On August 28th, I took the ferry from Circular Quay, heading north, in order to visit for the first time the Manly Art Gallery & Museum. The house at the beach hosted several exhibitions; I thoroughly took a look at every artwork and was about to leave the museum, a little tired, when I saw a door that I had not noticed before, and behind it an amazing exhibition called Black Harvest.
I stayed a long time watching the artworks by Andy Devine and Peter Tilley; the first one draws, paints, prints and the second sculpts and works with found objects. This collaboration led to intense and complex pieces, reflecting Newcastle’s industrial past.
The colours, first, caught my eye: black, rust, a touch of white or darkened yellow; everything I love, especially when they are so grainy, cloudy! I find a calmness in these tones, in their depth.
In the majority of these artworks, each technique was clearly delimited and often separated in a different “box” (see image). The painted parts, fine and quite abstract, were strongly restrained by the thick frame, resulting in an interesting tension. Peter Tilley’s found objects and sculptures also had their own feel, and, within the artwork, both artists’ contributions were put together to form a story. Just as each piece was part of a larger theme, a common atmosphere.
The meticulous execution of each artwork mesmerised me, too. It finally allows me here to put in words a very important aspect of art as I – currently – see it and want to express it: the notion of object. I love when an artwork is an externally comprehensible object. I love when it is clearly defined in its dimensions and shape; when, for the viewer, there is no struggle with its outer delimitations, and, in consequence, when the focus can be put entirely on the content, on the endless possibilities hidden in the textures, colours and layers.
What a great exhibition it was, with such a finesse in the execution! Clean, beautiful pieces, with a real depth and feel.2