“FROM HERE TO THERE” – a community arts extravaganza!
After months of planning we have now hung the 200 or so artworks that comprise an exhibition of community arts to celebrate the SA Living Artists’ Festival in Burra Regional Art Gallery.
4th August 2011
“ Art- whether books, pictures, music, theatre – has always stood for other values. With the decline in religious faith, art is like a green space in a city filling with concrete. It is a place to breathe, to walk slowly, to meditate on life and its meaning, to find new understanding – about oneself and others, to be surprised by beauty, to be made aware of subtle vibrations and gradations of life that so soften pass in a blur. Art is a place to think. Above all, art is a place to feel.
We live in a world suspicious of emotion. Above all, art is emotion …it is a place where love is, where imagination grows,
where we can feel and respond without feeling ashamed. It is a place of free exchange, forgiveness and something that might be called happiness. It is the place where we are at our best.”
All the subjects under the sun – light bright works – the silver and white-framed pair by Ella Roma Wilkins with two watercolour flower studies and a bit of well placed glitter, the enhancing touch. Gorgeous inland landscapes by Meredith Mayr, Ana Tossell’s earthy river scene “Lagoon” showing drought-affected trees clinging for their lives. And Ana’s sun-drenched cottage with dim veranda – what a spooky interior that would be, and how I wish to enter. Leonie Enman’s “Outback” and “Lost Forever” are two nostalgically beautiful views in oil on canvas board. Then the upfront joyful works of Amanda Lockwood – colourist smudges and suggestions, to be contrasted with Jeanette Muller’s heavy sculptural works and Kathleen Hayes’ campfire series. Valerie Veitch’s delightful “Sylvia and Olivia” and “Moroccan Market” engage and attract, as do the two Duncan Crawford works, especially “Fading Light” with its magnificent bright cloud, dark contrasts and muted colour.
BURRA ART SOCIETY
It’s exciting to see the everyday become art. Adrienne Matthews draws us in with her antique shop interior “Treasure Seeking” in pen and watercolour, and Terry Leask’s door series invites you inside. The egg studies 1 and 2 by Joan Dorey – an experimental pair of oil paintings in ochre, cobalt blue and white, the lovely brown eggs stark in their white bowl. Landscape and old buildings are favourite studies for Gerald Moore, next to Roslyn Batten’s “Almost There” in her colour choice of ochre, burnt sienna and violet; an intriguing small piece by Beryl Kiernan, an exercise in distance with an eye to the beyond – right on theme. Glenys Christopher’s crisp and colourful floral bunch with a suggestion of water, a boat pulled up on a beach and exquisitely seen out-of-focus foreground. Sylvia Cooper’s two works (perhaps painted with some time between?) – the lovely layered seascape bottom right in the display and gloriously freewheeling pastel abstract “Autumn”, top left. Sue Taylor’s rainy streetscapes and “Phoebe”, a sensitive and carefully drawn portrait of a loved horse by Robert Kiernan. Finally Evan Hawke’s strange and evocative venture into the surreal, “Dancing Daisies”, a decorative frieze in pastel by Gloria Lisman “Autumn Days” and the magnificent brooding Ranges landscape by Carolyn Semple.
This group has moved outside the frame with a fun yet seriously creative and sustainable offering of recycled recycling. Hand-made toys and dolls have been manipulated into art, there’s a frame but it is not for containment. “Bacon and Eggs” by Tonia Carnal shows breakfast in a way never before seen, and Liam Scott Patience’s “Worn Out” is proof that no material should ever be overlooked when making art. “Where are you my Friend?” by Lachlan Cahill is a reminder of the one sock paradox and flying rabbits end their journey in a burrow (or paper bag in this case) by Rebecca Joyce Lucy Dunling could be interpreted (if you wished) as a comment on the way “the best laid plans of mice and men (and rabbits) gang aft awry”. Kapi Kum Pilpa’s funny “Pupping Around”, with puppy exiting stage right in that deliberate way they do when they think you are not looking. “Birth and Death” by Alison Dunling, is a darkly humorous comment on mortality – from here to there, without a doubt. Comets race through the sky, monkeys hang around and a clown dangles by one leg with a button and a bell mysteriously sewn on a cloud. One piece, omitted by accident from the catalogue, shows a big pink ball of child’s finger-stitching morphing into a smaller blue ball – is this un-named untitled work winding up or unravelling? Perhaps it inhabits another space where nothing is clear and time stands still!
