The Whiteley At 20
S.H.ERVIN GALLERY, SYDNEY NSW
22 MARCH - 5 MAY 2019
An exhibition of artworks by 20 young Australian artists celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, on view at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney from 22 March to 5 May 2019.
The Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship was established by Mrs Beryl Whiteley to provide young painters the opportunity to travel to Paris and explore Europe in order to develop their artistic practice. Since its inception in 1999, 20 young painters have followed in the footsteps of Brett Whiteley who won the Italian Government Travelling Scholarship in 1959.
The exhibition includes works by Sally Anderson, James Drinkwater, Alan Jones, Tom Polo, Ben Quilty, Karlee Rawkins, Amber Wallis and Natasha Walsh alongside the four paintings by Brett Whiteley that secured him the Italian Government Travelling Scholarship.
The exhibition presents the works by each artist that were entered and/ or won the scholarship, works resulting from their residency at the Cite Internationale des Art, Paris and recent work. The cohort of scholarship awardees features three artists who have gone on to win the Archibald Prize and many have now established themselves on the art scene and exhibit regularly.
Kingdom of Plenty
LINTON & KAY GALLERIES, WEST PERTH WA
10 NOVEMBER - 1 DECEMBER 2018
Australian artist Karlee Rawkins’ paintings prioritise colour, mark-making and pattern over biological correctness. Her animal and plant subjects exist at the edge of representation; unexpected, transforming and proudly imperfect. The paintings from her latest exhibition Kingdom of Plenty are based on the theme of a re-invention of paradise; a depiction of diversity, resilience and authenticity rather than perfection. “I wanted the works to recognise the vulnerability and chaos of life.” She explores these issues through a series of works featuring jungle animals and foliage.
Rawkins’ works intuitively and unplanned; building up layers and leaving areas exposed to reveal the markings and colour behind. Her process is direct and spontaneous allowing the finished painting to hold a sense of the wrestle in it’s formation.
With a twenty year history of exhibitions and awards, Rawkins is recognised for her vibrant and talismanic compositions. Rawkins’ studio is surrounded by nature, on the edge of a native forest and pristine river. She is also a passionate disability advocate and mother to her eldest son, a boy with Down syndrome. All these elements inspire and inform her creative practice.
“The paintings for Kingdom of Plenty are based on the theme of a re-invention of paradise, a depiction of diversity, resilience and authenticity rather than perfection. Nature is inherently creative as survival is dependant upon uniqueness and adaption. I wanted to recognise the vulnerability and chaos of life.
My compositions tend to have only one or two subjects with broad areas of colour or simple divides such as an arc. They are symbolic rather than specific; I relate them to talismans, totems, archetypal imagery, reminders of the power nature holds within our psyche. I have a long running interest in religious, visionary and folk art and this influences my aesthetic and method.
I work intuitively and relatively unplanned; building up layers and leaving areas exposed to reveal the markings and colour behind. This process allows for a direct and spontaneous engagement with the piece, for me it’s more engaging and exciting. I move and change my subject many times before finalising the composition. The ability for a painting to hold a sense of this transformation, the struggle or wrestle in it’s formation is important to it’s vitality.
I am fascinated by how people respond to imagery and the associations that are made. For example, what defines a specific animal, what is needed for someone to recognise it and how far I can stretch that. I prioritise colour and mark making over biological correctness; I am more concerned with the surface, dynamics between positive and negative space and pattern. I find this ambiguity can be both challenging and intriguing for viewers of my work. The obscure, the margins, and the awkward continually attract me. Ultimately I am exploring the ability of painting to convey emotion, joy and a sense of a shared experience, a re-affirming of our relationship with nature and each other.” Rawkins, Oct. 2018
LINTON & KAY GALLERIES, SUBIACO WA
19 NOVEMBER - 11 DECEMBER 2016
Pretty Wild is a collection of work from Karlee Rawkins that features domestic animal and plant imagery in a series of new bold and expressive paintings and drawings. The subjects are not tame: Rawkins has depicted the escaped or unkempt versions such as the brumby and an overgrown fruit tree. The works are created in Rawkins’ signature style with a method that explores a duality of fine control and freedom to celebrate the beauty of the imperfect, the resilient and unrestrained.
TWEED REGIONAL GALLERY
20 NOVEMBER 2015 to 10 JANUARY 2016
Karlee Rawkins has created an imagined river location for this exhibition, populated with plants and animals depicted in the artist’s distinct style. Demonstrating her skill across an array of media this show includes paintings, drawings and prints. A short film focusing on Rawkins’ working process and filmed in her studio provides further insight into her life and practice.
Rawkins’ imagery of wildlife and flora examines the symbolic and totemic meanings nature holds within the human psyche and explores how the human, spiritual and natural worlds are intrinsically related. The references and inspirations within her work are both mythological and personal.
