The Museum of Natural Mystery operated from a residential garage in Perth, Western Australia from 2011-12. Open to the public for one night each month, The Museum presented exhibitions and events by significant young Australian artists. Edited by David Egan and Patrick Miller, Magical Signs: Exchange and Utopia is a compendium of the 13 exhibitions that were held in the garage. The book includes photographic documentation of the exhibitions, essays, interviews and artist texts.
As the culmination of a 12 month residency at the Fremantle Arts Centre we presented a group exhibition of artists we had worked with as part of the home gallery program. Held in the FAC Reading Room, the exhibition functioned as a kind of local history museum of our short existence as an institution. It presented artworks we had been gifted, artefacts from past shows, and new work by artists which were in some way informed by their work at The Museum.
The works included Nathan Barnett's anamorphic stick figure, a Ben Barretto glitter painting, Daniel Bourke's Benchwork t-shirt, Peter Carlino's nude meditation video, George Egerton-Warburton's disallowed Joondalup Art Award entry and proposed public artwork for a shopping centre, Tom Freeman's prisoner art inspired sculpture, a reconfiguration of Jason Hansma's sphere constellation, Thomas Jeppe's re-re-claimed horse jumping pole, one of Katie Lenanton's found ceramic cats, a bottle of Jacob Ogden Smith's homemade beer, a still life photograph by Traianos Pakioufakis, a sculpture made from the debris of Clare Peake's studio floor and a power-point presentation soundtrack to read to by Clare Wohlnick.
The Museum of Natural Mystery presents Open by Necessity, a frugal attempt at initiating a conversation about alternative avenues for the exhibition and dispersion of local contemporary practice.
In light of the announced closure or sabbatical of four of Perth's most established commercial galleries, an invitation has been extended to the represented artists of Galerie Dusseldorf, Gallery East, Goddard de Fiddes and Perth Galleries to participate in a scratch-match group exhibition at The Museum of Natural Mystery.
Open by Necessity is a satellite exhibition for HERE&NOW12, curated by Katie Lenanton for Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.
Propelled towards the stars, Peter Carlino enacts a series of experiments, conducted outside of business hours, that earnestly strive for the sublime. With meticulous graphite portraits, short looped performance videos and a spoken word recording, Carlino presents a series of works that trace a personal voyage to enlightenment.
Refusal Of Leave To Land
All the powers are already ours. All is system and gradation. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark. I heard what was said, heard it and heard it of several thousand years; a mind at peace, a mind centered and not focused on the fluff of life, is stronger than any mongrel dog. It is middling well as far as it goes - but is that all? Close your eyes in order to hear and enter without a sound. Go confidently into the direction of silence. Leave the life you have imagined and just be good for something. From this time on, a broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time; observe the hours of the butterflies, not of the cars. The butterfly as we know it is just a joint product of the observer and the observed. From this time on, all is built up into an aggregate of permanent objects connected by causal relations that are independent of the subject and are placed in objective space and time. Seeing something that doesn’t exist already, you need to find out how you can bring it into being. From beyond in the stillness of the falling leaf, you can feel your own formless and timeless reality as the un-manifested life that animates your physical form.
Is all that is or was or ever will be? Our feeblest contemplations stir us; there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. It’s apathy, that’s the truth of it all. Pile together everything we know and care about and it will still be nothing more than a tiny speck in the middle of a vast murky pool. Take a step forward into the silence and do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. A lie will not fit anything except another lie. To ignore it is childish, to bewail it is senseless. A fact will fit every other fact, and that is how you can tell whether it is or is not a fact.
We are not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted daisies and bananas, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods. In some mysterious way woods have never seemed to me to be static things. In physical terms, I move through them; yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me. Treat yourself as you are, you will remain as you are. But if you treat yourself as if you were what you ought to be and could be, you may actually become what you ought to be and could be. So in a nut shell if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there, does it make a sound...But wait it can’t fall or make a sound because without someone being there to think it, it is not there in the first place or falling, certainly not making sound.
