REVIEW: Contemporary by Nature

An exhibition by members of the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria Inc.
As part of the Herring Island Summer Arts Festival 2012.
25-26 February, 3-4 March and 10-12 March
Held at the Gallery on Herring Island.

REVIEWER: Cressida Fox

On one of the hottest days in February, the Contemporary Art Society opened its seventh Contemporary by Nature exhibition, as part of the Herring Island Summer Arts Festival 2012. Despite the heat, the crowd of visitors was delighted with what they saw; there were many comments of “I love coming here” (to the island and to the gallery), and “Great show this year!” People also commented on the exhibition hanging and layout (thank you to our President as exhibition coordinator, and our hanging team). The gallery itself looked particularly good, with its fresh coat of white paint. It is a lovely space, very light and airy.

There were 46 works on display, all on natural themes of one form or other. CAS President Robert Lee opened the exhibition and spoke of our exhibiting members’ various interpretations of the theme, “Contemporary by Nature”, and how the artists on show had interpreted the theme. Robert then raised the question, how does a contemporary artist portray the natural world? Robert picked out a few examples from the exhibition: including works by Rosemary Mangiamele, Janice McCarthy, Eva Miller and Kathe Bibi Ostermark.

Below are my notes on a few of the works:

Kathe’s textural, abstract acrylics on canvas, titled in Danish, depicted seasonal aspects of two towns in Denmark, where she had lived and grown up: Sommer i Odense, where she had spent 34 years, and Efteraar i Ringe, where she had stayed for just a short time. This work was in fiery reds and yellows, the colours of Eftaar (Autumn).

Gingko Vestiges,  by Rosemary Mangiamele, showed the lacy, fan-like forms of gingko leaves, subtle against a background of deep red with black. Janice McCarthy’s Henry, a charming ceramic dog with bronze-like paint and beeswax finish, sat on his pedestal opposite the door as if to greet people as they entered, causing much comment. In Afternoon at Westerfields Park by Eva Miller, the soft green foliage was offset by strong tree trunk forms with exciting flashes of red.

Robert ended his opening speech with the warm and encouraging line, “The nicest way to support an artist is to buy their work.” The large crowd of visitors went back to enjoying the artworks. In the display of paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, textile and mixed media works, there was much to see and enjoy.

Visitors were talking about the works they particularly enjoyed. Everyone had different favourites, and I shared their enjoyment. Some of these works were: the finely intricate pen-work in Susanne Graham’s Dragon Tulips; Margaret Gurney’s River Gums, textural tree trunks in mixed media; Gita Mammen’s Banksia Boy, with its painted and drawn forms and linework; Life Balance, a sculptural mobile cleverly wrought jellyfish and leaf forms by Robert Lee, and Laurie Collins’ red and black steel sculpture, Skipping Girl.

There were many other great works, and I invite all to take a look at them in the CAS online virtual gallery. Congratulations to all artists on show, as many comments were made on the quality of the exhibition. Cheques will be sent out shortly to the artists who sold.

Note: Over the days that followed, the weather was much kinder to us, and the visitors came out in force. We had 632 visitors to the exhibition, that equates to 90 visitors a day, topping last years record of 78!


Below: Some photographs on opening day...


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