Fiona Harman, Kangaroo Paw, 2019, charcoal and ink on paper, 29.5 x 42cm
News, Reviews, Visual arts

Wild, wonderful… and timely

Various artists, ‘Wildflower State’ &
Claire Gillam, ‘Botanic Philharmonica’ ·
Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Review by Craig McKeough ·

Botanical themes are among the most prevalent in the history of visual expression. Depictions of flowers and plants can be found on ancient Egyptian papyrus and ceramics, through Medieval and Renaissance textiles and paintings, and burst into life in colourful Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces.

There are good reasons for this. On a most basic level, humans have a dependence on plants for our own existence – for food, shelter and regulating the air we breathe. But on another, less tangible level, plants are a source of constant inspiration with their extraordinary variety of form and colour, their often awesome scale, and their unsurpassed beauty.

In Western Australia, we have always celebrated our plant life, even if we have tended to all but destroy it in the process – the exploitation of our hardwood timbers for building materials, including as road paving and railway sleepers across the British Empire in the early years of the Swan River Colony, being a prime example.

Judy Rogers, Art Forms in Nature 8, 2019, watercolour on paper, 30 x 42cm
Judy Rogers, ‘Art Forms in Nature 8’, 2019, watercolour on paper, 30 x 42cm

But WA is also the Wildflower State, a moniker that we once proudly displayed on our car licence plates, and that claim is no empty boast. Despite the constant threat of human encroachment, this State boasts an array of many thousands of species unique to this corner of the world.

That title has been borrowed for the main exhibition now showing at Midland Junction Arts Centre (MJAC). “Wildflower State” is a part of Mundaring Arts Centre’s “What on Earth” initiative, a celebration of the botanical world in conjunction with the Art Gallery of WA, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, King Street Art Centre and Kings Park Festival.

Coordinated by noted WA artists Tony Jones, Jude van der Merwe and Angela McHarrie, “Wildflower State” brings together 34 diverse practitioners whose 70 pieces fill MJAC’s East and West galleries.

Monique Tippett, Sheoak, 2019, recycled paper, balga resin, copper, 30 x 30 x 14cm
Monique Tippett, ‘Sheoak’, 2019, recycled paper, balga resin, copper, 30 x 30 x 14cm

There is a diversity of styles and media – artists have drawn, painted, stitched, printed, wrapped and rubbed. Some have adopted a traditional, realistic style of representing botanical specimens while others have chosen to depict the intersection of plant life with human existence in more abstract ways.

The variety reflects the extraordinary range of plants endemic to this part of the world. Some are showy and vibrant in their colour, such as Jeanette Garlett’s joyful celebration of banksias and grevilleas, Judy Rogers’ stunningly delicate watercolours on a stark black background, and Bethamy Linton’s mesmerising ink and watercolour xanthorrhoea.

Others are understated and subtle, and are more about the line and form, such as Fiona Harman’s striking monochromatic banksia in charcoal (pictured top), Holly Story’s earthy plant prints and Madeleine Clear’s rich tones of charcoal and pindan ochre depicting the aftermath of fire.

The exhibition is united most effectively by the decision to have almost all the artists submit works on paper of similar size, and hanging them unframed. (There are also lovely small sculptural pieces by Monique Tippett and Sarah Elson, which work in harmony with the art on paper).

“Wildflower State” is a worthy homage to WA’s unique flora and, as Tony Jones highlights in his foreword to the program, a timely reminder of the need for humans to reconsider the priority we place on protecting it.

Claire Gillam, Plant Band, 2018, installation
Claire Gillam, ‘Plant Band’, 2018, installation

Showing in conjunction with “Wildflower State” is “Botanic Philharmonia”, featuring Claire Gillam’s intriguing multi-media installation which explores the notion of communication between plants and humans.

Her Plant Band connects living native plants to robotic instruments, which play their own brand of percussion triggered by measurements of the plants’ sap, water content and rate of photosynthesis. Gillam has fun with the concept, naming her trio of band members after plant entities from the sci-fi and fantasy world, including Fangorn from The Lord of the Rings, Jabe from Doctor Who and Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.

There’s more of the gentle Fangorn than Audrey’s sinister overtones in this installation. It’s a quirky if discordant sound sculpture that asks interesting questions about our relationship with plant life and gives new pause to question what our garden plants might be hearing when we talk to them.

“Wildflower State” and “Botanic Philharmonia” run until October 12.

The “What on Earth” project continues at Mundaring Arts Centre from September 13, with “Peregrinations of a Citizen Botanist”, an interactive installation by Susie Vickery, and “Seeds, Pods and Pollen”, a collection of plant and pollinator inspired works curated by Sarah Toohey.

