Women in art: Mother nature

By Lauren Treiser

Hi! I'm Lauren, one of CWCs new columnists, focusing on Women in Art. Every month I will alert you to upcoming exhibitions, installations or performances that are by women.

I had a great time reviewing two exhibitions this month. So much so, that I even wrote to Tess and told her that it was 'food for my soul'. I wasn’t kidding!

The NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) houses a contemporary art collection on the third floor which not many people know about it, so they decided to create a new space on the ground floor, making it more accessible to the public.

I decided to check out its first exhibition...

Ranjani Shettar: Dewdrops and Sunshine 04 Nov 2011 - 26 Feb 2012 NGV International 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Fire in the belly, (2007)

Both the walls and the floor are a canvas for Ranjani Shettar where the shadows are just as important as the sculptures themselves. Shettar is an Indian artist whose practice focuses on sculptural conceptualism. The NGV’s new contemporary art space is housing seven of her installations at the moment. The artist’s focus is on transforming natural phenomena into magical forms like the response of plants to light and the lighting up of a firefly’s belly.

Touch me not (2006-07)

A favourite of mine consists of what looks like thousands of knitting needles which have been placed into the wall at different angles and lengths. This simple differentiation creates movement and evokes nostalgic memories of the wind blowing through the grass.

Sun-sneezers blow light bubbles (2007-08)

The most exaggerated shadows are seen in Sun-sneezers blow light bubbles in which circular shapes, lengthen in their shadow from the floor and onto the walls. In this piece the artist responds to the human urge to sneeze when looking at bright light. Her concepts are refreshing because the audience can identify with them.

From the moment you enter the exhibition, Shettar manages to have control over her audience’s imagination. The images that are conjured up in your mind is what she wants you to see and they are serene.

Next, I visited ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art). ACCA is within walking distance from the NGV (just 5 minutes away) and can be reached by tram too. For anyone who hasn’t visited ACCA before, the building itself is spectacular! They often have quite challenging art on display.

Pipilotti Rist: I Packed the Postcard in My Suitcase 21 December 2011 – 4 March 2012 ACCA 111 Sturt Street, Melbourne 

After being immersed in Pipilotti Rist’s video art at ACCA, it’s hard not to walk out in high spirits. Vivid colours and imagery explode across the walls and ceilings with hypnotic qualities. A brilliantly intense celebration of happiness. Rist's work reminds me of the in-between-moments.

Rist is a Swiss video artist famous for her screen works and installations featuring languid, saturated landscapes. She takes advantage of ACCA’s cavernous spaces by flooding the high ceilings with images of leaves, shimmering water and scenes of underwater swimming along with a hypnotic soundscape. Underneath these dreamy scenes, one can lie down on comfy islands on the floor and loose oneself in the moment.

A favourite of mine is a classic framed Venetian painting which suddenly is transformed when the sky is flooded with a kaleidoscope of images. Rist succeeds in translating a banal scene into a fantastical world.

If you feel like having your imagination stirred, make sure to visit Pipilotti Rist’s ‘I Packed the Postcard in My Suitcase.’

Both of these exhibitions are well worth a trip to the edge of the city and both are free. Also Ranjani Shetter’s exhibition finishes in the next few weeks so be sure to catch it!

Lauren is graphic designer and founder of patchyrugs.com.au. She loves all things design (see her blog at blog.ilovelollies.net) and is particularly passionate about fine art, interior design and jewellery. Lauren is currently studying Gold & Silversmithing and doing graphic design on a freelance basis.