TarraWarra Museum of Art Hosts First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day The TarraWarra Museum of Art in Melbourne, Australia featured two very different artworks by Australian women artists: ‘Club Colours’ by Rosalie Gascoigne, and ‘He’ll Be My Mirror’ by Jenny Watson.

Rosalie Gascoigne, ‘Club Colours’ 1983, painted and stencilled wood from soft-drink boxes on plywood backing, 172.5 x 129.5 cm, TarraWarra Museum of Art collection. Gift of Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AO, Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2009, © Rosalie Gascoigne Estate.
Jenny Watson, ‘He’ll Be My Mirror’ 2013, Liquitex acrylic, Holbein pigments and haberdashery on rabbit skin glue-primed Belgian linen, 251.7 x 140 cm, TarraWarra Museum of Art collection, Acquired 2013.

To promote the event, Elisabeth Alexander, Marketing and Events Coordinator, created a short teaser ‘slow zoom’ video of ‘He’ll Be My Mirror’, and posted image stories on Instagram and Facebook.

On April 4, participants were directed to a dedicated Slow Art Day page on the Museum’s website to look slowly at full-size images of the two paintings. Shannon Lyons, Education Coordinator, then led an online discussion via the Museum’s social media channels, where participants were encouraged to share thoughts about the artworks and their slow looking experience.

Shannon Lyons shared with us her surprise at how well it went:

From an educator’s perspective, it was interesting to see how willing people were to both delve deeper and give voice to their wonderings online. They actively questioned why aspects of the artworks appeared the way that they did, and why particular elements of the artworks seemed to dominate, hold or demand attention far more than others.

Shannon Lyons

Their first Slow Art Day was a success, with over 5000 impressions and 100+ post engagements across Instagram and Facebook. Further, the average time spent on their dedicated webpage was 6 minutes – dramatically higher than the average time of under a minute for other pages on the site.

The TarraWarra Museum of Art had originally planned to host their first Slow Art Day in-person featuring their newly opened exhibition ‘Making Her Mark: Selected Works from the Collection‘, however Lyons and Alexander had to quickly re-imagine it as a virtual experience due to Covid19.

The whole Slow Art Day team has been impressed with what Elisabeth and Shannon were able to produce – given that it was not only their first Slow Art Day but, of course, also since the pandemic forced a last minute change of plans. We look forward to what they create for Slow Art Day 2021.

-Johanna

Impressionist Interiors at The Bendigo Art Gallery

Art by Australian Impressionist Bessie Davidson was at the heart of the third Slow Art Day hosted this year by The Bendigo Art Gallery in Victoria, Australia.

On April 4, slow-panned videos of three paintings from the exhibition ‘Bessie Davidson & Sally Smart – Two artists and the Parisian avant-garde’ were shared on the gallery’s website (still images below):

  • Lecture au jardin (reading in the garden), 1930s.
  • Fillette au perrouquet (Little girl with parrot), 1913.
  • An interior, c. 1920.
Bessie Davidson, Lecture au jardin (reading in the garden), 1930s, oil on plywood 94 x 114 cm. Collection of Max Tegel, New South Wales.
Bessie Davidson, Fillette au perrouquet (Little girl with parrot), 1913, oil on canvas 92 x 73 cm.
Collection of Carmel Dyer and Allen Hunter. Image courtesy of Bonhams.
Bessie Davidson, An interior, c. 1920, oil on composition board  73.1 x 59.7 cm.
Gift of Mrs C Glanville, 1968, Art Gallery of South Australia.

Staggered images of the paintings were also shared on the gallery’s Facebook page via three posts before, during and after April 4th. Participants were invited to respond by posting comments, thoughts and images of their own works inspired by the slow-looking.

Each Facebook post got more likes than the previous, with the last post receiving 1.2k likes. Several people also sent in beautiful paintings of their own children and interiors.

Suzie Luke, Public Programs and Learning Officer at the Bendigo Art Gallery, said that many participants had “tremendously positive feedback” about the artist, artworks and the gallery itself:

Love that you’re doing this. This is the sort of thing I need to lift my spirits, just like every visit to your gallery has always done. Thank you!

This idea is so great, please keep doing it even when the emergency is over.

Jan Deane; Papageno Ragdoll

Slow Art Day at Bendigo Art Gallery usually consists of slow-looking guided tours by their wonderful volunteers, followed by discussions of the paintings and afternoon tea. This year, it has been inspiring to see the gallery make such a beautiful transition to virtual platforms.

We hope that The Bendigo Art Gallery will host another innovative Slow Art Day in 2021.

