Archive for September 23rd, 2009


Review: ‘Scenes’ by David Noonan at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 15th August – 27th September 2009

Commissioning Curator: Juliana Engberg
Coordinating Curator: Charlotte Day



Installation view of 'Scenes' by David Noonan at ACCA


Installation view of Scenes by David Noonan at ACCA




Limited colour palette of ochres, whites, browns and blacks.

Rough texture of floor covered in Jute under the feet.

Layered, collaged print media figures roughly printed on canvas – elements of abstraction, elements of figuration.

The ‘paintings’ are magnificent; stripped and striped collages. Faces missing, dark eyes. There is something almost Rembrandt-esque about the constructed images, their layering, like Rembrandt’s Night Watch (1642) – but then the performance element kicks in  – the makeup, the lipstick, the tragic/comedic faces.

Mannequin, doll-like cut-out figures, flat but with some volume inhabiting the tableaux vivant.

Twelve standing figures in different attitudes – a feeling of dancing figures frozen on stage, very Japanese Noh theater. Spatially the grouping and use of space within the gallery is excellent – like frozen mime.

The figures move in waves, rising and falling both in the standing figures and within the images on the wall.

Looking into the gallery is like looking through a picture window onto a stage set (see above image).

“The fracturing of identity, the distortion of the binaries of light and dark, absence/presence in spatio-temporal environments.

The performance as ritual challenging a regularized and constrained repetition of norms.” (Judith Butler).

Excellent, thought provoking exhibition.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Many thankx to ACCA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


David Noonan. 'Scenes'




Installation view of Scenes by David Noonan at ACCA



“Noonan often works with found photographic imagery taken from performance manuals, textile patterns and archive photographs to make densely layered montages. These works at once suggest specific moments in time and invoke disorientating a-temporal spaces in which myriad possible narratives emerge. The large-scale canvases framing this exhibition depict scenes of role-playing, gesturing characters, and masked figures set within stage-like spaces. Printed on coarsely woven jute, collaged fabric elements applied to the surface of the canvases further signal the cutting and splicing of images.

Noonan’s new suite of figurative sculptures, comprise life size wooden silhouettes faced with printed images of characters performing choreographed movements. While the figurative image suggests a body in space, the works’ two dimensional cut-out supports insist on an overriding flatness which lends them an architectural quality – as stand-ins for actual performers and as a means by which to physically navigate the exhibition space.”

Press release from the Chisenhale Gallery website [Online] Cited 20/09/2009 no longer available online


“For the Helen Macpherson Smith Commission, he will bring the characters depicted in his signature collage works off the wall and onto an imagined ‘stage’. Several life-size, wooden cut-out figures will inhabit the ACCA exhibition gallery, frozen in choreographed movements.

Noonan’s dancing figures will be framed by several large-scale canvas works, printed photographic and film imagery gleaned from performance manuals, textile patterns and interior books. Printed on coarse woven jute, he cuts, slices and montages images together constructing compositions that hover between two and three dimensionality, positive and negative space, past and present, stasis and action.

“‘Scenes’ recalls the experimental workshops and youth-focused exuberance of a more optimistic era, coinciding with the artists own childhood in the 1970s” says curator Charlotte Day. “With these new works, Noonan re-introduces the idea of ritual, of creating a temporal space beyond reason that is filled with both danger and hope.”

David Noonan (Australian, b. 1969) is the fifth recipient of the Helen Macpherson Smith Commission, one of the most significant and generous commissions in Australia. The partnership between ACCA and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust offers Victorian artists the opportunity to create an ambitious new work of art, accompanied by an exhibition in ACCA’s exhibition hall.

Press release from the ACCA website [Online] Cited 20/09/2009 no longer available online


David Noonan returned to Melbourne with this significant project which extended his abiding interest in time and space. Using ACCA’s large room as a field of encounter, he created an ensemble of works in 2 and 3 dimensions that make purposeful use of the audience’s own navigation through the gallery. Visitors walking between David’s free-standing figures performed like time travellers in a landscape that had been paused. His enigmatic wall based works appeared to trap momentary scenes in a layered time warp.

This major commission allowed for an ambitious project by a Victorian artist who had reached a significant platform in their own practice. Elements of the commission were gifted to a Victorian regional gallery. In this case the recipient was Bendigo Art Gallery.

Text from the ACCA website [Online] Cited 24/04/2019


Installation view of 'Scenes' by David Noonan at ACCA


Installation view of Scenes by David Noonan at ACCA


Image from 'Scenes' by David Noonan at ACCA



Australia Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
111 Sturt Street, Southbank, Victoria 3006, Australia
Phone: 03 9697 9999

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm
Weekends & Public Holidays 11am – 5pm
Open all public holidays except Christmas Day and Good Friday

ACCA website


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Review: ‘Ivy’ photographs by Jane Burton at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 2nd September – 26th September 2009


Jane Burton (Australian, b. 1966) 'Ivy #1' 2009


Jane Burton (Australian, b. 1966)
Ivy #1
Pigment print
89 x 75 cm



This is another outstanding body of photographic work on display in Melbourne. Featuring 10 large and 2 small sepia toned, vignetted pigment prints Burton’s work creates dark enchanted worlds of faceless female figures placed in the built environment that balance (meta)physical light and shade creating ambiguous narratives of innocence tinged with a darker edge.

