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3 March - 14 March
Blackgin | Irene Wellm | Janice Gobey | Naomi Bishop | Rachel Hazzard
3 – 14 March 2020
Tuesday – Friday 11am to 5pm,
Saturday 11am to 3pm
A world which, no longer seems fictional or fantastical but perhaps inevitable.
Microcosmographia brings together five artists working with themes of science and nature, the earth bound and geology, cosmology, mythology and universal/cosmos sciences.
The work of these artists examines aspects of the natural world in detail to reveal an arcadian beauty tainted by pollution with a sense of deep foreboding. Apocalyptic skies – desolate landscapes – introduced species – animals that can be friend or foe – objects that are simultaneously weapon and talisman, wish and curse.
These artists are bound together in a world in which humans are absent. A world which, no longer seems fictional or fantastical but perhaps inevitable. Red skies, denuded trees, shards of broken crystal, burial grounds – strange, hybrid deities, apocalyptic skies, the charred remains of primordial forests, and heavy, purplish air that’s too thick to breathe. Nature will always take back control.
We are all on a journey to find the new normal. Jung called it a ‘night sea journey’ in which the light of the consciousness intentionally descends into the dark, watery world of the unconscious, where no road maps suffice. Will we find out way back into the light?
NOTE 3 March 2020: Due to unforseen circumstances, Rachel Hazzard was unfortunately unable to make it to Melbourne for the exhibition. Please check her work out on Instagram @rachelhazzard
Black Gin (Georgia MacGuire) is a contemporary Indigenous artist based in the Central Goldfields, Victoria. She has been a practicing artist since 2000 and completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) from Deakin University, Melbourne in 2004. Since completing her studies, Macguire relocated to a rural environment in the Central Goldfields. She is drawn to materials that reconnect her to traditional craft practices. Her work has been selected for a number of awards and scholarships and she has recently received the CAL Victorian Indigenous Art Award for three dimensional works and the People’s Choice prize.
Irene Wellm currently lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. In 2001 she completed a Master of Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts. During her thirty-year career she has had numerous solo and group exhibitions across Australia, and internationally in the United Kingdom, Korea and Germany. Since 2001 when she won the Emerging Artist award at the Darebin LaTrobe Acquisitive Art Prize, she has been a consistent finalist in a number of art prizes.
Janice Gobey is a Melbourne-based artist. She holds a Masters and a Post Graduate Diploma in Visual Arts from the Victorian College of the Arts, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from the University of South Africa. Janice was selected as a finalist for the Sunshine Coast Art Prize as well as the Toyota Community Spirit Sculpture Prize. She has completed a number of international artist residencies, and has exhibited her work in Melbourne, Johannesburg, London, Berlin, Leipzig and New York.
Naomi Bishop understands that the eye is always looking for a place to rest but that the spirit is restless. In her paintings, timescales layer, matter and light splitting her objects-ritual, magical, into dimensions beginning here but ending someplace just beyond us. Focused primarily on painting, Naomi has been exhibiting nationally and internationally since graduating with a Master of Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art in London in 2003.
Rachel Hazzard investigates and questions how feminism, the figure/ground, and abstraction and representation, all fit together in a painting practice. Hazzard explores and questions conventions in painting through the use of a personal psychology and painting processes based in intuition. In doing this she contests the idea of painting being particular, rather than idiosyncratic. Hazzard’s paintings are intended to be open-ended, enabling the viewer to find both the familiar and the unexpected. Hazzard is a graduate of the RMIT School of Art.
Virgin, Mistress, Mother: The Feminine Australian Landscape
Talk by Livia Kenney, PhD candidate at La Trobe University
SATURDAY 14 MARCH, 11.30am in the gallery
How did a pliant, virgin land become an untameable, gothic wilderness or abundant but withholding mother? And what impact has that framing of the Australian landscape in white colonial narratives had on the way that we see ourselves today? Virgin, Mistress, Mother considers how the early construction of the Australian landscape as feminine gave men an ‘other’ against which they could build a persistent masculine Australian identity.
FREE EVENT, spaces limited
Microcosmographia catalogue essay
by Marion Piper
The heart of all things
When the green flash came, there wasn’t a thing anyone could do. There were warning signals, for sure, yet capitalist imperatives were deemed more important.
