Big works

This inaugural exhibition at Gallery 222 had contributions from each of the artists who occupy the studios of Umbrella, Townsville 's community etching workshop and artist run gallery. The seven artists worked specifically for the first exhibition making large scale works which were linked by their commitment to current issues. An eighth contributor on the opening night was the writer Colin Campbell who read his Cantos from an Anguished Poet. All present could appreciate the subject's misery, a poet "submerged deeper than Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock."

A strong point of the exhibition is the diversity of style and experimentation combined with the ability of each artist to resolve works using a range of unusual material.

Stephen Hall's work titled A Whole Generation of Magazines Fatally Mutilated is an assemblage of collage elements. He works with pieces of magazines the size of a fist, cellophane, crepe paper, brown paper with touches of spray paint - partly joined together with semi-permanent adhesives and blue lac. He claims the work is part of a game, a jig saw puzzle with interchangeable parts emerging from his past sixteen years work. The imagery evolves while solving problems to do with the aesthetics of picture making.

By contrast the emotional stance in Helen Waterer's work Fields of Green presents a forceful statement. The work is intentionally awkward, with elements of 'bad taste' and clashing colours. A large work comprising nine full size sheets of rag paper joined together so that edges show, it incorporates jade circles and/or an alarm clock, an atomic cloud shape and figures. The greens that merge around the full image, though generally equated with restful vision, here have a more confronting use of colour-partly through the juxtaposition of hues and partly in their application and relation to function. For example the light green alarm clock communicates not just through symbol but through its colour, its urgency and juxtaposition with the atomic cloud unmistakably calling up attention to our lack of time. Complex undertones come into play in the raw use of pastel against more finely worked areas, in the evocation of vulnerability and the acknowledgement of Eastern philosophy.

Barbara Pierce's work continues her theme of travel. Elements of journey-making and path ways appear, not literally, but in a subtle choice of textures, finely knitted pieces, organza, thread , staples , chicken wire, mesh, found objects and photographic references. Intricacy in the work requires close scrutiny. Attention to detail makes the work read with the complexity associated with journeying through places and time. It takes time to appreciate the work's textures and the layering behind the sheer material that is used to emphasise structural elements.

Vicki Lyn's work is a dramatic change in tone and media using black charcoal, shellac, gold leaf, a cut out shape reminiscent of an Eastern temple roof on rough supporting beams of wood. Her imagery refers to witchcraft, Eastern philosophy, Alchemy and the reading of Tarot cards. The title Ace of Cups, Four of Hands combines a reference to Tarot cards and to personal philosophy. Personal symbols are transposed to a broader context by the acknowledgement of other doctrines. For example the restriction of materials to charcoal, gold and wood and the almost monochromatic range of colour is equated with simple elements used in Alchemy. Changes from a spiritual realm to worldly states are also evident in the two figures, one a floating and ritually adorned body and the other shrouded, weighty and exorcising power. A third part of a figure only seen as a hand parting a curtain gives a sense that we are witnessing a scene or a charade.

At the opposite end of the gallery is Trudi Prideux' work which is equally imposing in its investigation. Her Gnostic Projection with Standard Parallels and her exhibition statement evidence an inquiry based on a scientific background and interest in the Postmodern. The words suggest ambiguity as well as contradiction, aspects of the artists attitude to life and perception. She uses both Renaissance and Mannerist periods of art as symbols of the rational and emotional sides of life respectively. Her concern is with the reconciling of opposites through a process of intellectualisation and demands that the viewer investigate the title and the catalogue statement. The investigator is well rewarded by the subtle humour and abstract play in the formal elements, and by the intellectual processes being presented in this work.

Kim Mahood's Landscape hints at the new direction taken in her work. Having always had an interest in merging the surreal with subjects from the Australian bush, this work shows a radical change. The piece reveals the artist's interest in archetypal imagery and in palimpsests, the effacing and rewriting of manuscripts. The glazing and merged forms show an interest in process also evident in the changing atmosphere allowing images from the bush, bones, dingoes and cattle to move in and out of vision.

The circular composition can be read on two levels - in the flat working of the picture plane and in the destruction of this with ghostly images which seem to move in and out of firelight. Shapes of dingoes and bones are stenciled in the paint so that the interest in cave walls and older art forms is evident in the process as well as the intent of the painting.

Judy Watson's Inside Out, like Kim's, is hung rather than stretched. The canvas has been stitched onto hessian top and bottom which has decorative eyelets at the edges, an intended comparison between the two artists' work. Materials used are charcoal, red enamel, yellow oil paint, ashphaltum, black oil paint and oil stock. Bordering in two vertical panels are the symbols associated with Judy's work, the shapes that refer to shells and flowers but also female and male symbols respectively, a departure from convention. The imposing central form is partly obscured by an application of oblique marks indicating the movement of a gigantic monolith or figure. The image remains ambiguous but shows Judy's acknowledgment of spirit of place and strongly references her Aboriginal culture.