You Only Live Once at Deakin Downtown Art Gallery

Media release
01 March 2018

Deakin Downtown Art Gallery’s first exhibition for 2018 introduces visitors to YOLO Man, a quirky, irreverent character created by celebrated Australian mosaic artist Pamela Irving.

Young artists and VCE arts students may already be familiar with Irving’s work as it forms part of the Victorian curriculum, but for the rest of us the exhibition is an insight into the artist’s colourful world.

On show until Thursday 29 March, Pamela Irving: YOLO Man and his Apocalyptic Alphabet features a series of mosaics and original ink drawings, some of which are on display in Australia for the first time.

Irving, who works out of her studio and gallery in Bentleigh, explained that YOLO Man played on the popular social media phrase ‘You Only Live Once’ and first appeared in her mosaic murals at St Kilda’s Luna Park.

“He is essentially a large-headed figure with legs but no body, like the big characters that cavort happily around the Luna Palace Building,” Ms Irving said.

“YOLO Man is a mischievous, happy and irreverent character that now constantly appears in my work. He is a much-loved character of mine and a great edict to live by.”

The exhibition presents YOLO Man as a series of letters in the alphabet – a format that allowed Ms Irving to explore YOLO Man’s personality.

“In my series of YOLO letters, YOLO Man enthusiastically depicts figures I have appropriated from both well-known and obscure mosaics, drawings and paintings about the apocalypse created by various artists throughout history,” Ms Irving said.

“My use of the term, ‘apocalypse’ is used to mean ‘a revelation’ or ‘disclosure’ of knowledge, not as an ‘end of the world’ scenario.”

Deakin University’s Art Collection and Galleries Manager Leanne Willis said the artworks were originally drawn in 2015 and first shown at the artist’s first solo exhibition in America, at the Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics in Chicago.

“It was called ‘YOLO Man and his Apocalyptic Alphabet: The Chicago Suite’ and contained 26 black and white giclée prints made from the original drawings and mosaic works interpreting the drawings,” Ms Willis said.

“It is these original drawings and mosaic works which make up our exhibition and we are proud to be the first gallery in Australia to show these incredible artworks.”

Pamela Irving: YOLO Man and his Apocalyptic Alphabet at Deakin Downtown Art Gallery
Dates: Monday 12 February to Thursday 29 March
Gallery hours: 9am to 5pm
Location: Deakin Downtown Art Gallery, Level 12, Tower 2, Collins Square, 727 Collins Street, Docklands
Cost: Free entry

Artist Talk: Pamela Irving
Pamela Irving will host a special talk about the making of the YOLO Man and his Apocalyptic Alphabet exhibition. The artist will discuss her studio practise, including process work, appropriation, sustainability and the use of recycled materials. This presentation is suitable for VCE students and teachers as well as the general public.
Date: Wednesday 28 March
Time: 2 to 3.30pm
Location: Deakin Downtown Art Gallery, Level 12, Tower 2, Collins Square, 727 Collins Street, Docklands
Cost: Free but registration essential as numbers are very limited, RSVP the Deakin University Art Gallery to secure your place

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