TEROWIE ART GROUP
Six artists – Karin Leibetrau’s vase of yellow roses placed below the edge of her small canvas, horizon drawn at the top, simple but effective; Ken Pickard’s meticulous ink drawings of things often seen in the latter stages of dilapidation, man’s endeavours crumble in an almost theatrical way, contrasted with Tamara Hornsby’s equally detailed pencil responses to what’s to be seen around the place. One work, “Family Day Out” shows emus and their chicks in a lovingly drawn Terowie setting, and “Old and New”, a chilling collection of chain and barbed wire, in the centre a padlock with no key. John Taylor has had some fun copying a section of Titian’s “Venus of Urbino”, no doubt learning from the exercise, and his small landscape “Near Terowie” makes use of a typically restrained palette. Megan Bowden’s “Duck” and “Calf’s Head” effectively show the eyes of the animals returning our gaze. And here are the landscapes of Matty Jack, who has a love affair with Terowie, and it shows.
Scosa’s one large and eight small canvases have words like “involvement”, “engagement” and “participation” writ large, to be seen and believed. The things they do at The Hub in Blyth are faithfully rendered in paint and collage with lots of images of folks working together, being creative, learning and engaging with life. Art is an important part of the curriculum at The Hub, and the students certainly get everything they can out of it, judging by the concentration and smiles on faces seen in the photos. A fantastic effort and well done!
ADRIENNE MATTHEWS: “Peter’s Bowl”.
An oil painting light and lovely, and beautiful in every way, including the story Adrienne has written to accompany it. A jug, a bowl of citrus on a sunny windowsill, luscious paint in restrained colour, scumbled layer upon layer onto the surface of the work. The foreground bowl is slightly out of focus, the eye drawn to the jug, which is sharply in focus. How rewarding and exciting it is to find that by some mysterious force (there’s no doubt!) the bowl has our full attention!
TRACY VANDEPEER: “Just Do It”.
A glorious big bold exuberant “out there” painting – doing the things you want to do and not letting anything stand in the way – that’s Tracy. Using a collection of collaged children’s drawings applied to the surface of the work in an all-over distribution, her engagement and spontaneity is infectious. It makes you want to have a go! The big sign says it all, loud and clear but attention goes to the numerous tiny details of the drawings – maybe a family collaboration? The final surface is shiny as glass but does not act as a barrier between the viewer and the work, the way glass is inclined to do. Rather it gives depth and enhances the jewelled light-trapping effect of all those beautiful colours. How about that?
GAWLER ART SOCIETY
This is a big enthusiastic group, looking for new experiences and directions. There don’t appear to be links between the works or evidence of set projects so with such a broad range to describe it may be more helpful to look at mediums and techniques.
One work featuring a figure study is “Beach Boys”, a pastel ably handled by Norah Jones. Another pastel is “Geraniums” by Trish Moore, a small picture with greater than life size flowers. One and only one lino print (sadly) “Silos” by Pat Low, who is also represented by a nature shot in watercolour “Resting on Agapanthus”.
There are a number of oil paintings – Audrey Hill’s two Flinders landscapes using that satisfying compositional view framer of looking between the giant gums; Kerrie Barret’s “Road to Rosedale”, an unusually wide view dominated by paddocks of wheat, the road in question off to the side and an eroded watercourse in the foreground; Geoffrey Perks’ magnificent oil “Iceberg Roses”, the reds and browns peeping through to balance the many shades of green. Then there are two oils by Athalie Pitman “Breakaway Fantasy” and “Balloon Dreaming”, a similar palette in both, but totally unrelated subject matter, an interesting pair. It is great to see so many oil paintings here.
Watercolour and acrylic is the medium most chosen, with Carol Clue’s “Pears Trio” (a lovely pun!), Heather Garfield’s light and airy “This Side of the Gate” and “Rock Wallabies”, and Carol Green’s two small works on the subject of fishing. The watercolour by Lorraine Winchester stands out among the crowd with its atmosphere of celebration, and Walter Gray’s “Rugged Beauty”, a beautifully controlled work, is suffused in misty light.
One work in charcoal “Mum and Cub” by Sharyn Sinclair relates well to her acrylic painting “Roos”, a strong composition based on a cross, very appealing.
Watercolour pencil is a delicate medium used by Carol Clue in “Early Evening” – a view looking over a lake making use of the warm colour of the foreground to give the work depth. The two acrylic paintings by Judith Kittel, “Farm Gate” and “Lady in Lace” – it would be interesting to know the dates these were painted as they are so different from each other – however both very successful in their differing ways. Sandy Jackson’s “Tramping the Track” is a graphite pencil work in triptych form – a tired figure moves through the landscape and away, having crossed the old railway track with rain on the horizon and no destination in sight. We desperately need to know who this person is and how we can help. It is a gut response!
