Penny Byrne's antique porelain figurine with additions, entitled Banker Joker Wanker 2009.
Penny Byrne's antique porelain figurine with additions, entitled Banker Joker Wanker 2009.

Gallery goes time travelling

ALL ARE welcome to come along to a free exhibition floor talk on Sunday, June 6, at 11am to meet some of the artists showing their work in the Tweed River Art Gallery’s fascinating exhibition Time Travel: reimagining the past.

The Time Travel show is proving to be very popular with visitors, who have been impressed to see such a dynamic collection of artworks by a selection of Australia’s most famous contemporary artists.

Some of the most intriguing works on display include four colourful and quirky works by ceramicist Penny Byrne. Penny’s work was recently featured on ABC TV’s Artscape program. Quite a few of the amazing ceramic works shown on the TV program are included in our exhibition.

The exhibition also includes three powerful drawings by Danie Mellor, six highly detailed artists’ prints by Rew Hanks, four very alternative ‘portraits’ of Ned Kelly by four artists, an inspiring selection of photographs by Anne Zahalka, Robyn Stacey, Kate O’Brien and Samantha Everton, not to mention the surprising and sometimes shocking paintings of VR Morrison.

In my last column I talked about VR Morrison’s paintings, and this time I thought I’d tell you a bit about the quirky ceramic works of Penny Byrne. Over the past four years Byrne has built a reputation as one of Australia’s most exciting contemporary artists.

Byrne is well-known for her audacious reworking of the constrained, kitsch and decorativeness of traditional porcelain figurines. At first glance the artworks of Penny Byrne are perfectly transformed figurines. But on closer inspection what appear to be innocent statuettes from a bygone era are actually dark and humorous political artworks.

Byrne’s art-making process may be deceptively simple (sawing off limbs, painting camouflage garments, swapping the heads and adding weapons) but as a trained conservator, Byrne’s alterations are incredibly precise and long lasting.

The exhibition also includes an impressive painting by celebrated artist Ben Quilty. This work is deliciously inviting with its thick application of paint. In Cook’s death, the artist references the hand-coloured engraving of 1785 by John Webber titled The death of Captain Cook. In a further re-working of the scene, Quilty depicts both the historic artwork and the event in two dramatic scenes of rifles painted over symbolically blood red aerosol markings.

One of our visiting artists is Mel Roberts – a ceramic artist working in Brisbane whose work is influenced by personal stories of war and references the Blue Willow legend.

Photographer and designer Kate O’Brien, also from Brisbane, is interested in iconic figures of history and historical works of art. Her work is represented in the show by an imposing portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.

Printmaker and an artist from our own region Christine Willcocks, will talk to her printed works which led her on an intriguing art historical detective trail. The speaker will also be available to answers questions from the audience. This talk is a must for visual arts students.

The Gallery and Café is open from Wednesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm.

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