THE SUMMER EXHIBITION
9 DECEMBER 2015 - 31 JANUARY 2016
THE SUMMER EXHIBITION
To mark the end of another year of bringing fine art to Canberra the Nancy Sever Gallery is holding The Summer Exhibition, a mixed show with works by 12 artists: Byrd, Andrew Christofides, Greg Daly, Janet Dawson, Janenne Eaton, Annie Franklin, Carole Henderson, Tim Johnson, Kate Stevens, Michael Taylor, Ruth Waller and Guan Wei.
The works on show cover a range of media – oils, acrylic, pastel, watercolours - and styles, from the whimsical creations of Guan Wei, Tim Johnson and Byrd to the abstract landscapes of Michael Taylor and Ruth Waller, the immaculate finish of surfaces by Andrew Christofides. Beautifully executed artworks by Janenne Eaton offer the viewer a 21st century vision of the painting enterprise. Delightful paintings and drawings by superb tonalist and one of Australia’s most senior artists Janet Dawson. From inspiring seascapes of Tasmania by Kate Stevens, Canberra landscapes depicting the four seasons by Carole Henderson to the ‘magic realism’ landscapes of Annie Franklin.
The exhibition also features work by the master ceramicist Greg Daly that he has produced since his critically acclaimed solo exhibition at the Nancy Sever Gallery in July this year.
Born in NSW in 1974, Daniel Maginnity [Byrd] lives and works in Canberra. For the last 15 years he has been working on public art, painting murals and commissioned works. Some of his important commissions include works for The National Portrait Gallery, the Hindmarsh group, the Molonglo Group, Actew, Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, The City of Sydney, Tumut Shire Council, The Department of Territory and Municipal Service. His work is represented in the collections of The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Museum and Gallery, The Molonglo group, Craft ACT and various private local and international collections. He has been guest speaker at the Australian National University School of Art, Canberra University and the Canberra Institute of Technology. Byrd has run workshops in the ACT for CIT Reid, North Ainslie Primary School, Kaleen High, Lyneham High and Waniassa Creek High Shools, The Messengers Program, Adelong Council, Youth centres at Woden, Civic, Tuggeranong, Western Creek, Turner and Belconnen and in Cooma, NSW.
Andrew Christofides was born in 1946 and completed studies in Fine Art at the Chelsea School of Art in London (1975-78) where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He has always been drawn to an aesthetic of order, simplicity and elegance. He is intrigued by geometry, which is about order, precision and clarity and which has a kind of visual efficiency in which nothing is superfluous. His goal is to achieve an art that combines the simple grandeur of the Italian Renaissance with the heroic idealism of such early European utopian art movements as Constructivism. He introduces space through the use of frames, which create a “window” effect; uses a hierarchy of scale in which some elements are made larger and more prominent while others are made smaller. He overlaps elements and handles paint more atmospherically to generate greater depth. “I’ve also introduced my own expressive presence into the work” he explains, “via subtle painterly surface gesture, a more personal use of colour and a halo effect around some of the elements, which I feel projects a sense of the spiritual or esoteric”.
Greg Daly is an internationally known and respected ceramicist specialising in rich glaze effects. He is a graduate of RMIT University and is currently Head of the Ceramic Workshop at the ANU School of Art. His work is to be found in over 80 national and international art galleries and museums and have been included in over 200 national and international exhibitions. He is the author of several books on ceramics. Daly’s art exemplifies his complete understanding of and empathy with his chosen material. His understanding extends not only to the raw material of the clay but also to the selection of the appropriate form and decoration to provide the necessary cohesion of elements that constitute the complexity that is the art object. His focused direction results in sophisticated essays in the ceramic medium, striking for the balanced harmony of elements and precise geometries of form.
Janet Dawson was born in 1935 and studied at the National Gallery Art School in Melbourne from 1952 until 1956 when she was awarded a travelling scholarship to London. She then went to Italy and later to Paris where she worked as a proof printer at the Atelier Patris and also made her own lithographs. Her practice during this period was influenced by the colour field movement and was characterised by bold flat colour and strong sharp lines with very little tone. As she said at the time: “Nothing should be forbidden when it comes to drawing, everything and anything is a subject. The advice given to me as a young girl was ‘lots of paper, lots of pencils, no rubbers, no rulers and to keep drawing’. Every day I practise. Every day I draw”.
In 1960 she returned to Australia and worked and exhibited at Gallery A in Melbourne, where she gave art classes. She participated in an exhibition of contemporary Australian painting in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 1966 and in 1968 her work was included in the Field exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. In 1973 she won the Archibald Prize with a portrait of her husband, Michael Boddy. She moved to Binalong in rural New South Wales in 1974 and became interested in the landscape with its animals, native flora and changing seasons. This brought about a change in her art practice, with a focus on still lifes and the minutiae of her bucolic surroundings. “I don’t pose my still lifes as many do.” Janet explains. “They arrive on the table, things are cleared, there’s a bit of rearrangement. Generally things already there are selected to take part and the work starts”. Her work is included in major national, corporate and private collections.
