The current exciting exhibition at Traffic Jam Galleries highlights two artists : works by J VALENZUELA DIDI entitled The Quiet Life, and pieces by SAM HOPKINS .


J Valenzuela Didi was born in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia in 1977. The self-taught Brisbane artist draws on the emergence of patterns and geometric shapes to explore common scenes and signposts of modern life. In his paintings, familiar urban landscapes become haunting and alien reminders of the beauty and character of the present-day. He says ‘ In my artworks I use urban spaces and commonplace objects to explore the transience of life. In the works I want to show the glorious splendour in everyday life and the melancholy that accompanies the awareness of mortality. I have a folder that I fill with interesting pictures of everyday moments. As I’ve returned to this file over the years, I’ve found that the images have evolved over time. I have altered and displaced the figures in these pictures to echo a transformation’  

Works in his current display are : 

Nina By The Shore – In this work Nina sits, quietly contemplative. She is barefoot, sunhat off, sitting on wonderfully textured rocks, gazing at the pebbled shore. Windswept trees are behind her and we can see a faraway, almost invisible long pier.  The eye is drawn by the composition to the left hand side of the painting, and the verticality is emphasised. 

Five Sisters of the Maritime – we can see only three and a bit though! The Sisters appear to be having much fun – they are fishing at night , under a starry sky. They wear full ‘traditional’ habits, dark blue with a white wimple.

Me and My Sister depicts two people standing knee high in water. Huge rocks surround the pool. The eye travels through the forest (the trees are open) and we can see rocky steps leading to  a cave. There is also a section of grass. It is as if they are going on a quest .

In Dream of Distant Lands, Nina is shown asleep in a deck chair in the garden. It is rather Geoffrey Smart in style. There is a huge, high green hedge with its sharp geometric lines and also we see the top of the next door’s clothesline.  Nina might be physically trapped (because of Covid?) but her mind is free.

Splitting at the Seams is mostly coloured in blues and greys but a beautiful woman in an elegant red dress and black pumps is sitting in a chair examining the torn hem and underlayer of her dress prior to repair. 


Hallowed Ground has oomph and a mysterious energetic presence, depicting three women in black rollerblading gear (one wearing fishnet tights!) pausing in the middle of a game (or perhaps after?) to look at the mountain and starry sky. Why is one of the women sucking her finger?


Undertow is again very Geoffrey Smart like in style, with it strong interlocking lines of composition .We see the same hills, trees and rocks as in the other paintings – albeit from a slightly different viewpoint- but the painting is dominated by a major road with a concrete barrier wall, and a barefoot person in a black wetsuit with an orange surfboard walking on the road..(Are they Indigenous?) 

In Cactus Tree Motel,  Nina – obviously bored  – is sitting in a chair wearing the red and white dress in an anonymous motel room. Outside all we can see is grey. We see the interior of the room with heavy drapes and a tall standing lamp emphasising the verticality.

The Road Home – a tropical paradise where we see three people heading on a road towards the now familiar trees, forest and mountain. They all have their backs to us. 

The Walls of Olympus is constructed of very strong diagonal lines and stripes..At the bottom of the work three people are enthusiastically, dynamically involved in dashing around (is it Olympic sports?) Are the divisions, change rooms?

We then see some  ‘studies’ for various works and we can see how Didi rethought and changed them, for example  no caravans in  Me and My Sister.Also included is an exquisite delicate ink drawing preparatory for Splitting At the Seams – where shadows are important .


Sam Hopkins ‘Selected Works’ exhibition features a variety of mediums from 316 marine grade stainless steel, Corten steel, aluminium and timbers across wall-mounted, plinth based, suspended and free-standing pieces. Hopkins is a sculptor based in Western Australia predominantly working with stainless steel, various metals and wood. Sam has made the finals of numerous notable awards and prizes Hopkin’s work is imbued with his love for the natural world taking commonplace materials and teasing out shapes and narratives, peeling back layers to reveal hidden meanings and perspectives. His sculptures involve a process that requires both heavy machinery and careful handwork merging man and machine. Working alongside and mentored by senior sculptor Johannes Pannekoek has enabled Hopkins to develop his own works and on an even grander scale.

Major prize exhibitions include Sculpture By the Sea Bondi & Cottesloe, Sculpture for Clyde and Sculpture at Bathers. Hopkins is currently working on Public Art Commissions for the City of South Perth and the City of Melville, his works are in Private and Public Collections throughout Australia including Brookfield Properties – South 32 Skyscraper, Perth WA and the Hale School, Wembley Downs WA.

For this exhibition we see some marvellous sculptures including;

Interdependence  with its strong, curved, interlocking halves. 

Sam Hopkins ‘Interdependance’

Coalescence (a finalist in Sculpture by the Sea 20201) is a stunning, eye-catching ,looping, swooping steel sculpture.

Many layered Ember Habitation, made of Jarah timber, has curved black burnt sections against the traditional brown wood and is displayed on a plinth. Is it a torso of a person and an acknowledgement of Country ?

Next come the Anti-Selfie Series nos. 1-6 of marine grade stainless steel. They are like diamonds but in greys and blues, catching a fractured reflection.

Leave No Trace is made of steel, polyurethane clear and graphite. It is a balancing act of semi-spherical objects that in some ways look like deflating pillows, with a disc on top. 

Sam Hopkins ‘Leave No Trace’

With Resilience, constructed of Marri timber and stainless steel, one notices the texture of the wood, over which oozes steel as if the wood was burnt, and a plant trying to break through and regenerate

In the Midst of Chaos is made of stainless steel wire and an aluminium mounting bracket with an in built rotation motor. It is explosively geometric, with tempestuous lines like a throw of the I-Ching. If one looks closely one can make out a birdlike shape in the middle.

Engulf, created of stainless steel, features what looks like a burnt person (?)  lying face down on a silver cushion, caught up in last year’s bushfires? engulfed by the stresses of the world? or the aftermath of Pompeii?

The current exhibition by J J Valenzuela Didi and Sam Hopkins at Traffic Jam Galleries is online until 12 October 2021.

Featured image : Exterior view of Traffic Jam Galleries in Neutral Bay.