You Are Invited – Nikky Morgan-Smith ‘murmurations’ & Elaine Green ‘Clouds, Mist And Other Illusions’
August 26 – September 9, 2017
Throughout the ages, the marvel of birds in flight has fascinated mankind. It came to symbolise freedom and the imagination: an elevation above the merely corporeal. Kindred musings have prompted Nikky Morgan-Smith’s ongoing interest in winged creatures as both image and metaphor.
The title for her latest body of work relates to the phenomena of starling murmurations. Hundreds, even thousands, of flocking birds flying in minutely close formation are instantaneously able to change direction in perfect, undulating unison. This extraordinary spectacle presents like some vast, living entity. Morgan-Smith’s Murmuration paintings beautifully express the unpredictable fluidity and rhythm of such.
It has always been one of Morgan-Smith’s creative aspirations to ‘capture’ the essence of energy, movement and change upon the two dimensional plane. Correspondingly, and perhaps surprisingly, it is the scientific explanation for the uncanny coordination of these murmurations rather than their visible manifestations that gave impetus to recent works – “the critical transitions: systems that are poised to tip, to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetised or liquid turning to gas”.
Rising, vortex-like, amidst surface tensions of multiple coloured layers, gestural brushwork, paint runnels, filigreed markings, linear verve and an ambiguity of form and ground, Morgan-Smith’s imagery negotiates thresholds between medium and meaning. She explains that her mixed-media paintings are created without premeditation or the notion of a conclusion. There are no preliminary sketches and chance plays an integral role. “For me the narrative unfolds and becomes more complex and meaningful as I work with it,” she clarifies. “Eventually the imagery develops a whole other existence. This is my favourite thing in the creative act; the exhilaration of watching something take shape that wasn’t there before.”
“The current paintings explore the idea of mapping change and encapsulating motion,” continues Morgan-Smith. “I am enjoying the use of screen-printing to generate this feeling for animation but I don’t use the screens in a traditional way. I layer the prints across painted and aerosol-sprayed areas in a disordered type of repetition and then smudge, paint and scribble over them. I love the resultant luminosity this delicate layering produces in the winged works.”
Peacocks soar free of archetypal epithets. Rose or gold-tipped feathers and fluttering indigo moths appear to whorl about a diaphanous axis mundi, the mythic pole linking earth and sky, above and below. The aesthetic potency of Morgan-Smith’s imagery enlivens our sensibilities. Her intuitive, visceral process communicates ‘essence’ and the magic of murmuration. Therein lies a visual poetry as she attempts to express the ineffable and demonstrate the interconnectedness of all things through her art making.
Nikky Morgan-Smith’s studio is nestled amidst the forests of the Byron Shire hinterland. Apart from a decade spent in Melbourne after completing her art training, these subtropical wilds are where she has lived and worked. She holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts, SCU, Lismore and RMIT, Melbourne. Her participation in art awards includes: Winner of Coriki Art Prize 2011; Highly Commended Belligen Art Prize 2010; Finalist Belligen Art Prize 2010; Finalist Border Art Prize 2009; Finalist She Art Prize 2009; Highly Commended SCU Student Art Prize 2008. Her work has been represented at International Art Fairs in London, Toronto, Mexico City, Singapore, Amsterdam, New York and Brussels. In 2014 she undertook a Residency in Le Couvent d’Auzits, South West France.
The exhibition ‘Nikky Morgan-Smith – ‘murmurations’ is showing at Anthea Polson Art, Upstairs, Marina Mirage, Seaworld Drive Main Beach QLD 4217, from August 26 – September 9, 2017
clouds, mist and other illusions
August 26 – September 9, 2017
Coalescing, dissolving – ever shifting, clouds and mists wreath primordial peaks in Elaine Green’s new body of work. The imagery portrays the majesty of the northern NSW landscape but also emanates a metaphysical sensibility. In world mythologies cloud-crowned mountains have represented an elevation above the mundanity of everyday life. They were the abode of the gods and divine power. For spiritual aspirants the way up was obscured in veils of mist. Green’s landscapes are similarly places of profound quietude that encourage the mind to rise aloft, to be aware of the transience of all things: the illusion of any notion of permanence.
Green describes this series of paintings as depicting her emotional response to the sublime landscapes she lives amidst. “Misty mornings especially fascinate me, perhaps the predilection is rooted somewhere in my English/Scottish heritage. It is the ephemerality of clouds and mist and what might exist beyond that intrigues me. My interest lies in the fleeting nature of the elements, perceiving a certain moment and then attempting to capture its memory: the essence of that point in time.”
She explains that her paintings are multifaceted. “I am also referring to all types of atmospheric optical phenomena and philosophic modal illusions, as well as the illusions that can be conveyed on canvas by painterly effects. Inspired by Turner and the Romantics, I aspire to convey the experience of being immersed in the landscape rather than making a realistic representation of it. Creations born of experience and memory of place, my works begin as abstractions; manipulating oil paint, exploring spaces that exist only on the canvas, blurring and rubbing back, adding and reducing until eventually a narrative is revealed. Like memories indistinct, they generate an atmospheric poetry, if only momentarily.”
“While I do not set out to deliberately make environmental statements I hope that my interpretations of the landscape will move the viewer into a deeper awareness of their surroundings. Perhaps in a subtle way, the works will also carry a message concerning the importance of protecting the natural world. The fragility of the region’s extraordinary landscape is particularly evident in the ever-present threat of Coal Seam mining.”
In conclusion, Green offers the words of renowned landscape photographer and environmentalist, Ansel Adams.
“Art is both the taking and giving of beauty; the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world: the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the inter-relations of these.”
Residing in the Northern Rivers Area of NSW, Elaine Green holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts Degree, SCU, Lismore 2015 and a Diploma of Fine Arts, Murwillumbah TAFE 2011. Over the past few years she has received a number of awards and been a finalist in a great number of prizes including: Brisbane Art Prize, Qld 2016; Waverley Art Prize, NSW 2016; Camberwell Art Prize, Vic 2016; Lethbridge 10000, Qld 2016, 2015, 2014; Rotary Art Prize, Qld 2016; Border Art Prize, NSW 2016, 2014, 2012; Eutick Memorial Still Life Award, NSW 2015; Curator’s Choice, Byron Arts Classic 2015; She Art Prize, Walker Gallery, Vic 2015; Sunshine Coast Art Prize, Qld 2014; The Kaske Award for Painting, SCU 2013; Len Fox Art Award, Vic. 2013, 2011; First Prize, Ocean Shores Art Expo, NSW 2013; Wilson Art Award, Lismore NSW 2013, 2012; Selected Caldera Art Prize, Muwillumbah, NSW 2012; Artfelt Prize, Ballina Community Gallery, NSW 2012, 2011; Stage 1 Regional Winner for Student Art Acquisitive, Muwillumbah TAFE, NSW 2010; Highly Commended, Ocean Shores Art Expo, NSW 2010.
The exhibition ‘Elaine Green – Clouds, Mist And Other Illusions’ is showing at Anthea Polson Art, Upstairs, Marina Mirage, Seaworld Drive Main Beach QLD 4217, from August 26 – September 9, 2017