Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
02 - 24 February 2019
Jamie Coles love affair with art began in the mid 80´s when he first gazed upon the electric and vibrant pop world of Lichtenstein, Warhol, and the stained, saturated depths of Rothko canvas's. The passion developed with the influence of the political, abstract and revolutionary work of Basquiat and Keith Haring, whom Jamie describes as ..my idol and soul mate..
The early part of my professional career was spent at the front of the art classroom and behind the camera as a visual arts teacher and freelance photographer; until a rapid decline in my health in the mid 90s stopped everything. Disillusioned with western medicine, I rebuilt my strength in the swimming pool, swooping up medals at the Gay Games in New York and Amsterdam, with a nine medal haul in the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney.
Jamie Cole is now painting full-time, exhibiting on the South Coast of NSW and with his husband Bruce, running and curating the very successful Kiama Art Bar. Most recently, Jamie´s work was recognised with inclusion in the 2018 Locals on Board exhibition at the Wollongong Regional Art Gallery.
Asked to talk about the background to Booty, Jamie Cole explained:
Booty (noun) by definition is "valuable stolen goods; something gained or won"
Booty draws on my sexual encounters and experiences; hot and heated encounters, ‘men I haven´t known’ and, ...well, that would be telling... of course, with my husband and...
Using precious materials, my Booty overflows with rich flock wallpaper, sweat, "Poppers", gold leaf, pearl paint and opalescent foils; sprayed across the faces, bodies and bedrooms of men deep ‘in the moment’.
I love the idea of black light showing up all the encounters that have taken place in a room or space, on a piece of furniture, or clothing, over time. So I´ve captured that by giving these mixed media paintings an ultra-violet or heat map quality that exposes the chemicals, sweat and body fluids rampant in the scene.
The "Poppers" (Amyl nitrate) series is drawn from a concept that dates back six years; a night of brainstorming, that resulted in the crazy idea of creating soft sculptures of Poppers bottles, like the great Pop artists of the 1960s. And why not ? Warhol said something about everyone having their fifteen minutes of fame..
Poppers?.. who hasn't heard?... also called: TNT, Thrust, Rock, Hard, Ram, Liquid Gold, Kix, Amyls, Rush,... a liquid chemical sold in a small bottle labelled leather cleaner or something euphemisticly similar.. we all know what it is,.. usually sniffed... it´s a grey area legally,.. possession is not illegal but supply can be an offence... and it´s not for everyone,..
Anyway, this crazy idea was stored, hidden away for years, waiting to pop. Then I was given the opportunity to exhibit at Artsite Galleries for the 40th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, I thought, Why Not Now?...
To have poppers and orgasmic sex on the walls of the gallery is huge for me.. it´s timely: socially because consensual sex in the privacy of our own homes is,.. well,.. private.. and politically, given that the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is proposing an interim ban on Amyl nitrate, with the intention of rescheduling it as a class 9 substance.
Steve Spencer, popper proponent, writing in the Star Observer (August 2018), commented:
"This is what stinks about this whole thing, it’s not the amyl – it´s the discriminatory nature of this move; it´s homophobic, it´s misogynistic, and it´s ageist.
Banning substances, pushing them underground, and creating a class of ‘bad people’ out of innocent users of poppers is what creates harm. Regulation and education reduce harm."
Spencer went further, labelling the proposed changes ‘a war on bottoms’.
As of January 2019, the TGA has postponed its decision until later this year. Like the rest of my Booty, Poppers itself may be in the process of becoming harder to come by, and will possibly attain a rare and precious status... like memories and wishes..
‘Gold Room’ and ‘Actual Size’, further explore this notion of increased pleasure, .. opps!.. preciousness. The gold leaf and ornate frame in ‘Gold Room’ has made the little bottle of Poppers a very valuable object. ‘Actual Size’ with its repetition of poppers bottles in exotic colours and precious gold foil, has become a stash, a stockpile, a hedge.. against a future loss... of youth? ...maybe?
The TGA has set the stage, my concept ready in the wings, and now I have outed my Poppers series.
The Poppers soft sculptures bring a whole new meaning to the expression ‘biting the pillow’. These soft sculptures, in concept, would allow the user to not only have something to bite on, but also, with ‘a little sniff of the euphemistically labeled bottle’,.. have comfortable sex".
The ‘Edging’ series of Poppers makes use of 70´s inspired flocked wallpaper and vintage porn images. OMG?.. No, not the plastic garden edging available from Bunnings.. It´s all about better sex.. capitalise that word!...a big letter, O! "Edging" is a technique which involves the maintenance of a high level of sexual arousal for an extended period of time without reaching climax,.. orgasism, peak, ‘Le Petite Mort’,".. STOP googling... there are lots of words that describe the ultimate high in company or alone.. this is Orgasmic Sex!.. you said WHAT? ...yes, that ones in the dictionary...
These works in this exhibition, much like the technique of edging, build you up but don´t let you finish. The works have been painted into but seem to the voyeur, opps.. viewer to be not quite finished...
Public Collections: University of NSW; The Sydney Swans.
Private Collections: Australia and Internationally.
Artsite Galleries | 165 Salisbury Road Camperdown NSW 2050 | 02 80959678
11am - 5pm Wednesday - Sunday During Exhibitions or By Appointment