Craft / “Still Waters”, by Sharon Peoples, at Tuggeranong Arts Centre, until February 1. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.
SHARON Peoples is a textile artist who has been working and exhibiting for many years. This exhibition was developed from the four weeks she spent as artist in residence at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre early this year.
Peoples originally identified gardens as being the key theme of her work. However, on early morning walks around the lake, listening to the birdcalls in the general quietness of the lake, Peoples found a more pernicious growth – blue/green algae. She realised immediately that this was the reason for the eerie quiet.
Peoples’ work is in three groupings: larger pieces which are machine embroidered, smaller hand embroidered pieces, and covered boxes and spectacle cases which, when opened, contain tiny hand-embroidered treasures. The boxes contain the tools used to make repairs to items made from fabric.
Two larger, life-seized works “Death of a Magpie” and “Trespassing Black Swan” highlight the degradation of the environment. “Death of a Magpie” is a haunting work, emphasised by the bleeding in tones from white through to black. A row of living magpies runs across the bottom of the work, reiterating the sadness of the death of the single bird.
“Trespassing Black Swan” depicts a proud black swan, appearing to float on the water. Again, the main bird is underlined by a row of small swans along the bottom. Both the magpie from “Death of a Magpie” and the swan from “Trespassing Black Swan” are shown in two smaller works – “Black Swan” and “The Frosted Magpie”. The motifs in the smaller works fill their frames, thereby focussing more on the birds.
Peoples shows considerable concern for the difficulties of the wildlife around the lake. The contents of the boxes and the layers in the spectacle cases remind the audience that, with care and vision, they may be able to make some repairs. The fact that both can be closed speaks of how easily the issues can be dismissed.
A detailed artist’s statement is available on the website – I believe that it should also be on the wall in the exhibition. I don’t believe it is fair to expect that visitors will search for it.
The environment is fragile – Peoples’ work brings the compassion and understanding of this on a small area in Canberra.