Visual Arts: Dark Swan – Contemporary Tales the the Gothic Antipodes

27 August 2018

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8 Sep – 5 October @ PSAS, 22 Pakenham Street Fremantle ·
Presented by Dark Swan ·

‘Dark Swan – Contemporary Tales of the Gothic Antipodes’, is a contemporary visual art exhibition that examines an aesthetic of Australian Gothic Romanticism in relation to the real and imagined history, landscape, architecture and characters of Western Australia through art, film, costume and performance.

Interest in the Romantic Gothic is piqued in 2018 due to the 200th Anniversary of the seminal gothic novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, written in 1818. Shelley grew up in England as a sibling of Henry Willey Revelly, the architect of the Round House in Fremantle and early Swan Colonist. The pair grew up in an environment of the most significant philosophers, poets and intellectual liberalism of the Romantic Period, indicating the extraordinary influences and ideas that may have been present in the minds of the earliest colonists of WA.

Curator, artist and former Fremantle fashion designer, Kelsey Ashe Giambazi, after recently completing her PhD thesis in Australian Art and History of Dress at Curtin University, has bought together 10 visionary and award-winning artists to interpret WA’s brutal pioneering era of survival against all odds – unearthing Gothic/Romanticist tales, bizarre characters and ghost stories from the Swan Colonies early years of establishment.

The four-week long program, held in the moody volume of heritage listed PS Art Space in Fremantle, will provide a strong conceptual and atmospheric experience where performance, music, costume, visual arts and films are paced throughout the duration of the exhibition. Local characters and “ghosts” such as Moondyne Joe are brought to life, as are imaginings of local convict-era architecture; the Fremantle Prison, Roundhouse and patients at the Lunatic Asylum (Fremantle Arts Centre).

In a new shift toward the world of art, WA fashion stalwart Aurelio Costarella will exhibit one of his Victoriana inspired gowns and demi-Couture designer Kristie Rowe will present a unique live/art/fashion sculptural performance with WA Mezzo Soprano vocalist Caitlin Cassidy in a unique approach to Dark Swan. Award winning photographers Eva Fernandez, Anna Nazzari and Rebecca Dagnall’s new work will be on display, as will new paintings from Fran Rhodes, Sheree Dornan and sell-out Fringe Festival performers Genrefonix. Renowned Fremantle artist Ross Potter will also unveil his newest large-scale graphite drawing.

“After finishing my PhD in Art, I found myself surrounded by artists, designers and performers who shared an interest in the Australian Gothic, and a fascination for the spiritual dimension of the Australian landscape and of the characters and architecture of long ago colonial days….the trials and tribulations of our forebears that have helped make life so wonderful for us today here in Fremantle….so I decided my first research task would be to bring them together for an exhibition, ” Kelsey said.

“The title Dark Swan is both a referent to the Swan River Colony and the elegant nature and subtle beauty of WA’s emblematic water-bird. The duality of the title re-inforces and hints at the exhibitions aims of exploring not only the darker realms of the gothic subconscious and the Victorian era in which WA’s contemporary identity emerged, but the stylised imaginary beauty promulgated by a contemporary International high fashion and art aesthetic and the dramatic emotive quality of Romanticism.”

Tue-Fri, 10am-4pm, Sat, 10am-2pm

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Maureen Levy

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