Rawkins has exhibited previously at the Tweed Regional Gallery with ‘Mekong Drift’, a series of works based on her experience travelling through SE Asia. Rawkins is a post-graduate from Southern Cross University, Lismore and currently lives on a stretch of the Never Never Creek near Bellingen, mid North NSW.
ANTHEA POLSON ART
27 FEBRUARY - 29 MARCH 2016
For millennia the mythic image has been a means for bringing the incomprehensible into the realm of the tangible. Through subject and painterly process, Karlee Rawkins has ever followed in this most abstract of quests.
"My show, Lucky Catch, is a series of paintings and drawings interpreting different species of Australian birds of prey," says Karlee Rawkins. "Ultimately, I have been inspired by the physiology, the plumage and the presence of these majestic birds. She goes on to explain that there is more to the new works than "just a series of bird paintings". Woven into them are her personal stories and understandings of universal symbology.
Because birds can fly, they have been seen in folkloric traditions as mediators between Heaven and Earth. Flight connotes the imagination as well as freedom from the restrictions of the earthbound world. "In many fables, birds of prey are regarded as having special powers," Karlee adds. "It was believed that great solar birds could look directly into the sun without turning away, a capacity symbolic of being able to directly face an issue, acknowledge it and address what needs to be done for the self and others."
"Birds of prey can glide for a long time and fly higher than any other bird; the Wedge-tailed eagle can soar to a height of 2 kilometers!" she continues. "Because of this ability, it is revered as a symbol of the creator spirit in Aboriginal culture. I observed Wedge-tails in the desert when I travelled through Central Australia awhile back. I wanted to convey a sense of their immense size and grandeur, but I am also making a connection between the creative process and the habits of these birds. Their gliding, sourcing and hunting a target, I relate to an artist's practice. My creative process in the studio involves a lot of waiting and watching. I look at my paintings very intensely, searching for clues to the next step; the composition shifts and moves, layers are added and removed. Then suddenly it will become apparent and I know what to do next. It is a strange, exciting and instinctual process that finally ‘catches' a painting."
"My work continues to move forward towards bolder and more expressive brushwork. Negative/positive spatial dynamics are explored in expanses of colour and compositions that fill the canvas. I am also really enjoying working on drawings as a regular part of my practice now. I love the honesty and directness of this medium. I hope to record the energy of movement and change where intricate, repetitive linework contrasts with strong, assertive markings and smudging."
Therein lies the visual poetry as Karlee aspires to express the ineffable and demonstrate the interconnectedness of all things through her art making. Beyond any skillful imitation of appearances, her intuitive, visceral approach communicates ‘essence' - that intangible ‘other' that soars above the mundanity of day-to-day reality. As with the age-old mythic images, there is a kind of sumptuous nourishment to be derived from viewing Karlee's works. It is her hope that they will awaken a sense of both the personal and the archetypal in each of us.
Karlee Rawkins attained a Bachelor of Arts (Contemporary Art) with Honours in 1999 at the University of Southern Queensland and the Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW. In 2003 she won the fifth Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship that afforded her five months at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris and travel to New York, London, Portugal and Spain. Rawkins was a Fishers Ghost Art Award finalist 2012 and Prometheus Art Award finalist 2007, 2005. She was a recipient of the Pat Corrigan Artists' Grant 2001 and the William Fletcher Trust Grant 1999.
The exhibition 'Karlee Rawkins - Lucky Catch' is showing at Anthea Polson Art, Shop 18-20 Mariners Cove, Seaworld Drive Main Beach QLD 4217 (next to Marina Mirage), from February 27 - March 29 Extended 2016
Rhonda's Magic Garden
ANTHEA POLSON ART
24 MAY to 21 JUNE 2014
Widely travelled and now living in the mountainous region between Bellingen and Dorrigo, Karlee Rawkins is acutely aware of how the human, spiritual and natural worlds are intrinsically related. Her paintings demonstrate the interconnectedness of all things and offer us a visual and spiritual nourishment in the viewing of them.
All of Rawkins’ series of paintings have been created with an imagined location in mind: the forest, the orchard, a meadow. She describes them as psychological spaces rather than actual places. In her current body of work the locale has been scaled down to the smaller, more intimate realm of a garden. Here the focus has turned inward to a place of gestation - a place of magic, potentiality and transmutation.
Rawkins chanced upon a title for her upcoming exhibition when out for a walk with a friend who was curious about the subject of her new works. In passing through a local caravan park they were taken by the ornamental gardens that some of the more permanent residents had established to enhance their personal environs. Amidst the collection of pot plants, statuettes and “odd little objects” Rawkins spotted a plaque - ‘Rhonda’s Magic Garden’. “I connected this to my interest in talismans and amulets and how we protect and decorate with them,” says Rawkins. It seemed the perfect title as those words had a simple appeal that softened the deeply esoteric concerns that underpin her paintings. “I liked the tone that the name Rhonda suggests,” she continues, “it’s also a nod towards what I call my ‘nana aesthetic’ - an appreciation for vintage fabrics which are still a definite influence in my work.”
