DS8_970x90-Web-Banner.jpg
Reviews/Visual Art

A vivid and vibrant love affair

5 November 2019

Review: Lesley Meaney, ‘Becoming Australian’ ·
Holmes à Court Gallery, West Perth ·
Review by Craig McKeough ·

Lesley Meaney’s love affair with Australia is writ large on the walls and the spaces in between, in the Holmes à Court Gallery in West Perth.

It’s been a 50-year relationship for the British-born Meaney, who must surely identify as Australian by now.

But as the title of this show spells out, for this Perth artist, becoming Australian has been a long, gradual process.

Meaney arrived in Australia in 1969 with a design diploma and teaching qualifications under her belt, a background that served her well as she viewed her new surroundings with an inquiring eye.

As she moved around, and lived, taught and worked in different parts of the country, she clearly absorbed its essence and found much of it ingrained in her visual psyche.

This is reproduced in spectacular fashion in her large catalogue of artwork brought together for a 50-year retrospective.

From the vivid bursts of colour in her acrylic and gouache paintings to mixed media works and wearable jackets and tunics, Meaney has captured the palette of her adopted country. This is most evident in the vibrant reds, earthy ochres and ghostly whites of the outback in a stunning series of landscapes.

Meaney captures the palette of her adopted country in the vibrant reds, earthy ochres and ghostly whites of the outback.

Her trademark stitched canvases combine two disciplines to arresting effect. The vertical stitched canvas strips add dynamism to the acrylic paintings — the colours vibrate and the scenes dazzle with light as we are forced to consider seemingly familiar landscapes in a new way.

These are perhaps the strongest pieces in an impressive and eclectic collection.

This combination of disciplines is a regular feature of Meaney’s practice, as is her tendency to tackle one technique, master it and move on.

This has led to her compiling a diverse range of skills, from painting, drawing, sewing, textiles and using found objects. She expresses them as abstract and representational pieces, on bold, expansive canvases, in miniature works and intriguing “shelf collections” of small pieces.

As with any show of this kind — sprawling in space as well as over time — it is difficult to grasp quickly a coherent overview of what sort of artist Lesley Meaney is.

Perhaps the answer lies precisely in the diversity on display. This exhibition underlines her constantly shifting focus and her urge to continually chase fresh concepts and discover new techniques in her ongoing process of becoming Australian.

The ‘Becoming Australian’ exhibition continues until November 17. Meaney will present an artist talk at the gallery at 2pm on November 16.

The exhibition travels to Vasse in February 2020.

Loading spinner

Author —
Craig McKeough

Craig McKeough is a writer and visual artist, with a lifetime’s experience in journalism, covering everything from the arts to horse racing, politics and agriculture. Craig has always been drawn to the swing; an egalitarian, grounding piece of equipment where you can go as high and wild as you want, but you’ll always return to where you started.

Past Articles

  • Terrible beauty in exhibition trifecta

    Craig McKeough steps into a series of unsettling and chilling worlds in neighbouring exhibitions by Merrick Belyea and Brad Rimmer at Art Collective WA, and Jacobus Capone at Moore Contemporary.

    Loading spinner
  • A panacea for our times

    Curated by André Lipscombe and Ric Spencer, ‘Panacea’ is an exhibition that offers the solace we all need right now, observes Craig McKeough.

    Loading spinner

Read Next

  • Reading time • 7 minutesVisual Art
  • adults in space suitsjoin children in putting their hands on a lit dome Sensory experience overwhelms in Whoosh!
    Kids

    Sensory experience overwhelms in Whoosh!

    23 September 2020

    Disabled and autistic reviewer Patrick Gunasekera has concerns about ‘Whoosh!’, Sensorium Theatre’s latest show for neurodiverse children which is part of AWESOME Festival next week.

    Loading spinner
    Reading time • 8 minutesTheatre
  • A singer holds a microphone, with a trumpet player, trombonist, pianist and drummer in the background COVID the catalyst for songs of freedom
    Reviews

    COVID the catalyst for songs of freedom

    18 September 2020

    The pandemic has had an enormous impact on jazz and Garry Lee says there was an atmosphere of joy and relief as WAYJO musicians returned to the stage last night.

    Loading spinner
    Reading time • 4 minutesMusic

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio