Page 1





Since March 2020, the Oxford English Dictionary has added an unprecedented 3,500 terms to its definitive record of the English language. Words and phrases such as social-distancing, exposure-sites, self-isolation and other ‘COVID’ terms have become so woven into the contemporary lexicon that they now fill the spaces where we gather for dinner with family, are the new ice-breakers on zoom chats, and the glue that holds jogging conversations together. COVID terms saturate media headlines that spew from small screens glued to hands, and boom from headphones stuck to ears like cancerous growths. We’ve become so engulfed by a mediadriven social landscape that discomfort, tension and anxiety are normalised. Given the dramatic shift in our daily dialogue and lived experience of life under the cloud of a pandemic in 2020, it should come as no surprise that the practices of visual artists have been affected in ways which are unprecedented. Many artists feel rudderless in an environment where, after completing a body of work, a programmed exhibition is no longer a certainty. Some who have been forced to relocate from their lofty light filled warehouse studios to home garages and spare rooms during Victoria’s four lockdowns are grieving the sanctity of their personal creative space. The dappled light and soothing sounds of talkback radio or classical music now replaced with the endless drone of radio news and daily press conferences which detail case numbers and the constant threat of tragedy.

Though there have been losses: income, wellbeing and the affirming in-real-life encounter with a viewing audience, there have also been gains. The abiding need to create remains as strong as ever, and the work which is being produced is a mirror to an altered world; one that is observed, experienced, and felt. Importantly, the work produced in 2020 has harnessed the collective consciousness more than ever before and in doing so, will serve as record of a significant period in contemporary history. In this time like no other, Gallerysmith has brought together a curated selection of artists’ experiences of 2020 with this online exhibition 2020(REAR)VISION. This exhibition draws artists from both within and beyond Gallerysmith and aims to provide a snapshot, as a social history record of a most unusual and challenging time. It contains work which is reflective, responsive, reactive and importantly, honest. I sincerely hope you enjoy this online exhibition. Marita Smith Curator


With a converted full spectrum camera and an infrared filter, Kate Ballis’ hyper-saturated landscape image in rich pinks and sky blue show the health of plants. Ballis’ work, made in 2020, forms part of a broader series which explores the mythologies of the Lost Lands of Avalon, where powerful female goddesses are said to control and shape the environment. The conceptual premise of the Avalon series centres on the notion that wherever you are in the world, the presence of the Lost Land of Avalon can be found in your heart. The bushfires of 2020 encouraged Ballis to consider the Australian landscape, but the closure of international, then state, then Melbourne borders forced the artist to focus on her own neighbourhood where she has extended here Avalon series within the suburban streets of her now-home, Ivanhoe. These limitations have opened up new opportunities; to consider the landscapes which inspired the Australian impressionists and to discover the microenvironments of her own suburban backyard.

Kate Ballis Banksia Fae 2020, pigment print on cotton rag 103x153cm, edition of 8 $ 4,900


Known for her satirical take on world events, Penny Byrne’s Pandemic Sonata in C Major brings together a ‘cluster’ of pandemic related content including the familiar virus motif which appeared in news media everywhere in 2020. With its saturated palette and peculiar composition, this work expresses the realities and absurdities of the global pandemic and unique characteristics of the year 2020, immortalising a disturbing time in our collective experience. Pandemic Sonata in C Major was included in the 30th anniversary exhibition of the Linden Postcard Show in 2020, featuring commissioned artworks by past winners of this annual exhibition; one of the most loved and democratic exhibitions on Melbourne’s cultural calendar.

Penny Byrne Pandemic Sonata in C Major

2020, vintage Italian ceramic wall plaque, miniature Corona beer bottles, Japanese handblown glass fishing buoys, vintage coral, epoxy resin, silicone, acrylic paints 47x40x11cm $ 12,000

EVA FERNANDEZ Iconic Spanish art and literature resonates throughout a new series of

2020 work by Eva Fernandez; from the Baroque drama of the 16th century tradition of bodegón still life paintings; to the 19th century satirical social commentary in the dark themes of human tragedy and horror of Goya’s etchings; to the 20th century lyrical poetry of Juan Ramón Jiménez. Niña Robada transverse time and place imbued with Spanish history, echoing and weaving narratives across centuries and continents, from the bygone monarchies of the Spanish Empire to the dictatorship of the civil war, to the Spanish monastery in New Norcia, Western Australia. This work embodies traces, voices, memories and images from the past that are blended and embedded in the artist’s own history; her encounters and interpretations.

Eva Fernandez Niña Robada 2020, digital print 120x80cm $ 3,900

BELINDA FOX Belinda Fox is a multi-disciplinary artist, working in printmaking, painting, ceramics, and sculpture. Her evocative works masterfully distill elements of abstraction with detailed renderings to express alternative possibilities limited only by the imagination.

