Come and feel more at home in the gallery than you have ever felt before with Fiona Veikkanen’s new show Creature Comforts at Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Manuka. Veikkanen’s creations are friendly and welcoming as she crafts familiarity and comfort into strangely new and wonderful creations. The well known becomes the curious, as homey materials such as clothing are transformed. Veikkanen also uses kitschy craft techniques like pompom making, crochet and French knitting that remind you of your own trinkets and treasures. But as close as you feel to these works, you still don’t know what they are or what they are used for. This is what Veikkanen likes best; the thought viewers have that, “I should know what I am looking at because it is so familiar, but I really don’t know what it is!”
Words by Isabelle Morgan
We go from place to place hardly thinking about the environment at hand. But when we stop and think about it- where we walk, in everything we do, we occupy space. It is always unusual to think about our lives in a detached sort of way. Jacklyn Peters does this as she tracks the movements of people in public spaces. She investigates interactions, creating drawings and paintings that illuminate patterns we make. Her lines and brushstrokes trace how we alter the environment and how space affects the way people behave. She creates a transparent reality where all that remains are mere traces of places we have been and people we have seen. In Tracking Patterns II Peters brings you the next instalment building on her exhibition Tracking Patterns I, held in Tasmania last year. Through drawings and paintings, Tracking Patterns II explores recurring surface patterns found in photographs she has taken in public spaces around the world and in Tasmania, Sydney and Canberra.
Words by Isabelle Morgan
We all know the feeling of Solstice Eyes, hot under your cold hands. Perhaps because last night was too long, or too short. Or maybe it was because you looked at things too closely or too hard. Or maybe it was because everything seems too real, and you want to catch the seams of your dream before your mind patches them over. Solstice Eyes is an immersive dive into the dreamlike world of emerging Canberra artist Lisa Twomey, curated by Canberra Contemporary Art Space intern, Alice Dickins. Lisa Twomey is well known for her beautiful murals that smother the walls of boutiques, bars and streets around Canberra. As her first solo exhibition, Solstice Eyes will allow an opportunity to experience her work in a whole new way. The viewer will enter a different mind space, another world, like stumbling into someone else’s dream.
Solstice Eyes is a total work of art that crosses the boundaries between fashion, painting, installation and performance.
Words by Alice Dickins
In Nooks and Crannies dreamy brushstrokes of paintings appear next to solid sculptural forms, yet they are all connected in celebrating the awe and power of nature. Jonathan makes tangible the romantic and melancholic emotions that overwhelm us when we look down a tree hole, tread on pebbles or encounter a radiant sky. You will be astonished at how easily these indefinable feelings are grasped again inside the gallery. Never did you think that fleeting feeling you once had could be recreated. But yes, Jonathan goes into those nooks and down those crannies, extracts that elusive nostalgia or joy and ingrains it in the canvas or sculpture before you. He makes it possible to feel the unfathomable again. Here life and art are one as you rediscover that hidden beauty you have experienced before, only this time its inside and its not going to disappear too quickly.
Words by Isabelle Morgan
How can the hairs on your legs, under your arms, in your ears be beautiful? These are the things us humans try to control as “respectable” beings, plucking and grooming on a near daily basis to maintain our dignity. It is for this reason that we should all have Helani Laisk’s new exhibition Mammal at Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Manuka on our to-do list. Helani courageously exposes us to things we have never wanted to see before. The hidden and taboo of our everyday existence is uncovered before our eyes; shocking and confronting whilst simultaneously overwhelming us with unexpected beauty. Blood, flesh and organs; the essentials of our being become full blown sculptures and swelled up colourful drawings radiating beauty and celebrating the connection that our bodies have with the natural world. We are introduced to an unconventional attractiveness; not squeaky clean beautiful like a supermodel or new car but a grotesque appeal that goes deeper and resonates with our primitive consciousness. A real, breathing, kind of good looking.
