Dawn Csutoros – Back in Beijing

As part of my 9-month art journey this year, I am spending the first month in China.

My link with China began 30 odd years ago when I started learning tai chi and looking into Daoism. But it had never really crossed my mind to travel there. Then in 2007, I received a commission for the JW Marriott Hotel, Beijing. I followed this up with a six-week artist residency in Fei Jia Cun, an art village on the outskirts of Beijing. The artist villages in China are amazing! Imagine a community made up predominantly of artists, the studios generally take up the ground floor of a two storey space, bedroom traditionally upstairs. Kitchen, bathroom and studio downstairs. The atmosphere is supportive, with neighbouring artists visiting each other, discussing ideas for their work and meeting for drinks and openings.  The energy is at once open and enthusiastic; a genuine curiosity to explore new mediums and different techniques.

Dawn group pic
Group picture with Brian Wallace, Director of Red Gate Gallery, Nikolaus Ellrodt, Curator and Director of The Showroom Gallery, Dawn Csutoros, artist, local international artists, Geoff Raby.

2008 came with an invitation to exhibit at the Australian Embassy in Bejing, opened by the acting Ambassador Dr Geoff Raby and Bill Shorten. 2009/10/11 saw more exhibitions including a collaboration with fashion designers for the World Expo, along with travel across the Gobi desert, climbing sacred Taoist mountains and journeying along the silk road to Dunhuang which has the world’s largest collection of Buddhist cave paintings.  This inspired new works, using mediums such as Xuan paper, ink; even tea and black coal entered the work. The materials implicit to the culture were being embedded into my compositions.

In 2013, I was in Songzhuang Art Village for a couple of months and now here I am again, but this time, to exhibit a selection of works spanning 12 years and to stay on for a one month artist residency in 318 International  Art Village, Beijing. The studio space is amazing.  As an artist, it is such a wonderful experience to be able to travel and live in new surrounds, to immerse myself in a completely different culture and see with new eyes. Very inspiring, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

Installation of exhibition at 318 International Art Village, Beijing. Exhibition opened by Counsellor for Public Affairs and Culture, Maree Ringland and former Australian Ambassador Geoff Raby.












I only arrived Tuesday afternoon and the opening was on Saturday in April and the exhibition will continue for one month.  A slight glitch as my tube of drawings decided to stay on an extra day or so in Singapore. However, Nikolaus Elrodt, the curator took it all in his stride and everything was ready on time. Maree Ringland, the cultural attaché opened the show. We started at 3pm and finished the night dancing ‘til 2am.

The next day, I have time to rest and reflect and find myself wondering how my next body of work will evolve.  Despite the pollution, hay fever, traffic and trials with internet, it’s great to be back in Beijing.

Next stop Malta!

To find out more about Dawn, you can visit, http://dawncsutoros.com

Colour Sensation: The Works of Melinda Harper

Written by Elizabeth Fritz

Melinda Harper’s vast kaleidoscopic collection of works has been carefully curated from three decades’ worth of paintings, screen prints, embroideries and much more.

Melinda Harper, Untitled, 2013, oil on canvas, 153 x 122.5 cm, Private collection, Adelaide
Melinda Harper, Untitled, 2013, oil on canvas, 153 x 122.5 cm, Private collection, Adelaide

Harper’s love of abstraction, colour and all manner of materials is evident in every piece. For her it’s in the process of looking and experiencing that developed her complex and precise visual language, which she translates into vivid and dynamic works. Nature and the colours in nature are two of her biggest sources of inspiration; it brings her awareness, she says. “When I look at green, I see ten greens, the flickering colours changing and the movement.”

It’s through this type of intimacy that her works are realised. The colours, which are all carefully considered and mixed by Harper, are also a crucial element in her paintings. Harper explains, “It’s the endless possibilities of where it can go next, and the potential in expanding visually is what drives me.”

Melinda Harper, Untitled, 2000, oil on canvas, 183 x 152.3 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Melinda Harper, Untitled, 2000, oil on canvas, 183 x 152.3 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Harper’s art is meant to encourage the viewer to really look.  Some of her paintings are lines as fine as pick-up sticks; some resemble glass shards or laser beams, while others lean towards mosaic-like patterns. Harper says, “I was always interested in abstract art, in the feel of the apple rather than the apple itself.”

