24 November, 2006

Vivienne Binns - Tasmania

Left: Deborah Clark, Vivienne Binns, Craig Judd.

Vivienne Binns
20 October 2006–28 January 2007
Art Gallery 1, 2 and 3

From wild and groovy happenings to political activism, from late modernist and post colonial critique to community art events, Vivienne Binns has been at the centre of all major developments in Australian art and culture over the last 40 years. Vivienne Binns will trace diversity as a deliberate artistic position. Curated by Merryn Gates and Craig Judd, the exhibition includes works from the 1960s to the present. It is significant that the TMAG will be the beginning of the touring exhibition, Vivienne Binns, the first major survey of this important Australian artist. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.


Right: Viv and Geoff Newton from Neon Parc Gallery Melbourne. All photos at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart.

Vivienne Binns' exhibition at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
A survey exhibition of work by Canberra based icon and iconoclast Vivienne Binns had its public opening at TMAG on Thursday 9 November. Curated by Merryn Gates and Craig Judd this comprehensive exhibition covers Viv's brilliant career from the 1960s to the present day. From pop influenced painting and post object performance documentation to community projects and post colonial critique, it is clear why she has been at the forefront of contemporary Australian art for over 40 years.

A number of Canberrans including Helen Maxwell (Helen Maxwell Gallery), Karena Keys (artist), Deborah Clarke (editor of Art Monthly), Stephanie Jones (artist) David Broker (Director Canberra Contemporary Art Space), Toni Bailey (Program Manager CCAS) Kim Mahood (artist) went to Hobart for the opening and a very good opening it was. There was plenty to celebrate afterwards at T42 on Queen's Wharf where Canberra contingent were surprisingly well behaved.

On the Friday evening following opening night the Friends of TMAG organised a public conversation between Viv and TMAG's Senior Curator, Craig Judd. Former Education and Public Programs Manager, Biennale of Sydney there are few people better than Craig to extract the information we really want to hear. This was a revealing insight into some of the issues that have affected an artist who has been working over a significant period of time. Viv spoke frankly about how the visual arts became such an important aspect of her life and some of the people who have influenced her over the years. This session was followed by an impromptu tour of the exhibition with Craig Judd.

For people who couldn't get to Hobart Viv's exhibition is coming to the Drill Hall soon.


Vivienne Binns on tour

A substantial survey of the forty-year career of important Australian artist (and Canberra resident) Vivienne Binns, curated by Merryn Gates, opened at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery on 20 October and will run until 28 January next year. The show will then travel to the Drill Hall, ANU, for March-April next year, and then to Penrith and Bathurst Regional galleries.


Penny Peckham - Abstract
One Artist's Investigation of Australia's Place Within the Pacific Region: Vivienne Binns' Pacific Works

Vivienne Binns was born in 1940. She studied at the National Art School in Sydney from 1958 to 1962 and began her career with a first, highly controversial, solo exhibition at Watters Gallery in Sydney in February 1967. The work from this exhibition was almost universally critically reviled at the time, but has since been recognized as extremely important and innovative art.

During of the first two decades of her career Binns worked in a diverse range of contexts and media. For some years she worked as an enameller, using this traditional craft medium in combination with industrial silk-screen techniques to produce works that challenged boundaries between art and craft, while also producing large-scale architectural pieces.

During the 1970s, when many artists were challenging the concept of the art object as a commodity, she was involved in a number of collaborative ephemeral art works, performance art events and environments. Binns worked for many years as a community artist and was in fact a pioneer of this area of practice in Australia.

She has played a major role in the history of feminist art in Australia, having been a founding member of the Sydney Women’s Art Movement, while some of the work from her 1967 exhibition was celebrated, during the mid 1970s, as having
anticipated the vaginal imagery adopted by feminist artists at that time.


Binns started her career with an explosive exhibition held at Watters Gallery in Sydney in the 1960s.The show contained powerful sexual symbolism which was unexpected from a young woman, and is now seen as anticipating 1970s feminist art.

In the 70s she was active in the crafts and fought for improvements for women artists and conditions in the arts generally. From 1972 she evolved an art practice in communities throughout Australia, often working from a caravan in rural NSW.

The best known projects from this period are Mothers' Memories Others' Memories (1979-1981) and Full Flight when Vivienne worked from a caravan in rural areas of NSW. During the last ten years her practice has focused on studio-based painting.



Artists Statement

In the late 1960s I began working in vitreous enamel and so became known as a crafts person. Later I used enamelling as part of the community participation projects; "The Artsmobile", "Mothers Memories Others memories" and "Full Flight " Central Western Art Project.

It was in 1972 that I first defined the role of an "Artist in Community", i.e. an artist for whom interaction with other people is an integral element in their practice, a practice of exchange.

The years from 1972 to the mid 1980s were intensely concerned with working across Australian contexts which included urban art museums and commercial galleries as well as the art of the suburbs and rural areas. I became as respectful of the amateur and maker of marginalised art forms as of the professional and specially trained. I learnt how the domestic and private worked in relation to the official and public, and how gender acted as a defining marker in a social structure where women and the work they did were often disadvantaged.

In these years I was also active in reforming working conditions and rights of artists and craft workers and was a founding member of the Womens Art Movement in Sydney, the Artworkers Union and later the National Association for the Visual arts including the setting up of Vi$copy. I see all of this activity as integral to my practice.

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