Uncommon world: aspects of contemporary Australian art
15 July -22 Oct 2000

introduction | selected works



Neil Roberts
Half ether half dew mixed with sweat 2000
canvas, cotton, leather, glass, copper foil and metal

A second work Half ether half dew mixed with sweat 2000 is a distinctly spatial encounter with that iconic piece of gym equipment, the punching bag. However, the punching bag is now cloaked in delicate motifs of Tiffany style glasswork and betrays no more than a trace of past purpose.

Neil Roberts' familiarity with the use of glass as a sculptural component is self evident, while his awareness of its properties heighten the critical exploration of the subject matter, as seen in Five low blows. Elevated on a plinth, suggestive of the boxing ring, the work retains a sequential and narrative content. The leaden feet of two boxers shuffle through a fragment of a three minute round, or more deceptively through a series of contrived poses. The definition of space between boxers is ironically blurred by the struggling lines, while the title infers an illegality to the punches to which the viewer is witness.




Philip Wolfhagen
Surface tension no.2 1998
oil and beeswax on linen, diptych
Private collection, Sydney, courtesy of Sherman Galleries

Philip Wolfhagen's work has long been associated with the elemental presence of Tasmania's coast and landscape. Growing up in Tasmania has given him a great affinity with the natural environment which, in part, inspires him to paint.

In Surface tension no.2, the great heaving mass of ocean engulfs our viewpoint in the foreground, with the internal space of the picture gradually receding from darker tones and opacity into a softer mist. As the title suggests, the work is also about the actual painterly surface and the division of the whole into two parts. In this work the combination of tension and contemplation, of moodiness and sensuality, of painted surface and dream like seascape all shed light on Wolfhagen's own evocative, 'uncommon world'.


Anne Ferrana
Untitled (baby's dress) 1998
gelatin silver photograph
Purchased with funds from the Moët & Chandon Australian Art Foundation

From the beginning of her career as an artist in the mid 1980s, Anne Ferran has focused on investigating how the female body is represented exploring issues of female sexuality and the hidden history of women's lives.

While often using conventional photographic means, Ferran has also experimented with more alternative techniques. In her 'photograms' the object is placed onto photographic paper and the paper is then exposed to light. It is the object itself that makes the image without the intermediary apparatus of the camera. These photograms reflect Ferran's continuing interest in historical objects, in this instance 19th century children's clothing.


Rosslynd Piggott
High bed 1998
wood, metal, cotton, dacron, satin, perspex, painted walls
Courtesy the artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

High bed is a striking example of Rosslynd Piggott's poetic and imaginative sensibility. There are many intriguing contradictions in the work. A bed might be considered a place of rest and comfort however, the vertiginous nature of the bed, emphasised by the very tiny pair of shoes, also suggests a state of uncertainty and anxiety. Dramatic dislocations in scale are apparent, too, in the small white house on top of the bed, adding to the sense of a dream that permeates the whole. The large mirror floating above the bed could be seen to echo back the anxious self; it could be seen also to move us beyond the purely earthly realm into a wider planetary realm, opening up more transcendent associations.


Peter Atkins
Journal 1999 (Sydney, Auckland, Melbourne, Mexico City) 1999
20 mixed media panels

Travel the experience of other cultures and places has been a rich source of artistic inspiration for Peter Atkins. His most recent works can be seen as a visual diary composed from items, usually of the everyday and commonplace, collected during his travels. They recall the artist's physical, emotional and intellectual responses to time and place.

Journal 1999 comprises 20 collaged panels. In each, Atkins has carefully arranged his materials to create repetitive structures that are balanced and harmonious. In doing so, the artist wittily transforms his prosaic raw materials into beautiful and aesthetic works of art.

Rosella Namok
Kaapay and Kuyan 199899
synthetic polymer paint on canvas, diptych

Rosella Namok is an emerging Aboriginal artist. Her art is conceptual, making it unique within the Cape York region, where tradition and ceremony dictate a more figurative style of artistic expression. Yet, despite working outside of the usual art practices of her community, Namok's art remains true to her 'culture' and identity as an Ungkum person.

The two panelled work, Kaapay and Kuyan, depicts the division of all things into two complementary halves or moieties called kaapay and kuyan. Such a division is in accordance with the Ungkum world view and reveals Namok's awareness of Ungkum cultural norms and beliefs her birthright.