help of dozens of volunteers, including the enthusiastic staff of the most  prestigious art institution in the region, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (situated at one hour from Fort Smith, in Bentonville). In relation to the monumental and collaborative process catalyzed, the artist emphasized: “I am interested in the dialog between architecture and natural forms and structures. Lithotroph is an pseudo-organism born of the modern world with the biological utility of an organic growth”.  

The Amsterdam audiovisual collective, Circus Family, also added to the immersive art experiences available with this year’s iteration of The Unexpected. Their mesmerizing  light installation Triph was commissioned  to be re-programed and adapted to a former neon and sign maker shop in the downtown area. On view until until August 13th, Triph comes alive when the visitors approach and interact with the installation, stimulating color and sound with their movements and revealing the magic. 

Mexican master muralist Saner team up with Ukrainian oneiric decoder AEC  from the world famous duo Interesni Kazki to collaborate in the creation of a large scale mural that brilliantly touches themes of multiculturalism through colors, forms, folklore and iconography. Impossible to explain in words the street piece can be seen at the corner of  8th street and Garrison ave.

Saner and AEC

Saner and AEC

Ana María, the renowned Puerto Rican artist and now resident of Fort Smith put forward her much anticipated solo exhibition in her new hometown of Arkansas, rightfully titled Feral Kingdom. The show offers a  unique insight of the artist most recent studio work as well as a brand new interior mural created specifically for the event. Produced and curated by Justkids, this show not only reaches but traps the expectators in the long and alluring tentacles of the artist reality.

Ana María

Ana María

Coinciding with Peacemaker Music Festival, Justkids also inserted some eye candy within  the festival grounds, popping up two D*Face’s monumental zombie inflatables (Zombie Kitty and Zombie Snoopy) floating by the Arkansas River.

www.justkidsofficial.com / www.unexpectedfs.com

D*Face

D*Face

MAMBO MAGIC AT SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS
All Photography: Yaya Stempler

All Photography: Yaya Stempler

Splendour in the Grass has come and gone once again and thousands of festival goers are still recovering.

This year, Mambo made its mark in more ways than one creating a sensory overload experience covering all the major bases of a festival; the artistic liberation, the fashion and of course the music!

The Venus Fly Trap stood tall at the top of the ampitheatre looking over North Byron Parklands and provided the perfect backdrop for an insta-worthy shot. The Venus Fly Trap was based on Mambo artist Ben Brown's illustration and brought to life by Lee McConnell. 

“Our inspiration for this year was a psychadelic paradise where mutated Venus fly traps quite aggressibely eat people while they camp right near them. People attending this year’s Splendour can get lost in Mambo’s 'Wayside Rest Area’ on their way to the ampitheatre when taking the hill. They might not make the ampitheatre though,” said McConnell. 

Down near the Tipi Forest was an 8m long 3D mural for punters to interact with, created by all four artists, Lee McConnell, Lauren Webster, Ben Brown and Kentaro Yoshida

Mambo brought back the #SITGxMamboLoudShirt for festival goers who just happened to be in the right place at the right time, as well as gifting all of their favourite artists backstage.

Until next year Splendour… 

www.mambo-world.com