Sunday, May 30, 2021

A visit to Queenscliff Gallery

Last Thursday, with a week-long lockdown looming in the state of Victoria, Shane and I decided to seize the moment and head for Queenscliff to see the Leigh Hobbs/Jim Pavlidis exhibition at Queenscliff Gallery. It was a delightful way to spend our last day of freedom (at least, for the next seven days). The show is superb, a real balm for the soul, and the works of the two artists, who are longtime friends, complement each other beautifully. For a virtual tour of the exhibition, go HERE.

Four of my homo-insecta watercolours, pictured above and below, are on display on the mezzanine level of the gallery. (A fifth watercolour, Ladybird Woman, had just flown away to be part of a private collection in Sydney). That’s Shane and I viewing the remaining works in the photo second from bottom below. (Photo credit: Theo Mantalvanos).

We were so completely engrossed with Leigh and Jim’s exhibition, I never got around to taking any installation views - aside from one particular work. I was especially drawn to the series of tower paintings that Leigh made specifically for the show. Shane and I were privileged to see them in various stages of progress during visits to Leigh’s studio, so I was already familiar with the paintings. In fact, for reasons that are too layered and complex to go into here, several of them have taken on a deep personal significance. If I were to summarise their meaning for me in only one word, however, it would be ‘resilience’.

Initially I thought every work I had my heart set on had sold. There was one notable exception: Spiral Tower (oil on canvas board, 20.3 x 15.2 cm) pictured below. For reasons I still can’t fathom, it wasn’t on my initial shortlist, even though it’s linked closely to the other paintings that spoke so profoundly to me. Now it feels as if I was fated to have this work and can’t wait to bring it home. I’ve since spoken to Leigh, who tells me it’s the last tower painting he made and that it sums up all that he was aiming to express in this series; he added that it’s his personal favourite. It’s mine too.

Many thanks to Theo Mantalvanos, Queenscliff Gallery Co-Director, for your warm welcome. I’m very much looking forward to showing with you and Soula in late September!

The Hobbs/Pavlidis exhibition was originally scheduled to finish tomorrow, 31 May, which of course runs into the 7-day circuit breaker. However, in recent good news, a special encore presentation of the show will be held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, 12 - 14 June. 

Meanwhile, although the gallery is currently closed, the works of all QG’s represented and guest artists can be viewed 24/7 by clicking HERE

Monday, May 17, 2021

INTO ME SEE (Part 2)

Following directly from my last post is a preview of the two works that are part of the upcoming exhibition, INTO ME SEE at The One Star Gallery in West Melbourne.

The construct of INTO ME SEE (scroll down to read the exhibition brief, or click HERE) underpins much of my own work, which focuses primarily on women’s hidden histories. One of its dominant motifs is the ‘figure seen from behind’, or Rückenfigur. A perpetual outsider, the Rückenfigur reflects a mood of quietude and isolation. Like the protagonist of New Horizon, 2020, pictured top, (1) she invites us to share her journey, learn her story and see the world through her eyes, to the extent that we become as one with her. 

The Rückenfigur addresses a particularly divisive time in our history, when our state of disconnection - from ourselves, from each other and from the natural world - seems greater than ever before. 

My drawing Maid of Honour, 2020, pictured above, (2) alludes to the centuries-long tradition of women stitching their stories onto fabric in place of ink and paper. The pattern on the anonymous subject’s elaborately tattooed back draws parallels between the tattoo and embroidery needle. It is based on a detail from Maids of Honour, an embroidery pattern designed by May Morris (1862-1938). Morris, who characteristically drew her inspiration directly from nature, was a significant contributor to the Arts and Crafts Movement, a prolific embroiderer, textile, wallpaper and jewellery designer and educator. Even now, however, her designs are sometimes attributed to her more famous father, William Morris. 

INTO ME SEE is curated by Mariella Del Conte. Exhibiting artists are: Camilla Gold, Deborah Klein, Deborah Walker, Georgia Janetzki, Heidi Yardley, Jane Burton, Jenny Watson, Katrina Beale, Lisa Barmby, Lisa Roet, Mina Young, Polly Borland, Sophia Hewson, Susan Wyers, Victoria Hartcup, Edwina Preston and Anna White.

Opening night: Thursday, 20 May, 6 - 8 pm

The One Star Gallery, 301-303 Victoria Street, West Melbourne, 3003

Gallery hours: 3 - 7 pm Monday - Friday, or by appointment: 0432357537


Instagram: @onestarlounge and Mariella Del Conte: @salonhang

INTO ME SEE runs from 19 May - 12 June


Pictured  from top: 

(1) New Horizon, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 50.8 x 50.8 cm 

(2) Maid of Honour, 2020, ink, watercolour and water soluble graphite on Khadi paper, 42 x 30 cm 

(3) Mick Harvey, AKA Neo Arts, co-founder (with Katrina Beale) of The One Star Gallery, pictured here with exhibition curator Mariella Del Conte as they begin the installation of INTO ME SEE. My two works are in the foreground. In the background, L-R, are works by Deborah Walker and Heidi Yardley. Mick Harvey’s Instagram page is HERE.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

INTO ME SEE (Part 1)


I’m delighted to have two works, a painting and a drawing, included in 
INTO ME SEE, a group show curated by Mariella Del Conte.

The exhibition brief Mariella provided is as follows:

Ester Perel, a leading couple’s therapist, describes the concept of intimacy in our times as  ‘Into Me See’, where we ask another to enter into a relationship with our inner life.

What part does intimacy play in art and how much of themselves do artists reveal in their work? How do we, as viewers, connect to artworks; how do they enter us and touch us? Can we call this connection intimacy?

At a time when attention spans are waning and media - including the sharing of intimate details of our lives - scrolls at a nauseating speed, how do we as artists invite the attention and trust of the viewer in exchange for meaning, validation and substance (Into me see)? 

Intimacy offers respite from isolation and meaninglessness but it requires time - time to look, connect and unconsciously/ subconsciously evaluate and invibe.

An intimate artwork can be:  a portrait, an object of meaning to the artist or an erotic inner or outer world. The veiled or not fully revealed meaning of an artwork can invite intimacy.

The detail and delicacy of an artwork which is painstakingly composed and produced can be the form of intimacy regardless of the subject matter.

Not every artwork is intimate, not every attempt to engage our attention is an invitation to intimacy. Works of art can also provoke feelings of alienation as they reflect and regurgitate reality.

We can’t sustain a constant state of intimacy but the pendulum has swung so far toward atomisation that the lack of intimacy has left us feeling disconnected and alone.

The opening event is on Thursday evening, 20 May, 6 - 8 pm and the exhibition runs from 19 May - 12 June. See the invitation, pictured top, for further information. (Click on it for an enlarged view). The eagle-eyed will spot a detail of one of my works among the cropped images (top row, second from right).

A post focusing on my two works selected for INTO ME SEE will follow shortly.