Now in its ninth year, the annual Geelong Regional Artists Exhibition, Emerge 2011, is showing at the Gordon Gallery. It celebrates the artistic talent of the region with an eclectic range of artworks by seven local artists.
This year, Emerge 2011 is characterised by an array of mediums – from the humble ballpoint pen through to sophisticated fused glass; from printed textiles to copperplate etchings, and from sumptuous oils to photographic prints. The exhibition offers a smorgasboard of works that have been executed in an unusual way or have a strong conceptual framework. Curated by Anna Briers, her attention to both the medium and the message is apparent.
When you walk into the gallery, you are greeted by the quirky soft sculptures of Patsy Bush. Playful, yet slightly menacing, the intention of these ‘ankle biters’ is ambiguous. Will they let us into the exhibition space? Printed with one colour, bold red, the work’s geometric simplicity is the result of Bush’s ongoing investigations into distilling line, shape and colour into stylised compositions.
Patsy Bush, The Ankle Biters. Image courtesy Gordon Gallery.
The warmth and softness of the materials in these mischievous figures contrast with the cool and brittle elements of David Hobday’s superbly crafted glass pieces. Formerly a marine biologist, Hobday draws inspiration from the ocean to portray the qualities of waves, the whimsy of boats and the beauty of marine life. He started his glass journey with leadlighting in the 1970s and progressively experimented and developed his artistic practice to include kiln-formed and slumped glass.
David Hobday, Gondola Wave I. Image courtesy Gordon Gallery.
Ben Partridge’s drawings, rendered in black ballpoint pen, depict images of the brain or ‘the mind’s eye’. His compelling imagery explores the notion of different mind states and mental illness such as schizophrenia. Strange amorphous shapes emerge from the twisted sinewy lines, much like irrational fears that lurk in the recesses of the unconscious.
Ben Partridge, Insania. Image courtesy Gordon Gallery.
Nearby, a row of small etchings by Jiri Tibor Novak demands closer inspection. This is a chance to get a sneak preview of his limited edition artist book Portraits, to be officially released next month. His surreal images, dark and ominous, pose more questions than they answer and are derived from poetic texts and riddles which are displayed next to the works. Perhaps they reveal a melancholic yearning for his homeland, Czechoslovakia, which he left so long ago. Perhaps he is the ‘wanderer’, the ‘poor man far from home’, as the title of the image below may suggest.
Jiri Tibor Novak, For a wanderer, common sense is the most valuable equipment Better than money for a poor man Far from home. (Loose translation from ‘The Elder Edda’, Iceland.) Image courtesy Gordon Gallery.
Oil paintings by Bevan Shepherd reveal his environmental concerns – the land’s manipulation by humankind and its consequences. Anna Briers writes in the curatorial essay, “The painterly language employed here depicts linear tracks like metal transport arteries that alternately embrace and strangle the regional landscape, demarcating their trajectory across mother nature in an insidious weave … This series of work raises topical questions around the consequences of humanity’s impact on the earth in our relentless quest for progress and profit.”
Bevan Shepherd, Flight from Blue River I. Image courtesy Gordon Gallery.
Every year a work is acquired for the Gordon Art Collection and this year, two works were selected: Shepherd’s Flight from Blue River I and Through the Fallen Fields by Debra Jackson. The latter uses a thick impasto technique, creating layers of brightly coloured paint spotted and stippled across the canvas. Based on the classical theme of fallen warriors, Through the Fallen Fields draws upon the symbolism of the red poppy which proliferated in the battlefields of Europe and is synonymous with human sacrifice and rememberance.
Debra Jackson, Through the Fallen Fields. Image courtesy Gordon Gallery.
The exhibition also features twelve photographic prints by Naomi Macleod. Using an analogue lomographic camera, Macleod transforms the incidental and the everyday into magical otherworlds, atmospheric images with vibrant saturated colours and vignettes that frame the shot. These photographs refer to the journey as opposed to the destination and are snapped quickly rather than formally composed.
(A global community of ‘lomographers’ which celebrates the unexpected, has emerged as a reaction against digital media, preferring instead, with no small amount of nostalgia, the unpredictable nature of the lomographic camera, and the ever-changing variables of crossprocessing film. You can read about the lomography movement at www.lomography.com.)
Naomi Macleod, Suburban Sundown. Image courtesy Gordon Gallery.
Emerge 2011 runs until 2 September at Gordon Gallery, Cnr Fenwick St and Gordon Ave (opposite Geelong Station). Monday to Friday 10 am to 4 pm. Phone: (03) 5225 0851.