ACTease October 2013
by Courtney Symes
I’m not a camper, So I can empathise with the shock that Belconnen artists Carolyn Fitzpatrick and Carole Osmotherly would have experienced as they reluctantly left the comfort of their Canberra homes to venture on a no-frills camping trip into the outback to capture the natural beauty of the Northern Territory’s Ruby Gap and surrounds.
A camping trip lacking creature comforts such as a bathroom, running water, mobile phone or the internet was the first step in the journey towards the development of exhibition, Roughing it at Ruby Gap and Beyond. In spring 2012, Fitzpatrick and Osmotherly embarked upon their Northern Territory art adventure, organised by NT artist Deborah Clarke and her partner Charlie, a retired Botanist. Camping (even bushwalking) was unfamiliar territory for these two Canberrans (much to the entertainment of their family and friends) but the breathtaking scenery discovered at Ruby Gap (a remote un-serviced area 150kms into the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges) far outweighed the short-term mild discomfort of sleeping under the stars.
The purpose of their trip was simple: “They spent their days exploring and making art. The Ruby Gap campsite was visually spectacular, sited beside and within the wide dry sandy riverbed of the River Love. A glowing ridge of red ochre cliffs towered over the river as it meandered through the landscape. The river was lined with majestic river gums and studded with huge white rocks. The experience of living and making art in the landscape proved to be enormously rewarding and pleasurable and the privations surprisingly liberating.” Both artists were taken by the colours they observed on their trip, “The red ochre ridge that glowed golden, orange through red depending on aspect or time of day, features in many of their works.” Fitzpatrick and Osmotherly were also taken by the native flora they observed: “trees; gleaming white river gums, burnt scarred gums, and scraggy trees of the many native varieties capable of enduring such a harsh environment.”
Both artists work with different mediums and it’s interesting to observe the contrasting interpretations of their experiences. Fitzpatrick works with coloured inks, and sometimes gouache, on thick watercolour paper. “Most of her works were commenced in situ, where she aimed to imbue them with her intense sense of being in that very particular place. The drawings were then completed back in the studio.” Osmotherly loves working with silk, “The nature of painting on silk, wherein black linear elements can be etched onto the broader colour landscape image allows Osmotherly to ingeniously capture the random, rugged aspects of the Australian landscape.” Most of Osmotherly’s work was completed “in her space in Canberra pulling from her memories and feelings as well as her drawn and photographic records made while on the camp.”
Runs until 13 October at Strathnairn Gallery – www.strathnairn.com.au
Inspired by “reflections on the life of her grandmother, and women like her, who made homes in bush towns, the nature of women’s domestic activities and the secrets which lurk behind closed doors”, Susan Wood’s latest exhibition, The Days of Their Lives aims to explore the everyday lives of bush women. Wood is a Wagga Wagga based textile artist who has utilised materials such as bush dyed cloth that she has transformed with traditional needlework techniques, such as patchwork, plain sewing, and hand and machine embroidery. Wood explains that “Central to the exhibition is a collection of eight wall pieces based on traditional patchwork techniques. Each piece is constructed from 365 bush-dyed hexagons, representing one year in a life.” The works have been titled: Lazy Days, Dusty Days, Play Days and Summer Days to “reference the activities of daily domestic life”. Visitors can also enjoy the collection of artist’s books included in the exhibition. This is a touching tribute to the triumphs and challenges experienced by these unsung bush heroines as Wood encourages us to step into their shoes for a few moments. Don’t miss the exhibition opening at 6pm Wednesday 2 October and Wood’s Artist talk at 2pm Saturday 12 October.
Runs from 2-13 October at ANCA Gallery – www.anca.net.au
Also at ANCA, Created from Ego is a vivid, colour-rich collection of new paintings from Canberra-based artist, David Kim. Kim is an established, prolific artist with over twenty-five years of experience (over 100 of his artworks are held in private and public collections). Created from Ego is Kim’s first Australian exhibition since he moved to Canberra from Seoul. Kim describes his work is “pure abstraction” that “comes from an unconscious and intuitive part of myself, and to express the work using too much language or words would distort the genuineness, and directness, of the work.”
Created from Ego opens at 6pm Wednesday 16 October 2013 and runs until 27 October – www.artistdavidkim.wix.com/abstract
Elizabeth Paterson’s latest exhibition, Paradox in a paddock at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre raises an interesting question of how we balance “our open spaces with the population density and activity of a city”. After considering Walter Burley Griffin’s design for Canberra, “which created not a city surrounded by paddocks, but incorporated the paddocks into the city”, Paterson was inspired to explore ‘the paddock in the city’ notion further. Paterson’s resulting work consists of a cardboard and papier-mâché installation that considers both the country and the city. The linear format of this installation encourages viewers to ‘follow’ the path of the work as it curves around the gallery and embark on a journey with Paterson.
The Very Sad Fish-Lady is a beautiful story – quirky and humorous – that has been brought to life through an illustrated children’s book, puppets, models, sketches and storyboards. The story explores various themes such as home, community, identity, fear, separation, isolation, and asylum seeking as it follows the daily life of an old woman resembling a fish, who reconnects with her family in Australia.
McDonald is an established artist – she’s been a professional puppeteer since the 1960s (she toured Australia with the Tintookies and appeared on Playschool) and has been making her own puppets since the early days of her puppetry career. McDonald is also a skilled ceramicist and visual artist. I personally loved the storyboards included in this exhibition. The simple sketches accompanied with narratives are like a personal invitation to step inside McDonald’s mind and observe her original vision for this project, as well as the changes she made along the way.
Both exhibitions are on at Craft ACT until 19 October 2013 – www.craftact.org.au
Supporting artists between the ages of 18 and 30 years, The Macquarie Digital Portraiture Award is on at The National Portrait Gallery until 13 November. Six digital portraits included in the exhibition were selected from numerous submissions by a panel of judges. “The works were chosen for their unique and striking explorations of identity” and are accompanied by artist statements. This year’s winner was Nik Lee with Our only concern is the void 2013. Lee’s work explores contemporary youth culture through a performance from eighteen-year-old actor, Henry, as he attempts to read and interpret a complex passage from Sartre’s novel Nausea. Lee questions the roles each of us play in this performance: Henry as the actor, Lee as the interviewer, and us as the audience.
The National Portrait Gallery until 13 November 2013