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Indigenous art

Imagine turning up in Menzies, 132 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie and 729 east of Perth in Western Australia, and then inviting the town’s inhabitants to take their clothes off. This is exactly what the British artist Antony Gormley did in June 2002. Improbably perhaps, after some coaxing, 131 people in Menzies, and later in Perth, agreed. Inside Australia documents Gormley’s remarkable artistic project to make and install more than fifty ‘insiders’ over ten square kilometres on Lake Ballard, a salt lake near Menzies. The first step in this process was to take full-body scans of anyone who was willing, to capture each individual’s unique three-dimensional geometry. All the scans were then ‘gormleyised’, that is, reduced by two-thirds. Next, polystyrene models were made from the digital files. Finally, metal figures were cast from the models in the VEEM foundry in Perth.

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Margaret Preston by Deborah Edwards (with Rose Peel et al.) & The Prints of Margaret Preston by Roger Butler

March 2006, no. 279

There is something immensely satisfying about a work so ambitious and comprehensive as Deborah Edwards’s Margaret Preston, published by the Art Gallery of New South Wales to accompany its current retrospective on this pre-eminent Australian modernist. From the outset, we are introduced to Preston’s perennial capacity to stimulate not only debate but also downright factionalism. The introductory chapter takes the form of multiple quotes, leaving no doubt that Preston continues to ignite debate over issues surrounding an authentic Australian vision.

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