Still Life: Variations
18 May - 5 June 2016
Opening Wednesday 18 May, 6.30-8pm
Penny has always been torn between art and literature, between making, drawing and reading, between making art and writing about it. These days she works primarily as a printmaker, and, with a background in art history, much of the work she has produced has related to her areas of art historical interest, particularly to art by or relating to women. (An example is that Penny has produced bodies of work relating to the female nude in art and traditional women's needlecrafts.) Text has been an important element of much of her work – a reflection of her interest in literature, which also finds an outlet in the making of artist’s books. Penny has had a number of solo exhibitions and her work has been selected in prize exhibitions including The Silk Cut Award and the Manly Artists Book Award.
The works in this exhibition are all unique state prints, consisting of multiple layers of woodcut, collagraph and linocut plates. The body of work is an exploration of colour and texture through the use of simple domestic still life elements beginning with chairs, which are interesting in their diverse forms, but also embody a powerful and evocative symbolism. An empty chair may be used to acknowledge an absence, such as the empty chair included in the Travelling Wilbury’s music video for End of the Line after Roy Orbison’s sudden death to acknowledge his work on the recording. Arthur Danto’s discussion of the chair as symbolic of power and authority in his 1987 essay The Seat of the Soul: Three Chairs is of particular interest. To his example of the congressional seat, the regal throne and the judicial bench we could also add the academic chair and the verb ‘to chair’ a committee or board. In 17th century Dutch painting, simple objects such as bottles, water or milk jugs may also have symbolic meanings. While acknowledging this, the primary interest here is in their diversity of form as linear elements within the overall layered compositions.