Sunday, August 31, 2008

Blue Velvet 2007

Oil pastel 112 x 76 cm

This work is a finalist in the 2008 Jacaranda Drawing Prize, Grafton Regional Gallery, NSW, 24 October - 7 December 2008.
The exhibition will tour during 2009 - 2010. (At this stage the itinerary may be subject to change).

2008 Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award Tour

University of the Sunshine Coast 26 March - 24 April 2009
Redcliffe Art Gallery 1 June - 4 July 2009
Gympie Regional Gallery 21 July - 30 August 2009
Mosman Regional Gallery 12 September - 11 October 2009
Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery 16 October - 29 November 2009
Latrobe City Gallery 13 December 2009 - 2 February 2010
Hawkesbury Regional Gallery 13 February 2010 - 7April 2010
Port Macquarie Hastings Regional Gallery 15 April 2010 - 9 June 2010

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Swarm 2002

Pictured above: Swarm, 2002, synthetic polymer paint on 32 oval canvases, paired. Large: 25 x 20 cm each; small: 15 x 20 cm each. Overall dimensions approximately 172 x 194 cm. Installation view from the exhibition the enchanted forest - new gothic storytellers. A Geelong Gallery and NETS Victoria touring exibition. 

Guest curated by Jazmina Cininas, the exhibition also includes works by James Morrison, Milan Milojevic, Louise Weaver, Louisann Zahra-King and Jazmina Cininas. Launch venue: Geelong Gallery, then touring to Bendigo Art Gallery, Shepparton Art Gallery, Latrobe Regional Gallery, Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, Dubbo Regional Gallery and Tweed River Art Gallery during 2008-2009.

A fairy tale by Deborah Klein

Once in another time not so very long ago there were 16 sisters. They lived with their widowed father and younger brother in a fine, respectable townhouse in a fine respectable street in a fine respectable suburb in a fine respectable town. But none of them could honestly say that they were happy or content. You see, while their father and brother were able to venture into the great world outside to study, work for a living and even have wonderful and exciting adventures, they were confined to their home, aside from an occasional shopping trip downtown under the watchful eye of their governess. Until such time as they were able to marry they were expected to oversee the running of the house and always be well presented and polite, especially if called upon to assist their father when he entertained his friends and colleagues. Certainly they had lessons, but their governess was under strict orders that they perfect their cooking and sewing skills (which were frankly appalling) rather than advance their learning in the arts or sciences.

Their father and brother were respected entomologists whose butterfly collection was famous worldwide. The daughters begged their father to let them help with the collection. They longed to venture out and join in the hunt and maybe discover and name some new species, even though they knew the credit would ultimately be given to their father and brother. That’s the way it was in the olden days, you see. 

He finally relented and let them come along on a butterfly hunting expedition in the forest not far from their house. They had always longed to go there as they had heard that it was enchanted. When they arrived they had to admit there was indeed something magical and mysterious about it and longed to explore its hidden depths. But they knew they were there for a very specific reason and very soon they were completely engrossed in the task at hand. Their father was grudgingly impressed at their success. Well before the day’s end they had managed to capture a great many butterflies, every one of them a truly magnificent specimen. His daughters were thrilled, as it seemed that he might take them seriously at last.

They carried their prey home in jars with holes drilled in the lids. Late that afternoon, before hurrying off to the monthly meeting of the Entomological Society, their father and brother took the sisters upstairs to their laboratory and explained how to kill and mount their captives. Thousands of specimens already collected by their father and brother were fastidiously pinned and arranged in a series of glass cases lining a huge room that, along with the laboratory, occupied the entire second storey of their house. With a sudden pang, the sisters had to admit that they felt a certain affinity with them. 

Their eyes then turned to the butterflies still fluttering gamely in their glass prisons and they knew at once that they couldn’t bear to kill them. As one they moved to free them, knowing full well that their father would be furious and that in giving these beautiful creatures their freedom, they may have lost the chance to gain their own. 

The oldest girl opened the window to their father’s study, and one by one they unscrewed the lids of the jars. Instead of flying away, however, the butterflies flew madly around the room as if they had completely lost their bearings in the excitement of escape. But soon they gathered together to form a huge fluttering cloud of kaleidoscope colours. It was a marvellous sight. Over the gentle but determined sound of their beating wings, the girls could hear what sounded like a faint voice. They could not believe their ears. Ordinarily it would not have been audible to humans, but spoken collectively its sound was unmistakeable. ‘Join us’ they said. ‘Fly away with us and be free forever.’ 

The girls exchanged glances and in less time than the single beat of a butterfly’s wings their decision was made. One by one they followed the butterflies through the open window. But instead of plummeting downwards to almost certain death, they were wondrously, miraculously airborne, up, up, up into the orange coloured sky, a fantastical swarm, heading for freedom and happiness in the Enchanted Forest.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moth Masks 2007-2008

Artist's studio, early 2008

Rhodogastia crokeri Moth Mask 2007

Rhodogastia crokeri Moth Mask, 2007, synthetic polymer paint on canvas 25 x 20 cm

This work is included in the exhibition Bias Bound, which features the work of artists and weavers associated with the Victorian Tapestry Workshop from 2005-2007.

Victorian Tapestry Workshop
264 Park Street
South Melbourne, Vic.
03 9699 7885
5-29 August 2008
Monday - Friday 9 am - 5pm

Self Preservation
70 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Vic.
03 9650 0523
Open 7 days
6-31 August 2008

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery
Level 8, Room 16
37 Swanston Street
Melbourne Vic.
0407 317 323
Wednesday - Friday 1-5
Saturday 11-5
1-23 August 2008

Clipped Wings 2008

Linocut printed from two blocks in one colour with watercolour hand colouring
Diptych 56 x 38 cm each panel (image)
Photograph by Tim Gresham.

