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migrating souls DONNA BENINGFIELD


Front image: Donna Beningfield Captivity 2017 Acrylic on slate, 39.5 x 27.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

PUBLISHER Perc Tucker Regional Gallery Galleries, Townsville City Council PO Box 1268 Townsville Queensland, 4810 Australia ptrg@townsville.qld.gov.au © Galleries, Townsville City Council and the authors 2019 ISBN: ??? ORGANISED BY Perc Tucker Regional Gallery Jonathan McBurnie Erwin Cruz Claire Griffiths Lucy Belle Tesoriero Sarah Reddington Nicole Richardson Leonardo Valero Emily Donaldson ? Tanya Tanner Rachel Cunningham Jake Pullyn Michael Favot Wendy Bainbridge Chloe Lindo Jo Lankester Amy Licciardello Vicki Saylor

Creative Director Senior Exhibitions Officer Senior Education and Programs Officer Curatorial Assistant Education and Programs Officer Education and Programs Assistant Exhibitions Officer Exhibitions Officer Collections Management Officer Public Art Officer Gallery Assistant Gallery Assistant Gallery Assistant Gallery Assistant Gallery Assistant Gallery Assistant Business Support Officer Gallery Administation Officer

CONTACT Perc Tucker Regional Gallery Cnr. Denham and Flinders St Townsville Queensland, 4810 Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm Sat - Sun: 10am - 2pm 07 4727 9011 ptrg@townsville.qld.gov.au whatson.townsville.qld.gov.au PercTuckerTCC

Published on the occasion of

migrating souls DONNA BENINGFIELD

Perc Tucker Regional Gallery 15 March – 28 April 2019 Exhibition Curator ... Contributing Authors The Very Reverend Rod MacDonald Dr Anneke Silver Artwork Photography Donna Beningfield Publication Design and Development Nicole Thompson Perc Tucker Regional Gallery would like to acknowledge...


migrating souls DONNA BENINGFIELD

Perc Tucker Regional Gallery 15 March - 28 April 2019


Foreword The place of myth in human history is slowly being reconsidered and revalued in a post-scientific world. The past three centuries of ‘enlightenment’ have left their scars. That which is not tangible, or cannot be forensically described, is often doubted, and at its worst, considered as superstition. Yet myth and the great narratives that underride them have carried many of our greatest of human truths - Where did we come from? Who are we? Are we of any worth? Realities such as love, peace, and justice, then and now, have continually eluded scientific prescription yet need far more consideration, as they are at the heart of a world which we all desire. It is Art, not oral tradition, that has been the longest lasting of all our great narratives. Pre-literate societies still speak to us through tribal, cave, and the so called primitive art left behind. Even recent discoveries at Pompeii tell us of the primary themes behind a society whose words are literally deceased. The great authors, Lewis Carroll, of Alice Through the Looking Glass, and C.S. Lewis of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ask us to see through and behind the observable realities of our current situation, and look beyond our immediate perceptions. They encourage us to interrupt our natural scepticism, and to open our eyes to the mythological and its story of greater truths. It is in this contemporary tradition that Donna Beningfield asks us to approach her body of work. In a sense, she asks us the question – if you had just unearthed this piece, what would your perceptions be around the immediate visuals? Do any of the elements resonate with your great truths? I invite you to pause, to put aside any pre-conception, and, as the Buddhists would say, see with your third eye as well as your heart and your mind. The Very Reverend Rod MacDonald, Anglican Dean of Townsville.


Donna Beningfield’s

Migrating Souls At first glance this exhibition appears to be a group of straightforward portraits with interesting backgrounds. However, these are no ordinary portraits, and the viewer is encouraged to question the meaning behind the sitter and the surrounding imagery. Much has been written about how artists relate and interact with their sitters; Donna Beningfield does something quite extraordinary. She interacts with her subject in a highly intuitive manner and the results pose more questions than answers. She engages with her sitter in a short ritual—developed by her— which involves meditation, concentration, and visualisation. During this ritual, Beningfield is in intuitive contact with the sitter’s psyche and catches glimpses of her subject in a different period of history, sometimes manifesting as a an image, sometimes through words or sounds. These moments turn out to be highly significant and full of resonance for the sitters. Prompted by these sights, Beningfield engages in extensive research, greatly aided by the wide research potential of the internet. Her research has often confirmed the accuracy of her historical visions that come forward during that intuitive state of mind. For instance, one manifestation revealed a sequence which appeared to be foot binding. Beningfield registered her own surprise at seeing how the big toe remained unbound, while the other toes were bent backwards. Her subsequent research into this scene confirmed that this was in fact the practice with foot binding in ancient China.

