3-22 May 2016, Australian Galleries, Sydney.
My wish to see this exhibition was primarily to view the artist’s linoprints but on arrival I was greeted with much more.
I first asked who G.W. Bot is and was told that this is a pseudonym she works under professionally. She is actually called Chrissie. OK, why this particular choice of name? According to the gallery attendant the artist spent some time working and living with a tribe of Aboriginals and this is the name they gave her, meaning Wombat in their culture and language.
To the left is the front cover of the catalogue depicting Grassland Glyphs. This linocut has been cleverly produced using very fine cutting tools in short dense linear patterning. It’s clear to see how the variation in distance between cuts, and slight change in tool size, has formed areas of light and shadow, with clear segmentation.
My eye follows the flatter foreground as it travels into the distance, to a more undulating terrain and finally to the sky and, what I perceive to be, the moon.
Is this a burnt landscape, perhaps after the bush fires, with the spirit of a person moving through the vastness?
The exhibition write-up explains that Bot has discovered her own personal language of landscape. She produces marks indicating scribbles in bark, broken twigs, shrubs and trees, marks on rocks and growth of moss.
As a printmaker, painter, sculptor and graphic artist she strives to create a narrative about the Australian landscape and life itself.
The piece to the right is one of a series of 15 hung side-by-side the full length of the main gallery wall. All are based on the same theme, depicting these misshapen tree-like images, sometimes with a ‘moon’. They are described as graphite and watercolour but it was also explained that she has used some extensive rusting techniques to form an uneven and crusty surface. On close examination they are wonderfully pitted and irregular across the surface.
Each Glyph image is created on a 2metre high sheet of 400gsm, French, Moulin de Larroque Colombe 100% cotton handmade paper. Superb quality and very expensive. You would not want to be making a mistake on this and chucking it out!
In Glyphs – The Creation we see her moving away from paper onto tapa cloth. The cloth has been painted, with the individual components printed over that. I’m a bit ambivalent about this piece and I need to understand more about what she is trying to portray before committing to it. With a price tag of Aus$9,500 it’s not on my wish list.
The background of this large piece has been painstakingly hand painted using thousands of tiny vertical lines very densely packed. The colours flow easily from one to the next forming a fascinating backdrop to the overlaid silhouette linocut printing. I particularly enjoy the feeling of movement and depth created by the background fern-like shapes which seem to be gently swaying.
Overall, a wide range of works, based along a single theme but with enough variation in technique, colour palette and outcome ensuring the viewer remains engaged and stimulated. From my point of view, I enjoyed the 15 single 2m high Glyphs on paper, the similarly formed (and large) metal Glyph sculptures and the black/white linocuts.