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Text as resistance: Jon Campbell, Dr Christine Dean, Chayni Henry, Ian Milliss

  • Artspace, Level 2, Seminar Room 2.06 43 - 51 Cowper Wharf Roadway Woolloomooloo, NSW, 2011 Australia (map)

Four artists with disparate practices discuss the use of text and print as potential forms of resistance with political and social agency.

With his use of words and phrases as imagery, Jon Campbell captures aspects of his culture that are both lived and observed, that are local and national and that can be spoken, sung, and painted. Campbell’s finely tuned paintings, banners, neons, flags and songs demonstrate his love of Australian vernacular. Popular music and its attendant culture, printing, design and advertising, also feature heavily in his practice. Campbell has held solo exhibitions at Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney; Uplands Gallery, Melbourne; Rm 103, Auckland; and Glen Eira City Gallery, Melbourne; and his work has been included in group exhibitions at ACC Galerie, Weimar, and Halle 14, Leipzig, Germany; TarraWarra Museum of Art; Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; ARTissima, Turin; MCA, Sydney; and Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. Campbell has been a lecturer in painting at the VCA since 1999. He is represented by Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney.

Over the past three decades Dr Christine Dean's practice has embraced working as a visual artist, academic, writer and curator. Although Dean's work is predominantly painting it has also embraced installation and sculpture. Much of her work over the past twenty years has included text, taking the form of quotations relating to issues of gender, sexuality, local history and social commentary. Her work has been included in the exhibitions: Spirit + Place, MCA, Sydney, 1996; Juice, AGNSW, 1997; Monochromes, University of Queensland Art Gallery, 2000; Points of Departure, Tobey Fine Arts, New York, 2007; and Avoiding Myth and Message, MCA, Sydney, 2009. In 2000, Dean was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship and in 2001 the Australia Council Los Angeles Studio. Recently she held a solo show at Alaska Projects curated by Daniel Mudie Cunningham.

Currently residing in Darwin, Chayni Henry is a largely self-taught artist whose work embraces narrative as form, depicting life events, historical anecdotes and occurrences through compositions that use large blocks of narrative text in company with a painting. Henry has exhibited widely across Australia, was selected for Primavera 2006 at the MCA, Sydney, and was an inaugural winner of the Togart Art Prize in 2007. Her work has been shown at Sherman Galleries, Fremantle Art Centre, Australian Gallery of Art and Design, Parliament House NT and many private galleries and ARIs in Australia and overseas. Henry also runs Red Hand Prints with artist Franck Gohier, which has a long history of working with Indigenous communities and producing politically and socially motivated posters.

Ian Milliss began exhibiting in 1968 as the youngest member of Central Street Gallery. By 1971 his early conceptualism developed into a practice based on cultural activism working with community and political groups rather than the art market. The cultural issues he has worked with include green bans, prisons, unionism, artists rights, sustainable farming, community media and arts programs, heritage and conservation and climate change. In the last two years he has exhibited in a solo survey exhibition at Artspace; a joint exhibition with Lucas Ihlein at the Art Gallery of NSW about PA Yeomans sustainable farming innovations; a joint exhibition with Vernon Treweeke at Macquarie University Gallery; and in group shows ranging from Cementa 2013,  Monash University’s Art As A Verb to the Redfern Biennale 2014. He has written for Art Monthly Australia, Artlink, Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, RealTime Arts, Runway, Visual/Bind.

Image: Jon Campbell, Fuck yeah, 2014, enamel paint, cotton duck, 180 x 240 cm. Courtesy the artists and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney