Review / Bouncing of ideas in outstanding glass show

Craft / “Refraction: studio glass vessels”. Beaver Galleries, 81 Denison Street, Deakin. Until February 12, Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am to 5pm. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

THE first exhibition of the year for Beaver Galleries sets a very high standard.

Tom Rowney – ‘Pool’, blown glass, incalmo and cane work

Sixteen artists were invited to create a work that was inspired by and responded to the work of the artist before them, rather like Chinese Whispers. So the second artist responded to the first, and the third to the second and so on. Each artist was set a theme, connecting it to the preceding work. The result is a bouncing of ideas, which of course refers to the way that light or sound bounces from one surface to another.

Jeremy Lepisto started the project with the theme of “place” and his enigmatic work shows a tradesperson painting a white picket fence. It is in the form of a shipping container, and what might be a container can be seen behind the fence, alluding to both industrial and domestic situations.

Melinda Willis was given “architecture” and Ruth Oliphant “architecture and light”. Oliphant’s enigmatic work is outstanding, relating to both form and light. The door opening from a dark space into a bright light offers untold possibilities and opportunities.

Viewers may need to follow the path set out by the location of the objects but be careful not to miss Catalogue No. 6 by Mel Douglas. Her theme was “light lines”, describing space and her response interprets this in the most literal way. A glass cane arcs from one corner of the room to the top of the door frame, creating two separate shapes on the wall.

Kirstie Rea – ‘Life’, folded glass and timber shelf.

Often a project such as “Refraction” takes artists in completely new directions.  Kathy Elliott and Ben Edols – their theme was “carved lines of coloured light” – appear to have taken that new path and are showing a vessel with carved intersecting lines and bands of colour. This work is seemingly simple in form and surface, but don’t be fooled.

The themes take a slightly more domestic path at this stage, and Kirstie Rea was given “folded fields of light colour in domestic setting” and her work of folded cloths, with one spilling over the horizontal shelf plays with light and line.

Alexandra Chambers was given the theme of “domestic items of meaning”. Unlike most of our daily communication, she is showing a series of envelopes, representing our connections between friends and family.

Gradually the exhibition finds its way back to “place”.  Hannah Gason, whose theme was “mapping terrain/place” is showing bales of unknown crops, waiting in the paddock.

The last artist, Mel George, says that Gason’s work spoke to her about harvesting the land and her own work depicts a patchwork of colour and texture of cultivated land as seen from the air.

I found this a very stimulating exhibition. The theme given to each artist bore some relation to their familiar body of work, but they have startled us out of the familiarity.

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