During Melbourne’s austere lockdowns, Adriane Strampp was restricted to her Collingwood home for months at a time, separated from her studio in Fitzroy. In this forced stillness, she has created a new series of work that turns toward the subject of the domestic interior as a site for contemplation, studying the light changing through the seasons, and night light reflections on restless nights.
In his 1991 book ‘National Life and Landscapes: Australian Painting 1900-1940’, Ian Burn wrote about Albert Namatjira’s watercolour paintings that “the landscape itself is not the subject focused upon but instead reads as something one journeys through”. Earlier in his 1989 work ‘Homage to Albert (South through the Ranges, Heavitree Gap 1952)’, Burn presented a broader, shorter version of this observation, “A LANDSCAPE IS NOT SOMETHING YOU LOOK AT BUT SOMETHING YOU LOOK THROUGH”. Appearing as if a quote from Namatjira, Burn’s sentence appears in capitals on paper beneath a reproduction of Namatjira’s work on a transparent sheet above. When looking, the effect is twofold; the viewer literally ‘looks through’ the transparent landscape to ‘look at’ the text below. But the text also interrupts the viewer’s ability to ‘look through’ the ‘original’ painting, which is what Burn proposes is the key aspect of Namatjira’s work. The work therefore utilises the landscape but instead of presenting it, obstructs it and simulates the idea of looking at it. The viewer is not invited to navigate the terrain in the picture plane, but instead reminded that they are in an interior space, probably an art gallery, looking at an object. ‘Homage to Albert’ becomes a succinct visual representation of Burn’s conclusion that “(i)n twentieth-century Australia, the idea of the landscape has become more important than the landscape itself. It serves to declare an idea of place, constantly redefining difference in a changing world.
Look At/Look Through is an exhibition of works by 13 artists that explore the relationship between people and the landscape in various ways. In some works, figures, with their backs to us yet almost as surrogates for us, survey the landscape in front of them. In others, the viewer becomes the absent figure, with the work inviting them into another place beyond the gallery, inhabiting the point of view of the person observing the landscape. In some works, visual strategies such as blurring, overlaying text or painterly gestures deny the illusion of real space, instead reorienting attention to the picture plane.
Adriane Strampp is a finalist in the Fisher’s Ghost Art Award with Dust Storm 2019.
The Fisher’s Ghost Art Award is an annual art prize inviting artists to submit works in a variety of artistic categories and mediums. Now in its 58th year, with a total of $36,000 in prize money to be won the Open section is acquisitive to the Campbelltown City Council collection and is valued at $25,000.
Established in 1947, the Mosman Art Prize is Australia’s oldest and most prestigious local government art award, and worth $50,000. It was founded by the artist, architect and arts advocate, Alderman Allan Gamble, at a time when only a small handful of art prizes were in existence in Australia and the community had very little support and few opportunities to exhibit their work.
As an acquisitive art award for painting, the winning artworks collected form a splendid collection of modern and contemporary Australian art, reflecting all the developments in Australian art practice since 1947.
The 2020 Mosman Art Prize judge is Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director of Artspace, Sydney.
The Muswellbrook Art Prize began in 1958 as the Festival of the Valley Art Prize with the winning painting Death of Voss by Tom Gleghorn becoming the inaugural work in what has grown to become an excellent collection of modern and contemporary Australian painting, works on paper and ceramics from the Post War period of the 20th Century and now the first two decades of the 21st Century. The Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection was created as a direct result of this ongoing acquisitive art competition.
This exhibition addresses themes of connection, dislocation and the pull to return to places once familiar. Coming from a peripatetic background there is a longing for familiarity and sameness however inevitably things are rarely as remembered.
Rather than the traditional art historical landscape, this work explores aspects of a landscape remembered or places once visited, the memory of which remains long after, and the shifting experience of revisiting as an outsider. The horses return as metaphor for the artists’s own restlessness and journeys of the past and of the future.