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Artists in Residence 2014-15

The artists in residence for 2014–15 were Gillian Barnett,Rob McHaffie, Leigh Redhead, Reko Rennie, Christine Rogers, Shannon Smiley and Luhsun Tan.

Gillian Barnett

Writer, Grainger studio

Gillian is a writer of fiction, mostly novels, but also short stories and poetry. Her earlier publications have been for children. During her residency she has been writing two adult novels, both set in Brighton. The manuscript she particularly enjoyed working on at Billilla is called Skipping Shadows.

It is set from the end of the first World War until close to the present day. It is loosely based on the lives of her grandfather, Clarence Weber, and her mother. They lived in Durrant Street, just around the corner from Billila. Clarence was a public figure, a sportsman with a well-known fitness college in Melbourne and a weekly health program on radio. His morning training runs took him past Billila. Gillian's mother and her numerous siblings played there too. It was a wonderful inspiration for her to be able to immerse herself in the surroundings they inhabited and that she is trying to recreate. She hopes her novel will give a strong sense of place and local history.

Rob McHaffie

Visual artist, Beckett studio

Rob uses daily observations and life experiences and transforms them into drawings and water colour paintings in his art journal. He then uses images that signify human behaviour and appearance to form the basis for his oil paintings which are more finished resolved images. He uses the language of the face to tell stories and open dialogue with the public about their relationship with the built and natural environment in which they live.

Find out more about Rob

Leigh Redhead 

Writer, Sievers studio

Leigh been writing all her life, ever since she was  little, and in the past ten years she has had four crime novels published which follow the adventures of Melbourne based private eye, Simone Kirsch. Leigh loves writing crime because she thinks that as well as entertaining the reader, crime novels are a great way of investigating social issues.

Her books have explored class, race, economic disadvantage, and gender inequality - all while maintaining a fast pace and a cracking plot. When writing a novel she usually completes the first draft in longhand in a series of notebooks, then word process subsequent drafts. By the time the book is published, it's gone through three or four full drafts as well as editorial revisions. As well as her novels she has also published a number of articles and short stories, and was twice named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Australian Novelists.

Find out more about Leigh

Reko Rennie

Visual artist, Traill studio

Reko is an interdisciplinary artist who explores his Aboriginal identity through contemporary media. His work incorporates his association to the Kamilaroi people, using traditional geometric patterning that represents his community. Through Reko's art, he hopes to provoke discussion surrounding Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments. He mainly uses acrylic paint through his work, either via painting, drawing or airbrush. He also works in wax and sculpture - including bronze.

Reko has shown internationally including Paris, Berlin, Italy, Jakarta, Shanghai and USA. Recent highlights include: 2012-13 La Trobe University public art commission, 2012 Archibald Prize Finalist, a solo exhibition at SCOPE Art Fair, New York 2012, a 35-metre commissioned work by the Washington DC Arts and Humanities and a two-year public artwork, Neon Natives as part of the 2011 Melbourne Laneway Commission.

Find out more about Reko

Christine Rogers

Filmmaker, Marshall studio

Christine is a Brighton-based writer and director with a filmmaking practice that encompasses drama, documentary and educational work. Her particular narrative interest lies in secrets of the heart - Christine is fascinated by what each of us carries deep inside us; our secret hopes, dreams and fears. At the centre of her work is a deep exploration of contradictory characters. Often she chooses to explore these matters of the heart within the formal rigors of genre.

Christine has been a writer and director for over 20 years, since completing post-graduate studies in film and television at Swinburne University. During this time she has completed 8 short dramas including co-writing the ABC/Film Victoria funded short feature The Forest, and a large number of educational and corporate productions.

2013 was a watershed year for Christine - she wrote and directed her first feature, the low-budget science-fiction drama I am Evangeline, much of which was shot in Bayside. Bayside publicity (an article in The Leader) also assisted with a crowd-funding campaign. Despite the budget every element of the production was professional; Evangeline is played by the talented Georgia Flood (House Husbands, Wentworth and the ABC series Anzac Girls). I am Evangeline is now complete and is being submitted to Melbourne and New Zealand International Film Festivals for consideration, before a more extensive marketing and sales campaign begins.

Concurrently Christine is also in the final stages of a 50 minute film for RMIT University titled Remain in Light. This documentary examines in detail the construction of the RMIT Design Hub by controversial architect Sean Godsell. This production will also be submitted to the Melbourne International Film Festival and is slated for a TV release in the future."

Find out more about Christine

Shannon Smiley

Visual artist, Parr studio

Working in the tradition of landscape painting, Shannon's subject is the urban and suburban environment around him. His specific focus is on spaces where wild nature and domesticity collide and create a harmonious aesthetic with reference to 17th and 18th century 'picturesque' landscapes.

Shannon's paintings are produced using oil on canvas. He works from life and in the studio however the final work is mostly produced in the studio referencing photography. In order to gather reference material, he explores the city and surrounding suburbs and takes photographs and produces drawings. Shannon then spends time analysing the material and composing a drawing on the canvas, then using photos as reference, he executes the painting.

In 2007 he graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts completing a Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours). His exhibitions include four solo and various group exhibitions in commercial, public and artist run galleries. In 2012 he exhibited in the Melbourne Art Fair with Hill Smith Gallery. Shannon has been a finalist in the Metro Art Award, John Leslie art prize for landscape, and more recently a semi finalist in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize. Shannon is represented by Hill Smith Gallery, Melbourne."

Find out more about Shannon

Luhsun Tan

Visual artist, Tayler studio

Luhsun's current work deals with memory and intangible histories through vernacular materials. The studio work uses the materials to question the nature of the image and representation through history. The work is interested in creating presence in the image and therefore has explored the creation of conversation pieces.

By accessing the image it opens up the possibility of communities and individuals to have an active participation in their environments.

The works Luhsun is making are large digital images. These are a continuation from the techniques and artistic discourse developed from his recent PhD visual arts study which is based on archival images and original photographs that are reworked through digital imaging tools on a desktop computer.

Currently he is completing his PhD in Art and Design at Monash university which is due for completion in July 2014. Part of this research work will be exhibited in early 2014 at the Tasma gallery in East Melbourne and the Glen Eira gallery. In 2013 the material was exhibited at the Fracture Gallery in Federation Square title Poetics of Relation. Previous work includes community theatre and a Masters degree in film from VCA in animation along with completing several short film projects."

Find out more about Luhsun