Two unique female artists are exhibiting in the NAS Gallery - Chris Byrnes and Barbie Procobis. One early visitor did say that it was the best joint exhibition she had seen at NAS so Barbie and I will both take that as a welcome compliment to our diverse art styles.
Moving Forward While Looking Back
How do I blog about my own work without sounding pretentious? Well here goes. In Gallery 1 Chris Byrnes is showing early works from around 1996 onwards, predominantly printmaking works before her practice merged into alternative and experimental photography. Chris started classes at Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc in the 1990s with Megan Lewis, Cherie Winter and Anne Maree Hunter as some of her first teachers. Becoming a member of this community art group provided opportunities to learn and exhibit as a group. Chris was secretary for a number of years, wrote proposals that saw exhibitions staged in local galleries and gained funding for a project with Ribbons of Steel, the closure of BHP in Newcastle. The works on the wall show different techniques, black and white, colour, single and multi-layered works. They speak about the history of art making for this individual artist. Yes, there is humour and tongue in cheek involved at times.
It was as a result of a solar-plate etching (photographic) workshop which took Chris back around to photography and works on paper. Chris is currently undertaking a Master of Fine Art with the National Art School in Sydney and exploring the way towards abstraction and how we ‘read’ and attach meaning to the photographic image.
I first saw Barbie’s work when she was a first year student exhibiting a drawing at Watt Space. It was a self portrait with a Holga and a Canon (I think) digital camera swinging around her neck. Besides the fact that it was a fine and beautifully rendered drawing, the title referred to ‘the medium being the art’. I remember thinking this was a very intuitive artist.
Some years later and Barbie is completing her PhD Candidature at the University of Newcastle. The Gallery room is staged in a series of alter-like tables draped in cloth. Each alter is lit by a single LED light reminiscent of a single lit candle offered in remembrance. Barbie is burning a candle of investigation and paying homage to the unknown, invisible writers of the discarded messages and notes she collects. Barbie references the writing with a finely detailed drawing based on her interaction with the words themselves. Some writings are only visible via the darkroom light of the photogram process.
Barbie talked about a trace of the writer being abandoned and left behind on the notes. The notes themselves now carry the DNA of the writer, anyone else who has touched it, and the artist as collector. There is the direct history of the writer as outlined by the message at the time it was written but the before and after story is unknown. Through her processes Barbie also collects time passed and brings it out into the present with her acceptance and investigation of the discarded artefacts from daily lives.
Fabulous drawings, photograms and sculpture from Barbie.