– Johanna and Ashley

Newcastle Art Gallery in Australia Hosts Third Slow Art Day

Newcastle Art Gallery in Newcastle, Australia hosted a successful third Slow Art Day in 2019. Guide Gerda Maeder led a group of 25 participants to slowly view and discuss three selected artworks over the course of an hour:

  • Gloria Petyarre’s five-panel painting “Untitled (leaves)” from the FLORIBUNDA: from the collection exhibition
  • Tamara Dean’s photograph “Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) in Autumn” from the FLORIBUNDA: from the collection exhibition
  • Takashi Hinoda’s surrealist sculpture “Around the Clock” from the SODEISHA: connected to Australia exhibition

Participants openly shared their personal impressions of each work, and imagined themselves both as the artist and as the subject. They considered sounds that might be heard, feelings that had been provoked, and imagined how it would feel to touch or make the work.

Gerda reported:

“Each work stimulated discussion on the relationship of the artwork to individual people’s lives, as well as to general topics such as lifecycles, Aboriginality, and contemporary lifestyle.”

Participants applauded the event, and left the gallery with reaffirming statements such as:

“I feel really good now.”
“I enjoyed this!”
“When is this happening again?”

We love to hear that Slow Art Day brings such good feelings, and look forward to Newcastle Art Gallery’s participation in 2020.

– Ashley

Slow Looking at Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre in Australia

For their second Slow Art Day event, the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre in Murwillumbah, Australia facilitated three slow-looking sessions focused on different exhibitions throughout the day: one focused on the full collection, a second focused on artist Maria Kontis’s drawing exhibition, and a third focused on the Margaret Olley Art Centre.

Slow Art Day participants discussing works at the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre

In addition to Slow Art Day, the Gallery’s Education and Audience Development Officer Jodi Ferrari has been programming Slow Art Experiences at the Gallery over the past year. Jodi reports that these experiences are valuable for a wide range of audiences, and mentioned that the gallery also uses the slow art format for engagement with visitors living with dementia and their care partners.

We love to hear how organizations extend the art of looking slowly beyond our global Slow Art Day – especially applications for health and wellness – and look forward to the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre’s participation in 2020.

– Ashley

Meditation at Mildura Arts Centre

For Slow Art Day 2019, Mildura Arts Centre in Mildura, Australia hosted a day full of events including slow looking at the Sam Loyd exhibit, “The Lost Photographs of Socrates Smith,” as well as meditation sessions with local artist and yoga instructor Laura Freitag.

– Ashley

Successful First Slow Art Day at The ACCA

The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) in Melbourne, Australia hosted a successful first Slow Art Day in 2019 with the newly opened solo exhibit Tom Nicholson: Public Meeting. Shannon Lyons, Educator and Program Coordinator, and Eliza Devlin, Education’s Manager, guided participants through an hour of slow observation of four specific artworks by the internationally renowned Australian artist. Afterwards, they spent 30 minutes discussing the links they discovered between the artworks, and how the experience of slow-looking brought new aspects to the surface that only emerged over time.

“Tom Nicholson: Public Meeting” installation view at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photograph: Shannon Lyons

Shannon Lyons, Educator and Program Coordinator, reported:

Everyone felt calm and relaxed afterward. From an educator’s perspective, it was interesting to note the kinds of questions that the Slow Art Day participants had about the artist and about the artworks. Thanks for having ACCA take part in this world wide event!

We thank The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art for their participation this year, and look forward to seeing their Slow Art Day event in 2020!

Ashley

Multi-Sensory, Multi-Faceted Event at Byron School of Art

For their first Slow Art Day, the Byron School of Art Project Space in Mullumbimby – a small Australian town well-known for its artist colony – combined several multi-sensory activities along with food and yoga.

They started Slow Art Day with an artist talk by Marlene Sarroff whose exhibition 365 Days: You Get What You Choose is a meditation on everyday practice. Marlene spoke about her long history of working and exhibiting in artist-run spaces, about finding materials whilst not seeking them, and also about being awake to possibility.  

Marlene Sarroff speaking about 365 Days: You Get What You Choose   

After Marlene’s talk, participants began something organizers called The Slow Art Challenge. The challenge started with five minutes of silent looking at one artwork, then followed that with a group discussion. Next, participants took a few moments to enjoy cups of tea together, and then reconvened in pairs to observe a second chosen work in silence. For the final segment, they listened to music while looking at another artwork, and then held another discussion after that multi-sensory experience.

Artist Marlene Sarroff participating in Slow Art Day

And as if this were not enough, their Slow Art Day finished with an evening Slow Flow Yoga Class led by yoga instructor Shien Chee from Seeker + Kind yoga studio, their neighbor two doors down. Chee and Meredith Cusack, BSA Project Space Coordinator, wanted to integrate yoga, sound, smells, and sight. They came up with the idea of using the art as a way to talk about drishti (gaze point). As a result, Chee built her class around changing drishti – looking at different works, but also from different positions, and heights. Wow.

