'Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters'
Finally managed to grab time yesterday to visit Songlines currently showing at The Box in Plymouth, and recommended to me by at least two other people. Defintely worth the drive on a stormy Sunday. I've seen a couple large-scale exhibitions featuring First People Australian art; at the British Museum a few years ago and also a fantastic one at the Hayward Gallery, London many years before, which still haunts me. This was set over four venues so involved some exploring but that adds to the fun. I started at the Dome instead of the recommended Box and felt that maybe I did it the right way round because having seen the video projection on the roof of the Dome featuring the artworks, people, cave paintings and landscape, I could then spot the work in the gallery spaces and relate it to the landscapes and historical context in which they were created.
These were in St Luke's church opposite which had been subdivided with tall walls to show off some impressive dot paintings. Sadly I missed recording some of the early ones because I wasn't sure that photography was permitted. But these details above give a flavour of the pattern and beautiful colour sequences used by a variety of artists. Far more colourful than I was anticipating, I guess they've been introduced to acrylics which are cheaper and less time consuming to use than traditional ochres which need grinding down.
The applied artworks were well displayed I felt. Large multi-coloured woven grass baskets on a seductive black painted wall hung quite high up (maybe because they are very stroke-able!) Grass is also used for the lifesize 'puppet' figures featured in the Dome video of the Seven Sisters projection and these were sited on uber shiny mirror surface, emphasising materials and techniques. Across the road in the Art School were examples of seed beads which had been delicately painted and threaded on wool or cotton,reminding me that sourcing readily available materials is one answer to a sustainable art practice.
The above exhibits towards the end of the show in St Luke's just entranced me. With the feel of Outsider Art about them, these were made by residents at Wanarn Aged Care Facility. I wondered whether a lifetime of sticking to the dots finally was abandoned and they found a freedom to create their own stories. These were my favourites - colour / line / composition / energy - beautiful. And the wheelchair! embellished with grass and wool, splodges of paint and intentional painted lines, snakes threaded through the wheelspokes, so enchanting to see that at the end of life there is still fun and mischief.
A joyful celebration of colour, material and texture.
Songlines at The Box, Plymouth until 27 Feb 2022