Begin to generate thought without allowing your body to age. You will find you can travel forward and backwards, without consequence. You are only limited by your mind. Those thoughts are energy. You are bound by rules of linear time. Linear time only exists because you have accepted rules of aging. If you roll a ball down a hill does it move forward in linear time? Is it not a ball reacting with other matter? Only you have created the illusion of time. The energy is eternal.
Follow the lost dog, and you may be surprised where it leads you. Work hard, practice and persevere. Make sure you eat a variety of foods, get plenty of sleep, exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Expect problems and eat them for dessert. Set your sights high, the higher the better. Expect the most wonderful things to happen, not in the future but right now. Realize that nothing is too good for you. Allow absolutely nothing to hamper you or hold you up in any way. Problems are not stop signs; they are simply the green light.
All you really need to know for the moment is that it’s not a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place.
As you begin to levitate you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow, as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit. Everything leads to everything, and everything is just a prelude to what will come.
Do all things with love.
You rummage though a pile of old dead branches.
It’s the end of the day. A moist floral bush evokes the scent of sticky bud.
You glimpse a feral rabbit as it braves dusk. Later, you see an exquisite dog, off its leash and of a formidable size. You reprimand yourself for finding green waste collections interesting.
A car with a sports exhaust further disrupts your progress.
You mistake the gentle flapping of black sheet plastic draped over a diamond fence for the movement of a person and it frightens you momentarily. It is virtually dark now. A piece of material catches your eye. Over a short brick fence you lean, you pick it up and you walk to the boot of the corolla that you borrowed from your housemate and you put the material in. You stare in to the drain that runs in off the curb. As you walk around to the driver’s side door you can hear water running beneath you.
Here, everything is laid out horizontal. Sandy, blighted grass smells like cat shit and eucalyptus rotting in the undergrowth. A hose winds along a paved driveway, and gets itself coiled at the base of the garden tap.
You hear the exhaust fan of a nearby bathroom.
The aberration of a bad paste-up you saw on a factory wall continues to cloud your afternoon. You enjoy the pared curvature of a well-maintained hedge. You notice the understated fern-frond ornamentation of a side gate that now appears auratic with the coming on of the street lamps.
You thought you might be able to find something to use out here but now you feel as if appropriating anything would be displacing it. You need to piss somewhere – anywhere, and you start driving though the smaller streets looking for some kind of reserve with sufficient cover. When are you at work and when are you not? It drifts from on to off, like one of those bulbous timer buttons that begins to un-push itself the minute it is pressed.
You can’t find anything else to make something out of. So you go home and write about your sculpturally unsuccessful day as if it were of singular importance.
Purple Rain: Wine O’ the Times blends DIY and self sufficiency with a sense of wizardry to create something that, if not exactly palatable or aesthetically pleasing, will a least get you drunk. An ode to traditional forms of alcohol production and consumption, Purple Rain... captures the sense of wonder and achievement that comes from 'making your own', simultaneously revealing and enshrouding a 10,000 year old production process.
The first wine I’ve tried from the troublesome 2012 vintage reflects how growers would’ve had their hands full with the challenges brought by this vintage in Western Australia; January's thunderstorms being the main issue. Good canopy management and hands on parcel selection techniques were essential in maintaining fruit quality.
The 2012 ‘Wine O’ the Times’ multi-varietal blend by Jacob Smith is an honest expression of the vintage and the terroir in which the grapes were grown. The wine has a persistent length that stays with you long after the wine has left the palate. Characters of earth, herbs and backyard soirees under generation-old grape vines are evident in this wine.
The fruitful bouquet of bubblegum, candy and strawberry shortcake contradict the dry, sour apple palate. The wine lacks any real texture in the mouth feeling more like a cider than a hand crafted wine. Truly this wine is an expression of where it comes from and informs this critic of the hard work growers and wine makers have faced this vintage.
An exhibition re-affirming the natural mystery of the still life as a persistent herald of sincere romance.
"Can I talk to ya for a second" - Knowledge Bones
Thomas Jeppe presents Nature of Submission in two parts; a working discussion at Fremantle Arts Centre and an exhibition at The Museum of Natural Mystery.
