‘Art in Isolation’ a group exhibition at Stanley Street Gallery

Although the Covid-19 pandemic presents challenges both great and small, the uninvited disruption also offers new opportunities to be immersed in artistic practice. Twelve artists from Sydney’s Stanley Street Gallery have been working from their artist studios and makeshift home-studios documenting their experiences during this extraordinary time of our global existence.

Annette Bukovinsky, Metasis No.3, 2020, ceramic, 12.5 x 12.5 x 9cm. Photograph: Tess Bukovinsky. Courtesy the artist and Stanley Street Gallery, Sydney

Until 7 August, ‘Art in Isolation’ is showcasing new work by artists Amy Dynan, Andjana Pachkova, Annette Bukovinsky, Claire Primrose, David Collins, Denis Clarke, Elizabeth Kelly, Gretal Ferguson, Hugh Kerr, Julie Blyfield, Shaun Hayes and Tony Messiter. Filling the narrative space in this exhibition are themes circling the beauty of nature, memory and place, human interaction with the environment, the built world, gender roles, social and political considerations, consumerism and waste.

Amy Dynan uses drawing to express her perceptions of the world and merges photoreal and abstract imaginations together to reflect on the sublime complexions, movement and fragilities of the natural world. Andjana Pachkova draws inspiration from music and all that exists around her with particular interest in “the subtle changes in the human psyche” in relation to the movement of people between places, as well as the polarities between human passion for the natural world and the exploitations of it. Working largely with clay, ceramic artist Annette Bukovinsky’s sculptural articulations, as the artist notes, explore “humanity’s relationship with nature and the search for a new ecological philosophy that can address the challenges threatening the vitality of our planet.”

Shaun Hayes, Breathe, 2020 (2), glazed stoneware, 24 x 24 x 30cm. Photograph: Bryna Bamberry. Courtesy the artist and Stanley Street Gallery, Sydney

Mixed media artist Claire Primrose brings emotive illustrations to canvas through a process of layering and scratching mediums in such a way that, the colours, layers and gestural marks resonate a familiar sense of place. Landscape painter David Collins’ creative output is motivated by his connection to nature and in particular the surrounds of the Hawkesbury River region where he lives. His beautiful compositions are rendered in the rich natural hues of the land and suggest time to pause, listen and tap into our own associations with the natural world.

Denis Clarke’s practice involves drawing and painting figures, buildings and the landscape, which in this series display a vibrant palette of gold, brown, blue and green hues. “My interest is what I would call ‘creating process of informed experiment’. I allow myself to risk and play with media while aligning my senses with the observed,” he shares. Elizabeth Kelly explores the built environment and patterns in engineering, through the medium of glass. In this exhibition Kelly’s fascinating sculptures occupy the artist’s interest in the social and historical values in architectural structure, scale and perception.

Gretal Ferguson brings the feminine art of embroidery and the masculine art of silversmithing together with a selection of rotund metal-formed sculptures embellished with golden silk thread, defying the stereotyped roles of gender in craft-making and society. She says, “Being a female artist in a traditionally masculine craft I often find myself having to prove my skill and knowledge before being taken seriously.” Hobart-based artist Hugh Kerr has spent a lifetime working and travelling throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Across the fields of painting and drawing he calls on these experiences and the images that pass through his subconscious “as metaphor to express thoughts on a range of issues affecting society, be they political, social, economic or environmental.”

Toni Messiter, Dress Rehearsal, 2020, oil on canvas, 120 x 120cm. Photograph: John McRae. Courtesy the artist and Stanley Street Gallery, Sydney

Working mostly with sterling silver and more recently with copper, South Australia-based artist Julie Blyfield uses the techniques of metal chasing, hammering and surface chiselling to make jewellery and other objects, which are inspired by her interest in botanical specimens, historical silver collections and the Australian landscape. Shaun Hayes combines the aesthetics of traditional Chinese ceramics with contemporary plastic throwaway objects and creates quirky sculpted vessels that summon memories and moments in time, while turning the spotlight on consumer waste and the environment. Tony Messiter’s paintings flirt with the visual aesthetics of 17th century portraiture and in particular, family portraits. Dolls are posed as the protagonists of theatrically staged imaginings, which bring intimate notions of nurturing, childhood and family life into the picture with humour that tiptoes between the absurd and the delightful, the provocative and the enchanting.

To read more about the artists presented in ‘Art in Isolation’ and to view the works online click here.

Stanley Street Gallery is located just a short walk from Sydney’s iconic Hyde Park and the Museum of Sydney and is part of the Darlinghurst arts precinct, which includes King Street Gallery, Gallery 9, Stacks Projects and ARO Gallery, to name but a few of the art spaces along the East Sydney art trail.