23
Nov
08

Opening: Heather Shimmen ‘Betwixt’ at 101 Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 29th October – 22nd November 2008

 

Heather Shimmen. 'Cry' 2008

 

Heather Shimmen
Cry
2008
Linocut print on paper and organza

 

Heather Shimmen. "Lost1" 2008

 

Heather Shimmen
Lost I
2008
Linocut print on circle of felt, unique state

 

 

Arriving late from the Rennie Ellis opening there was a lively crowd in attendance at the opening of Betwixt by printmaker Heather Shimmen at Gallery 101, Collins Street. The exhibition had been opened by the well known sculptor William Eicholtz. Also in attendance were artists Louise Rippert whose exhibition Trace at Deakin University Art Gallery had opened the previous night and Carolyn Lewens who I studied photography with at RMIT University in the early 1990s and who is now completing her PhD.

“(Somewhere) betwixt nature and civilisation, past and future, fact and fantasy. Shimmen guides the viewer on a magical history of the landmarks and turning points which connect these extremes … Pictures of skewed, stretched and distorted women are abundant. There are moody pieces where Victorian women look uncomfortable in the Australian bush. In fact their discomfort is palpable as they begin to morph into the local shrubbery, their beauty spots being replaced with twigs … These images wear the marks and piercings of the subverted.”

.
Pamela Irving. Catalogue essay.

 

The work is feminine but also muscular and visceral, expanding past the edges of the paper. Images are composed in fractured spaces, Ned Kelly surrounded by emblazoned Life Savers, Australian creatures no longer loveable and pliable but dark and threatening. These elements are balanced with the use of delicate printed organza feathers for example. The work challenges conventional iconic wisdoms about Australian culture, morphing traditional stereotypes: no longer is it the Australia child lost in the bush (see Kim Torney’s Babes in the Bush) but the bush invading and subverting adults, animals and the city.

This is a body of work that is both conceptually and technically well resolved, displayed to advantage in the gallery space. Well worth a visit.

Marcus Bunyan

 

Artist Louise Rippert, sculptor William Eicholtz, architect Vaughn Barker and artist Heather Shimmen

 

Left to right: Artist Louise Rippert, sculptor William Eicholtz, architect Vaughn Barker and artist Heather Shimmen

More images from the opening

 

 

101 Gallery

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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