Quiet Existence, Big!, and Imperial Reminiscence open at NERAM

ARTIST: Kate Durack, with "After a Few Moments' Silence" (2019). oil on canvas. Photo: Nicholas Fuller
ARTIST: Kate Durack, with "After a Few Moments' Silence" (2019). oil on canvas. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

Walcha graphic designer Kate Durack's first solo exhibition, Quiet Existence, opened at NERAM on Friday night, with two other shows.

"For a novice artist, to come in and see your work hanging in an amazing space like this is really incredible!" Ms Durack said.

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Many are deep, cool paintings of fish and waterlilies, based on Walcha artist Angus Nivison's farm 'Yalgoolygun' and her memories of her grandparents' fishpond.

Others are still lives: roses and peonies in Chinese blue-and-white jars; or fruit and flowers as Impressionist orbs of colour on white backgrounds.

"It's so desperate-looking outside; the drought's taking its toll," Ms Durack said. "It's nice to come in and see some cheerful, hopeful, colourful works."

Ms Durack worked as a graphic designer in Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney, then 'tree-changed' with her family to Walcha in 2011. A course with Walcha artist Ross Laurie (who opened the exhibition) led her to paint again.

In 2016, in collaboration with local author John Heffernan, she illustrated a "Tale of Two Brothers of Ancient Mesopotamia". She has held sell-out solo and group shows at the Walcha Gallery of Art, and won local art shows. She will hold another exhibition at the Walcha Gallery towards the end of the year, and show her works in Sydney in March.

BIG!

Some of NERAM's largest artworks are displayed in the aptly named BIG! The nine works have a minimum length of 170 cm a side.

 Albert Irvin, "Discoverer", 1972, synthetic polymer paint on canvas. Gift of Chandler Coventry, 1979, The Chandler Coventry Collection.

Albert Irvin, "Discoverer", 1972, synthetic polymer paint on canvas. Gift of Chandler Coventry, 1979, The Chandler Coventry Collection.

A 'missing person' runs through a cell, leaping over a monkey that quizzically watches its shadow. Pale, skeletal forms dive into black water. An angel floats behind a barred arched window; behind it, one glimpses the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Others are abstract studies in shape and colour, or Aboriginal dot paintings.

Some pieces in the collections store, curator Belinda Hungerford explained, are so large they can't be hung on racks - a definite challenge to maneuver them through doorways.

Some were favorites of hers, or works she'd wanted to put in an earlier show; others hadn't come out for a while, or ever been displayed.

"It's important that we highlight the full range and depth of our collections," NERAM director Rachael Parsons said, "and so we always hope to rediscover and show artworks that may be lesser known or unexpected."

Imperial Reminiscence

An ingenious film exhibition tackles cinema's stereotype of the exotic 'other'.

 Caroline Garcia, "Imperial Reminiscence" (video still), 2018.

Caroline Garcia, "Imperial Reminiscence" (video still), 2018.

In mid-century film, seductive belles - Indians, Egyptians, Africans, and other 'dusky temptresses' (most played by white women in blackface) - writhed sinuously before Roman generals and topee-wearing explorers in the kind of spectacle that would have Edward Said foaming at the mouth.

Caroline Garcia, a Filipina interdisciplinary artist from Sydney, inserted herself into the dance sequences in Hollywood films to reclaim these ethnographic images, and critique the use of white actors to perform the roles of non-white characters.

"This is an excellent artwork, both entertaining & very intelligent," Ms Parsons said.

She first saw it when Garcia was chosen for Primavera 2018: Young Australian Artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, in Sydney.

"I sat through it several times - always an indication that a video artwork is good."

Garcia is based in New York City, and has presented work at Judson Memorial Church, The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, Spring/Break Art Fair (all NYC), The Luggage Store Gallery (San Francisco), The Manila Biennale (Philippines), Art Central Hong Kong.

Quiet Existence runs until September 22, Imperial Reminiscence and BIG! until September 15. NERAM, 106-114 Kennedy St, Armidale, is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 4pm.

This story From the 'Quiet' to the 'BIG!': NERAM's August shows | PHOTOS first appeared on Walcha News.