Summer 2021Yvonne Boag, Annabel Butler, Janet Dawson, Viola Dominello, Merran Esson, Rachel Fairfax, Ashley Frost & Steve Lopes
2 February - 6 March 2021
We are kicking off 2021 with a fresh and summery exhibition with recent works by several of our artists. Each artist has responded to this seasonal theme by evoking a sense of place and time.
YVONNE BOAG’s work becomes a response to new surroundings. The results are semi-abstract, strong graphic forms that are simultaneously simple and complex. There is a vivid and immediate quality to her works. Bold gouache is used to capture those visceral encounters with new places and foreign vistas. The result is a patchwork of joyous and vibrant pops of colour in each work; radiating hot with energy and a sense of hyper-stimulation, as if attempting to drink in the sites all at once. ANNABEL BUTLER’s painterly landscape vignettes evoke the dry heat and strong light of and Australian summer. Painting en plein air, BUTLER has worked on the small 9x5 format in the tradition of the Heidelberg School. She has worked in these smaller formats partly out of necessity. While in between studio spaces and on the road, BUTLER works from a makeshift studio in the back of her car; taking opportunities to paint her surroundings en plein air in this small, portable format. This grouping of small works depicts Bondi Beach and Pavilion, showing scenes both before and after the beach was closed during recent Covid restrictions.
JANET DAWSON’s ongoing desire to explore and expose the resonance of a place emerges through her pastel drawings and watercolours of, often, rural Australian landscapes and the everyday. This series of time-based drawings of cloud works made at Scribble Rock near Binalong where she used to live. VIOLA DOMINELLO finds inspiration near her home in and around the Hawkesbury and the hinterlands. Working en plein air she captures and instant of changing light and tone. Through painterly gestures DOMINELLO’s practice is imbued with a sensitivity that reveals moments of intricate and transient beauty of the landscape.
Drawing from her rural upbringing on the land, MERRAN 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. Travelling through the Monaro plains of NSW in Autumn, ESSON was inspired by the change of colours in the European trees planted in the plains. The resulting works reflect the orange, green and gold tones of the tree change in season. The roundness of ESSON’s sculptures is reminiscent of the geometric simplification of landscapes by European Impressionists such as Paul Cézanne.
RACHEL FAIRFAX depicts scenes from the coastline of Coogee that are quintessentially Australian. The soft washes speak of a lightness of hand, evoking a painterly stillness in the works that immerse you in their reflection. Painting at the turning points of the day ASHLEY FROST’s works capture the sublime transition of early morning or evening dusk light. Fluid in form and composition, His paintings engage otherworldly evocations of light through a vivid and viscous palette. This mixed media work was made during recent residencies at Fowlers Gap, near Broken Hill. Also painting en plein air, STEVE LOPES offers up a brief summer oasis in his latest coastal studies. His energetic paintings of the vast beach at low tide, seaside cliffs and rocky plains, and the native pandanus tree along the coastline radiate with the heat of the day and the promise of cool relief from the sea. These works were painted along the New Zealand coastline during LOPES’ travels there in 2018.
Nicolette Eisdell: a decade surveyNicolette Eisdell
9 March - 27 March
Nicolette Eisdell trained at the iconic Julian Ashton Art School at the age of seventeen. With a painterly style and a focus on tonality and formal painting subjects, she creates moody imagery. The paintings on view are small, intimate glimpses into a selection of her portraits, interiors and landscapes, painted within the last decade.
Sans SouciSteve Lopes
30 March - 1 May
The landscapes and figures that populate STEVE LOPES’ works are often laden with an evocative psychological tension. His paintings do not shy away from uneasy emotional states and the vulnerability of humanity subject to a world of worries and the discomfort of trying circumstances. This narrative appeal of LOPES’ work is particularly pertinent to current tumultuous times. However, LOPES steers the tone of this recent body of work into a different frame of mind. San Souci – which in French mean no worries or free of care – offers up a set of intriguing paintings and drawings with collage in which his subjects appear carefree and oblivious to any woes of the world.
The subjects of LOPES’ work is rendered compelling and mysterious, skirting the boundaries of imagined and real. Each figure within these paintings appear unique with recognisable characteristics – while also enveloped in anonymity and a dreamlike quality. The people look relaxed and are solitary; somewhat introspective, calm and contemplative. Some share a quiet glance with the viewer that is gentle and knowing. They seem oblivious to the worries of the world around them and untethered to their surroundings – but perhaps there are not-so-obvious narratives at play. Some of the figures in these paintings appear in sharper focus as the world around them dissolves into a flurry of impressionistic brush strokes, free forms and colours. These people are both placed and displaced, floating amidst the discordant disarray of their surroundings. These incongruous qualities all at once impart a sense uncertainty, ease and peace. There is a transporting quality to LOPES’ paintings. They are poetic in their unearthly and unbound qualities, yet they are not particularly romanticised. There is often a subtle, understated or non-descript quality to the figures and their context. Some exist amongst weathered debris and within the terrain of a harsh, wild, dry grass field or a cluttered and derelict urban scene or humble suburban setting. Others are transported to places with captivating vistas and skies with a hint of the sublime.
