Gemes, Crispin & Pollak: Exhibition Preview

A new exhibition at Maunsell Wickes  at Barry Stern Galleries, 19 Glenmore Road, Paddington, will feature the work of three Australian women artists with deep connections to Country.  Dominic Maunsell, the director of the Maunsell Wickes Gallery, has brought these artists together in order to underscore the fragility and beauty of our natural landscape, and the importance of women’s voices in Australian culture.

The exhibition will present Judith Nangala Crispin’s Lumachrome Glass Prints honouring fallen animals and birds, Juno Gemes’ photographs of life on the Hawkesbury River, and Ana Pollak’s sculptures reflecting the myriad natural forms on Dangar Island.

Judith Nangala Crispin  is an artist and poet of Bpangerang descent. Her lumachrome glass prints are deeply rooted in the practice of honouring Country by way of memorialising animals and birds who have died. Judith’s materials are drawn from the landscape­–cadavers, ochres, sticks, grass, and leaves­. Exposed 24 to 40 hours in natural sunlight, this body of work is a genuine collaboration with Country. Her work is ‘layered with intellectual and spiritual meaning . . . the images are in an active relationship with the environment to which she is responding. Her images tell, and are made from, stories: of her family roots, the lives and culture of her people, and of the living things that are part of her physical process.’ (James Burnett – MONK art and the soul | an imaginarium, Spring 2019

Judith Nangala Crispin – When Richard was ready, magpies sang at his hospital window until he remembered wings. Lumachrome glass print, cliché-verre, chemigram. Roadkill Magpie, painted with mineral salts, with ochre, grass seeds, blood and waxed netting, on fibre paper. Exposed 36 hours in shade and autumn light.

Juno Gemes’s work in this exhibition could be titled ‘Out-takes from The Quiet Activist Celebrating Women’s Connection to Country’ as it draws heavily on her recent exhibition at the Macquarie University Gallery. In her review of  this exhibition Rochford Street Review editor Linda Adair said:

Alongside the political and the public, Gemes’ artistic development is quite literally showcased with personal memorabilia alongside master prints from the 1997 book The Language of Oysters. This publication was a collaboration with her life partner, the leading poet Robert Adamson, that sensitively revealed the lifestyle of the oldest traditional river community in the country as it fished, farmed and lived sustainably along the Hawkesbury River. The resultant interplay between Geme’s haunting and luminous images and the award-winning poems of Adamson are especially evocative of the meditative caretaking of a secretive community in a beautiful landscape.

The vintage prints from The Language of Oysters form part of this exhibition, but are supplemented by a number of images from this series which have never before been printed. Other work by Gemes include images from Terra Ancien/ Terra Nova (2003-2007) which portrayed a fictional narrative of white settlement in Australia told from the perspective of a young English couple. Highlighting her long standing witnessing of, and commitment to, political debate about native title and the unceded sovereignty of First Nations people, Gemes has included selections from her Celebration Images from the 25th Anniversary of the Uluru Hand Back 1985/2010.

Juno Gemes – FaFa’s Handmade Wharf, Mooney Mooney, Summer, 1986

The Dobell Drawing Prize winner in 2007,  Ana Pollak works in sculpture as well as drawing, and is the third artist in this show. The connective tissue between Pollak’s two practices is intimate observation of the environment of Dangar Island. Living on the island for many years has shaped her reverence for both the towering bush and the secrets of the Hawkesbury’s bays and tributaries. She has studied and interpreted both bush and waterways in line and the interplay of spaces between line and absence, to articulate the flux of things.

In this exhibition there are a number of Pollak’s ‘Towers’ sculptures which have previously appeared at the Slot window gallery in Alexandria. Writing on the gallery’s blog Tony Twigg writes of her work:

Ana is no stranger to the Australian landscape where these towers began to form in her imagination.

They are an idea she carried with her to Hong Kong, another island where the verticality of the eucalypt gives way to the built environment, literally towers. Hong Kong offers the unique urban experience of encountering multi story buildings at the middle level. As with Ana’s towers, buildings are appreciated without reference to the top or bottom. The towers of Dangar and the buildings of Hong Kong are each a set of pragmatic structures that pulsate with rhythms without reference to the narrative constraints of a beginning or end.

Ana Pollak – Dense & Squat. Twigs. Height: 210 cm

Juno Gemes, Judith Nangala Crispin & Ana Pollak – Three Women Artists In Country opens at Maunsell Wickes at Barry Stern Galleries, 19 Glenmore Road, Paddington NSW 2021 on Tuesday 17 September and will run until 29 September 2019.

Gallery Website
Juno Gemes
Ana Pollak
Judith Nangala Crispin,

 – Linda Adair & Mark Roberts


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