vol 30 no 4, 2010
Substantial essays asking questions about: the effect of the 'art as research' model in our universities, design and art for climate change, art and sport - odd bedfellows?, Australia's 'moat complex', identifying secret sacred Indigenous material, colour, sense impressions and 'theory', and welcoming a new museum of Chinese art in Sydney. Other content: image based profiles of Shen Shaomin, Ariel Hassan, Fiona MacDonald, twelve new art books reviewed, thirty years in the business of contemporary Australian publishing - where it has been and where it is going, 'Exposed' at the Tate Gallery and the Liverpool Biennial reviewed. Authors include: Jane Goodall, Kevin Murray, Alison Carroll, Jo Higgins, Wu Hung, Felicity Fenner, Djon Mundine, Catriona Moore, Peter Hill, Donald Brook.
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The title of this exhibition draws attention to GW Bot's long relationship with the garden; as a walled Persian garden, an enclosed space, a metaphor for interior life. Here 'the long paddock’, common grazing land travelled in times of drought, distress or as part of a larger journey, is reconceived as a garden. This garden is a wild place, a place of renewal where life thrives unchecked, where the starved and journeying can expect to be nourished and renewed. Yet the long paddock is not a walled garden but a space which opens to new ranges, where blockages are worked through, healing is effected and possibilities for renewal are opened up. This exhibition marks a moment of reflection after deeply troubled times, an exhibition of past, passing and present murmurings of the heart.
I was moved to tears at the raw emotion of this show. Although half of the works are pre 2000 they prefigure and contextualise the concerns of the last decade. The works from this last ten years spring from a deep place, charged with a profound sense of loss. Seeing them together is an emotional experience. Many of the works visit and revisit a personal experience of bereavement and absence. While a piece like 'Passage' (2001) suggests a connection with a greater spirituality, many simply evidence a determination not to be overwhelmed by trauma. 'The long paddock' is the story of a journey, it is tempting to see the emergence of the distinctive marks the artist has called ‘glyphs’ as a search for bedrock, an unshakable, indivisible unit, a new beginning from the ground up.
The formal innovations, the use of cut-outs, colour and mark, the layering of differently weighted and textured papers emerge as simply part of the artist’s dynamic practice. Those who have followed GW Bot’s work have watched the glyphs morph from drawings and prints to oils and bronzes, represented here in 'Morphology of glyphs' (2007). The bronze glyphs of 'The Lake' (2006) dance along the entrance to the Goulburn Regional Gallery in a reference to the lake frontage of Weereewa (Lake George), itself a long paddock and place of mystery and sublimation.
Peter Haynes, the curator, has hung the show beautifully. It shows off formal resonances as motifs and colours are revealed as leitmotifs in the larger body of work. Perspectives and sightlines reveal change and continuity over the last 30 years. Signposts from past to current work are offered. Haynes knows this work well, having exhibited 'Garden of Possibilities' at the Canberra Museum and Gallery in 2003, and it shows. The emergence and development of the glyphs are tracked while 'Threnody' (1993) exemplifies the use of repeated strokes to build up a surface. In later works the strokes are smaller - almost like breaths or tracks in a landscape, tiny details of being which make up a life, while remaining structural. Premonitions of the glyphs are likewise visible in both 'Ancestral journeys' (1994) and 'Charon' (1995). We watch the transformation of the crowded early works into the sparse minimalism of the Australglyphs of the mid-noughties. Is GW Bot’s most current work, 'Earth, glyphs and sun' (2010) on the point of swinging back to that crowded bustle? What emerges from this show is a sense of an intensely creative artist sharing her experience with a coherent and distinctive voice.
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Articles in this issue
- Artlink's Third Decade: The Push Pull Decade
- Artrave: Artrave
- Book review: Eleven recent publications
- Book review: Hijacked Volume 2: Australia / Germany
- Book review: The Revolutionary Century. Art In Asia 1900 to 2000
- Editorial: Editorial
- ETW: Exhibitions to Watch
- Feature: Art and Sport
- Feature: Art as a Catalyst of Change: Sydney's HotHouse International Symposium
- Feature: Designing with the Neighbours in Mind: Unlimited Asia Pacific
- Feature: Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera
- Feature: Indigenous art in front: National Gallery changes focus
- Feature: Is it Sacred? The Collarenebri Files
- Feature: Liverpool Biennial 2010: Touched
- Feature: Patronage of the Passionate
- Feature: Resistance to Change: Art in the university environment
- Feature: Theory is Bunk
- Preview: Edge of Elsewhere
- Preview: Interpreting Portraits
- Profile: 100KM Artworks: Fiona MacDonald's Local Studies
- Profile: Confluent Forms: Ariel Hassan recent work
- Profile: Shen Shaomin's Bonsai
- Profile: Stop the Moats: Recent work by Cecile Williams and Nick Mangan
- Review: Abstract Nature
- Review: Before Time Today: Reinventing Tradition in Aurukun Aboriginal Art
- Review: Beyond Garment
- Review: CACSA Contemporary 2010: The New New
- Review: Curious Colony: A twenty first century Wunderkammer
- Review: Djalkiri: We are standing on their names
- Review: Elisabeth Kruger: On Beauty
- Review: En Pointe: Magda Matwiejew
- Review: GW Bot: The long paddock: A 30 year survey
- Review: In the Balance: Art for a Changing World & The River Project
- Review: Laughter
- Review: Madeleine Kelly: The Crevice
- Review: Unlacing Carnal Margins: Portraits by Angela Stewart
- Review: Up Close