If bugs and spiders make your skin crawl then Up the Garden Path, an exhibition by Deb Fisher, may give you goose bumps! But don’t be deterred – the intricate drawings and paintings of insects from the Geelong area show the creatures in a new light. Deb drew the insects from observation under a magnifying glass and the result is a collection of drawings which have real artistic integrity. Deb says she believes an artist must be personally invested in their work and from her artworks you can sense Deb’s commitment to the process and her absorption with her subject matter. The fine rendering of dainty gossamer wings or delicate diaphanous hairs show Deb’s almost obsessive attention to detail. She has done a remarkable job of bringing an insect to life on the flat dimension of paper and in doing so, she gives a nod to natural history illustration while developing her own personal style.
Deb, who has a Bachelor of Fine Art and teaches at The Gordon, cites John Wolseley and Ex De Medici as major influences. Moths, as a symbol of the brevity of life, feature in many of Ex De Medici’s contemporary works including 54 detailed watercolour drawings of unclassified Australian moths at the CSIRO. Wolseley, whose works record the environment and the flora and fauna within it, has also inspired Deb: “The way he depicts the journey of the insect through the landscape and how he records nature and makes something really simple, really beautiful”. He subjects much of his work to the forces of nature, the vagaries of the weather, and the activities of insects and lizards.
The idea for ‘Up the Garden Path’ started 12 months ago when Deb began looking for insects to draw. “I have always been fascinated by found objects and the stories behind them,” Deb says. “All the insects in the exhibition have been found and given to me by someone. I drew the insects directly from observation. I didn’t want to just copy a photograph.” Every art work in the exhibition is accompanied by the actual found specimen and the name of the person who found it.
The CSIRO were engaged to identify the insects. Most of them are common garden variety types although one, the Giant Green Slantface is unusual for the Geelong area. The exhibition also features a genuine collection of insects from Joshua Grubb, an entomologist from the Geelong Field Naturalists.
Even if you get the shivers looking at creepy crawlies, Deb’s art reveals the beauty of the insect world to which we don’t often pay attention. The exhibition pays homage to an essential yet undervalued aspect of our environment.
‘Up the Garden Path’ is at The Gordon Gallery, on the corner of Gordon Avenue and Fenwick Streets, Geelong. It is on until 30 October.