Pictured top: Fiona Harman, “Kangaroo Paw”, 2019, charcoal and ink on paper, 29.5 x 42cm

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Man and woman standing in a forest
Calendar, February 19, Music, Performing arts

Music: Kalyakoorl Ngalak Warangka – Forever We Sing with Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse

15 February @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Midland Junction Arts Centre ·

Join multi-award winning duo Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse for a free concert as part of the ‘Danjoo – Interwoven’ exhibition opening celebrations. The singer-songwriter and guitarist duo are a rare act who capture audience’s hearts and imaginations by connecting deeply through the power of song.

Their music is informed by four principles: Koort (Heart), Moort (Family), Boodja (Land) and Koorlangka (Children/Legacy) and is a celebration of Noongar Language.

More info
W: https://www.midlandjunctionartscentre.com.au/workshops-and-events/kalyakoorl-ngalak-warangka-nbsp-forever-we-sing-gina-williams-and-guy-ghouse
E:  info@midlandjunctionartscentre.com.au 

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Danjoo Interwoven
April 19, Calendar, Exhibitions, February 19, March 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Danjoo – Interwoven

15 Feb – 6 Apr @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Midland Junction Arts Centre ·

‘Danjoo – Interwoven’ celebrates local Aboriginal culture, Country, language and visual arts practice in Western Australia, proudly presenting new and recent artworks by eighteen Aboriginal artists from or now residing in the south west corner of the state. Danjoo – meaning together in Bibbulmun Noongar language reflects the bringing together of established, mid-career and emerging Aboriginal artists working in diverse art forms, presenting artworks that speak of local Aboriginal culture and contemporary, personal, social and political issues.

Curated by Wadandi/Minang/Koreng Bibbulmun artist Lea Taylor and Midland Junction Arts Centre Curator Greg Sikich, ‘Danjoo – Interwoven’ features the work of Deborah Bonar, Lance Chadd, Julie Dowling, Jeanette Garlett, Naomi Grant, Linda James, Bradley Kickett, Rohin Kickett, Norma MacDonald, Janine McAulley Bott, Esther McDowell, Lewis Nannup, Daniel Roe, Lea Taylor, Jo Ugle, Mandy White, Desmond Woodley and Boyden Woods.

Opening celebration Friday 15 February 6:00 pm- 8:30pm
Exhibition continues 16 February – 6 April

More info
W: www.midlandjunctionartscentre.com.au
E:  info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

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Calendar, November 18, October 18, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Re-Imagined Railyard

7 Oct – 16 Nov @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Artists are constantly inventing new realities and experimenting with versions of past histories. Re-imagined Railyard brings visual arts and social history together to evoke personal memories attached to the locally treasured Midland Railway Workshops. Historic train tools, oral histories and new technologies are presented alongside large-scale curated photographic works of remaining objects found at the Midland Railway Workshops by artist Eva Fernandez.

Opening celebration Sunday 7 October 11am – 2pm. The exhibition continues until 16 November, Wednesdays and Fridays 10am-5pm

More info
W:  www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/exhibitions/re-imagined-railyard
E:   info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Pictured: Eva Fernandez, Anonymous Sculpture #5, 2013, archival inkjet print

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Remembering Tomorrow
Calendar, November 18, October 18, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Remembering Tomorrow by Studio Payoka

7 Oct – 16 Nov @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Artists Rory Dax Paton, Adam Ismail and William Leggett share insights into the industrial  multidisciplinary arts undertaken at Studio Payoka. Remembering Tomorrow is a culmination of intimate interactions between the artists, based in an aesthetic and a personal rapport where disciplines, approaches and shared visual intentions are explored and realised.

Nestled in the rolling hills of Mt Helena, Studio Payoka offers a variety of workshops and one-on-one classes, as well as providing a workspace for the artists involved. Studio Payoka doesn’t just house the creative practices of the artists, but is also a result of it; the building, and much of the equipment constructed by hand by the three artists. Studio Payoka is a culmination of the artists’ shared skills, knowledge and experiences of working both industrially and creatively.

Opening celebration Sunday 7 October 11am-2pm

More info
W: www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/exhibitions/remembering-tomorrow
E:  info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Pictured: Adam Ismail, Ghosts on the Shore, 2018, Mixed media

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Lee Woodward, Liddle Bowles
August 18, Calendar, Featured, September 18, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Tea Ware

11 Aug-28 Sep @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by: Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Official opening Saturday 11 August 11am – 2pm
Exhibition continues 15 August – 28 September
Wednesday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 25 August & 15 September 11am – 2pm

Tea and the sharing of tea is celebrated by many cultures in very diverse and often ritualistic ways. Tea drinking habits can be found worldwide. After water, it is the most widely consumed drink in the world. In conjunction with ‘Antipodean Encounters: Western Australian Artists and Taiwanese Culture’, Midland Junction Arts Centre is celebrating teaware and the art of ceramics.

