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Sunday Arts Magazine

10 Jul 2022

9 Lives – Rose Chong

Art Exhibition, Arts, Sunday Arts Magazine, Visual Arts

9 Lives – Rose Chong

9 Lives is a new, visual art exhibition featuring the works of nine Melbourne-based female-identifying artists, including iconic costumier Rose Chong, showing at The Long Gallery at Montsalvat from 14 – 31 July.

Each of these nine women have lived full and successful lives in different areas such as science, sports, graphic design, photojournalism, theatre production and costume design but in the height of the pandemic, chose to shake things up and chase their dreams to renew and rediscover their personal art practices.

Studying their Diploma of Visual Art at the Northern College of the Arts & Technology they started together in the studio but ultimately, ended on Zoom.

“I’ve always wanted to go back and study. This was the right time for me to do it and I knew it was now or never. All of us in the class were mature-aged students so it felt like a safe space to be and it was very accommodating to all of us who have busy lives,” said artist Rebecca Armstrong.

The nine artists – Rebecca Armstrong, Debra Billson, Rose Chong, Kirsten Dunkley, Raksmei Keo, Deborah Ladd, Kate Lambe, Melinda Story and Wendy Tse – come from different backgrounds so it was important to each of them that this exhibition reflected their diversity and individuality.

The exhibition sees many visual art mediums explored including abstract and figurative painting, printmaking, textiles, mixed media, and sculpture. The content is both abstract and representational with 5-10 pieces from each artist with Chong however, exhibiting over 80 tiny self-portraits.

Chong is fascinated by language, colour and absurdity, using humour to engage with an increasingly senseless world. In 9 Lives, her art will be installed as an interactive work Do You Want a Piece of Me? where viewers can purchase their own little piece of the legendary Rose Chong to take home on the spot, with the installation diminishing over the course of the exhibition.

“I took a 60-year hiatus from making art, and now it’s like a tap has been turned on and I can’t turn it off!” said Chong.

Lambe’s work is strongly influenced by her graphic design background, encompassing lettering and symbols using primary and secondary colours to convey personal, social or political themes. While Billson, an award winning book designer, investigates traditional women’s crafts to question ‘what is art’?

The number nine symbolises completion and resolution of wisdom and experience, but also transition and transformation from endings into new beginnings.

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