Transitions and Functional Shadows: beauty in black and white

Craft ACT opened our second block of exhibitions on Thursday 22 March: Functional Shadows, the outcome of our 2017 Artist-in-Residence, Marilou Chagnaud, and Transitions, work by five leading mosaic artists that explores the mosaic as a vehicle for complex artistic expression and conceptual investigation using traditional methods and experimental techniques.

Opened by the relentlessly cheery Brett McNamara, Manager of Namadgi National Park (ACT Parks & Conservation Service), Functional Shadows  is the result of French artist Marilou Chagnaud's residential encounter with the Gudgenby Ready-Cut Cottage and the Australian landscape. Chagnoud also spent time researching with the program's 2017 partner, the Australian War Memorial, and consequently this very spare, contemporary body of work speaks of shadow and camouflage, with a material connection to the corrugated ironwork that sits on and around the cottage. 

Marilou Chagnaud in front of her print installation, L'ombre des fleurs (The shade of flowers) (2018).

McNamara exhorted the crowd to go out to Gudgenby some time and 'just sit under a tree, then look up, and observe the shapes'. Dr Maria Hydes, of the ANU School of Sociology, says in her exhibition essay, 

[Chagnaud's works] are especially engaging because of their lack of naturalism. Their immediate effect is graphic and geometric. And their expressive force does not come from the fact that they 'look just like nature', but from the way they position the spectator as an element within a design space. 


Helen Bodycomb,  Kate Butler, Pamela Irving, Caitlin Hughes, Rachel Bremner


Craft ACT's Kate Nixon, also President of AUSglass and a self-confessed mosaic tragic, opened Transitions, and wrote in her accompanying essay: 

Once a sign of power and wealth, mosaics fell out of favour during the Renaissance. With the division between fine art and craft firmly established, mosaic found itself on the wrong side of the divide, relegated to the unfortunate status of 'women's handicraft' or 'outsider art'. Sentimental and decorative, mosaic wasn't the stuff of serious artists. ... These tensions between high and low, art and craft are nothing new, but it seems mosaic has been particularly dogged by these labels. Transitions turns these assumptions on their head: a very exciting prospect in the contemporary resurgence of this form.

Looking at Helen Bodycomb's installation The Material and the Immaterial (2018). 

The works in this show have an exciting mix of materials, concepts, and there is a lovely blend of serious intent and sly humour. Feedback from the opening attendees was a mix of delight and intrigue. 


Looking at Pamela Irving's Mr Hanky Panky and his seven deadly sins (2017/18)


Transitions, room shot. 


Pamela Irving talking about her work, Mr Hanky Panky and his seven deadly sins (2017/18). 


A floor talk was held by the Transitions artists in the hour before the opening, with each artist sharing their ideas and processes. 

Functional Shadows and Transitions will be open at Craft ACT until 5 May. 

Craft ACT would like to thank 5footPhotography for these great images.