Janenne Eaton lives and works in Melbourne. From 1999 to 2012 she was Head of Painting at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. She holds a BA (Archaeology and Art History) from the Australian National University and was awarded a Master of Arts (Fine Art) at RMIT. She has held over 20 solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group exhibitions including at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia. Her works have been collected by many major institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Portrait Gallery, Heidi Museum of Modern Art and Parliament House, as well as by university collections and corporate and private collections in Australia and overseas.
Her practice incorporates painting, photography, installation and video. Her academic and teaching background places her in a unique position to interpret Australia’s colonial and twentieth century past through the visual arts, and the field of archaeology has been influential in the direction that her work has taken in recent years. Her artistic research has centred on the movement of peoples across time and space, and the historical traces that record their social, cultural and material adaptation.
Her work shows how visual art can enhance understanding amongst a society’s component elements; how it can play a role in the processes of social change and be a tool for advancing social justice; and how it can influence identity formation, which ultimately makes it a vehicle for empowerment.
Her more recent works explore the impact of the IT revolution and the way that it has generated what the artist describes as ‘a new digital ecology’ and its impact on our perception of time and space. These paintings, which are largely monochrome, have the look of computer graphics but the dots are applied by hand using traditional materials and techniques. The viewer may initially read the images as digital but a closer inspection reveals that they are the slow, repetitive work of the artist, painstakingly built up in intricate detail to give the illusion of a mechanical production. Messages and scripts emerge from and dissolve back into the surfaces of the works. The structure of the paintings is based on the grid and the pixel - the archaeological imprint of our time, as the artist describes them- reflecting a world in which, to quote Janenne, ‘time and space are collapsed into a constant, flickering presence’.
Annie Franklin has worked as a professional artist since completing her studies in fine art (printmaking) in 1986. Since then she has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, and her work is held in numerous public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian Embassy in Paris. In the early 1990s Annie spent four years living and working with Tiwi artists at the Munupi Arts Centre on Melville Island “The delight in story telling, connection with the land, observing daily rhythms that are punctuated by the changes in nature, the celebration of food; these elements had a resounding influence on my life and on my work; they continue to be the focus of my art practice today”. Annie has been described as ‘an obsessive printmaker, a miniaturist who thrives on precise detail observed with the ‘innocent eye’ of a naif painter”.
While working at the National Gallery of Australia during the 1980’s, Carole studied at the Canberra School of Art. In following years, she continued to study in Jakarta, in Canberra again and then in London. On return to Canberra she resumed studying at the Canberra School of Art from 2002 until 2008. Given her rural origins, she is always attracted to the natural world and is intrigued by seasonal changes in the landscape, its moods and colours. Living in close proximity to Red Hill enables her to walk there frequently and observe the changes brought about by light and temperature on its slopes, vegetation and surroundings. She notices how in the fierce summer heat, the parched hillside contrasts with the green, well-watered parliamentary triangle; how, on a late autumn afternoon, a soft light suffuses the surrounding landscape; how on a clear frosty winter’s night, the slopes gleam in moonlight while shadows pass across the open spaces; and then in Spring, how the rain softens and transforms the slopes, enticing walkers to step out on its green contours. She has successfully participated in several group exhibitions, both in Jakarta and in Canberra, most recently during the centenary celebrations of the city. Her work is held in private collections in Australia, Venezuela, Switzerland, Chile and Indonesia.
Often described as ‘floating worlds,’ Tim Johnson’s extraordinarily powerful paintings embrace the spiritual iconography of a range of cultures including Aboriginal, Buddhist and Tibetan. They are landscapes of desire, imagined syntheses of cultural and visual systems that freely draw upon images that are charged with meaning. The paintings are hypothetical landscapes. The dot painting of Papunya, a Tibetan thanka or Radio Birdman logos may all find their place in his work. His painting style is influenced by these sources in both a technical and philosophical way, and by his collaboration with artists from these cultures. His work is included in the NGA, all state and regional galleries, and corporate and private collections, both in Australia and overseas.
Born in Hobart Tasmania in 1979. In 2001 Kate graduated with 1st class honours from the ANU Canberra School of Art, receiving at her graduation the Canberra Museum and Gallery Award, the Alliance Francaise de Canberra Exhibition Award, and the KPMG Emerging Artist’s Support Scheme award. In 2011 She won the Portia Geach Memorial Painting Prize. In 2002 She was awarded the ASOC Travelling Scholarship to Japan and the People’s Choice, Canberra Art Prize. In 2003 she was awarded the Foundation for Young Australians Emerging Artist Residency, Canberra Contemporary Art Space. She has been finalist in important painting prizes such Mosman Art Prize 2008, City of Hobart Art Prize and Metro 5 Art Award in 2005. She has had several solo exhibitions since 2002 in Canberra, Sydney Melbourne, Adelaide and Braidwood where she lives and works.
