Adelaide Review arts writer John Neylon surveys South Australia’s exhibitions landscape for the month of July.
Kirsty Darlaston, Samphire Test Pattern
Louise Flaherty, Memorial for Forgotten Plants
Sauebier House Cultural Exchange, Port Noarlunga
Artist in Residence Exhibition
June 22 – July 27
While some artists are rushing to the barricades to save the world they are bumping into others heading elsewhere to gaze on the wonder of a single butterfly wing with the capacity to change the world with a single flutter. In South Australia there is a very long tradition of artists gazing hard and long at plants – usually native, and all that goes with thinking about species survival. Two artists, Kirsty Darlaston and Louise Flaherty have been doing just that.
As their respective explorations demonstrate, it isn’t sufficient to record appearances. Their skills in translating observed details and designs into aesthetic imagery encourage viewers to join them on their journeys of discovery, delight and possibly – activism. Darlaston has been drawn to the secret lives of Samphires as found in the intertidal salt marshes of the Onkaparinga/ Ngangkiparringa River. Her investigations are available to anyone who cares to poke their cameras into the centre of individual plants. It’s another world of delicate forms and subtle colour exchanges. Darlaston refers to these micro-vistas as ‘miniature landscapes.’ The artist has used the materiality and format of the textile sampler to re-enact her moments of realisation. In their oscillations of textures and pin pricks of colour they honour these extraordinary little plants.
Flaherty has been on the trail of remnant plants in association with the City of Onkaparinga Sustainability Team to explore local plant-life. Narrowing the focus has involved working with the local Landcare Group that supports and protects the coastal sand dunes. The current installation is the next chapter in the artist’s long-term project ‘Memorial for Forgotten Plants’ which involves seeking out the native flora of Adelaide and creating delicate botanic drawings in white ink on black paper. Flaherty comments, ‘While my work generally reflects on the loss of native plants from our landscape, and the resultant sadness, this residency has shown me that all is not lost. In fact, there is much to celebrate in the plants which remain alive and thriving and the folk who champion their continued existence.’ Visitors to the exhibition can take away stickers of drawings of 6 Port Noarlunga plants to paste around the community. There are local community drawing workshops. Sauebier House Arts Centre site has the details.
Shoufay Derz, The Face of the Deep
Matt Huppatz, High Society
July 3 – 28
Shoufay Derz’s practice has been described as investigating ‘the limits and possibilities of language, and the ambiguities faced when attempting to visually articulate the unknown.’ Many will recall this artist’s work, Depart without return, a video, included in the Art Gallery of South Australia’s 2014 Adelaide Biennial, Dark Heart. The evocation of an indigo face overlaid by fluttering moths, provides an emphatic introduction to the artist’s manner of juxtaposing disparate elements to trigger free associations beyond the control of logic or language. Derz has continued to explore notions associated with the void as some kind of space in which the known and unknown are held in suspended animation or a curious state of coexistence.
A feature of her practice is dialogue with materiality, such as the way chalk breaks or erodes, or wet ink spills and reflects. The presence of a cast tongue (a muzzled ox reference perhaps?) on a stack of cartridge paper acts as a caveat to reflexive assumptions that text conquers (or explains) all. Field work is indispensable. Derz spent time at the old gold mine settlement of Hill End. Digging holes in the ground is routine here. But Derz’s holes were looking for another kind of gold – an ‘ode to doubt’, as has been suggested, ’to infinite possibilities, and to the prospect of maybe never really finding out where the darkness comes from.’ As ink poured onto sheets of blank paper inserted in the ground, a window of reflection opened up and the artist caught such moments on camera. The resulting prints are teasing references to small gestures (or performances) that may or may not mean anything. Chalk, sourced from the famous Rügen cliffs made famous by Caspar Freidrich, has been overlaid on photographs of the same formations, mixing metaphors of seeing and knowing in intriguing veils of possibilities.
Mandatory listening for viewers making sense of Matt Huppatz’s enigmatic canvas awning panels is 5KA’s broadcast of the 1962 opening of Her Majesty’s Theatre in Grote Street (aka The ‘old’ Tivoli). Thrill to the dulcet tones of Marjorie Irving’s roll call of luminaries’ frocks (Lady Playford’s corn flower blue chiffon, Mrs Wilfred Steele’s aquamarine blue crepe encrusted bodice swathed to one side, and so on). Cut to Huppatz’s panels (sourced from Quin’s Canvas Goods Pty. Ltd. Pt Adelaide) and you have Adelaide in a nut shell – stuffed shirt pomp and caravan park swagger.
The artist draws attention to his ‘deep embrace of colour, acknowledging it as a primal force that has the ability to access or provoke feeling, emotion, and memory.’ Commentary about his practice suggests that he is ‘curious about the stories we tell ourselves to create meaning in a post-human world. This betrays an interest in the borders of language, and the sites and states where it begins to break down.’ So, are these works celebrations of colour and the comfort it brings to our routine lives? Sly jibes at lingering adulation of ceremonial rituals? The ratcheting up of nervous excitement as a consequence of addictive life styles? If there is such a thing as edgy fun, these works are in the drop zone.
Light Square Gallery
Adelaide College of the Arts
Light Square, Adelaide
July 18 – 26
Kaleidoscope features works created during, and in response to, recent artist residencies supported by the Helpmann Academy, including Helpmann’s 2018 residencies at the British School at Rome, the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China, and at Sanskriti Kendra in India, as well as residencies in the USA and London. The artists are: Tamara Baillie, Kate Bohunnis, Olivia Dryden, Yusuf Hayat, eDuard Helmbold, Jemima Lambell, Geoff Mitchell, Nat Penney, and Hanah Williams. The project is curated by Grace Marlow. The impact of an overseas residency on the self belief, the skills set and the personal/professional networking of emerging artists is always considerable and often means that such artists can continue to work, using Adelaide as a base (long-term or otherwise), while getting to know the wider world as their oyster. These kinds of realisations are currently shearing off the glacier face of this group of Kaleidoscopers. Here’s a sample.
Geoff Mitchell: “The best place to learn is standing on the edge between all you know and complete chaos. For me, that place was in China. I learnt so much in Jingdezhen, I hardly feel like the same person and coming back from there was like coming back from another planet.” Mitchell is an Adelaide College of the Arts (TAFE SA)/Flinders University graduate. He was a participant in a 2018 Jingdezhen Pottery Workshop Residency in China.
Nat Penney: “I was lucky enough to do the Sanskriti Kendra Residency in India in 2018 thanks to the Helpmann Academy. The people of Sanskriti Kendra are incredibly generous and cater the residency as much as possible to each artist’s individual practice, whilst also ensuring exposure to a broad range of traditional Indian art forms, through highly regarded practitioners.” Penney is an Adelaide College of the Arts (TAFE SA)/Flinders University graduate and 2018 Sanskriti Kendra Residency in India participant.
Olivia Dryden: “The confidence I came back from London with has inspired me to push myself in a new direction by working on some sculptural pieces combining both passions and new skillsets; silver smithing and taxidermy.” Dryden is an Adelaide College of the Arts (TAFE SA)/Flinders University graduate who undertook a self-directed residency in London in 2018 with the support of a Helpmann Fellowship.