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exhibition review: sometimes there isn’t anything to get

Sometimes There Isn’t Anything To Get is a fresh and innovative exhibition currently being displayed at the Nancy Sever Gallery in Canberra. It assembles thought-provoking and eye-catching artwork from artists Joel Arthur, Zoe Brand, Byrd (Daniel Maginnity) and Hanna Hoyne.

The walls and floor of the exhibition offer such wonders as a sculpture of an echidna made of wooden pegs (Hoyne) and a series of works presented under the interesting title ‘The self-aggrandizing echo chamber that is meta-slang’ (Byrd). Also featured are a formidable collection of illusionistic paintings by Joel Arthur and a series of signs/pendants by artist and jeweller Zoe Brand.

Hanna Hoyne’s sculpture

Hanna Hoyne’s sculpture

Curator Rosie Goldfeder describes the exhibition as one in which ‘often amusingly, the artists subvert art/life boundaries, elevating the familiar through their individual practices of painting, jewellery, stencilling and performance art.’ She continues: ‘The exhibition title celebrates contemporary art’s accessibility, yet hints at the essential irony of conceptual jeweller Zoe Brand’s statement.’

Zoe Brand, ‘A Failure to Communicate, More of Less’. One of fourteen signs/pendants from the series. Powdercoated aluminium, 140 x 0.5mm.]

Zoe Brand, ‘A Failure to Communicate, More of Less’. One of fourteen signs/pendants from the series. Powdercoated aluminium, 140 x 0.5mm.]

Brand, who is already a well-known name within the Australian contemporary jewellery scene, says that she ‘uses jewellery as a medium to explore ideas’ and would like to think of her art as ‘mostly entertaining, occasionally cynical, often witty and surprisingly smart.’ She says, ‘I use humour in my work as an entry point and a way of engaging with my audience, so that they may choose to smile or chuckle and walk on, or they might take a bit longer and really start to think about why I have made something like this, and not like that.’

Brand explains that her collection of signs/pendants in ‘A Failure to Communicate, More or Less’ is about ‘seeing possibility in mundane, everyday throwaway statements.’ She says she collects, examines and removes these statements from conversation and builds the text into signs. The pendants can be worn or displayed as artwork and Brand wonders ‘how a sign is read when the context of its placement changes from wall to body.’

Brand grew up in Brisbane, spent her formative years in Sydney and moved to Canberra in 2013 to take up a place at the Australian National University, where she studies Gold and Silversmithing at the School of Art. She has recently had her work published in a book called Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective, and comments that ‘It’s exciting seeing your name in the index of a book.’

On discussing the art scene in Canberra, Brand says, ‘There are so many arts precincts, all with different styles and crowds. It certainly lends itself to a wide range of views on the world, but I think occasionally the Canberra art scene needs to look outward rather than inward. Having said that, Canberra is a supportive scene and a great place to have an arts practice.

The exhibition is not to be missed if you want to know what’s happening in contemporary Australian art right now.

Sometimes There Isn’t Anything To Get is open Friday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm, until the 31st of January.

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