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Tuesday 23 July 2024

Pressing Topics

3 May - 16 June 2024

Pressing Topics

The Ironing Maidens

The Ironing Maidens, Strike, installation view, NorthSite Contemporary Arts, 2023. Photograph courtesy the artists.

Pressing Topics addresses contemporary issues of gender socialisation and equity within the transglobal workforce. The Ironing Maidens have transformed domestic materials and equipment, including irons and ironing boards, into sculptures, installations, and substrates for projection-mapping. These works collectively form an immersive sensory experience, subverting concepts of domestic labour, technology and gender.

The works are largely conceptualised through a glitch-feminist lens. A term coined by Legacy Russell, glitch feminism uses the notion of the digital error to interrupt existing social structures, including the patriarchy and capitalism, to imagine new worlds.

“I am busting to get onto the next work, a new world, the next question… what does a non-binary, de-capitalised, de-colonialised world look and sound like?
- Melania Jack, 2022

Pressing Topics will feature four installations, including an exciting new site-specific work in Umbrella’s Vault space.

Please note: Pressing Topics is presented in Umbrella’s street-level gallery space and also in the downstairs Vault space. The Vault has limited accessibility via a staircase and a step up into the room. Please call Umbrella staff prior to your visit if you would like to discuss your options and arrange a time to access the space via our rear door on Ogden St. 

Friday 3 May 
6pm Exhibitions launch* - speeches from approx. 6:30pm
7pm Performance*
Saturday 4 May
10am Floortalk*
12:30pm Projection Mapping Workshop | $90 - $110

* Free events | Bookings are not required however capacity limits may apply

Start your night at Murky Waters Studio to celebrate the launch of Jo Stacey's Creatures of Compost at 5:30pm before heading to Umbrella's exhibitions launch at 6pm on Friday 3 May. 

The Ironing Maidens is a collaborative partnership between multidisciplinary media artists Patty Preece and Melania Jack. The project has evolved through many incarnations (from live performances to live streams and back) and shifting industry paradigms, resulting in their latest exhibition outcomes at Outer Space in Brisbane, and NorthSite Contemporary Arts in Cairns.

Melania Jack is a queer, regional, multimedia artist working within music, digital art, projection art, projection mapping and performance platforms. Melania’s work with award winning act The Ironing Maidens involves irons and ironing boards turned into electronic instruments and installation pieces. It has toured large festivals such as Woodford Folk Festival, international festivals such as Fusion Germany, Berlin Festival of Performance Art and regional laundromats as site specific performance spaces. They won a John Chataway Innovation Award at Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2019 and 2020. In 2023 they won the Pamela Z Innovation award and Best Installation at New interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) in Mexico City. Conceptually, Melania’s projects employ a glitch feminism lens to explore themes of gender socialisation, equality and labour. Imagery drawn from popular culture and social media is sampled and collaged to explore these themes. Projection is used to create windows into the items (tea towels, irons, ironing boards) so that the unseen labour is revealed.

Patty Preece is a musician, electronic music producer, certified Ableton Live trainer and sound artist who works with hacked domestic objects to critically explore aesthetic and relational hierarchies at the intersection of sound, gender and technology. Preece’s practice spans performance, instrument design, production and, most recently, installation. This Cairns based artist creates performance ecosystems using discarded domestic steam irons, ironing boards, DIY sensors and electronics. Their live performances engage with augmented domestic objects, noise and the relationship of performer, instrument, and context. Preece’s creative practice research explores themes of labour, instrument design, sonic cyberfeminisms and sound art.

COVID Safe Visits

Umbrella asks that visitors adhere to social distancing, visitor logs, and other COVID Safe directives and procedures as directed.

More COVID Information

Open Hours

Tues - Fri: 9am-5pm

Sat - Sun: 9am-1pm

Gallery closed Mondays, public holidays and during exhibition install weeks.

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(07) 4772 7109

408 Flinders Street,
Gurambilbarra (Townsville),
Qld, 4810 Australia

PO Box 2394,
Gurambilbarra (Townsville),
Qld, 4810 Australia

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Acknowledgement of Country

Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts respectfully acknowledges the Wulgurukaba of Gurambilbarra and Yunbenun and the surrounding groups of our region - Bindal, Gugu Badhan, Nywaigi, Warrgamay, Bandjin and Gudjal - as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather, share and celebrate local creative practice. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the first people of Australia. They have never ceded sovereignty and remain strong in their enduring connection to land and Culture.

Umbrella is a Dealer Member of the Indigenous Art Code. This means we are committed to fair and ethical trade with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, and transparency in the promotion and sale of artwork. As a Dealer Member and signatory to the Code we must act fairly, honestly, professionally and in good conscience in all direct or indirect dealings with artists.


Umbrella is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, part of the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy, and by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments. | Umbrella is supported by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation and receives funding from Creative Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund. | Townsville City Council is a funding partner of Umbrella's program.