Participating artists:

Claire Ng, Melissa Statham, Bernard Kerr, Jenny Kerr, Lee Woodcock, Dee Parker, Emma Vinkovic, Alison Brown, Rie Yamauchi, Megan Evans, Amanda Harris, and Denise Brown.

More info:
W:  www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/exhibitions/tea-ware
E:   info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Pictured:
Lee Woodcock, Liddle Bowles, 2016, woodfired stoneware, celadon glaze, shino glaze, ash glaze

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Melanie Dare
August 18, Calendar, September 18, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Antipodean Encounters: WA Artists and Taiwanese Culture

11 Aug-28 Sep @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Official opening 11 August 11am – 2pm
Exhibition continues 15 August – 28 September
Open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday 25 August & 15 September 11am – 2pm

Curated by Ashley Yihsin Chang

Personal objects have been the catalyst for conversation between 19 local artists and members of the Perth Taiwanese community who have immigrated to Western Australia. The artists have translated and contextualized these dialogues, creating new works to help navigate the increasingly complex issues embedded in the hybrid cultural society in which we live.

Participating artists:
Nalda Searles, Olga Cironis, Janine McAullay Bott, Sarah Toohey, Perdita Philips, Eva Fernandez, Carmela Corvaia, Vanessa Wallace, Elizabeth Marruffo, Mel Dare, Claire Bushby, Louise Monte, Denise Brown, Beverly Iles, Sharon Callow, Elizabeth Devlin, Shona McGregor, Emily Ten Raa, and Candy Chiao-Yun Lee.

More info
W: www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/exhibitions/antipodean-encounters-western-australian-artists-and-taiwanese-culture
E: info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Pictured: Melanie Dare, ‘Red and Me: Shirley Yoru Tsao’, 2017

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Image: Tim Maley, Untitled, 2017, pencil on paper
Calendar, Drawing, June 18, May 18, Painting, Visual arts

Visual arts: Exhibition: Specimens by Tim Maley

25 May – 29 June 2018, Wed-Fri 10am – 5pm @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Specimens is an expansive series of intricate works on paper in which artist Tim Maley explores the complexity in the architecture of insects. Working in watercolour and pencil, Maley captures the fragility of his subjects, imbuing them with a sense of wonder and reverence.

Supported by DADAA Inc.

More info: www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/current-exhibitions/specimens
Email: info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Image: Tim Maley, Untitled, 2017, pencil on paper

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Image: Julie Dowling, Wiru - 3,2,6,7, 2018 - 9.5cm x 9.5cm Acrylic, mica gold and plastic on canvas
Calendar, June 18, May 18, Visual arts

Visual arts: Exhibition: Wiru by Julie Dowling

25 May – 29 June, Viewing Times: 25 May – 29 June 2018, Wed-Fri 10am – 5pm
@ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Renowned Badimaya artist Julie Dowling presents an exhibition of new works as documentation of the revival of First Nations languages within local and global contexts. For Wiru Dowling’s suite of miniature portraits represents a community actively decolonising through the acts of documenting, learning and speaking Badimaya on Country in the Mid-West of WA.

Supported by Yamaji Arts.

More info: www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/current-exhibitions/julie-dowling
Email: info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Image: Julie Dowling, Wiru – 3,2,6,7, 2018 – 9.5cm x 9.5cm Acrylic, mica gold and plastic on canvas

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April 18, Calendar, May 18

Visual art: Exhibition – Penumbra

27 April – 18 May @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Penumbra
Artwork by Bina Butcher, 2018

Exhibition Opening 6:30pm, Friday 27 April
Viewing Times Wed-Fri 10am – 5pm, Saturday 29 April 9am – 1pm
Midland Junction Arts Centre is an event-based facility and open to the public during advertised exhibition hours, workshops and events only.

In an effort to create a context for contemplation, for their three-month residency at Midland Junction Arts Centre, Bina Butcher and Tessa Beale have gathered natural elements and documented interventions in the environment. This exhibition of the results of their explorations creates the conditions for a slower, quieter consideration of our surroundings.

Penumbra is the term for the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object. Beale and Butcher explore these margins and communicate the effects of particular qualities found in the natural objects and materials they have collected.

Through observations of the movement of bodies of water, textures, shadows and sound re-contextualise our own sensory experiences and interactions in a new environment: the gallery.

More info: www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/exhibitions/penumbra
Email: info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

 

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