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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Sailing ship with large puppet figure of ship's captain
Calendar, October 19, September 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Preregrinations of a Citizen Botanist & Seeds, Pods and Pollen

13 Sep – 27 Oct @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Susie Vickery ·

PEREGRINATIONS OF A CITIZEN BOTANIST
An interactive installation by Susie Vickery which takes the form of a cabinet of curiosities, charting the journey of the 18th Century French botanist, Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière. Peregrinations of a Citizen Botanist examines Australia’s current relationship with the environment and presents an alternative view of history.

SEEDS, PODS AND POLLEN
Seeds, Pods and Pollen presents a collection of plant and pollinator inspired artworks created by both children and adults. Artworks have been created through a series of recent workshops across both Mundaring and Midland Junction Arts Centres, at the Avon Descent Festival, and at schools in the surrounding areas.

Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday 11am – 3pm

More info
W: mundaringartscentre.com.au/
E:  info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Pictured: Susie Vickery, Peregrinations of a Citizen Botanist (detail), 2019, linen, silk, embroidery

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Black and white ocean scene with clouds
August 19, Calendar, July 19, Painting, Sculpture, September 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Princeon and Hold On!

19 Jul – 8 Sep @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Joan Johnson & Kate Hallen ·

Two new exhibitions on display at Mundaring Arts Centre from 20 July – 8 September explore the landscape of dementia from the perspective of a loved one. The distinctive  solo exhibitions by local artist Joan Johnson and Brisbane based artist Kate Hallen underscore the impact of the condition on both the individual and their families.

These artists tell their unique stories with distinctively different outcomes,  Johnson working with sculpture and Hallen paint; to present a multi-layered and emotive response to a condition which affects many.

Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday 11am – 3pm

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

Pictured: Kate Hallen, Going back (detail), 2019, oil and charcoal on canvas, 106.5 x 76.5cm.  Credit: Adam John Waters.

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Lady in field with hose pipe truck in background
April 19, Calendar, Lectures and Talks, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Talks: Meet the Artists | ‘Survival: Fight or Flight’

7, 9 & 14 April @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

As part of ‘Survival: Fight or Flight’ on display at Mundaring Arts Centre 6 April – 19 May, artists Peter Dailey, Bev Iles, Patricia Tarrant, David Small, Denise Brown and Cathy Swioklo will discuss their work in the exhibition over a series of three free events.

Peter Dailey and Bev Iles | Sunday 7 April 1pm – 2pm
Patricia Tarrant and David Small | Tuesday 9 April 11am – 12pm
Denise Brown and Cathy Swioklo | Sunday 14 April 1pm – 2pm

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

Pictured: Cathy Swioklo, ‘Hypervigilance’, 2019, soft pastel

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April 19, Calendar, Exhibitions, May 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: ‘Survival: Fight or Flight’ and ‘Altered States’

5 Apr – 19 May @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

‘Survival: Fight or Flight’
Gallery 1
Six artists with connections to Midland TAFE’s former Environmental Art course explore the concept of Survival: Fight or Flight. Using a variety of mediums the artists delve into issues that question our existence in a world fraught with challenges. An exciting exhibition evoking a juxtaposition of responses by Denise Brown, Peter Dailey, Bev Iles, David Small, Cathy Swioklo and Patricia Tarrant.

‘Altered States’ | Karen Prakhoff Rickman
Gallery 2
In her depiction of landscape, Rickman exploits the potential for mark making and layering inherent in the monotype process. Each layer alters the previous state, simultaneously creating and denying form. Her ambiguous landscapes evoke personal and collective memory: faint, forgotten or altered recollections.

Opening Friday 5 April 7pm – 8:30pm
Exhibition continues 6 April – 19 May
Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am – 3pm

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

Pictured:
Images: Peter Dailey, ‘Survival I’ (detail), 2018, oil on board, 1220 x 720 mm and
Karen Prakhoff Rickman, ‘Altered states’ (detail), 2018, diptypch, monoprint – etching ink on rag paper, photograph by Eva Fernandez.

 

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Country Scene with bridge
Calendar, February 19, March 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: ‘Place and Space’ Shire of Mundaring Acquisition Exhibition

8 Feb – 31 Mar @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

‘Place and Space’ showcases the work of 33 local artists as they delve into their material and intangible connections to the Shire of Mundaring as well as broader concepts of place. Notions of community, history, personal memories of the area as well as the local built and natural environment feature strongly throughout the exhibition which explores a wide range of mediums including works on paper, painting, sculpture
and textiles.

