‘The Winter of Disconnect: The Great Indoors’ by Barry Tate and Matthew Clarke, until 15 September

Matthew Clarke, Man Overboard (Triptych), 2020, acrylic on canvas, 142 x 55cm (each panel). Courtesy the artist and Fox Galleries, Melbourne

Fox Galleries, Melbourne brings Warrnambool-based artists Barry Tate and Matthew Clarke together in ‘The Winter of Disconnect: The Great Indoors’, an exhibition of new work created by two outsider artists while staying at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Clarke is a painter whose creativity is awakened by the world around him. For his most recent series of works Clarke drew inspiration from the life and times of Captain Thomas Henry Clarke, a direct descendent of the artist who six generations ago in the 1800s was the owner and master of a brig ship named ‘Cornelius’. The Captain sailed the seas between Liverpool, England, Belfast and Portland, Victoria, carrying migrants and cargo, as well as goods to sell in Portland and Port Fairy. He also held the dire responsibility of conducting funerals at sea and in one of the Captain’s voyages eight deaths were recorded.

Aligning the challenging times of a socially distanced existence with the experiences of his ancestor over 100 years ago, Clarke presents a series of abstracted characterisations of himself and his distant relative, which he brings to life across a series paintings on canvas and sculptures made of plywood rendered in a riot of colour and geometric patterning. “Clarke paints his subjects with an unquestionable spontaneity and conviction. His distinctive themes present with a dynamic style of painting that permeates vibrant colours and unshackled mark making revealing an ecology bursting at the seams with eccentric and dynamic characters,” the gallery notes.

Tate is a master ceramicist and arts educator whose artistic practice spans over three decades. He explores systems of belief, propaganda art of the church, fear, faith, tragedy and the apocalypse, using a diverse range of materials from clay, glitter and gold to fibre optics, spray paint, lights and electric motors, to visualise these themes.

Barry Tate, Mammon Cake, 2019-2020, mixed media on canvas with LED lights
116 x 180 x 22cm. Courtesy the artist and Fox Galleries, Melbourne

In this new body of work Tate showcases a collection of new paintings and ceramic vanitas as installation pieces, which bring notions of mortality to the stage. “My latest work was done during the lockdown period of the past few months, the concept is amplification of previous themes which is all about regrowth, and the cycle of life and death,” shares Tate.

Large-scale ceramic totems incorporating ornate hand-crafted furniture summon an air of luxury with an arrangement of decorative symbols such as grapes, flowers, porcelain plates and antique styled furniture. With humour the works explore the “follies of pleasure with extravagant detail and distorted domestic scale, they teeter on functionality but inevitably delight with grand aesthetics. Through the domestic lens, the installation will explore ideas of production, fodder and advancements in global civilisation, reflected in society today, now more than ever,” the gallery conveys.

‘The Winter of Disconnect: The Great Indoors’ is part of a new initiative developed by Fox Galleries to bring four artist books to print as a way to support artists and writers through the unsettling tides of the current crisis. Titled Modern Seasons, the great curve, each book in the series represents one of the four seasons and provides documentation of the artistic revelations of five Australian visual artists responding to the provocation of ‘abstracted time’ and ‘causation’ during the milieu of Covid-19.

The first book in the series Botanicus Fantasticus Autumn by artist Mark Schaller has been published and is available to buy. Next is The winter of discontent, the great indoors Winter by Barry Tate and Matthew Clarke, followed by Esther Erlich’s The intimate distance Spring and the fourth is Shannon Smiley’s Current State Summer. Click here to visit Fox Galleries’ publications page for purchase and pre-orders. Each title will be available individually, or as a boxed set.

Click here to explore the series of artworks by Clarke and Tate in ‘The Winter of Disconnect: The Great Indoors’ exhibition and to see what’s coming up next at Fox.