See the smaller picture

See the smaller picture

A local exhibition looks at individual stories, Ron Cerabona writes

Emily Casey has a strong personal connection to Canberra: her grandmother was born here in 1928 after her great-grandparents moved here, so she wanted to take a different approach when curating an exhibition to commemorate Canberra's 100th birthday.

''I was thinking about the centenary and thinking about how much Canberra has changed and how much it's grown,'' she says. ''I wanted to curate an exhibition that didn't tell the big stories we normally hear. I wanted to look at the growth of Canberra through small stories.''

The result, The Kitchen Table, is ''an exhibition made up of all the little stories that contribute to the whole, that tell little bits of it''. The title is a reference to the intimate domestic space where such stories are often told.

Casey says the 11 artists in the exhibition - ranging from well-established to emerging - are all from Canberra and work in a variety of media.

The Kitchen Table is divided into four themes, she says.


''Canberra's humble beginnings are fondly remembered, but not immediately apparent from the outside. Julie Ryder's homage to the territory's pioneering women and Ruth Oliphant's reimagining of lost Canberra treasures provide a glimpse of where we have come from, whereas Alexander Bell Moffatt investigates the layering of memories.''

And, she says, while Walter Burley Griffin's plan can still be recognised, so can the visions of many other planners .

''The alterations made to accommodate Canberra's growing and evolving population are explored in the work of Kate Barker and Bettina Hill,'' she says. ''Katherine Griffiths, Sarah Murphy and Amelia Thompson look at the ways traditions are passed on and reinterpreted by each generation. The establishment of Canberra family traditions reflects the maturing of this city.

The Kitchen Table is on at M16, 21 Blaxland Crescent, Griffith until April 14. The exhibition catalogue will be launched on Saturday, April 6 at 2pm. Phone: (02) 6295 9438.

Katherine Griffiths

In 2010, Katherine Griffiths graduated from the Australian National University School of Art completing her honours in photography and new media arts. Griffiths has completed residencies at M16 Artspace and PhotoAccess, held two solo exhibitions and been part of multiple group shows. She uses constructed narratives and cinematic lighting.

Griffiths is a third-generation Canberra artist. Portrait of Audrey is a work based on the vivid memory of her late grandmother, who painted the rural landscapes of Canberra and the surrounding regions.

Angela Bakker

Angela Bakker works across a range of media, from precious metal through to glass and photography. Using simple forms, shapes and lines, she interested in how her objects interact with the spaces in which they are installed.

Her work is inspired by her memories of growing up in Canberra in the late 1970s and family discussions with interstate visitors about the getting lost on roundabouts and the hidden nature of Canberra.

Full Circle is constructed of small, pictured discs arranged on the wall in a circle, with a second layer of mirrored discs held out from the first layer with pins. The discs, pictured, highlight the treasures hidden behind Canberra’s art-deco layout of intersecting circles, in photographs of places Bakker regularly visits.

Jacklyn Peters

Graduating from the Australian National University in 2008 with honours in painting, Jacklyn Peters has also studied art history and textiles at Curtin University in Western Australia. Since 2003, Peters has exhibited regularly on the NSW south coast, Canberra and Tasmania.

Even though Canberra is a well-planned city, the people who live here are certainly not black and white, as Peters discovered when seven people invited her into their homes. The story that goes with each of the seven portraits she has painted is just as important.

Sarah Murphy

Sarah Murphy is a flame worker who in 2011 completed a bachelor of visual arts at the ANU, majoring in gold and silversmithing. She uses industrial materials such as titanium and stainless steel to explore and push the boundaries of contemporary jewellery.

Her series of brooches, It Runs in the Family, celebrate her family’s tradition of running in the annual Canberra Times Fun Run. She has embedded gold and gemstones into industrial-grade stainless steel, representing the preciousness of her family and their personal experiences.

Kate Barker

Kate Barker is a painter. She completed her bachelor of visual arts with first class honours at ANU in 2008. Her work features characters engaged in cryptic activities within fragmented, incomplete scenarios.

Inspired by her grandmother’s stories of 72years of living in Canberra, Barker’s paintings bring forgotten scenes back to life. Working from old photos, Civic depicts a place that does not resemble the area today.

Amelia Thompson

Born and raised in Canberra, Amelia Thompson grew up cultivating a love for art and fashion. Her two grandmothers – both accomplished seamstresses – were a great influence in the formation of her brand.


Thompson graduated with a bachelor of fashion design from the Canberra Institute of Technology in 2007.

Something Borrowed draws on elements from three generations of wedding dresses from the one Canberra family. It signifies the fragments of our mothers’, grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers’ pasts that we carry with us on our own wedding day, via the borrowing of an important decorative item or tradition.

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