Part of COLLECTIVE POLYPHONY FESTIVAL
Gertrude Glasshouse, 44 Glasshouse Rd, Collingwood
8 September – 7 October, 2023
Opening Saturday, 7 September, 5 - 7pm
Nina Sanadze • Tracey Lamb • Chris Fontana • Amanda Laming • Mimmalisa Trifiló
Gertrude Glasshouse is pleased to present the exhibition Habitat by ShrewD Collective, as part of the new Collective Polyphony Festival, founded upon the central idea of community and peace-building.
The Habitat project began with an exploration of the storied “Tower of Babel” concept, in which language is attributed symbolically as the source of division among the world’s people. ShrewD Collective seized the opportunity to build something positive together, a process that embodies the universal challenges of communication and mutual understanding among people.
Bringing together five very diverse visual languages, the artists collaborate to construct a new architectural space using various elements, such as words and conversations, clay, steel, paper, wood, stone, string, fabric, and plants. The resulting Habitat stands as an alternative to the Babel Tower; a porous and visually rich immersive space that entices viewers to spend time exploring, reading, thinking, sitting, or gathering within.
The utopian setting of Habitat serves a dual purpose—it reflects and critiques the current state of the world, while offering hope and ideas for a better society. In this envisioned world, dialogue, communication, and understanding are assumed, challenging the obstacles presented within the Tower of Babel narrative.
Amanda Laming's enormous sphere-shaped sculpture greets visitors at the entrance, overwhelming and confronting them with its size, texture, and smell. It externalizes anxieties, enveloping tension and deep psychological concerns within its ball of nerves and bundled domestic memories.
Moving from this emotional space, visitors approach the cradle of the installation—a large welded piece by Tracey Lamb shaped as a welcoming and functional conversation pit and shelter. It reimagines the foundation of a successful Tower of Babel, providing an idealised gathering place for conversations, contemplation, and storytelling.
Within this space, Mimmalisa Trifilò uses language to transform the abstract into tangible reference points, signs, and symbols. Writing becomes a vehicle for communication with our selves and with others. She also nurtures plants, rapidly growing and transforming within the gallery space, serving as a metaphor for tamed nature, grief, hope, and regeneration.
Nina Sanadze attempts to comprehend, order, and conceptualise the inconceivable vastness, complexity, and diversity of humankind through visual enumeration. Her creation is a book showcasing 4000+ world religions and towers of 8500+ world languages, where endless multiplicity democratically adds up to a common denominator of our similarity.
Chris Fontana's monumental but intricate installation encloses the back of the Habitat space. A richly textured, narrative map reflects upon the contrived and rapid construction of historical Melbourne as an urban habitat. The work critiques the concept of the 'new' city, and the universal[ised] language of capitalism as both a unifying and destructive force.
The genesis of this exhibition developed from Nina Sanadze's decision to share her Gertrude Residency solo show at the Glasshouse with her ShrewD Collective members, shedding light on their artistic practices and fostering mutual support, community cohesion, and collaboration.
Staying true to her large-scale, peace-building social-practice projects, Nina expanded this concept and orchestrated the ground-breaking Collective Polyphony Festival. This extraordinary event will showcase exhibitions and events presented by 10 diverse international and local collectives, spread across seven established art spaces during September and October 2023. The primary goal of the festival is to celebrate and explore the concept of collaborative organization while nurturing Collectives with their individual agendas.
Literary Recital: Saturday 7 October 2023, 3:30pm
Join ShrewD Collective’s conversation circle at 3:30pm on Saturday 7 October – the closing day of the exhibition Habitat at Gertrude Glasshouse. Collective Polyphony Festival will host an hour of poetry and creative writing readings by artists presented across the festival.
Collective Recitals participants include:
Chris Fontana (ShrewD Collective)
Josephine Mead (In-kind Collective)
Ben Qin (Chinese Museum Arts Collective)
Sarah Rudledge (In-kind Collective)
Mimmalisa Trifilò (ShrewD Collective)
Mao Zhe (Chinese Museum Arts Collective)
Mimmalisa Trifiló • Nina Sanadze • Chris Fontana • Alison Kennedy • Tracey Lamb • Amanda Laming + guest artist Zoe Arnott
W O R K S H O P was an artist-led, eight-day Balaclava shopping strip art activation project!
ShrewD Collective occupied an empty shopfront to operate as an open studio and deliver free workshops for children and adults, an art exhibition and a performance by Angela Costi and Irine Vela.
This project has been supported by a City of Port Phillip Cultural Development Fund Recovery Grant.