Your nanna’s crocheting is reformed spilling from the wall in a phallic form. You stand back not wanting to get too close, yet, all at once the sensuous flesh and earthy tones of the hand-crocheted wool draw you back in and remind you that these formations and this layering are all very familiar to you. Old clothes are miles away from their everyday purpose as they take organic form and burst with fertility. We are no longer civilised beings but thrown back amongst the natural organisms that surround us. Come and grow as Helani takes you down the hollows and in amongst the grooves that we ourselves are often to scared to explore. You will not be disappointed instead rather in your element as you discover all that it really means to be a mammal.
Words by Isabelle Morgan
The interrogative power of photography has never been so present as it is in An Unkindness of Ravens. Dean Butters’ works scream innocence and violation at the same time. Appropriating aspects from advertising whilst also focusing on the relationship between model and photographer Dean’s images are beautiful yet extremely seductive and very real. He has you wondering where the line should be drawn between exploitation and art, reality and fantasy. Be prepared to be taken by the allurement of this playful yet dangerously evocative world. One moment you are looking at a photograph, the next, the intimate eyes and gawking looks of his models have you wondering whether a more personal encounter is going on.
These half-naked girls, yearning for full-bodied maturity plead you to return to your youth. To the angst you felt in those years of awkwardness and anticipation. Those years caught between naïve innocence and full-blossomed sexuality.
Words Isabelle Morgan
There is nothing striking or exhilarating about an empty carton of milk or bashed-up kitchen utensils. A washing machine in an art gallery. “That is not art you might cry”. But Bettina Hill cuts up this perception. Literally. The unique experience Bettina creates by using objects that feel so familiar is manipulative. But we are to be grateful to her for it. By deconstructing objects or reconstructing them with new unconventional materials she unveils new sides and lives of these things that we have never seen or understood before changing the way we think about them. Undoing our conventional perceptions about the complex and the simple, the hand-made and the machine-made, the domestic and the scientific, Bettina changes the way we react to the most common objects, situations and environments. Come and make your life a little or even a lot more exciting as you see how much you can appreciate your own home with Art at Home. Bettina’s innovative and intelligent inventions and recreations will have you finding new value and joy in the places you never thought possible. You will never think negatively about cleaning the dishes or loading the washing machine again. That’s for sure.
Words Isabelle Morgan
Control and Contain is an exhibition that brings together the works of Sydney artist Lucy Boyle and CCAS studio resident (2013), Alex Lewis. Curated by Isabelle Morgan (Art History and Curatorship intern from ANU) the exhibition delivers visual intrigue through works that deal with issues of control and containment.
The gallery becomes a dynamic space as intensive craftsmanship, art and design entwine. Each artist's unique practice illuminates our reality as the practicality of design intersects with art. Boundaries are displaced as Boyle and Lewis robustly challenge the confines of their respective art mediums.
Excerpt from essay by Isabelle Morgan
Bloom linger breathe is an exhibition by Lani Davidson focusing on her relationship and connection with nature. Through her etchings and sketches, she investigates how nature’s strength, melancholy, fragility and finality sustain and inspire her art practice.
Using motifs of reflection and serenity, Davidson wishes to encourage viewers to contemplate their own internal landscape and their own spiritual journey.
Lani Davidson Full of life and love 1, 2014, detail, hand coloured drypoint etching
In her recent drawings, Jemima Parker has been methodically and meditatively exploring patterns and textures that she finds in her everyday surroundings; signs of age and disrepair such as weathered paint, aged concrete and rust. For Mostly Unobserved she has made a series of these drawings in the format of scaled-up microscope slides, zooming in on these patinated textures. They are presented in a suite of ten, vertically spanning the high gallery wall, rather like Donald Judd’s Stack (1967). Like Judd, Parker presents something very ordinary as something extraordinary and valuable, but Parker also presents us with two transformations- that of the urban material itself as it weathers and cracks; and that of the drawing, which translates the texture into one made up of thousands of dots of wavering density, suggesting the activity of the molecules, particles and even organisms that these textures are made up of.
Jemima Parker Urban Surface Studies, drawing, copic marker on stonehenge paper, each 75 x 25 cm Photo by Brenton McGeachie