Artworks exploring self-imposed & enforced confinement within our society
Opening: Saturday 6 August, 2 to 4pm
Opening address by Jeanette Gibson OAM
Artist Talk: Sunday 21 August, 2.30 to 4.30pm
To incarcerate; to imprison, confine, enclose, detain or retain in custody.
Cambridge Studio Gallery asked two political artists to respond to the theme of incarceration within an Australian context. Pat Waters used the opportunity to continue her portraiture of detainees on Manus Island and feminist artist, Ness Alexandra, focused on women’s self-incarceration.
What results is an intensive study of confinement, with powerful works that evoke mood, bleakness, despair and frustration both of subject and artist.
Ness Alexandra’s art practise focuses on the female psyche, domesticity, media portrayal of women and self-imposed ideals. Working with 12 images of a woman boxed, Ness has explored the theme by repetitively drawing, painting and sculpting the same motif. Using line or tone to define the figure atop backgrounds that are collaged with price tags, maps or beauty slogans, Ness portrays the frustration of being constricted.
“In our Australian, first world context, our culture still boxes women and we box ourselves. I feel labelled by ideals of what is beautiful, how much money I earn and where I live. The imagery of nude women in boxes poignantly reflects the themes of confinement, vulnerability and frustration.”
Included in the exhibition are preparatory works, studies and larger finished pieces which collectively take us on a visual journey. The works provoke, explore and reveal the artist’s concepts of incarceration both societal and self imposed.
Pat Waters’ 2013 exhibition; Face to Face with Asylum Seekers, was opened by Barry Jones to a packed audience that over flowed onto the footpath outside Cambridge Studio Gallery. This was the first of Pat’s politically charged artwork. The reaction to the exhibition was overwhelming and went on to be shown in The Gippsland Art Gallery.
For Incarceration, Pat focuses on the detainees of Manus Island and the fact that they must refer to themselves by a number, not their names.
“Asylum seekers coming from many countries have long cultural histories, their given names have traditional significance. I am very distressed by detainees on Manus Island being unable to use their names being forced to refer to themselves by a number. This is a dehumanising tactic and a denial of human dignity. It encourages those who oversee their incarceration to see them as less than human. How can we in 21st century Australia tolerate this deprivation of identity?”
Reflecting on the sentiments of a collection of poems by detainees, Pat has created compelling portraits that highlight the beauty of their names and the peoples who own them.
“…………. let us call out our beautiful names”