25
Oct
13

Exhibition: ‘Party’ by Anne MacDonald at Bett Gallery, Hobart

Exhibition dates: 11th October – 1st November 2013

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Children’s birthday parties as symbols of loss and impermanence.

In these wonderful photographs there is a sense of sadness and perhaps even nostalgia. There is a certain wistfulness at play, a longing/yearning/pining for the past: a past that never happened (in my case). There is a delicacy and spareness here – in the colours and placement of objects in the mise-en-scène – which enhances the poetic telling of the story, the restrained aesthetic emphasising the choreographed movements within the scene. This, in turn, emphasises a sense of loss.

In these bittersweet longings for an innocence (of person, of situation), small vibrations of energy carry great import. The suspended stars of Party No. 1, the abandoned heart of Party No. 5 with the single red ball perched precariously on the edge of the table – a masterstroke! If that little red ball was not there, the image simply would not work. To realise what the image needed, and to place that single ball there in the most knowing (yet spiritual) of positions, shows that this artist really knows what she is doing in this body of work. The fun/longing continues in Party No. 7, with its delicious monochromatic colours counterbalanced with the effusive staining of the spilt slurpee. Balance, restraint and intimacy are the key to these works, and MacDonald has achieved this to marvellous affect.

The only mis-step is the size of these images. I saw Party No. 2 at the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize 2013 at the Monash Gallery of Art recently at the largest size (110 x 160 cm, the other sizes being 76 x 110 cm and 33 x 38 cm) and it simply didn’t work. No ifs and buts, it simply did not work at the size it was displayed. Why artists persist is printing their work at a huge scale when the image simply cannot sustain such a size, both conceptually and visually, is beyond me. Is it because they think it will be lost in the crowd (of a prize) if they don’t print it that big, or because it’s fashionable to print so large and the clientele want it that size as a statement piece for their home? The ONLY size out of the three that these images will work is at 33 x 38 cm because of the intimacy of the subject matter. They photographs need to be jewel-like to radiate their energy. At the larger sizes this energy is totally lost.

So if you like this work buy three or four at the smaller size and let the images draw you into an intimate embrace with an impermanent, and perhaps fond remembered, past.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.1' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.1
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.2' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.2
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.3' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.3
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.4' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.4
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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“As a parent, observing my child growing up fills me with wonder, but also a sense of loss.

Children’s birthday parties are important social rituals, and on the surface of things, joyous and festive celebrations of life. However, on another level, they are compelling indicators of time’s inexorable passing. Children’s party decorations, food, gifts, games, toys and costumes alter each year with the age of the child. Their role extends beyond pure ornament and artifice to become symbolic of a transitory childhood world.

Looking at children’s birthday parties as symbols of loss and impermanence, Party continues my exploration into the relationship between the photographic still life, transience and mortality. In this series I have recreated ephemeral banquet scenes of party cakes and decorations. The images record the aftermath of the party, when all the fun is over, the presents have been opened, the cake eaten and the guests have left.”

Artist statement

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.5' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.5
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.6' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.6
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.7' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.7
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.8' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.8
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.9' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.9
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Bett Galllery
369 Elizabeth Street
North Hobart Tasmania 7000
Australia
T: +61 (0) 3 6231 6511

Opening hours:
10am – 6pm Monday – Saturday
12noon – 6pm Sunday

Bett Gallery website

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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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