Ashley FrostMosman - Through the Bush
6 February - 10 March 2018
A return to a familiar place yields rich results in light and movement for ASHLEY FROST.
From autumn through to early spring this year ASHLEY FROST spent time on Mosman shore reflecting and responding to the beauty of the iconic view that has drawn many painters to its surrounds including Arthur Streeton. In this series FROST references Streeton’s panoramic format to explore the transition of light across the horizontal plane.
FROST attended school close by to the Mosman waterfront at Milsons Point. He remembers compulsively sketching the Opera House during his Latin classes, and at 15 travelled on the Mosman Bay ferry to his first job in Sydney’s CBD. Since then he has been painting Sydney Harbour continuously throughout his career.
During his time FROST created a number of studies including around the Mosman artist camps of Sirus Cove. From his time there he writes, “The wonderfully preserved bush around the camps takes on an almost mystical quality in the late afternoon light. The low sunlight of a winter afternoon, while fleeting, can illuminate large sections of the bush, colouring swathes of trees, forest floor and rocks.”
This focused attention to the movement of light at dusk and dawn captures the signature Australian light at its most ephemeral. The movement of light reflected between the sky and the sea is almost blurred at these in-between hours. From the shore to the sea, FROST pushes his practice to play between vistas of the harbour, and his up close, encounters with the chaotic movement of the bush and scrub. There is an excitement to the bush studies, created in situ, the movement of light, line and tone exude an intensity of the artist’s encounter.
Merran Esson, Judy Holding & Denese OatesShades of Green and Blue
13 March - 14 April 2018
Artists MERRAN ESSON, JUDY HOLDING and DENESE OATES draw inspiration from the palette of nature, distilling the human experience of the land to create works that form a tribute to its many shades.
MERRAN ESSON’s investigation into ceramic vessels began with the container not just as a practical device but also as a structure. Drawing from her rural upbringing on the land, ESSON explores the vessel in relation to man-made catchments such as tanks and dams, as well as naturally occurring catchments such as basin shaped areas and drainage networks in nature. Alongside her works that draw reference to tanks and corrugated iron, ESSON’s latest elegant, bulbous forms defy notions of form and weight, and in their perforated organic forms reject the implied function of vessels.
Inspired by her time in the bush JUDY HOLDING celebrates Australian Indigenous cultures and their intrinsic connection to the land. Employing specific cultural symbols – including the Australian Eucalypt and native birds such as the “cocky” – HOLDING’s practice comments upon the complex history of settler and Indigenous cultures in Australia, and their contrasting relationships with the land. Her sculptures contrast abstract modern textures and shapes with natural forms. Combining natural forms with bold injections of colour - cool purples, bold orange tones and cobalt blue – HOLDING’s playful works spark conversations about Australia’s indeterminate ecological future.
Working with green and copper hues, DENESE OATES transforms ordinary copper wire into inspired and carefully crafted natural forms that are full of undulating movement and rhythmic lines. From her copper wall sculptures that take the form of painterly trees and vines, to her ‘topiary sculptures’ that train verdigris copper vines into boulders and rotund forms, OATES’ sculptures remind us of nature’s remarkable capacity to regenerate, proliferate and multiply.
In their ceramics, sculptures and wall pieces ESSON, HOLDING AND OATES branch out, teasing the imagination to extend our human understanding of the natural world and our relationship to it.
17 April - 19 May 2018
This year marks 50 years since The Field 1968, an exhibition in which JANET DAWSON, a leading abstract and figurative painter, was one of only three female artists selected to take part. And as the National Gallery marks this milestone with The Field Revisited it seems fitting to survey the resonate work of DAWSON.
Heralding the survey, Shadows no.2 (1974) is hard to resist. It is magnetic in the way that it pulses with DAWSON’s adept colour play, creating depth and optical movement.
