20 November 2009

A Decadent Night Out . . . well, sort of

A busy week in the studio. The intention was to complete some of the unfinished paintings I have lying around, but all that seems to have happened is that I did a completely new one - which may need some adjustments, so is added to the List of Unfinished Paintings. Then I began reworking one I'd long discarded as a failure. Still, I'm not going to run out of Things To Do for quite some time.
To reward myself for my diligence I dressed up and went to the opening of the annual CAST (Contemporary Art Services Tasmania) Members' Exhibition. Every year this exhibition gets better. There was an exciting variety of work in pretty much any medium you can imagine, and some you probably can't (Honey? Lawn clippings? Dandelion seeds?). Some were clever, some were cute, some thought-provoking and one or two just a bit too obscure for a delicate lass like me, but it all worked well together. My painting was hanging nicely at eye level, just as I'd hoped. I found some people to talk to, renewed a couple of old acquaintances, and drank one more glass of champagne and bitters than I should have. As I know from long experience only a small quantity of alcohol is enough to skew my critical faculties big time, so there's no point in trying to do anything artistic for the rest of the evening. What a good thing I've got a book to read!
Meantime, this is the painting I have in the exhibition:

Landscape with Melting Church - 61cm x 41cm
CAST Members' Exhibition - 27 Tasma St, North Hobart, Tasmania
21 November - 20 December 2009
Well worth the visit!

11 November 2009

Unease in the foliage

The following article appeared in The Mercury magazine 7 November, 2009

There is always something slightly unnerving about Elizabeth Barsham's oil paintings although such a feeling often defies analysis.

Just out of sight of the evocative rural scene or the smiling family group some unpleasantness is possibly lurking behind the sinuous foliage.

Alternatively it can be in the form of entrails of once noble trees but there are also adults with sinister saws and occasional forlorn, vulnerable children. The suspended reality of her many strangely compelling scenes have an added drop of the macabre - perhaps because Tasmania, for a complexity of reasons, has elements of perversity and eccentricity; and that is not just the weather.

Maybe Barsham's memories of the Tasmanian environment of yesteryear have been darkened by its subsequent degradation?

Clyde Selby

04 November 2009

About the Exhibition - gallery director's description

Betty Nolan, director of the Foreshore Gallery, provided the following information:

Dali's Moustache is a celebration of three Eastern Shore painters who use in their work methods popularised by the great Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dali (currently a great retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria) and his fellow artists.

The three painters featured in this exhibition, Elizabeth Barsham, Alex Wanders and Betty Nolan, are building the visual culture of our island. Using the formal means of Dadaism and Surrealism they create unique contemporary visions of what it is to be Tasmanian underneath the surface of things, whether the spiritual, the fantastic or the world of the object.

Distortion, antigravity, non local colour, transparency and viscous space are used to show their different philosophies.

Elizabeth Barsham's works remind us of Max Ernst's great masterpiece Europe After the Rain. Similar to the devastated vegetal ruins he depicts, her immaculately painted forests are strangely compromised, at once fecund, living organisms, but also mutating in strange directions. Rich with possibility, verdant and potentially explosive they watch the watchers. The colours and forms metamorphose into manmade forms and human viscera. Something unexpected is at the edge of the clearing.

In Alex Wander's works a flame burns without consuming wood, a bronze snake is lifted up on a pole and a staff blossoms in the desert. Is this Arcadia or Eden before the fall - a time when the lion lay down with the lamb? Their painted perfection speaks of a nobility and permanence that is something more than visual perception, that is richer and more than real (surreal). Suave varnishes are lit from within, illuminating enigmatic spiritual form, informed by belief.

Betty Nolan's paintings are a response to European travel in 2008. The world's great cities throng with shoppers who desire the object, whether it is the designer handbag, the antique or the missing part of an obscure collection. Back in Tasmania we trawl markets to find our own object of desire. Sometimes we don't know what it is, but it will speak to us when we have the encounter. This conversation is the subject of her works, where little clocks sculpted from coloured varnishes converse with the young shopper or objects assume a metaphorical scale consistent with their significance in the mind of the collector.

Betty Nolan, 2009

Betty Nolan's website: www.foreshoreartschool.com.au

Inaugural Exhibition of Foreshore Gallery

Where better to begin a new blog than with the inaugural exhibition in a brand new gallery? Not only that, but it is the first commercial gallery to be established in the Eastern Shore suburbs of Hobart.

The Foreshore Gallery is located on level 2, 6 Bayfield St., Rosny Park, Tasmania (Australia, for our overseas friends), conveniently close to the shopping centre.

For photographs of the paintings I have exhibited, visit my website: