20 October - 6 November 2017

Handmark - 77 Salamanca Place, Hobart

An exhibition of new drawings made following a residency at the Sedona Summer Colony in Arizona, USA in 2016

A joint exhibition also featuring new ceramics by Sallee Warner.

Below is the speech presented by guest speaker and opener of the exhibition, Professor Elaine Stratford.

The power of imagination and the power of direct experience are strong in homo sapiens. But in our sapient state we often use those powers in ways that—in hindsight—show us that we were unwise by any measure. In short, we can be breathtakingly daft.

Equally, in our guise as homo economicus, we employ imagination and direct experience in the service of activities that deplete resources. There is an irony here, and it shouldn’t escape us: for the Greek root of the word economy is oikos, which refers to the wise use of those resources. Would it be so.

Yet, we are also a caring species—homo reparans. And I was reminded of this welcome aspect of humanity this week in a rich conversation with David Edgar and Sallee Walker.

And I was privileged to bear witness to the ways in which imagination and direct experience coalesce in compelling acts of mark-making that reflect the care that David and Sallee take in thinking about their works and show in their practices.

I am someone who works in the geohumanities—the borderlands between geography and the arts. So the works before you delight me on numerous levels.

First, they are clearly elemental. And this quality is inflected in the artists’ works, which draw on their phenomenological engagements with the world—that is, their disciplined efforts to have direct experiences of rock and sand, wood and bark, fire and water, airiness and stillness, or light and shadow.

Second, the works both embody advanced practices used by David and Sallee and reflect their thoughtful and caring collaborations with the materials they use. And I deliberately use that term collaboration in preference to skilful manipulation, though I know that is also involved in their processes.

My choice of terms is made on the basis of something that David and Sallee told me: namely, that they both have a strong sense that their worlds, their motivations, and their practices are energetically connected and co-constitutive.

Third, for me the works before us are also deliciously geographical. Assuredly, in different ways what we share to here today is powerfully expressive of place in its broadest sense; these works come from particular engagements with “real” places and also transcend them to speak to other places more broadly.

And the works also evoke deeply spatial ideas. In David’s, for example, monumental scale is captured patiently by multiple acts of collaboration with charcoals and paper that involve placing sometimes miniscule dots and dashes.

This mark-making by hand of charcoal accretes onto the paper much as layers of rock accrete in the landscape. So, too with David’s practices involving blurring and erasure. From such techniques, fissures and fragments appear in his works, as they do in the landscapes of Arizona and Utah, which he visited in 2016.

And the masses and solids, the fissures, fragments, and voids that we see before us are not just, or literally, spatial.

These masses and fissures are also the product of David’s playfulness with time—the fourth dimension—for he tells me that he paces for months before he executes a work.

Between times, he seeks to “read and re-read” early sketches and initial images in tandem with notes and mental images—his memories and their folds and distortions.

And in Sallee’s work, echoes of vast veins of iron ore are captured as small ‘reveals’ of darkness in clays lovingly ‘harvested’ by her from the locale that she calls home.

These dots and tiny dashes on the gently pitted surface of her works are, for me, a night sky reversed: black stars, cream cosmos.

Curvilinear flows slowly move upward or inward or downward and simultaneously these flows are also crisp edges, and I look at them as I might look at the horizon—as a boundary and an open invitation.

These shapes, of course, are pushed into clay by Sallee’s hands and then fired to solidity. And here is another reversal: these are hardened vessels formed from soft clays, where David’s soft charcoals have helped to shape his “memoried” engagements with hard-edged landscapes.

I could—but won’t—say so much more. Instead, thank you for the invitation to make a few comments to mark the opening of this lovely, thoughtful, exhibition. Let me encourage all of you to pour over these works not once but repeatedly. They repay gentle and penetrating engagement.

Elaine Stratford
20 October 2017

Katherine Harmon

compulsion, charcaol on 5 sheets of paper, 150 x 375cm, 2017 denial, charcoal on paper, 123 x 84cm, 2017 ghost, charcoal on paper, 141 x 79cm, 2017 hoodoo, charcaol on paper, 80 x 132cm, 2017 life, charcoal on paper, 117 x 88cm, 2017 pause, charcoal on paper, 97 x 145cm, 2017 shallow, charcoal on paper, 132 x 70cm, 2017 corner 2, charocal on paper, 95 x 75cm, 2017 corner, charcoal on paper, 75 x 95cm, 2017 creep, charcoal on paper, 95 x 75cm, 2017 disrupted 2, charcoal on paper, 82 x 62cm, 2016 finding zion, charcoal on paper, 75 x 95cm, 2017 midway point, charcaol on paper, 75 x 95cm, 2017 past, charcoal on paper, 98 x 71cm, 2017

Artist Statement – Handmark - October 2017

In July/August 2016, I accepted an invitation to attend the inaugural Sedona Summer Colony, a new American artist residency, located at the Verde Valley Baccalaureate School just outside the township of Sedona in central Arizona, USA. Over 125 artists from across the globe conjured creativity in the monsoonal heat of mid-summer in the high altitude, iron rich, rocky mountainous landscape atop the Colorado Plateau.

For 2 weeks, I sketched my way around various trails, including down into Oak Creek and up onto the splendor of Napoleon, Bell and Cathedral Rocks, before spending a further 2 weeks traveling through central and northern Arizona and southern Utah visiting some of America’s most spectacular national parks and natural monuments. I trekked through deep canyons, climbed tall peaks and mesa’s, wandered through Hoodoos, sat on the edge of giant sinkholes, marveled at millions of years old petrified wood and ventured into meteor craters.

I spend many hours simply slowing myself down, walking, pausing, sitting and looking. I observed the magnificent and minutia, from the flight of a lone eagle over the Grand Canyon to the inside of tiny cracks and crevices in quiet corners of rocky landscapes. I considered a number of different surfaces and rock forms, being drawn to where there was evidence of millions of years of sedimentary deposits or subsequent erosion left in all manner of scratchy, loopy, scribbly or linear marks. The landscape hummed, shimmered and vibrated as it released and suppressed energy to me in many dynamic forms.

The drawings on display at Handmark manifest the energy I felt whilst in the US, through marks made with charcoal and in some instances erased, in response to the dynamism of the forms that I observed. Marks flow as they explore the nuances of the world. Leading lines wander their way across objects in the landscape, through space, in and out of my mind, through my body and hand and onto the surface of the paper, drawing my way into the mysteries of the world as a way to seek a better understand of it.

You can read more about the residency by clicking here.

The residency project was generously supported with funding assistance from Arts Tasmania’s Crowbar/ Pozible crowd funding campaign, and I would particularly like to thank all thirty-six individual donators who supported the campaign and got me to the US. I thank you all from deep within.