Sipping drinks at the opening night, in the safety of the warm and vibrant Fremantle Arts Centre, listening to the howling wind and rain outside, was nothing short of a perfect welcome to this year’s Winter Collection. Featuring four exhibitions from local and international artists, the collection creates a unique dialogue between the exhibitions, functioning together to reflect upon space, time and mortality.
The main collection, Gifted, is comprised of 17 artworks donated by Mary Harrison Hill, from herself and her late husband, Chris Hill’s, collection. Including sculpture, paintings and prints, the collection celebrates the works of many senior Western Australian and Balinese artists. From polished wood and bare timber to acrylic paint and ink sketches, just about every artistic medium possible fills the Collections Gallery, complementing one another through shared references both to nature and the urban space. The varying styles from each of the different artists underlines the collector’s fascination with the emerging contemporary art scene in WA through a deep cultural appreciation of the Australian landscape.
The second exhibition, Nine Times the Space that Measures Day and Night, by West Australian artist Caspar Fairhall, consists of a number of large easel paintings. Fairhall favors geometric abstraction as a means to discuss the tension between time, science and philosophy. Standing beneath his towering paintings, one can’t help but feel consumed by the vibrant hues and sheer size of the works, coming to terms with the mind-bending images before them. In combining themes of nature with references to visual culture, Fairhall has captured a bizarrely satisfying collision of two worlds, in the relatively small gallery space.
Following this is Rachael Dease’s exhibition Like Embracing Ice, the product of her month spent in the Arctic Circle. Dease collaborated with artists and scientists, recording and capturing sound and image from the depth of the glaciers, in order to create a series of video installations of her eerily white and bare surroundings. The sound from microphones, capturing the melody of the arctic, has been used as the score for the pieces that fill a blue-lit room lined with multi-coloured electronic candles. The creaking and whistling sounds from the ice create an immersive space, encouraging the audience to reflect upon the threat of climate change and its effect on our natural wonders.
The final exhibition comes from the UK artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, collaboratively known as Semiconductor. Brilliant Noise is a video installation filling three walls of an unlit room. With only flat beanbags to lie on, the viewer is forced to confront the surrounding collection of film obtained from observatories and satellites, revealing unpredictable scenes of solar astronomy. The moving image is both mesmerising and disturbing, evoking a response from just about every sense. Through their exploration of the distance between the sun and Earth, Semiconductor ultimately question our relatively small and perhaps insignificant existence on Earth with respect to our finite solar system.
Each exhibition chosen for this year’s Winter Collection, has been perfectly selected and meticulously curated to create a sense of continuity between the artworks. Through varying mediums, all four exhibitions seemingly relate to science, ephemerality and our existence. Undeniably, the exhibitions on display have facilitated a space for discussion and conversation, whilst celebrating contemporary art in Western Australia.
The exhibition is open until July 15.
Megan is a full time student and part time stay at home Mum to her cat.