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A4 Art Australia Exhibition – April 2014

Contemporary Art Society of Victoria Inc.

Review by Joy Elizabeth Lea


Herring Island Art Gallery is the fabulous setting for the inaugural and innovative A4 Art Australia exhibition hosted by the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria Inc., during the month of April, 2014.

Australian artists participating in this show have demonstrated great imagination in the range of subjects chosen for their artwork; abstract landscapes and architecture, figure studies and studies of the natural world, an array of animal studies, including ostriches, mythical creatures, Gods, maidens and mermaids, guitars and drums and dancers are among the many subjects.

The range of media used is also diverse, including acrylic, watercolour, gouache, enamel, oil pastel, dry pastel, pen, pencil, charcoal, graphite and ink as well as the use of mixed media. The range of printmaking on show includes aquatint, etchings, linocut as well as digital prints, cyanotype and a range of photography. Also evident are the sculptural works in materials such as bronze, ceramic, wood and porcelain and polymer clay.

Watercolour has been used by Raymond Agius for his delicate, elongated angular and transparent nudes, Nancy, Gertrude and Paris, obviously with a nod to the nineteenth century Austrian artist, Egon Schiele.

Evidence of another method of mark making was to be found in the female figures drawn by Eva Miller, using white charcoal on black paper. A depiction of groups of female figures using a certain type of line creates movement and vivacity within these works.

Neda Starac has also evoked the nude using both acrylic and watercolour in her approach to the figure. Vibrant colours evident in each work enhance the aesthetic and visual appeal for the viewer. Peasant Woman with a Vision, the female subject who stands within her nudity amongst nature must surely evoke a contemporary image of the fifteenth century artist Sandro Botticelli in the work, “The Birth of Venus”.

Breakaway, also by Neda Starac, a semi abstract work, combines both geometric and organic forms to create an evocative and engaging art work.

Another artist, Cherry Irwin, has used gestural mark making and washes using both watercolour and graphite for mark making to evoke the movement and liveliness within the works of Esquisse 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Portraits are also evident in this exhibition and the work of Ricardo Alves-Ferriera offer the viewer an interpretation using pastel on paper of North, South, East and West. Perhaps the title of each work and the use of colour may evoke the orientation of shadows within the landscape.

Cecilia Watters' work, You Have No Power Over Me, evokes the old and possibly biblical concept of ‘Memento Mori’, the Latin for ‘Remember that you will die’. The skull, the ever present image representing the inevitably of death, and each individual's mortality is challenged by this statement of an individual’s power, even perhaps over his own mortality.

An innovative use of the ubiquitous ball point pen is also evident in another work by Cecilia Watters. ’Mabon’, a work concerning the autumn equinox also evokes a fairy tale with a hint concerning life on ‘the other side’.

Portrait of Roger by Donna Sceney, painted in acrylic, allows the viewer to feel as if he is being watched by this whimsical character who is peering from the top of the work.

The eyes, some would say are ‘the windows to the soul’, and two of the works by Amy de Oliviera, do evoke this feeling within the viewer. We Have the Power and See What I Have Seen offer the viewer two sets of eyes; the eyes that belong to the recipients of the Power and the eyes that perhaps belong to the one who wields this power.

The three linocuts by Jodie Stone, Dragonflies, are vibrant examples of the reduction printmaking technique of lino-cutting. The use of magenta, bright blue and black with white in each edition creates a vibrancy enhanced by Jodie’s strong line work. These vibrant works are both fresh and organic, a reminder of these ephemeral insect creatures skimming across the water on a summer's day.

The technique of lino cutting has also been used by Karen Foley in her black and white works, Granite Hill, Fallen Tree and Dreaming. Each work displays an intricate use of the artist’s tools to capture the deep space of the landscape, creating both evocative and skilful works.

Echinacea Plus, a hand coloured intaglio etching by Minky Grant, is a gentle and skilful celebration of the spring flowering of these plants along with the fleeting dragonfly.

The combination of aquatint, etching and ink in the work of Christine Cordero is evident in Choral Suite, a work which is reminiscent of the ancient times and lost hieroglyphs.

Cressida Fox has used ink and pencil to create the most quirky and original work, with Mermaids, evoking the mythical world of the surreal and other world maidens adorned with fish scales and engaged in the business of being a mermaid.

Works by Michelle Ianni, Circle 1, 2, and 3 were created using brightly coloured pencils and combining complementary colours on canvas paper to create oddly spherical worlds.

Images of the feline friends of mankind abound in the acrylic works of Kathe Bibi Ostermark, with each work exhibiting use of strong colour and line to create these whimsical cats with an abundance of feline attitude.

Artwork hovering between the discipline of sculpture and drawing belongs to Amanda Purkiss. Each work is constructed using recycled twisted copper wire into the pleasing forms of trees and their root systems. These were then mounted on dark coloured board, mounted and framed for the wall. Finding My Roots and Can’t See the Woods evoke a mythical, twisted and coppery forest.

Photographic works such as those by Yvonne Jemmeson, Seaweed on the Beach and Leaf on a Beach are realistic and contemporary works using the natural world as a source of inspiration.

Angel Series 2013 /1, 2, and Angel Series 2014/1, 2, black and white photographs by Andrew May, are imaginative and provocative works, evoking the forces of good and evil, light and dark within the spiritual worlds. Life in the shadows with wings or suggestions of wings. A movement towards the light as the angelic form seeks the light to be found at the end of the tunnel. A tiny light in the midst of darkness evokes the image of a possible Christ child.

Sculptural exhibits were also required to meet the size specification of the A4 Art Exhibition and artist’s imaginations were vast. Jenny Richards' work Pecadillo in lightwood is a gentle sculptural form with pleasing organic curves.

Ceramic Ladies, a ceramic work created by Evelyn Young, celebrates the achievements of the female; how far women have evolved since the days of the Geisha Girl or the days when women were required to wear the crinoline.

The current exhibition is a celebration of artistic creativity and skill that has drawn together the works of many talented artists from each state in Australia. Well done to all exhibiting artists.

click on image below to see some photos from the exhibition setup and the opening

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A4 Art Australia
Opening: Sat 5 April 2014

As we opened the door of The Gallery at Herring Island at 12 noon, crowds of excited visitors poured in and started to explore the show, our inaugural A4 Art Australia. Frequent comments as they started looking around included: "This looks amazing!", Amazing concept ....", "I like the size ...."

At the official opening, President Robert Lee gave a brief history of CAS, how and when it was formed, from its establishment in 1938. He thanked the hard working volunteers helpers who had performed the many tasks associated with processing, framing and hanging of the works, to make this show possible.

The works were created by artists from all around Australia. As it is hard for interstate artists to enter exhibitions outside their state, this show gave them a great opportunity to do so as all they needed to do was to mail their unframed works to CAS, to be framed and presented in the uniform A4 sized frames, or mail or deliver their small sculptures. Robert invited guests to enjoy the show, finishing with: "The best way to support artists is to buy their works!"

Attendance was good, and sales excellent, around 10% of the works displayed. People were literally queueing up to purchase their new found treasures. But as always, it's not just about the sales; the public's enjoyment of the exhibition was almost palpable. They were really delighted by what they saw, and enjoyed discussing the works with others.


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