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.
1 June - 26 June
Waterways shape the environment around them just as they are shaped by the existing landscape, and necessitate life wherever they flow. Waterways is an exhibition of paintings that capture IAN MARR’s engagement with watercourses including the Darling/Barka River, Bettowynd Creek and Manar Creek, which hold personal significance to the artist.
As MARR explains: “All my life there have been watercourses close by: creeks, rivers, streams – at home and in nearly all the places I have lived on my travels, in Ireland, Scotland, Finland and France. The original watercourse for me of all these is the Darling/Barka at Wilcannia, which has its beauty even in distressing times, but is ravishing, as it is now, with a surge of river flows from subtropical eastern Australia filling its course. This is the river that I knew as a child. On its banks are steam boilers which powered pumps, steam winches, wool presses and shearing machinery, amid the venerable corridor of ancient trees. Near our old home are broad rocky outcrops, interspersed with sandy reaches and deep cool waterholes. The two other waterways in this show are the Bettowynd Creek, which falls to the Moruya River, where we had a farm for ten years, and the Manar Creek, which falls to the Shoalhaven. Eliot Gruner was a friend of the Deuchar Gordan family, who owned Manar, and he painted assiduously there in the 1930s: the scenes in this show are from two of his favourite places, a site above the homestead and at the old family burial ground.
“This show continues my long-established fondness for oil on copper painting, based on loose and rapid plein air copper drawing with felt pens. With a degree of glowing transparency, oil on copper can partly emulate water.”
IAN MARR has worked as a full-time artist since 2000. Having shown in over eighty-five group exhibitions and countless solo exhibitions MARR is extensively represented in public collections including the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery; Bourke Shire Council; Broken Hill City Art Gallery; Curfew Tower, Cushendall, Northern Ireland; Greater Shepparton City Council; Kedumba Collection, Wentworth Falls; Mildura Arts Centre; North Sydney Council; Orange Botanical Gardens, Orange Regional Gallery; Sydney Conservatorium of Music & Wingecarribee Shire Council. MARR is also represented extensively in private collections in Australia and Ireland. An avid traveller, IAN MARR has completed eleven artist’s residences since 2003 across Australia, China, Finland and New Zealand. In 2007 MARR had a solo exhibition at Bathurst Regional Gallery, titled Beautiful Chaos, and in 2009 he was the winner of the 20th Kedumba Drawing Award.
29 June - 24 July
I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
ASHLEY FROST’s works often 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. Known for capturing city and streetscapes as well as coastal scenes, Frost takes to new body of work and his viewers on a bush walk up to the escarpment forests.
Located in the Illawarra and accessed by the Wodi Wodi Track – named for the original custodians of the land of this area – the Illawarra Escarpment or official the Illawarra Range and its fold-created cliffs and plateau-eroded outcrop mountain range west of the Illawarra coastal plain south of Sydney. It contains the most extensive area of rainforest in the Sydney basin. In his Escarpment series ASHLEY FROST strives to express through his paintings a coherence of the natural form of the escarpment. FROST’s key focus is to be on creating a sensation of the light of the area; one that is both felt and visually observed.
A distinctive feature of the Illawarra escarpment forest is its proximity to the ocean – in some cases like Stanwell Park only a few hundred metres – creating a dramatic convergence of mountain and sea. On any still day the early morning light is reflected off the south coast ocean like a mirror, throwing light into the forest from all directions. This dazzling light has the effect of radiating light and colour from all objects in all directions, shortening shadows and eliminating silhouettes.
