“Place” – Oil and Watercolour paintings by Jan McNeill

“As the Crow Flies” – Drawings by Dee Gill and Ceramics by Sarah Ormonde

6 September – 28 October 2012

It is fascinating to see how a similar subject can inspire different responses from different artists.

At Falkner Gallery, two new exhibitions allow one to see this. Both begin with landscape as the subject, a subject popular the world and centuries over but particularly in Australia.

‘Place’ by Jan McNeill is a very personal response to grief and a desire for rest and healing. Jan expresses a desire: “to be reconnected to the land, to mountains, to darkness, to a raw earthiness from which I could rebuild myself”

Her emotional journey is expressed through moving around the colour palette from indigo, charcoal and umber mountains, to turquoise waters, to gold fields and to rusted sands. As her emotional journey progresses, so does her colour palette change.

She states: ”I have learned the enormous value of sitting with one’s grief, finding beauty and richness in that grief, and the renewal which the land can provide if one can allow oneself to be immersed in its shelter.”

Her traditional oil and watercolour paintings display this powerful progression of her personal journey.

The exhibition upstairs, ‘As the Crow Flies’ by Dee Gill and Sarah Ormonde are also personal journeys but in a more abstract and/or scientific manner.

Dee Gill drawings are the result of her involvement with an archaeological survey team, “examining what the dry lake systems of arid inland south eastern Australia can tell us about the impact of fluctuating climatic conditions on the environment and human behaviour prior to and since the last Ice Age.”

25,000 years ago, lakes were full, and fish and bird life was abundant, supporting a substantial Aboriginal population. At the end of the Ice Age, hot harsh conditions dried up the lakes “leaving behind only the most subtle signs of human occupation – tiny fish bones, shells, fragile cooking hearths and fine shards of stone…”

Dee has depicted these fragments in minute detail to study and pose questions about the history and future of this ancient land.

Sarah Ormonde, an accomplished ceramicist, describes a similar interest in the history and future of the environment. Her beautiful ceramic forms are created using combined terracotta and porcelain clays. Pots’ surfaces are scratched and scored in a way that suggests the arid, harsh conditions of dried river and lake beds. Aerial views of a dry landscape and glimpses of remaining fragments, seen as the crow flies, are abstract, powerful statements about the land.

Both exhibitions describe individual approaches to the Australian landscape. Paintings, drawings and ceramics all display this as emotional, scientific or abstract works of art.

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