A reminder of our mortality
Shell Shock at Umbrella Studio until April 10
LESLEY Kane’s semi-abstract mixed media works on canvas and paper are mostly quite colourful, but amid the more quirky f ragments is a serious underlying message.
An ore-carrying train is topped by a huge shell, a cactus which could be a cross, waves from behind a cemetery fence and next to a picnic rug a collaged scrap resembling an old-school ransom note reads ‘ Save the whales’.
More overt clues are the presence of a couple of lumps of coal on a plinth, and charts pertaining to the Permian Age. The whales Kane wants saved existed 240 million years ago. Shell Shock is her attempt to draw attention to the fossilised marine environment which lies in the layers beneath the Bowen Basin, for which ‘‘. . . it appears that nobody cares in this relentless search for lucrative coal deposits’’. Kane’s works on paper are evocative of the country which contains the fossils she would like to see conserved.
Salt I, II and III ( collaboration with Lyn Ahmat) resemble maps or satellite images of the terrain, with textured and eroded features in earthy colours. A triptych, Do Not Disturb, is a landscape section in profile, floating unanchored on the white page, perhaps suggesting a worst-case scenario in which few vestiges of the ancient past survive the present demand for natural resources.
Kane’s paintings are surreal and dark, with a chaotic and slightly nightmarish feel.
Permian Upheaval, despite the inclusion of bright splashes of turquoise, red and orange, has a
claustrophobic intensity in its compaction of matter. Paired with the graveyard scene of
Rest In Peace, it seems Kane is giving us a ‘‘ Memento Mori’’, a reminder that our existences will be relatively short before we rejoin the very earth we’ve spent our lives pillaging.
Another eco-centric exhibition at Umbrella shifts the focus from the Bowen Basin to our south, to cassowary habitats north of Townsville.
Colin Giardina’s sculptures fill the small Vault Space for his show, Casso
wary Food Trails and Trials.
The artist has used a broad range of materials, including resin, steel, seed pods and traffic lights, to make plaques, pavers and freestanding s c ul p t ur e s which illustrate the vagaries of the cassowaries’ survival.
The busyness of Giardina’s use of colour and form is a complete contrast to the measured aesthetic of Jan Daly’s exhibition in the Main Space,
Imbrication: Power and Politics.
Daly’s show is part of her PhD, examining multiculturalism and east/ west relationships via the western uptake of oriental influence in interior design.
The Zen orderliness of her painstakingly colour co-ordinated murals seems deliberately at odds with the historical difficulties of political interaction and cultural misunderstandings between hemispheres.
Detail of Lesley Kane’s mixed media