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Canberra Today 9°/13° | Friday, May 24, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Exhibition of more upending than mending

Detail from Monica Andrews’ “Leaves.”

Craft / “Upending Mending” University of Canberra’s Faculty of Arts and Design, Pivot Gallery, Belconnen Arts Centre, until July 3. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

THIS is the UC Faculty of Arts and Design staff’s 28th art exhibition.

The provocative, or inspiring, theme is “Upending/Mending”. The curator called for works that creatively responded to ideas of care and repair.

Exhibitors display a variety of responses using diverse materials: repurposing found materials, collaboration with communities, inviting others to listen and participate.

Art has always been used as a way to focus attention on ugly issues in our community. Art can brush the issues away and dress them up in glitter and sparkles. Or it can present the ugliness in its raw state to bring viewers up sharp. Generally, artists make their art in a way that draws the ugly issue to our attention.

“Upending/Mending” is a hybrid exhibition. I think the work by HK Plum – “I, too, am used to being broken” – is probably the only work that has been “mended”. A neoclassical vessel has been mended four times since the artist began a PhD. Four crumpled photographs document the chronological milestones on a very personal journey. The Japanese tradition of Kintsugi has been followed, and each mend is enhanced with gold lustre.

Monica Andrews has created a brightly coloured banner from discarded clothing collected from the Green Shed in Mitchell in December 2020. While this is a useful way of using discarded clothing, perhaps we should all just purchase fewer items, and disregard the push from the fashion industry.

Several exhibits seek to engage visitors. A special work is “rus in urbe” by Ben Ennis Butler. This work reminds us that our domestic landscapes have been cleared and refashioned to our tastes. Viewers enter their postcode and receive a printed receipt depicting indigenous plant species from the specified location, with predictions for future plant growth.

“On Beauty,” by Kirsten Wehner in collaboration with the residents of Weston Creek. Photo Gemma Fischer

“On Beauty” is a large collaborative work that reminds us of what once was. An obscure, polluted waterway was once meandering wetlands, rich with reeds, birds and other creatures that live in such environments.

Residents joined artist Kirsten Wehner and walked the concrete drain, exploring the drain’s story and using direct printing recorded new and current experiences of beauty. This collage helps participants reimagine the unloved landscape. Hopefully, it will become a different space that is more attractive to all.

Other ugly issues that our attention is drawn to include sexual abuse by the clergy, the impact of dementia, the breaking up and coming back together of relationships, and the demolition of Northbourne Public Housing Flats and Currong Towers.

The exhibition includes some provocative works, some obscure and others blatant.

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