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Reviews/Visual Art

Anne Williams and Louise Wells – celebrating the daily walk

1 March 2022

Though not completely transported, Jaimi Wright finds plenty to enjoy in Anne Williams and Louise Wells’ explorations of everyday adventures.

‘It’s a Matter of How You Look at Things’, Anne Williams and Louise Wells ·
Mundaring Arts Centre ·

For Perth-based textile artists Anne Williams and Louise Wells, details matter, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Their latest collaborative exhibition “It’s a Matter of How You Look at Things”, at Mundaring Arts Centre, is a charming celebration of the natural beauty and personal rituals within the everyday.

Pictured is artwork by Anne Williams, it appears to be an embroidery of a figure walking a pet cat or dog.
Anne Williams, ‘On the Track Series’ – ‘Misty Morning’, 2021, linen, nylon, net, cotton, 19 x 14 x 1cm. Photo: Josh Wells.

For almost its entirety, the exhibition is enchanting in its documentation of each artist’s individual daily journeys, one in the bush and one in an inner-city suburb. But for me, the metamorphosis from lived experience to exhibition is incomplete, its visual language not yet cohesive enough to provide an entirely convincing transportation for its audience.

That said, both Williams and Wells are accomplished artists, and I am a big fan of their respective work. Each artist has an exemplary command of her craft, and the exhibition’s theme – pausing to appreciate life’s quotidian adventures – is a timely one.

Williams’ inspiration for her body of work is derived from her regular walks along a particular bush track, during which she takes notice of the exercise’s recurring details. She makes a point of looking closely and lovingly at what she sees on her travels and translates this affection for her surroundings into her artworks.

These interpretations are a triumph in her Groundcover Series (2021). Composed of wool, silk, and paper, this series involves a collection of eleven spheres: their organic shapes and earthy colours mimicking the microcosms of fauna and undergrowth that line Williams’ track. The installation is intricate, playful, and a pocket-size marvel of the great outdoors.

On the other hand, Williams’ On the Track Series, an assortment of sixteen episodic accounts of her time along the track, is less successful in terms of capturing the depth of experience and profundity that comes with submersions in nature. One example is On the Track Series – Little Ravens (2021), which uses cotton thread to depict three ravens in a simple line art style, and includes a ditty about the titular birds. In comparison to Williams’ other illustrations, which are so full of character, this work feels naive.

Artwork by Louise Wells, pictured is a bunch of leaf-shaped fabric pieces, tied like a bouquet, in shades of blue and green.
Louise Wells, ‘Birds on the Wire’ (detail), 2021, recycled silk, rayon thread, 150 x 33 x 5cm. Photo: Josh Wells.

The core of Wells’ works is also inspired by her daily walks, a recurring route around an inner-city suburb. Like Williams, she also takes care to notice and note down her surroundings. Her reflections are concerned with seasonal changes and the place markers along her path.

Colour Palette for the Morning Sky (2022) is comprised of small windows that peer into the glorious hues of nature. The piece is an assembly of 360 pieces of commercial print on card. Delicately held together with thread, each card contains a picture of the sky at various times throughout the day. The mosaic of painstakingly arranged soft greys, purples and blues effectively convey rhythms of time.

The emotional tone of Wells’ STOP (2021), by contrast, seems out of place in an exhibition so focused on the wonder of the everyday. Depicting a stop sign created from recycled wool blanket, embroidery thread, silk, and cotton, the work is strong but its rough texture and mottled colours have an eeriness that feels misplaced within the general context of the exhibition.

It is important to keep in mind, given what has been said, that the title of the exhibition still holds true; “It’s a Matter of How You Look at Things”. At the heart of this exhibition is the delight in different perspectives, so I encourage you to get out there and lend your own perspective to this exhibition; it’s worth making it a part of your (every)day.

“It’s a Matter of How You Look at Things” continues at Mundaring Arts Centre until 3 April 2022.

Pictured top: Anne Williams, ‘Groundcover Series’ (detail), 2021, wool, silk, paper, dimensions variable. Photo: Josh Wells. 

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Author —
Jaimi Wright

Jaimi Wright is your friendly neighbourhood art historian. She has just completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at UWA and dabbles in curating, local arts writing, and 19th century French history. Her favourite piece of play equipment is the roundabout even though her stomach should know better.

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