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Two exciting new exhibitions at Craft ACT’s city gallery show the diversity of artistic talent across Australia.
‘Intersections’ is an exciting new collaboration between one of the most influential figures in the Australian craft movement, Janet DeBoos, and award-winning contemporary visual artist Wendy Teakel. With international borders closed, this beautiful exhibition invites audiences to get lost at home in Australia’s bushland.
After a year of constant change and shifting visions, DeBoos and Teakel surrendered themselves to the mindfulness that can be found in ‘getting lost’.
Guided by Rebecca Solnit’s ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’, DeBoos and Teakel navigate the ‘geography’ of 2020 which was molded by COVID-19 and its effect on our relationship with the physical world.
The harmonic pairing between their diverse expressions of landscape (DeBoos through ceramics and Teakel through paintings, work on paper, and sculpture) presents an insightful narrative about the places that we inhabit.
Janet DeBoos is a respected ceramic artist who has found that in getting lost, her visual motifs have drifted back home. For decades, DeBoos’ ceramic practice has deeply engaged with China, the ancient home of porcelain.
However, the ‘lost’ year of 2020 has guided her work to a new hybrid understanding of home and place which connects with Teakel’s Australian palette. Craft ACT has invited newly appointed CMAG Director Sarah Schmidt to write the exhibition’s catalogue essay.
“DeBoos, who has frequently worked in China, across a number of provinces … has mournfully erased Chinese motifs from many works, or at least reduced these into the background, in a process of acceptance that the world has changed and her projects with China are not as easily accessed now,” writes Schmidt.
“For decades, DeBoos has made remarkable ceramic works, as one of Australia’s great ceramicists, her experience and devotion to practice showing in well-evolved pieces.”
“Teakel’s work is charged by inspiration from the landscape. Teakel says of ‘Earthbasket III’ 2020, one of her sculptural pieces—constructed of wire mesh pushed into the form of a container—that the bush is its major influence.
At the lip of this basket Teakel daubs acrylic paint and makes marks with pastels, placing variations of colour from the landscape onto decorative wooden strips, that serve to fix the structure of this basket,” she adds.
“The form is direct and simple, but the engagement complex; there is the choice of materials used in farming practice, as well as it echoing the forms of traditional Indigenous basket-making.”
The two acclaimed artists have found a balanced dialogue which guides audiences through the ever-changing physical world around them. Being lost, finding new paths and gathering fresh perspectives about familiar land, has created an impressive new body of work which will inspire Canberra audiences.
Following a year in which change was the only constant, creativity and imagination proved themselves to be exactly what we needed to keep on going.
2020’s ‘Emerging Contemporaries’ demonstrate how the work of early-career artists plays a pivotal role in breathing new life in Australia’s craft landscape. Together, this group of exhibiting artists represent renewal and hope for the new year, expressed through the growth and healing that crafting fosters.
Against all odds, the early career artists featured in ‘Emerging Contemporaries’ have created works which are testament to the resilience of Australia’s art sector. This group of new talent stimulates and sustains conversation about craft and design.
“Understandably, access for arts students to workshops has been difficult in 2020. It’s very hard to learn a craft exclusively by remote access,” explains Craft ACT’s CEO Rachael Coghlan.
“You need ‘time on the tools’ to develop deep knowledge about materials, techniques, tradition and processes, and this was very difficult for many people who were working and studying from home. This makes it even more incredible that so many talented emerging artists graduated in 2020 and feature in Emerging Contemporaries in 2021. It’s a smaller cohort compared to previous years, but the quality is high.”
Inspired by contemporary issues in both art and society, the pervading themes in this exhibition are skilful subversions of material and technique, a devotion to ecological awareness and the exploration of people and place.
This exciting combination of works speak to each other through the shared language of innovation. Through exploring mediums such as furniture, ceramics, glass, jewellery, textiles and more, these artists inspire their audiences through material expressions of creativity.
In supporting the artistic development of emerging makers, Craft ACT hopes to nurture our growing community through giving voice to new talent.
Join us in celebrating the work of Akka Ballenger, Mika Benesh, Millie Black, Maitlan Brown, Ned Collins, Lea Durie, Annalise Fredericks, Daniel Leone, Christine Little, David Liu, Denni Maroudas, Olinda Narayanan, Bling Yiu, Jonathon Zalakos.
‘Intersections’ is on show at the Craft ACT gallery until 20 March 2021.
‘Emerging Contemporaries’ is on show at the Craft ACT gallery until 20 March 2021.
Feature image: 5 Foot Photography