Words – Sheena Colquhoun
Photos – J Forsyth
C3 Contemporary Art Space, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford.
The beautiful Abbotsford Convent art precinct is home to C3 gallery, which has just had five new shows open. After taking the scenic route along the garden path to the gallery, the first show encountered in the foyer space was that of Jessie Willow Tucker; ‘Paisley Pantheon’ which was a series of fine detailed pencil drawings, as well as an accompanying sculptural installation. The first room that flowed from the foyer space was a painting show by En-En See; ‘Painting Pages’ who creates dynamic and unexpected symbolic relationships between separate images. The works were finely painted, medium sized pieces, which drew on seemingly divergent image banks to create connections and disconnections between separate ideas. The artist engaged in a two-fold process of mediation in creating montage imagery, then in turn painting those new combinations. Isabella Knowles had a show ‘Rooftops En Plein Air’ in the project space, a much smaller room, drawing the viewer and the works to a more intimate distance. The show was made up of watercolour renderings of rooftops, extracted from their ostensible context to take on a more formal abstraction.
The next gallery in a larger room held ‘Transitions’ by two artists; Grace Wood and Nina Gilbert. The two separate displays were distinct yet worked together cohesively on multiple levels. Focused around a silent video and large scale photographs, their show meditated quietly yet profoundly on divergent themes such as the feminine, objecthood, the body, and memory. The black and white video, framed in an aesthetically simple manner, featured the subject attempting to pick up a broken object, and continually failing. I found the work arresting, and affective. The refined aesthetic choices and series of images were particularly successful in creating an emotive and somewhat peculiar set of reactions. A delicately placed clear glass pane tilted against the wall at eye height punctuated the show beautifully.
The final show on display at C3 was a photography exhibition, curated by the gallery, with the expansive title ‘The Study of Everything’. Photographers on display were Linsey Gosper, Michael Miller, Cameron Clarke, Greg Spiller, Vivian Cooper Smith and David-Ashley Kerr. The shows curatorial decisions were interesting in bringing together and also pulling apart various thematic threads. Each photographer displayed a small amount of photographs, loosely based around spaces of nature and constructed environments, and the possibility of photographic enquiry as a means of communication and mediation. Each set of photographs was presented in a different manner, on varying types of paper in different sizes. These small differences helped to distinguish the works of separate artists, and frame them as distinct yet part of a thematically congruous show. The photographs had in common a depth of perception and grace of observation that drew together a very strong series. An extremely varied an interesting series of shows on display, against the wonderful convent backdrop, C3 comes highly recommended.