This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Exploring The Microscopic + The Galactic With Brendan Huntley

Studio Visit

Prominent artist Brendan Huntley has been honing in on the finer details – the stitches of an old quilt, moss on a rock, a repetitive production line of letterbox numbers in a factory…

Created from Frankston to San Francisco, his new body of work is an ambitious offering, underpinned by a heightened reverence for the natural world. Sky Light Mind opens at Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne this Saturday.

8th November, 2018

Brendan Huntley’s latest exhibition opens at Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne Saturday, November 10th. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Ahead of Brendan’s show, we visited his sculpture studio (aka him mum’s shed) in Frankston. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

This body of work has ‘opened up the gates to wilder colours and led me to build these larger paintings and sculptures,’ tells the artist. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Brendan pictured with his works. Left: sculpture Untitled (cross stitch/deep breath). Right, front to back: Untitled (self-centre, middle-ground)Untitled (primordial soup), and Untitled (everything under the sun). Left painting (Untitled (vortex echo chamber), and right painting Untitled (cortex whistle hole). Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Detail of sculpture Untitled (self-centre, middle-ground)Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Brendan works on a bisque-fired sculpted form. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

All of the sculptures are made with combinations of glaze, slip, enamel, bog, terracotta, raku, stoneware, white raku, formply, steel, and wheels. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Untitled (irregular nebular) 2017–2018, Oil-on-linen. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘I’m interested in something more abstract, outside of the confines of the traditional human structure. More instrumental than a cappella,’ tells Brendan. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

This body of work really came together during the artist’s time in California, where ‘the brilliant natural light makes every colour pop’. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Brendan invested in an epic new kiln to create the larger-scale sculptures for this show. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

When he’s not creating, Brendan likes to ‘break the pattern of life and go for a walk’, especially at Wilsons Promontory, as well as listen/dance to music in the studio (Laura Jean’s new record is a current favourite). Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The artist has enlisted several industrial materials to achieve new results. He got ‘pretty deep with some crushed glaze experiments’ and in incorporating dollie bases. ‘I like the way the sculptures can be moved around a space until they fall into place, like a cluster of islands or a solar system’. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 8th November 2018

‘These works are what you might see at the beginning of optical recognition – when the colours and forms are coming into focus. The subject could appear through a microscope or a telescope.’ – Brendan Huntley.

‘I’ve been focusing on getting comfortable with a pebble in my shoe, or a fly buzzing around my head. I’ve been thinking about the universe as a minestrone soup of brilliant energy,’ reflects Brendan Huntley, who is about to exhibit his first hometown solo show since 2015.

The last time I crossed paths with the Melbournian was nearly 10 years ago. His band, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, had just taken out The Australian Music Prize and he was belting out choruses amid energetic contortions on stage at The Espy. Yet alongside his cult-status musical endeavours, Brendan has carved out a successful art career, with solo exhibitions across Australia as well as inclusions in premier international events such as Hong Kong Art Fair, Art Basel Hong Kong, and Primavera at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

‘For me, creativity comes out in many ways, whether it’s painting, drawing, sculpting, lyrics or performing. Similar to working from the two studios, the ideas feed one another. Wherever I am creatively, I just apply my energy to the project at hand,’ the 36-year-old artist tells. ‘If one of those outlets runs a little dry, another will be flowing, even if it’s just a little stream. It keeps me sane.’

Sky Light Mind combines seven large sculptures with eight paintings-on-canvas and 24 smaller works on archival paper. Each of these media were created in different spaces: his mum’s shed in Frankston (which we visited), a painting studio in Preston, and during a residency in San Francisco, respectively.

It all began in 2016, upon returning from a hike in New Zealand. ‘I wanted to be reminded of the exhilaration that I get when looking at mountains or swimming in a stream,’ Brendan recalls. Then, last year, after being awarded an Australia Council Mentorship grant he travelled to San Francisco for what became an informal residency with Barry McGee. ‘Barry has a magical ability to bring out the wizardry in others,’ reflects the artist. ‘He also encouraged me to explore his paint supply, and this, plus the wildness of colour and light on the West Coast, opened me up to a fresh new vibrant colour palette.’

Brendan’s partner Ellen, an avid hiker with an adventurous spirit, has been another crucial influence. As have other family and friends, especially his highly creative and hard working mum, who also kindly gave up her shed! Brendan upgraded the existing kiln his dad had built with a huge trolley version that could handle his increasingly large-scale forms.

The largest sculptures he has produced thus far, Brendan admits these are perhaps also his most abstract and surreal. ‘I feel it’s looking way further out (into space dust or a nebular) or much deeper in (at DNA, atoms and cells), as well as all that’s in-between,’ he describes. ‘It’s only after the work is made that I really begin discovering what it all means and how it’s evolved.’

Next, Brendan will turn his focus to international art shows and the release of a book with Knowledge Editions.Wonders Never Crease comprises a selection of the works-on-paper made in San Francisco and is due out next month. But first, he’s opening the show on Saturday night. ‘Tolarno Gallery has deep black floors, like outer space. The walls are white, like light. Together it will be a universal dance floor for the artwork.’

‘Sky Light Mind’ by Brendan Huntley
November 10th – December 15th
Tolarno Galleries
Level 4/104 Exhibition Street
Melbourne VIC

This Week

Homes

A Magical Alistair Knox-Designed Rental In Eltham!

The seriously dreamy 1970s rental home of Pop and Scott trade manager Lucienne Van Sebille, and her partner Sebastian.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

Architecture

This Clever + Compact Bondi Home Feels Like A Never-Ending Holiday!

Fox Johnston architects managed to expand the footprint of this small and narrow Sydney site to create a generous, private haven!

