Who: Lia Steele, Eleanor Butt, Darcey Arnold, Angela Thirlwell, Jahnne Pasco-White and Isadora Vaughan
What: Various
Where: C3 contemporary art space, The Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Hellers St, Abbotsford
When: Until 17 October 2010

All those of you who live in Melbourne would agree what an absolutely stunning day it was last Sunday. Sandals, tank top, straw hat, sunnies, bare legs for the first time in months… enough said! To make the most out of the best weather we’ve had since March, I went to have breakfast with the family at The Abbotsford Convent. Whilst waiting for our food I ducked over to C3 to check out their current exhibition.

It is a group show consisting of various separate exhibitions for six different artists. Dotting the gardens surrounding the convent were large scale portraits of youthful men and women by Lia Steele. Their stern eyes stare and follow you as you walk through the gardens to the gallery. Their strange placement amongst bushes and flower beds made it seem like they were inhabitants of the garden and I was trespassing on their territory. It was eerie.

Inside the gallery these portraits infiltrated the walls. I felt quite self conscious with all these eyes scrutinizing me, as if they had asked me a question and were waiting for an answer; an explanation for something that I had done wrong. They are all naked and a strong community feel tied them all together. I perceived them as an “other” of some utopian place, standing in unity, pure and innocent, guarding their beautiful unspoiled land of lush flora, from outsiders like myself. Feeling excluded, they made me think how much our contemporary society has lost its touch with nature.

A small AV gallery was next with the works of Darcey Arnold. The minute I stepped in there, I flinched. A large video was projected on the wall showing a finger circulating an eye ball whilst rubbing and poking it, in a quick, uniform, almost mechanical pace. The eye was tearing up and became redder by the second. It was so difficult to look at yet the seduction of the screen and its horror kept my eyes fixated. What an incredible tension. The photo below was taken from the early stages of the video where the finger was not yet touching the eyeball.

In front of the projected video, a strange little baby sculpture occupied the centre of the gallery floor. Standing on a triangular base, with an eye on its stomach and reddish eyes, this sculpture was very surreal, symbolic and, frankly, quite creepy. The symbol of the eye definitely has some significance with these works and must be a metaphor for something.

In the next gallery space hung a series of photographs by Eleanor Butt called “Hell Hole”. She goes around South Australia taking photographs of sinkholes hidden in the the large expanse of land.

The next section of the gallery was a bit strange initially. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was actually open to viewers as from a distance it looked like some storage space. Looking out for the “staff only” sign, I instead stumbled upon a piece of paper with an artist’s name and title of the work. In this work, Incompletion of the Idea by Angela Thirlwell is an installation of her studio space containing works at a point in time where their potentiality is most potent. She explains that “each unfulfilled material/diagram/plan is pregnant with many possibilities. With this work I am conducting visual research into potential outcomes and probabilities and consequently where potential resides.” As an artist, I can most certainly relate.

In the space next to Angela’s work are two other installations as part of a shared exhibition called Sweep softly around the edges by Jahnne Pasco-White and Isadora Vaughan.

Isadora Vaughan’s large green tarpaulin sacks hanging from a rail were quite disturbing. They had a looming presence in the room, making you wonder what could be inside. The gallery was quite dark with harsh fluorescent lighting shining directly on the bags causing heavy core shadows on the sacks themselves and cast shadows on the ground. I felt like I was was at a factory that has closed for the night, looking at a production line that maybe carried animal parts or some other disturbing material. I’m not sure why I was thinking such morbid things but it was the feeling I got.

The last installation is by Jahnne Pasco-White. This is probably my favourite piece in the whole exhibition. Two large pine storage shelves made up this work. They had nothing on them but had flour dusted all over them and on the floor around them. The shelf on the back had a video projected on it of an invisible hand dusting flour along the bottom shelf, like snow, forming hills of flour. This was extremely well executed with the projection lining up perfectly with shelves, creating very convincing visuals.

These two works explored the ideas relating to subjective notions such as place and purpose, whilst littering them with conflict.

The weather is amazing again this weekend so go have some breakfast sitting out in the beautiful sun at the Abbotsford Convent and check out this exhibition while you’re there!


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