North coast art lovers will have a feast of works to admire, including sculpture, ceramics, paintings and prints, when four new exhibitions open on Friday at the Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah.
The exhibitions will be held from 20 November to 10 January, 2016.
The Last Supper in salt is a new sculptural installation by Ken + Julia Yonetani, commissioned by Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre and developed during a four-month residency at Hazelhurst from January 2014.
The Last Supper addresses themes of food production, concerns arising from the level of salinity in Australia and related environmental impacts.
Salinity has posed a major problem for civilisations throughout history, from ancient Mesopotamia over 4000 years ago to present-day Australia.
Along the Murray-Darling basin – known as Australia’s ‘food bowl’ because it produces up to 90 per cent of Australia’s fresh food – 550,000 tonnes of salt is pumped out of the ground every year to try and stem the increasing rise of highly saline groundwater.
Ms Muddiman said The Last Supper was a large-scale sculpture made entirely from salt, taking the form of a nine metre table laid with a variety of foodstuffs.
‘The work draws on the still-life genre as an artistic tradition that emerged as current agricultural practices were being developed, bringing new food produce to the tables of a rising European bourgeois class,’ she said.
‘The themes of consumption, luxury, vanity and mortality portrayed in these early paintings are re-enacted in this installation.
‘Using salt as the single artwork medium brings focus to the environmental cost of agricultural production and connects with the historical associations of salt – as a powerful, sacred substance that maintains life by enabling food preservation, but also induces the death of ecosystems and the collapse of empires.
‘Salt becomes a metaphor for the rise and fall of civilisations throughout history, and the issues of environmental decline, climate change, and food security that face us on a global scale today.’
Everyone is invited to attend the official exhibition opening by well-known local Robert Quirk, cane grower and researcher, at 6pm (for 6.30pm) DST on Friday 20 November. Proceedings will begin with a Welcome to Country by Deidre Currie, descendant of the Traditional Custodians of the Land.
On Sunday 10 January 2016 from 10.30am-12pm and again at 1pm-2.30pm, children and families are invited to join tutor Carleen Joy for free creative sessions, and model their own ‘supper’ out of homemade salt dough.
Stephen Bird: Bastard Son of Royal Doulton is a Wollongong Art Gallery touring exhibition that surveys Bird’s ceramics and works on paper from 1992-2013, uncovering his vibrant watercolour painting practice and its influence on his well-known ceramic works.
Bird was born in England, moved to Scotland at the age of seven, then studied in Scotland and Cyprus. The exhibition surveys the past 20 years of the artist’s practice, including early works which reflect Bird’s travels to India and Nepal before settling in Australia in 1999.
Ms Muddiman said the works included paper constructions, watercolours, ceramics and mosaics that have not been shown previously in Australia.
‘Stephen Bird makes highly individualistic ceramics that toy with convention, provoke and amuse,’ she said.
‘The deliberate use of industrial techniques and materials of his hometown Stoke-on-Trent – the town in which Royal Doulton, Spode and Wedgewood were founded – form a practice he has dubbed ‘Industrial Sabotage’.
‘The exhibition includes commemorative plates and Toby-style jugs which meld an Australian sardonic humour with traditional English industrial pottery forms,’ she said.
‘Throughout the exhibition, Bird’s mastery of glazing techniques and applied decoration on ceramics is matched by dazzlingly bright watercolours and intense graphic detail of works on paper.’
More recent works explore responses to the strange and dramatic Australian landscape.
The previously unseen watercolours are literal recordings of an event or experience, while his ceramics play with these ideas, incorporating irony and humour into comically tragic tableaux.
All are invited to attend exhibition opening celebrations on Friday 20 November. Join the gallery at 5.15pm (DST) for an exhibition floor talk by independent writer, curator and consultant Grace Cochrane AM, followed at 6pm (for 6.30pm) DST by opening speeches.
Exploring the Big River
An exhibition inspired by animals and plants in river locations and showcasing paintings, drawings, prints and a short film.
Big River, by artist Karlee Rawkins, will be on exhibition from 20 November 2015 – 10 January 2016.
Karlee Rawkins is a post-graduate student from Southern Cross University in Lismore and lives on a stretch of Never Never Creek near Bellingen in mid-north coast NSW.
‘I am inspired by foliage, the patterns and plumage of animals and the overwhelming repetition found in some outsider art and religious imagery,’ Ms Rawkins said.
‘Pattern is used to create ambiguity in my compositions, with each layer revealing brushstrokes and scribbling, recording movement and change. I research the symbolism behind my chosen theme as a starting point for my compositions, adding and weaving in my own associations and stories through each painting.
‘I work very intuitively, using references that are often poetic and inspired by life, my work documents both an emotive and creative process. For me these works are about ritual, practice, growth and sacredness. I hope to instil within my paintings a sense of both the personal and the archetypal.’
The works in this long-running series are a result of the artist’s research into the mythology and iconography of different cultures and their reverence for water and animals.
Ms Muddiman said although Rawkins had been particularly influenced by Hindu and Egyptian iconography, composition and the use of colour, Big River focused on the depiction of Australian animals and plants.
‘Karlee’s work also explores how the human, spiritual and natural worlds are intrinsically related,’ she said.
‘The animals and plants used in her work are often metaphors for personal emotions and experiences. Her subjects are distorted, flattened and often dominated by pattern.’
All are invited to attend the official exhibition opening by Anthea Polson of Anthea Polson Art, a member of the Tweed Regional Gallery Foundation Ltd, at 6pm (for 6.30pm) DST on Friday 20 November.
On Sunday 22 November from 10.30am-12.30pm (DST) everyone is welcome to engage with the artist as she works on a drawing in the gallery foyer, gaining an insight into her creative process through a display of printmaking plates, drawings and objects of inspiration.
Dale Rhodes – Still
Deceptively simple paintings veil a deeper meaning in Still, an exhibition by Mullumbimby artist Dale Rhodes.
‘I know that our visitors will enjoy these works for Dale’s painterly approach and sublime finish,’ Ms Muddiman said.
‘These deceptively simple, seemingly traditional works are a joy to behold.
‘Visitors are sure to enjoy viewing these colourful depictions of familiar everyday objects – lemons, mangoes, apples, oranges, paper bags, jugs and magnolias,’ she said.
‘This artist is constantly exploring what elevates a picture from being a simple depiction – a picture of something – to being a painting which has its own identity.’
Rhodes said he tried to make the experience of his pictures a ‘concept-free zone’.
‘They are not about anything except pure visual experience; moments of absolute seeing, with no thinking, message or meaning attached,’ Mr Rhodes said.
‘I attempt to apprehend the visual world in a purely pictorial way, to put down an arrangement of shapes, tones and colours that is representational but which functions in its own right, entirely independent of the objects depicted.
‘I find that contradiction interesting and challenging. It is a tightrope walk, a constant flirtation with prosaic depiction,’ he said.
‘When and if it succeeds, I find it more engaging than pure abstraction. I love the tension between representation and abstraction, the inner twinkling between meaning-making and pure delightful visual cadence.
‘Figurative art is often misunderstood. There is the sense that if it is ‘lifelike’ enough, accurate enough, it will be good. But that’s not the case.’
Everyone is welcome to attend the opening of this exhibition by artist and teacher Virginia Reid at 6pm (for 6.30pm) DST on Friday 20 November 2015.