A re­minder of our mor­tal­ity

Shell Shock at Um­brella Stu­dio un­til April 10

Townsville Bulletin - - NQ Life - art re­view with Ber­nadette Ash­ley

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.

Per­mian Up­heaval

De­tail of Les­ley Kane’s mixed me­dia

work,

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