6 May – 12 June 2023
PREVIEW: Friday 5 May, from 6pm, free event BOOK HERE
This exhibition presents selected works by artists from, or inspired by, Australia and New Zealand, in celebration of our season focused on Antipodean culture and heritage. The collection of work is diverse while the artists are connected by their emotional and psychological engagement with the Australasian landscape and outback topography. It is this deeply-rooted commitment to a sense of place that enlivens their imagination and fuels their practice – the landscape consciously or unconsciously entering their work and, ultimately, their values.
Ros Auld (a ceramicist) and Tim Winters (a painter and printmaker) began to discuss the possibility of a collaboration after showing together in Desert Journey, a group exhibition at Orange Regional Gallery, Australia in 1998 . Although they had known each other since the early eighties, they had never worked together. A desert road-trip to Tibooburra, Menindee, Mutawintji, White Cliffs and Broken Hill followed and became the inspiration behind their shared series. This trip also highlighted shared artistic sensibilities that were impossible to ignore: affinities in line, colour and aesthetic.
‘The idea of a collaboration was, of course, both challenging and appealing’, reflects Winters, ‘offering an opportunity for a type of liberation, a possible new visual language for us both. And daunting, because it’s personal – there is a lot of give and take, and I had to get used to the idea that maybe I was taking more than I was giving…’
Auld provided the unique surface, using modified paper clay, poured onto plaster slabs, to produce free-form oblong shapes which resemble runs of mud or slabs of sand. The painting of the surfaces is done together – Auld prepares the underglazes and glazes; Winters applies the paints, crayons and markings. The works become wall pieces, in open, boxed frames.
The resulting work fuses their separate practices; with no artist more pronounced than the other. Black wiggly lines – thick and thin – prioritise the horizontal against a background of orange and mustard washes, interspersed with flashes of white, cobalt and lilac. This is the background for a narrative which opens the viewer’s imagination – the shapes could be stumpy trees, clouds, shadows, hills or even drops of rain. The porous nature of the original clay plate allows partial or whole absorption of the glaze in a ‘watercolour’ effect.
The pair’s aim of expressing the fragile nature and the quiet beauty of the Australian landscape is fitting to Messums Wiltshire’s engagement with our own surroundings. With their evocation of prehistoric cave paintings the works mirror Wiltshire’s primordial landscape and artefacts and their continued significance. As Winters highlights ‘contours, pockets and lines in the clay, it’s like painting the earth itself’.
Ros Auld has been described as a key figure to contemporary Australian ceramics. Auld studied painting and ceramics at the National Art Schools in Newcastle and Sydney and subsequently worked in the ceramic studio of the painter John Piper in England. Returning to Australia she taught visual arts and ceramics whilst concentrating on her own work. Auld’s ceramics are held in many galleries and private collections in Australia and overseas.
Known as one of Australia’s most respected landscape artists and teachers, Tim Winters said he has always had a fascination with the Australian landscape, ever since he arrived in Sydney Harbour and saw the ‘sparkling water, diamond light’ after migrating from England aged sixteen. He has exhibited throughout Australia, as well as the UK, Holland and Singapore.