Colour Sensation: The Works of Melinda Harper, Installation view, photograph: Christian Capurro, Heide Museum of Modern Art
Colour Sensation: The Works of Melinda Harper, Installation view, photograph: Christian Capurro, Heide Museum of Modern Art

Colour Sensation: The Works of Melinda Harper
Heide Museum of Modern Art – Heide III
7 Templestowe Rd, Victoria 3105
27 June – 25 October

Jennifer Whitten – American hyperrealist painter

Jennifer Whitten

We had the opportunity of having Jennifer Whiten, an American hyperrealist painter living and working in Melbourne, present for us at our Enderby Studio Art Program class.

Jennifer completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts: Washington University in St. Louis and is currently undertaking a Master of Contemporary Art: Victorian College of the Arts.

Much of her recent work has used images of young girls in otherwise ubiquitous everyday situations such as cooking in the kitchen or dressed up in fancy dresses, common day stuff apart from that their faces are dominated by these massive mouths that obliterate all facial features. Jennifer described how each of these mouths form the shape of the first letter of a word and therefore carry hidden meaning which perhaps someone will unlock. The girls are all communication, and chatter, perhaps as they discover their everyday world and the language that represents and negotiates it.

Large areas of the works are left in flat ‘pop’ colour, negating the overall illusion of space and representation. These areas sometimes go as far as to suggest absence or a hole. These areas not only break up the cohesion of representation but suggest a sense of something beyond, another dimension perhaps. This other plane contrasts with the everyday banter of materiality which otherwise pervades the images. As she expressed an interest in the theory of the 4th dimension during her talk, perhaps Jennifer is looking beyond the limitations of a commonplace material existence and the limitations of how that existence is described.

Jennifer Whitten 1

Jennifer discussed her work, her technique and her position as a hyperrealist painter undertaking her Masters degree at Victoria College of the Arts. She spoke about finding her way through the current dominant visual arts culture which in Australian institutions heavily emphasises new media, installation and conceptual art. Jennifer spoke of the legacy of Modernism which reacted against the history of representation in art and that this reaction persists against the style of work she practices. Despite these difficulties, following a successful recent exhibition Jennifer has noticed a more open attitude to her work.

Jennifer has spent much of this year painting on glass and perspex rather than the previous wood panels and when I visited her a few weeks ago, she had a large panel of thick perspex suspended from her studio roof, upon which she was painting a life-size self portrait as Ophelia. It is an impressive piece of work requiring a wet on wet technique whereby the highlights are pushed through the existing wet paint. Jennifer prefers to work on areas of the painting wet and will sometimes work for days without stopping, to achieve this. I will post about this work as soon as it is finished.

Marco Corsini

From pet portrait to doggy bag

Lauren Ottaway, a current MAC student, shares her creative journey that led her from paint-brush to screen-printing.

I first painted Louis the Frenchie as a gift for someone with a stocky French bulldog bursting with personality. The reaction from my friends and family for this small 30cm x 20cm pop-art style French bulldog was very positive, and I had an upcoming exhibition at Lentil as Anything so I thought I’d dedicate a portion of it to Louis.

Louis the third, acrylic on canvas, 2013
Louis the third, acrylic on canvas, 2013

I painted another four small canvases in varied colours (using acrylic) and another larger canvas with his face repeated – a bit like Campbell Soup cans. I received a lot of good feedback at the exhibition, and then sat on the idea for a little while as I thought Louis could become a little icon.

A few months ago I came to the conclusion that I wanted to quit my full-time job in marketing, and I remembered that I have always wanted to have a market stall (I might call myself crazy now though)! My cousin is a screen-printer, so I shared my seemingly wild idea about printing Louis on tote bags. She thought it could work, and she had leftover bags and material I could use, so she taught me how to screen print.

