A Force to be Reckoned With
Noosa Regional Gallery Director, Michael Brennan, considers how the experience of the natural environment in art can be more than simply well resolved landscape paintings.
Images of the environment – landscapes– are arguably amongst the most common subjects encountered in art. It’s the go-to thesis for everyone from the biggest names of Romanticism or Impressionism through to members of the local arts society in any given town. Typically presented as a window onto the world – a frame, literally delineating a singular point of view – we’re usually provided a fixed vantage point from which to take in a particular aspect of a place. It’s almost as if the seer exists outside of the scene. This is the stuff of postcards or the carefully curated feed of holiday Instagram snaps.
But that’s not how we really experience a landscape. Even if we do make our way to a lookout to fix our focus on a distant horizon, in order to get there we’ve no doubt had to navigate and negotiate some kind of terrain. It’s this journey through a landscape – the way our attention jumps between far-off vistas and the ground beneath our feet; the shifting scale of diminutive details to towering trees; the feeling of being enveloped by lush greenery; the change of wind and light and sound as you move through a space or a space moves around you – that in reality makes up our experience of an environment or a place.
This is what comes to mind when I think about the diverse ecosystems that pulsate and thrive throughout Noosa’s Biosphere. There’s a movement and interconnectedness that can’t be captured in a single static frame. While your attention might be trained in a certain direction, there’s always something in the periphery, vying for your scrutiny, or perhaps even about to intrude on your field of vision. In all likelihood, what you witness at any one given time will appear different – if even only slightly– on a return visit.
This is the spirit in which Noosa Regional Gallery’s exhibition, the force that through the green fuse drives the flower, has been put together. Working with 30 artists across 17 projects, the exhibition seeks to re-create the abundant and biodiverse natural ecosystems of the Noosa region – inside Noosa Regional Gallery – while also exploring how humans interact with and coexist with this space. We’re not talking about a group exhibition of landscape paintings here. Instead, the gallery will be stacked full of art works that flood the available surfaces and bounce off one another with dramatic shifts in orientation and scale.
Ash Keating’s imposing free-standing canvases will atmospherically evoke storm-laden skies, while Post-It-Note-sized paintings of bees by Deidre But-Husaim swarm around the gallery. Lou Jaeger will overwhelm us with a candy-coloured cluster of landscape-inspired works that themselves take in multiple perspectives and move between recordings of journeys and rivulets of unadulterated liquid paint.
There’s the incredibly poignant Kabi Kabi or Gubbi Gubbi possum skin cloak that generously shares stories of the land’s Traditional Owners. And then there’s the mesmerising collection of hybrid ceramic seed pods crafted by Sarah Rayner, tracing their way around the gallery like lines of text or code that hold the secret to how all this stuff fits together. The exhibition sets out to consider and convey the interconnectedness of nature and humankind, the energy and force that flows through each and the cycle of life and destruction that makes it wondrous and sublime.
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower is an affiliate exhibition of the Victorian based ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019 festival. It represents the first time that this critically acclaimed art and climate event has had a presence outside of Victoria. This is testament to both the calibre of the artists presenting their work at the gallery as well as recognition that the ecosystem in which Noosa Regional Gallery finds itself is amongst the most environmentally significant in the country. Like many of the projects that Noosa Regional Gallery undertakes, this is about artists taking a leading role in keeping climate and environment at the forefront of our attention. These are important projects that, as a community, we must continue to reckon with.
To find out more, visit www.noosaregionalgallery.com.au.