‘Uncommon Threads’ Weaves Contemporary Edge

The Gordon’s historic, Lascelles Memorial Laboratory building hardly declares itself as a hotbed for contemporary art but for the past few years, the Basement Studios on the bottom floor, have been home to the undergraduate fine arts students where they’ve created art in a contemporary context through a rich studio-based course. It is here (despite that unforgetable blue floor) that new artistic ideas have percolated and found expression, culminating in a contemporary art exhibition at the end of each year.

Gordon Basement Studios
The Lascelles Memorial Laboratory building with the Basement Studios on the bottom floor.

This year the Uncommon Threads exhibition continues this fine tradition, presenting the work of seven graduating students, all women: Val Betteridge, Jana Kviz, Helen Martin, Jai Marshall, Karen Murrell, Adie Teubert and Susan Rice-Bellman. The title of the exhibition stems from the unintentional correlations between the artists’ work despite their engagement in a variety of themes, styles and media.

Some of the artists explore notions about nature and landscape – people’s sense of place within the landscape and ‘spirit’ within nature. Then there are others for whom memory and dreams provide a rich source of inspiration. A couple of artists have employed the figure to explore ideas about the sexualisation of women and the desexualisation of form.

Adie Teubert Body of thought detail
Adie Teubert, Body of Thought (detail).
Adie Teubert
Adie Teubert, Body of Thought (detail).

Adie Teubert uses black and white images and text to create ambiguous figures where gender and race are unclear. She creates some of the work by layering the text over the image, others by projecting the text onto models and then photographing it. Her text based works are presented in a variety of ways including photocopy prints, a reconstructed artist book, a digital print on delicate chiffon and reams of paper unspooling from a typewriter.

Adie Teubert untitled stream of consciousness
Adie Teubert, Untitled Stream of Consciousnes.

She writes in the exhibition catalogue, “My work attempts to blur the distinction between thought and image. It demonstrates how they are reliant upon and feed off of each other. I try to capture the moment where an idea is born, and the words which tumble through my mind begin to form the image before my eyes. But even then, they are beginning to deteriorate, becoming little more than black and white dots with little remaining of the initial spark of inspiration. My work begins and ends with words.”

 Adie Teubert
Adie Teubert with Body of Thought (detail).

Teubert has used ten passages of considered text and stream of consciousness writing as the basis for her work – one long passage delves into the mystery of dreams and another ponders the role and motivations of the artist.

Susan Rice-Bellman’s art invites us to consider our behaviour within the landscape and our domestic space. In her video work Billy Pram, the artist placed a pram, from which the recording of a crying baby could be heard, outside a busy public building. Rice-Bellman then filmed the responses of the people passing by. The footage, which plays on a two and a half minute loop, may surprise you.

Susan Rice-Bellman
Susan Rice-Bellman with Billy Pram.

Rice-Bellman also holds a fascination for the colour red. Her multi-disciplinary practice explores this intense colour through the recycling of materials she has collected over the past 25 years. She says surrounding herself with the colour red gives her a sense of security, and the confidence to achieve anything.

Susan Rice-Bellman Net Red
Susan Rice-Bellman, Net Red.
Susan Rice-Bellman artist book
Susan Rice-Bellman’s artist book, Drawings of Found Objects.

On the far wall of the exhibition space, Helen Martin’s series of oil paintings portray vistas of the Bellarine Peninsula and convey a sense of being immersed in landscape. Along with etchings and an artist book of intaglio prints, her works reference the story of the Song of Songs. In the poem, landscape is presented as a metaphor for a loving relationship – the lovers are in the landscape and the landscape becomes the lovers. Martin states: “There are many readings of the poem, as there are many interpretations of landscape. This reading juxtaposes my interpretation of the text with images of indigenous coastal bushland at the entrance to Port Philip Bay. These vistas look to the interior of the Bellarine Peninsula: views that are often hidden and which need to be sought out to be discovered and enjoyed.”

Helen Martin Song Series
Gallery view of Helen Martin’s Song series of oil paintings.

Also in the exhibition are photographs by Jai Marshall, oil paintings by Jana Kviz, photographs and video by Karen Murrell, and works on paper by Val Betteridge.

Uncommon Threads is held in the Basement Studios, (entrance opposite Geelong Railway Station). It closes 8 December. It is the last exhibition to be held in the studios by the undergraduate students as the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) is transferring to Deakin University’s Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts). The Gordon’s fine art degree has made an invaluable contribution to the artistic life of Geelong and it will be missed. Let’s hope Geelong continues to have a strong, studio-based undergraduate course to ensure the best education for our artists.

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