Saturday, 3 December 2011

Cairns Art Gallery

While Jim spent time looking at the fishing boats in the harbour, I went to the Art Gallery.  There was a very interesting postcard competition, which was culminating in silent auction.  The format of the postcards was that of a diptych - two art surfaces, hinged together.  In the 13/14th century, affluent people had religious iconography painted onto two pieces of hinged wood, so they could carry art around for personal devotional purposes.  The hinging prevented the surface of the art being worn down. 

This postcard competition had about 100 entries, from lay artists to known personalities.  There were 3 sizes to which artists worked - 2 x A5; 2 x 15cm square, and 2 x 20cm x 8cm rectangles.  The hinges could be on the long or short side.  There were a variety of applied art techniques on display - oil paint, fine liner, glass, ceramic, stitch, 3d jewellery.  The pieces I liked were by Mollie Bosworth, who had done a hinged pair of ceramic tiles, with fine line drawings of seeds, overlaid and multi-layered.  And Ben Trupperbaumer who had done two pieces of selected worn wood cuts, emphasising the wood grain and lichen, with a fractured line running across them "Arriving at a fork in the road".  His work is about fragility/strength, symmetry/disorder and balance/chaos.  This gave me another set of contrasts to consider. 

Each entry had a card beside it which noted the bidder number and amount bid for each postcard so far.  The event opened yesterday, and all entries had an opening bid of at least $40.  Some had further bids.  Bidding closes in about a week, and the 5 top priced items then go on to a silent auction.  There seemed to be a threshold between $80 and $100 where most entries remained below $80 but there were about half a dozen that had reached from $100-$400.  The $400 entry did not appeal to me at all. 

There was also a concealed post card awaiting bids.  This had a description of the artist - a Queensland woman, who worked in impasto technique, collected across Europe and the English speaking world, and was the 1986 winner of the Archibold Prize - an Australian portrait competition that has run since the 1920s.  I looked it up online, and the postcard must be by Davida Allen, who does portraits with a strong sexual/feminist element.  Once again, not to my taste but I spent a happy hour looking at the Archibold Prize website, noting how portraiture has changed over the last  90 years, from portraying military leaders to impasto sexual frenzy!

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