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Review of Balancing Act at Queanbeyan's Form Studio and Gallery

Balancing Act. By various artists.

Form Studio and Gallery, 1/30 Aurora Avenue, Queanbeyan.

Open weekdays 10am to 3pm, weekends 10am to 4pm. Until December 14.

 

Balancing act is according to its invitation, a "diverse group exhibition…exploring the idea of balance". Some artists have elected to take their exploration of the "theme" literally, others imaginatively or metaphorically but as one would expect each of the nine artists follows his or her individual course. The results are varied throughout the 35 works in the exhibition but overall this is a strong exhibition exemplified by (mostly) resolved, idiosyncratically stylistic visual languages. 

The media represented covers painting, printmaking, ceramics, glass and metalwork. The ceramics reveal the ongoing relevance of the vessel form and clay as sculptural medium (although one could argue that the vessel is ultimately sculptural as well!). Lisa Maddern's work is characterised by simplicity of form (essentially circular) combined with richly worked external surfaces that impart a rhythmical flow around the bodies of each piece. In four of these the interiors are covered with a lustrous glaze (variously white, yellow or lilac), a quiet and beautiful static motif that contrasts with the sinuous movement and varied textures of the exterior. Regeneration 2 moves away from this formula. Its evocation of the aftermath of bushfire is achieved through the charcoal outer walls and internal graphic black marks, with these in simultaneous contrast and empathy (visual and thematic) with the coloured interior.

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Verney Burness's transformation of rugged elements of the natural world into beautifully conceived clay statements is particularly evocative. Each of her five pieces is evidenced by a wonderful control of scale and understanding of the positive value of the "spaces between" that operate within each work and where a work is composed of more than one physical element. This control allows her to impart into what is artifice, the chiaroscuro encountered in such dramatic ways in the environment. Both Maddern and Burney speak of the balance that is essential in humanity's contract with that environment.

Ngaio Fitzpatrick's Dystopia is glass as theatre in an embracing and immediate Gestalt. There is an other-worldly, fairy tale quality to this piece. Despite its overt  presence it appears almost ephemeral in the gallery space. The four glass forms taper upwards and seem to emerge from the heap of glass "rubble" that is their base. Conversely the artist has imbued a strong sense of ambiguity in the manner in which the upward thrust can be read as a slow meltdown of each form, contributing to the conglomeration of materials of the base. The geometry of the forms combined with the organic disposition of the base, subtly speaks of the real and the artificial and in this connects this work with those above.             

Printmaking is strongly represented by Heather Burness and Angela Coombs Matthews.