My studio has been emptied with the opening of my exhibition STILL. Thanks to all who came on the night to celebrate. It’s on for another couple of weeks in Tablelands Artists Cooperative Gallery (t.arts Gallery, Bathurst), so if you missed it you are more than welcome to come and have a look. Here is the essence of my words spoken on the night ...
‘I would like to say a few thanks and indulge just a little too - to share with you some of my thoughts behind this exhibition.
Firstly, thanks to Heather Dunn who is one of the Members of this Gallery (as am I). Thanks for opening this exhibition. You are such an amazing giver. I feel really privileged to be in this venture with you. Thank you.
And with Heather stands another 10 terrific Members past and present of t.arts Gallery. Without this group there would be no exhibitions here. This group (and their better halves too) put in so much behind the scenes time and expertise and energy. Just a few of the things they do include building walls (thanks Greg and Pete – amazing job) and plinths, setting up systems, organise media, hanging exhibitions, create graphic design and labels and all the food. But the big thing is - all of that together gives this Region this rich cultural venue, from the community which helps builds community and also helps lots of local artists. None of these Members get paid for all the time they put in and they all put in 100% and work so well as a team, which is why we are all here 3 and a half years after our beginnings on Russel Street.
So a big thanks to t.arts Gallery Members – Claire, Greg, Heather, Judy, Katrina, Louise, Merilyn, Nancy and Nicole. And our two past Members - thanks Emanda and Margaret.
For this exhibition we have also been so fortunate to have Christine Porter and Henry Bialowas performing. This is only their second performance as a duo together. We are just hearing the tip of the iceberg tonight with these two – thank you so much for all the years you have put in, for being here and just your pure giving.
And with the production of the Catalogue – a big thanks to Corey Tatz the writer. Your writing is beautiful, seamless, a journey in itself. I feel so humbled to have you write for the catalogue. Thank you so much.
And I also just want to mention that we are so fortunate to have a great art supply store here in Bathurst. They go out of their way to help. Thanks Kerry and Ben.
To my friends and family – thanks so much. A big thanks to Mark, and Caitlin, Ty and Bridget. I certainly wouldn’t be in this position without you guys. To give you a sense of the support Mark gives – I resigned from a 20-year career in conservation management just over six months ago to jump off the cliff into an art idea and head to uni too – all with his backing and then I get him to make plinths as well – you are gold, and I’m just crossing my fingers.
So of the works. The drawings and paintings in this exhibition are all stills life or have still life in them – where I have set up objects and lighting in my studio to base my work off. Apart from my red bag and red shoes, the objects that feature – the skulls and dolls are borrowed. So I do need to say a big thanks to the generosity of my children’s Great Grand Mother Elise Burden and also to our local ecologist Ray Mjadwesch. This body of work builds from my still life project from last year whilst studying painting at the Australian National University. Through this project I also spent some time at the National Australian Wildlife Collection – so thanks to the CSIRO staff too and thanks to National Parks and Wildlife Service staff too.
Now I’m happy for you to see and feel and think whatever comes to you when being with my work. But what was I thinking in creating this body of work? Quite a lot really. I don’t think my brain stops very much. I’m thinking about the land and the animals, I’m thinking about our impact, our management and the future. I’m thinking about loss and hope. I’m thinking about our society’s narratives about our Australian experience and our natural world. Of the books that we read to our kids – from May Gibbs Banksia Men to French fairy tales like Charles Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood. I’m thinking about how we have used symbols across the ages in art and in life from ancient to contemporary times. Of the rich Aboriginal art of today and yesterday and of the prehistoric art in the caves in France that date to 40,000 years ago, where a sense of the animals of those times still survive through these amazing artist depictions. I’m looking forward to seeing them one day. I am thinking about artist lineages and of shared human experience and expression. I am thinking about the local bush around my studio and of my walks each day with Nim. And it is here that, I have been taken in by a particular gum tree. These sculptural works in this exhibition are greatly inspired by the new growth leaves of the Blakeley’s Red Gum. They make me think of little balloons – of hope. And I had a little help with these - swim carnival style – thanks Sonia and Loloma and thanks Mark too. And when painting I am thinking about composition and colour and mark making always. I am thinking about how I am depicting these objects that appear in my work and how they can be interpreted – and so I am thinking about you. I’m thinking we are just having a conversation.
So to all of you who are in a conversation with me, and to the givers and makers and supporters – thank you.
