2021 ARTIST BIOS | BLAIR GARLAND & RUSSELL SOLOMON

/ / Artist Bios 2021

Blair Garland is a multifaceted visual artist, independent curator and writer whose current visual art practice explores experimental photography, documentary photography, sculpture, painting and drawing. She was born in Sydney and currently lives and works in Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia.  She comes from a family of artists and continues that legacy, having attended Griffith University to study Fine Art, earning a Bachelor of Visual Art.

Blair has exhibited in many group and solo exhibitions in Queensland and has previously collaborated with Indigenous Australian artists in an exhibition at the Pacific Arts Festival in Noumea, New Caledonia. A career highlight was when she was selected for the 15 Artists exhibition at the Redcliffe Art Gallery. She has won two notable awards for Sculpture, the Sunshine Coast Art Award and also the Memento Queensland Merchandise Award for Most Innovative Product. To date, Blair has completed one sculptural public artwork in her home town of Redcliffe funded by a Q150 grant. She has received a RADF grant which allowed her to complete an artist-in-residency at Studio Red, Redcliffe State High School. 

Blair has also received numerous other RADF grants to facilitate workshops and curate exhibitions with community groups. She has worked extensively as an Arts Worker and her area of expertise is giving a voice to those who live with disabilities.

Blair states “I am loyal to my ideas. The ‘idea’ will dictate the materials used for a particular work and the final form it will take.  My work is not however, didactic, as the viewer can read their own interpretation into it, bring their own ideas and associations to it.  But, it does come from a specific place relative to my own experience at that moment in time.  I attempt to open up a dialogue between materials and form in order to expose a new way of thinking.” In particular, Blair focuses on the domestic suburban experience, which she reflects back with insight, playfulness and wit. “Delimitation” is a collaboration with fellow artist Russell Solomon, Blair’s life partner. This work reflects the primacy of ‘the idea’ to her work, and the resultant diversity of form that her work takes as she responds elegantly and often humorously to the life she observes around her.

 

Russell Solomon was born into an artistic family, most notable his grandfather Lance Vaiben Solomon who won the Wynne Prize for landscape painting in 1946 and 1953. Under his tutelage Russell honed his drawing skills and concreted his love of line. In discovering wire and all its potential as a 3D line, Russell created his first wire sculpture in 1991 and he has not looked back. He has recently been described as a Master of this medium by his peers.

Russell’s work is concerned mostly with the natural environment, our place in it and our impact on it. Through his work he creates a space for conversations around these themes. Having grown up in the northern beaches area of New South Wales this is where he formed a strong and respectful connection to the landscape. The artist says “My practice expresses a deep concern for the human condition and the environment in which it exists.”

Russell has been exhibiting for over a quarter of a century and has works in private and corporate collections worldwide. Some of the more notable collections include the Moreton Bay Regional Council’s collection, former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s private collection and Energex Art Collection (a commission).

Russell has received many prizes and awards for sculpture including the Nudgee College Art Prize (1st Prize), the Royal Queensland Show Art Awards (3rd Prize), the Nundah Village Art Festival (1st Prize twice), the Sandgate Art Society Annual Art Exhibition (2nd Prize), the Somerset Art Awards (2nd Prize), the Memento Art Awards (Highly Commended) and the Hays Inlet Festival (1st Prize). Another career highlight was Russell’s successful RADF grant application to facilitate community workshops with people who live with disabilities in order to create a public artwork. Russell has worked extensively within the Disability sector, sharing his expertise and love of recycling. Russell has been Artist-in-residence at many schools around Australia including Townsville, Brisbane and Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia in an indigenous community. In 1996 the children’s TV show “Totally Wild” did a feature story on him and his art practice.

In “Delimitation” Russell collaborates with artist and life partner Blair Garland to inspire conversations and further investigation into his lifelong fascination and concern with borders, fences, separation and segregation.

 

2021 SWELL ARTWORK – Delimitation, Blair Garland & Russell Solomon

Throughout history, borders have separated and protected us from the ‘Others’. Australia’s rabbit proof fence and dingo fences have served to protect livestock and livelihoods at a cost to the freedoms of many. Since March 2020 enforced border closures have served to protect us both physically and economically yet have separated loved ones and divided communities. “Delimitation” is a temporary delineation, a physical obstacle using plastic road traffic barriers, conjuring questions around freedom. This work attempts to address the moral problem with border walls and border fences.

 

SWELL Kids Artist Statement – Delimitation, Blair Garland & Russell Solomon

In this artwork we have attempted to create the illusion of a border fence and a border crossing. A visible line drawn in the sand, dividing “us” from “them”. Separating the old world from the new world perhaps? Through this artwork we are exploring the physical boundaries the government has placed on us to keep us safe due to COVID. We are asking you to think about and talk about how this has made you feel. Delimitation means a dividing line or boundary and so we thought this would be a good word to name our artwork. Importantly also we would like you to think about how imposed borders and fences have affected Indigenous communities since invasion. We are also asking you to reflect on the moral dilemmas around making decisions about who is allowed in and who is not. This is a very tricky one, particularly if it is a family member and I suppose everyone’s someone’s family member.

 

Instagram: #rustywiresculptures

Come and see for yourself at SWELL Sculpture Festival, Pacific Parade, Currumbin 10-19 September.