The opening of the Ugly exhibition was definitely one to remember. It was moving, diverse, vibrant and energetic.
It proved a challenge to commit to paper all the facets of the evening. So, we settled on trying to capture a quote from each artist who spoke at the opening, and pair the quote with an image of the artist’s work. Please note that this was not possible in all cases, as not everyone spoke and one work (Consistency of Silence, 2018, by Georgia Cranko) was not captured as a quality still photograph.
Ugly was an exhibition of work by a number of artists from the Emerge 2017 program. The program is an engagement project of Front Up, an arts and culture hub founded by Ability Options, that connects emerging practitioners living with disability with professional artists.
The Ugly exhibition opened on 19 July, and was held in the Ideas Platform at Artspace in Woolloomooloo. Leading up to the exhibition, the artists interrogated the challenging and subjective notion of ugliness.
Quotes and images from the artists
The artists who spoke at the opening responded to questions from artist Liam Benson. The conversation focused on the participants’ arts practice, the importance of community and what was gained through the creative process.
Virginia Bucknell: “It’s made me realise why I paint landscapes. It’s because I feel ugly inside. I want to put that aside and move to where things are pleasing and harmonious.”
Davida Bache: “I’m a forgotten Australian. I’ve applied for the redress scheme. I wanted to put something out there to show what I had been through.”
Cobie Ann Moore: “The ugliness is in the happiness that is fake.”
Lisa Hughes: “My work is the photos of the tulips which shows the ugliness of decay. That is a metaphor for life. There is a cycle of ups and downs. It doesn’t always turn out bad. The buds might bloom again.”
Georgia Cranko: “Before beginning the work on our pieces, Lola (Pinder) arranged for us to meet with the resident artists so we could get a sense of what Artspace actually does. Lola has been so encouraging and obviously that’s great for me to feel like what I make matters.”
Linda Ogonowski: “What was appealing for me about this project was the idea of being part of an arts community, of having a place and a voice. I think it brought down imagined barriers.”
Shelley Kay: “I love community-based work. Every single person is capable of arts practice. You are getting in contact with your humanity and spirituality.”
Rosell Flatley didn’t speak at the opening but her work was a vibrant performance piece called In-dai. This memorable work sought to challenge the ugly misrepresentation of Filipinas by Western tourists who portray them as seductive and immoral.
Kim Graham didn’t speak at the opening. But these are her words from the program: “I have issues with addiction. I would like to stop but I love a cigarette so much. Hopefully it will be possible. They are extremely expensive and a deadly serious, ugly habit.”
Feature photo: Davida Bache painting Origins of Ugly at Artspace, 19 July 2018.
This page was first published on 21 August 2018. This page was edited on 28 August to add a photo of Rosell Flately in performance.