Noosa Regional Gallery: Frayed At The Edges
Noosa Regional Gallery plays host to a major travelling exhibition that pulls at the threads of our social fabric, tells Gallery Director, Michael Brennan.
It’s the colours and the textures of the materials that hit you before the slogans woven through these impressive works. Raquel Ormella’s provocative exhibition at Noosa Regional Gallery gathers together flags and banners alongside works constructed from found fabrics and intricate embroidery to unpick the nationalistic assumptions and cultural values wrapped up in the emblems of our country, the headlines of our daily papers and the mythology of our national identity.
A banner crafted from dazzling golden hessian sits across the gallery from a work using the instantly recognisable blue, white and red of the Australian flag. Irregularly shaped quilts patch-worked together from hi-vis fabrics and deconstructed workers’ uniforms are dotted elsewhere around the exhibition space, their reflective material catching the light in ways not typical of works of art.
Threaded between these familiar materials are words and phrases so commonly uttered in our social discourse that they have become more than their literal readings – their original meaning now subsumed by a spirited interpretation that goes to the core of how we see ourselves and the ‘lucky country’ we call home.
Ormella’s exhibition is titled, I Hope You Get This. The phrase itself reads like a line from a letter or postcard to someone we may have lost touch with – someone we were once close with and now, with a heavy heart, wish was still a presence in our lives.
Like many of the expressions in Ormella’s works, however, there’s more than one possible reading of this line of text and there is a sense that the relatively modest-scaled work that this turn of phrase comes from is a plea for understanding – the ‘get this’ being a reference to taking hold of an idea as much as receiving the thing it’s delivered on.
Either way, the sentiment is arguably directed at us all – citizens of Australia and contributors to our collective culture. Ormella’s work is not overtly critical but rather hints at a loss, or perhaps an unrealised potential.
The slogans on her work are known to us all. They affirm an ‘Australian Way’ and a ‘Great Aussie Dream’ – the kind of statements that politicians throw around in the lead up to elections – yet the materials that she so skilfully crafts them from are dissolving before our very eyes.
Threads hang loosely from banners, en masse. The stars have been extracted from our national flag, now dangling below it amid a larger constellation. Each of these works reveals to us how fragile the adages are that form such an integral part of our national identity and collective psyche. They are ideas and attitudes that are core to how we see ourselves as a nation. But start to pull at a loose thread and the whole thing threatens to come undone.
I hope you get this: Raquel Ormella, is a NETS Victoria and Shepparton Art Museum touring exhibition. It will be on show at Noosa Regional Gallery from 21 June to 28 July.