Changing Moods Of The Shoalhaven

Review by Sasha Grishin in the Canberra Times of Katie Clemson's Watermarks exhibition

Arthur Boyd's magnificent gift to the nation of the riverside property of Bundanon, as a living concern with studios for visiting artists, is already making an impact on Australian visual culture. Katie Clemson, best known as an Australian expatriate printmaker living in Britain, recently spent six weeks working at Bundanon. It is this experience which lies behind the exhibition Watermarks.

She writes: "I had six weeks to watch, observe and live with a river. The river is bursting with a myriad of animal and bird life and has its own agenda of tidal changes and weather influence. This creates a river with its own story, visual stories about change."

The narrative of the river is one of he great traditions in Australian art - we only need to think of Streeton and Piguenit, Nolan and Boyd. It is an armature on which to hang different interpretations, for example, one could argue that Streeton celebrated pastoral wealth, while Boyd in his late Shoalhaven pictures, alerted us to the coming ecological apocalypse.

Katie Clemson has interpreted the Shoalhaven River as a barometer of mood and change. It tells us as much about the moods of the artist as it does about the changing moods of the river.

The strength of the exhibition, at least for me, lies in the colour lino cuts, rather than in the mixed media watercolours. The centerpiece of the show is an elaborate and masterly licocut triptych, Cooling the Wine at Glyndebourne, where there is a comment made on the breadth of vision and the fragmentation of perception. Other strong linocut prints include Hot rocks, Pulpit and Weathering.

Although artistc conventions within which Katie Clemson works are those of late impressionism, with fleeting visions of nature capturing the emphemeral changes in atmosphere and light conditions and she employs the divisionist colour palette, the work also hints at bold abstracted colour masses and musical harmonies.

Another highlight of the exhibition is a rather whimsical collaborative artists' book, Pandora's cat, handset type by Ingeborg Hansen at Finlay Press (a Yabber Yabber publication from Goulburn) and colour linocuts by Katie Clemson.

Witty, spirited and lots of fun.

Back to Watermarks index page.