Artists lend voice to critical CLIMARTE discussion

Taking its cues from an environmentally alert community, Noosa Regional Gallery unpacks the global issue of climate change by bringing nature – literally – into the gallery.
Artists lend voice to critical CLIMARTE discussion

Kim Guthrie, Dead Top-knot Pigeon (2018), photo: the artist.

The critically acclaimed, Victorian-based ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE Festival has – for the first time since it was established in 2015 – extended its affiliated exhibition program outside Victoria.

The festival’s inaugural Queensland partner is Noosa Regional Gallery, where an ambitious project aims to re-create the abundant and biodiverse natural ecosystems of the Sunshine Coast – inside the gallery space.

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‘We get a lot of visitors who come to Noosa for its pristine environment. This exhibition is an opportunity to scratch beneath that postcard image; to probe people; to think at different scales and consider how changes at one place or moment can have a flow-on effect to another,’ explained Gallery Director, Michael Brennan.

Lifting a line from a Dylan Thomas poem, the exhibition – entitled The force that through the green fuse drives the flower – literally brings the region’s unique environment into the gallery to explore how humans interact with, and coexist with, the natural space.

Formerly based in Melbourne, Brennan participated in the ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE Festival’s first iteration, and recognised its potential synergy with Noosa.

‘Noosa is the home of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve – the first in Queensland and covering 150,000 hectares – so it was a great opportunity to say to the organisers, “Fancy increasing your footstep?”’ he explained.

‘Importantly, all regional galleries need to have a strong identity – they can’t all paint with the same brush. The community here in Noosa has a strong buy-in to protect the environment. Being an affiliated exhibition within the festival was an opportunity for us to be an example.’

Brennan has commissioned photorealist artist Sam Leach to create an ambitious 1.8 x 2.4 metre painting for the exhibition, which visitors will encounter as they enter the gallery.

Sam Leach, All the pleasures prove (2019), photo: the artist.

Brennan said the exhibition will be deliberately dense. ‘I am usually a fan of clean, crisp exhibition spaces, but for this exhibition I had the conversation straight off with the artists that their work would not be seen without sighting another artist’s work as well. I wanted to remind people how closely related things are.’

He continued: ‘The idea that Sam’s work will sit beside ceramic works by Sarah Rayner is interesting for me, to juxtapose artists from different parts of the county using different mediums but armed with similar concerns. We will also have three works from Ash Keating’s Cradle Mountain series, which will be installed free standing in the gallery and paired with a Gubbi Gubbi possum skin cloak that shares stories of the land’s Traditional Owners. It will be really atmospheric.’  

Brennan said that the walls, floors and even the ceilings of the gallery will be engaged with art.

‘It will have a “scatter-gun quality”, with the intention that things will be capturing your peripheral attention you move through the space. There will also be a dramatic shift in scale across the art works.’

He added of working with the 30 artists across 17 projects: ‘I wanted to go in without any sense of hierarchy. I love the idea of smashing together artists who have significant urban and city practices with those from the regions. There are so many great artists who have been drawn to this region, hidden away but exhibiting around the country and the world. It is about rethinking how we work, and how we are connected.’

To view the list of artist who have created work for The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.

Sarah Rayner, A short story from a long tale (2019), photo: Greg Piper.

He added that our landscape is ‘not always visible’ because we become immune to its presence on a daily level. The density of the exhibition is a way of interrupting that pattern.

‘I firmly believe that artists lead the way in social and cultural conversations. There are so many artists who are embracing the environment as a subject matter in their work, asking the tough questions,’ Brennan explained.

‘Walking around outside in Noosa, you can’t help but have a clear impression of the natural abundance of the landscape. I wanted to recreate that in an oblique or abstract way inside the gallery.’

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower is an affiliate exhibition of the Victorian based ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019 Festival.

This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

'The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower'
Noosa Regional Gallery
3 May - 16 June 2019

Official opening: Friday 3 May, 6pm

Artist include:  A.J. Taylor, Ash Keating, Bianca Beetson, Deidre But-Husaim, Kim Barrett, Kim Guthrie, Lisa Morgan, Dr.Leah Barclay, Lou Jaeger, Natalie Ryan, Naomi White, Sam Leach, Sarah Rayner, Simon Finn, Ryan Jones and Tess Chodan.

For more information on public programs visit www.noosaregionalgallery.com.au


About the author

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW.

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