The View from Here. Various artists. Horizons – Earth and Water. By Marie Lund. PhotoAccess at the Manuka Arts Centre, cnr Manuka Circle and NSW Circle, Griffith. Until March 25, 2018.
The View from Here is a PhotoAccess Members' exhibition showcasing the work of 37 artists. Artists were "invited to look through their viewfinder to creatively explore unique perspectives of the place and spaces they encountered". As one would expect from an exhibition such as this the overall effect is an eclectic one. That said, the 37 individual aesthetic personalities are each deserving of attention and it is this combined eclecticism that gives the exhibition its dynamic energy.
I viewed each work individually and did not look for synergies or other characteristics that might have established relationships, aesthetic, thematic or otherwise. That said, I sensed a clear celebration of ways of looking and seeing and of the role of the viewer, the artist as auteur/controller and the power of the photographic gaze.
In relation to this Brian Stewart's Painted Canyon (Cat. 3) is especially apposite. Here we have the viewer looking at the artist looking at the image he is making of a real landscape that lies in front of him. This is a clever and pointed statement about the contrasts and elisions of artifice and reality, of what we see and what the artist makes us see. In a sense this work provides a manifesto for the whole exhibition as stated in the exhibition premise above.
Ulli Brunnschweiler's Sunrise after the Storm (Cat. 11) may not have had the same theoretical premise as Stewart's piece but I find the pair of chatting kangaroos silhouetted against the Romantic seascape to be both funny and telling. The concept of "nature naturans" ie "nature being nature" fits well here and as one set of the natural world (the kangaroos) views another (the seascape) the omission of humans says a lot.
The evocative use of black and white in Andrew Robert Morgan's landscape (Cat. 1) found equivalents in a number of other works. The stilled image of Maria Island by Jacqui Doyle (Cat. 12) held a stark beauty as did Luke Power's The Cabin (Cat. 29) and Angus Kendon's untitled rocky outcrop (Cat. 31).
The use of architecture as frame or matrix provided a number of excellent examples. Kleber Osorio's Circle of Sight (Cat. 2) used a circular, tunnel-like structure to direct the viewer while other artists such as Richard Glover (Cat. 2) and Christine Mogg (Cat. 20) placed a linear grid over the image, both screen and filter simultaneously stopping the viewer but then inviting him in. Kathryn Leo's A Path to Parliament (Cat. 9) had a striking and dynamically angled viewpoint, the viewer's eye forcefully directed through a narrow opening to the flagpole dominating the centre of the image (and indeed the building itself).
Beautiful atmospherics are also present for me most beautifully in Boys from St Malo (Cat. 6) where the marvellous serpentine curve of the sea wall falling away into the background mist, creates an image of quiet seduction. The evocative light and chiaroscuro of a part of Venice not full of tourists as captured by Geoffrey Dunn (Cat. 18) also holds a particular attraction.
Another image of particular appeal to me is Emilio Cresciani's Through a glass darkly FRAGMENT #2 (Cat. 21). The singularity of the glass fragment sitting cleanly on its background of white was entrancing and captivating in its singularity. This is an excellent exhibition full of many highlights of which I have enumerated a few. I apologise to those whose work I did not comment on and exhort readers to visit this fascinating and diverse show.
Marie Lund's Horizons – Earth and Water presents two technically distinct but thematically and aesthetically related bodies of work. The contrast of these is especially effective in the gallery space and makes for a delightful viewer experience. The 10 sun prints are ostensibly technically unsophisticated – collected objects (here from nature) are arranged on coated paper and laid open to the sun and other elements while the images develop. The results are spectacular. The brown palette (redolent of sepia) envelops a range of natural flora. Its earthy, soil tones are not only appropriate but conceptually and thematically effective and aesthetically highly evocative. There is a sort of inchoate presence impressed on to each sheet of paper, a presence that speaks of immanence and possibilities. While the subtly nuanced forms speak of the natural world from where they were sourced they are more about the poetry of nature than about its realities. These are works to sit with and contemplate.
The 14 inkjet prints are full of the vibrancy and colour of nature. Lund celebrates her world and particularly the world of nature. Within the relatively limited number of works there are echoes of the variety and depth of the natural world. The artist visually avers her enjoyment with the patterns and details of nature in a number of works.
I was taken with Kelp (Cat. 16) and Reeds and Ripples (Cat. 18). In the former the massed serpentine coils of slimy seaweed illuminated the beauty of the unexpected; while the directness of the contrasts between the verticals of the reeds and their rippled shadows flitting across the water surface in the latter spoke of the beauty of nature's structures.
Life Cut (Cat. 15) again showed Lund exploiting the inherent beauty of all of nature, even at its direst. The dried shell of a waterless pond is perhaps not where one would expect to see possibilities for aesthetic delectation. Not so for Lund – this is a strong and poignant image, beautiful nevertheless. This is a joyous exhibition, visually adventurous and exciting. The affinities across both bodies of work reveal the artist's deep love not only for her subject but also for the tools she uses to "expose" that subject to her viewers.