Friday, 11 January 2013

Outside the box: Moree Plains Art Gallery

Installation view left to right (on the wall) Lezlie Tilley, Annemarie Murland, Linda Swinfield with Patricia Wilson-Adams in the foreground. See image notes below for more information.
The Pandora Group of Artists would like to thank The Moree Plains Gallery for inviting us to exhibit in Moree. Most importantly we would like to thank Katrina Rumley, the Director of Moree Plains Gallery for making it all possible and considering all our curatorial needs- The exhibition was a huge success! We would also like to thank independent curator Rebecca Gresham for travelling out from Newcastle, curatorial assistant Kylie McNamara and the staff of the gallery for thier support.

Outside the Box is an exhibition of works from a Lower Hunter based group of women artists known as the Pandora Group.  These women have shown a long term commitment to their work, each has a significant profile both locally and further afield, and each has overcome significant difficulties in order to maintain their practice.

The group was formed in 2006 in recognition of the fact that there seemed to be a coherent group of mid-career women artists whose work was dynamic and centred around an abstract tradition: a tradition that persists but is often neglected in relation to women’s art practice. It was Susan Porteous who acted in bringing these notions together in the first exhibition, Pandora’s Box which was shown in Newcastle. 

In this exhibition the viewer is afforded a chance to examine works that have developed as a result of the group’s commitment to further dialogue and exhibiting both individually and as a group.  There is a breadth of practice from ceramics, painting, drawing, printmaking and sculptural works which is testament to the group’s willingness to reach beyond the more common and specifically defined boundaries of media. 

This group of artists is all too aware of the Modernist history of male domination in painting and sculpture where, in the mid 20th century, male artists were treated as heroes for making works of a massive scale, often at the expense of content.  Yet a Modernist understanding was first championed in this country by women such as Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston and Grace Crowley.  Abstraction is currently under going a re-evaluation in both the USA and Europe where it is being reworked and presented as an invigorated practice.  Artists are finding new ways of extending visual understandings with an unmistakable integrity, for example in the last Whitney Museum of American Art Biennale – March 2012. 

The Pandora group of artists work to position women as a significant force within this new abstraction.  We see in this exhibition a commitment to an expanding notion of abstraction which now, in the 21st century, has many definitions.  It has become an oversimplification to analyse abstraction merely in terms of its formal and stylistic qualities and it is no longer confined to that notion of imagery being merely grounded in prescribed values or the reduction of natural appearances.

Here we see the artists taking on a world of possibilities and constructing work that has come from experiences, the intellect, the domestic and often an engagement with materials.  The results being an art that is open-ended in its approaches and, contrary to common belief, an abstraction that does embrace meanings.  These are coded so as to heighten intuitive possibilities, to augment process, or to allow for metaphor or metaphysical interpretations - often ambiguity is more explicit than the obvious.  This presentation shows a fluidity gained by thinking abstractly and an authenticity in that all the artists have shown that they are able to link the personal with broader contexts.
Patricia Wilson-Adams, November, 2012.
Helen Dunkerley, Tower of Industry 1 and 2, 2012, Monoprinted slab form, dry magnesium glaze, 42 and 45cm each.

Detail, Tower of Industry 2012.

Helen Dunkerley

These pieces form a new series made in July and August of 2012. I am using the same slips and colours but monoprinting onto large slabs. These are then into shapes and built into towers which are more vaselike in scale. I am intrigued by the asymmetric balance and the random juxtaposition of different patterns. Aged, worn industrial architectural elements are the inspiration. The patterns are derived from drawings of detail.
Sally Bourke, Terramungamine Series 2, oil and encaustic on board, 6 panels,
90x120 cm, each.

Sally Bourke

These paintings are about country. When I was a kid my dad used to take us into the bush to hunt and fish. The painting Terramungamine Series 2 is representative of a place just outside of Dubbo in Central NSW. It's where I grew up. Terramungamine is a place where  people would go to make tools and talk. It's where the stories were told. I like that.

Installation view Helen Dunkerley, and Sally Bourke.


