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

Gardens

How To Start A Productive Garden TODAY!

We turn to three seasoned experts for tips on how to get started, what to plant in small spaces and how long it will take to start seeing re...

Times Like These

Times Like These... With New York Times Food Columnist And Author Alison Roman

The New York-based bestselling author and beloved cook talks about feeling all the feelings of COVID-19, finding the motivation to work, and...

The Good Room

A Magazine Maven's Sentimental Good Room In The Southern Highlands

Former head of Vogue Living and Monocle magazines, Robyn Holt shares her 'Good Room' at home in regional NSW, layered with pieces collected
Lisa Marie Corso

Homes

A Designer’s ‘Curated Maximalist’ Apartment in Sydney

Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming shares his treasure-box apartment in Sydney's Waterloo.

News

Go To Caroline Walls’ Gallery Opening Via IGTV!

Let’s be real, what else are you doing? The Melbourne-based visual artist is taking to the virtual realm to open her solo show, Resemb...
Sasha Gattermayr

Food

Week 2 Of Pantry-Friendly Meal Ideas From Julia Busuttil Nishimura

The queen of home cooking returns to warm our hearts with another seven day's worth of meal ideas, and a shopping list for everything you'll...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Interiors

Introducing The 2020 Dulux Colour Awards Finalists!

From a candy pink bathroom to an all-green-everything living room, take a closer look at our favourite residential projects shortlisted for

Architecture

A Serene Japanese-Inspired Home In Melbourne

Japanese design principles underpin Highbury Grove by Ritz&Ghougassian, designed for the studio's co-director.

TDF Design Awards

Announcing... The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020!

It's time to enter The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards! Our broad-reaching and inclusive awards program that shines a spotlight on Aust...
Lucy Feagins
  5 hours ago

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace Transformed, With Minimal Intervention

Let there be light! Austin Maynard Architects illuminates a dark Carlton terrace with a new renovation, including internal gardens!
Amelia Barnes

News

Cream Town Is Making It Easy (And Affordable!) To Support Local Artists From Home

Two Victorian artists launch an online affordable art dealership for artists who have lost their income to the coronavirus pandemic.

Interiors

Creating The Best Kids Bedroom Ever!

...got some time on your hands? Lauren Li shows us how to create a kids bedroom that is sure to keep the kids AND the grown-ups happy!
Lauren Li

TDF Collect

'I Been Born There' By Maggie Green At TDF Collect – A Virtual Walkthrough!

In lieu of being able to open this spectacular exhibition, we made a video with SIRAP to bring Maggie Green's debut solo show to you!

News

'Design Lives Here' Takes You Inside Other People's Houses, From The Comfort Of Your Own

Sick of the inside of your own house by now? Take look at someone else’s in this new book by the former editor of Artichoke magazine...

Studio Visit

Kayleigh Heydon's Paintings Will Light Up Your Life

The Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist takes us through her Northcote studio.
Sasha Gattermayr

View Comments

Similar Stories

Art

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

Architecture

A Serene Japanese-Inspired Home In Melbourne

Japanese design principles underpin Highbury Grove by Ritz&Ghougassian, designed for the studio's co-director.

TDF Design Awards

Announcing... The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2020!

It's time to enter The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards! Our broad-reaching and inclusive awards program that shines a spotlight on Aust...
Lucy Feagins
  5 hours ago

Food

Week 2 Of Pantry-Friendly Meal Ideas From Julia Busuttil Nishimura

The queen of home cooking returns to warm our hearts with another seven day's worth of meal ideas, and a shopping list for everything you'll...
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Interiors

Creating The Best Kids Bedroom Ever!

...got some time on your hands? Lauren Li shows us how to create a kids bedroom that is sure to keep the kids AND the grown-ups happy!
Lauren Li

Studio Visit

Kayleigh Heydon's Paintings Will Light Up Your Life

The Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist takes us through her Northcote studio.
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Cream Town Is Making It Easy (And Affordable!) To Support Local Artists From Home

Two Victorian artists launch an online affordable art dealership for artists who have lost their income to the coronavirus pandemic.

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace Transformed, With Minimal Intervention

Let there be light! Austin Maynard Architects illuminates a dark Carlton terrace with a new renovation, including internal gardens!
Amelia Barnes

Gardens

How To Start A Productive Garden TODAY!

We turn to three seasoned experts for tips on how to get started, what to plant in small spaces and how long it will take to start seeing re...

News

Go To Caroline Walls’ Gallery Opening Via IGTV!

Let’s be real, what else are you doing? The Melbourne-based visual artist is taking to the virtual realm to open her solo show, Resemb...
Sasha Gattermayr

TDF Collect

'I Been Born There' By Maggie Green At TDF Collect – A Virtual Walkthrough!

In lieu of being able to open this spectacular exhibition, we made a video with SIRAP to bring Maggie Green's debut solo show to you!

The Good Room

A Magazine Maven's Sentimental Good Room In The Southern Highlands

Former head of Vogue Living and Monocle magazines, Robyn Holt shares her 'Good Room' at home in regional NSW, layered with pieces collected
Lisa Marie Corso

Times Like These

Times Like These... With New York Times Food Columnist And Author Alison Roman

The New York-based bestselling author and beloved cook talks about feeling all the feelings of COVID-19, finding the motivation to work, and...

Interiors

Introducing The 2020 Dulux Colour Awards Finalists!

From a candy pink bathroom to an all-green-everything living room, take a closer look at our favourite residential projects shortlisted for

News

'Design Lives Here' Takes You Inside Other People's Houses, From The Comfort Of Your Own

Sick of the inside of your own house by now? Take look at someone else’s in this new book by the former editor of Artichoke magazine...

Homes

A Designer’s ‘Curated Maximalist’ Apartment in Sydney

Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming shares his treasure-box apartment in Sydney's Waterloo.

Similar Stories

Art

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