The eponymous photograph Ivy #1 (above) is the seminal image of the series: a dark brooding house, hunched down positioned low in the photographic space, covered in ivy with black windows and dark eves has an ominous almost impenetrable presence and sets the tone for the rest of the work.

There are wonderful references to the history of photography if one cares to look (not simply generic references to Victorian daguerreotypes, postcards and family photographs). Ivy #2 (below) is a powerful photograph where the female figure is blindfolded, unable to see the encroaching tumescence of vegetation that surrounds and is about to engulf her. The placement of the hands is exquisite – unsure, reaching out, doubting her surroundings – with the 3-bladed fan hovering behind ready to devour the unwary. This photograph has resonances of the magical photographs of the garden by the Czech photographer Josef Sudek.

Ivy #3 (below) has echoes of the work of the American photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard and his placement of masked people within built environments. In Burton’s photograph the broken umbrella becomes like insect wings, the faceless whiteness of the three-legged and three-armed creature cocooned among the overhanging predatory ivy, the luminescent sky offering the possibility of redemption. Other photographs such as Ivy #6 (below) and Ivy #7 with their wonderful colours, depth of field, heavy shadows and elegiac romantic feel have references to Eugene Atget and his photographs of the parks of Versailles (see photograph below).

Still further references to the history of photography can be found in the photographs Ivy #9 and Ivy #10 (below). In Ivy #9 the intersection of the two female bodies through double exposure forms a slippage in (photographic) reality and the disappearance of original identity in the layering of the photographs and into the empty non-reflection of the mirror. This non-reflection is confirmed in Ivy #10 where the faceless nude woman holds a mirror with no reflection. These photographs remind me of the photographs of New Orleans prostitutes in the early years of the 20th century by the photographer Bellocq with their masked faces and the ornamentation of the wallpaper behind the figures (see below).

I feel that in these photographs with their facelessness and the non-reflection of the mirror investigate notions of ‘Theoria’ – a Greek emphasis on the vision or contemplation of God where theoria is the lifting up of the individual out of time and space and created being and through contemplative prayer into the presence of God.1 In fact the whole series of photographs can be understood through this conceptualisation – not just remembrances of past time, not a blind contemplation on existence but a lifting up out of time and space into the an’other’ dark but enlightening presence.

The greatest wonder of this series is that the photographs magically reveal themselves again and again over time. Despite (or because of) the references to other artists, the beauty of Burton’s work is that she has made it her own. The photographs have her signature, her voice as an artist and it is an informed voice; this just makes the resonances, the vibrations of energy within the work all the more potent and absorbing. I loved them.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

Many thankx to Karen Woodbury Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Installation view of 'Ivy' by Jane Burton at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

Installation view of 'Ivy' by Jane Burton at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne


Installation views of Ivy by Jane Burton at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne


Jane Burton. 'Ivy #2' 2009


Jane Burton (Australian, b. 1966)
Ivy #2
Pigment print
75 x 75 cm


Jane Burton. 'Ivy #3' 2009


Jane Burton (Australian, b. 1966)
Ivy #3
Pigment print
75 x 75 cm



“Jane Burton’s exhibition, Ivy comprises a series of photographs captured in black and white. The final prints are rendered with a sepia, peach-champagne tone, with many displaying a mottled hand-coloured effect in faded pastels of pink and green. These works hope to suggest an era past, perhaps Victorian. The imagery is evocative of old picture postcards from Europe and old photographs from the pages of family albums.

Central to the series is an image of a house covered with ivy. Depicted as dark and malevolent, the house is ‘haunted’ by the traces and stains of family history, habitation, and the buried secrets of all that occurred within.

Anonymous female figures are seen in garden settings where the foliage is rampant and encroaching and the shadows deep. There is an air of enchantment perceived with unspecified darker edge. The figures are innocent and playful. The viewer is asked to question if the and girls aware of the camera capturing their activity? Are the poses staged or caught spontaneously. In another photograph, a dilapidated male statue stands broken and armless, the texture of stone worn, and bruised with dark lichen and moss.

In the interior photographs, several nudes are depicted in the style of 19th century French daguerreotype photographs. These vignetted images display women against wall-papered backdrops with theatrical props reminiscent of earlier works by Burton such as the series ‘The other side’ (2003). Posed suggestively for the camera and the viewer’s gaze, the subjects themselves are faceless, their own gaze and features hidden behind dark hair. The surface and texture of these particular works suggests the patina of decay and the damage and wear of time.”

Text from the Karen Woodbury Gallery website [Online] Cited 20/09/2009 no longer available online


Bellocq 1912


E. J. Bellocq (American, 1873-1949)


Jane Burton. 'Ivy #10' 2009


Jane Burton (Australian, b. 1966)
Ivy #10
Pigment print


Eugene Atget. 'Versailles, France' 1923


Eugene Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Versailles, France


Jane Burton. 'Ivy #6' 2009


Jane Burton (Australian, b. 1966)
Ivy #6
Pigment print
75 x 75 cm



Jane Burton website

Karen Woodbury Gallery

This gallery has now closed.


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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