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Art among the trees

WATERLOO: Saturday April 26 saw the opening of the Orchard Gallery’s first new show in 2014. Among the Trees is a group exhibition featuring the work of 30 local artists (including children), and comprising drawings, paintings, photographs, collage works, sculptures and poetry.

Image: Catherine Wood’s “Gum Trees” (detail), 2014
Image: Catherine Wood’s “Gum Trees” (detail), 2014

There’s something for everyone.

Margaret Vazey’s “South Coast Trees, NSW” is a painterly evocation of the bush. Jovana Terzic’s “All-Seeing Tree” is whimsical and mystical. Catherine Scott’s graphic work, “Annular”, signifies the silent witness of trees – absorbing light and moisture, all manner of stimulants and pollutants. Catherine Wood presents her engagements with and reflections on the theme in a sketch-book – gentle exercises in biology, geology and park-life recreation.

Jemima Hall, curator and current artist in residence, has gathered these diverse works with an eye for elegance and balance. Works have been hung in tree-like configurations – in clusters, in bursts of colour. Clay and wire sculptures are displayed upon a glass table spray-painted in gold and green (Christopher Baldock’s “The Vine”).

Abstract works connote the spiritual – sapiential roots, holy/common ground, interdependence – and then there are specific touches of South Sydney: Alana Valentine’s silk-screened fig trees and cicadas, Adrian Spry’s collage “Big Sky, Redfern Park”.

Hall spoke warmly of contributions and of those with whom she has enjoyed many hours of creativity and communion. She thanked the gallery and acknowledged the support of the South Sydney Uniting Church. Parish minister Andrew Collis referred to Hall’s unique gifts as a teacher of both children and adults.

The exhibition catalogue includes notes by Hall, who writes: “As we mature among the trees, we become aware that we must nurture and support our companions, for without them we cannot survive. With the fear of climate change and global warming, we invite you to reflect …”

There is also a short poem by Adrian Spry: “My trees have long limbs/ and stretch out very wide./ They clothe the footpath and reach into the night./ A druid’s house and our ancestral home.”

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