Opening talk to Active 8 … Create

Opening talk to Active 8 … Create

Cooroy Butter Factory

7 July 2017


Dr Tamsin Kerr

I’d like to recognise the Kabi Kabi elders who care for country and sing up this land, who connect us creatively to locale, and who allow us to acknowledge that natural and more-than-human partnerships that we build in the places we inhabit.

This flow in and of place is also the stuff of this exhibition, a collaboration – based around relationships and respect - between 2D and 3D artists with strong professional skills and engaging ongoing production.

These eight artists are prolific, active in their creativity, as you can see from the many works here. Of all the artists, Rowley Drysdale offers the smallest selection of works as addition to his oeuvre. While he is a master in his craft, Rowley has been most active in his potters’ wood-fired community with Smoke on the Water over the last few months and perhaps this, along with the vagaries of the kiln, has reduced the production of his shimmering pots of grace and heft.

Vit Martinek’s sculptural works in stoneware paper clay offer a powerful presence. They suggest nature’s eyes on the world and those eyes are fierce indeed.  These works incite awe rather than affection: there is a strong sense of the vengeance of the gods.

Anna Howard’s almost sculptural canvasses offer topics of introspection – lake thoughts and kernels of change - that lead to growth and transformation, for both artist and viewer alike.

Helen Lawson offers her own take on more classic paintings – the vase of flowers a traditional still life topic, along with celebrations of the seasons, and her almost triptych of paintings that strongly express the most energetic moods of water in orange and blue tension.

Rick Gruin’s works suggest hidden depths amidst their abstract colour, telling of a prolific map-making along an interesting life journey. Of the many here, I might single out Dominant, a small canvas with much to say.

Annie McDonald’s strong coloured kiln-fired glass works, show a celebration of local place with its flora and fauna, and include a passionate environmental plea for ocean and land (Save our Oceans, a translucent shell over swirling sea) and consequently also sell well around the world. These elements of fire, water, earth, and air are expressed both in production and in content and her works are both useful and beautiful.

Sam Vatovey entrancingly abstracts nature with large canvases that capture both the detail and the big picture, the textual nature of every place, the language of country, an active partnership of artist with her genius loci.

And lastly, but by no means least, Yeats Gruin, whose works of quiet beauty evoke an almost eerie wonder. Her fine art and craft gives another meaning to the eyes following you around the room, a venerating of the classic female form as both muse and subject. In contrast, her abstract Unknown Landscapes are in clear conversation with Rick’s painting Paris (implying something known afterall). I’m most partial to the 3D suggestions of landscape, the break and drift, the unchartered terrain, a portrait of place through a numinous craft.

And perhaps this is the connective tissue that runs through the colourful body of this exhibition: a portrait of place through a numinous craft – a presence of divinity indeed. With such a thought, I’d like to pause and admire the ability of such art to create moments of stillness in the midst of our busy lives. Active8 … Create is a showcase worthy of a contemplative awe and admiration for these local artists and their wondrous art