It is with great pleasure that Purple Noon Gallery presents concurrent exhibitions ‘Helen in Wonderland’ and ‘Inked Wings’ as its first show for 2018, opening on Saturday 24th February at 6:00pm. Ross Wellings will officially open the show and there will also be an address by guest speaker Emeritus Professor Col Jordan. The exhibition will run until April 8.
Helen Lancaster and Irene Manion, are both educators, practicing artists and curators, and are nationally and internationally acclaimed textile artists. In this exhibition both artists have chosen to collectively showcase their designs in a collection of recent paintings that are representative of themes in their work during their celebrated careers. These themes are concerned with the natural environment and endangered species in Australia.
Helen Lancaster is a retired lecturer at COFA University of NSW, and Irene has also recently retired from high school art teaching. Each artist independently asserts a superior creative quality and professional approach to their work whilst also maintaining and articulating aesthetic and appealing compositions.
Helen Lancaster is a conceptual environmentalist working as an artist in painting, sculpture and wearable art costumes. Most of her work relates to the Great Barrier Reef, where colour explodes in a combination of three-dimensional forms, particularly when created in textiles. As well as in Australia, her work has been exhibited in Vienna, Cairo, Istanbul, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Manila, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai. Her artworks are held in private and public collections.
Helen sees her role as educational, showing endangered species of birds and fish and the dangers that are threatening our environment. To accentuate this message, she often uses the Great Barrier Reef as her vehicle, incorporating her interpretation of the wonders of the magical coral reef. ‘Helen in Wonderland’ delivers the messages about the fragile beauty of the natural world through a parade of kaleidoscopic glimpses of fish flashing by in the acrylic painted reef paintings. They are vibrant in colour, beautiful and abstract in shape, and magical in place – a wonderland!
Now that Irene Manion has retired from teaching, she has embarked on a more extensive exhibition program, working full-time on this aspect of her career. “Inked Wings” features a set of ink paintings of magpies, mostly in flight with an accompanying set of 40cm x 40cm textile pieces based on these ink paintings, and forming the subject of this exhibition. Irene’s environmental consciousness coincides with her move from Sydney to Lake Macquarie where the close proximity to the Hunter Valley exposed her to the inescapable environmental issues. The massive coalmining industry, visible throughout the rich verdant landscape and extending to the sea, convinced her that she needed to illustrate her feelings through art about the effects of global warming and constant destruction of natural environments.
Irene uses a balance of black and white as a metaphor for good and evil – a promise of hope beside the threat of darkness. Her inked magpies, both stationary and in flight, have developed from regular magpie spotting photographic excursions around Lake Macquarie, capturing the many images of magpies, their movements, and their youngsters attempting to catch elusive insects. The paintings are extraordinary and capture the movement and splendour of the magnificent Australian birds.
Using a series of complex dying and stitching techniques, the magpies, and accompanying series of watercolour and digitally printed textile pieces based on the Murray River red gums, form a series of Perspex based, fabric stitched satin artworks. Irene tranforms and also brings to our attention, the giant trees that line the Murray River. Their massive network of tangled roots has been removed systematically over a long period of time causing erosion and salination. Using long stitches on the fabric pieces, and free-machined line stitching to outline the root patterns, she returns dimensionality and colour to the complex ecosystem.
For more images and information contact Robyn Williams, Purple Noon Gallery. ‘Helen in Wonderland’, an exhibition of recent paintings by Helen Lancaster ‘Inked Wings’, an exhibition of recent paintings and textiles by Irene Manion 24 February – 8 April 2018 Purple Noon Gallery 606 Terrace Road, Freemans Reach. NSW 2756 Gallery: 0245 796579 M: 0409 661 662 Contact: Robyn Williams, Director and Curator Gallery hours: Wednesday – Friday 10:00am – 5:00pm Saturday and Sunday 11:00am – 4:00pm Closed Monday and Tuesdays