Stevi Cannon, Jen Denzin, Penny Dunstan and Alison Smith: Gunyah artists-in-residence March 2012

Marcel Duchamp believed that leaving home allowed him the opportunity to "swim freely".*

For four Newcastle-based artists, Stevi Cannon, Penny Dunstan, Alison Smith and myself (Jen Denzin), our week-long Gunyah Residency at North Arm Cove has represented just this, an opportunity to "swim freely". We whiled the days away in our own spaces constructing, mapping and developing ideas. The evenings generally offered time for curatorial planning and discussion.

Sculptor and installation artist Stevi Cannon absorbed herself with the possibilities of the gum tree, in the key of frottage. In addition, dried seaweed rehydrated in ink and salt water provided hours of constructive investigation.

Stevi Cannon taking rubbings from the Gunyah surrounds, 2012
Stevi Cannon, Dancing afternoon shadows across ink drawing, 2012
Stevi Cannon, Fottage, 2012
Painter and photographer Penny Dunstan industriously produced several acrylic equine paintings. Penny also harvested many treasures from fluctuating tidelines in preparation for another suite of masterfully executed Van Dyke prints which will be exhibited in her POD Space solo show, in June.

Penny Dunstan hard at work in the downstairs studio space, 2012
Penny Dunstan, Tools of trade, 2012
Penny Dunstan, Painting in progress, 2012
Assistant Curator at Newcastle's University Gallery, Alison Smith, was afforded uninterrupted time to focus on her own practice. Multiple layers of masked, inked and hand-drawn line combined with luminous suggestions of solar flares provided the footings for intriguing work in Smith's upcoming group exhibition at the Lake Macquarie Art Gallery, in October.

Alison Smith brought her inspiration with her on her laptop, 2012
Alison Smith, Tools of trade, 2012
Alison Smith, Works on paper - developing ideas for woodcuts to come, 2012   
As for myself, I was able to execute a gloriously large cross-stitch crustacean (possibly a connection to the estuary's fauna!) on a work I had begun some time ago. Labouring away in the presence of friends who are fellow artists was a very rare treat.
Jen Denzin in a sunny Gunyah nook, 2012
Jen Denzin, Mapping out a giant prawn, 2012
Jen Denzin, Unusual materials including brightly coloured garbage bags, 2012
For the four of us, Gunyah has constituted a momentary "inner exile" from the general mayhem of our day-to-day lives. I think Duchamp's notion of "swimming freely" is fitting in this context as we were unfettered by obligation and commitment and free to be... well, just artists, actually.

Jen Denzin 26/03/2012

*T.J.Demos, 'The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp', Cambridge MA: MITPress, 2007

We shared our Happy Hour with the kookaburras on the verandah.
They trained us very well

Read Stevi Cannon, Jen Denzin, Penny Dunstan and Alison Smith's residency proposal and see images of their other work here

Michelle Brodie: upcoming artist-in-residence

Michelle Brodie is a painter based in Bolwarra, north west of Newcastle NSW. She studied fine art at Gymea Tafe and Canberra School of Art in the 1980s. In 1997 she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales, majoring in philosophy. She currently exhibits widely in Newcastle, teaches painting and drawing at Newcastle Art School and was a founding member of Pandora Women Artists Group.
Michelle Brodie, Silent type, 2009, gouache on paper, 10 x 15 cm

My practice is largely concerned with questions of the imagined self and what constitutes memories of self.  Portraiture, abstraction, reinvention, identity and nature all inform my drawings and paintings.
A thematic question recurrent in my practice is, "If I could invent myself what would I look like?" I study natural forms that suggest anthropomorphism and use these in my work by transforming them into a "new form" that becomes the invented self.   I track my emotional response to site, place and self through drawings, collage and paintings.

My organic, hybrid, symbolic portraits and abstractions are both a reflection of myself and nature as I see it.  In constructing images I draw on an elemental response to the environment, finding metaphors for the self.  The images I create become symbols for ideas.  For example, drawings depicting rocky summits connect to Neitzsche’s idea of the arduous climb being a necessary struggle for the joy of reaching the peak.   

Michelle Brodie, Desiree, 2010, mixed media, 30 x 40 cm

Growing up on Sydney’s eastern beaches left a lasting impression. Now, as a regional artist my studio is inland. This means there are few opportunities to bring into my work the nuances of the coast. A residency at Gunyah would provide an opportunity to document my experience of coastal ecology and to explore further two integral subjects of my current practice: small interesting rocks and the heads of parrots.

On a residency at Gunyah I intend to create a body of work that will evolve as a "Diary  of observations, inventions and imaginings" in which I will explore intuitively the surrounding environment.  As a starting point I will document in ink on paper my response to the atmosphere of the site.  By night, I plan to explore my day’s work with oil paint on box board. This will be produced for exhibition at Podspace Gallery later this year.
(Michelle Brodie, Gunyah AIR proposal 2012)

Michelle Brodie, Redhead, 2010, oil on paper, 30 x 40 cm

To see more of Michelle Brodie's work go to