Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Opening night at the Art Vault

As promised, here are some snapshots of the launch of Winged Women. It was great to see some familiar faces and chat with a number of people, many of whom I first met during my previous residency.

A highlight of the evening was Donata Carrazza’s opening address. (I am sure that fellow exhibiting artist Brenda Runnegar would agree with me). We both felt that Donata truly got to the essence of our work, and were doubly grateful that she agreed to share her responses and insights with the opening night audience. Donata has kindly given me permission to reproduce her introduction to Winged Women. Here it is in part:

In taking time to think about the works here I was yet again convinced about how lucky we are in this regional town to have the Art Vault. Its visionary founders Julie and Kevin have created a space for us to dream, to get lost in the images and narratives of artists dealing with those endless questions about why we are here, and what it all means to be human. The end results of hours of research, observation, thinking and doing by artists from a range of visual disciplines can delight or confront us, but rarely leave us indifferent.  Equally important is that artists in residence have the sorely needed time to further develop their work, or even engage with this place, and present it to us so that it is new again or so that it reveals secrets we may have overlooked.

I’m really thrilled to be opening Deborah and Brenda’s shows, two women I admire greatly, and want to thank you Julie for the opportunity.

…… Deborah Klein, like Brenda, has a Master of Arts from Monash University.  She’s been a practicing artist for over 20 years with an impressive CV and output that reflects her professionalism and great passion for what she does.  Women are often the central subjects of her work, ornately decorated with tattoos, lace, moth or buttlerfly masks, with twisted, combed, and knotted tresses.

It was a great pleasure in 2009 to open Deborah’s show here at the Art Vault, Introduced Species and to launch her book: There was once – the collected fairy tales. These 13 stories accompanied by images are essential reading for those of us who love the subversive and seek new ways for the traditional archetypes to be turned on their head.

A particular favourite of mine is the re-telling of the Rapunzel fairytale.  In Deborah’s version, Rapunzel has been locked in a tower by her father who has left her provisions but won’t be coming back to get her.  Many years pass  and she ponders about what she will do when she is free of this tower.  A charming prince turns up one day, having heard of her beauty and her long gorgeous locks.  He uses her long braid to climb into the tower.  They really connect, talking late into the night.  He about his great adventures, the battles he’s won and the women he’s wooed and the kindgoms he’s conquered.  She begs him to take her with him, stating she’ll need to cut her hair as it will get in the way.  He says she couldn’t possibly cut her hair; it’s what makes her so alluring. Eventually they fall asleep. The next day he wakes up and finds that Rapunzel has disappeared.  All that is left is her long tail of plaited hair tied to a table and hanging outside the window. He sees her on the ground below about to ride off on his trusty steed, but not before she’s tugged the tail of hair and watched it drop to her feet.  He also notices she’s got short hair, like a lowly page boy. She must have used his sword in the night to cut her locks. He screams to her:  “How will I get down?”  To which she replies: “Grow your own hair”.

Back in 2009, Deborah was working on the lino cuts of winged women that you see here tonight.  It’s really fitting we see them here, hung as Deborah envisioned.  These hybrid creatures are delicate, feminine, alluring and mysterious.  The images invite us to be voyeurs, lingering on the gently turned necks, wondering about their faces, their eyes and what they could be thinking and how long it will be before they fly away.

The oil pastel drawings and acrylics on canvas turn her subjects towards us, but they are still impenetrable, elusive.  These captivating creatures, like the characters in Deborah’s stories, are using their masks for self-protection, but there is a knowing look in their eyes, perhaps an acceptance that self-transformation while painful, is essential to live freely, and is the responsibility of each individual soul.

With that said, I’d like to congratulate Brenda and Deborah and declare their shows officially opened.

Pictured above:
Top image: (on left hand side) Donata Carrazza, Julie Chambers
Centre image: Donata Carrazza
Base: (from left) Kate Kotching, Deborah Klein (photograph
by Filomena Coppola)