Erewhon presents the work of five contemporary Australian artists that disturb distinctions between our real and imagined selves, and between the authentic and the fantastical. The exhibition shifts between sincerity and satire although its propensity was to shadowy psychological turns, . and towards darker, more charged imaginings.
Erewhon is influenced by an 1872 novel set in a fictional country that resembled the south of New Zealand, where the author had lived as a young man. The story was a satirical and philosophical exploration of various aspects of Victorian society, most notably crime and punishment, religion and science. According to Erewhonian law, offenders were treated as if they were ill, whereas ill people were looked upon as criminals. Related themes such as the fear of technological progress, the impossibility of utopias and the effects of colonisation, discipline and control form some of the ideas explored in the the exhibition Erewhon.
Artists: Brook Andrew, Claire Lambe, Clare Milledge, Mikala Dwyer and Tony Garifalakis
Curated by Vikki McInnes
A NETS Victoria Touring Exhibition
Image: Installation view, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, VCA, 2016.
Prue Acton is widely known as Australia’s ‘golden girl of fashion’. Acton once described herself as “an artist who chose to work in the field of fashion”. She originally intended to become a professional artist, but after her move into fashion in the early sixties she rapidly became known as one of Australia’s top designers.
Prue was born in 1943 in Benalla. She spent many years in the fashion industry and won several awards. During the 1980s she returned to her first love, painting, continuing her study under the mentorship of Clifton Pugh and partner, Merv Moriarty. This exhibition comprises of a collection of still lives and native flowers recently painted in her coastal bush home and studio in rural NSW.
Image: Prue Acton, courtesy of the ABC.
For millennia the beauty, wonder and uses of plants and flowers have been subjects of fascination for artists. The earliest surviving botanical illustration dates back to the year 512 and formed part of a pharmacopoeia of herbs and medicines. In China, brush paintings of old trees, bamboo and rocks by scholar-artists evolved into an independent genre during the Tang dynasty (618-906). By the 1600s many European artists were producing still life paintings of combinations of flowers and fruit, and the creation of flower studies for pure visual pleasure became widespread during the tulip mania of the mid-1600s.
The Botany of Desire exhibition takes its inspiration from a book of the same name published in the early twenty first century which explores the reciprocal relationship between people and plants. It highlights the human desire that connects us to plants and the ways in which plants have shaped our behaviour to their own ends. The exhibition presents work by a wide range of artists from the late 19th century through to the present day, and includes painting, photography, sculpture, video and decorative arts.
Image: Milan Milojevic, Night and Day (The Tree) 2016 (detail), digital/etching/woodcut print. Courtesy the artist and Colville Gallery, Hobart.