Review / Exhibition ‘celebrates’ local craft artists

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Monique van Nieuwland’s upholstery.

CANBERRA is extraordinarily rich in artists working in all art forms, including music, literature, performing and visual arts, and especially the crafts, which now includes “design”. I believe that design should underpin all visual arts, but recently it has assumed its own persona.

One reason for the strength of the visual arts is the contribution made by the ANU School of Art. For example, two exhibitors – Richard Whiteley from glass and Dr Julie Bartholomew from ceramics, head workshops at ANU. Several exhibitors have held teaching positions, and many are graduates of the institution.

This exhibition includes – and celebrates – the work of 83 craft artists who belong to Craft ACT. Most are from the Canberra region, but such is the strength of the organisation that at least one is from Sydney.

Dr Julie Bartholomew’s, “Climate Scolls”, 2017.

Exhibitors are showing work in a range of materials such as glass, paper, metal, ceramics, and textiles, and less commonly used perspex and rubber.

An annual exhibition has an aura of importance and gravitas. Viewers will undoubtedly expect artists to be exhibiting their “best” work from the past 12 months or so, and they will not be disappointed.

In addition to many familiar names, the exhibition includes some new faces. Rose-Mary Faulkner is showing a work in glass titled “Map Series – the Soft Glaze”. This work is in kiln-formed glass with decals. Tom Taverner is showing an elegant bracelet carved from one piece of nephrite jade from South Australia. Both works show expertise in design and execution.

Annie Trevillian’s name may be more widely known. In 2016 she was commissioned by ACT Health to provide artworks for the Dhulwa Mental Health Unit. The source for her imagery in this series of works is the landscape around Mount Mugga Mugga in Canberra. Each element has been carefully hand painted and is then scanned and digitally manipulated for output on windows and walls, giving a peaceful and colourful view for patients.

I was particularly drawn to a small work by Leonie Andrews. Titled “Shibuya Crossing”, she has stitched over the paving stones in the photograph and in a surprising way, this highlights the sandals and legs of two young women waiting on the pavement.

Monique van Nieuwland wove upholstery to cover a chair she found, designed by Fred Ward. It was a fun mental exercise to trace the design of the roundabouts and streets of Griffin’s plan of Canberra depicted in hand-dyed deep red wool.

This is a very big exhibition, showing a wide range of outstanding work and is a testament to the high standards of craft in the ACT.

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