Award winner opens art exhibition

SOUTHERN Cross University alumni Josh Howard loves to challenge an audience.

"I like to make stuff where people put their heads inside sculptures," the 38-year-old 3D interactive installation artist said.

Josh Howard was named the inaugural Lismore Regional Gallery Graduate Award winner in November last year at the University's annual visual arts graduating students' exhibition known as TRANSIT.

Thanks to that win, Mr Howard is poised to open his first catalogue exhibition at the Lismore Regional Gallery, entitled "You broke my blueprints?".

"You broke my blueprints?" opens at the gallery, 131 Molesworth Street, this Friday, December 16, at 5.30pm and runs until January 29.

The exhibition features the latest addition to the artist's series, titled Performance Maker Machines, a specially-designed helmet.

"I'm asking people to put the helmet on their head and in 20 seconds do a little performance," Mr Howard said.

The performance would be filmed with the vision projected on an adjacent wall.

The loop would be continuously added to in real time as each participant gave a  performance.

Mr Howard said the only direction participants would be given would be to perform labour.

"I am interested in unpicking the notion of labour and performance, where they cross over, where they are different, and how that relates to alienated and connected states of existence," he said.

"I wanted to explore creating moments of connection and then at the same time moments of utter alienation."

Lismore Regional Gallery director Brett Adlington said he was proud to showcase the work of an emerging, cutting-edge artist like Mr Howard.

"Josh's work reflects on and challenges notions around the exchange of values while providing a space for audience participation," Mr Adlington said.

"As viewers we can actively participate in and contribute to the work as well as being able to enjoy the sculptural spectacle of others participating."

Since graduating from Southern Cross University Mr Howard has travelled to Amsterdam to deliver a paper and exhibit a work at a Praxis conference, and was part of the 2011 Splendid Arts Lab.

Mr Howard said he was excited to be exhibiting at the Lismore Regional Gallery.

"For an artist to have a catalogue exhibition like this is just like a writer getting published. And it's wonderful to be able to show my work in my hometown," he said.

With several years of study now behind him, Mr Howard said his plans for 2012 were simple: "Make work, show work, make work, show work."

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