‘Place and Space’ presents new works by Hans Arkeveld, Christopher Arnold, Una Bell, Terence Blenkinship, Leanne Bray, Ric Burkitt, Pamela Cary, Mikaela Castledine, Annette Dawes, Carolyn Francis, Dimity Gregson, Joan Johnson, Ben Joel, Bec Juniper, Bernard Kerr, Genevieve Hartney, Julie Hein, Franci Liebenberg, Malcolm Lindsay, André Lipscombe, Jarrad Martyn, Craig McKeough, Alan Muller, Isabel O’Brien, Narayani Palmer, Lesley Parker, Lorita Schmitz, Amelia Sonnekus,  Alastair Taylor, Anne Williams, Lee Woodcock, Desmond Woodley and Katrina Virgona.

A survey of Shire of Mundaring Art Collection works, acquired from past open invitation exhibitions, ‘Spotlight On Us’ is also presented in Gallery 2.

Opening Friday 8 February 7pm – 8:30pm,  Exhibition continues 9 February – 31 March Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am – 3pm

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

Pictured:
Malcolm Lindsay, ‘The Weir’ (detail), 2018, acrylic on canvas, 106 x 81 x 4 cm

 

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Midlands Exhibitions
Calendar, December 18, November 18, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Exhibitions at Midland Junction Arts Centre

24 Nov – 21 December @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Louise Wells: ‘Of Our Time – Ordinary Lives’ | East Gallery
‘Of Our Time – Ordinary Lives’ investigates the lives of maternal women in artist  Louise Wells’ family over three generations through contemporary textiles.

Claire Davenhall: ‘Lost Soles’ | The Store
International artist Claire Davenhall presents ‘Lost Soles’, a new solo exhibition of sculptural work exploring the multicultural migration of people to Australia.

Act-Belong-Commit Elevate Arts ‘Worn Out Worn Art’ | West Gallery
‘Worn Out Worn Art’ celebrates creative thinking and environmental consciousness with an exhibition of wearable art from eleven local artists and designers.

Andrea Day, Angela Ferolla, Charlene O’Brien, Katrina Virgona, Louise Wells, Lyndell Darch, Mary Ann Dawson, Minaxi May, Sarah Zel Chescoe, Susie Vickery and Trish Bygott.

The exhibition is complimented by the Worn Out Worn Art – Wearable Art Parade held during the opening celebration from 7pm.

Official opening Saturday 24 November 6.30pm – 8pm
Exhibition continues until 21 December,  Wednesday – Fri 10am-5pm

More info
W: http://www.mundaringartscentre.com.au
E:  info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Pictured: Louise Wells, ‘Days’, 2018, silks, satin, organza, and cotton and polyester threads. Photo Josh Wells

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Gifted
Calendar, December 18, November 18, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Gifted

9 Nov – 20 Dec @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

‘Gifted’ celebrates objects and the histories, memories and emotions that they may hold through the practices of Kathy Aspinall and Sue Eva. Kathy Aspinall repurposes antique or second hand items into unique jewellery pieces and artist books, while painter Sue Eva creates intimate still lifes that explore the memory we place in everyday items.

Opening night Friday 9 November 7pm

More info
W: http://www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/exhibitions/gifted-2018
E:  info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Pictured: Kathy Aspinall, Mrs Stewart Dawson (detail), altered book containing a silk screened enamel on fine silver brooch Sue Eva, Rose with white pot (detail), acrylic on canvas

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Materiality
Calendar, December 18, November 18, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Materiality

9 Nov – 20 Dec @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·

Invited ceramists transform the gallery space into a feast of surface, texture, pattern and form, showcasing their distinct approaches to clay practice.

Materiality features the work of Sandra Black, Rodney Blumenfeld, Njalikwa Chongwe, Greg Crowe, Stephanie Hammill, Graham Hay, Bernard Kerr, Jenny Kerr, Janet Kovesi Watt, Steven McCoy, Annemieke Mulders, Claire Ng, Warwick Palmateer, Sylvie Riches, Atsuko Sandover, Stewart Scambler, Andrew Tremain, Andrea Vinkovic, Lee Woodcock, and Garry Zeck.

Opening night Friday 9 November 7pm

More info:
W: www.mundaringartscentre.com.au/exhibitions/materiality
E:  info@mundaringartscentre.com.au

Pictured:
Stephanie Hammill, Fracture, 2018, stoneware, repaired with Urushi lacquer and 24kt gold.  Photo Amanda Miller Photography

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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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