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Lapsed, Missing & Working Sculptors

Curator, Geoff Sharples, was a lecturer in sculpture at the Northern Territory University (now CDU) for more than twenty years, when the sculpture and ceramics course was discontinued. For this exhibition, Sharples has invited 11 of his former students to showcase the depth and breath of their artistry by producing new work. Exhibiting artists include: Dennis Bezzant, Bill Davies, Judith Durnford, Lia Gill, Franck Gohier, Callum Hickey, Jenjas Isdianto, Robert Mariotti, Aengus Munro, Geoff Sharples, Bilha Smith and Val Stuart. Geoff Sharples Former Lecturer in Sculpture, Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University) It is interesting how exhibitions are created. For years, I would bump into one of my ex-students, Roberto Mariotti at the Hibiscus Shopping Centre. Every time, he would ask me when I was organising a sculpture exhibition. After showing at the Covid-19 exhibition Pandamonia organised by Rita Macarounas and supported by Luke Gosling at the Darwin Entertainment Centre in July 2020, I thought that now is the time to organise this sculpture exhibition. So, lots of telephone calls and emails created the names for this exhibition and I should let you know that there are many of my ex-students exhibiting. That was the easy part. The biggest problem was finding a site to hold the exhibition – and it was big. Luckily, Petrit Abazi, Director of the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art said yes to my proposal with offering an opening in October. Hopefully this exhibition will excite you and give you great pleasure. Petrit Abazi NCCA Director In June 1997, the Northern Territory University (now CDU) announced it was axing the Ceramics and Sculpture Departments. This was the result of extensive federal funding cuts to tertiary institutions across Australia. Consequently Geoff Sharples, lecturer in Sculpture, for more than twenty years, was made redundant and the only bronze and aluminium foundry in the NT was turned off and packed away. In 2016, the NCCA was denied ongoing federal funding for the first time in twenty-seven years, threatening the viability of the gallery. Disappointingly, history has demonstrated that funding for the Arts is a partisan issue. It does'nt have to be that way. However, budget cuts, redundancies and course closures are always looming threats under certain governments. Nevertheless, artists and arts workers will continue to advocate and fight for the importance of culture within our society and for its contribution to our own well-being. Artists and art workers will continue to make art. When he was lecturing at NTU, Geoff Sharples would curate the annual Contemporary Sculpture exhibition. In Lapsed, Missing and Working Sculptors he has once again invited his former students to showcase the depth and breadth of their sculptural art practice through their production of new work. To paraphrase Jake from The Blues Brothers, he has put the band back together. This catalogue and exhibition celebrate their triumphant return.