Aspects: Contemporary Landscapes
Opening 23 August 6-8.30pm
23 August - 2 September
An exhibition of new works celebrating the landscape genre. Featuring works by Douglas Schofield, Valentina Schulte, Rachael Helmore, Caitlin Casey, William Smeets and Jordan Charles Stokes.
Douglas Schofield’s paintings and etchings map an inquiry into the definition of Nature in the Anthropocene epoch. Schofield creates en plein air sketches which inform larger abstract pieces that he completes in the studio. His bright gestural works playfully consider the place of gardening, farming, horticulture and indoor plants in the “natural world”. His paintings rarely refer to specific places, instead presenting an amalgamation of memories to convey a feeling or atmosphere of Nature.
Schofield’s Windowsill Garden etchings on wallpaper oscillate between the indoor and outdoor, simultaneously functioning as an interior garden and window to the outside. The vibrant triptych alludes to the legacy of William Morris wallpaper along with the rising popularity of indoor plants. Schofield is a current Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) student at UNSW Art & Design. Earlier this year his solo show, A trail of Petals and Dirt exhibited at Kudos Gallery. In 2017 he also participated in groups shows at AirSpace Projects, Articulate Project Space, Goodspace and 107 Projects.
Valentina Schulte’s practice is inspired by the beauty of the alpine landscape. In an age concerned human impact on the environment, Schulte draws our attention back to the sublime power of natural forces. Our Silent Guardians and I am the space where I am reimagines mountainscapes to create a wholly new global landscape and bring focus to the intrinsically beautiful details depicted in each image of the various mountain peaks. Everywhere and nowhere at once and In a state of impermanence forms part of a series titled The evidential testimony of time. These reconstructed and assembled landscapes focus on natural earth changes such as glaciers, tectonic movements and erosion. This series is also inspired by the additivity principle; where the sum of the of a bisected shape, rearranged, will result in the same area total. Under this concept the work becomes a visual metaphor for the malleable and changing landscape.
Since completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts (First Class Honours) from UNSW Art and Design (COFA) Schulte has participted in the Ravenwood Australian Women’s Art Prize (2017), CLIP Award, Perth Centre for Photography (2016, 2017 overall winner), Fishers Ghost Award, Campbelltown Art Centre (2016) and the Churchie Emerging Art Exhibition, Brisbane (2005).
Vanishing points recur throughout Rachael Helmore’s work as she ponders our perception and movement through space. Vanishing points traditionally act as visual anchors; benchmarks for the ‘correct’ way to draw. Helmore however captures a contrasting role of vanishing points. Her drawings and video projection present vanishing points as elusive and enigmatic; constantly shifting in the landscape, and often doing little to accurately describe our embodied experience of space.
Helmore’s practice is founded on rapid observational drawing, often without looking at the page. The result is an exercise in observation and the documentation of fleeting moments between people, objects, landscapes and urban sites. Helmore completed her Bachelor of Visual Arts/Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales and is currently completing her Masters of Art Curating the the University of Sydney.
Caitlin Casey’s photography explores the way in which the landscape, especially within the postcolonial context, has been used to inform the white Australian identity. Using a combination of subtly altered photographs and videos, Casey interrogates the political nature of the landscape genre. This body of work, created in the Royal National Park and the Blue Mountains National Park, aims to disrupt an idealized, singular reading of the landscape.
Casey is a Sydney based artist and curator. She holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts, Honours (Photography) from the National Art School and a Masters of Art Curating from the University of Sydney. She has participated in a number of shows including a solo show, Kosciuszko/Kosciusko at Robin Gibson Gallery (2014) and in 2016 participated in Interrupted Horizons at Rubicon ARI, Melbourne.
At first glance William Smeets’ drawings appear photographic. Closer inspection reveals Smeets has consummately captured the tree's gnarled trunk and twirling bark with a humble pencil. Each drawing is dominated by a grand gum tree at the centre of the composition. Smeets’ choice to focus on a small section fittingly reflects his highly detailed approach.
Smeets began his passion for drawing at the Adelaide Central School of Arts before relocating to Sydney and now Melbourne. He documents his urban environment through drawing but is regularly enticed into to the landscape by his passion for en plein air sketching. All four trees pictured in his Kangaroo Island Cape Willoughby series are located within a kilometre of one another and hold significant personal meaning to the artist.
A Western understanding of space is founded on the segmentation of the land by roads, fences and signposts. Jordan Charles Stokes’ "Cuttings" series considers this human intervention into the natural landscape. For this series Stokes ventured into geographical “non-places” unidentified on topographical maps to document the large cuttings that traverse the bushland to make way for electrical wires and roads.
In contrast Cuttings depicts a microcosmic view of landscape alteration. The triptych shows tree stems and branches cut during hazard reduction for the bushfire season. The photographs document an intimate ritual of cutting, collecting and binding, to become an artifact of deep symbolic meaning. This body of work offers rural counterpoint to Stokes’ urban based photography exhibited in his solo show Homes of Nostralia, Gaffa (2017). Stokes holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UNSW Art and Design (COFA) and a Masters in Media Arts and Production from the University of Technology.