Review: ArtLife Exhibition How About a Rainbow?

Review for the annual ArtLife exhibition How About a Rainbow? by Liz Wright.

How about a rainbow? Yeah how about a rainbow? Let’s talk about that. Rainbows are everywhere at the moment – signalling to those of us who believe in marriage equality or who have just had friends, families and colleagues who live with a rainbow flag to identify diversity, choice and strength. The end of year exhibition also identifies diversity, choice and strength in the quality of works displayed in the Roslyn Smorgon gallery at Footscray Community Arts Centre. The artists using colours of the rainbow in their works. Influenced by weather, walks in the neighbourhood, the seasons and the idea of change.

The curatorial team – Jude Bowman Pamela Debrincat, Michael Delaney, Mito Elias, Louise Hunter, Megan Hunter and Chelsea Michelle did a splendid job placing a large eclectic collection of works in the gallery space.

This exhibition is BIG, vast, many, many works. You get the picture? I think the ArtLife end of year show is always a must see. To be frank, it is a group show where participating artists have worked with staff to develop their individual style and talent. Some works I think are more finished and developed than others but that is always the quandary of a group show. Some works could heave been worked up more but they did not detract from the overall show. In saying this lets talk about some of the works.

Sarah Ellis’ three works – Nudes 1, 2 & 3 (2017) all water colour and ink are engaging. There is something naïve yet sexy about bodies, front on looking unposed. The bodies are different too so it made me think ‘who are these people?’ same person, different depictions or just different people? They are delightful.

Amy Guthrie’s works Drawing in Jar (2017), seven in total, were great also. The jars varied in size and made you get close up and personal to see what you could see of the images inside. I imagined them sitting in a domestic setting amongst other jars in a kitchen or grouped along a window sill.

The addition of augmented reality works were fabulous.

Marco Avila, Chelsea Michelle, Pam Debrincat, Alisha O’Neill and Megan Hunter all did animations that can be viewed through screens provided or as an app. These were all great fun and I enjoyed this interactive aspect of the show. I would suggest that the instructions for how to do this be circulated or ushers set up to assist as being a person with low vision or a person with literacy or limited mobility might make it difficult to know what to do. However this was so much fun to play with. Watching little animations come to life was funny. Great colours and characters made me laugh out loud. Give it a crack.

The last work I want to mention is a simple work but I kept going back to look at it. June Bentley’s Suzi Quatro (2017), mixed media on paper is the iconic Suzi in her leather cat suit unzipped with necklaces on covering up the uncovered flesh. It looks like Suzi is paying homage to Janis Joplin, naked on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine (circa 1972 after she died) with necklaces covering up her skin. I just loved the sentimentality of this work.

The show is up until December 9. You have time to see it a few times because it is large and varied but worth it. Next year it would be great to see some small solo shows where some of these artists can show off their wares and perhaps do some artists talks to see what influences and motivates the artists of ArtLife.

Liz Wright is a broadcaster and producer at 3CR – Are You Looking At Me?, MetroAccess officer, lover of ideas, laughing and art.

Photography credit: Snehargho Ghosh

1 – Amy Guthrie’s works Drawing in Jar (2017).
2 – Sarah Ellis’ three works – Nudes 1, 2 & 3 (2017).
3 – Augmented reality pieces by Alisha O’Neill and Megan Hunter.

©2020 Footscray Community Arts Centre