LOPES’ landscapes stimulate the viewers curiosity in the small glimpses of potential narratives playing out. The landscapes reflect each figures’ inner mood and captures an emotional state. It allows for speculation on the unfolding narrative. In the landscapes absent of figures the viewers take on the perspective of the subjects captured in other works; we see through their eyes. This mantra of San Souci – or no worries – is echoed through the material treatment of LOPES’ work. Collaged elements of the works on paper settle into place with ease. STEVE LOPES welcomes the expression of no worries in this exhibition through his curious and contemplative works.
Dark MomentsTanya Chaitow, Di Holdsworth, Lachlan Warner
4 May - 29 May
In Dark Moments, TANYA CHAITOW, DI HOLDSWORTH, and LACHLAN WARNER delve into the darker sides of life and keenly observe how our encounters with these moments can be both alluring, and even illuminating, in their own unique and peculiar ways.
Through the disarming quality of her whimsical and naïve style of painting, TANYA CHAITOW responds to recent events within the Australian context of catastrophic bushfires and isolation amidst a global pandemic. Striving to combat feelings of despondency regarding our collective circumstances and fear for the future, CHAITOW turns to hope in her engagements through the vibrancy of renewal, resilience and regrowth of the Australian bush. Her themes and depictions of familial relationships are explored through the reinterpretation of portraits and genre paintings by the old masters, including Goya and Gainsborough. This branch of exploration sees CHAITOW transforming the works of old masters through the use of silhouettes and collage, referenced from native flora printed commercial wrapping paper against a charred black background. The old master figures exist void of their original domestic settings and the often-dark interiors. Instead, they stand in stark contrast to a bright, open space; free to flourish and branch out into burst of foliage in their native floral incarnations. CHAITOW samples the compositions of the figures using silhouettes to highlight and exaggerate the tension and cohesion of figures; whether they are in isolation and distanced or tightly huddled as one amorphous mass; bound tightly together like a lush bunch of native flora. There is a haunting darkness to these figures, but one that is overwhelmed with the vibrancy of colour through the native floral motifs that embellish them. CHAITOW evokes the importance of natural beauty and colour on the human spirit, so vital in such difficult times.
DI HOLDSWORTH’s mechanical assemblages are characteristically imbued with her own eccentric brand of humour that delights in darkness. Each of her assemblages in this exhibition refer to a variety of contemporary world issues, such as, a reliance on fossil fuels; the unintended effects of pesticides on crucial pollinating insect species; the deeds of a psychopath; unrequited love; grim gender stereotypes of the sixties; and the solipsistic selfie-focused world we live in. The characters in her assemblages are constructed with vintage toys and mechanical movements that coyly and, teasingly, examine this array of uneasy subjects. Alongside visual narratives that play out in these kinetic sculptural works, the accompanying music box mechanisms carries a pace and memory that is both nostalgic and haunting. The dark themes in each of HOLDSWORTH’s works is underscored with playfulness and irony. In this way, the artist toys with alternative modes of engaging with the darker aspects of life.
The principal ideas of Buddhism teach that suffering is manifested through misunderstanding the reality of impermanence: that death is a part of life. LACHLAN WARNER draws on his Buddhism within his art practice to demonstrate how the darkness and brightness of existence are one, and how acceptance of these two aspects can allow us to live and love more fully. The catalyst for WARNER’s current ceramic practice occurred over a decade ago while conducting art and design tours of Rookwood Cemetery, and noticing the heavy clay content of the soil. When new graves were dug, the cemetery kindly allowed him access to soil that was excavated. WARNER’s fascination with both the clay material, and its link to impermanence, has informed a series of ceramics. The series of ceramics in this exhibition are LACHLAN WARNER’s Trangie Cups. These vessels are worked up from the clay that is dug up to make the graves at Trangie Cemetery, in western NSW, where several generations of his family are buried. Each cup is made from grave clay, hand processed then hand shaped into a drinking vessel. There is a delightfully crude, and earthy, quality to WARNER’s Trangie cups. The texture of exposed clay in these pinch pot forms – mottled with fingerprints and nail indentations – is rough and raw, yet also humble and tender. The viscous deep, green-tinged, black glaze poured around the rims of these small vessels appear to drip down the sides, as if each one is overflowing with a primordial ooze. Intermittent small flecks of white on the surface of this glistening black glaze appear to spread and delicately form patterns; akin to the scaly-leafed lichens that creep along gravestones. These are drinking vessels to be used: cups from which to nourish oneself and meditate on the intwined balance of life and death. LACHLAN WARNER wishes to pay particular acknowledgement to both Merran Esson and Julie Bartholomew for inspiring, encouraging and nurturing the development of this ceramic practice.
Sometimes it is necessary to broach these dark moments in order to reveal and appreciate the lighter aspects of life. But there is something innately enrapturing about those darker aspects of life and the imagination that sees us drawn to the shadows, in the same way a moth is compelled towards the light. Each artist here has created, conjured and exhumed imagery and forms that appeal to their own personal reckonings with dark moments.