Transit 2013 showcases Australia’s newest emerging artists
The physical, emotional and psychological journey of menopause, and miniature retro cardboard caravans used to highlight homelessness and mass consumerism are some of the issues being explored by Australia’s newest emerging artists at Transit 2013
Transit is the annual exhibition of graduating visual arts students at Southern Cross University.
Transit 2013 brings together 36 of Australia’s newest emerging artists to showcase their work across a broad range of visual arts media including painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, installation and film, reflecting the diversity of studies available at Southern Cross University.
John Smith, visual arts course coordinator, said the students were drawn from a variety of age groups, backgrounds, previous careers, prior qualifications and life experiences.
‘The common experience of all of these students lies in the personal diversity of each individual direction undertaken in the development of their particular body of work for these exhibitions.
‘The degree provides training and preparation for a future in contemporary visual arts practice applicable to a range of arts industry futures. These include becoming practising artists, arts education careers, arts management careers, ongoing academic pursuits and a variety of associated professional directions.’
Rahima Jackson, a ceramic and mixed media artist, was awarded the Lismore Regional Gallery Graduate Student Award at the opening of Transit 2013 for her installation, Fruits of Labour.
The award is intended to encourage students in the daunting transition from art school to professional arts practice by providing them with an opportunity to exhibit new work at the Lismore Regional Gallery in 2014.
‘My installation celebrates the act of making, with a focus on ceramics’, said Rahima in her artist statement. ‘It serves as an ongoing investigation into practice-based research, looking at its value in the field of visual arts. Recent closures of art institutions have restricted the opportunities available for emerging artists.
‘This puts the future of the arts in Australia in question.’
Babette Yates, an early childhood teacher turned printmaker, has set out to disrupt traditional notions of menopause with her series of copper etchings, while former real estate agent Clare Urquhart combines her passions of art and caravanning.
Across one of her larger modular works – a multi-plate and multi-process copper etching overlaid with encaustic painting – Babette said a bright red river follows her intense personal journey of redefining and re-visioning womanhood and ageing.
‘I wanted to depict the multiplicities of the physical, emotional and psychological states I experienced as an ageing, menopausal woman. I set out to defy popular cultural images and broaden the visual representation of older women as vital, delicate, multi-layered and strong.
‘The challenges and struggles bring strength, acceptance, self-respect and power.
‘I encourage the viewer to pause – take time to reflect, float down that river in beautiful handcrafted boats and celebrate with me, triumphant and transformed.’
Clare Urquhart’s two-metre high installation, a cardboard hill covered in miniature replica retro caravans, is entitled, Heading for the hills (the last resort).
‘I got inspiration from seeing slums and favelas overseas. I wanted to highlight alternative ways of living, different housing options and housing affordability. And mass consumerism, too, that’s why the caravans are made out of discarded cardboard that I found and re-used.’
Clare sold houses for 10 years before finally following her dreams and doing fine arts at TAFE and visual arts at SCU. Her series of colourful and fun ceramic models of vintage caravans were exhibited at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina (most have since been purchased) earlier this year. One of them, Gypsie Rover and the Table of Knowledge, took out first prize in the Northern Rivers Social Development Council Art Prize. Her work also features in the current issue of Caravanning Australia magazine.
‘The caravans evoke a sense of nostalgia among people. Their reaction to my work is great. I love the stories they’d tell me about their caravans and their trips.
‘Caravans are an obsession of mine. When I was growing up Dad would drag us around in the caravan. I love the idea of heading off on the open road and living that gypsy, nomadic life. Having said that, I’ve lived in the same place for 20 years.’
Natascha Gleeson and Vrinda Gleeson, describe themselves as old friends rather than mother and daughter. Yet their arts practices could not be more different: landscapes and nudes. Natascha, a mother to four children including Vrinda, takes on the ominous fire storms that have scarred the Australian landscape over centuries.
‘My struggle with the uncontrollable oil paint, appropriate to the human presence in my images, barely emerges to approach our own inability to control what we witness,’ said Natascha.
Vrinda, 20, spent a session at the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York as part of SCU’s student exchange program. Her artistic concerns are about the tautology of paint by appropriating past renditions of the idealised nude.
‘I’ve constructed a single isolated, zombie-like figure, almost psychological in its veneration. I am trying to understand the desires of painting today, what to speak of in painting the nude figure, which is just as awkward and self-referential as its process.’
The Transit 2013 exhibition opens in the visual arts V block at the Lismore campus. It continues through to this Friday, October 25. Opening hours are 10am to 4pm. Visit Transit 2013 for more information.