ACTease JUNE 2014
One of the secrets of a successful landscape artist and landscape photographer, I believe, is their ability to interpret and capture light in their works. Landscape paintings are a personal favourite of mine, and I had high hopes for Canberra Museum and Gallery’s exhibition, Elioth Gruner: the texture of light. I was not disappointed. The works selected for the exhibition showcased Gruner’s talent not only as an artist, but as an Australian landscape artist, which is no mean feat when you consider the diversity of the Australian landscape. Australia is a country of extremes – weather, seasons, colours, and changing light levels. To effortlessly capture all of these variables is a remarkable achievement, and clearly a life-long pursuit for Gruner.
It’s hard to believe that the last significant survey of Gruner’s work was thirty years ago (at the Art Gallery of New South Wales). Although Gruner was a seven-time winner of the Wynne Prize for landscape painting, and his work is represented in numerous state and regional galleries throughout Australia, you don’t need to know anything about painting to recognise Gruner’s talent and be mesmerised by his work. Fortunately, the Canberra Museum and Gallery and Newcastle Art Gallery recognised that Gruner’s works deserved some attention and joined forces to present this spectacular collection of paintings.
The exhibition occupies two galleries and works have been curated chronologically, and by location. For me, the most impressive aspect of this exhibition is the way the collection of seventy paintings accurately reflect the exhibition title, ‘the texture of light’. Gruner’s works all possess a unique, luminous glow. Clearly he was a master at identifying and capturing different levels of light, and its relationship with the Australian landscape. It is evident that Gruner also liked to build a relationship with the regions he painted, as he created numerous works that depicted the many facets of different regions.
As a viewer, it is rewarding to observe Gruner’s work evolve from “impressionist beachscapes and farmland views of the 1910s to the subtle and distinctive modernist landscapes of his maturity from the 1920s and 1930s”. The exhibition also has “a particular focus on Gruner’s remarkable visual explorations of the Canberra region: the Southern Highlands, the South Coast, Yass and the Murrumbidgee River valley, and the Cooma-Monaro plateau.” This exhibition really highlights how “Few artists have represented this corner of south-eastern Australia with such extraordinary clarity as Gruner, who captured the quality of light, the rolling hills and the quiet austere beauty of our region”. An extensive line-up of community programs also accompany the exhibition, such as the Lunchtime Curator Floor Talk Series on 12 June at 1-2pm and THE TEXTURES OF LIGHT: The Pastoral Visions of Australian Cinema which is run in conjunction with the National Film and Sound Archive (visit nfsa.gov.au/arc for tickets, times, and further details), as well as a tour of the landscapes around Canberra that inspired Gruner on Saturday 21 June, 10am–3pm.
Elioth Gruner: the texture of light, Canberra Museum and Gallery until 22 June 2014 – museumsandgalleries.act.gov.au
There’s also plenty to check out at the Belconnen Arts Centre this month, including: Bowls, Baskets, Blankets and Boats, The Water Element: reflection on water, Unruly Orchestrations — University of Canberra Faculty of Arts and Design, and Fabrique.
Drawing inspiration from ancient civilizations, Jenny Manning’s latest exhibition, Bowls, Baskets, Blankets and Boats is a culmination of her existing work and the exploration of new territory. Manning explains, “This exhibition is both a departure and continuation for me. Over the past 5 years I have exhibited intricate drawings and paintings focussing on the tangled webs of microscopic fungus spoors. More recently the rope like stems and filaments have morphed into handles and edges of patterned vessels and containers”. Each of the elements: bowls, baskets, blankets and boats, allow Manning to explore a different facet of her practice. “The concept of the container is extended to include images of boats, which with their fragile, pierced and decorated structure allude to the precarious travels of refugees. Pattern and colour have always been important elements in my work and in this exhibition I have extended the process to include textiles in the form of coiled baskets and mohair patchwork blankets,” says Manning. An Art eBook (which can be downloaded for free from iTunes) has also been created by Bobby Graham, with Jenny and David Manning to accompany the exhibition. Runs until 8 June.
