Gallery Thebarton: ‘Monumental’

Works from Monumental.
Above: Joshua Searson
Right: Andrea Pryzgonski, LifeSeems
Below: Margie Sheppard,  Monument 1
Bottom right: Christobel Kelly, One Perfect Day
Far Bottom right: Sandra Starkey Simon, KentState2

Jack Callil finds out about the exhibition Monumental, part of the South Australian Living Arts Festival (SALA)

The monumental is hard to describe. It’s a duplicitous feeling, one sown into the great pits and peaks of everyday existence. It could be the resonance of a child birth, the death of a friend, or being a half-litre deep into a Neapolitan tub after sudden heartbreak. In attempt to encapsulate this enigma, West Gallery Thebarton is hosting Monumental, an exhibition part of this year’s South Australian Living Arts Festival (SALA).

The anniversary exhibition features ten eminent South Australian artists, each offering an interpretation of the monumental. Gallery Director Margie Sheppard says the monumental to her was about the vastness of life. “Lift is monumental at times, from the vastness of nature to overwhelming life events. I chose this exhibition theme to explore how artists encapsulate the enormity of life and nature.”

Some artists explore connotations to size, reflecting that which is overwhelming in magnitude – while others look at explosive forces, both in nature and in people. For certain artists in particular, there were real life events to base their work on. Joshua Searson, who just celebrated the birth of one of his children, decided to signify the significance with a large quilt crafted from painted and screen-printed panels. “Bringing another human life into this world is a monumental occasion,” he says, “[and] as I pull the blankets up at night, I lie awake questioning how comfortable we really are.”

For Olga Sankey, the monumental speaks of a looming feeling which is simultaneously awe-inspiring and terrifying. “My works allude to pending dangers,” she says, which you can sense looking upon her triptych Leviathan. With a stippled grey skin bearing scar-like hints of blue underneath, there’s a remnant feeling of something foreboding beneath the surface.

With a similar abstractionist approach, Suzie Lockery offered an impressionist interpretation in her series Stratified Conditions of Possibility. With a light-hearted, warm aesthetic, her four-part work consisting of block shapes of pinks, greens and blues. She says they were created by “applying multiple layers of paint and screen-print over time” to form a “spatial dialogue, each layer revealing potential for subsequent outcomes.”

The exhibition is celebrating West Gallery Thebarton’s first year, which has – according to Sheppard – been “monumental itself!”. Monumental joins six other exhibitions shown since opening, starring over 26 artists from South Australia and interstate, showcasing printmaking, painting, sculpture, glass work, photography, road signs – all combining to make a rich and exciting first year. “I am extremely grateful to the artists, visitors and everyone who have helped to make the first year such a success,” Sheppard says, “our second year will continue to surprise and break new ground.”

Monumental is at West Gallery Thebarton in Thebarton, Adelaide (19 June-26 August). It features the work of Silvana Angelakis, Aleksandra Antic, Christobel Kelly, Suzie Lockery, Lloma Mackenzie, Andrea Przygonski, Olga Sankey, Joshua Searson, Sandra Starkey Simon, Margie Sheppard and Joel Gailer.