Thin Ice2 Art Exhibition, Sydney – Rose Niland’s Review

Opening Night at Incinerator Gallery 2014, photo by Rose Niland

The iconic Walter Burley-Griffin designed Incineratorbuilding located in the scenic Bicentennial Reserve Willoughby on the North Shore of Sydney is now one of three art galleries run by Willoughby Council.

The Incinerator Art Space is a unique place because the integrity of the original building has been scrupulously restored and maintained.

I am passionate about the art space and the distinctive bush setting.

For their recent art exhibition Thin Ice 2, seven artists accepted the challenge to collaborate with seven other artists to create joint artworks.

In executing this challenge the artists added the dimension of working relationships to their creative processes.

Dancing in Hot Sand by Ayako Saito and Ron Robertson-Swann courtesy Artists

Their creative journeys were shared.

As a result their artworks convey a breadth of emotional and intellectual responses using a variety of materials and techniques.

I am sure the challenge of artistic dialogue about art materials, skills, styles and aesthetics lead to new and exciting paths and very refined outcomes for both artists and their art.

This is reflected in the range of artworks in the exhibition.

The opportunity for the artists to collaborate could have been confronting as we generally think of artists working alone.

However the art works are a testimony to partnership, inventive ideas and artistic expertise.

There was a great gift of creativity in the gallery for all to see and share.

On entering the Incinerator Art Space my eyes light up responding to the feast of vibrant colours and free movements of the brush strokes on the four canvases hanging in the foyer.

One of my favourite sculptors Ron Robertson-Swann OAM collaborated with Ayako Saito also a well respected sculptor. Ron has worked with Sir Henry Moore in England.

Stampeded by Ron Robertson-Swann and Ayako Saito courtesy Artists photo by Rose Niland

He is perhaps best known for his public sculpture Vault that was first installed in Melbourne’s City Square in 1980. This sculpture has been the subject of much controversy and has been relocated several times.

However, for this project Ron and Ayako have worked with acrylic paint on canvas to create light, energetic and sanguine paintings.

Thick layers of very vivid orange, yellow, red and green paint have been applied to suggest a very playful relationship both between each artist and their artworks.

The colours dance on your eye like the birth of spring. Stampede, 2014 demonstrates a random balance of line and colour and invites the viewer to share in the wonder of abstract expressionism.

Itzick Fisher photo by Annika Enderborg, Incinerator Gallery Thin Ice Show held May 2013

I was fortunate enough to meet husband and wife team Itzick Fisher [sculptor and print maker] and Meg Dunworth [calligrapher]. Itzick crafted Koichi the steel sculptures first.

Article one by Itzick Fisher and Meg Dunworth, courtesy Artists

He created one figure and then split it into two figures cutting and folding the steel by hand.

Meg was responsible for the calligraphy over the intaglio print on Arches.

Intaglio is the category of printing and printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface and the incised line or sunken area holds the ink.

Meg has thoughtfully used the universal Bill of Rights as the theme of the calligraphy.

This adds a dimension of challenging possibilities because the rights of humanity are constantly being threatened.

The calligraphy of the prints is echoed on the surface of the sculptured figures and the drawings on the artworks repeat the movements of the figures.

The curved and whimsical lines of the sculptures reflected the qualities of dancers prepared to enjoy the dance of life.

Branches and Leaves, Koichi Ishino and Yutaka Sawasaki courtesy Artists, photo by Rose Niland

I have a strong affinity with sculpture and this was reinforced by Koichi Ishino’s and Yutaka Sawasaki’s Branches and Leaves series of sculptures.  Koichi is a Japanese artist who migrated to Australia in 2009.

The rhythmical twisting of the stainless steel by Koichi was complemented by Yutaka’s delicate ceramic formations. I felt this resulted in wall pieces of exquisite harmony and lyrical vulnerability.

The wall sculpture forms were nonfigurative and the inspiration of nature was strongly palpable.

As I meandered through the exhibition Szilvia Gyorgy’s and James McCallum’s sculptures were revealed as solid and architectural in their composition.

The pair of artists began their partnership by collecting materials that interested them.

The materials became the catalysts for dialogue, collaboration and construction.

Szilvia’s background as sculptor and jeweller provided a contrast to James’s experiences in assemblage.

The use of painted triangular wooden blocks is a theme in three of the sculptures Waterfall, Summer Palace and To the Point.

In To the Point the wooden blocks are juxtaposed to create appealing angles from different observation spots.

I am reminded of children contentedly building constructions with blocks because this sculpture is so full of joy and playfulness.

There is a hint of mischievousness in the design and assembling of the sculpture. Its abstract geometric form is very engaging.

The warmth of the sun is pivotal in their two larger works SunDay and Sun and Fun.

Sun Day Sculpture by Sue Roberts and Brian Carlson, courtesy Artists photo by Rose Niland

The SunDay sculpture is a circular disk cut horizontally and applied to this surface are vertical straight sided painted metal pipes.

The pipes form a strong three dimensional grid across the sun’s surface.

The gradation of placement of the pipes creates a comforting and resilient visual impact. The colours used not only radiate heat but also the possibility of renewal and growth.

I felt the harmony of this deftly crafted geometric sculpture was achieved through an intrinsic understanding of balance and the materials.

Sculptor Sue Roberts and photographer Brian Carison accepted the challenge of producing work outside of their normal sphere of artistic endeavor.

I thought their eight artworks explored the controversy of mineral exploration and exploitation.

The work is confronting in a significant way. It invites the viewer to ask questions.

How is our environment effected?

Are we caring for mother earth? Has greed turned our exterior and inner worlds into cold empty voids?

Can we be creative about discovering and using new energies wisely?

On the Sun by Szlivia Gyorgy and James McCullum, courtesy Artists photo Rose Niland

The artworks couple Sue’s deep understanding of the geometry of form and Brian’s architectural eye.

Six gold painted buckets sit at varying heights on metal bases and one golden bucket on the floor is spilling stones covered in gold leaf suggesting real gold nuggets.

They are placed on a bed of black coal like stones.

The impact is unsettling in an inquiring way.

The black and white photographs hanging as a screen are devoid of emotion.

This makes them very powerful images of the negative impact of the industrial and atomic ages on our environment. They capture the discord.

The tactical combination of photography and sculpture stimulates thought and is very relevant to today’s society.

The fragility of thin ice is integral to the beauty of this show.

You need to tread carefully and sensitively.

All of the collaborators in the Thin Ice2 exhibition embraced the notion of reaching beyond their comfort zone. I feel positively that not only have their artworks achieved artistic goals, but also their relationships must have been imbued with new discoveries, respects and intimacies.

The art of this exhibition was all about enhancing the human spirit and feeding the need for aesthetics in our society. Looking forward to Thin Ice3!

Rose Niland

NSW Special Features Correspondent,

The Culture Concept Circle, 2014


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