ACTease August 2013
by Courtney Symes
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a Seekers concert. Having bought the tickets as a Christmas present for my mum, I have to confess my knowledge of The Seekers’ repertoire was limited to Georgy Girl and Morningtown Ride, but having being exposed to their cassettes on long car trips, I had a rough idea of what I was in for.
What I didn’t expect was the quality of their live performance. This was particularly impressive when I remembered this was their 50th Anniversary tour! The other thing I discovered was that The Seekers’ lead singer Judith Durham has such a distinctive voice that you can close your eyes and recognize it without needing to see her. This got me thinking: what other musicians have such a unique voice that you could recognize it without seeing them perform? I asked some friends and a few names came to mind: Louis Armstrong, Tracy Chapman, Barry Gibb, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Missy Higgins, Sarah Blasko, and Amy Winehouse. Another favourite musician I thought of was Paul Kelly. In addition to a distinctive voice, Kelly also has a distinctive look, which the National Portrait Gallery has recognized in their latest exhibition, Paul Kelly and the Portraits.
There’s something mesmerizing about Paul Kelly. Maybe it’s his dark eyes that catch your gaze and draw you into his world. Or perhaps it’s the way he completely connects with his music in a pure, uninhibited way. This collection of portraits includes work from photographers such as: Greg Noakes, Tony Mott, Wendy McDougall, Jon Lewis, Liz Reed, Bleddyn Butcher, Peter Brew-Bevan, Stu Spence, Peter Hudson, Jon Campbell, Martin Philbey and Warwick Thornton. Images span several decades and are a must-see for Paul Kelly fans and portrait enthusiasts. Runs until 1 September – www.portrait.gov.au
“At the beginning of 2012 our group decided to do a year-long project to celebrate Canberra’s Centenary in 2013,” says Victoria Sutherland on Majura Women’s Group’s latest exhibition, Women: Celebrating a Century of Canberra’s Women. This exhibition features a series of photographs created by group members that focus on life for women in Canberra over the last century. These images cover eras such as Canberra’s settlement in the early 1900s, 1940s wartime and the Swinging 60s, whilst showcasing the vibrant costumes, make-up, hairstyles and photographic techniques from these periods. Quilted and textile works, as well as basketry pieces will also accompany these images.
Running for nearly 30 years, the Majura Women’s Group provides a creative, stimulating space for people at home with young children to meet and produce artwork in a relaxed environment.
Also at Belconnen Arts Centre, a community exhibition, Intersection, showcases the work of sixty-five artists from the Canberra region. Artists of all ages and backgrounds present works in a variety of mediums. Take a few moments and appreciate the world from someone else’s perspective – you might be inspired and learn something new. Women: Celebrating a Century of Canberra’s Women and Intersection both run until 4 August. – www.belconnenartscentre.com.au
Head on over to ANCA for some gorgeous glass work as emerging artists Christine Atkins and Zoe Woods team up in their latest exhibition, Natural Perceptions. As the exhibition name suggests, the featured “works create a richer and more complex vision of nature, triggering a feeling of familiarity with the natural world, while also evoking a sense of mystery and wonder” by examining “abstract organic forms and patterns through the optical qualities of glass”. Canberra-based artist Atkins explores the creation of natural phenomena through the combination of light and glass, demonstrated through her floating installation of hanging glass panels. Adelaide artist Woods is inspired by the intricacies in nature and showcases self-contained forms influenced by complex patterning. Both artists’ works complement each other, and visitors are presented with a rich, diverse collection. Christine Atkins will give an artist talk at 2pm, Saturday 3 August. Exhibition runs until 4 August. – www.anca.net.au
Focusing on the concept of ‘light’, Liz McNiven has curated the works of nine contemporary Indigenous artists including: Brenda Croft, Kerry Reed Gilbert, Lyndy Delian, Gary Lee, Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, Jonathan Jones, Tjanara Jali Talbot, Rachel Perkins and James Tylor in Canberra Contemporary Art Space’s latest exhibition, First Light. The exhibition features a variety of works, such as large light boxes from Jonathon Jones, intimate photographs from Tjanara Jali Talbot, woven glass traps from Jenni Kemarre Martiniello and Rachel Perkins’ One Night the Moon. Whilst many of these artists are recognized nationally and even internationally, most also have a close connection to Canberra. Curator Liz McNiven (former curator at the National Film and Sound Archives) is also a Barnba woman from the Budjiti nation of Paroo river country in north-west NSW and south-west Queensland. Runs until 10 August. – www.ccas.com.au
Skulls adorned with flowers; guns entwined with soft foliage; and intricately-detailed insects. eX de Medici’s subject choices clash and contrast as she combines familiar items of beauty (nature) with shocking items that instil terror (weapons) in her latest exhibition, eX de Medici: Cold Blooded at ANU’s Drill Hall Gallery. Cold Blooded is a comprehensive collection of eX de Medici’s major works – sourced from public and private collections for the first time – and curated by Dr Jenny McFarlane. eX de Medici’s recent watercolours (inspired by her visits to Iran) are an exhibition highlight. Runs until 11 August. – http://dhg.anu.edu.au
Our perception and understanding of our native flora and fauna has changed drastically since Australia’s early days, observes Nicola Dickson in her latest exhibition, Frames of Reference at M16 Artspace. “This group of paintings was inspired by the many illustrations made by members of the First Fleet soon after arriving in Australia. My paintings attempt to convey the wonder and fascination that was felt by these early European settlers in response to the novel bird life they encountered,” says Dickson. A childhood fascination with birds and animals has attracted Dickson to this subject matter, and she explains, “I feel a paradoxical mix of affinity and alienation towards these living, sentient creatures that influences my own sense of personal and national identity. The way my feelings and thoughts have been informed by different historical and cultural factors interests me. In order to explore this in my paintings I imaginatively engage with historical imagery to refer to the cultural origins and evolutions of my perceptions of Australian birds and animals.”
Works from Dickson’s series, Birds from a New World touch on “the inherent violence within the process of British colonisation of Australia and some of its consequences such as species loss”. Dickson’s other series, Patterns of Empire, focuses on notions of “imperialism, ornamentation and the rise of the natural sciences”. This is a gorgeous body of work that is well worth a look. Runs until 18 August. – www.m16artspace.com.au