Is it too early in 2011 to say Curious colony is the exhibition of the year? Maybe, but it was pretty damn good. This is a show that was at the Newcastle regional art gallery last year that I was jonesing to see and rather than schlep up the freeway we let it come to us courtesy of the National Trust owned SH Ervin gallery in the Rocks.
Well my patience was rewarded and I really liked most of the stuff here. The curator, Lisa Slade, has done a wonderful job combining a number of colonial era pieces with contemporary pieces inspired by them. This show is on in Sydney until the 20th of February and I will definitely be going again.
I had taken one of my little art critics along and she was quite content sitting in front of the Joan Ross video, a piece we had seen last year at GBK. Near this were some of colonial artist Joseph Lycett works, the Corroboree (spelt 'carauberie' back then) was particularly notable - dark and mysterious, probably just like Newcastle at night was to the early settlers. Narelle Jubelin's embroidered holey dollars were interesting as was some of the old emu eggs mounted on the silver stands.
Highlights for me were some of Louise Weaver's colourful birds (taxidermy birds that she crochets over), Robyn Stacey's photographic still lifes (who we had just seen at ACP and which echo earlier colonial pieces on the adjacent wall), and Danie Mellor's native chest with its taxidermy kangaroo, emu and black cockatoo.
The undoubted star of the show was the Newcastle Chest. Here the Newcastle Gallery (funded by supporters including a family friend of Mums!) have created a wooden chest (courtesy of cabinet maker Scott Mitchell) which mimics the Macquarie Chest (a collectors cabinet from 1800's which is full of birds, shells and other miscellany. The contemporary chest is full of really interesting art. La Perouse shell artist Esme Timbury has contributed some boomerangs, Lionel Bawden some pencil sculptures, Louise Weaver some taxidermy birds and some paintings of Philip Wolfhagen.
Points - 3 each for all involved in the chest, amazing stuff and needless to say, I want one! 2 points to Louise Weaver, league of bird lovers eat your heart out. 1 point to Danie Mellor for both his contributions - I really like his paintings that look like blue and white porcelain with native motifs added.