We’re wrapping up 2020 with a huge group show, Talismans, Rafts, Mementos, showcasing the work of the entire community of Modern Times artists – both new and old, emerging and established – with 150 works by 56 artists that span painting, photography, ceramics and sculpture.
Throughout 2020 artists used their practice to make sense of what was happening around them. Talismans, Rafts, Mementos celebrates this rich vein of creative output representing both the psychological and physical artefacts that have surfaced during this time.
From deep exploration of isolation, trauma and struggle to gentle musings on just having a slower pace of life and time to explore personal interests, the work in this exhibition reflects the spectrum of individual experience.
A truly visceral expression of the theme is Bree Cribbin’s Rhythms of Being. Bree, a new artist to Modern Times, has collaborated with music artist Godriguez to create a series of intimate clay forms in response to sounds exchanged in isolation. The sculptures in natural clay are free flowing forms that appear to have been squeezed, pulled and wrung out, before being tamed into soft folds, curves and wings. They have the appearance of relics sitting somewhere between the natural and supernatural, the old and the new.
“These pieces were created to find connection, intimacy, and tactility in the face of struggle and uncertainty,” Bree explains.
A fascinating and poignant addition to these rich works is the accompanying QR code (which have become a part of daily life in the pandemic), but as Bree explains, “instead of leading us to a form to fill out our personal details for contact tracing, it leads to a link to hear the final soundtrack for the sculptures,” which is also, in parallel, “highlighting themes of digital connection.”
Just as life was transplanted from the real-world to digital, countless other shifts in both reality and consciousness, have played out in our lives. Many of the works are imbued with a pensive melancholy for what is and what was.
The multi-layered paintings of Charlotte Swiden speak of dreams of a far-away homeland, Malmö in Sweden, through an intricate play of shape and colour.
“I began to visit my home town Malmö more frequently in my sleep and felt further away than ever, aching for my family and homeland. But at the same time I’ve felt a real kinship with my new country,” explains Charlotte.
Whilst some mourn, others rejoice in simple pleasures or embody gratitude through their practice. Hana Vasak of Dáša replaced the inspiration of travel with short courses. After discovering new forms in an online course on Ancient Wonders of Egypt, the shell of a bivalve is reinterpreted in After Bivalvia, a series of clay vessels that combine doughy tear-shaped bottles with richly embellished gold stoppers.
The garden is a resonant theme here also, woven through the work of Bryce Anderson, Morgana Celeste, Rachel Farlow and Amy Wright. Amy, who describes her garden as “refuge and sanctuary” renders colourful leaves, flowers, petals and foliage in wildly textural compositions using a mix of charcoal, gesso, acrylic, oil and pastel.
“[The garden’s] gentle constancy has tethered me to something tangible. The work that has emerged is a nod to the endless bounty that a garden can provide; its humility and its transformative nature,” describes Amy, in a thought echoed by many others.
Our director Amy Malin sums up the show – “2020 is a year that will undoubtedly be remembered for its dramatic events, and unforeseeable impact on our lives. The works can be viewed as a window into what has empowered us, what has kept us going and what we will remember or take with us into the rest of our lives. The works themselves becoming relics and mementos of an incredible time in our history.”
Talismans, Rafts, Mementos will exhibit from November 19 to December 10 in our Fitzroy Gallery and sales will open online on Thursday November 19.