What Goes On Tour

Timothy Horn 'White Death' 2009

How’s this for a mouthful: “Tour de Force is a project developed by artisan and Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, curated by Megan Bottari and toured by Museums and Gallery Services Queensland. The exhibition tour is supported by Visions of Australia, an Australian Government program, and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Government and state and territory governments.”

In layman’s terms, Tour de Force – In Case of Emergency Break Glass, is the brainchild of artist, curator and general dynamo Megan Bottari, a woman who does not suffer fools and works so that we should not suffer crap art. The exhibition is currently on a lengthy tour, for now on show at the Craft ACT Craft & Design Centre, in Canberra, our nation’s (2nd?) glass capital.

Artists included are Nic Folland, Jacqueline Gropp, Timothy Horn, Deb Jones, Tom Moore, Ian Mowbray, Trish Roan and Neil Roberts, the most obvious link between these being their ability to have moved seamlessly from the world of craft glass to contemporary art. There will be no vessels or vases on show for now.

Bottari possesses the kind of passion that can perhaps only be delivered by curators and art world wranglers who are also, or have been, makers themselves. Presenting a fringe forum/floortalk last week at Craft ACT, Bottari spoke so candidly about her intentions for the exhibition that she has left very little work for me to do other than gratuitously quote. And so:

Tour de Force is “not about technique, design and function, or production – it’s something beyond decor.” Instead, Bottari is focussing on “the ‘what if’ moment.”

Bottari and I seem to share the same taste in glass art. That is, we like that which is art and don’t really care what it happens to be made out of. The difference is she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the medium and I do not. In the context of the often straight-laced glass world, dripping in tradition, Bottari admits Tour de Force is a show bound to ruffle feathers. “Art is a blood sport”, she warns the largely student audience ‘it’s not for the faint-hearted.”

Trish Roan 'Wayfinding' 2009-10

The advice continues. Bottari points out that all eights artists in the show are “card-carrying members of the ANU School of Art Glass illuminati” – a prestigious endorsement indeed. “You don’t have to be bound to the heritage glass club” she says, “get away from material and get away from technique. Glass is loaded with metaphoric possibility.”

Each artist in Tour de Force creates work with emotional intelligence (again Bottari’s words), and as such the audience need not have any prior knowledge of glass technique or methodology. Each viewer will find what they will, be it beautiful, shocking, amusing, baffling or otherwise. The point is that it with be something, because, as Bottari puts it, “it’s not the business of the arts to bore people to death.”

Tour de Force – In Case of Emergency Break Glass is showing at Craft ACT Craft & Design Centre until August 6th, so get in quick.
You can also read Bottari’s catalogue essay online here, and be sure to stop by her blog Glass Central.

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