• Raquel Ormella, Artists as Cartoonists, or Extended Black and White

    25 June to 23 July 2016

Raquel Ormella, Artists as Cartoonists, or Extended Black and White

25 June to 23 July 2016
Artists as Cartoonists, or Extended Black & White
Raquel Ormella
Curated by Jasmin Stephens

Saturday 25 June, 3pm
Opening by the “real” Vanessa Berry, writer and artist, author of the Sydney exploration blog, Mirror Sydney
“Text for Raquel” by Vanessa Berry, opening speech 25 June 2016 > Download as pdf

Saturday 23 July, 2pm-3pm
A Joke in the Archive
What happens when we do art history through the form of a graphic novel?
Closing Discussion
Raquel Ormella and Jasmin Stephens are joined by Benjamin Forster, Anneke Jaspers and Anna Munster to consider how ideas of evidence and speculation are present in the exhibition’s narrative; what the exhibition reveals about the nature of data and archives; and how conventions of biography and autobiography function in relation to art history and archives.

Dr Anna Munster is an artist and academic at UNSW Art and Design, Anneke Jaspers is Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Benjamin Foster is an artist and a librarian.

Image top: Raquel Ormella, from Mysterious Vanessa (detail), 2016. Ink and digital drawing. Courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane


Raquel Ormella, The Mysterious Vanessa – CMYK (a page from ‘Artists as Cartoonists, or Extended Black and White’), 2016. Digital print. Courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane

About the exhibition

This exhibition presents two new works by Raquel Ormella. Pages from the graphic novel, Joan Kerr and the Mysterious Vanessa, are displayed in the gallery and there is a group of election posters, What would Joan do?, in the front window of Cross Arts.

Inspired by the writings of art historian Joan Kerr, Raquel’s graphic novel explores how artists represent artists in art history. In the comic, Joan is joined by Raquel, artists Vanessa Berry and Elizabeth Pulie, curator Jasmin Stephens, and 1960s cartoonist and illustrator Mollie Horseman. Elizabeth’s magazine, Lives of the Artists, (2002-2005) also features.

To find out more read on:

Artists as Cartoonists, or Extended Black & White takes as its starting point a series of entries by art historian Joan Kerr in the national database, the DAAO (Design and Art Australia Online), and in the exhibition catalogue, Artists and Cartoonists in Black and White: The Most Public Art (1999).

The DAAO entry from 1996 links a ‘Sydney zine cartoonist’ “Vanessa” to a 1960s cartoonist and illustrator with the same nom de plume. The earlier “Vanessa” is listed online as Mollie Horseman but intriguingly is described in the catalogue as ‘unknown’. Found by Raquel while using the DAAO as a teaching resource, this discrepancy has become a question that she tries to answer and restate through the form of a graphic novel.

Joan Kerr (1938-2004) wrote on many aspects of Australian art, architecture and culture. As editor of two biographical dictionaries, the Dictionary of Australian Artists, Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870 (1992) and Heritage: The National Women’s Art Book (1995), her research along with the scholarship of Dr Vivien Johnson, provided the impetus for the establishment of the DAAO. Less well known is her championing of cartoons as works of art which she regarded as exemplifying feminist critique in their form and content.

In this exhibition Ormella reflects on the development of her political consciousness as she revisits sites such as the Fine Arts Department at Sydney University, and recent zine culture. By conversing with her peers and by returning to Kerr’s original entries, Ormella is positing a shared history from which we are able to consider the role of data and archives in shaping how we apprehend art and culture in general.

Raquel Ormella, What would Joan do?, 2016.
Four election posters, unlimited edition.


Artists as Cartoonists, or Extended Black and White is presented as part of Future Feminist Archive in association with Contemporary Art and Feminism, an independent research platform with links to Sydney College of the Arts; the School of Literature, Art and Media; and the Power Institute; The University of Sydney, Sydney.

Olivia Bolton, Eric Riddler, the DAAO (Design and Art Australia Online) UNSW Australia, Artspace and the Australian National University are warmly acknowledged

Raquel Ormella is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane

This project has been supported by the NSW Government through Arts NSW