This September, Artereal Gallery is excited to present Nuova Luce featuring artists Rebecca Beardmore, Stevie Fieldsend and Andrew Lavery.
Light is intrinsic to the practices of all three artists in Nuova Luce. All are masters of their mediums: Andrew Lavery and Stevie Fieldsend working in glass and installation, and Rebecca Beardmore in printmaking and photo media.
The three artists share an experimental approach to ways of making art; to shining a “new light”. Each tests and pushes the conventional techniques and traditions of their formats towards more expressive and challenging objects and concepts. Creating collages of found and made objects, or innovative combinations of materials and processes that also express insights into societal and environmental concerns.
Stevie Fieldsend returned to her South Coast campsite on Dharawal and Yuin country in the aftermath of the Black Summer fires in 2019 to find it “… like a blackened still life. ‘Nature mort! The silence eerie, palpable. The absence of flora and fauna devastating. No visit from the resident possum, no sign of the regular king parrots, rosellas – or any birds; nor any wallabies, wombats or kangaroos; not even one busy cicada buzz. Grasses, trees, bush flowers – all decimated.”
Back in her studio months and years on she memorialises the horrific, tragic moment with her Still life series of sculptures for her Black Summer requiem, Nature Mort. Immortalising the inferno in the spill-over, the sap-like ooze of molten slumped glass and reptilian ribs of cast glass that absorb and refract light, filling fissures and issuing from the sections of blackened wood.
The sculptures are redolent of life stilled, but also of the fierceness and beauty of the life force – a theme that is constant in Fieldsend’s art. Set on cast, dark concrete slabs, the installation takes the guise of a grave site. A ‘memento mori’; at once paean and lament, for the myriad of “little lives” lost. A requiem for the apocalyptic devastation of the fauna and the flora that was their habitat – and a caution for survival of the planet.
Rebecca Beardmore recalls the exhilaration and induced vertigo from childhood, of looking up at the vaporous clouds while propelling herself on the rope-hung swings at the local park.
In her practice she has been looking to the horizon for the past decade, framing the landscape, then printing onto reflective surfaces. Obfuscating specificity of place and provoking the viewer to labour in looking; to challenge our ways of seeing and apprehending or ‘reading’ images.
Recently the artist again found herself “looking up”. Discovering a mesmerising cloudscape: “a topography without distinguishable site markers or monuments; a transient scene in constant motion and transformation defined by patterns of atmospheric movement creating forms and masses that unravel in their making.”
But also finding harbingers of catastrophic climate change: “Anthropogenic clouds, those produced by aircraft exhaust and industrial combustion, that have altered forever the relationship between clouds and climate” and rendering its toxic presence in the layers and fracture of searing magenta painterly overlays in her Cloud Matter series.
Beardmore’s application of diverse art and trade-based printing processes onto mirrored architectural surfaces that reflect the viewer within, yields, what she describes as: “a perceptual interplay that shifts with the ambient light and viewing angle, fusing an image of the self with the experience of the world that surrounds.” The essence and poesy of her practice is captured in her observation: “We all see the sky. It’s the act of looking that brings wonder.”
Andrew Lavery’s assemblages are aesthetic, superbly crafted, provocative – at times wry observations of the urban fabric and its changes over time. He re-imagines everyday objects and materials, infusing them with new purposes and suggested narratives that explore the social mores vested in urban development and its cycles of renewal and decay.
His propositions can be perverse, seeking to challenge collective understandings of the changing suburbs and to unravel and create little known or alternative histories through his seductive, absurdist assemblages.
Urban Bent takes sections from a chair discarded in a neighbourhood laneway. The bentwood style carries the weighted history and culture of suburban living and dining rooms worldwide. The style has been popular through generations since the 1850s when German-Austrian cabinet maker, Michael Thonet, developed his steam-bending technique for wood.
The chair is dissembled, its parts re-imagined and now ironically, wall bound. The back rest, its original purpose of support, stability and repose, subverted by the addition of strategically placed and skilfully-cast, yet ominously fragile glass wheels that invoke the raffish cult of speed, liberty, self-expression and thrill-seeking of radical urban skateboard sub-cultures. And more poignantly, the vulnerability of at-risk youth. The collision of old and new objects in Urban Bent alludes to the competing social drivers that come and go with urban development and its phases of renewal and decline.
Lavery’s Time Machines series – exotic towers of crystal salvaged from charity shops, sit within the convention of totemic towers, both secular and ethnographic, as symbols of heritage, kinship and beliefs. The series serves to deify the aspirational architecture of city and suburbs and pay homage to the contemporary god of recycling.
The Time Machines evoke the fantasy of time travel and acknowledge the real-time conceptual legacy of Duchamp’s ready-mades. Lavery brings together second-hand wood stools that he has modified with re-worked crystal pieces that he has cut, cold-worked and polished. The elegant structures are tribute to his artistry and the design and artisanal skills from times and industries present and past.
Lavery’s Time Machines, composed from decanters and dishes that are mute carriers of so many personal histories and household stories, bear eloquent testament to the fickle transience of trends and tastes across time; and respectfully acknowledge the twin qualities of endurance and fragility of their materials, and of lives.
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