Fragment 2 and 3 form part of a broader series 'Fragment(ed)', created between November 2019 and June 2020 while the artist resided in The Hague: half during polarised political divides, bushfires in Australia and environmental urgencies and half during the Covid19 crisis. Fox's 2020 exhibition explores the fragility of a fragment(ed) world. These two works sit on shelves as intimate and delicate objects – fragments of time leaning against the stability of a wall, grasping at tiny element of certainty in a most unstable time.

Yet, these delicate images offer a profound beauty - an act of gratitude for the fleeting moments nature provided throughout lockdown.

Belinda Fox Fragment 2 (left), Fragment 3 (right)

2020, watercolour, ink, encaustic on board, woodcut on board 25.5x20cm, 51x29cm $3,600 each

IAN FRIEND "There is so much to say about soap. Precisely everything that it tells

about itself until the complete disappearance, the exhaustion of the subject. This is just the object suited to me". - An excerpt from “Soap,” by Francis Ponge,

Ian Friend’s 2020 sculpture, soap (projected monument to Francis Ponge) relates to what is termed a “proem” by the author, a piece written from 1942-1946 in praise of soap. During World War II, soap was in short supply in France. Federal restrictions were imposed to control access to these essential goods. Fast forward to pandemic 2020 and empty supermarket shelves have become a common sight. Panic buying and hoarding of hand sanitizer has made it almost impossible to find in any store. The heightened level of community fear was palpable in the early stages of the pandemic. Friend's bronze sculpture captures a significant moment in history. Positioned on a plinth like a delicate cast figure, the once humble soap becomes the embodiment of 2020.

Ian Friend soap (projected monument to Francis Ponge)

2020, bronze, ironbark


Amabie (pronounced ah-mah-bee-ey) is an auspicious Yokai in Japanese folklore which went viral after the COVID-19 outbreak as a symbol of hope. By drawing this mystical, mermaid-like being, it is said Amabie’s image claims a talismanic power, preventing illness during infectious disease outbreaks. Taking this Amabie mermaid figure as her muse, Junko Go weaves a multifaced story within the canvas, creating real and imagined experiences – some light, some dark. It reflects the thrust of her practice which focuses on dualism, the spiritual doctrine in which opposing elements create balance. Hello Darkness encompasses elements of painting, drawing and storytelling that combine the artist’s Japanese heritage with an Australian perspective. Within this work are many stories - two figures sit apart while wearing black face masks, while another couple embraces in a kiss. Junko’s interest in dualism results in a painting that is simultaneously abstract and figurative, simple and complex, perhaps a metaphor for life in lockdown.

Junko Go Hello Darkness-Then suddenly, everything spins onto the darker. No kisses, no hugs, isolation, segregation... The flower of understanding becomes a wilted bloom. The seed of fresh hope must be planted and the brambles of negativity in the flower garden of our heart must be driven away. 2020, acrylic, oil pastel, charcoal on cotton duck, hand-painted frame, 94x185cm $ 6,800

MICHELLE HAMER Wash Your Hands forms part of a large series titled ‘2020 is Cancelled’ by Michelle Hamer which was exhibited at Warrnambool Art Gallery in 2020. Hamer’s intimate and tactile woven pieces explore the banality and contradictions of the common vernacular that has joined and divided us globally since the beginning of the pandemic.

By amassing and reconstructing commonly used phrases from newscasts, press conferences and street signage, Hamer confronts the fear peddling which surrounded us in 2020. In describing her work, she refers to a type of ‘gaslighting’ which is used in political scripting, in particular the use of the term ‘threat’, which is designed to heighten our sense of alarm.

Hamer’s hand-embroidered billboards satirize the dominant language of fear, reducing big ominous terms to small scale soft embroideries, in a bid to reframe and reclaim the narrative.

Michelle Hamer Wash Your Hands 2020, embroidery 10x15cm $ 2,500

FIONA HISCOCK On January 1, 2020, large tracts of Victoria and New South Wales were

burning. Fires raged on the coast south of Sydney and into northern parts of Victoria throughout January. Fiona Hiscock watched on with sadness as fires crept closer to places and environments which had often provided inspiration for her work. On January 20, Hiscock received the news that fire had overtaken her annual and beloved holiday destination in far eastern Gippsland. Ancient banksia forests had burned to the ground. Nothing was spared. Hiscock, whose work had previously celebrated the wonderful woodlands in these areas and the plant and bird species which thrive there, began making work about loss. Loss of flora and loss of fauna. She wondered how these glorious birds would survive without habitat or insects to survive on. In response, she developed a small series collectively titled Out on a Limb. Each of these oversized pots, most standing at 40cm tall, position birds such as pardalotes, red-breasted robins and blue wrens on bare and charred branches, as the messenger for warnings about climate change.

