GARDENING—is it better than sex? This is one of the many searching questions explored at the opening of “Groundworks,” a new show at the form studio and gallery in Queanbeyan that explores, well, the garden.Ten Canberra artists Julie Bradley, Tiffany Cole, Meelan Oh, Nicola Dickson, Kate Barker, Jacqueline Bradley, Ann McMahon, Roslyn Lemoh, Helen Braund and Liz Faul—have been digging around in their experiences to present a wild variety of perspectives but a very ancient practice, one that pits man or in this case woman against nature.
That was nowhere more obvious than in Ann McMahon’s unusual installation “Hybrid Ground,” where an upturned tree branch attached to a human hand and gardening tool, invites viewers “to see the garden as contested territory in which culture and nature collide.”
In a similar juxtaposition, but a less sinister one, Rosalind Lemoh combines garden produce, eggplants, chilies, bananas, and a magnificent art artichoke cast in concrete, with domestic implements, to create works of great beauty.
Installation artist Jacqueline Bradley In “Hungry Month” she also eating utensils with natural forms suggesting spring foliage, while in “Harvest,” a flip book, she shows the creation of an orange.
Moving into two dimensions, Tiffany Cole paints with delicate precision slugs and snails, calling them “nature’s painters” at presents the work in tiny oval formats suggesting heritage photographs.
Talking photographs, painter Elizabeth Faul uses real family photographs to paint what she calls an “idyllic wander through the garden of memory”.
Photomedia and installation artist Helen Braund creates miniature gardens that emerge from the body. You have to see these to believe them – at first you think you’re looking at a desert, then you realise that it’s part of a female body.Kate Barker’s painting, which features a hills hoist, look very familiar an realistic from a distance, but close-up reveal fascinating textures.
Julie Bradley’s richly colourful layered work shows line drawings of plant specimens combined with paper cut out, collage and surface treatments.
Nicola Dickson’s variations on famous drawings of native species in Governor Arthur Phillips’s books may be a reflection on colonial thinking, but they are also exquisitely imaginative.Meelan Oh’s charcoal renderings of the garden looks back to a Chinese “birds and flowers” painting, in which animals symbolise natural phenomenon and birds and flowers represent earthly life.
The garden, in short, has proved to be fertile ground for a group show involving some of Canberra’s finest artists.
“Groundwork” at Form Studio and Gallery,1/30 Aurora AvenueQueanbeyan,, 9.30am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday and 10-4 on weekends, until November 25.
Gallery talk by Karina Harris and Neil Hobbs landscape architects and meet the artists 3pm, Nov 17.