LEZLIE Tilley is one of the most senior artists based in Newcastle and a much-admired teacher and mentor for generations of TAFE students. Importantly, long familiarity with her artmaking provides us with an overview of its constant evolution.
The exhibition at the University Gallery until July 11 takes further the push and pull of the grid and the playful use of text, leached of meaning.
Words have been an ongoing preoccupation throughout a long career. The use of the book as object has led into experiments with texts, with one or more letters removed and the absent points linked.
This process transforms meaning into pattern and creates quixotic abstract forms.
It can also create new constellations punched into dark paper, a new visual poetry in an art practice of infinite time-consuming respect for detail. Negative space becomes a mysterious positive.
- AT THE other end of the gallery, Natalie Hartog-Gautier also explores the building blocks of art, charting the process of mourning from making rubbings of bereft possessions, even unravelling the knitted garments of a beloved aunt now a victim of dementia.
Grief evolves into rows of small dense paintings, encapsulating conversation and wordless communication in tight, interwoven connections.
Here is another artist investigating the mysterious intersection between feeling and pattern.
- AT Gallery 139 there is a further inventive group show until July 11 exploring the varied uses of paper.
Printmaker Anne-Maree Hunter has successfully extended her practice into coloured-paper cutouts, reminiscent of Japanese Kabuki performers.
Anne McLaughlin has discovered layered stencils. Laura Wilson reinvents embossing. Alison Pateman creates heritage nostalgia in reduction linocuts. Chris Byrnes photographs through fascinating geometric screens.
Rieteka Geursen makes a welcome reappearance in an amusing study of mother and baby in cut and layered papers and three completely sculptural miniature trees.
- A NOVEL pairing of embroidered paintings and unusual musical instruments fashioned from recycled timbers is at Nanshe until July 18.
Naomi Wild's time-consuming fabric-based process seems a sort of visual meditation, with repetitions of images a series of spiritual mantras.
Floating feathers, dingo masks and emblematic young women invoke a private mythology, elaborately realised in natural dyes and dense machine stitchery.
The banjo-based string instruments of Alan Palmer seem stripped back to essentials. But how do they sound? I missed the performance.
- AT Back to Back Galleries, a group exhibition until Sunday deals in a gentle illusionism.
Varelle Hardy's inviting books are blocks of wood. Pat Davidson's paintings are wax and fabric. Sue Stewart's ceramic garments are real trompes d'oeil. Julie Anne Ure's box of bugs are ingeniously recycled.
- IS THERE more to know about the life and art of William Dobell, the reclusive portrait painter of Wangi Wangi? A fascinating exhibition at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney until July 12 reveals that the two trips the artist made to New Guinea in 1949 and 1950 resulted in many seldom exhibited major works still in private collections.
It documents how the exotic otherness of the landscape and its bronze-skinned inhabitants remained a source of re-imagined inspiration for the artist for the rest of his life.
Sixty years ago the fertile New Guinea highlands were a painter's paradise. The handsome indigenous population was almost naked, apart from bizarre ceremonial ornaments of shell, bone and feathers. Dobell filled sketchbooks with tiny drawings of proud and graceful people which he used for jewel-like little paintings.
The Newcastle Art Gallery's Boy with a Bow, from the Bowmore collection, has a dreamlike mix of a startlingly painted face and polished nude flesh.
Newcastle Art Gallery also possesses many pages of miniature drawings such as are included in the exhibition.
Dobell referred to these sketches and his many photographs from New Guinea until his death in 1970. The curious abstracted paintings and drawings from his last years are revealed as part of this legacy.
The contorted figures of thatchers apparently busy in mid air with knotted energy appear in several paintings and are documented in his photographs, but surely invoke the dense corporeal figures of Michelangelo's Last Judgment.
An inscrutably alien culture touched some deep wellspring of creative freedom.