Lauren screen printing

Using my cousin’s rusty carousel and a screen with a stencil of Louis cut out using contact, we began producing flawless prints. I was gobsmacked; seeing what was my painting from one year ago on a bag was so exciting! I printed about 20 bags and tea towels, and I was addicted.

The next few days was a mad rush gathering quotes for bag and tea towel wholesalers, and everyone I know pitching ideas about what I could do and how I could do it.

I came up with two more designs – Gus the pug and Wooza the crazy cat.

The next week I found my lounge room full of boxes of bags, tea towels and aprons.

Tea towels finalLauren O Designs 2

And the next week I was furiously printing in my in-laws garage and heat-pressing each piece in preparation for the first market I had been accepted into. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be screen-printing one hundred bags I would have never believed you!

I’m not sure if this is how far Louis and his two new friends will go on this unexpected journey, though I’m loving every step.

Starting up a tiny creative business

After selling at a few markets, I now have so much more respect for people who make and sell things themselves. You have to do everything yourself, from creating tags for the products, to loading the car, setting up shop and keeping a smile on your face whilst people walk past your stall and run their hands along your products.

However, the satisfaction of people purchasing and adoring what you sell is priceless. It is a great outlet to meet like-minded creative people and also seeing what other people are doing inspires me every day. After being exposed to this hand-made community, I have decided to only buy hand-made products and support local artists and creatives this Christmas.

You can find out more about my screen-printing products here: facebook.com/laurenodesigns and see my other artwork here: madebylauren.com.au.

Upcoming markets

Blender Lane Artist Market – 110 Franklin St, City

December 10 and 17, 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Camberwell Christmas Twilight Market – The Parkview Room, 340 Camberwell Road, Camberwell

December 19th 4:30 – 8:00pm

Graeme Drendel – Surrender

We are pleased to announce Graeme Drendel’s latest exhibition, Surrender.

Graeme Drendel

MAC has been fortunate to have Graeme speak at a number of our art classes about his previous works, and we are excited to see his new collection at the Australian Galleries in Derby Street, Collingwood.

Graeme’s new works are highly descriptive, stark and symbolic of earlier part of his life spent on the plains of Mallee. They feature groups of people, clothing and focus on relationships and expressions within the paintings that leave you questioning why each figure is present.

Details of the exhibition

Date: 2 – 21 September, 2014

Time: Open 7 days 10am to 6pm

Location: Australian Galleries Derby Street – 35 Derby Street Collingwood VIC 3066

Maree Woolley

My Myna, Maree Woolley
My Myna, Maree Woolley
Big Foot, Maree Woolley
Big Foot, Maree Woolley

Next week, Enderby Studio Art Program will host guest artist, Maree Woolley. Maree has worked as a freelance illustrator and animator on numerous award-winning multimedia titles for broadcasters and multimedia production houses. 

Maree has a love of drawing. Her drawings are evocative notations of everyday objects and zoo animals. They are economical and skillful, often containing subtle, delightful narratives.

You can see more work at:


Kevin Brennan will be asking; why do we make art and does art really matter?

Why do we make art and does art really matter? Kevin Brennan, our guest speaker this Tuesday the 5th and Friday the 15th, will be exploring these questions.

Kevin has worked in the arts and cultural arena for over 25 years as artist, producer facilitator and entrepreneur covering a range of art forms and practice. Kevin is fascinated by creativity and its practice as well as in public debate and policy frameworks. He has extensive experience in teaching, facilitating community engagement, writing strategy and analysis and developing policy in this field.

Kevin was Artistic Coordinator of La Luna Youth Arts (1990-94), Company Manager of Melbourne Workers Theatre from 1995-1999 and Programming Co-ordinator for the Art of Dissent Conference for Adelaide Festival and Melbourne Festival in 2002. He has served on numerous local and state government committees and advisory bodies.

Through his business United Notions Creative Solutions Kevin has worked strategically through consultations & research with small arts organisations, diverse communities, government and arts industry bodies and the broader community and tertiary education sectors. Among many other projects, Kevin was Executive Officer of Arts Management Advisory Group (Victoria) from 2005-2011, Specialist Arts Advisor for Deloitte’s Research into Small Arts organisations for Arts Victoria (2007). He has worked on the development of Arts & Culture Strategies for Shire of Cardinia, City of Kingston and Shire of Golden Plains. Kevin is a sessional lecturer in the Masters of Community Cultural Development Course at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships (Victorian College of the Arts) and lectures in the Masters in Arts Management course at RMIT.

