Art Whore

Art Talk – Glenno of the ‘Bein Narly’ Biennale Festival

The ‘Bein Narly’ festival is on all throughout March and April this year, in multiple venues in Sydney, Australia. It is DIY + Punk as fuck and 100% Art Whore Approved!

As head curator Glenno states:

This festival is un-apologetically D.I.Y. – arts and craft, folk art (art that folks like) irreverent and heartfelt (low-brow if you like) and just fun in general. The core of this festival is a handful of amazing sponsors – no government funds – no waiting for things to magically happen – no huge axes to grind – some small but strong venues – a few volunteers and a whole heap of focussed enthusiasm.

Well we thought it would be good to find out more about ‘Bein Narly’ by speaking to the show’s aforementioned curator, the ever epic Glenno – so we shot him a few questions about art in general and the ‘Bein Narly’ festival specifically.

(Photo below of a deliriously happy Glenno)

Read all about it below…


If you had to give a dictionary-type definition of various art-world terms… what would they be…

Here goes: 

First – I’d have to say that these terms or ideas are hard to quantify.
Visual art is in one aspect, an attempt to do things that language cannot fully achieve, so it seems redundant – but – i can talk from personal passion seeing as i have given some of these terms some thought over the years.. they will therefore seem biased, conceited and maybe a little pointless.

– Good art?

Any endeavour that results in a in/tangible communication or confusion aimed at a viewer, altering their mood, opinion or perspective.
The best art does this without intellectual/class/trend-based baggage and can be made even more impactful using techniques that are unique, honed and practiced.

– Bad art?

The opposite of the above – alienating, market-driven hype that communicates only after a second or third party decides either importance or meaning.
Technically shabby art can be great, but it has alienated many folk who prefer to be stimulated by higher skilled art and perspectives that celebrate and question. its difficult to sum up good/bad but it really is “i know what i like” when it comes to art/music/literature. 

– A curator?

The curator is not the star of the show – they are star wranglers.
Each piece of work should be it’s own little sun but somehow it makes sense within the galaxy of the exhibition.

– A critic?

Just someone with an opinion – everyone is one and has one – some get paid, some will give their opinion freely.
Some are fairly justified and righteous because they have once created/or create themselves and are insiders in that side of the arts game.
Some are frustrated they have no country to dictate over and the art world have to do.

– An artist?

Anyone that produces, hopefully from the heart.

– Art itself?

Heartfelt product (not necessarily for any reason or audience).

(Promo poster for the ‘Bein Narly’ festival below)

Why the name ‘Bein Narly’? its a piss-take of “biennale” –

A drunken pun i made that made some friends laugh. That was the start of the idea – it is not anti-biennale, but we are far from that over-thought and market-driven contemporary art scene as you can imagine.

How did you get all the amazing artists involved?

I asked them via email or just ran into them.
It’s easy these days to share an idea and gauge it’s validity.
Sydney especially is still a small country town for creatives.

What role have you played in putting it all together?

I’ve been an accidental curator.
I’ve done all sorts of little/big shows – 4 regional shows – 67 casual beach burrito shows – 6 or so group shows.
I got sick of the lone-wolfishness of artists, when as a pack, things get more interesting.
It’s a social thing worth planning. Choose a time, place and some artistic elements and you have yourself an event.
At this point, I’ve done all the planning and delegated any responsibility to people i trust. I’ve also been helped by some great sponsors who have prevented me from throwing money down a well.
I’m good with time, but if i lost money, that would suck.

Care to spill on what I am sure is a damn long list of people who have helped you out behind the scenes?

Talking about sponsors, much appreciation must go to: young henrys, wombat grafx for the printing of posters and pamphlets, aisle 6 for the awesome shirts, beach burrito newtown for it’s support of local art shows, castle giant for the website magic, no cure for the publicity and uno duo for producing cool videos.
Venue wise, alpha gallery via thomas lister-thorby, gallery 371 louise beck as well as karen and camo at gallery 448.
Mighty big thanks to rickie, not only for printing, but for stepping up for his burrow printhaus first exhibition.
Lastly, pat grant and fionn mccabe for previewing original art for what is looking like one of the best australian comics ever produced in this country…there are many good friends being the scenes that have pitched in and i love them for their enthusiasm.

