Burra Gallery’s On Identity – what makes us tick, what turns us on? The major questions of our time deftly sidestepped with hints, innuendo and supposition by some remarkable artists.
Lisa Smedley’s “Bum Titty Bum” is showing in the Annex of Burra Regional Art Gallery, together with Russell Philip’s “By the Side of the Road”. Definitely not to be missed, this is an important exhibition proudly displayed.
Lisa identifies each of the clay and glass “Breastplates” with the individual model. Pointing to one of the pieces, “This one was the first courageous heart that bared herself to me”, she said.
“Live casting is about trust and bravery. And there’s something about the terracotta and glass being as fragile and beautiful as we are. The adornments in stained glass represent our desire to flaunt our bodies the way we should. It’s about body image – things that we can change and accepting those we can’t.”
Lisa’s mosaic bottoms are cast in cement and designed as garden ornaments, a process in typical say it how it is Lisa fashion she calls “arse casting”. Each is individual, and don’t worry, even though she knows who they are, she’s not telling. They are, of course, a terrific conversation starter.
Lisa grew up in Alice Springs and Burra, and has always made things. At Burra Community School, as the only Matriculation art student, with teacher Roger Boehm she was introduced to live casting by making facial models. This is a complicated procedure using nostril straws, applying wet plaster to the face and letting it set over half an hour or so. Clay is then pressed into the negative cast to produce a positive lifelike image.
Taught everything she knows about leadlight by Tiny Wilson, the two of them are hoping to start classes in leadlight and mosaic in Burra later this year.
Russell Philip lights the fire in the front room of his cottage in Lower Thames Street – the cottage he bought 37 years ago when he was teaching art at Burra Community School. Even then he was finding time to draw and paint the inspirational landscapes outside his back door. Since then, teaching has taken him from Broken Hill to Port Augusta, Port Pirie, the Riverland and Sydney, all that time still calling Burra “home”.
He is now living in Burra permanently, semi retired and finding time to make art. He still uses the same box of colour pencils, and drawing has been his chosen and favourite medium. However, he looks forward to getting back into oil painting, as with his current exhibition “By the Side of the Road”.
Influences come from his teaching of and deep interest in art history. Painters like Claude Lorraine, the big skies of Eugene von Guerard, and most recently Tim Storrier, who sets his subjects in vast empty landscapes, not unlike the Burra environment.
The exhibition includes three early landscapes of 30 or more years ago, alongside others completed this year.