Managing your creativity

It can be difficult to do creative work when you have limited time and have to maintain other responsibilities such as study, work and family. So how can you achieve the most with the limited time you have?

I have frequently struggled with this question and have put together the following thoughts based upon my own experience and that which I have observed in the lives of other artists.


Creativity is a part of life and should not be isolated to your work time. A curiosity and passion for life is a key element of getting ideas. Creative people usually have an interest in how things around them look, feel, smell, how people behave and what makes things work and not work.  They tend to appreciate other people’s creative work and the natural world. They observe and they reflect. So, although life may be busy, the many instances when we are engaging in our daily routines present many opportunities to use our natural curiosity and to be passionate about our existence. This engagement with life will breed new thoughts and ideas.


You need a space to explore ideas playfully. This is a place for your creative work. Perhaps this could be a room, a corner, a desk or your studio. It can be a place where you leave special objects and your associated thoughts. This is a place where you leave your work and can return to it to see it again. It is a well organised space that has the materials you need, when you need them so that you can pick up on a thread of an idea quickly. When completing your creative work, you take the time to reflect on your work while cleaning and organising your space so that it is ready to receive you the next time you come.


Ideas and observations are a special insight and they need to be treated carefully so that we can all benefit. They can lead to great work but we have to be ready to record them as they come. A journal, a sketch book or book you can write in offers a place to jot ideas, sketch, observe, plan and play. It is a private space and you can put down whatever comes to mind regardless of whether it makes sense at the time. I keep several journals and pencils around me. I have one in the car and I usually travel with one. Although I am often away from my work space I try to maintain a discipline of drawing and writing in my journal. It becomes my little travelling work space.


Be consistent in your work schedule even if it is only a few hours a week. Your commitment to journaling or working in your space is important for your creative development.  If you are like me you will find that periods of time pass when you are not able to be consistent. If you have been maintaining a curiosity and passion for the tasks you have been doing in your life, you probably have been creative in other ways and this will be useful for your work when you return.


Our minds need the freedom to process information and ideas. I find that my mind works better if I am able to release myself from worry, apprehension and needless distraction. I try to limit wasteful distractions, my ideas mostly coming from my daily experiences and reading. I think carefully about whether I need extra ‘things’ in my life as the more I have, the more my mind is occupied. I try to maintain a routine that allows me to free my mind at some stage in the day. Curiously, I’ve found that I get my best ideas while doing menial tasks such as washing the dishes. This document came to me while washing the dishes and was initially written on some serviettes.

The pressure we put on ourselves to be creative can also clutter our minds. For me it was a combination of a demanding life with the added pressure of coming up with new ideas that had for a period of several years brought my creative work to a standstill. It was only after walking away from the pressure to create that I found ideas began to flow again. I have learnt a lot from that experience. I now cycle my projects through a process of focusing on them then letting them go. I will work on the project until it is clear I am making little headway. I then leave it alone, switch to another project or task until from somewhere in my subconscious mind the solution to the problem emerges or until I am ready to return to the project with a clear mind. Then I repeat the process for the next stage of the project.

Set Objectives

Once you know which direction you want to go in then apply clear objectives and parameters to ensure you get there.

What is it you want to achieve?  What are the qualities your successful project will have? What is the strategy you can employ to get there? Who or what can help?


Seek feedback from positive people whose judgement you trust and avoid exposure to people whose judgment you don’t trust. With sincerity and openness, you may find the opportunities to befriend people that have the knowledge and experience you seek.

Discuss your work with others as it develops and always be open to new perspectives.


Find places to expose your work. If you have worked hard for your idea then you need to be a good advocate for it. Telling a story about the development of the idea will most likely draw some interest.


Take a break. After a heavy work schedule on a project you need rest your body and to free your mind so that you can return to living with a curiosity for life.