MORGAN ART GROUP
This is a small group of exhibitors. My eye is taken by the large central works – at the top the “Holidays” triptych with its aura of yesteryear by Liz Dean, and centrally placed “Guardian of Main Street, Hopetown”, copied with great skill by Carol Leaney from a painting by Kenneth Jack. Liz Dean also shows two outback scenes “The Outrider” and “Cutting Out” and a moving portrait, ”Dave”. Carol Leaney’s other works are ”Old Car” and “Tranquillity”, a river scene that looks very like the Murray near Morgan. Angela Felice’s two paintings ”Kookaburra” and “Care to Dance” hung to the side – don’t miss it – both in pastel. Rosemary Builder’s interesting slant with her two works “Catch of Capsicums”, like fish in a net, the sad and gleeful faces of the punters in “Winners and Losers” make me want to see more. Her restful scene “Cattle under Gum”, together with the other works, sparks curiosity – one thing shows up straight away – this artist is a “people person”. This brings forward an intriguing aspect of community art, that is, the relationship between members of the group and the environment within which they live and work.
Glenys Christopher’s tall palms rustle and sway against a watery sky. A company of three palms hold their flags of raggedy leaves proudly aloft but to what country do they belong? These palms could be either here or there. Maybe that’s the point. Glenys travels the world in search of watercolour experience and subject matter, and “Poles” bridges the divide between travelling and staying put.
“Mt. Brown”, a pastel by Gerald Moore, looks down on Gerald’s favourite broad vista, the cultivation of crops the only indication of man’s existence in this pleasant landscape.
Ronda Dunstan’s huge earthenware bowl – eleven blue butterflies gathered on the rim, hatched from their carved clay chrysalises, cool water in a rock pool suggested in the depths. A beauty!
Two large and heavily framed oil paintings by James Dunstan, unaffordable but at least we can enjoy them while they are here. “Old Hat” and “Rambo”, strong dignified paintings with more than a touch of mischief.
“Compulsion”, glowing textile colours and a sophisticated overlay of imagery make this oil painting by Oluwole Oginni almost glow in the dark. Primaries subtly mixed suggest a depth of hidden interiors. The houses could be Burra! Activity and confusion are everywhere as we search for the right direction; a peaceful blue connects us to each other and a lizard clings, oblivious.
Rebekah Hackett shows us a photo of three girls “Having Fun at the Yunta Races”, spraying water from the horse trough. Look out for Rebekah’s photography in Burra Gallery’s next exhibition “My World”, to be exhibited in the Bence Room in September.
Glorious swirls of Mid North landscape in Roland Weight’s untitled painting allow us to see the rain pass over and sunlight cutting through. He writes:
“Community art signifies … involvement and collaboration, social change, empowerment …, and concern expressed through artistic process”
The written word is set behind a sculptural frame of nails, scrap plate and rusty wire, placed neatly on the mantle in The Annex of Burra Gallery.
Sasha Grbich says: “Art is my way of looking at the world”, and proves it to us. A massive cloud leaks paint instead of rain, colour dribbling through.
“Crystal Ball” by Christian Vocke shows another aspect of “From Here to There”. There is a lovely fineness the way the printing plates are fashioned together into a collage filled with action and community. A girl gazes into the dream-reflecting mirror, another peers into a crystal ball, while a boy teases a dog with a bone. It’s all in the detail.
“Max in Whyalla” – watercolour by Maxine Donald – a watery zip “From Here to There”, the boat moored ready for quick departure – and they’ll be on their way,
“sharing ideas, visions, facilities, knowledge and talents, coming together … those who create and those who come to see.”
We’ve all got things to say to each other and art can open the conversation.
LIS JONES INGMAN
Lis Jones Ingman is in agreement. Her painting “Fly Away Peter” shows a heavy man ready for flight, using a blue and white striped umbrella to get airborne. He can but try, but information and skills sharing could be useful.
“The Voyage” by Julie Wilson suggests elements of a young girl’s journey through life, with the two tea cups, the parrot, the flower in bloom and an empty page ready for drawing or writing.
It is rewarding to pay close attention to children’s work. Given the theme they have come up with all sorts of ideas taken from their own lives. One thing stands out – you don’t need expensive materials to make art. All that’s required is involvement with an idea, and the confidence to start, continue and follow through to completion. We are born to create, and children know instinctively that they can do it.
“To the young artists in Burra, make the most of this great gallery and the experienced artists living here, to help you towards your own artistic dream.”