Children’s and Carer’s Sculpture Workshop by Tracey Lamb
Photographic walk through the St. Kilda Botanic Gardens by Mimmalisa Trifilò
Children’s and Carer’s Felt Workshop by Mimmalisa Trifilò
Why Poetry? by Alison Kennedy
This workshop included poetry readings by four eminent poets Amanda Anastasia, Emilie Collier, Angela Costi and Myron Lysenko, followed by a wide-ranging discussion about the importance of reading, writing and expression and how you can engage with poetry.
You are HERE by Chris Fontana
Visitors were invited to join Chris in creating a detailed and intimate hand drawn, wall-mounted map of the local area, entitled you are HERE.
Picturing Carlisle Street
by Zoe Arnott
Picturing Carlisle Street was a photographic project that aimed to create a historical record of the long term traders in the area. As many businesses are fleeting, this project honored the longstanding members of the traders community on Carlisle Street. Photographer and local resident Zoe Arnott has recorded the images and details of their familiar faces honoring their place in the community. One of the trader’s portrait and their story will be featured every day as a large b/w photographic print in the window.
by Amanda Laming
Amanda dressed the shop window, displaying her hand made textile objects and headwear, thus paying homage to the accessory shop history.
Story of the previous tenants
by Nina Sanadze
Milliners Leanne & Tebor who have been running Carlisle Accessories business for 17 years in the same shop we just held WORKSHOP project paid a visit… Nina Sanadze took their photo and placed it in the window together with their story… it’s a happy reunion and a lovely way for them and for us to say goodbye to the place!
This is what Leanne said: "For 17 years on Carlisle Street, Carlisle Accessories was a treasure trove of the best hats & accessories in Melbourne. Melbourne Hat Makers Tibor & Leanne decided that hand made, Australian made was the only way to go! The store closed in March 2021 and we moved our business online but not altogether! We realised people needed to see a hat on their head, they now have a hat fitting /design studio in Caulfield North where people book in & come and design their dream hat with us. Made by us in Melbourne, just for you! Book online for your Australian made Custom Carlisle Hat 🎩 Hats.com.au"
by Mimmalisa Trifilò
Black tote bags were hand-painted with the word ‘Sorry’ in the lead up to Reconciliation Day. The proceeds of the Sorry bags were given to the Ngwala Willumbong Aboriginal Corporation to support the Winja Ulupna Women’s Recovery Centre which is based in the local community of St. Kilda.
Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th May, 2022
TENANCY exhibition was a pop-up art show curated by Tracey Lamb with 12 artists presented from an Instagram page she runs called “This is not a man-date” @thisis_nota_mandate. This account was set up to show and make space for more women and non-binary artists. Additionally, we, the seVen [artist collective] included our own work as part of this exhibition.
Artists: Alison Kennedy, Amanda Laming, Chris Fontana, Mimmalisa Trifilo, Nina Sanadze, Tracey Lamb, Zoe Arnott, Carolyne Cardinet, Chelle Destefano, Felicity Gordon, Julie Shiels, Karima Baadilla Kate Stewart, Linda Knight, Lynn Mowson, Nanou Dupuis, Paula Hunt, Rebecca Wilcox, Renee Broders.
Sunday 29th May, 3-4pm.
Angela Costi (poet) and Irine Vela (composer)
Nina Sanadze • Chris Fontana • Alison Kennedy • Amanda Laming • Julie Shiels + guest artists Heather Shimmen and Anton Hassan
Seven Windows exhibition transformed the windows of seven empty shops in Stanley Street, Toora. Toora is a small and remote town in Gippsland where businesses struggle and most shops closed down.
For an opening of this exhibition, ShrewD Collective collaborated with the local community to stage and start an annual town arts street festival. We also conducted free art workshops for local children. There were street music performances, speeches and food stalls. Visitors from the nearby towns and tourists attended.
Photography by Clare Rae.
How did seven artists respond to the subterranean space of a 19th-century mansion? Reprise, involved a process whereby each artist reflected on a past work, in order to create a new work or to transform an old one. Located in the old kitchen basement of the Alliance Francaise, this exhibition provided a challenge to each artist to make a work that prompted a conversation between their art and the space where it was exhibited.
Jute string, steel, 1500mm (w) x 1500 (d) x 2100mm (h) – variable.
Mappa Mundi, 2015
Mixed media on 104 panels of Japanese rice paper, 254cm (w) x 214.5cm (H).
Below Stairs, 2017
Welded steel, paint.
French Bollards, 2017
Concrete, oil pastels, expanded polystyrene foam, acrylic paint, 76cm2.
Rachel’s pile, 2017
Resin, 63 x 57 cm.
Cicero’s pile, 2017
Wax, 74 x 597 cm.
Inez De Vega
Or will death come before I have a chance to kiss him?, 2017
Embroidery thread on recycled garment
53cm x 94cm
Limited edition glide prints on archival paper,
90cm x 120cm and 65cm x 110 cm.
Photography by Clare Rae.