Review: ‘Slow Down, You Move Too Fast’ by Kirra Jamison at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 22nd September – 17th October 2009


Kirra Jamison. 'Livin' on a prayer' 2009


Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Livin’ on a prayer
Gouache, pen and vinyl on paper
160 x 114cm



Hit, Hit, Hit with a Miss

Although all the work in this exhibition is dated 2009 this exhibition can fairly easily be divided into what seems to be two separate bodies of work: the excellent gouache, pen and vinyl works of paper and the ‘other’ less successful large paintings of owls and raccoons and the smaller paintings of hanging flowers and tree branches on dark purple ground.

The latter large and small paintings fail to hit the spot with the exception of Belong to me (2009, below) which has visual and conceptual links to the works on paper, the twin bodies dissolving into a kaleidoscopic dream-like effervescence of life. The paintings of the owl (Last star, 2009 below), raccoons (Can you see my aura 2009, below) together with another fairytale painting With a roof of flint and a floor of chalk (2009) fail to communicate a shared vision being disparate items that conceptually don’t seem to hang well together. They lack a certain spark, that revelatory presence and appear flat both physically and metaphorically.

On the flip side of the equation are works that are physically complex, conceptually robust and simply beautiful in their execution: no wonder so many of them have sold already! Using basic graphic patterns repeated and inverted (Jamison has an interest in graphics fostered through textile design), Jamison constructs fantasy worlds, fairytales on paper. In Livin’ on a prayer (2009, above) we have a splendid Carnival of the Animals as monkeys and creatures inhabit a boat sprouting flowers riding upon a sea made of flowers. In Willow weep 2 (2009, above) the tree of life is inhabited by creatures and a human figure (see halfway up on the right-hand side). In Future’s lovecraft (2009, below) incredible creatures again inhabit the imagined biospheric carnivalesque worlds. As Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin notes,

“The carnival offers the chance to have a new outlook on the world, to realise the relative nature of all that exists, and to enter a completely new order of things.”1

Here the new order of things is a thing of beauty to behold; the works draw you in with their colour and detail, their presence. I can’t wait to see what possibilities unfold next for the artist from this starting point for this is the very beginning of the path, a scratching of the surface of what is possible with this technique and themes. It is almost like an emotional texture, the breathe of cool air on your lungs in the early morning mist. I await developments with interest!

Dr Marcus Bunyan


  1. Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and his World (trans. Hélène Iswolsky). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984, p. 34.

Many thankx to Sophie Gannon Gallery for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



Kirra Jamison. 'Willow weep 2' 2009


Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Willow weep 2
Gouache and vinyl on paper
160 x 114cm


Kirra Jamison. 'Future's lovecraft' 2009


Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Future’s lovecraft
Gouache and vinyl on paper
160 x 114cm


Installation view of 'Slow down, don't run so fast' by Kirra Jamison at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Richmond


Installation view of Slow down, you move too fast by Kirra Jamison at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Richmond
Photo: Marcus Bunyan


Kirra Jamison. 'Belong to me (after Delaunay)' 2009


Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Belong to me (after Delaunay)
Acrylic, gouache and pen on canvas
220 x 183cm


Kirra Jamison (Australian) 'Last Star' 2009


Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Last Star
Acrylic, gouache, pen and ink on canvas
185 x 153cm


Kirra Jamison. 'Can you see my aura?' 2009


Kirra Jamison (Australian)
Can you see my aura?



Sophie Gannon Gallery
2, Albert Street, Richmond, Melbourne
Phone: +61 3 9421 0857

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 5pm

Sophie Gannon Gallery website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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