Six Australian artists are featured at the newly-opened Bunjil Place gallery's first exhibition. Opened only a few months ago, the building is an impressive addition to the outer south-east and sits on the fringes of Westfield Fountain Gate.
Trace is about art that springboards from drawing and takes it in new and different directions. Blame the hot day and my fogged-up brain, but there were a couple of exhibits that I struggled to reconcile with the theme. I mean, yes, Sandra Selig's Ancient Angle is just a gorgeous exploration of space and form, using lines of polyester thread "to blur the distinction between two and three-dimensional space."
But hey, just because I don't quite get how that fits in with the exhibit's theme doesn't mean it doesn't. After all, who are you going to trust more - a menopausal art-appreciator with zero art training who was extremely dehydrated, or a curator like Penny Teale with many years' experience?
Anyway, regardless of my ability to understand quite how this fit in ... oh. Unless it's, like, maybe drawing through the air? Drawing through space! Okay, that makes sense! And now I feel some lovely click of satisfaction, which is exactly why art is freaking awesome and why the discomfort you may feel looking at art, when you can't work out what the good goddamn it's saying, and you feel dumb, and then recognition slides in - in my case over 48 hours later - and bing, you get it - well, that is the antidote to the smarty pants know-it-all small brain you find yourself occupying when you're tweeting at people you don't know and will never know about something you don't really know very much about at all but just know you're right about, and the part of you that loves art and knows lots of things in a wider non-Twitter way, that part loves it when your small mind sits down and shuts the bloody hell up, cos this is a different language it doesn't know how to speak.
Art makes you humble and it needs to be taken in 14 tablespoon doses, whenever you can.
Did I mention this exhibition is kid-friendly? Some exhibits have thoughts for kids to consider. At the very beginning of the exhibit, kids (of all ages) can pick up a pencil and draw a picture. This was my personal favourite:
Gosi Wiodarczak's Found in Translation is a coded pictogram. And when you decipher it, out will slide an excerpt from Italo Calvino's 1972 story Invisible Cities. I would have spent the time decoding it there and then but dehydration, anxiety and rushing. But luckily I can do it now I am home and hydrated, calm and couched, because there is a take-home sheet designed solely for that purpose. And so while I may have decided the picture, I won't tell you what it says. You'll have to work it out for yourself.
Another interactive installation, Joyce Hinterding's Soundwave: Induction Drawing 2 combines graphite - the ingredient some pencils are made out of - and electromagnetic energy and ...well, you. When you place your hand on the glass, you become the portal through which these components become sound.
Cameron Robbins's Climate Control 13 harnesses the weather and transforms it into a two-dimensional artwork, which is a visual representation of Melbourne's weather over four months.
Kylie Stillman draws intricate threadwork pieces on paper which both "measure time" and are a " means of recording space" while in her Masking the Seam installation she explores "how line can be presented in absence" via some exquisite book carving.
Talking of exquisite, Laith McGregor's intricate trio of portraits were beautifully rendered and curiously incomprehensible because, as we have established, I'm a bit stupid. What does the ghost coming out of that man's ear mean, the man with the chessboard face? I don't know. Maybe you do. Not that I need to know. Some things don't need to be known. Mystery is a sorely needed substance.
The only drawback about this gallery is the same drawback about every gallery ever and that is this: the only eyes you want following you around the room while you're looking at art are portrait eyes, not security guy eyes. I am self-conscious, and this gallery is a small one, and surely, in a space that already has constant video surveillance - we're told this, in a big unfriendly sign as we walk into Bunjil Place itself - the surveillance could be reined in a little. The pleasure of looking at art, the aha! of 'getting it' and the rush of a new way of seeing that makes looking at art so awesome, is not such an easy enterprise when you have both camera and human eyes judging you guilty.
However, this is the level of mistrust we must walk through in our public spaces these days. Safety before comfort. Have you ever noticed how the fancier our restrooms are the more alienated our shared spaces are? Bunjil Place is no different and the effect, if you're an oversensitive menopauser like me, is of being inside a quite cold, very beautiful woman.