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Creative types explore themes of the winter season
Winter Days is a new group exhibition showing at Off the Kerb Gallery. It features 48 incredible artists and their creative responses to themes surrounding the season of winter.
Winter is often a time of hibernation and introspection, depicted in hues of blues and greys. Winter can be a time that is associated with heartbreak or sorrow with wintery scenes mirroring feelings of melancholy or loss. Alternatively, for others, winter can symbolise birth and renewal and is a time to embrace those winter woollies and the opportunity to curl up in front of a fireplace. For this exhibition, artists were asked to express their own creative interpretation of Winter Days.
Liz Gridley is a figurative artist from Melbourne who has had an interest in painting since she was young. With a background in life drawing at the Ringwood Art Society and since gaining an art degree at Monash University she has pursued figurative painting and oil paint experimentation.
Her current works focus on examining empathy and emotional response through portraiture, perhaps as a result of being increasingly overwhelmed by the constant news cycle and burnout culture. Liz explains further, "I have always had an emotional connection with portraiture, but in the age of Instagram and advertising even faces can lose their impact as our connections to other people can be weakened through constant overexposure. By looking back to 'triggers' of my own emotional responses to paintings I've been developing a painted language that brings traditional techniques and themes to contemporary culture - reawakening empathetic responses in the viewer."
Liz uses oil paints on various surfaces including linen, wooden panels and more recently aluminium composite panels, with this material containing both new challenges and new rewards. The challenges include a more technical preparation process but the reflective surface has the advantage of showing off the colour and energy of brushwork in her works.
Her piece for the Winter Days exhibition is titled "After Anguish". It was developed as part of a huge wall mural during her residency at Burrinja Gallery earlier this year. Liz explains the inspiration behind this work further, "After beginning with a painted study of the mother sheep in Friedrich Schneck's painting 'Anguish' (at the NGV International) as a work hugely known for capturing the audience's emotions, I translated the expression to that of a young woman. Rather than narrative elements like Schneck's work (the ravens and lamb) I use colour and texture as the vehicles to emphasise the moment caught in time. Cold, non-specific cloudscape forms around her head enclose the figure in this emotional moment and create a feeling of being engulfed. A feeling which can definitely encroach in the cold and rain of a winter in Melbourne."
'Know where your ghosts haunt and then send the full ferocity of the sea to tear down their four walls' by Ryan Pola
Ryan Pola is a Melbourne based visual artist, as well as a school teacher, who uses art as a way of understanding, interpreting, and exploring. He explains, "It's a method of relaxation that lets me dissect the world around me in a creative way. Lately, I have been using it as a means of exploring my connectivity to other people."
Ryan works predominantly with graphite and gouache. A perfectionist by nature, he loves that graphite can be such a precise medium, very controllable but while still retaining malleability. He also uses gouache when requiring colour to support a particular work.
For the Winter Days exhibition, he has chosen a fascinating piece titled "Know where your ghosts haunt & then send the full ferocity of the sea to tear down their four walls". Describing this work as an exploration of old ghosts, Ryan explains the theme of this piece as understanding where your pain lies and then finding a way to rid yourself of it. Ryan says,
"For me it was about still harbouring resentment and frustration over having my heart broken - and then understanding that only I could move on from that. The figure in the window is the ghost, the pain and the crux, and the sea that rages around the house is the purging. The storm that lets you move on and renew."
Chris Costa is a freelance artist and creative from Melbourne. You may have come across his distinctive work as a graphic designer and illustrator for some of your favourite musicians, clothing labels or alcohol purveyors. In his spare time, Chris creates art to be exhibited as well as running an independent clothing label called Badlands Brand.
With such varied interests, it is difficult to pin his work down to a single style, however, his work generally features principles of strong line work and bold, eye-catching designs. Chris explains, "I want my work to catch your eye across a crowded room and hold your attention as you discover the smaller details within each piece."
His piece for the Winter Days exhibition, titled "Anywhere but here", is certainly bold and eye-catching. The artwork was created in Adobe Illustrator and then laser etched into recycled bamboo. Chris reveals more about his choice of materials saying, "I love the texture, smell and contrast that laser etching gives a piece. Clean line-work with the grain of the wood just works so well together." For some the season of winter may be a time of depression but for this artist, it is a time to get out there and explore and this is the feeling he is trying to express with this work.
The full list of talented artists involved in this group exhibition includes: