An exhibition of the artworks by members of the
Contemporary Art Society Inc. as part of
the Herring Island Summer Arts Festival 2016
27th February - 14th March

For three weekends from late February to mid March, including the Labour Day public holiday, a total of 54 artworks by 29 CAS members was enjoyed by the public. A big crowd attended the opening on 27 February, a grand occasion where the exhibition was officially declared open by City of Stonnington Councillor John McMorrow on behalf of the Mayor. He spoke beautifully, and invited the audience to put their hands together for a round of applause for all the volunteers who had made this show possible. President Robert Lee thanked City of Stonnington for their very kind support of the Herring Island Summer Arts Festival 2016, with a generous grant and assistance with promotion.

On each of the following days there was an average of about ninety visitors. As well as the excellent standard of artworks this year, and the numerous attractions of Herring Island itself, the public were treated to an additional bonus: a Public Vote. Each participating visitor voted for his or her favourite artwork, hoping to be the lucky voter who gets drawn by ballot to win $100. The lucky artist whose work got the most votes would also win $100! Now that all the votes have been counted (over 300), we are pleased to announce that the artwork that received the most votes was Afternoon Glow, a fine water-colour by Be Goslar, and the lucky voter is Terry Taylor.

Sales were good, with a couple of entrants selling both of their works, to their delight and ours, and of course the very happy purchasers who had chosen these treasures.

What is “Contemporary by Nature”? All of the works reflected the show's title in some way by depicting aspects of the natural world, be it animal, vegetable, mineral, geographical or meteorological. In some works, links to the natural world were more obscure in appearance, yet these works, by their very nature, were definitely contemporary, such as Robert Lee's abstract mixed media works Moiré I and Moiré II. Kathe Bibi Ostermark described her acrylic abstract, Beyond Blue, as “A medical condition – or the deep blue sea.” I loved the ambiguity and humour. In Rosemary Mangiamele's acrylic abstract Reawakening, as she explained, she loves it when “… images unexpectedtly emerge from the brush strokes.”

The natural world of creatures, was well represented, including a ground parrot (in Wendy Reiss' Beowulf Survival Helmet, in tribute to Bush Heritage who saved the bird from extinction), Amanda Carrick's Tropical Parrots, Spring on Water (lily pads on on lake) by Monika Alston, and Deirdre Oliver's ceramic sculpture, Ride the Bumblebird, “… a triumph of hope over impossibility ...” The bumblebird can't fly, but with its hopeful rider it just might, like the bumblebee which technically can't fly, but does. Shelley Vincent's Guardian of Small Creatures, and “… wee beasties … is there wherever tiny eyes peck out from the undergrowth or where there is a rush and a blur as a furryshape darts across the kitchen floor. It is there for every frantic heartbeat.” How beautifully evocative, creating an image that I'm sure many of us can relate to, whether we like these wee beasties or not.

The natural vegetable world, and habitats of some of the above creatures. In Susan Gustafson's Birch Forest of beautiful tree trunks, the viewer's eye follows a subtle path that disappears into the forest, to “… let one's imagination do the rest.” Jenny Scholes, whilst Birdwatching in the Mallee, portrayed scrub, grasses and spinifex against tree trunks, orange sandy soil, and a brilliant blue sky.

Ah, the mineral, geographical and meteorological delights. Boom! A huge lightning bolt over Melbourne, cleverly photographed by Carin Lavery. Struggling with Gravity – light and shadow between the north and south hemispheres, summer opposite to winter, by Jan Delaney.

Contemporary combinations – the recycled steel sculptures by Laurie Collins. Tall and complex, they were fun to explore for recognisable tractor and machinery parts, tool parts, and other metal bits and pieces, skilfully welded together to form sculptural forms. Animal / mineral in subject, they each tell a story about the human form and condition. Laurie wrote about his Adapt: “The complex nature of the form was easily overcome by adding a separate structure on the top (the ladders) and my little character has happily dealt with the complex basis of his life. Ah, serendipity when everything comes together so well.” Rather like this exhibition, I thought: it came together so well.

Review by Cressida Fox

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