Marilyn Stretton’s latest exhibition, The Water Element: reflection on water consists of a series of paintings that “explore her visual and emotional reaction to water and the interplay between water and light, and water and life”. Water plays a huge role in our lives – not only is it essential for our health and wellbeing, it calms, inspires and energises us. This exhibition is a beautiful tribute to an often overlooked, but essential life element. Runs from 11 to 29 June. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Stretton on Sunday 22 June at 2pm.
Staff of the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra have been given the freedom to ‘play’ in their latest group exhibition, Unruly Orchestrations — University of Canberra Faculty of Arts and Design. “Creative practice is often a messy, noisy, unorchestrated activity, one that rejects norms and rules, but (ideally) ends up as a well composed, highly arranged final work.” By encouraging this sense of play, it is hoped that this group of artists will develop their knowledge and skills within their creative practice. The exhibition opening will take place on 13 June, and there will be an opportunity to meet the artists on Sunday 22 June at 3pm. Exhibition runs 13 to 29 June 2014.
Canberra-based contemporary jeweller Maria Klingner “believes that the jewellery we wear is not just an object – it holds an intimate place on our body and when worn, becomes an individual work of art, viewable in the public realm”. Klingner’s latest exhibition, Fabrique, showcases a collection of wearable metal art in precious and semi-precious metals that explores the relationship between vintage and contemporary fabric designs. Runs 13 to 29 June 2014. Meet Klingner on 22 June at 1pm.
Aldo Iacobelli is inspired by memories, literature and art in his latest exhibition, In the Shadow of Forgetting – Aldo Iacobelli at Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS), Gorman House this month. Iacobelli’s works are almost like a “visual diary” that draw upon his personal experiences, as demonstrated through My Days (2011-13), which consists of 244 mixed media drawings in recycled frames. Other stand-out works featured in the exhibition include Neapolitan Souls (2012), a series of six pencil and smoke drawings, inspired by Neapolitan writer Erri De Luca’s book, Montedidio, which “evoked a torrent of potent memories of growing up in Naples”. Shadow (2012) features handmade terracotta potatoes on a wooden table, and is a response to The Potato Eaters (1885) and “the lives of working poor, but proud, labourers”. Iacobelli challenges his “audience to concentrate on the detail of what we experience on a daily basis, to look at the world through the eyes of an artist who has spent a lifetime in the act of observation and revelation”.
Also at CCAS, Dean Butters’ latest exhibition, Batman & Robin “represents the heroic ideas of childhood and adolescence dashed against feelings of an unfulfilled life, one that lacks the sense of certainty we once dreamed of as children. Like Peter Pan’s choice to never grow-up, this work is about being unstuck in a world that has moved on around you”. Using pop culture as a vehicle, Butters’ portraits examine themes such as social disconnection, as well as the repeating patterns of relationships. “In essence, Robin is replaceable. He undertakes a role for Batman that he will either outgrow or die fulfilling. Then, following a period of mourning, Batman will inevitably replace him, filling the hole that his absence has left. At its core, it is a poignant yet bleak meditation on the cyclical effects of childhood tragedy and one’s inability to move beyond such traumas.” By exploring “moments of weakness, isolation and self-destruction, these works ultimately talk about the failure of identity” and Butters raises the question: are we “fundamentally bound up in the fictions and stories that we consume”?
Sorrellism is Graham Sorrelle’s latest exhibition at CCAS. “Sorrellism follows Graham’s personal journey and captures the essence of places he has been, and seen.” Graham Sorrelle has an interesting background – he’s an artist, poet and cameleer. Sorrelle’s association with camels appears throughout his works. In his series The Camels, for instance, Sorrelle is camouflaged and has “an affinity with creatures who experience the struggle for survival in the harshest of environments”. A monochromatic image of a toddler appears throughout Sorrelle’s landscapes. This ‘lost child’ perhaps serving as a metaphor for innocence and naivety and Sorrelle’s own “sense of vulnerability and powerlessness – the result of what he sees as an inability to overcome, the multifarious obstacles thrown on life’s path”.
All CCAS exhibitions run until 21 June – ccas.com.au
Courtney Symes is a Canberra-based writer, small business owner, and mother. When she’s not writing, you will find her enjoying a run around one of Canberra’s beautiful parks and seeking out Canberra’s best coffee and cheesecake haunts with the family. Read more at alittlepinkbook.blogspot.com.au