News

Extend The Lifecycle Of Designer Furniture And Lighting With Cultivated

Cult relaunches Cultivated during Melbourne Design Week – a buy-back, refurbishment and recycling service that aims to create a sustainabl...
Sponsored

Architecture

A Timeless New Home In Ballarat, With Lake Views + Mid-Century Vibes

With American ‘Brady Bunch’ house vibes (!) this new home in Ballarat by Kennedy Nolan channels mid century design, with a sleek, contem...

News

Shop The Megan Park Archive Of More Than 10,000 Pieces!

Legendary fashion designer Megan Park has kept one of every piece she has designed over the last 22 years – and now, she’s opening h...

Architecture

A Surprise Garden Brings This 'Pop-Up' Home To Life

Figr creates a unique language between architectural and landscaped spaces to truly maximise this small footprint home for a family of three...

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Interiors

An Inspired Cosmetic Makeover Of A Perth Rental Property

This Cottesloe rental property has been majorly improved (with the landlord's agreement) by Ohlo Studio!

Gardens

A Cultivated Wilderness In Inner Suburban Melbourne

Legendary landscape designer Phillip Withers completes a layered, three-tiered garden around a Toorak home designed by Cera Stribley.

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

Gardens

A Slice Of Primeval Paradise In Bronte

Situated on a steep site in a sometimes blustery coastal location, the planting palette for this stunning garden in Sydney is both soft, and...

News

The Magic And Art Of Beekeeping With Honey Fingers

Mud Australia is hosting an exhibition and in conversation event with legendary urban beekeepers Honey Fingers, moderated by artist Stanisla...
Sally Tabart

Stays

The Fabulous New Store And Apartment From Colour Queen Chela Edmunds!

The Takeawei Ceramics founder shows us around her sunny new store in Fitzroy, and the cutest-ever apartment upstairs (yep, you can stay ther...

On The Market

This John Lautner-Inspired Sydney Home Is MAJOR House Goals (+ It’s For Sale)!

This dream house in Sydney's Castle Cove designed by Terroir architects and Pascale Gomes-McNabb is for sale!

View Comments

Similar Stories

TDF Collect

TDF Collect Presents 'Parade' By Sean Meilak

Iconography and architectural forms reimagined as contemporary curios, for our first-ever sculpture exhibition – opening next week!

Studio Visit

A Bold New Sculpture For The Melbourne Cup

Anna-Wili Highfield pushes her sculptural art practice to new heights at this year’s Lexus Design Pavilion.
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

Glenn Barkley’s Great Clay Composts of History

A studio visit with the fascinating artist/writer/curator/gardener ahead of his 'Imayimightimust’ exhibition opening this week.
Elle Murrell

This Week

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Architecture

This Clever + Compact Bondi Home Feels Like A Never-Ending Holiday!

Fox Johnston architects managed to expand the footprint of this small and narrow Sydney site to create a generous, private haven!

Architecture

A Surprise Garden Brings This 'Pop-Up' Home To Life

Figr creates a unique language between architectural and landscaped spaces to truly maximise this small footprint home for a family of three...

On The Market

This John Lautner-Inspired Sydney Home Is MAJOR House Goals (+ It’s For Sale)!

This dream house in Sydney's Castle Cove designed by Terroir architects and Pascale Gomes-McNabb is for sale!

Architecture

A Timeless New Home In Ballarat, With Lake Views + Mid-Century Vibes

With American ‘Brady Bunch’ house vibes (!) this new home in Ballarat by Kennedy Nolan channels mid century design, with a sleek, contem...

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

Gardens

A Slice Of Primeval Paradise In Bronte

Situated on a steep site in a sometimes blustery coastal location, the planting palette for this stunning garden in Sydney is both soft, and...

Stays

The Fabulous New Store And Apartment From Colour Queen Chela Edmunds!

The Takeawei Ceramics founder shows us around her sunny new store in Fitzroy, and the cutest-ever apartment upstairs (yep, you can stay ther...

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

News

Shop The Megan Park Archive Of More Than 10,000 Pieces!

Legendary fashion designer Megan Park has kept one of every piece she has designed over the last 22 years – and now, she’s opening h...

Gardens

A Cultivated Wilderness In Inner Suburban Melbourne

Legendary landscape designer Phillip Withers completes a layered, three-tiered garden around a Toorak home designed by Cera Stribley.

Interiors

An Inspired Cosmetic Makeover Of A Perth Rental Property

This Cottesloe rental property has been majorly improved (with the landlord's agreement) by Ohlo Studio!

News

Extend The Lifecycle Of Designer Furniture And Lighting With Cultivated

Cult relaunches Cultivated during Melbourne Design Week – a buy-back, refurbishment and recycling service that aims to create a sustainabl...
Sponsored

Homes

A Magical Alistair Knox-Designed Rental In Eltham!

The seriously dreamy 1970s rental home of Pop and Scott trade manager Lucienne Van Sebille, and her partner Sebastian.

News

The Magic And Art Of Beekeeping With Honey Fingers

Mud Australia is hosting an exhibition and in conversation event with legendary urban beekeepers Honey Fingers, moderated by artist Stanisla...
Sally Tabart

Similar Stories

TDF Collect

TDF Collect Presents 'Parade' By Sean Meilak

Announcing our first-ever sculpture exhibition!

Studio Visit

A Bold New Sculpture For The Melbourne Cup

Anna-Wili Highfield pushes her sculptural art practice to new heights at this year’s Lexus Design Pavilion.
Elle Murrell

Studio Visit

Glenn Barkley’s Great Clay Composts of History

A studio visit with the fascinating artist/writer/curator/gardener ahead of his 'Imayimightimust’ exhibition opening this week.
Elle Murrell

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.