PAINTER Annika Harding is a brave one in this Centenary year. She’s looking at the ways in which Canberra doesn’t quite live up to ideals, myths and expectations, but in falling short presents new possibilities.In her new show, “Shortfall,” she investigates how people interact with the environments in and around our ‘bush capital’ that are in a state of flux; either a state of construction or deconstruction.
The works convey and provoke inquisitiveness about the typically overlooked environs they are based on.
The artist says, “My paintings in ‘Shortfall’ use paint to re-investigate the landscape, exploiting colours, textures and transparencies that require the viewer (and myself, while painting) to slow down and get lost in the landscape.”
The exhibition is made up of several distinct yet interrelated bodies of works.
The first series continues Harding’s exploration of ways that people interact with damaged landscapes in Canberra. Ongoing interventions in the landscape and expedition to the suburban bush investigate the wonder and sadness of bushwalking through landscapes that show signs of past clearing and other man-made scars as well as current and past infrastructure. These spaces are not meant for recreation and sight-seeing but they offer insights into how we live with the land and possibilities for new ways of interacting with it.
The newest series of work is similar, but explores these ideas in the context of bush myths that have featured in Australian art and literature. As Canberra is the capital city and often referred to as the ‘bush capital’, the contrast between these romantic myths and the realities of the urbanised but distinctive landscape is a bit ironic. But Harding’s paintings also reveal that in some ways these legends do still have a place in Canberra.
These works include “Wide Brown Land,” which features a young woman looking out through Tatton’s “Wide Brown Land” sculpture over the rolling blue mountains surrounding Canberra and “The Man From Snowy River,” which shows a mountain bike rider flying down a steep, rocky descent at Mount Stromlo.
The fourth series featured in this exhibition is a collection of postcard-sized paintings on cardboard.The artist has painted ‘throwaway’ scenes of everyday life in the city such as roadwork, residential construction and damaged urban infrastructure.
“Shortfall” is Harding’s first solo exhibition, at ANCA Gallery, 1 Rosevear Place Dickson noon -5pm until September 15.