Female identity explored through art

New exhibitions FEM-aFFINITY and Other Homes and Gardens by Nicholas Folland will open at The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre tomorrow night.

Touring with NETS Victoria, FEM-aFFINITY is an Arts Project Australia (APA) exhibition celebrating female artists. Exhibition curator Associate Professor Catherine Bell from the Australian Catholic University seeks to uncover related variations of female identity and perspectives on historical feminist concepts by situating female artists alongside each other.

Featuring 14 female artists, FEM-aFFINITY draws upon interdisciplinary approaches, such as painting, printmaking, drawing, performance and photography. The exhibition also considers how artworks are a complex and nuanced way of thinking about embodied knowledge and how it aligns with identity politics explored in contemporary art.

“I’m interested in highlighting the affinity. “Curating a selection of past works by each artist demonstrates a sustained line of enquiry,” Ms Bell said. “The opportunity for the artists to collaborate and develop new work for the show celebrates these ongoing themes and connections.”

Exhibiting artists Yvette Coppersmith and Lisa Reid have painted portraits of prominent figures in the arts. Meanwhile, abstract artists Helga Groves and Wendy Dawson share a similar creative process of layering pigment and surface detail; their works in metallic mediums explore abstract patterns.

Heather Shimmen and Bronwyn Hack are inspired by gothic narratives, famous women in history, and the natural world. Their collaboration has produced a series of lino prints that incorporate depictions of the body, flora and fauna.

Other collaborations include Jane Trengove and Fulli Andrinopoulos, Janelle Low and Eden Menta, and Prudence Flint and Cathy Staughton. Seminal art works by veteran artist Dorothy Berry, curated from the APA permanent collection, and renowned artist Jill Orr, on loan from institutional collections, are also included.

This pairing explores their shared interest in birds as symbolic motifs. Mount Gambier City Council Arts and Culture Development Officer Serena Wong said, at The Riddoch, the team had “always believed art is for everyone and can be by anyone and this exhibition is a great way to really emphasise this”.

“Art is a way for anyone to tell their story and this exhibition draws on unique and distinct stories from artists across Australia – including some real superstars in Australian art,” she said. “The chance to show an artist of Folland’s calibre, and for it to be an ambitious and large-scale installation is not something we get to do every day, and I think will really give our community something to talk it about. “It’s only the second time this work has ever been shown and it’s not to be missed.”

Entry to The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre is free and both exhibitions will be on display until 4 July 2021. Tomorrow night’s opening is at 6pm.

RSVP is essential for the exhibition openings due to COVID-19 restrictions and can be done by emailing riddoch@mountgambier.sa.gov.au or calling (08) 8721 2563 to register.

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