Donna Beningfield Bound 2017 Acrylic on slate, 28 x 39.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Artists have always chosen individual paths of exploration in their artistic practice. Many leading artists in the last two centuries have dedicated their career to challenging stereotypical means of presentation, and discovering new ways of expressing emotion; for instance, by exaggerating colour, using strong textures, or distorting form. Some have found interest in the structural aspects of art, which in its extreme, gave birth to geometric abstraction. Yet other artists have chosen to explore and develop the aspect of narrative within their work. This requires a high level of realistic rendering so that the narrative is clear to the viewer. There is no doubt where Beningfield stands in her approach to her work.

This exhibition consists of two series of works. One is a set of portraits of friends and members of the Townsville community, reflecting their past lives, and the second is a body of work reflecting Beningfield’s own visions of her past self. Let us start with a closer look at the former. While conventional portraiture might have its restrictions, there is still plenty of room for experimentation and interpretation such as playing with scale, placement of the figure within the space, the angle of vision, and nuances in colouring. This exhibition was created over a period of three years and it is interesting to observe how the work has developed over that period of time. The works produced in 2016 are of moderate scale and are approached almost like a mug shot —head and shoulders, mostly full face placement. During 2017 there is much more experimentation in terms of scale and angle of vision, and by 2018 the works are quite monumental in scale and execution, as well as the way in which the figure is interpreted in the context of space. For instance, the portrait of Fran Brewster titled The Further We Go The Less We Know (2018) shows a very relaxed pose, Fran’s tilted head nesting in her hand, eyes gazing up towards the top right of the picture. In the portrait of Jane Dutson and her sons titled Weft and Warp (2018), we perceive a very natural interaction between the mother and the two children; in fact nobody looks out of the picture, in a full-face type of way. Similarly Joel and Oscar Buchholz‘s gaze remains within the picture itself in their portrait Les Moines Blancs (2018) they do not engage with the viewer.

Donna Beningfield Jane Dutson, Thomas Watson and Arthur Watson Weft and Warp 2017 Acrylic on canvas, 180 x 120 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Another device which became popular in the late 1900s is the practice of quotation. This is when an artist copies a style or even part of historical masters’ works to add to the narrative of a new artwork, or to give it a flavour, as well as to pay respect to that original artist’s inventiveness. Beningfield has made extensive use of quotation in her works in this exhibition. One may recognise the background in the portrait of Christine Pulvirenti The Musician (2017) as the style and imagery of Vincent van Gogh. Sophia at Sunset (2018) makes very effective use of the dreamy symbolism of Marc Chagall, a well-known RussianFrench early Modernist artist of the early 1900s. Loretta Butler’s portrait The Golden Thread (2017) engages with the decorative genius of Gustav Klimt, the very well known Austrian artist of the Vienna Secession movement of the late 1800s. Another interesting variation in Beningfield’s group of works is her portrayal of some of her subjects as they are now in the present day, positioned in front of imagery reflective of the manifested visions she had in relation to their past, while others are shown as a personage in the past itself, for example Michael Pope’s image Man With A Cigar (2016) where he is depicted as a 19th century gentleman, or Harry Page as a medieval knight in Refuge (2018). In the works relating to her own history, Beningfield, now liberated from the obligatory likeness of portraiture, felt less restrained and more open to experiment with grounds and styles. Beningfield chose this time to work on slate. This decision was partly inspired by Sidney Nolan’s series of passionate paintings on slate, but also due to her affinity and relatability to the layered and fragile nature of slate. Often enmeshed with organic fossils, this unexpected choice of media is actually very appropriate for the layered nature of the intuitive experience and the notion of experiences beyond. The absorbent quality of slate required new approaches to painting, and this was the challenge Sidney Nolan faced when he painted the slates during the 1940s at Heidi. He was making a huge effort— with the help of Sunday Reed with whom he was passionately in love—to become a Modernist, catching up with European Modernism of the early 1900s. It looks as if Beningfield is on a parallel trajectory; now liberated through portraiture, as such she is entirely free to express her experiences in her own way. And, like the Modernists, she is celebrating different approaches to mark-making, and developing evocative imagery of her own profound intuitive experiences to share with her audience.