Annemarie Murland

A personal experience of migration shapes my visual literacy that explores place, identity and notions of belonging through an analysis of felt experience. Etched in the family psyche, migration provides the context for my artistic research and is instrumental in forming the conceptual development of a personal painting methodology.

Influenced by traditional craft techniques found in Aran garments and plaid blankets, the concept of women’s work as a construct for identity finds form through a creative process of weaving wet and dry materials.  The result is a series of visual monologues that pay homage to my mother’s craft of knitting and acts as a language and a form of storytelling.

As memory triggers and mementoes, the works of art embody personal signs and symbols that translate meaning across, and through the work, creating sensory neo- narratives.  A labour intensive painting process harbours elements of craftsmanship that is evidenced in the deft line work and mark making.  Embossed by haptic processes, structures emerge through the furrows of repeated application of sgraffito to resonate as a delicate visual retelling of a cultural, felt experience.

Annemarie Murland, Sgrafitto: Cool Veil, Oil on canvas on board, 2012,140 cms x 100 x 15

Linda Swinfield

Gunyah 1- 6 is a suite of drawings created during an artist-in-residence at The Gunyah, North Arm Cove NSW in July this year. Gunyah in many indigenous languages means meeting place and it was. This residency was the intersection of many aspects of my practice as an artist and for friends to visit.
This two week residency enabled me to return to mark making through drawing and an art making process that requires time which is often missing in my everyday life.  By moving away from the world for this period I was enabled to focus on art making. I drew daily and the drawings you see here are an evolutionary phase out of which my process will be directed toward making object based forms in the future.

Gunyah 6: Cove 2012, Pastel and charcoal on paper.

Gunyah 1 -6 are for me are individual capsules of time that attempt to transcribe aspects of the landscape, walks within it and experiences that took place whilst I was there. In this group of works I am interested in a non linear depiction of the land that captures feeling, the elements of art practice and site. Sometimes I have used literal sightlines through trees, textures, colour and bush patterns however I didn’t want the work to be a rational or a traditional view of the landscape I was situated within.

Lezlie Tilley

This body of work is a continuation of themes developed in a small impromptu show called Precursor held in 2009 at Brenda May Gallery, Sydney. For many years I have explored traditional women's work such as weaving, knitting, and patchwork, albeit often using traditional male materials such as steel strapping, timber architrave and inner tubes of tyres and so on.

Lezlie Tilley, Indian red/ Cobalt blue, Cobalt turquoise/ Indian red oxide, Orange violet, Green violet, 2010, Acrylic On Canvas                                          
27 canvases at 30.5cm x 30.5 cm (size variable- 5 panels x 5 panels with 2 over)

From this intensive exploration, the square format evolved, and this  body of work will again consist of a series of small square canvases, all identical in size. When installed, however, they will be more like a single kaleidoscope of colour. 

I am interested in creating paintings that work on number of levels: as individual entities and as elements within a much larger framework.

Detail of Patricia Wilson- Adams work, Seedlings for a New (England) arboretum, 2012
Relief print on paper, microscope slides, wood & gesso.

Installation view Patricia Wilson- Adams..Seedlings for a New (England) arboretum and Plain space: patterns and shadow 2012.
Patricia Wilson-Adams

My work has for a long time been concerned with landscape, memory and  the poetic.  The work speaks of being in, of and from country and more specifically relates to the landscapes of Northwest New South Wales and arid zones – sites of my identity.  The work is also driven by a deepening concern for the environment and a feeling that comes from the realisation that much has been destroyed.  I like to think that the work has the capacity to seep into the viewer’s consciousness slowly and subtly by dint of its beauty and patterning, imparting a sense of boundlessness.

The use of reductive forms, the grid and abstraction takes me more deeply into that state of abstraction – away from distraction and towards the mediative: to a place of internal silence, the one phenomena that is always at a person’s disposal – a sort of poetic plain.  It allows one a space in which to contemplate, to be in the natural world, to listen and to speak with a “still small voice”. 

Detail of Patricia Wilson- Adams work,Plain space: patterns and shadow, Intaglio print on rice paper, wax, steel mesh and perspex, Dimensions variable.