Welcoming the Light: a group exhibition by Di Broomhall, Claire Capel Stanley, Spike Deane, Mel George, Claire Primrose, Ruth Oliphant, Tania Tuominen Vrancic, Jo Victoria and Sylvia McEwan. Curated by Peter Haynes. Form Studio and Gallery. Until December 12.
Form Studio and Gallery is marking the end-of-year program with a group exhibition of nine artists who work across the spectrum of painting (Di Broomhall, Claire Primrose, Sylvia McEwan), glass (Mel George, Ruth Oliphant, Spike Deane), ceramics (Jo Victoria, Tania Tuominen Vrancic) and installation (Claire Capel Stanley).
The paintings of Di Broomhall in the first gallery set the stage beautifully for this exhibition that takes as its theme Welcoming the Light. Her three abstract paintings (Nomad's Light IV-VI) suggest a light that is so bright it blurs edges, washes out any rich depth of colour and obliterates tonal contrasts in an intensive luminosity. Of Broomhall's three paintings, Nomad's Light IV is for me the most satisfying as a resolved work. Its areas of blue paint seem to dissolve and swim in front of the canvas suggesting the infinite space of the sky but also evoking a metaphysical space beyond what we can see and know. The other two predominantly white works are more intangible and elusive, appearing as if they will float away from the confines of the canvas and onto the white gallery wall.
Sylvia McEwan's series of four paintings are complex studies where areas of surface colour are layered onto the canvas. The artist then scratches back and paints over these layers of paint using flowing linear marks and bold areas of colour in a way that suggests the actual physicality of the painting process. However this does not suggest any desire for accidental effects but rather it is a process of careful control by the artist who sees her work as being concerned with space, form structure and balance.
Claire Capel Stanley in her installation (no title given) has tried to capture in a coverlet made from paper tissues the imprint of her sleeping body over a period of time. This is a gentler and more nostalgic concept than the edgy and confronting 1999 work Bed by British artist Tracey Emin (1963-), which has become the iconic "I have slept here" artists' prototype. Capel Stanley sees her bed cover that she has made into a child's cubby house, not as a record of past adventures but as a reminder of a child's play edged about with the notion of the transition of time.
Claire Primrose has been painting for some time her large landscapes influenced by the Snowy Mountains. These particular works (the Later or Sooner series 1-3) are smaller in scale (62 centimetres by 38 centimetres) and repay close scrutiny. The artist in her impressions of dark cloudy skies and soaring mountain ranges uses a sepia, brown and orange palette. That may be one of the reasons that I am reminded of the rocky landscapes by Leonardo da Vinci in the background of his paintings, the Mona Lisa (1503-05/7) and the Virgin of the Rocks (1480s). Primrose experiments with various painting and printing techniques to suggest the essence of these Snowy Mountain landscapes and while they are realistic to some extent, they conjure up like the da Vinci landscapes a romantic view of nature that is majestic and universal.
Ruth Oliphant creates small glass panels using glass fusing techniques. They depict architectural elements of doors and windows to explore the play of light between interior and exterior space. The artist has been moving away from her earlier figurative work to more abstract designs. Path of the day 1 no.2 demonstrates this very successful transition. It brings together the architectural elements of walls and windows but gives priority to a strong grid pattern that works as an abstract design. Yet it can also suggest a bank of windows or perhaps the structure and translucent qualities of a Japanese shoji or paper screen.
Mel George has brought together a collection of old wooden pencil boxes that she has filled with hollow glass pencils and coloured pigments. They each represent an artist such as Claude Monet whom she has chosen because of their work with light and stand as a personal homage to these artists whose careers George admires.
Spike Deane's crystal glass figures are based on a Celtic goddess Aine and have all the power of small primitive votive figures. They are arranged in a group and the artist has used colour like liquid light to unite the forms and enhance the mysterious quality of this magic circle.
Tania Vrancic's folded porcelain vessels are cylindrical in form. Their edges are either joined seamlessly or overlap giving a sense of energy to the otherwise simple form. The translucent porcelain is decorated with pale green designs that enfold the works in images that suggest an underwater world. For Vrancic they speak of her personal journey towards the light of a new beginning. For us, however, these images with their subtle tones and markings can be read as new growth and life.
Jo Victoria has just graduated from the Canberra School of Art. Her delicate white porcelain objects in the Fossil Series are based on the symbolic potency of fossils to carry the imprint of creation and survival. Victoria's work is very beautiful in its fragility and ability to convey through small marks, indentations, hollows and textures the sweep of a bird's wing or the shadow left behind by the imprint of a fern.