Instructor Shien Chee from Seeker + Kind Yoga Studio leading participants in Slow Flow Yoga Class

The Byron School of Art Project Space had such a good – and creative – first Slow Art Day that participants asked if they would do the exercises for other exhibitions, which they plan to do. They also look forward to participating in Slow Art Day 2020 and we look forward to having them back. They are a wonderful addition to the global slow looking movement.

Ashley

‘Fair go’ and Slow Art Day – An Interview with Elle Credlin

[In this series, we interview hosts for Slow Art Day and get their thoughts on hosting, the art of looking, and the slow art community. Today we interview Elle Credlin, the Public Programs officer for Bayside City Council in Sandringham, Victoria, Australia.]

Slow Art Day: Tell us about yourself and about Bayside City Council’s Art and Heritage Collections.

Elle Credlin: I’m Bayside City Council’s Art and Heritage Collections and Public Programs Officer. I have a Bachelor of Arts (History) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Cultural Heritage/Museum Studies. My role is to manage Council’s art and heritage collection and also run public programs for the Gallery @ BACC. Council’s art and heritage collection is comprised of over 2000 items including municipal records, plans, maps, textiles, photographs, mayoral regalia and a range of visual arts.

Slow Art Day: That’s great. Tell us more about your role as Public Programs Officer.

Elle: I develop and manage the range of public programs and outreach services to accompany and enrich the exhibition program. These include things like curator’s talks, workshops, tours, art appreciation evenings and now Slow Art Day! We also run an Art and Dementia program titled Connections. Through discussion based tours of art work, the program provides a unique opportunity for people living with dementia to connect, interpret and express experiences through a work of art.

Slow Art Day: Please tell us more about the Dementia program. Do many other programs like that exist in Australia?

Elle: Connections is based on the National Gallery of Australia’s award winning Art and Alzheimer’s program. In 2012, gallery staff received training from NGA educators in how to deliver the program. Each program runs over a four week period and three works of art are discussed each week amongst the four participants. The program employs specialised forms of communication and strategies to encourage participation and support inclusiveness. These strategies include hand gestures, smiling, leaning forward and allowing for silence. It is run during normal gallery opening hours to prevent the marginalising of participants. We are really proud of Connections because it extends beyond many activities commonly available to people with dementia. Participants are able to engage in meaningful activity in an environment where their intellect is respect and valued. As far as I’m aware, we are the only local municipal gallery that runs this particular type of program in the state of Victoria, but that may have changed.

Slow Art Day: Why are you so passionate about making art more accessible?

Elle: I absolutely hate the idea that people could be intimidated or frightened by visiting a gallery or find themselves plagued by the ‘white box syndrome’. Galleries should be inclusive and welcoming. Every single person should have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts. More broadly, as we are based within a local government context, we also need to align ourselves with the broader organisational mission of inclusivity, accessibility and facilitating opportunities for people of all abilities to participate in community life.

Slow Art Day: We obviously agree. Switching gears – Slow Art Day has really taken off in Australia. There are 13 venues in Australia making it more than 5% of the total worldwide venues yet Australia has only about .3% of world population.  Why do you think Slow Art Day is such a big hit there?

Elle: I’m not sure, that is a really interesting question. Melbourne, in particular, has a thriving artistic and cultural scene so that could have something to do with it. Maybe the fact that Slow Art Day is an accessible and affordable activity mirrors the ‘fair go’, non-elitist attitude of many aspects of Australian culture and life i.e. that everyone should have access to the same opportunities and experiences.

Slow Art Day: Say more about ‘fair go’ – is that Australian lingo?

Elle:  ‘Fair go’ is a very Australian term.  Although it has many different meanings, I think it is fundamentally a commitment to egalitarianism in all aspects of culture and life; that we are all given every reasonable opportunity to access to the same opportunities and rewards. That is how I see it anyway.

Slow Art Day: What more can you tell us about your event? Have you chosen your art?

Elle: For Slow Art Day, we will be celebrating the works of a number of significant early 20th century Australian artists, including Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin and Arthur Streeton. We will be having lunch in the municipal chambers. If it’s a nice day, we might sit out in the rose garden.

Slow Art Day: You plan to make Slow Art Day a regular fixture in your public programs. Does that mean you plan to do regular events throughout the year based on slow looking?

Elle: Yes, Slow Art Day will now be a regular feature in our program. Our Art and Dementia program, as mentioned, is very much aligned with the idea of slow looking. We also host ‘soiree’ type evenings with wine and cheese, which are very popular. These evenings are very relaxed and people are encouraged to take their time with the works.

Slow Art Day: Let’s finish by asking what’s one of your favourite pieces of art? And why?

Elle: That is a hard question! I love Ben Quilty’s work. I think he’s amazing.

[Make sure to check out Elle’s Slow Art Day event at The Gallery at BACC in Brighton, Victoria.]