Exhibition – Works on Paper

The 2015 Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award attracted over 1500 entries by more than 750 artists and exhibits appear throughout the centre, in both the Regional and Community Gallery.  Works encompass a diverse range of paper media and industry techniques, including drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, paper cuts and video.  I’ve selected three to review below:

Krar Aimai 101  Brian Robinson, 2014 linocut on paper

Krar Aimai 101
Brian Robinson, 2014
linocut on paper

As the work in under glass I got a lot of reflection in the photograph.  Research into the title Krar Aimai brought up references to the indigenous people of Mabuiag, an island in the Bellevue Islands, 100 km north of Thursday Island.  It lies in the Napoleon Passage and Arnolds Passage of Torres Strait.

The actual words translate from Mabuiag (although the local language is known as Gœmulgau (Mabuylgau) Ya sub-dialect of Kala Lagaw Ya) to read:

Krar = Mask
Aimai = Make

Although no artist statement accompanies the work some understanding can be found in the biography of the maker, Brian Robinson.  He was born in 1973 and grew up in the idyllic tropical surroundings of the Torres Strait Islands, located between the tip of Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea. During this time he gained valuable knowledge and appreciation of the culture of his people and was particularly influenced by the myths and legends of the Torres Strait, and the traditional motifs and natural carving ability of the Islanders.

The linocut is well proportioned in relation to positive and negative space.  The density and subject matter of the cut sections surrounding the crouching figure are indicative of indigenous motifs, albeit somewhat different to what I’m used to in my part of the country.  Much of what I’ve seen in Sydney encompasses a naivety in drawing, most often flat imagery and quite a lot of abstraction – understandable by the relevant aboriginal / indigenous groups but not always by westerners.

The top half of the work is intriguing.  The flowing linework of the clouds is lovely, with the sparkling sky above.  Then we have the mythological being holding …. well, is it a sceptre?  I’d love to know the story behind this but I’ve not been able to bring up anything definite on the internet.

Totems 1 Laura Stark, 2015 collagraph and photopolymer intaglio and relief on paper

Totems 1
Laura Stark, 2015
collagraph and photopolymer intaglio and relief on paper

I know Laura Stark, not well but enough to have seen various pieces of her printmaking works over the last couple of years – and enjoyed them all.

I find the above pieces very attractive.  The reduced colour palette and warm earthy tones drew me to the exhibit first, before I was able to pick out the textural surfaces on each totem.  It should be noted that I have a love of totems (which encompasses various interpretations of the word) and some time ago chose my personal guardian totem.  So anything relating to totems is going to interest me, be it good or bad.

It is extremely disappointing that this exhibition has no artist statements in sight and no explanation of the works or what provided the inspiration for each piece.  That’s all sadly lacking.

So what can I deduce from this exhibit?  Not a lot really.  There are 9 individual pieces, each one a different height and diameter, grouped together with a unifying colour scheme and abstraction theme.  The markings on each are quite different, some pieces only showing horizontal patterning whilst others include more random effects.  There’s little more I can say.  Visually I like it a lot, but any understanding of its purpose or what it represents to the artist is lost.

Gallipoli Diggers Geoff Harvey, 2015 acrylic on paper

Gallipoli Diggers
Geoff Harvey, 2015
acrylic on paper

I spent some time reading about Geoff Harvey on-line.  Whilst his work covers many topics he has concentrated much of his time on Gallipoli; the diggers,  a soldier’s life, comrade loyalty and the like.  Both his grandfathers saw active service in WW1 and his father was an enlisted soldier during WW2.  In honour of their memory & in respect to all the armed force personal who served in both wars he painted a series of Gallipoli paintings.  The ones on show at this exhibition have been presented as a group of portraits.  Further work, in book form, can be viewed on Issuu by clicking here.

What strikes me is how each portrait is so obviously an individual but how they also sit together as a unified group.  They portray an authenticity, in that they depict both the similarities and differences between people.  Examine face shapes, skin colouring, expressions and age groups.  They are brothers and comrades in war but retain their uniqueness.  The strength of this exhibit lies in the presentation, the force in numbers grouped together.  Much of this would be lost if they were shown separately.  In situ this was an impressive display.

Resources:
Krar Aimai translation – http://www.books.google.com.au/books?id=0blDel5aCmUC&pg=PA178&lpg=PA178&dq=Krar+Aimai&source=bl&ots=OlnBPWDc-_&sig=pQKu0bkUofV2tFpZTmVjjQ7j–E&hl=en&sa=X&ei=lCuKVd7nI8uy-QGcsIzoCQ&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Krar%20Aimai&f=false
Mabuiag information – http://www.tsirc.qld.gov.au/Mabuiag
http://www.mossensongalleries.com.au/artist/brian-robinson/
http://www.robingibson.net/exhibitions/geoff-harvey

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About Claire B

A passionate embroiderer, a printmaker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I'm a perpetual student and love learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Print 1: Museums, Galleries, Etc., Printmaking 1 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Exhibition – Works on Paper

  1. Celia says:

    I think the mythological figure is Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, which of course influences the interpretation of the piece. The human figure looks to me as though he is weaving, but I have weaving on the brain at the moment, so it may be just me!

    • Claire B says:

      Hi Celia, How interesting. I’ve researched Asclepius and I think you’re right. It’s intriquing because Australian indigenous people usually depict the myths and legends of their own tribe, and numerous internet references state that these are the sources of Brian Robinsons work. However, in this case, having read the story of Asclepius and how he healed a snake and is depicted with a snake-wound healing rod it seems so accurate to this work. There’s a good explanation at http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Asclepius/asclepius.html. The title is in his tribal dialect and I wonder where ‘mask making’ or ‘making a mask’ fits in.
      Thanks for the info, it always makes artworks more engaging when you have some idea of the artist thinking.

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