Where we’ve been

Art Life , Reviews May 21, 2010 9 Comments

In her debut column as The Art Life’s bi-weekly art critic Wendy Meares visits Gallery Barry Keldoulis’s gallery and Sally Breen’s Breenspace gallery…

Eric had been complaining that when I go to galleries I never take him along. When I told him that I’d love him to come too, he unexpectedly said yes, ok, let’s go, and grabbed the keys to the 4WD.  As we drove to Barry Keldoulis’s lovely gallery it occurred to me that his only reason for wanting to come was probably for a side trip to Fratelli Fresh. He loves the cakes there. I said darling, Barry’s moved down the road, and besides you don’t need to pack on any more weight. He became quite cross. Words were spoken. But after I relented and said we’d pop in for a latte and pana cotta he calmed down.

Sean Cordeiro and Clare Healy, T+85_red&blue, 2010.

LEGO,112 x 143 cm. Courtesy the artists and Gallery Barry Keldoulis.

I’d been quite looking forward to the new show by Sean Cordeiro and Clare Healy not just because they’re good artists but also because they’re such a lovely couple. We met them once at the College of Fine Arts and they were both wearing matching flat caps, which was very sweet, and Sean was very helpful to my son Roger who at that time was just thinking of going to art school. I’d also seen their big work at the Venice Biennale last time when we went over on a Friends of the MCA trip. They’d exhibited a very large plastic cube of video tapes that apparently would take as long to watch as it does to actually live. They’d decided that instead of wasting all that time they’d make the tapes into a sculpture which solves the storage problem that Eric has with all his video tapes. You should see them all in the garage – there must be 100 tapes of just the Comedy Company, let alone all those episodes of Hey Hey – which he never watches.

I must confess to always being a little bit nervous at Gallery Barry Keldoulis as I have to stop myself from calling Barry “Ballery”.  Anyway, if you’re expecting to walk into GBK to see more clever storage solutions you’d better think again because Sean and Claire  seem to have run out of old junk to show in an art gallery. Now they have a child they have made a lot of wall works using Lego. They have made images of the space shuttle Challenger exploding and it’s very colourful. Barry gave us both a mineral water and explained that the title of the show Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going, Why was  to be the title of a lesson a poor school teacher on board was to give but unfortunately she was blown up before she could ever give it. I know Roger hated sitting through lessons so I’m sure that certain children might have been very happy their school teacher got blown to bits, but I just kept thinking – how awful.

One thing you can say about Barry Keldoulis is that he’s a genial host and when Eric became very obviously bored he offered to take him round the back and show him some interesting video art. After they scampered off I had a closer look at the big works and marvelled at how much time the artists had spent and how many packets of Lego it took to make – and Lego is not cheap, not now with all the computers and whatnot. I suppose if they don’t sell the works they can always recycle the bits and bobs and let their child play with them but, as always, remember: choking hazard.

Nike Savvas, Sliding Ladder, 2010.
Wood, wool and steel, 8 frames 335 x 510 cm each.
Courtesy Breenspace.

Eric reappeared saying that he’d seen a video work with a lot of words going around in a circle and it had reminded him of an advertisement for Panadol. We were about to get back in the car when I remembered that Breenspace is right next door and since it was open we ought to take a quick look. Inside was a stunning work by Nike Savvas, who Eric said he thought must be related to the shoe people. He’s quite funny sometimes even when he’s not trying to be.

Ms. Savvas has done an appealing sculpture work with lots of coloured string that keeps the eye moving, something I remember as being quite important from my days at NAS, and some smaller geometric pieces. We weren’t certain we were supposed to walk around inside the sculpture so we just stood there admiring it. There were no gallery people around and it was very quiet. I could see Eric wanted his dessert so we quickly left. Unfortunately by the time we got to Danks Street and parked Fratelli Fresh was already closed. I don’t need to tell you what happened next.

Wendy Meares


  1. uncle charlie

    Wendy Meares’ pseudo-eccentric domestic ramblings sure don’t cut it for me (how many “lovely” and “sweet” and “appealing” substituted for real critical appraisal does it take to make an art reviewer these days?).

    This cutesy middlebrow effort in no way approximates the standard of critical writing one has come to expect and indeed rely upon from art life over the years.

    Unless she can lift her game from this unfunny infantilisation of your readers, bi-weekly slabs of Ms Meares unilluminating drivel will drive at least one of your loyal fans to unsubscribe.

  2. Aussie cretin

    Above “art critic” must have some very good mates running this website. Most of the information served here is totally irrelevant to the “price of eggs”…

  3. Kaz Blake

    Hi Wendy! Great to see you’re still writing and making art and even greater the artlife has given u some space. Do u remember Kaz Hamilton from NAS? It’s me! I got married a couple of years ago. Lets catch up sometime. Call Brian he has my no.

  4. Marco

    This story needs some fact checking. I don’t think S+C have a kid.

  5. Joanna Mendelssohn

    The Art Life made its reputation by publishing lively, cheeky, sometimes acerbic, criticism about the Sydney art scene. It was greatly appreciated, especially as the two professional critics with mainstream newspapers often manage to avoid writing with a sense of the visual.
    Blogs by their very nature are not permanent publications, and the effort to keep this one going beyond the term of its natural life has led to some less than scintillating writing in recent months.
    This article however is in a category of its own – it is one of the worst pieces of drivel I have read in a long time.
    If you can’t do better than this, or find better writers than this one, close the blog, and let the Art Life live on the Web’s archive (www.archive.org/).

  6. Sweetners

    I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. This is a joke yeah.

  7. Oh Puhlease....

    When did Mrs Bucket (sorry, Bouquet) get an art criticism column?

  8. Wendy Meares, don’t listen to the other kids, that was the best bit of art reviewing I’ve read in a long time. Especially since what we actually, really, in our heart of hearts, want to know about, is where to buy good pannacotta.
    Keep on…. : )

  9. zara

    The article is pure fluff, perhaps inspired by ironic superficiality or that special glossy translucent surface that consumerism has given the world. If only the art could be similarly inspired, then we could have a pure surface harmony; an art-literature interlude equivalent to muzak that finally completes the ecstasy of industrialised fluorescent light and slightly buzzing white noise that constitutes the culture of contemporary civilisation……

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