An exhibition of the artworks by members of the
Contemporary Art Society Inc. as part of
the Herring Island Summer Arts Festival 2015
28th February - 15th March

Review by Rosemary Mangiamele

Contemporary by Nature (Herring Island) 2015 artworks gallery

On Saturday 28th February, Robert Lee, the President of CAS,  welcomed artists and guests to the exhibition on Herring Island, and thanked the hard working team of dedicated committee members and volunteers who assisted in setting up the exhibition, and the City of Stonnington for their support. The exhibition was then officially opened by Cr. John McMorrow, representing the City of Stonnington.

The strength and diversity of this year’s exhibition of the works of members of the Contemporary Art Society was impressive, with a wonderful range of 59 art works in ceramics, sculpture and painting in a variety of media -  all interpretations of the theme ‘contemporary by nature’. With the pleasant autumnal weather, the exhibition attracted many visitors. A group of tourists were intrigued by the signs on the banks of the Yarra, and ventured across the river in the punt, and were very impressed to find that Herring Island even had an art gallery!

Upon entering the gallery there was a delicate, and well executed water-colour painting of Winter Blues by Deidre Edwards, and it’s beauty attracted much attention by the viewers. Alongside this work were two small, but strikingly powerful works, Waterhole  Central Australia, and, Waterhole Central Australia 2, by Jenny Scholes; both capturing the strong colours of Central Australia very well.

Then, moving into the main gallery, Bianca Bongiovanni’s very creative mixed media Lichen Sphere, made a grand statement in the centre of the gallery. It was intriguing and delicate, inviting the viewer to explore the light and shadows of this sculptural work of art.

Laurie Collins captured one’s imagination in his creative use of new and recycled steel and stone in the sculpture Dancing Girl, and it is quite amazing how he  is able to convey the feeling and impermanence of dance in heavy metals. The concept of commenting on Tony Abbott’s statement about climate change in Tony’s World is expressed magnificently by the artist in new and recycled steel.

The textural approach of Gita Mammen’s Molluccella Ieavis created interest with the delicate image on the palette board of the tiny white flowers surrounded by the pale green leaves, revealing their strength in her work. Through Robert Lee’s wonderful use of colour and technique in his mixed media work Ages of Sages, he created an image that invited the viewer to explore the work, and look and listen.

With the layering of subtle colours, Shelley Vincent had  created an impressive Map, which draws the viewer in to explore all the spaces we inhabit. It is hard to leave the work, as there are more and more images to scrutinise. Susanne Graham’s striking Red-Eyed Tree Frog, executed meticulously in pen and coloured pencil, raised awareness of the importance of retaining our rain forests for the habitat of the many beautiful creatures that live there. Cressida Fox’s delightful and humorous  works Happy Creature and Reading To The Cat, expressed her joy in exploring the use of her new pencils and crayons.

Connecting with the theme “Contemporary By Nature”, leaves, as a source of inspiration, can be seen in the work of Susanne Graham’s Autumn Leaf; Jill Anderson’s ceramic Shino Glazed Vessel With Black Wattle Leaves;  and Rosemary Mangiamele’s Autumnal Equinox and Emergence. It is fascinating how different artists can use the same idea as a source of inspiration, yet come up with very different interpretations.

Shells were another source of inspiration appearing in works by Ian Banksmith and Karen Foley.  Island of Shells by Ian Banksmith has a luminous quality in the sculptural relief with the timber cut out he has created, with the shell and whale forms creating a focus. Karen Foley’s All Washed Up was created in response to cyclone Yasi, with all the shells and debris that were washed up on the beach following the cyclone’s devastation on Mission Beach.

The botanical scroll in mixed media Banking on Joseph by Karen Foley, is an outstanding and creative tribute to the Botanist Joseph Banks. Jan Delaney’s When The Sun Shines is bright and colourful, a visual pleasure, filling one with optimism and joy. Heather King’s Variations on a Theme by M. Nature also captured the pleasure of the beauty of flowers.

Vida Ryan’s Movement In Green has a vibrant energy, which portrays the continual movement and changing scene as nature is springing to life. The colour of the red earth in Nathan Paramanathan’s Spread of Colour, conveyed a great expanse of an Australian landscape, with the wonderful brush strokes and use of layering.

James Ford created an almost hypnotic effect in the work Shimmer, with the use of acrylic paint on a mirror, appearing to create a reflection. The strong brush strokes and colours used by Ian Whitford convey the cool, untamed nature of the forest in his work Experience Toolangi’s Wirrawilla Rainforest Before it Disappears, and  he captures well the dark mysteries of the rainforest. The beauty of the Blue Lotus Water Garden at Yarra Junction was captured by Li Zhou in the oil painting Lily Water Garden.

Cheryle Bannon’s vibrant colours used in the mixed media artwork Tender Greetings conveyed the strong loving connection between mother and child. In Resonance, Cheryle’s work in mixed media, explores new possibilities that arise when we shift our perspective when we stop and listen to the stillness within.

The very subtle colours used by Lorette Krelle in Australian Bush Tapestry captured very well the delicate shades of light and colour in the Australian bush. In the impressive work The Grove, by Gail Stiffe, the creative use of a digital print of bamboo on handmade paper was very effective in creating the feeling of a bamboo forest.

This exhibition displayed a wonderful range of creativity through the artwork of CAS  members who are obviously passionate about creating exciting interpretations of their contemporary art and nature.


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