Created for the exhibition 'Double'.
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, Cnr. Baylis and Morrow Streets, Wagga Wagga NSW.
This exhibition of prints by thirteen contemporary Australian artists explores the theme 'double'. Exhibiting artists include Raymond Arnold, Rona Green, Andrew Gunnell, Greg Harrison, Michael Kempson, Deborah Klein, Rebecca Mayo, John Ryrie, Olga Sankey, Heather Shimmen, Sophia Szilagyi, Janet Tavener and Joel Wolter.
Curated by Rona Green
1 August-26 October, 2008

Artist's Statement

The notion of the double in all its various guises has never been the primary focus of my work, but it continues to make return appearances, sometimes almost unbidden.

Until recently I have never thought to wonder why. I am still not sure if I know the answer, or if I even need to. I suspect the fact that I am an only child has some bearing on my lifelong fascination with the subject.

The need to connect with someone like ourselves is imbedded in all of us and in the world of the Double this is no better demonstrated than by Siamese Twins.

Clipped Wings suggests that the separation of Siamese Twins may not necessarily be positive, or even desirable.

Iron Butterflies 2007

Linocuts, dimensions variable.
Installantion view, the artist's studio.

Artist's Statement

On numerous visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London over the last 30 years I have always cut through the Ironwork Gallery, on my way to other galleries of more immediate and obvious interest. The museum’s collection of decorative wrought and cast iron has never been a primary focus. It was only when the fragments of hair and hair ornaments that are the subject of this work began to accumulate that I recalled the Ironwork Gallery and realised how much the visual impact of the collection has gradually crept up on me. Initially its influence was purely visual, but I now realise that the similarities extend further. The majority of pieces (which include large architectural fragments, locks and keys) originally had a purpose that was primarily utilitarian. Separated from their origins and placed on the wall of the museum in a non-contextual, but very beautiful and visually striking salon hang, they are reduced to the merely decorative.

Similarly hair (and the practical and decorative combs and pins that enhance its allure, or alternatively keep it in check) has an existence of its own that is separate from its original context, namely the body. Decorative does not necessarily mean fragile, however. Like the inhabitants of the Ironworks Gallery, it  not only survives, it also transcends time.

Deborah Klein
October 2007

The Story of the Moth Masks

Once there was a moth who was told not to fly too close to firelight or her wings would burn. Her family and friends had repeatedly warned her about this even before she gained her wings. By the time she was grown up, she had truly learned to fear fire.

Like most of her sisters, she was condemned to fly by night. But despite her fear, she loved the light. She loved its warmth and the way it lit up the beautiful colours of her wings, which the night kept hidden away.

The fire continued its seductive dance, each time drawing her closer and closer. But she always flew away just before the heat became too great and she burst into flames.

Finally, sick and tired of being in the light for just a fleeting moment, she decided to make it her permanent home, no matter what the cost.

Into the flames she flew. All at once her beautiful wings were blackened, and so was her sight.

The next moment (or so it seemed – who knows how much time had passed?) she re-emerged on the other side of the fire a strong, proud, confident woman. And she was no longer alone, but surrounded by thousands of women just like herself. They wore moth masks forever after, as a reminder of their former selves, and of the unfounded fears that had governed their previous existence.

Pictured above: Amerila alberti Moth Mask, 2008, oil pastel, 112 x 76 cm
Image and story by Deborah Klein
Photography by Tim Gresham

The Enchanted Hair Ornaments

Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 13 cm (each panel)

Once there were 8 sisters who lived in a far off kingdom. They were not only fair of face, but were equally famous throughout the land for their long, lustrous tresses, which fell well below their knees.

The sisters consistently rejected all proposals of marriage - they much preferred their own company.

As the months went by their chambers were filled to overflowing with the unwanted gifts of rejected suitors.

Driven to distraction with rage and frustration, their father forbade them to leave the confines of their sumptuous, yet tasteful palace until they were all betrothed.

An ambitious, rather arrogant young jeweller (who was not so bad looking himself) travelled from a distant kingdom with the intention of courting and winning the heart of one of the sisters and thus continuing his climb up the social ladder. (As they were equally beautiful and well connected, he wasn’t particularly fussy about which one.)

This time the sisters could not resist his offerings. Each one was presented with a hair ornament modelled in the form of an exquisite, jewel-like insect, bug, or spider that he had designed and made especially for her. The sisters were not vain, but they were justifiably proud of their hair and so all of them accepted their gifts with genuine surprise and delight. Unfortunately the jeweller’s personality did not match the charm of his presents and his suit was rejected just as politely, but firmly, as those of every other unfortunate soul who had come and gone before him.

What they didn’t know, but were soon to discover, was that the jeweller was a part-time sorcerer who dabbled in the Black Arts. In a flash of blind fury he placed a curse on each of his gifts. Each night the sisters were transformed into the tiny arthropods that had once graced their hair ornaments. Only with the sunrise did they revert to their former selves.

But one woman’s curse is another one’s blessing. In their new guises the sisters could easily slip through the gaps beneath their barred chamber doors.

Every evening they stole from their bedchambers into the nearby forest. What happened next (and, according to many accounts, still happens to this day) is one of the many, many secrets that the forest keeps.

The sisters were not fools. They soon realised that for the curse to be lifted they simply had to remove their beloved hair ornaments. But not one of them ever even considered it.