Thursday, June 10, 2010

About Painted Veils...

Painted Veils works 013

John Ashcroft asked me to speak at the launch of his exhibition Painted Veils last week and I thought I would share with those who were not able to attend part of the speech I provided.

"John and I first met when he showed his works with his daughter Danielle in an exhibition that we held here in 2008 called It's All About Me... well it looks like John has his moment now!
For the short period of time that I've known John, I am constantly astounded by his knowledge and passion for the arts. It is with great pleasure that I can tell viewers when they walk into the gallery that yes, John maybe an emerging artist of sorts but no, he isn't in his 20s or 30s but rather in his 80s. The amazement and respect that I've seen in viewers faces when they have seen this exhibition in the last 2 days is fantastic and really does prove that no matter your age, art is a universal language.

I am sure that I said this at John's last exhibition but there is no other artist in Melbourne that I know of working in a way that he does. His ability to use colour, texture and sculptural qualities to 2 dimensional works is amazing. This exhibition Painted Veils is one to be appreciated on many levels. What is a veil? What does a veil mean? During my numerous studio visits with John and during the installation of this exhibition, we spoke about his thoughts of a veil. Yes, there are the religious connotations which are shown here in this 'alter-like' work but there is also a play on the idea of a veil as the clothing we wear and the status items we buy, such as fancy cars, that become a veil on who we are.

The status of the car as a veil is an idea that John has investigated further by his use of automotive paints, giving the glittering lustre on the surface tensions of his works. He said to me that he was inspired by the fascinating surface of a smashed car that he saw in the street. There a tension in the metal, something that was beautiful and highly sought after, something that the owner would of said "hey this is my car, my status in life" , was now just a crumple, but the metal still glistened away... a memory of it's former glory.

Clothing as a veil, is an idea that appeals to me greatly in my own research. We use it to mask and alter who we are and how we want the world to see us. Clothing items as power is something that is often overlooked but each item holds different forms of memory for the owner and for the viewer. John has collected a variety of clothing items from opp-shops to use in this works. On closer inspection, we can recognize a button, a eyelet of lace and a hat. We question what former lives these clothes had. Often their owners have passed on and family members have had to move them on to the opp-shop to be resold. I'm sure that the owners wouldn’t believe that they are now the inspiration and materials for a very innovative exhibition in a gallery!

On first look at this exhibition, many of you would see the colour, the texture and the shapes on the wall and thought them to be purely abstract. I hope that you will take a closer look and see what is underneath the veils, and that which is unspoken.

Congratulations to John for creating such a thought provoking and fascinating exhibition. I encourage you all to come back, especially on Saturday 19th June to hear John talk about the processes in his work and the inspiration which started it all. "
We hope that we will see you at In Conversation on Saturday 19 June from 2pm to 3pm.

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