In 1953 Michael Taylor was awarded a diploma in painting from the East Sydney Technical College, now the National Art School, where he was taught by eminent artists Ralph Balson and Godfrey Miller, among others. He has been exhibiting regularly since 1963 and he has participated in numerous international and Australian exhibitions. His work is held in a number of important collections including those of the National Gallery of Australia and all the state and regional galleries, as well as university galleries, corporate and private collections. Michael Taylor lives and works in the Monaro. He draws his inspiration from the natural world around him. He paints the landscapes and waterscapes of southeast New South Wales, capturing their rhythms and changing atmospheres. His paintings stand at the junction of landscape and abstraction, though they often appear to melt into total abstraction.
Ruth Waller was born in Sydney. She has taught Painting at ANU since 1990 and is currently Head of Painting. Waller has exhibited her work in Australia for over thirty years, in solo and group shows, and is represented in national, state and regional collections. Her early work demonstrated a strong interest in the natural world, in eco-systems in danger, in undervalued, invisible and unseen life forms. In the 1990s her focus shifted towards exploring the act of seeing in painting, and the changing approaches to representation over painting’s history. Early Italian and Northern Renaissance art provided rich source material for several series of layered and reflective
paintings, which addressed contemporary and personal subjects. In 2000 her Masters thesis, Miraculous scenes from the altarpieces of Siena and Florence of the 14th and 15th centuries, reflected a long-term interest in the pre-Renaissance approach to pictorial space and composition. Since then, her painting practice has continued to explore ways of drawing on the early history of Western painting in developing works which reflect on contemporary experience and questions of perception, optics and the relations between mind and body in the creative process. In considering painting as a form of speculative research she is concerned to highlight the material and perceptual specificity of the conditions of painting, both for the maker and the viewer. Most recently Waller has returned to exploring the natural world through painting - specifically the botany and geology of her own garden and of the local bushland. She speaks of finding new pleasures and possibilities in considering paint as a kind of mineral matter: of colour as a gritty and particular substance, enjoying the way rocks form and cleave with planar geometry and yet erode and crumble in ways more organic, each being irregular and unique and shaped by a specific series of events in the world. “While I am working from nature, I’m interested in the ways the intensity of colours, patterns and forms of the natural world can take on a fantastic quality.” says the artist. “These paintings are in a sense abstracted from nature but they have something of the physicality and complexity of incident you find in historical narrative or landscape painting, where there is a lot going on. The fact is, when you look at the complexity and variety of things around us, there is a lot going on.”
Guan Wei is a major figure in both the Australian and Chinese contemporary art scenes. For almost 30 years he has been creating work that interweaves imagery from his Chinese heritage, his life experience in Australia and his personal mythology.
In 1989, three years after graduating from the Department of Fine Arts at Beijing apital University, Guan Wei came to Australia as artist-in-residence at the Tasmanian School of Art. He migrated in 1990. Further residencies followed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (1992) and the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University (1993). In 2008 he set up a studio in Beijing and he now lives and works in both Beijing and Sydney.
Guan Wei’s works display a heightened socio-political awareness. Many of them incorporate European-style maps and Chinese-style landscapes as the foundation on which he addresses a range of topics: cross-cultural issues, environmental awareness, Australian politics, immigration, the plight of refugees. His distinctive style and highly personal visual vocabulary - floating clouds, map coordinates, isobars - are vehicles for statements that have a profoundly felt moral dimension. Some of his works incorporate the timeless theme of journeying, a theme prevalent in classical Chinese scroll paintings, though transported by the artist to the present day when so many journeys are made to escape persecution or seek a better life.
At the same time his art is laced with whimsy and humour. Human figures depicted in his delightfully idiosyncratic manner cavort on the beach, which, for Guan Wei, is the epitome of hedonism and freedom in Australia. “I try to emphasize three elements in my work”, the artist says, “wisdom, knowledge and humour. I believe people need wisdom to choose from the many different cultural traditions that confront us every day; knowledge is the key to opening our minds to the diversity of the world; and humour is necessary to comfort our hearts”.
Guan Wei has held more than 50 solo exhibitions in Australia and overseas and partcipated in significant group exhibitions including Face Up: Contemporary Art from Australia at the Hamburger Bahnof Museum in Berlin in 2003, the China Project at the Queensland Art Gallery in 2009, and the Shanghai Biennial in 2010. He has won several major awards, including the Sulman Prize in 2002 and thge Arthur Guy Memorial Art Prize in 2015. . He has been the recipient of numerous Australia Council awards and fellowship grants and was artist in residence at the Greene St New York studio in 2003 and the Cité International des Arts in Paris 2007.