6 February 2021

Emerging artists bring life to pandemic and fires with a dash of colour

| Michael Weaver
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Lime Flamingo Collective artists at the Belconnen Arts Centre

Lime Flamingo Collective artists: director Jodie Cunningham, Sarah Earle, Ange Price, Diane McWhirter; (front) Jenny Black, Roger Hancock and Lesley Andersen (absent: Gillian Jackson and Jo Walters) at their exhibition at the Belconnen Arts Centre. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Artists are expected to shine a light on society, which is precisely what a group of first-time exhibitors at the Belconnen Arts Centre are doing – and 2020 gave them a lot to work with.

The OutsideIn | InsideOut is the work of a group known as the Lime Flamingo Collective. The exhibition includes an interpretation of Picasso’s famous Weeping Woman painting with a swab in her nose from a COVID-19 test, to shapes and textures representing the highs and lows of last summer’s bushfires and the impending pandemic.

The exhibition opened to a full-house of appreciative friends, family and invited guests at the Belconnen Arts Centre last night (5 February).

The group’s director and facilitator Jodie Cunningham said the exhibition represented the artists’ natural responses to the challenges of 2020.

“I think that COVID and the bushfires meant that these artists did more work than they would have, which really refined their artistic expression,” Ms Cunningham told Region Media.

“And now we’re all great friends as well.”

She said their art reflects the COVID-19 crisis, life in quarantine, the 2019-20 bushfire disasters and climate emergency while responding to these challenges through the lens of vulnerability, strength, diverse perspectives and artistic practice.

“Many of the Lime Flamingo Collective artists turned to nature and the process of observations on daily walks as a way of restoring themselves during the challenges of 2020, whilst others used the meditative process of art-making and exploring materiality and colour, or humour as a response to the pandemic,” Ms Cunningham said.

Roger Hancock's Weeping Woman

Canberra artist Roger Hancock’s depiction of Picasso’s Weeping Woman painting includes a COVID-19 nose swab. Photo: Supplied.

Roger Hancock took up art after retiring from the Department of Defence where he served 40 years in both the Army and the Australian Public Service. His series of small-scale acrylic works on canvas depicts the consequences, behaviours and peculiarities of how lives have been turned inside-out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The series re-imagines classic and interesting works of predominately 19th and 20th-century artists using the stimulus of the viral pandemic as the common thread to thematically integrate the disparate works,” Roger said.

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Lesley Anderson diversified into other mediums including sculpture, digital design and painting while studying visual arts at the Canberra Institute of Technology. She also created ‘Mirror Bus’ as part of the ACT Governments City Renewal Program, where discarded CDs transformed a city bus into a shimmering, light-catching kinetic sculpture attracting both public and media attention.

“I explore the idea of change through the modification and refinement of technique, arrangement and colour. Inspiration is drawn from changed circumstances and from my background in printing and textiles,” Lesley said.

Gillian Jackson’s body of work celebrates the banksia plant and its seed pods and leaves that she collected on regenerative bush walks, where she noticed its amazing ability to regenerate after a severe fire.

All of the Lime Flamingo Collective artists are emerging professional artists from the Canberra region who have worked together to create their first group exhibition.

Ms Cunningham said this exhibition focuses on the small and ordinary things, or what she calls the “light within the cracks”, the exhibition includes a small body of work from each artist including drawings, paintings, printmaking, textiles, digital prints and sculptures.

“It is a privilege to work with such a committed group of artists who have developed exciting new artworks that reflect their shared and collective experiences of the challenges of 2020 in such diverse ways, reflecting resilience, hope and transformation,” she said.

The OutsideIn | InsideOut exhibition runs in the West Gallery of the Belconnen Arts Centre until 21 March. You can find out more about each artist at Lime Flamingo Collective.

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