Australian artists

At different stages of their careers, these three Australian artists all have an uncanny flair for colour and form. They also challenge the way we think about installing art in both public and private collections.

Amy Joy Watson

Amy Joy Watson caused quite a stir with a series of stitched balsa wood bows that appear to be caught mid-dance in her Year Without Boys exhibition in late 2011. On the one hand, these sculptures arc appealing because of their whimsical sensibilities, yet, on the contrary, they are hard to overlook due to the painstaking process that is evident in their making. Hand-stitched and hand-cut, these objects are the inhabitants of a fantastical world that Watson continues to develop. Utilising unexpected materials, such as helium balloons, glitter, and glow-in-the-dark pigment means that Watson can inject her sculptures and installations with the sense of magic that pervades imagined childhood lands.

Recently returned from a three-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in Brooklyn, where she undertook a mentorship with Brooklyn-based sculptor, Rachel Hayes, Watson experimented with new materials and methods. This experimentation has led to the production of work for an upcoming solo exhibition in November. Her lightweight sculptures will explore ideas of weightlessness and illusion and will, no doubt with the same sense of whimsy and intrigue as her dancing bows. This Adelaide-based emerging artist is a name to watch.

Lionel Bawden

In his appropriately titled solo exhibition, Pattern Spill, held at Karen Woodbury Gallery in late 2011, Lionel Bawden again showed why he is one of the best artists working in Australia today. Well established and supremely collectible, he regarded within visual art circles and since winning the 2009 Wynne Prize, his broader fanbase has continued to grow. Why this is the case is immediately evident when looking at his recent sculptures. Bawden process was made by utilising coloured pencils is painstakingly labour intensive – an incredible dance of addition and subtraction, whereby pencils are firstly glued together to resemble a honeycomb and then carved away to extrude the sculpture form. These small-scale works reveal an intricate pattern that plays with the notion of body and surface, interior and exterior. Interested in the concepts of world and Bawden fascination with geological structures and forms, especially caverns and stalactites, is evident.

The allure of pattern and surface also informs the Sydney-based artist coloured pencil on paper works. The Jewel Linking series, 2011, and the similar Obsessive Compulsive Devotion, 2011, speak of labour and the gesture as a marker of time passing, in the fashion that a hand crocheted rug is a record of the time consumed in its creation. Influenced by the 1996 New York group exhibition A Labor of Love and the work of the late American artist Mike Kelley, Bawden meditations on the value of gesture and passing of time appeal with the same detailed mastery as his sculptures.

Noel Skrzypczak

Those familiar with the foyer of Melbourne Crown Metropol hotel have, whether they realise it or not, experienced the work of Noel Skrzypczak in all its unabashed luscious beauty. The Toronto-born Canberra-trained artist has built up a strong portfolio of large site-specific and wall paintings in recent years, and the Good Time Garden Party commission, 2010, is exemplary of what she does best. Surfaces drenched in vivid, bright colour and bold, sweeping strokes that evoke movement, emotion and expression characterise her work, making it easy to label what she does as action painting. Indeed, Skrzypczak paintings arc documentations of a very particular moment in time, in virtue of them being a product of their making.

But the sensuality inherent in their textural surface makes them linger in the mind of the viewer.

The way Skrzypczak work inhabits a space is memorable. Her recent site-specific painting, Jungle, 2012, for Contemporary Australia: Women at Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art is one such example. A large-scale mural, the multicoloured ribbons of paint tower and consume, leaving no question as to Skrzypczak ability to engage with both the built environment and its inhabitants. As the Melbourne-based artist continues to build her exhibition portfolio, the number of her works adorning private residences also continues to grow.

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