ARTEFACTS: Drawing the cornerstone of Cusak's works

Micheal Cusak, Vista 2014, Charcoal and mixed media on paper, 180 x 150cm, Acquisition of the 2014 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award, JADA Collection
Micheal Cusak, Vista 2014, Charcoal and mixed media on paper, 180 x 150cm, Acquisition of the 2014 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award, JADA Collection

Micheal CUSACK
Vista 2014
Charcoal and mixed media on paper
180 x 150cm
Acquisition of the 2014 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award
JADA Collection

Drawing is the cornerstone of Michael Cusack's arts practice. He describes it as embedded in all aspects of his work. He uses it to experiment, to process ideas, to understand materials and as a way to remember.

"Vista is part of series that continues my interest in shape making and abstraction.  Before becoming a painter I was a photographic printer: for many years working in darkrooms with light, shade and tone. To a certain extent my drawings continue this approach. Working with a blackened charcoal surface, I use chalk and a sander to bring the light, letting the materiality create the final image.  Vista also references the works of black and white photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson whose sensitivity to both composition and tone continues to provide inspiration." - Michael Cusack 2014 JADA artist statement.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Michael Cusack emigrated to Australia in 1982 and currently lives and works in Byron Bay, Australia. He holds a Master of Visual Arts from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Brisbane.

His work is widely admired and features in several major public and corporate collections including Artbank; BHP Billiton; Macquarie Bank; and Newcastle Region Art Gallery in addition to various private collections in Australia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and Ireland.



The JADA celebrates drawing in all its forms, from the expressive and the abstract, to hyper-realism that is beyond belief. The works evoke a poetic and emotional response to our environment and the human condition. Many of the finalists selected, question and challenge the notion of the traditional drawing, while others provide a contemporary perspective that reinvigorate those traditions.

In 2020 that tradition of excellence continues with 56 artists selected from a record 659 entries for the exhibition which celebrates Australian contemporary drawing at its finest.

This year Peter McKay, Curatorial Manager of Australian Art at Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art was invited to judge the finalist's to select the winner and recommend works to acquire for the Gallery's collection of contemporary drawing.

It is with great excitement that Peter selected Teo Treloar's work titled This is Impermanence  2019, a graphite pencil drawing that reflects on multiple ideas, including Teo's own experience with depression and anxiety, contemporary concepts of masculinity, the master engravings of Albrecht Durer, and the existential literature of Franz Kafka. The drawings are intended to present a speculative visual platform for viewers to engage with, allowing them to deconstruct the image and find meaning on their own terms. Teo's drawing is a manifestation of these experiences and ideas.

Peter also recommended that the following two works be acquired:

Highly commended: Sarah Tomasetti's work titled Kailash North Face IV 2019. The surface of the work Kailash North Face IV is constructed from lime and marble dust with a length of muslin laid beneath to allow the fresco 'skin' to be detached from the wall once cured.  The curing process continues over the first days and weeks, allowing different marks to be made as it hardens, so the rock face is by turns brushed, drawn and finally etched from the working surface. The muslin threads at the edge of the work echo the prayer flags that criss-cross the landscape along the pilgrimage route at the base of this most sacred of peaks on the Tibetan Plateau.

Commended: Noel McKenna's  work titled Hamlet  2020. This work is about a particular breed of dog, the French Bulldog, which is a very popular and expensive breed. They have a lot of health problems - breathing and leg joints, arthritis as they age - due to overbreeding to achieve their particular look. Hamlet is the name of a local French Bulldog from Noel's neighbourhood.

The exhibition will be on display until 22 November 2020. The gallery will be open seven days a week excluding public holidays during this period from 10:00 to 3:00pm. The exhibition can be viewed online through a virtual tour on the JADA page of the gallery website. Entry to the gallery is by donation.



Summer Sensations Artist Call Out

Submissions are now open for the Gallery's annual Summer Sensations exhibition.  The exhibition showcases artwork across all mediums and features artwork from emerging and established artists Clarence Valley artists.

Summer Sensations was inspired by the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The Summer Exhibition has been running continuously since 1769 and is the world's largest open submission art show and brings together art in all mediums - prints and paintings, film, photography, sculpture, architectural works and more - by leading artists, Royal Academicians and household names as well as new and emerging talent.

Summer Sensations will be on display in Prentice House from  November 27 2020 - January  1 2021. Visit for information and to download a form.


Online Art After School - Paint & Draw with Cassandra Lyn-Palmer

October 29 -December 3

Learn about colour mixing, composition and scale, painting and drawing with lots of fun learning at your own pace online and with 3 live zoom sessions.

This purpose built online course encourages strong foundational skills in colour mixing, composition and scale, painting, drawing and more. Over 6 weeks you will learn how artworks are made and the basic skills and techniques to continue creating your own work at your own pace, in your own space.

Each week an online lesson will be emailed to you. Plus there will be 3 live zoom sessions to connect with your teacher and the rest of the class. In the zoom sessions there will be a small fun exercise. The cost is $100 or a NSW Creative Kids Voucher, all materials are included and can be collected from the Grafton Regional Gallery upon registration. To book visit Eventbrite.

$7M+: Grafton’s new council building cost increase

Premium Content $7M+: Grafton’s new council building cost increase

Work will start soon, but it will come at a greater cost than first expected.

Clarence sewage gets its first COVID tests back

Premium Content Clarence sewage gets its first COVID tests back

First two weeks of tests have been revealed in surveillance report as testing...

KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #6: Nathan Blanch 4/30 (22)

Premium Content KFC PLAYER OF THE WEEK #6: Nathan Blanch 4/30 (22)

Easts/Westlawn skipper gets vote of approval but pressure mounts as team searches...