“Mortuus Animalus” by Stephen Harrison.

Art / “You Want It Darker”, by Stephen Harrison, at the Belconnen Arts Centre. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

CANBERRA artist Stephen Harrison creates across artistic genres and his works speak of scenes such as evocative and lonely scenes, and of dreamscapes, animal rights, mythology and comics.

The new exhibition galleries at the Belconnen Arts Centre can house a greater array and size of artworks, and they need to with one of Harrison’s artworks, in his exhibition “You Want It Darker”, stretching for 17 meters. This long narrow intimidating and dream-like artwork is appropriately titled “17 meters, 9 weeks” and is a surreal and scary beauty. It is filled with images that would make up many dark and disturbing dreams.

Harrison uses mediums such as found objects, wood, bronze and plastic to create his artworks. The Thylacine “Mortuus Animalus” made of bronze and concrete stands before three gravestones. It looks like the creature is choosing one of the three options. It’s emaciated and could represent the last of these animals to ever walk on the earth. It’s a sad reflection upon humans.

“The Tempest” by Stephen Harrison, ink on paper.

Lighthouses feature heavily in this exhibition. All stand stark and decaying; as Harrison says, “like silent sentinels”. Several have been captured as ink drawings on paper, but the four or five that are sculptural works give a walk around view of these monumental and forbidding structures. They all say so much about the distance between us.

“Praha” by Stephen Harrison

The large-scale and smaller sculptural WWII aeroplanes in this exhibition have been created from images of these underwater wrecks. They are another reminder of a decaying world. These are so life-like and I can easily imagine how they sit in their underwater graves. They carry with them the rusted and somewhat forgotten remains of another time, and all emit a sense of loss and grief.

“17 meters, 9 weeks”, is a work that could take nine weeks to view and contemplate. Harrison has mirrored some of his sculptures in this work, but it probably best represents the strange and surreal world of dark and unexplainable dreams. Comical characters in this work even take on a disturbing presence. This is a collage of varying media laid out in a line of twisting and turning visions.

Harrison’s works offer a profound view of things that come and go in this world. Human things and what humans do to things such as wildlife. These works ask, why are humans so dark?

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Ian Meikle, editor