Fiona Hiscock Out on a Limb iv 2020, stoneware 45cmx27cm diameter $ 2,450

CLINTON NAINA Using a unique combination bleach on Italian linen, Clinton Naina looks at the

recognisable detritus of today’s consumerist society, reflecting specifically on the waste produced during Melbourne’s lockdown and its devastating impact on our environment.

Naina, an artist known for his activism, political and social commentary describes this work in incendiary terms: “An empty plastic rubbish bag and an empty plastic bottle placed together. Metaphorically representing a human head expelling coin and remnants of colourful plastic bits and pieces from the capitalist consumer world, ejected into the earth. Left behind, forgotten and unseen. Toxic contamination, poisoning, bleaching and polluting, robbing and looting. Creating and contributing to the unknown throwaway fabric of society.” Clinton Naina 2021

Clinton Naina Fabric of Society

2021, bleach on Italian linen $ 4,500

CATHERINE NELSON In 2010, photographic artist Catherine Nelson developed a groundbreaking

series titled Future Memories which broadly address ideas about ecology and the environment. A decade later, Nelson revisited this series with a new body of work, Future Memories 2020, that offers a plea to consider humanity’s destructive impact on the planet.

In an interview about her new series, Nelson said “I wanted to highlight what we have now and what we cannot take for granted anymore – or they will become the memories of our future. We are nature, so our ability to destroy it is a self-destructive act.”

“Scientists have been talking about a point of no return for some years - a state of complete unpredictability. Tropic explores this undeniable link between humanity and the destructive impact on our planet, a link that can no longer be ignored.”

Catherine Nelson Tropic 2020, pigment print 150x150cm, edition of 7 $ 8,500

LEE SALOMONE The year 2020 will be remembered for catastrophic bushfires, floods, and

a global pandemic. A year in which the prevailing illusion of human control was shattered, and we were reminded how resilient & fragile nature can be. Lee Salomone’s magnificent bronze artwork was a result of a process failure in a bronze foundry, “a failure that talked its way into being an accepted form. It was kept and honoured as an artwork, for it revealed that with chaos comes opportunity. Twenty Twenty the artwork, considers what opportunities will arise out of the year 2020, as we move away from it and begin to realise the potential of what it has delivered to humanity.”

Lee Salomone (written on Christmas Day, 2020)

Lee Salomone Twenty Twenty 2020, wooden pasta board belonging to Carmela Avolio (nee Penna), bronze, patina 70x70x8cm $ 3,000

ADRIANE STRAMPP Subtle shifts in tone and hue conjure elusive memories of place, emotion

and feeling in Adriane Strampp’s nuanced paintings. Her shadowy compositions convey a paradox; being at once monumental and intimate, internal and external, familiar and foreign. The first month of 2020 felt a lot like living inside one of Strampp’s paintings. As smoke haze hung over much of the east coast, dust engulfed inland plains. Loss and longing sat heavily in the air. Erasure plays an important role in Strampp’s practice. Subject being not nearly as important as the sentiment it conveys, and so literal landscapes give way to shrouded ambiguity as thin layers of oil and wax are washed over linen.

Gauze reminds us of the images which embody 2020. Mallacoota beach, Broken Hill and South Australia’s riverland region.

Adriane Strampp Gauze 2020, oil on linen 91x91cm $ 8,800

EMMA WALKER For an artist whose work is usually flush with colour, 2020 brought about a huge shift for Emma Walker. Her practice is well documented for making connections between the natural word, memory and the subconscious. Through texture, rhythm and the interplay of light and dark, she creates pieces that defy the usual classifications of painting or sculpture. But from the depths of uncertainty in 2020, Walker’s work backflipped. Vibrant colour and energy was traded for austerity, solemnity. Bold gestures replaced with restraint and grace.

Ebb and Flow examines the recurrent patterns in the natural world. Patterns of coming and going, of decline and regrowth. This subtle yet luminous work serve as a gentle reminder to appreciate what we have and to lean in to the grace which enfolds us.

Emma Walker Ebb and Flow 2020, acrylic and wax on carved marine ply 60x60cm $ 6,000

To enquire about any of the artworks featured in this catalogue, please contact Marita Smith, Director: 0425 809 328 marita@gallerysmith.com.au Gallerysmith | 170-174 Abbotsford St, North Melbourne | Victoria 3051 | 03 9329 1860 www.gallerysmith.com.au

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.