Monday, 2 April 2012

Press Release: Jehanne's Alchemists

Jehanne’s Alchemists - a group art show of cross pollination: from literary to literal and the abstract

Sheffer Gallery 38 Lander Street Darlington NSW 19-29 April
gallery hours: 11am-6pm Wednesday-Saturday
Opening launch: Saturday 21 April 2-6pm

Curator: Anne Bentley

Artists:  Megan Yeo, Edwina Wrobel, Lucinda Clutterbuck, Penny Burnett, Linda Brescia, Priscilla Bourne, Dorota Bona, Anne Bentley and Jakob Adler.

Jehanne’s Alchemists came with the brief that participating artists were to read Thomas Keneally’s 1971 novel, A Dutiful Daughter.  At only 150 pages long, the book is full of imagery, is very Australian and a little fantastical.  Set in the Northern Rivers coastal region of NSW, it features farming, floods, puberty, perversion, beauty, Joan of Arc and two ordinary people who morph into half cows.
With the author’s blessings to put on the show, artist & first time curator, Anne Bentley told artists that they could be as exact or abstract of the subject matter as they liked and to have fun.
As is with all human nature, the work artists present often shows the viewer a hint of their own morals and judgments  as well as what is gleaned from the subject matter of a project.  Megan Yeo presents bovines morphed into smoking, sausage sizzling, flannelette shirt wearing humans with animal heads rather than Keneally’s humans “discovering their bovine selves”.   Lucinda Clutterbuck, is working on a short film focusing on interviews conducted in France late 2011, about how Joan of Arc is remembered as an historical figure along being politically appropriated to suit current sways of belief.  Lucinda has also created drawings of movement, showing a sensual side of discovering one’s own bovinity.   Edwina Wrobel’s gouaches display a distinct symbology including a syringe leaking fire, Día de los Muertos faces and a beating heart down a well.  Linda Brescia, working in her current medium of photographing her posed marionette-like models made of screened fabrics and household items – they are intriguing and a little bit spooky.
Does the viewer need to know the book?  “Not at all” says Anne Bentley who recalls seeing a series of drawings by Salvador Dali’s François Rabelais influenced illustrations Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel  (Pantagruel’s Comical Dream) in 2002.    “...but I did source an English translation of Rabelais’s The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel due to that exhibition, which I am yet to finish reading.  I don’t think it matters at all if people know the story but the show will intrigue people and they may want to source their own copy of Mr Keneally’s novel.”

Images clockwise from top left by Linda Brescia; Edwina Wrobel & Jakob Adler – copyright the artists

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