Review - Art at Burnley Harbour 2015

3-6 December 2015

 Review by Antonietta Sanfilippo

 Art at Burnley Harbour took off to a good start with many volunteers participating on the artists’ sending in day, lending a hand to set the art works up for display.  In excess of 370 artworks were displayed at the Contemporary Art Society of Victoria’s twelfth Burnley Harbour show.  Artists participated from all over Victoria, also intestate artists, to showcase their work in the urban outdoor landscape that runs parallel to the Yarra River. Burnley Harbour is along one of Melbourne’s most popular bike riding paths.  As is usual for this show, many bike riders stopped to enjoy the display of art.  The location of the Burnley Harbour show makes it a unique and interesting environment for people to enjoy the work of many talented artists.

Artworks spanned many different genres, covering a large breadth of styles.  There were a number of sculptural works which attracted much attention.  Laurie Collins’ sculptures where made of recycled steel (‘Refugee’, ‘Part of the Story 2’ and ‘Dancing to the Music of Time’).  His sculpture ‘Refugee’ was most interesting, featuring a tiny sculpture of a refugee looking out into the distance from a large rock.  This piece of work evoked the viewer to consider how a refugee may be feeling about his or her place in the world.  Nikolao Vaalepun’s work ‘Abstract Alue Feather’ was a large sculptural piece (2 metres high) made from exotic macrocarpa wood.  This elaborate work featured intricate carvings and pieces of abalone shell.   Evelyn Young displayed a range of sculptures including two nudes, ‘Women’ and ‘Lola’, as well as a unique tall lampshade called ‘Bubbles Light’ made from copper wrought iron glass.  Beryl Scott’s kiln fired and glazed works provided an opportunity for reflection.  She described her work ‘Can you see me?’ as a look into the inner self, while her work ‘Can you hear me?’ was about the environment and whether people are actually taking things like climate change seriously.

There was a large range of contemporary abstract works.  Elizabeth Watt’s works were created using resin.  Her work ‘Reverie’ featured pleasant swirls of blue and green, while her work ‘Arcane’ featured a brighter range of colours (green, blue, black, pink and orange).   Her artworks could be interpreted in a number of ways, and were somewhat reminiscent of the spectacular Northern Lights.  Joy Phillip’s ‘Moor’ was a photographic piece showing branches that reflected to form a geometrical shape.  This work inspired a feeling of spirituality.  ‘Machine Woman’ by Robyn Brand was a bright coloured abstract work in soft pastel and acrylic featuring the face of a woman.

Margaret Gurney’s  recent trip to Europe inspired her to create a series of mixed media works called the ‘Aussie Madonna’ (‘jungle’, ‘desert’, ‘beach’, ‘black and white’, ‘red and green’, ‘green and red’).  She explained the works as being variations of life drawings and somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’ because they portray the Madonna in an Australian way, based on our love for travel and the outdoors.  

Australian’s love of the outdoors was also the subject of many other artists’ work.   Ellsworth Overton’s works portrayed travel in the great Australian outdoors in a realistic style, with his work ‘VW with Fridge’ featuring a kangaroo in the seat of a Volkswagen Camper with a bush campground and campfire close by.  His work ‘VW Roundy’ presented a Volkswagen Beatle making its way up a bush road, to explore the Australian outback.  Artist Charlotte Kandelaars displayed a number of works depicting the landscape of Melbourne city in a unique purple hue.  Her works ‘Autumn Views 1’, ‘Autumn Views 2’ and ‘The Arts and Autumn Leaves’ portrayed beautiful views of Melbourne City including the Arts Centre and Princess Bridge.  

The Australian beach life was displayed in Greg Carrick’s work ‘I still call Australia home’, a photographic piece showing a row of beach boxes along the Australian coast.  John Kodric also chose beach boxes as the theme for his work in oils, ‘Brighton Beach’.  Yet another artist, Elizabeth Mendoza, represented beach boxes in her work ‘Colourful Characters’ in oil.  This work presented eleven very colourful beach boxes, and Elizabeth took time in the composition of her work ensuring that every beach box had its own unique character.  Over the last twelve years the Australian landscape has always featured in the artworks displayed at the Art at Burnley Harbour show, making this show a significant local event.

Leah Mariani presented a series of six linocut prints ‘Beach Bums’, Little Princess’, ‘Superheroes in Training’, ‘Royalty’, ‘Cowboys and Indians’, and ‘Double Trouble’.  These works showed children participating in childhood endeavours such as play acting and dressing up. The scenes remind us of childhood times from the past, where children spent their time playing, acting and having fun, instead of using the computer to occupy their time. Artist Geoff Cunningham also looked to the past in his works ‘Not-so-Smart-Phone’ and ‘Irollers’, paintings using acrylic and aerosol.  His works portray vintage style themes, including vintage phones and women in rollers at the hair salon in a retro-vintage style.   

An elaborate show of this type would not be complete without nudes and fruit bowls.  Choon Wong’s works ‘Jenny’, ‘Kathleen – Crouching’, ‘Kathleen – Reading’, ‘Jocelyn’ and ‘Beth’, were carefully considered nudes created in pastel.  These works appeared to be based on life drawings and did justice to the womanly form and figure.  A favourite of mine was Gretchen Kesoglidis’ work ‘White Bowl of Fruit’, oil on canvas, which displayed pears and other fruit in a bowl against a red background. Use of the red background and the realistic appearance of having more pears than you need brought this particular work of art alive for me.

The Art at Burnley Harbour show was once again a great success, with many sales of art work.  A warm thank-you extends to all people who were involved in running the show, including committee members, artists and members of the public.  

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