School of Art
Terra Incognita: Images of Australia by seven artists born or working in Wales24 January – 25 February 2000
Early Europeans called it Terra Australis Incognita - the unknown southern continent. To contemporary artists, both Australian and European, Australia still remains to some extent terra incognita - a subject ripe for exploration and development. Its landscape, defies any attempt to tame or encapsulate it within an artistic tradition. Like Australia’s cultural identity, its landscape has yet to be fully defined and remains open to new approaches and interpretations. All of the artists in this exhibition were either born or now live in Wales. All have found inspiration in some aspect of the Australian landscape and their work has been enriched as a result of it. The materials, working methods, style and expression of each artist is different, but with the exception of one, who was born in Australia but who now lives in Wales, all came to Australia with the eyes of a foreigner, as either visitor, resident artist, tourist, traveller or surfer.
Richard Harris makes art from the landscape, using wood and stone. He was the first Resident Sculptor at Grizedale Forest and has worked on numerous public commissions since, notably in Gateshead and on London’s South Bank. In Australia he was Resident Sculptor at Birrigai and exhibited in Australia’s first Sculpture Triennial. His pieces are made in response to the environment in which he finds himself and remain in situ. Photographs of his work and working drawings are represented in this exhibition.
Mary Husted’s Australian images are filtered through personal experience and diffused with early memories and associations. She combines illusion with reality in a three-dimensional format, using wall-mounted boxes that contain fragments of mirrors, objects and fluorescent paint to create enigmatic and intimate environments. In 1993 she received a Welsh Arts Council Travel Grant for travel within Australia.
Dilys Jackson has drawn inspiration from Uluru (Ayers Rock) in a series of large pastel drawings. She sees Uluru as a place imbued with spiritual significance and ancient knowledge. She has exhibited widely in Wales and in 1990 was awarded a Welsh Arts Council Masterclass Grant.
Myfanwy Johns’ mixed-media paintings are collected fragments, a sparse and carefully considered visual diary of memories and experiences she had whilst travelling in Australia in 1998. She has exhibited widely throughout Britain and her work is represented in the Museums and Art Galleries of Birmingham and Walsall.
Lucy Jones is the youngest contributor to this exhibition. Born in Gwynedd in 1974, she studied painting at Norwich School of Art and Design and travelled around Australia after graduating. She has taken the tin shed (that very Australian of buildings) as the starting point for creating a series of abstractions that explore the colours and patina of rusting metal. In 1997 she was joint winner of the Oriel 31 Open Exhibition at Newtown, Powys.
Paul O’Connor recently returned from a Welsh Arts Council Travel grant to Australia where he travelled extensively, photographing the landscape and people of the interior regions. The black and white images he came back with are powerful evocations of the strong light and emptiness of Central Australia with great sensitivity.
Edwina Ellis is the only Australian in this group. She was born in Sydney but has lived in Wales for many years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers and has exhibited widely both throughout Britain and in Australia. Her three block colour engravings of mulga trees and rocks around Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) capture the scintillating, prismatic qualities of light at the Red Centre.