Jill Stowell: Sculptor’s work an unfolding delight

INTRICATE: Paul Selwood's work, Australia.   Picture: Stephen Oxenbury
INTRICATE: Paul Selwood's work, Australia. Picture: Stephen Oxenbury

PAUL Selwood may well be Australia’s most distinguished living sculptor, now celebrating his 70th birthday and 50 years of creative life.

At Maitland Regional Art Gallery until November 6 is an exhibition of his recent projects, 20 metal constructions, each cut from a single sheet of steel and situated on the lawns behind the gallery, where they respond to changing light and allow the long view, as they do on the artist’s property in Arcadian Wollombi.

Each piece is cut and folded into fully three-dimensional forms, slotted together so that the viewer only fully perceives the dynamics of a work by moving around it.

Some pieces are imposing vertical structures; others unfold nearer the ground. Most are brightly painted, their playful air belying the carefully planned intricacy involved in manipulating each single sheet.

Crouching on the grass like a herd of ruminating mammoths, they immediately involve the visitor, a great celebration of the work of this major artist.

Inside at Maitland until November 6 is work by a much more familiar sculptor in Braddon Snape who has recently exhibited his inflated steel pieces in many Newcastle galleries.

Creating these strange, often ambiguous forms is a genuine industrial performance, with the thin welded sheets noisily swelling, as a video in the gallery depicts. The process leads to many chance effects, creases and puckering, creating for the viewer an immersive experience particularly obvious on the mirrored surface of the stainless steel objects.

Brightly coloured pieces strangely suggest abject human figures. Is this deliberate? Brad Snape has a history of symbolic narrative, featuring boats, ladders and more recently miniature figures confronting the abyss.

What will be the next development in the 20-year career of this busy artist? Has he taken the paradoxical inflation of apparently intransigent material as far as it can go?

Werkhoven works

ALSO at Maitland, until November 20, is a large group of Robyn Werkhoven’s characteristically forceful drawings. They depict the daily routines of the hospital, where she has spent many months in recent years. Creating a daily drawing became a crucial therapeutic activity. It is interesting that the figures in these busy black and white compositions interact but rarely touch.

Acrux arrives

NEWCASTLE has another new gallery. Acrux, at 123 Brunker Road round the corner from Beaumont Street, is set up in a former shop, with intimate alcoves and long vistas providing space for many possible activities. There were over 50 works in its inaugural exhibition, mixing such familiar names as Margaret McBride, Vanessa Turton and Varelle Hardy with a new generation, including Maddyson Hatton and Joyous Colley.

Ceramics will continue to be in focus, with Sue Stewart, Sharon Taylor and John Heaney already well represented. A new show opens today.

TAFE talent

THE Advanced Diploma at TAFE continues to introduce interesting new talent. Until October 21, a dozen graduates have space to exhibit work across many disciplines.

I particularly noticed Dylan Reilly’s atmospheric linocuts and Cheridan Chard’s portraits.

A gallery should snap them up.

Party wraps up

ALL that remains of TiNA is the party-generating exhibition at The Lock-Up until October 30. Daisy Knight, Kate Mitchell and Minna Gilligan have created a huge psychedelic installation, incorporating the past, the present and a pretty jazzy future with print, performance video with a range of elaborate handmade objects. It’s an achievement.

Nanshe gems

Each piece is cut and folded into fully three-dimensional forms

AT the Emporium until Saturday are some of the constructions that jeweller Barbara Nanshe showed recently in London and Berlin. Is it a surprise to find kangaroos lurking among the woven rainbow wire?

Inspiring prints

THE latest exhibition at Art Systems Wickham until Sunday shows that printmaking is alive and well for the five artists anchoring their observations in the natural world. For Bronwyn Lusted, Amy Gow, Jules Visser and especially for Sally Reynolds, it is the Japanese aesthetic of the woodblock print, that traditional means of capturing the transient moment.  Sally Reynolds takes this immediacy further, into urgent oil paintings made among the trees of Tomaree National Park. Cathy Miers finds similarly direct inspiration in solar plate etchings, as well as monoprints and collagraphs. 

It is salutary to find a group of friends quietly building on their university studies to explore new challenges.