This exhibition is very early in my art career – it is just solo exhibition no. 2, and so I am still exponentially learning and finding my language. I hope you get something from this exhibition and this great Artist Run Initiative. Thanks for coming.’
They are such givers and make up an amazing Artist Run Initiative and grass roots community venture.
I feel very privileged to have the terrific support, hours put in and team work of all the Members past and present (and their partners too) at Tablelands Artists Cooperative Gallery (t.arts Gallery), Bathurst. They volunteer so much time and expertise. Together they make plinths and walls (yes there is a new gallery dividing wall!!!!!! – special thanks Greg and Pete), create graphic design and organise labels, media, printing, invites and all the behind the scenes administration, assist in hanging the shows, sit in the gallery and just be terrific people. And then they all bring food on the night too and repeat it all for the next show and the one after!
Thanks Claire, Emanda, Gary, Geoffrey, Gordon, Graham, Greg, Heather, Janine, John, Judy, Katrina, Louise, Margaret, Mark, Merilyn, Mike, Nancy, Nicole, Pete and Richard.
Also a huge thanks to Kerry and Ben of Pigments and Pallets, Bathurst (for all their help in the lead up to this exhibition and my last and all the in between too), Wal of Bathurst Australiana Framing and Micah at Southern Buoy – they have all gone above and beyond.
And because of all of their doings, my STILL exhibition is up and almost ready for the opening this Friday 24 Feb at 6pm. Only a couple of more sleeps and a hive of activity between. You are welcome to come …
There are many gum trees where I walk with Nim and a favourite has to be Eucalyptus blackelyi Blackely’s Red Gum. There's some good technical details about some of our locals including this beauty in the awesome Forest Trees of Australia by Douglas J. Boland Maurice William McDonald.
I love the juvenile leaves - not the ones that come up with the seedlings - they’re good but they come opposite each other. The new growth is what particularly grabs my attention. Sometimes the new growth leaves are even heart shaped but hardy like most eucalypts. They come alternate along the branch and often droop down from the tree. It all just works together and has been the inspiration for many an inclusion in my oil paintings and now my hanging leaf sculptures made from paper mache and wire.
My good family have been putting up with my placements of these leaves all over the house. The real and my interpretations. Here in the kitchen some of the real beauties frame a little Katrina Daly watercolour (another artists from Napoleon Reef http://www.tartsgallery.com/katrina-daly.html), sit under a Ken Stirling work – just a snippet of it here (he’s just up the hill – a Blue Mountains artist http://home.exetel.com.au/kensterling/september_2008_exhibition) and hang out with the little man doll – who put that there?
I have had a long love affair with paper and clay, from my room full of drawings as a child to making the hundredth origami crane with my dad to the regular clay sessions where many a wombat or wallaby was sculpted. More recently it has been me running sessions … from making those large paper pom poms and then origami flowers to the plaster figurative sculptures and echidnas out of clay with all the different school groups. But right now I have been taken over by paper mache. My last workshop with the children at O’Connell Public School at their year 5/6 Art School Camp was all inspired by my walks with Nim each day through the eucalypt woodlands where I live. We made eucalypt leaf and gum nut mobiles out of paper and sticks and fishing line with a little eucalyptus oil in the mix too.
This has now led to my new growth inspired paper sculptures that I am including in my up-coming exhibition. They are of those same juvenile eucalypt leaves that are everywhere on my walks and that come and go with a little light in my oil paintings too. The ones that look almost like little balloons in the bush. They hold such positivity for me but also make me think of fighting for life … when those epicormic sprouts appear after stresses like fires and drought. I couldn’t help myself but make gum nut bowls too – loads of them from clay moulds that I have sculpted. It took me to make about 100 before I got the mix right – well I think it’s almost right. I was searching for some fragility and lightness and maybe a little transience too.
Hot off the press today are the invitations to STILL. You are welcome to come for the opening on Friday 24 February at 6pm in the new venue for t.arts Gallery, Bathurst (in William Street, Bathurst Chase, just up from Bathurst Wholefood Co-op and opposite Coles). I feel really privileged to have Heather Dunn officially open the exhibition and can't wait to hear Christine Porter on vocals and Henry Bialowas on double bass. The exhibition will then run for two weeks and t.arts Gallery is open every day, 10 - 5pm weekdays (except Tuesdays) and 10 - 2pm weekends.