The horse approaches - anticipation, commitment, optimism, challenge; they launch - the peak of the jump, fully airborne, the crux, the float, the ultimate; they land - the return, resumption, the crash of reality after a moment of weightless joy, defying gravity. These are all attractive aspects of this beautiful action, where even the sad resignation of the return to earth has romance to it. But then the true nature of the engagement is revealed as the horse returns to the circuit. Around and around and around.
The Cat Cafe functions as a shrine to Katie Lenanton's legacy of fat cat ownership while mimicking the cat cafe culture created in Taiwan and popularised in Japan. It is a celebration of cat kitsch, market bargains and deep feline love. It features real life kittens, once live cats and ice cream flavours chosen by the Museum of Natural Mystery's directors.
Small groups of patrons are allo-cat-ed a pet-n-sheshin' where they can enter the space, play with the kittens and sample coconut vanilla or salted liquorice ice cream. It's up to them if the cat gets the cream. Past cats are memorialised alongside images of idealised flat faced felines and gifts from artist friends Daniel Bourke, Annabel Dixon, Kelly Doley and Jessie Mitchell.
The exhibition's centrepiece is Fatty, Katie's second fat cat who died of lymphatic cancer in 2011. Taxidermied by the skilled craftsman Michael Buzza from the Guildford Museum of Natural History, Fatty is captured chilling in her favourite pose. Atop her left paw is a replica black and white miniature gifted by Katie's grandmother in 1990. This marks the beginning of her collection of cat paraphernalia.
25 Nov - 02 Dec, 2011
Open by appointment
Clare Peake's work connotes a landscape that is neither wholly real nor strictly imaginary, the maps are the keys to themselves.
In Pilot, Peake presents a concise array of sculptures and drawings that track a basic form as it oscillates and evolves to make a diagram of itself.
Ben Barretto's art practice to date can be discussed as a single ongoing series of performative experiments that investigate the idea of an assisted painting. These experiments often result in an uncertain dialogue between the processes of the performances and the aesthetics of the paintings produced by them; does one inform the other and which is more important to the work?
Continuing this trajectory in Wail Songs, Barretto dons the hat of 'composer' and by rearranging his familiar materials (scrap timber, oscillating fans, paint scrapers, canvas) he will construct a painting with sound, further examining the tension between process and product. The work will be undertaken and exhibited at The Museum on Saturday the 24th of September from 6-10pm and on Sunday the 25th of September from 12-4pm.
In mid 2010, Daniel Bourke and Clare Wohlnick founded a small graphic design and printing business called Benchwork. The business was an attempt to financially sustain their own art practices while retaining a rigorous design standard and learning new skill-sets as they went. Supply and Command is a presentation of the successes, failures and accidents that have occurred during their short stint in the business world.
Please join the artists for a performance with accompanying powerpoint presentation at 7.30pm on Saturday the 3rd of September. The gallery will remain open from 12 - 4pm the following Sunday.
...On the top floor of the local museum in Peterborough UK sit a handful of small carved bone models. These sculptures were made by French prisoners of war at the turn of the 19th century, out of conflict between French and English cultures, two countries that sit somewhere within Tom Freeman's near and distant heritage.
In 18th and 19th century prisoner art Freeman futilely attempts to mimic the intricacy of these craft pieces using a range of materials at hand as well as extending their architectural patterning through ink, paint and texta works on paper.
The museum will remain open from 12-4 on Saturday the 23rd. A feedback etc. session will take place between 2 and 4pm. If you would like to attend or would like to know more about this, please contact us.
A presentation of work by the Museum of Natural Mystery regarding the establishment of a utopian system for the curation and exchange of good creative work. Coinciding with the exhibition will be the release of a document outlining the Museum's policies and practices.
The Museum will remain open on Saturday the 18th from 12-4pm.
DE: Let’s talk specifically about your show at the Museum. Tell me about cones.
JH: They reference listening cones (ear trumpets), used to try to connect to the unknown throughout history. There forms are also used for the distillation process of taking an amount of information and making it more finite and thus more consumable, which I don’t know if I agree with yet. For this specific work they were presented on a table with objects that reference the unknown, stars and fabric of the universe. So this landscape is about creating a situation where we try to come to terms with ideas of understanding through distillation.