Emma Beer, Jessica Herrington and Natalie Mather are three emerging painters who, although having distinctly different styles and approaches, share a love for all that is raw, messy, and often less than pretty. Capitalising on this common ground the three Canberra artists have developed the exhibition Just A Little Bit Precious under the banner of ‘provisional artwork’.
A second strong aspect has emerged in these artists’ practices – that of painting as sculpture – and whether by chance or by choice it is showcased here.
Three-dimensional works are shown alongside their two-dimensional cousins, creating a visually engaging play that maximizes on gallery space. The painting as object heightens the musings on depth and surface that are of specific interest to Beer, Herrington and Mather.
Beer has given hulking form to her brooding, glistening abstracts – the large pieces hunched on plinths like dark dormant beings. While they make interesting company for her breathtaking paintings they are obviously far from resolved. But then of course ‘provisional’ states they were not intended to be, and I’m interested to see where she takes this.
Mather, with more colour and light, plays up the geometric and op aspects of her practice with small hard-edged forms that fold inward upon themselves. Something about these pieces is a little overdone for me at the moment, and I find greater intrigue and enjoyment in the clash of constructed and organic elements in Mather’s paintings onto raw ply.
Overall, it is Herrington who has gained the most from this transition off the wall. Here her trademark misshapenness seems to ‘click’ and takes on a fresh presence. Herrington has been undertaking a residency in the Science department of the Australian National University, investigating the growth of crystals. The subsequent introduction of these crystalline forms to her otherwise ungainly compositions is gleefully unexpected and brings these works into the realm of awkward beauty.
Just A Little Bit Precious is the last exhibition that will take place at M16 Artspace before its long-awaited relocation, so that’s just another reason to get down there before the show ends on July 4th and soak up that warehouse atmosphere. Take a jacket.