Donna Beningfield Belief 2018 Acrylic on slate, 40 x 27.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


The possibility of previous existences is not something that everyone can accept. However, there is no doubt that many extraordinary intuitive experiences have taken place in order for this body of work to be created. Hopefully these portraits and the experiences within them can help us reflect on the possibilities beyond the-every-day, and look past the normalised confines of our time. Dr Anneke Silver

Donna Beningfield Eternal Love 2018 Acrylic on slate, 28 x 41.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Shani Heyer A Life Denied [Detail] 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 60 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Daniel Steele The Fisherman [Detail] 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 60 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Fran Brewster The Further We Go The Less We Know [Detail] 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 76 x 100 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Waiting [Detail] 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 28 x 41 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Joan Neal Nothing is What It Seems 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Bill Laing As I’m Getting Older I’m Getting Younger 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Leah Xiang Li Ideas and Dreams [Detail] 2017 Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm Image courtesy of the Artist Donna Beningfield Sophia Saro Sophia at Sunset [Detail] 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 76 x 100 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Erin Menkins The Truth [Detail] 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Kelsey Heyer The Shaman [Detail] 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 60 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Vicki Strelan Anahata 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Michael Pope Man with a Cigar 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Caitlyn Heyer Renaissance Man [Detail] 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 60 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Robie Jayawardhana Man and the Smilidon Fatalis [Detail] 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Martha June Kahurangi Ironside Cloak of the Heavens [Detail] 2017 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Marco Della Valle Broken Birds 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Christine Pulvirenti The Musician 2017 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Joel and Oscar Buchholz Les Moines Blancs 2018 Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 180 x 120 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Tanya Geyser Ganesha [Detail] 2017 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist Donna Beningfield Jacqui Findt Parallel Lives 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 76 x 100 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield John Casey and Wayne McDonald Spirit [Detail] 2017 Acrylic on canvas, 180 x 120 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Lucy M Stefanovic The Only Child 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Loretta Butler The Golden Thread 2017 Acrylic and gold and silver leaf on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Harry Page Refuge 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Bethany Heyer Transition [Detail] 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 60 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Sarah McGucken The language that Transcends Us [Detail] 2018 Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Albert Abdul-Rahman Scribe 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76cm Image courtesy of the Artist Donna Beningfield Grace Vigar Spectemur Agenda 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Angela Paola 2016 Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 76 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Treena and Mark Pettigrew Journeys 2017 Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 180 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield The Quartermaster’s Bride 2017 Acrylic on slate, 28 x 39.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield To Live To Die 2018 Acrylic on slate, 27 x 39.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Tribal Elder [Detail] 2017 Acrylic on slate, 39 x 27.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield The Woodcutter 2017 Acrylic on slate, 28 x 39.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Equilibrium 2018 Acrylic on slate, 38.5 x 28 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Fields of Barley 2017 Acrylic on slate, 28.5 x 40.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Farmer and His Wife 2017 Acrylic on slate, 27.5 x 39 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Captivity 2017 Acrylic on slate, 39.5 x 27.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield The Letter [Detail] 2018 Acrylic on slate, 40 x 27 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield Homecoming 2018 Acrylic on slate, 27.5 x 40 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Past, present, future 2018 Acrylic on slate, 40 x 27 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield The Vale 2017 Acrylic on slate, 40.5 x 28 cm Image courtesy of the Artist Donna Beningfield Herald 2018 Acrylic on slate, 27.5 x 40 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield New Beginnings 2018 Acrylic on slate, 39 x 27 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield He Followed The Sun 2018 Acrylic on slate, 40 x 27.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


Donna Beningfield My Greek Wedding 2017 Acrylic on slate, 28.5 x 40.5 cm Image courtesy of the Artist

Donna Beningfield Wounded 2017 Acrylic on slate, 28 x 41 cm Image courtesy of the Artist


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