ASHLEY FROST’s practice of painting en plein air at often drastically different times and moments throughout the day allows him to capture this enchanting divergence. FROST revels in a diverse mixture of eucalyptus on the escarpment. However, he takes particular interest in its upper points where the angophoras dominate on high. From the deep orange reds of its distinctive bark FROST is compelled to play with the colour and temperature of his paintings. This coupled with the relentless twisting and turning limbs of the Angophora sees a natural linear abstraction emerging within ASHLEY FROST’s work. The sensory peace and meditative state of this environment allowed for the artist’s work en plein air to brings forth and provide a bridge to a deeper experience of place; one that considers the Indigenous histories and the environmental balances of what is a dramatic backdrop to the artist’s local town of Thirroul that spans 200 million years of geological history.
ASHLEY FROST has had many solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally. He has been in many prestigious art prizes, including, the Mosman, the Paddington Art Prize, the NSW Parliament Plein Air Art Prize, the Archibald Prize in 2017 and currently as a finalist in both the Wynne and Sulman Art Prizes 2021.
Recent WorkViola Dominello
12 - 30 October
Attention to the shifting and shimmering movement of Australian light creates works of lyrical abstraction and colour in VIOLA DOMINELLO’s recent paintings. Through painterly gesture DOMINELLO’s practice is imbued with a sensitivity that reveals moments of transient beauty in the landscape and through its intricacies.
DOMINELLO responds to the felt experience. Working en plein air, her practice is inspired by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich, who outlines, "The artist should not only paint what he sees before him, but also what he sees within him. If, however, he sees nothing within him, then he should also omit to paint then what he sees before him". For DOMINELLO it is this first encounter through en plein air practice that is later recreated in the studio, resulting in highly perceptive emotive works. Her paintings are alive with colour and movement that goes beyond the purely representational. VIOLA DOMINELLO creates works of quiet yet vibrant wonder. Finding inspiration near her home around the Hawkesbury and the hinterlands, a warmth and familiarity exudes from the landscapes. Working en plein air her first impressions jot down the essential features of the landscape, capturing an instant of changing light and tone. This sense of immediacy speaks of an intuitive artistry that captures the feeling and mood of a place.
With vigor DOMINELLO cuts into the paint, moving and scraping it over the canvas to create texture and movement. Her en plein air landscapes are atmospheric in mood and tonality, layered with marks to evoke landscapes and object of observation that are alive with movement and energy. DOMINELLO deftly captures the flux and illumination of light. Her palette exudes the heat of the changing Australian light. At the same time the artist hones in on the minutiae of what the land has to offer; craggy rock faces, the multitude of colours in peeling tree barks, the glimmer of light on water, fleeting encounters with small wildlife, and bursts of colour and texture found through small blossoms and blooms.
Sydney SurroundsYvonne Boag
2 November - 27 November
YVONNE BOAG is a Scottish-born Australian painter and printmaker whose work reflects the many places where she has lived, travelled and worked. Having spent the last 20 years dividing her time between South Korea and Australia, YVONNE BOAG’s art responds to these surroundings through her use of bold colours and forms. In Sydney Surrounds, her work focuses on bringing colour and vibrancy to locations around the Sydney area.
Living in different cultural contexts has informed YVONNE BOAG’s preoccupation with displacement. Beginning with moving from Scotland to Australia and, later, moving between Europe, South Korea, Japan and the Lockhart River Aboriginal Community on Cape York, she feeds off this dislocation and her work embodies the discomfort experienced when you don’t belong. At the same time this experience of place lends a genuine sense of curiosity and hyper-awareness to her art practice.
BOAG’s work becomes a response to new surroundings. Images are reduced to semi-abstract forms that combine areas of colour with line. The results are strong graphic forms that take on the character of signs. The pictures are simultaneously simple and complex. They become conversations between the artist and her context, reflecting the range of responses to being in a foreign place. There is a vivid and immediate quality to her works. Acrylics are 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.
The not-so-far afield places surrounding Sydney depicted by YVONNE BOAG are tonally paired down to a select range of thematic colours and simplified forms that render the scenes almost completely abstract. Sense of perspective almost disappears from each composition of shapes and colours. However, the limited palette and forms within each work help to evoke a sense of time and place across these paintings.