(Poster for the Mel Meek photography show below – one part of the ‘Bein Narly’ festival!)

Speaking of curating… 

* what are some high points of your curating career thus far?

This is the most ambitious and hopefully, self-sustaining idea. I hope it gathers momentum with each year.
My first regional gallery show was in my hometown of Orange and i simply put the idea to my friend and mentor Alan Sisley, the gallery director. His faith in me led to 3 other very successful shows and gave me the confidence to do whatever i wanted, whenever the urge took me. Amazing man. It’s not often you come across people who will give you such opportunities.
It’s often the case that people who command positions in organisations like galleries are industrial psychopaths or insecure about their jobs. He was not one of those men. He loved art and those that loved art.

* … and what about the lows?

When Alan passed away.
It marked the cooling of my relationship with the gallery, not for good, but in a capacity to introduce exciting ideas and events to what seems now, another impenetrable arts organisation. My emotions probably cloud this opinion, but i did try to continue my group shows in Orange but that original trust was old-fashioned handshake stuff. I get things done, but i couldn’t force myself to do a second round of even more detailed ideas-pitching and spread sheets full of projections, rigid structures and bullshit red-tapery. That’s no fun and it’s not worthy of my time.
A wise person looks to grey skies and knows it’s time to move on. It’s what keeps the conservative, regional galleries starchy and the kids hate that shit. Which is a shame, because it’s tax money funded, further alienating the majority of people that see regional galleries as little, exclusive clubs. 
Oldies on the other hand like to know what to expect.
Less impact means less heart attacks.

(A photo of Mr. Alan Sisley below)

* any advice for fellow or wannaba curators you care to share?

Just do it – be transparent with costs to all participants and just do your best.
Allow time for shit to happen because it will.
Do it all yourself so you are to blame
Don’t create a shit-storm when it could be fine sailing.
Enjoy herding cats because artists are funny creatures – choose your herd carefully.

* what’s it like dealing with artists compared to say the usual averaje joe / suit n tie man?

Most of my artist friends aren’t punishers – they are in a city that will destroy dis-organised artists/free-lancers so they get things done, are good to their word and are good at what they do. That’s why great art is produced in hard places to exist – also generic in many cases – but unique voices exist here that exist nowhere else.
Enjoy/support it now!

* what’s the connection you have with Australian craft beer company ‘Young Henrys’ – i ask as a lot of your events are sponsored by them…?

They genuinely support the arts….it’s a creed with them and they take their promise very seriously. 
In this country, beer sponsorships are usually aimed at sport but young henrys are not following that herd mentality. they are all about supporting art and culture/events. they’ve never knocked back any ideas i’ve put in front of them and i love them for that…and their beer is unreal.
It would be remiss of me to underplay their role in the Bein Narly. Exhibitions are such big gambles financially so when the odds on the gamble are reduced with sponsorship – more art gets made, more exhibitions promote the cultural health of this sick city and friendships get made.
A human practice that should never be discounted.

For those who have no idea about the show and the art in general – what would your spiel be to get ‘em through the door?

Once again, it’s hard to put into words….
If you go to art galleries for fun, this is fun. If you don’t  – you will still have fun.
This is folk art – for folks – it’s not going to be an intellectually mind-destroying post-modern disappointment-fest of minimal paintings and miserable video installations about hats.
9 events over 2 months.
Grab an events pamphlet from young henrys or go to www.beinnarly.com to see what’s coming.
More importantly, this is happening every two years – so if you have any ideas for events or launches or need a do-able deadline for something you are keen to show people, use this festival. USE IT! You don’t need permission to do this, but if you feel like you need it and need an invitation here it is – you have the Bein Narly approval so  – Yes, come along and do it in another 2 years time, but in the meantime – come along and enjoy yourself.

(Poster for the Herding Cats show below – one part of the ‘Bein Narly’ festival!)

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