Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

In January last year Tamworth artist, Joanne Stead, found a number of mannequins for sale at the local op shop and immediately thought “there’s got to be an exhibition in this”.

“Body of Work” provided shop mannequin torsos to 14 artists from across the New England North West linked by the use of the mannequin which forms a common base. The exhibition, to be held at Ceramic Break Sculpture Park, Warialda, opening next Saturday April 27, 2024, brings together a collective of female artists, and will invite the viewer to consider how many ways there are to approach a single object.

“Yinaar means woman in Gamilaraay and Ngarrabul” says Aboriginal artist and teacher, Waabii Chapman-Burgess of Glen Innes.  “Ochre Yinaar” is her artwork exhibited as part of the exhibition.

“This is my story, the mediums I use and how I put things together” says Waabii. 

“My story grows as I’m painting.  There are symbols in it that represent women’s breasts and the woman’s side of it.   As I’m painting things come to me.  I use symbols of this area around Glen Innes which is the Ngarrabul language group.”

“Ochre is the grounded pigment that first nations people use in art and dance for body painting so I’ve used the ochres from the Glen Innes area.  I am a ceramist as well so I’ve also used bits and pieces of my pottery, fresh water mussels and I’ve used the Dinnawan feathers, the emu feathers.” 

Describing the diversity the artists approached the project with Joanne says “We’ve got artists who have painted onto the surface, a textiles artist that drilled holes in it so she could do cross-stitch on hers and other people that lit them up from the inside.  We’ve got one that has a projection that plays across it.”  

“Originally I thought we’d all paint them in the same way that all those fibreglass koalas and rhinos get painted in different styles but everybody was keen to translate whatever medium they were working in onto the mannequins.”

“I ended up using mine as a form and creating paper mache sculptures from my mannequin.”

“I use a newspaper base for most of them but there’s one there that’s eucalyptus leaf mache made from the tree next to my house.  We had a big storm and the branch came down.  You need to collect the eucalyptus leaves when they’re still quite fresh – not dried out to make the paper mache.   I was just seeing how I could push that medium and make something different.” 

“I’ve been trying to work towards more sustainable materials in my art practice.  I’ve always done art works on canvas but obviously there’s sustainability problems with cotton fibres.”

This exhibition has toured through the New England region over the last year exhibiting at Gunnedah and Wee Waa culminating at the Ceramic Break Sculpture Park, a place created by owner and award winning bronze sculptor Kerry Cannon to showcase art and nature together.

Joanne is grateful to all the artists who have been involved. 

“It’s so much bigger than what I originally imagined and what an achievement to have three different galleries around the region invite us to tour through.”

“And to have artists from Glen Innes all the way through to Narrabri and all the places in between.  It’s been a great thing for some of the artists who didn’t have big regional networks as well.” 

“It’s inspiring to follow other people’s work in different mediums.”

Kerry Cannon invites guests to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the sculpture park by bringing a ceramic pot to be smashed into shards of broken bits that get incorporated into an evolving mosaic.  From random pieces strewn together, art is created.

Entry by gold coin donation, and lunch and light refreshment is provided.  Bring your own utensils to enter the Green Prize raffle for a chance to win a beautiful plant.

Find out more from the Ceramic Break Sculpture Park website.

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