So when ‘turning a blind eye’ became a marker of the sacred, the threads that bound humanity together snapped, one by one. Now all that’s left are a few tribes, mutant creatures and the echoes of a war cry shouting, “it’s not too late… it’s NOT too late… it’s not –
Here, in the remnants of the 21st century, we follow five souls. They’re each making their way to meet, to come together, at the heart of all things.
In this, our tiny world study, I invite you to take a deep breath.
Inhale… and exhale.
The sum of all parts is easier to deal with than the whole. Overwhelm is a dis-ease and nostalgia is a safe house. So, in the comfort of a repeating talismen – in this case a horse – you can admire strong lines, colours dancing across your eyelids and the endless clip-clop of memory.
When things get tough (as they invariably do) a sense of the familiar is like a mother’s hug. Doing the same thing, over and over and over, used to be dismissed. Now, it’s a salve. While ritual has become a coping mechanism against the torrential downpour of bad news, death and ecological despair that each new day brings.
Take another breath, friend.
When life is reduced to its smaller, singularly significant moments, the power of simplicity rings true. And maybe instead of the anxiety consuming one’s sense of self, microcosmographia consumes the anxiety, spitting out fear and worry like a baby trying lemon for the first time.
Nature’s eye is fixed on humanity for the first time ever. She looks at us with a gentle knowing as we slowly carve her to pieces, one inch at a time. Yet she is the one who has had the last laugh. In one last act of cause and effect, Gaia curses humanity for its crimes against her body and spirit.
And for a long time, the Earth was quiet.
As a species, we devolved and perished. Then, as if by chance, we mutated and evolved. Our bodies, twisted like vines, grew new and phantasmagorical limbs.
In a matter of months we became the myths and legends we celebrated for centuries. Except this time it was real.
When toxic chemicals were slowly drip fed into food and water supplies, what did they THINK would happen? Our leaders blindly followed the dollar into an early grave while the rest of us were left to clean up a mess we neither created nor asked for.
Standing on the edge of madness, our five souls ask: why didn’t anyone listen?
If you’re wondering how we got here, you’re not the only one. History speaks in stops and starts about our current predicament. But What came before was soft, round and gentle to the touch. All that remains is rubbery, burnt and sharp. This is not the land we were blessed with.
Animals seek Sanctuary in the most unlikely places here. Behind broken tree stumps, under the scrub and in between the hills. And against the backdrop of a sunburnt sky their fur stands on end – where did all the people go? But they don’t dare ask these questions out loud.
It’s not even about Survival anymore. We’re way past that.
Beneath the layers of protection – the hide and the bones – lies an intricate network of feelings. Pulsating. Ready to rupture forth. These creatures carry thoughts and opinions in their DNA, the very foundations of life.
The only problem was that there was no one left to tell, no one left to ask and no one left to embrace when the nights became cold and listless.
Every hero’s journey starts with a realisation.
Marnda Grik spent countless hours contemplating the end of days before it actually happened. She saw the devastation a generation ago and felt the collective grief in each one of her eight legs. One for each path not travelled; one for each path taken.
She spun precious stories and a narrative for our five souls to follow. It’s her Country. Everyone kept getting caught in her stories when they were here exploring. Stories can be sticky when they’re true.
It’s not even about fear anymore. We’re way past that.
She cocoons in paperbark, weaving a reality that not many can see. Stretching her legs through time, she connects to those who have come before – and those who will come after. Each strand of her web is a part of her lineage, somewhat fractured by colonial beasts, yet becoming stronger with every word.
When the sky turned to fire, the earth turned to mud. Human feet were trapped in the sludge, but Marnda Grik danced along the earth, taking her stories with her, knowing exactly which trees to talk to and where the water would continue to flow.
After what had seemed a lifetime of endless searching, our five souls arrived. With restless spirits they crawled towards the Stargate, ready to throw their bodies down and rest. Yet the time to be silent and ignorant was Anathema to them. They somehow found a Refuge Tonneau (a space of reflection) in which to pause and find clarity.
There’s no need for a Banishing Wand here; all that was once lost has now been found, and everything else is gone. In this space, our five souls find common ground. They see the devastation, they feel the sadness of nature. Together, they cry and hold each other up, locked in an interconnected embrace.
Before long, creatures of all sizes and ilks rush to their feet. Curling around their ankles and pressing faces to skin. It’s a circle of living care; breathing as ONE, thinking as ONE, and understanding as ONE.
This is the heart of all things: we are intimately bound on an atomic level to one another. What happens to you, happens to me. So, the question arises: what will you do now to make sure we’re all going to be okay?