Transformation- Craft ACT annual members exhibition, and CO:LAB Cathy Franzi, Alison Jackson + Dan Lorrimer. At Craft ACT until December 14.
The annual members exhibition is always an event to enjoy especially after a long period which has seen galleries having to cancel or postpone exhibitions. Gold is the theme for this exhibition in honour of the 50th anniversary of Craft ACT. A selection of the works in the exhibition have been generously donated by the artists to a Craft ACT sponsored public auction later in November for an artists benefit scheme.
The perennial appeal of the members exhibition is the diverse range of work by over 70 well-known and respected artists. Beautifully crafted furniture is among some of the outstanding work this year. Artists have respected the uniqueness of the wood emphasising its characteristic grain, colour and texture. Hiroshi Yamaguchi's practical "Ari Stool" (pictured) in blackwood is a sculptural statement - the design of the flowing slit design in the stool's seat is reflected by the curved crossbar beneath. Benedict Laffan's "Table" is a subtle design that allows the full beauty of the wood to be appreciated.
Glass is well represented. Mel Douglas' gold glass bowl Overlap" holds the light and perfectly expresses the "gold" theme of the exhibition. Bethany Lick's glass bowl "Isolated" evokes the natural rhythms of the day through beautifully modulated colour. In her wall panel "Brushed", Hannah Gason works with a restricted palette. Her small mosaic of soft golden coloured glass is brushed across as if by a brush stroke diffusing the otherwise controlled light and subverting its geometric patterns.
Also in hot blown glass are Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello's two highly coloured baskets inspired by the "tunga" or woven baskets from the Tiwi islands decorated with designs of natural grasses. The artist continues to surprise with her inventiveness in bringing together the forms and traditions of indigenous crafts with a contemporary mode of expression.
The range of textiles this year demonstrates the potential of this art form. Jennifer Robertson's woven wall hanging "Ropy Flow" is eye-catching with its shimmering surface, Dianne Firth's delicate fern image wall piece "Botanicus" and Julie Ryder's appliqued "map" of her walks during lockdown explore our natural world. Ruth Hingston is also an artist I admire. I usually associate her work with creating images that reflect her environment but in her decorative embroidery "Byzantium" she evokes another age where gold embroidery was used for status and splendour. Valerie Kirk's textile panel "Namadgi Thumbnail Collection" reminds me of the tags of wool left by sheep on bush fences. The small tufts of coloured fibres are a record of her recent fruitful Craft ACT residency at Namadgi National Park where she explored the bush environment and the concept of place.
CO-LAB is a fruitful and inventive collaboration between the partnership of Alison Jackson + Dan Lorrimer who work in metal and Cathy Franzi who is a ceramic artist. Franzi is well known for her porcelain ceramics using native plants as a decorative motif. Porcelain, prized for its translucency, lends itself beautifully to holding and transfusing light. This is beautifully realised in "Leaf Print Series" - hanging lights ornamented with delicate designs of native leaves - and in the more dramatic "Burrawang Collection" where the soft intimate glow of light is transmitted through the white porcelain.
Jackson + Lorrimer's sophisticated metal tubular lights are more architectural in style - energised by the flowing form of the metal. The successful Jackson + Lorrimer design partnership is rightly recognised for its attractive contemporary design characterised by the visual appeal of the handmade allied to studio production.