Art / “Backwash” and “Jardinière”. At ANU Drill Hall Gallery until October 30. Reviewed by KERRY-ANNE COUSINS, her first for “CityNews”.
“BACKWASH” is a collection of works by seven artists Robert Bittenbender, Isabella Darcy, George Egerton-Warburton, Sarah Goffman, Spencer Lai, Marian Tubbs and Philadelphia Wireman.
It is about “creating art from the backwash of contemporary life”. The works are a vibrant mix of wall art and assemblages made from plastic bags, compositions created from recycled objects and free-standing constructions. The vibrant imagery and energy has a similar power to the visual impact of street art and graffiti. The works grab our attention and don’t let go.
The artists in “Backwash” are concerned primarily with the material objects that surround us. Their works pose the question – can we ever escape the culture of excess and the tidal wave of material stuff that threatens to engulf us globally? The impact on the environment of this excessive toxic rubbish is explored in two beautifully crafted videos by Marian Tubbs.
Robert Bittenbender’s colourful mixed media work of wire, paper and plastic objects are mashed together like rubbish dump detritus. Bittenbender creates a visual metaphor for how the overwhelming impact of the rubbish we accumulate can also invade our mental space.
George Egerton-Warburton’s repurposed trolleys are strung with unrecognisable objects, well passed their use by date… more menacing in decay they advance on us… can we escape!
Sarah Goffman creates a world of objects she has accumulated over 50 years. They attest to the nostalgic attraction that objects have for us even if they are now neither useful nor beautiful.
“Jardinière” is an exhibition of Ruth Waller’s paintings and Toni Warburton’s ceramics in Gallery 3 that engenders a more contemplative mood reflecting their inspirational theme of the cultivated garden.
The title “Jardinière” refers to the garden urn and the notion of a garden as an act of creation.
Waller has painted a collection of urns on small wooden panels. In a muted palette her urns are deconstructed so that their geometric shapes move effortlessly between foreground and background yet keeping their integrity as an image. Waller is completely in control of what she wants to convey and her paintings have an impressive authority.
Warburton’s ceramic urns provide a clever, exotic and conversational counterpoint to Waller’s paintings. Their organic and fluid sculptural forms, decorated with flowers and shells, are redolent of memories of cultivated gardens with their shell grottoes, urns and garden ornaments.
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