Exhibitions by year: 2017

Rae Bolotin, Annabel Butler, Tanya Chaitow, Janet Dawson, Viola Dominello, Merran Esson, Rachel Fairfax, Ashley Frost, Rod Holdaway, Judy Holding, Di Holdsworth, Steve Lopes, Ian Marr, Denese Oates, Liz Shreeve & Trevor Weekes

A Stella(r) Renaissance
17 June - 15 July 2017

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Stella(r) - from late Latin stellaris, from Latin stella - star. Firstly, referring to the quality line up of star performers in the Gallery.

Renaissance - from French renaissance - re- back, again + naissance birth (from Latin nascentia, from nasci - be born).

Good things come to those that wait, and A Stella Renaissance throws open the new gallery doors to present work from each artist in a group show with RAE BOLOTIN, ANNABEL BUTLER, TANYA CHAITOW, JANET DAWSON, VIOLA DOMINELLO, MERRAN ESSON, RACHEL FAIRFAX, ASHLEY FROST, ROD HOLDAWAY, JUDY HOLDING, DI HOLDSWORTH, STEVE LOPES, IAN MARR, DENESE OATES, LIZ SHREEVE AND TREVOR WEEKES.

It has been an exceptional year for our artists. Travelling internationally, STEVE LOPES and IAN MARR have walked and responded to the histories of the Western Front in France; ASHLEY FROST explored the scenes of Tokyo; and VIOLA DOMINELLO returned from Europe - a constant source of inspiration.

Immersed in the landscape, ceramics by MERRAN ESSON and sculpture by DENESE OATES have been framed by the mountainous surrounds at Scenic World; JANET DAWSON has been depicting views of the landscape around her home in Victoria; and LIZ SHREEVE tested the limits of her paper sculpture in the natural environment - which exceeded all expectations. Bringing nature under the microscope TREVOR WEEKES presents a sensitive watercolour of a Rosella; JUDY HOLDING paints silhouettes in the landscape; and RAE BOLOTIN returns with her dynamic and fluid apple core sculpture.

Engaging with the social geography of the city, ANNABEL BUTLER reveals patterns of small minutiae in the urban landscape, whilst ROD HOLDAWAY reflects upon the human subject within the urban jungle. In the hustle and bustle of the city, RACHEL FAIRFAX draws upon the tricycle as a reminder of the simple pleasures of young life. Playing with the everyday and the eccentricities of cultural folklore and traditions, DI HOLDSWORTH presents an assemblage that bucks the Greek myth around, and TANYA CHAITOW moonlights with her old friend Ai Weiwei.

Rich varied and full of energy, A Stella Renaissance is an exciting showcase of the now, and a taste from each artist of what is to come.

Ashley Frost

Chasing the Light
1 August - 26 August

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ASHLEY FROST paints at the turning point of each day - capturing the sublime transition of early morning or late evening light. His coastal vistas and urban streetscapes, painted en plein air, are ephemeral observations of the natural world.

In Chasing the Light, FROST shares his vision of the play of light across various natural and urban landscapes as he has travelled across the world. As an avid globetrotter he has painted from Tokyo and Hong Kong to Soho and upstate New York, right down to Antarctica, and also locally in Sydney and along the South Coast of New South Wales. Fluid in form and composition, FROST's paintings engage with otherworldly evocations of light. Often building up thick, viscous layers of paint with a vibrant spectrum of colour that convey the cyclical pulse of the physical world - from the motion of the bustling streets and the long shadow cast by urban high rise, to changing coastal tides between day and night.

Born in Sydney, ASHLEY FROST studied at the National Art School and did his PhD in Visual Arts at the University of Wollongong. FROST has had regular solo exhibitions in Australia, New York and Hong Kong since 1991 and he has shown in numerous group exhibitions around Australia. In 2003 he won the Kings School Acquisitive Art Award as well as receiving an Australian Post- Graduate Award Scholarship. In 2004 FROST received an artist-in-residence aboard the MV Orlova, which sailed to Antarctica. FROST has also received numerous grants from the Ministry for the Arts and has worked on many community arts projects, including Warilla Federation Local History Public Art Project and Heritage Walk Shellharbour. He was a finalist in the Waverly Art Prize in 2012 and The NSW Plein Air exhibition at Parliament House in 2013 and 2014. In 2016 he was an artist-in-residence at Stone Vineyard near Austin, Texas. ASHLEY FROST is a finalist in the Archibald Prize 2017, with his portrait of esteemed artist and Archibald alumni, Janet Dawson.

Deirdre Bean, Rod Holdaway, Steve Lopes & Ian Marr

Europe is always a good idea
29 August - 7 October

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For our artists STEVE LOPES, IAN MARR, ROD HOLDAWAY and DEIRDRE BEAN Europe has held a dominant focus in each of their practices this year. And the result is as successful and rich as expected.

With a deft hand STEVE LOPES responds emotively to his time spent travelling in Europe. Loose and free brushwork blurs the line between realism and abstraction in his poignant en plein air works. Travelling through multiple countries, variations of colour palette and subject change the mood subtly, deepening our experience of the European landscape.

Working with watercolour DEIRDRE BEAN distils her experience into memory laden still lifes. Delicately composed and carefully researched, she creates unlikely, yet considered pairings of symbolic objects that evoke poetic narratives from her travels along the Western Front.

IAN MARR'S colour palette seems very much at home in the European landscape. Working with golden hues, deep blues and greens he creates works of tonal graduations of oil upon copper. What strikes true is his eye for the changing light the landscape, captured with hints of copper glinting through.

