Seven Seas Exhibition

With International Women’s Day this week, what better way to mark the occasion, albeit belatedly, than with an all-women exhibition, now showing at Queenscliff’s Salt Contemporary Art. 

Seven Seas is an exhibition of vibrant, modernist works inspired by the sea. It features over forty colourful, coastal-themed paintings and etchings by seven accomplished artists: Sue Anderson, Sarah Faulkner, Karan Hayman, Annie Howie, Victoria McCaffrey, Judi Singleton and Bridgit Thomas.

The seven women share a common bond – they are all contemporary artists who live on the coast around Port Phillip Bay and at different times in their lives they have returned to the subject of the sea to express their ideas and emotions. As a symbol of the unconscious, the ocean has provided them with a rich source of imagery to describe the vastness of the psyche, as well as a sense of place.

“The idea for this exhibition arose from the concept of shared inspiration ‘the sea’, as a defined notion of place but also as a place for the subconscious to inhabit,” says co-curator, Judi Singleton. “The women I have chosen to be part of this exhibition have an adherent talent devoted to the exploration of the self resulting in a powerful illumination of ideas.”

Although four of the artists, Faulkner, Hayman, Howie and Singleton, have exhibited together before and were involved in the Roar Studios art movement of the eighties, a variety of individual styles and contemporary interpretations characterise this exhibition.

“They are all modernist works in a diverse range of materials such as oil, gouache, pastel, watercolour, etching and ceramics. Each artist has their own style and intellectual agenda,” says Singleton. “For me, I was challenged to paint the sea in a modern context so I have been exploring the notion of modernism in the landscape.”

Rendered in a distinctive, naive style, Singleton’s paintings depict the coastal environment and the families within it. Her works convey a sense of optimism and joy through kaleidoscopic colour and shape. Other works in the exhibition include bold, expressive paintings by Sarah Faulkner; brightly hued and linear patterned abstracts by Karan Hayman; and lavishly textured oils by Annie Howie. There are also delicate watercolours and etchings by Bridgit Thomas; fluid, impressionistic paintings by Sue Anderson; and shimmering watercolours and oils by Victoria McCaffrey.

Singleton initiated the Seven Seas exhibition not just to create awareness of the depth and breadth of art being created in coastal communities, but also to provide support for female artists who juggle the demands of family life with their art career, and who may sometimes feel isolated working in their studios. Preparing for this exhibition has given the seven women an opportunity to connect with each other, share ideas, and stimulate their art practice. And in doing so, they have developed a strong sense of camaraderie.

“We all work hard; we need a voice; and we need to be able to exhibit,” says Singleton. “And it also enables the art viewing public a chance to see art made within their communities.”

Seven Seas opens on Sunday 13 March, 2:30pm at Salt Contemporary Art,
33-35 Hesse St, Queenscliff. On until 3 April.

Media release from Salt Contemporary. All images courtesy Salt Contemporary Art.

Summer Bay, Sue Anderson.

White Summer II, Ann Howie

Stormy Seas, Sarah Faulkner

Birdseye, Karan Hayman

Summercloud Bay, Judi Singleton

Port Phillip, Bridgit Thomas

Ferrys Forever, Victoria McCaffry

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