Art on Our Doorstep – from quirky creatures to celestial spaces: “The Summer Exhibition” at the Nancy Sever Gallery in Kingston

Last Sunday afternoon I left a muddle of Christmas wrapping paper, sticky tape and presents on the dining table and ambled over to The Summer Exhibition at The Nancy Sever Gallery in Kingston. This is Nancy’s last exhibition of the year and it is as refreshingly welcome as a twist of cucumber in an icy glass of Pimms on a sunny day.

The twelve artists exhibited are: Byrd, Andrew Christofides, Greg Daly, Janet Dawson, Janenne Eaton, Annie Franklin, Carole Henderson, Tim Johnson, Kate Stevens, Michael Taylor, Ruth Waller and Guan Wei.
I happily reacquaint myself with some of my favourite artwork (exhibited earlier this year). It is especially uplifting to revisit the prosaic, exotic, and mythological iconography in the  paintings of the diasporic artist, Guan Wei and to delve once more into the shimmering truth of ordinary objects in the canvases of Janet Dawson.

This is also a good time to relish the work of other artists and I am drawn to the jewelled colours and tiny stories in the artwork of Annie Franklin. These precisely executed little pictures with beautiful patterned borders reflect the artist’s connection with Tiwi artists on Melville island. I particularly love Still Life Winter Morning and Foreshore I.

The sweep of work in this exhibition is quite breathtaking. The walls of the gallery sing with an extraordinary mix of media, colour, style and subject. The splashed brilliance and textured collage of abstract landscapes by Michael Taylor and Ruth Waller contrast sharply with crisp lines and elegant geometric shapes in the abstract art of Andrew Christofides.

In another room the surging sea and wild sky of the Tasmanian coast by Kate Stevens rubs shoulders with oddly appealing unnamed creatures, which drift, cycle and tumble in quirky bliss, in a series of pictures by the public artist, Byrd.

This exhibition takes us on a journey from the world of Indigenous desert artists (in a collection of whimsical and tender portraits of Aboriginal painters, like Turkey Tolson, by Tim Johnson) to the slopes of Red Hill (in a series of landscapes by Carol Henderson).

The intricate pixellation and enamelled gleam in the work of Janenne Eaton pushes us to the boundaries of 21st century painting and the exhibition also features stunning pieces by the master ceramicist Greg Daly.

The front room of the gallery is a celestial space of cloudscapes and luminous “floating worlds.” Tim Johnson’s huge imagined landscapes (scattered with spiritual symbols and cultural motifs) and Janet Dawson’s cloud filled skies transport us from the tidy streets of Canberra to an extra-terrestrial mirage. It is difficult to extricate myself from the dream like daze that envelopes me in this place.

So now it’s back to the Christmas bustle but it is lovely to know that I can come back to this exhibition in January…after Nancy has a little break…

© Anita Patel, 2015

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