8 Days Before Christmas

Our Artists' Special Christmas Show

December 17, 2011 - January 21, 2011

Each year to celebrate the Season and thank our artists and clients for their valued support, Anthea Polson Art hosts a special Christmas party in conjunction with the opening of the annual represented artists’ group exhibition. With old Advent Calendar connotations, the title for this year’s show is Eight Days Before Christmas. The broad spectrum of responses to a very open theme highlights the vibrant diversity of the creative imagination and process. Works on paper, canvases large and small, assemblage and sculpture interpret the spirit of the season with joyous colour, reflective narrative, humour and sometimes a touch of irony.

Naive painter Martin Edge embraces his subject with a twinkling of humour and reverence. A starry night envelops the stable while within a brilliantly sunny day illuminates the nativity scene and The New Born King. He gives the work the feel of a school Christmas play with the false looking beards, wigs and ill-fitting costumes. Curiously but appropriately, the newly born Christ Child sits upright in His manger, beatifically beaming out at us. Also subtly referencing the Christmas story is Lyndal Hargrave’s starburst-like construction. A perfection of symmetry and elegance, its white radials mysteriously cast an ethereal glow against the gallery wall. Nick Howson’s jewel-hued Kingdom depicts a mighty lion that is an embodiment of messianic power. He carries on his back the 'Celestial City' of the promised future Kingdom. Titled 1850, Margaret Ackland’s painting evidences Advent’s ongoing historical relevance in its exquisitely rendered depiction of an antique Christening gown.

With luscious colours and succulent imagery, the pervading mood of Diana Watson’s Barberini Bee is one of cloistered silence and mellow Old World ambience. John Cottrell’s graceful Life Signs have a warmth and optimistic buoyancy. Kadee Webber's images offer a kind of metaphorical diving platform into the restorative, aqueous realms of deep meditation, while Gordon Richards communicates culinary 'joie de vivre' through eccentric perspectives and exaggerated forms. Characteristically exuberant in the spontaneity of her brushwork, Emma Gale illustrates the popular carol's 'Second Day of Christmas' verse with a delightful Turtle Dove.

Carolyn V Watson, like many of the artists, has chosen to make wry or sociological comment. Serve YourSELF is an extraordinary sculptural piece that while outwardly referencing the traditional Christmas roast dinner, is also an anthropomorphism of flawed humanity. This chicken is effectively gagged, its beak tightly bound and its legs thrust up in a prescribed "missionary position". Ironically, the carving implements set out on the 'sacrificial' trolley are made from a fellow-creature’s bones. The wolf-headed, scantily clad figure in Samantha Everton's new series is at once vulnerable and threatening. The image seems a challenge to society's attitudes of self-absorbed complacency and disregard. From the mundane refuse of frenzied consumerism, Peter Smets conjures surrealistic undertones. Amidst the jumble of cardboard cartons a viscous scarlet flow trickles into an ominous black hole. In the rapidly darkening sky above there are a couple of small, blue patches through which an escape may still be possible. A faceless young woman sits pensively towards the base of Cate Maddy’s painting Halo. Although sporting Mickey Mouse ears, she seems remote and immune to the tarnished trappings of a commodified festive season hovering overhead. Awash in an orange desert light and calligraphic detail, Christian Morrow’s Red Fortress serves to remind us that in many parts of the world the 'peace on earth' message remains unheeded.

In contrast to those more sobering works, Melissa Egan, Damien Kamholtz, Beth Kennedy, Simon Collins and Peta Houghton have contributed paintings that charm us with their evocations of a childhood innocence that defies all worldly concerns. A veritable cornucopia of contemporary Australian art, the Eight Days Before Christmas exhibition is a timely invitation to pause in our busy preparations and reflect upon what meaning the Season holds for us. 


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