Erin Flannery

First Solo Show

July 2 - July 17 2010

'I love to think of my style as illustration, street art and a hint of hand-stitching all meeting each other in a dark but lovely alleyway, getting on really well, and deciding to throw themselves all over a raw linen canvas.' Erin Flannery (Frankie magazine interview)

Outside the studio the views in every direction are breathtaking! Black cockatoos soar in the crisp pure air. Further down the ridge are the lowing cattle that Erin Flannery regularly helps herd. Slender of form, and attired in a chic little number, work boots and 'some crazy hat' hastily grabbed as she runs out the door, Erin must present an incongruous sight indeed. But step inside her studio abode - set in the precincts of her family's Northern NSW property - and rural reality suddenly shifts in a shimmering blaze of uber-modern whiteness. Everything is painted white - even the floor! 'It's not just ANY white though', cautions Erin, 'It is tinted with ochre and black... It's perfect! My big white box of a room triples the light in my world and gives me endless photo opportunities. I love the fact that shadows and colours stand out when you have things white. It creates a really positive space.' Isolated she may seem, but with the internet at hand, and a pot of green tea flavoured with peach or mint fresh from garden, Erin has instantaneous access to the international fashion trends and art practices that inspire and inform her distinctively urban-looking art works.

Coupling spontaneity and deliberation, Erin Flannery takes control of pictorial space with a remarkable confidence. Her graphic arts training is overtly evident in the visual logic of striking images where maximum characterisation is achieved within very narrow, formal constraints. But unlike modern information design there is no explicit nor underlying message to be grasped. Affectionately spoofing ‘fashionista' attitudes, the works communicate a purely aesthetic delight in the play of descriptive and abstract elements. Conventional fashion-related themes are investigated using rather unconventional techniques and media. Erin pertly challenges categories of high and low art with her posturing, vogue femmes transposed onto linen in a medley of acrylics, watercolour, pencil, ink and aerosol spray paint used both freehand and with hand-cut stencils. Ever inventive, Erin describes her latest approach to linear possibilities, 'Recently I've begun scratching into wet aerosol with a fine point - usually my blunt old stanley knife!'

Erin's practice with its emphasis on the processes of construction and deconstruction also involves crafts traditionally regarded as feminine pastimes. Certain shapes are enhanced by actual hand-stitching with hundreds of double knots employed to create patterns, lines or text. Occasionally Erin will add snippets of vintage doilies and fabric directly onto the canvas or leave small sections of raw linen exposed. 'I spent a lot of my early years following mum and my sister around the Australian Craft Shows in Brisbane and Sydney where they used to exhibit. I would take the week off primary school and tag along like a mini-sponge for all things creative.'

Simultaneously elegant and edgy, Erin's abstracted forms evolve from both a systematic and intuitive approach to her subject. Always remaining open to chance while painting, an initial idea may be transformed into something quite different with an over-spray or unplanned blot. The images feature large dark masses cleverly balanced by spatially blank ones and simple silhouettes accented with areas of very fine detail. The absence of linear perspective, together with flattened form and the strong contrast of white and black produces a powerful, theatrical effect. It is as if the figures are delineated against the glare of strong stage lights or the flashing of fashion-shoot cameras. We do not approach Erin Flannery's subjects by gradual stages - we confront them suddenly and directly - or they confront us! With a twinkle in her exceptionally blue eyes, Erin quips, 'I like to think of my girls as no longer slavish followers of trends, these days they set them!'

Surrounded in the whiteness of her studio, Erin looks the epitome of her artworks. 'I do quite enjoy wearing semi-decent clothes and shoes when I paint! I feel a bit more excited about painting ladies in cool clothes if I'm wearing something nice too! Today I'm wearing my new black (and rather high) Espadrilles... but if the chooks need chasing out of the garden I may need to take them off, they weren't really made for running... actually, they are only just okay for walking!' Whether Erin's work boots or Espadrilles are made for walking or otherwise, one thing is for certain - her art is running out the door!

JACQUELINE HOUGHTON

The exhibition 'Erin Flannery - First Solo Show' is showing at Anthea Polson Art, Shop 120 Mariners Cove, Seaworld Drive Main Beach QLD 4217 (next to Marina Mirage), from July 2 - July 17 2010


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