Artist Profile: The Shakespeare Grove Artists

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Normally I focus on individuals in this column, but July provides the opportunity for a more “efficient” piece. The Shakespeare Grove Artists are having their annual exhibition at The Gallery at St Kilda Town Hall throughout the month, and it’s a fantastic way to check out a heap of local talent in a single outing.

The Shakespeare Grove Artists have provided a couple of the previous subjects of this piece, and I find myself having to make an effort to seek out others in the area. When there’s this much talent halfway between my joint and the Vineyard, the temptation has just been to cover these artists one after another – they’d provide enough material for a year’s worth of St Kilda News. But that wouldn’t be serving the diverse taste of the artistically savvy readership, now, would it?

However, circumstances allow me a justified opportunity to pack that lazy journo philosophy into a single month’s worth of SKN, discharging my potential year’s worth of columns in an orgasmic rush.

What would you do?

Anna Griffiths has been living and working in the area for yonks. She is probably best described as a sculptor, but not using humdrum mediums like clay or stone. She’s more a fan of what’s known as “assemblage” – taking appropriate materials and putting them together to form 3D pieces.

In gallery-speak: “Anna Griffiths’ art work draws upon and connects her major interests in history, myths, the natural world and also her engagement with contemporary social and political issues.

Her small, finely crafted and meticulous assemblages utilise a range of construction and decoration skills without being dependent on any one technique, and are made from found materials and nature’s cast-offs.

The current series sits within the ancient and enduring tradition of depicting imaginative composite human/animal creatures in art, literature and ornament, but in the process gives new life to both modern mass-produced products (plastic toys) and valued real animal products (fine leather and fur.)

Always finely crafted and meticulously assembled, Anna Griffiths’ work is evocative of talismans and other ritual objects which elude explanation.”

Her work is represented in the collections of the Universities of Wollongong and Melbourne, the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales and private collections.

Linda Gibbs’ landscapes evoke a dreaminess of idealised nature. Yet, it is not a dream. Working in the “en plein” air tradition, Gibbs looks deeply into the real landscapes that surround us, and transforms them back in the studio into a beauty that draws us in.  These paintings are to be gazed at and entered into.  To spend time with …’ Philippa Burne

Her work follows the tradition of Australian Landscape Painting. The process begins with en plein air studies which capture the whole spirit of the place – observing, absorbing and recording details, from the massive to miniscule. This ‘natural truth’ knowledge is essential to her practice.

Linda Gibbs – Peanut Farm, 2009, Oil on Canvas

Painting in the field evokes strong emotions for her. Self-conscious mark making is impossible as the battle with nature’s elements overtakes her senses. Weather conditions and nature’s patterns are elusive.  It’s a race between her brush and the elements with the elements always winning. This often leads to her becoming physically overwhelmed by the desire to capture nature’s spirit. Her small field studies are later scaled up in the studio culminating in large, pared down paintings representing (sometimes blurred) memories of the landscape experience.

Kylie Baudino I have covered before in this column, she’s the painter/sculptor with a fascination about what isn’t in a piece, and tries to frame intersecting absences to create a “double-negative-positive.” Don’t think too hard about that, it’ll give you a headache. Summed up for the rest of us, she’s very clever conceptually, and the work itself is aesthetically pleasing in it’s own right. More recently, she’s been doing watercolour paintings of ‘femme fatales’, who have a very art deco feel. Gorgeous stuff.

Also featured are: Suesy Circosta, Penelope Davis, Janenne Eaton, Marc Freeman, Kate Just, Salvatori Lolicato, Emily McGuire, Pam O’Neil, Mary Peacock, Sally Rossiter, Bernhard Sachs, and Deborah Walker.

Running weekdays 8:30am – 5:00pm, from the 27th of June till the 25th of July, the exhibition is called “From Realism to Nihilism” and is curated by Kirsten Rann.

If you only go to one arty thing this year, make it this one. You’ll see some fantastic work by a bunch of very talented artists… who are very close to the heart of St Kilda.

By Aaron Webb

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