The significant shifts of focus and examination in the subject matter of DAWSON’s work over the last forty-six years parallel her life in the bush. Shadow Play no.2 was created the same year as her initial move from the city to ‘Scribble Rock’ near Binalong in 1974. Living within nature, as Deborah Edward’s outlines, scintillated DAWSON’s vision and through this spatial ambiguity embraced more fertile metaphoric ground.[i] For DAWSON her expansive colour paintings mapped her responses to the bush – such as the spiralling bark in opposition to the form of the gums – noting that what she perceived in nature reinforced the ways in which she had explored oppositional relationships of form, space, and light.
Moving in leaps and bounds we reach DAWSON’s work from the nineties and what occupies her eye in the present. Her smaller still life and landscapes continue her exploration of the processes of perception. Created after DAWSON moved to a small cottage in nearby Binalong, her pastel works explored the shift in scale and proportion of the trees. This ongoing desire to explore and expose the resonance of a place emerges in her most recent works of the coastal landscape and skies in Southern Victoria where she now lives.
Whether figurative or abstract, DAWSON’s focus is to enquire and deconstruct the world around her. What was once a cabbage or an eggshell is evaluated by DAWSON and reconstructed. Cut-half Green Cabbage with Leaves I showcases a luminous cabbage on its paper stage. Boldly lit up from the swirling darkness it is supported by a chorus of dancing lines that resonate with the surrounding energy as perceived by DAWSON. Returned to over a period of seven years, in her work DAWSON moves cyclically, seemingly unfazed by the passing of time.
This examination of the structures of the visual world, the real and unreal connects DAWSON’s abstract and figurative work. As the artist states, “some artists have a courageous acceptance of how things look and accept the retinal image. I can’t do that – I have to express what I know.”
[i] Deborah Edwards, “Janet Dawson: On Curiosity, Ambiguity and Attachment”, Janet Dawson Survey 1953 - 2006, 38.
Viola DominelloRecent Works
22 May - 9 June 2018
22 May – 9 June 2018
Opening Saturday 26 May, 3 - 5 pm
Attention to the shifting and shimmering movement of Australian light creates works of lyrical abstraction in VIOLA DOMINELLO’s recent paintings of Sydney’s iconic shorelines.
Throughout her practice DOMINELLO has explored coastal landscapes ranging from the soft Italian light and landscape of Venice to the ragged and dry coastline of Sydney. What remains consistent between these different landscapes is her exploration of light. In her most recent works of Mosman’s shoreline and scenes of the Hawkesbury, DOMINELLO’s palette exudes the heat of the changing Australian light.
In her Mosman works DOMINELLO specifically responded to the epic history of Australian landscape painting. Throughout 2016 and 2017 she was invited to explore and respond to the artists’ camps along Mosman’s foreshore, as part of the Bush to Bay exhibition at Mosman Art Gallery. Framed by Tom Roberts’ Mosman’s Bay 1894, and the landscapes of Arthur Streeton and Sydney Long, DOMINELLO’s works speak of the immediacy of her encounter, but also the legacy of works that came before.
Of the challenges of responding to the unique Australian coastlines she writes, “I have grappled with the contradictions of the primal quality of the bush coastline in particular the open space of the harbour and the enclosed world of the bush. The massive sandstone boulders, the textured tree trunks with their scraggy, spiky foliage rising out of watery grounds around Sirius Cove form a shimmering, reflective contrast to the liquidity of the water.”
The dance of light between the bush and water and their contrasting textures takes centre stage in DOMINELLO’s works. In her play with tone and colour light moves seamlessly between water and land, with the reflections off the water lighting up the landscape. Whether it is in the paintings of Mosman’s foreshore, or scenes from around the Hawkesbury where she resides, DOMINELLO deftly captures the flux and illumination of light, capturing unique moments in these places of tidal change.
In 2005 Viola Dominello received her Master of Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. Prior to this she studied at the University of Foreigners Siena (Italy), Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia (Italy), New York University (USA), Julian Ashton School of Art, Hornsby Technical College and the City Art Institute. Dominello was awarded a Borsa di Studio Scholarship from the Italian government on two occasions (1999 & 2003) and she also received an Assistant Fellowship from Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia, Italy (2000). Dominello received the Wynne Trustees Watercolour Prize in 2010, 2012 and 2015. Dominello's work is represented in many collections.