APART from Rosalie Gascoigne, I can't think of another artist who has seen the potential expressive power of lino.
At Nanshe until April 25, the filmmaker Neil Mansfield has a wall of small, sometimes extremely narrow, panels using scraps of old floral or densely patterned floors. These patched and pieced works have suggestions of landforms, perhaps even volcanoes.
A gentle nostalgia underlies this progress from forgotten kitchen and bathroom to work of art. To the sophisticated eye many doors open, or in this case, dreary superannuated floors get a whole new life.
On the opposite wall is work by an artist at the opposite pole of experience. Jess Kellar, while still a student, has been painting prolifically and with some public success.
Works here are evidence that there's much still to assimilate beyond the excitement of paint itself. Less is so often more.
- MY first visit to Gallery 139 was to see the third group exhibition, on view until April 18 at the gallery space opened in January by Ahn Wells in Beaumont Street opposite Nanshe.
Wide contacts in the Newcastle art scene and the success of her previous shows ensure that present drawings come from a well-known and eclectic selection of artists.
Some, like Ben Kenning, are instantly familiar. Peter Read's brooding enigmas are always striking. Judy Henry captures exotic landscape with a wiry line. Peter Lankas' brush portraits suggest a casual nonchalance. Olivia Parsonage is a natural illustrator. Caelli Jo Brooker has a new lightness of touch.
- AT Newcastle Art Space until May 12, there are surprises.
Dan Nelson paints clouds with skill and imagination. She has exhibited little since returning to Newcastle, but she has inherited the studio of her friend and mentor, Maisie Turner. She shares a similar concern for the textured depth of the painted surface, with studies of clouds. Like the business of painting itself, matter aspires to become form. Colour shifts and merges, creating light.
She has many notable forerunners in the history of western painting: the shifting forms of clouds invariably establish mood and atmosphere, a sort of emotional barometer.
In the smaller room is another surprise in two groups of little paintings also invoking an awareness of the cultural past.
We know Rob Cleworth better in a different role, but he has a long history of exhibiting paintings in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. His small nude figure studies at NAS show an enthusiasm for the old masters and a skill in pastiche. A dwarf Bacchus brings dubious cheer to Lycett's Newcastle distanced, like a fly in amber, by a thick layer of resin and heavy sombre framing.
Susan Ryman's eclectic borrowings from past imagery gain an extra edge in association. Her skill with coloured pencils continues to amaze.
- CONFUSING our expectations, the Lock-Up's new exhibition until May 3 is neither installation nor performance, but ostensibly a group show of domestic-scale paintings and photomedia.
Of course there is a linking agenda. As the 10 artists articulate in their prose notes, each of them is making a multiwork statement; personal, environmental or political. Perhaps these need more annotation?
However, Mignon Steele's birds overflying the exercise yard are an immediate success. Few previous works have so succinctly animated that loaded space.
- WATT Space has come a long way since its first exhibitions in a shopfront space in Watt Street. From a hard-fought student victory, it has become a comfortable part of the establishment.
The present exhibition will be the final event in the multilevel warren at University House. The looming inner-city campus will extend its footprint into this adjoining area. Did I hear that it will be used for bicycle racks?
However, the gallery will acquire a new home across Auckland Street on the ground floor of Northumberland House, where plans are drawn up to use the many large and small spaces for a new generation of lucky student artists.
It could be that a smaller area might serve to consolidate exhibitions. The present farewell award could certainly do with a trim, though James Maher's enigmatic video is a worthy winner.
Is ceramic sculpture staging a renaissance?