A day in the life…

Where Steve Hillier gets out of his studio for an epic 8 hours and finds himself out of his comfort zone. Read on Macduff (sic)…

Steve-Hiller-mailchimpMy phone tells me it’s Saturday 6th December and I have three events logged in for the day, Harvey Normans bi-annual Convention Centre Sale, The Royal Queensland Art Society (Broadbeach) Christmas lunch and The Gold Coast Art Prize opening at the Arts Centre.

The first event was negotiated without maxing the credit card and being tempted to buy things I didn’t need – a major success therefore.

As to the engagement, well, commendations to the committee and volunteers at RQAS for organising and putting on a good social function with ample nosh and good spirit. Very appropriate for the majority of the members and their demographic. Those who attended gave every indication of enjoying the gathering with its Xmas trivia competition and an impromptu stand up comedy set.

I, however, have booked an urgent appointment with my psychologist next week, it’s not you, it’s me, it must be! I keep having this recurring vision like one of those seasonal newscasts of the dear souls at one of those specialist care facilities getting their share of the festive trappings, which won’t leave my head. Must be all those excesses of years past catching up with me and my expectations, leaving me socially dysfunctional within the normally accepted standards.

But what else? Well, I don’t know – it seems the majority were happy and the options are obviously limited within the context, so as previously noted well done to the volunteers, but in the interests of a vibrant and progressive organisation there are questions of generational balance and relevance that seem to need to be asked.

Event three: I went to the Arts Centre with what I thought were appropriate expectations of what to expect visually and a view that at least I’ll get a couple of free glasses of wine and some nibbles in return for my contributions each year to Council’s budget.

Now I’m not a great one for conspiracy theories unless they’re really good, like the illuminati or the real reason why governments are passing all these social order regulations and what they expect we’re all going to do when the effects of global warming really begin to bite, but I’m slowly beginning to believe there may be something rotten in the state of Denmark, or art curatorial circles in this case.

Initial facts, 330 entries this year, (well down on my recollection of last year), from which 45 finalists were selected by this years judge, Dr Chris McAuliffe. Dr McAuliffe teaches art history and theory at the University of Melbourne. Of this year’s finalists, 15 live or work in Victoria, 20%, (13 Qld., 10 NSW) draw your own conclusions. Of the five prize winners (acquisitions), four were of the Victorian finalists and one NSW, again draw your own assumptions.

Ok what about the art, the heart of the matter. As I walked up the entry ramp to the main gallery I thought I was going to be surprised, having a preference for representational art, as the hanging along the ramp comprised of mostly representational art. Then on entering the main gallery my expectations were realised as it comprised mostly of abstract, modernism and post modernism selections by the finalists. Nothing wrong with that I guess, art is a matter of taste after all, and if you’re going to enter competitions maybe you should get to know the tastes of the judge. After all, nobody can be truly objective and anyway I’m not a PHD in art theory and practice so am not qualified to be an objective critic. But let’s just say there seems to be a pattern within art intelligencia and bureaucracy to weight their preferences in certain directions and this seems to run especially true in competitions run by government run galleries. Government sponsored galleries are generally run by the degree holding academic side of the art world, not artists. Again, do your own research and draw your own conclusions. As a byline, it’s interesting to note that in the past month the Gold Coast’s two leading galleries have held sell out exhibitions of very popular and talented representational artists, Joel Rea and Peter Smetts. Good luck to the Arts Centre in achieving the same, maybe people are speaking with their wallets.

Ok, on to the winner, congratulations this year went to a 16 minute HD Video of the inside of a defunct print room, called ‘We are printers too 2013’ by Melbourne artists Sonia Leber and David Chesworth priced at $16,000.00 or $1,000 per minute.
By the way this years Art Prize ($30,000.00 worth of acquisitions) was sponsored by The Gold Coast City Council who are now the owners of this video, how does that work, do they have the one and only copy of it or can you download it from You Tube or such?

It’s interesting to note that all variations of media can be entered into a lot of art competitions these days but I can’t enter, unless I make a video of one of my 2D pieces of work. Trop Fest or the like – now thats an idea, a 15 minute video of a piece of my art with the occasional dog, cat or hobo walking past it with the soundtrack of an endlessly ringing telephone. Nah, probably already been done before!