Life, Nature, Passion

A retrospective and new selection of works, by

Mandy Hopkins

Decoy Café Bar Gallery, 303 Exhibition St, Melbourne

7 May - 2 August 2013

An exhibition of 21 works is currently on show at the Decoy Café at 303 Exhibition Street Melbourne. This exhibition extends to 2 August 2013. In this exhibition Mandy expresses her ideas through photography, mixed media and acrylic either directly applied on board or canvas or applied on those surfaces together with oils.

Mandy Hopkins was born in Melbourne, and after a l5 year career in the legal profession she studied an Advanced Certificate of Art and Design at Box Hill College of TAFE and also studied Art History and "2D" Art at the University of Melbourne. In the course of her career as an artist, Mandy worked as an Artist in Residence at Camberwell Girls Grammar School for a period of two years and produced commissioned and acquired work for both public and private collections.

She has gained prominence in the annual exhibitions of the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria, having won an honourable mention in 2001 (awarded by Godwin Bradbeer), 3rd prize in 2002 (awarded by Rick Amor), 2nd prize in 2003 (awarded by Jan Senbergs), an Honourable Mention in 2004, (by Geoffrey Ricardo), and 2nd prize awarded by Wilma Tabacco, 2005.

Mandy was selected as a finalist in the McLaren Vale Art Prize of the Fleurieu Art Foundation, and was also accepted and displayed in the Anti Cancer Council Daffodil Arts Day. Her "She who seeks the truth" was accepted for exhibition and Art prize at the Walker Street Gallery in Dandenong, and Continental Hotel, Sorrento. Her works have been exhibited in many galleries including Convent Gallery Daylesford, Mandarin Duck Carlton, Dairing Gallery Richmond, Chapel Off Chapel Gallery South Yarra, Cerabonas Carlton, and the Blackwood Street Gallery North Melbourne.

The current exhibition displays an intelligent and thoughtful exploration of varied themes and concepts. In the downstairs portion of the Decoy Café, Mandy has two photographs – a nude female study (Passion) and a study of red balloons under a bridge (Happy Birthday). Both works reveal great photographic skill and precision of image and are carefully composed. Although the subject matter of each work is different the central object is crisply defined providing a sense of drama.

Another theme in the show reveals an interest in the exploration of the tension created by the juxtaposition of simple objects on a textured surface. Thus in Volcanic Reaction, an overhead view of a cliff receding into the distant sea, is painted with simplicity and a flat layer of colour on a textured surface. The combination of the simple image, a limited range of colour (blue and black) on a an uneven textured surface suggests the energy of nature.

Similarly in Meteor, two panels each 91 x 122 cm are joined to produce an image of a meteor whirling through space. Somewhat abstracted and painted in tones of blue and white on an uneven lumpy surface the moving object is part of the flow of natural energy.

A further example of this style is Begging Bowl and Still Weaving, which juxtaposes a loosely painted bowl (oil paint) on a textured golden surface of acrylic paint. There is a tension between the two mediums which is explored in an understated way.


Somewhat looser and more spontaneous, acrylic on canvas Hollandia Nova seems to pursue an exploration of the force of nature and natural energy in an explosion of uncontrolled paint seemingly thrown onto the canvas. In limited colour soft beige and red, this work is a successful example of courageous painting with the artist prepared not to tinker with the accidentally created image.

For me, the most intriguing and satisfying part of the exhibition were the paintings exploring some fundamental shapes in the natural worlds - the cube, square, triangle, pyramid, circle and ellipse. Perhaps Mandy agrees with Paul Cezanne that “art has been and will be the contact to the intangible ideal, that humanity does not need to conquer, rather it needs to celebrate the untouched and the unknown.” The search for the metaphysical and intangible comes through also in Moon River, an acrylic and oil on board which depicts a moon painted on a blue sky. A simple image painted in blues, greys and a touch of pink suggests a spiritual dimension.


Further exploration of the elemental shapes of balls, pyramids, ellipses and eggs is Savoury Shapes, which is a well thought out carefully painted and thought provoking interplay of these fundamental shapes in nature. The pyramid is sometimes relied on as a symbol of wisdom linked with masculine energy (no offence to female readers intended) and the circular shapes with nature, fecundity and feminine energy. This painting brings to life this imagery and symbolism. Other examples of the play between the linear and oval shapes of nature can be found in The Spoon (acrylic and oil) and The Dish, an acrylic on canvas.

Although most of the work in the exhibition is reserved and contemplative, there are some paintings which evoke passion and turbulent emotion. In particular I was impressed by the dark reds and blues of Our Land with the smouldering soil of a bush fire ravaged land, and Sunburnt Country which isolates an animal form in a rectangle imposed on whirling background of swirling paint. Painted with a limited range of colour the restraint of this work adds to its emotional power as a cry of sorrow for the fate of animal life in such circumstances.

This is a thought provoking show which covers a wide range of subjects and displaying a confident and experienced artist at work and I encourage all members of the Society to see it.

Report by Nathan Moshinsky


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