Situating himself in France as his place of inspiration, ROD HOLDAWAY embraced the energy and heat of a Parisian summer. Working en plein air with pastel on paper, as well as pen on ipad drawings he challenged himself to respond to such an iconic city of structures. Filled with light and movement there is a rawness that is as fresh as the artist's first encounter with them.

Re-Creation - Di Holdsworth, 'Honeymoon at the Skway Hotel', detail

Annabel Butler, Di Holdsworth & Liz Shreeve

10 October - 4 November 2017

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The process of making is inherent in the creation of each of ANNABEL BUTLER, DI HOLDSWORTH & LIZ SHREEVE's diverse practices. Varying in form and content each artist engages with the surface of the object, working physically into it and responding intuitively. Their works reveal hints of their construction, drawing the viewer into consider the play between the artist and the medium in the creation of the work.

Creating abstract landscapes, ANNABEL BUTLER views her paintings as constructions of a place. BUTLER created her first construction in 1998 when she was at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London on a travelling scholarship - greatly influenced by Cezanne's 'Bathers' in the National Gallery. In making her constructions she plays with depth and space, the geometric clean lines of the shapes conflicting with the painterly brushstrokes as they extend the picture far outside its physical borders.

In her latest series, BUTLER explores the changing light along the coast. First working en plein air she then returns to the studio to chop up the paintings and reassembles them to create abstract constructions of the coastline. Methodology is integral to her process - she only works with what is available to her. As a result each work in the series share memories and characteristics of a place - slivers of familiarity to catch the viewer's attention. The result is a cohesive series, with the different constructions linked by tone, light and place.

LIZ SHREEVE also works to set a methodology, responding to the strict geometry of the grid that in its constraints creates a structure where the possibilities are endless. Focussing upon light SHREEVE experiments with numbers and colour. In this latest series SHREEVE responds to the light that reflects and shifts in the ocean.

The importance of engaging with the surface - physically handling the paper to work through ideas and shapes - renders this seemingly planned process as inherently intuitive. The repetition of complex patterns in three-dimensional paper forms creates intricate works of depth and space. Folding the paper the surface extends out into the space, catching the light and creating chords of colour and shadows that build and lower in intensity over time. It is about the slow change of time and observing this through the effects of the gradual turn of natural light.

Whilst SHREEVE and BUTLER both respond to changing light, HOLDSWORTH inserts light into her works, creating a sense of film noir in the dark nooks and crannies of her interiors. Working with found and made objects she creates intimate narratives that move from the nostalgic to the dark and subversive. In this series of works, HOLDWORTH engages with the Kewpie Doll, refashioning it into grander imaginary narratives - from dancing with the devil to Madonna and Child and an interior of a radio that recalls the glory of Pharlap and the races.

For HOLDSWORTH time is important in the making of the work, allowing the narrative to reveal itself to her in the process of assembling the memory-laden objects. In this act of play, Holdsworth considers the possibility for objects to form sculptures or to become a part of an interior work. Alongside visual narrative the accompanying music carries a pace and memory that nostalgically alludes to a time that was of a slower pace.

The slowing of pace and time is key to understanding what drives the unique practices of BUTLER, SHREEVE and HOLDSWORTH. Their inherent focus upon process and medium allows for narrative to emerge and works to transform for the viewer.

Essay by Lucy Stranger.

Mike Barnard, Lada Dedić, Merran Esson, Ingrid, Gareth Jenkins, Marnie Ross, Ralph Stanton, Kai Wasikowski, & Yioryios

Chaos or Control
7 November - 16 December

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Featuring artists from Square One Studios in Alexandria, Sydney. In collaboration with Sean Morris.

Drawing from the gallery’s soirée at Square One Studios, Stella Downer Fine Art presents a group exhibition Chaos or Control, featuring new works by MIKE BARNARD, LADA DEDIĆ, MERRAN ESSON, INGRID, GARETH JENKINS, MARNIE ROSS, RALPH STANTON, KAI WASIKOWSKI and YIORYIOS.

MERRAN ESSON’s ceramics draw from vessels in the rural landscape, inspired by her childhood in the Upper Murray. Old water tanks and buckets are recreated in bright, elegant forms; yet still retain nostalgic marks of their origin. From the two-dimensional to the sculptural, YIORYIOS creates architectural forms that bend, fold and contort. Working with bold acrylic colours and aluminium, his painterly sculptures can be seen as a form of expansive painting.

Working across readymade materials and multimedia, KAI WASIKOWSKI’s latest work responds to a journey to the Southern Alps of New Zealand, disassembling backdrops of landscapes to deconstruct the romantic notion of the sublime in nature. Turning to science, LADA DEDIĆ methodically cross-stitches the intricate MRI images of her brain; stitched on bright swathes of cloth they are given a new physicality.

Colour grabs you when looking at the pulsating rhythm of abstract painter RALPH STANTON’s works. Non-representational STANTON is interested in space with no time. MARNIE ROSS in turn responds to light, movement and time, creating organic forms and structures that play with natural layering and evolving light patterns.

Working intuitively, INGRID uses processes including collage, sgraffito, scarring, sanding back and layering to highlight, destroy, subdue or reveal elements within her work. These abstracted paintings are inspired by her environment, experiences and memories.

MIKE BARNARD explores the relationship between ethics and aesthetics via interrogations of reality and fiction in painting, photography, sculpture, and video. GARETH JENKINS has a preoccupation with text in its handwritten and printer form. Working with collage, JENKINS layers and intertwines text on various mediums with found material to distort and deconstruct the patterns of text that we have come to associate meaning with.

Lada Dedić (represented by M. Contemporary)

Merran Esson (represented by Stella Downer Fine Art)

Yioryios (represented by Artereal Gallery)