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Written by the exhibition curator Amelia Pontifex
Let yourself go – this exhibition calls for us to let go, through the realm of the window. A Room With A View is a dynamic exploration of still-lifes, domestic interiors, botanical scenes and landscapes. Referencing E.M Foster’s ‘A Room with a View’ and using the idea of the window as a metaphor, this exhibition, both in a literal and metaphorical sense, looks at what could make up the interior and exterior experience.
Originating from one of my favourite books growing up, ‘A Room With A View’ by E. M. Foster, is the story of a young free-spirited girl who travels overseas in search of art and culture. Across her travels through Italy, she learns to identify her feelings rather than let them rule her life. In the story, her older cousin and chaperone prefers staying indoors and insists that wherever they stay, they must have a room with a view. The main character Lucy, both literally and metaphorically, is excited by the possibilities of what exists beyond the window. She has little interest in staying inside but instead wishes to explore the cities and countryside, to see the sights and smell the smells. She wants to meet new people and look at old art, soak up the sunlight and fall in love.
Using the idea of the window as a metaphor for adventure, escape and even a fantasy realm, as well as its literal form as an entry point to the inside and outside worlds, we have developed this exhibition to consider botanical, still life, interior and landscape scenes that look to position the everyday and everyday items as their own ‘windows’ of escape.
During the Nineteenth-century, a subject treasured by many was that of the open-window. German, French, Dutch and Russian artists all explored this theme in varying degrees and looked to juxtapose this same contemplation of ‘being’ and our physical and metaphorical proximities to images in relation to what was represented within the art. The open-window metaphor for many, referred to our deeper wishes and desires.
Developing from these ideas, many Modernist artists were inspired by still lifes and found it to be an outlet to explore a number of concerns that face humans without focusing directly on the human form. A number of Modernist, Australian painters all completed a mixture of still lifes, landscapes and domestic scenes including Grace Cossington Smith, Albert Namatjira, Hilda Rix Nicholas, Margaret Preston, Margaret Olley, Sidney Nolan, John Passmore, Nora Heysen, Stella Bowen and many others. Many of these artists at the turn of the century, much like our protagonist Lucy, travelled abroad and felt liberated by the sense of freedom, were able to fully immerse themselves in their new environments and were inspired by the ‘European light’ and colour palette.
Today, still lifes, botanicals and landscapes from the window incorporate a number of different and developed elements since their genesis. The idea of the window acting as a platform for escape by looking out onto the horizon and landscape beyond, is not a new notion. The ‘artists studio’ is a viewpoint that has been depicted by many famous artists over the years. This viewpoint, of seeing what the artist sees, is our best way of understanding the conditions under which some of the greatest art was created and the potential thought processes of the artist at the time.
This show is also an exploration of the familiar within a foreign space and vice versa. Often when entering a new space, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why we feel uncomfortable. And vice versa – we can visit a new place or be in new surroundings and experience a sense of familiarity or belonging despite never having been there. This body of work seeks to delve into these states of being and contemplate the lengths we will take to shape our environments, as well as how these environments take effect on our own psyche.
Making up the show at our Melbourne gallery, we have the stunning photography of Nadia Culph, Alicia Cornwell’s vibrant and unique blend of found and vintage prints and botanicals, Jen Shewring’s bold and carefully considered abstract/ impressionist botanicals, Salvatore Diabartolo’s considered palette and observations on the domestic space and experience, Nicola Cowie’s linocut and watercolour-like studies of local flora and fauna. We have Kathy Zheng’s domestic scenes that seem to freeze time and space, Ewa Wallis’s impressionistic play with light and colour in garden scenes, Alpana Rai’s spirited and grounded works that explore memories, experiences, travels and the Australian landscape, and Asal Valisoltani’s considered domestic scenes that capture elements of the traditional interior experience.
At our Gold Coast gallery, we have Sigrid Patterson’s oil and acrylic works that explore Australian flora and fauna through moody and textured works with an emphasis on reflection and contemplation. Susanne Bianchi and Aylee Kim’s stimulating pieces that celebrate quintessential Australian light and colours, Tenelle Grace’s acrylic works that, inspired by music, movies and fashion, seek to calm the mind and Kylie Daniel’s texture heavy works that look at the rough beauty of the Australian landscape. We also have on display works from Laurine Field, David Clare, Jos Kivits, Kristen Chambers, Sam Suttie, Michelle Keighley, Chelle Wallace and Jane Long.
Art Lovers Australia Galleries | Melbourne & Gold Coast
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