Review / McIntyre’s craft tells stories of place

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Mekong boat with fishing basket 3, paper porcelain, linoprint.

ANITA McIntyre graduated from the Canberra School of Art in Ceramics in 1976 and has been practicing for over forty years. She has travelled extensively in Australia and in Asia, and imbues her work with a sense of place and memory, through omnipresent images and colours.

This artist treats viewers to her personal narrative and diary of her travels in the ancient landscapes of Western Australia and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This body of work is combined with a personal heritage of the local Canberra/Queanbeyan region.

The exhibition includes two smaller groups of work, most in paper porcelain. First is a series of boat forms, the second a series of flat panels or tiles, many framed, which feature historical maps and images. The ceramic surfaces are canvases where she expresses her ideas and memories. She uses them to tell stories.

“Fish with turtle”, paper porcelain, monoprint, terra sigillata, stamping.

Two boats are vessels for collected objects, such as bones from the Kimberley and numerous shells, also from the Kimberley, titled “Kimberley bones” and “Kimberley shells”. 

Several boats represent fishing boats that ply the Mekong River. Long and low, with high bows and afts, they have meagre covers over the bow, with fishing baskets in the aft. Kiera-Kirow boats represent the boats used by indigenous people from the Kimberley. Their sides are richly decorated.

McIntyre collects tiny objects that catch her eye on her travels. Stamping, terra sigillata, linoprint, screen printing, and coloured slips build up a rich and complex surface. The motifs are scattered across the surface of some works, while in others maps of the area which her family settled, in the local region. Viewers will recognise names such as Googong, Braidwood, Queanbeyan and Mongarlowe.

McIntyre’s time in Siem Reap is evoked in several works. “Face tower 1” and “Face tower 2” show two heroic and monumental images on walls in Angkor Wat. The beatific and inscrutable images evoke the peace and calm of this extraordinary temple complex.

The walls of the temples are extensively decorated in bas-reliefs, and McIntyre depicts the formal war ships of the Cham people, accomplished seafarers.

McIntyre draws on a library of images, from her memory and childhood, and her interpretations of places visited, to tell stories. The stories are of family and place, as I read in the show’s title. The abstracted motifs on the surfaces of her works evoke the texture of weathered landscapes and surfaces in the Kimberley and Angkor Wat.

The images are generally intimate and invite the audiences to explore them carefully. After many solo exhibitions and participation in many more group exhibitions, McIntyre continues to explore the qualities of clay through her stories.


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