“My ongoing research into various folkloric customs found a parallel between the traditions of magic and an artistic practice,” reflects Rawkins. She describes the creative process as akin to that of magic and the mythic in its journeying into unseen worlds to bring forth archetypal imagery that has the power to reach others. “The works function not just as paintings but also as talismans, protective devices or charms for a specific aspect of life.” Rawkins goes on to explain how she designed the imagery to relate to the both the personal and the age-old universal themes of love, fertility, mothering, travel and death. “As the starting point or stimulus, I select a plant, a creature and other factors of interest, like colours or symbols associated with the particular theme and attempt to combine them all into one painting. Each work then becomes a magic charm or potion; my own personal concoction of imagery that generates a talisman.”
“The line between recognition and ambiguity is explored in my art making process. I am interested in giving enough visual detail to allow the identification of a subject while leaving it loose and open enough for the viewers to bring their own associations as well,” Rawkins muses. The painting, Little Hawk Fights Back, was created as a talisman for the letting go of fear and uncertainty. Ancient Egyptian depictions of hawk-headed deities such as Horus, God of the Sky, provided the initial impetus for the image. With wings tipped in an autumn leaf pattern Rawkins had found on an old ‘tree of life’ motif, Little Hawk takes flight, leaving all worldly concerns behind.
Created as a travel charm, the Daisy Chain work depicts a snake that sprouts leaves and yellow flowers as it curls across a blue expanse. Both snakes and daisies have protective connotations in certain traditions. From the old Anglo Saxon ‘daes eage’ (day’s eye), the word daisy references the way the flower’s petals open just as a new day is about to begin. Vesta in the Mint is a painting celebrating fertility. “I named my owl ‘Vesta’ after the Roman Goddess of domesticity and fertility. The colours and line work are borrowed from an ancient painting of her,” reveals Rawkins. Eggs invariably symbolise fertility and she has given her owl three of them. Mint too is associated with fecundity and so Rawkins has Vesta’s nest arrayed in a pattern inspired by her own mint patch.
Besides the very meaningful content in her works, what makes Rawkins an artist of note is the utter confidence in her wielding of the brush and linear markings. An intuitive investigator of form, Rawkins amplifies the symbolic substance through abstraction and distortion. “I enjoy the intrigue or even discomfort that an ambiguous composition may bring. I like to record my painting process as honestly as possible; to catch the creative moment in the application of paint. This is what I find thrilling in other artists’ work and is the main factor behind a connection for me.”
Karlee Rawkins attained a Bachelor of Arts (Contemporary Art) with Honours in 1999 at the University of Southern Queensland and the Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW. In 2003 she won the fifth Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship which afforded her five months at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris and travel to New York, London, Portugal and Spain. Rawkins was a Fishers Ghost Art Award finalist 2012, Prometheus Art Award finalist 2007, 2005 and a recipient of the Pat Corrigan Artists’ Grant, 2001 and the William Fletcher Trust Grant, 1999.
Jacqueline Houghton, 2014
LINTON & KAY GALLERIES, SUBIACO WA
17 - 30 OCTOBER 2013
Each series in my work illustrates an imagined place with the subjects of my paintings becoming its inhabitants and landscape. My research is an intuitive process, driven by the on-going development of this personal mythology. My references are often poetic associations, inspired from life experience and my visual research. I aim to create totem-like motifs that explore our relationship to nature, archetypes and spirituality.
My work focusses on an interest in the talismanic powers related to animals. Birds, with their ability to fly and transcend physical spaces, have a long history of being associated with the spiritual. Sky World is a collection of birds and their nests in various states of construction and disrepair.
The composition of the works are dominated by pattern with a focus on mark-making. Pattern has held my interest for some time; the camouflage and decoration in plumage and foliage, the use of over-whelming pattern in psychotic art and also religious imagery. Pattern is used to create ambiguity and even obscurity in my compositions, each layer revealing brushstrokes and scribbling, recording movement, change and complexity.
This series is an exploration of bird and nest shapes, they are invented, not necessarily biologically correct, and all partly dissolve into pattern. My work documents an emotive and creative process. Influenced by outsider and folk artists and sourcing colours and patterns from domestic fabrics and vintage bird guides, I hope to instill within my paintings a sense of nostalgia, optimism and personal metaphor.
Karlee Rawkins, October 2013
FLINDERS LANE GALLERY, MELBOURNE
6 - 24 AUGUST 2013
'This exhibition continues on a theme I have been following in my work with each series being placed or created as an imagined location. Places such as an orchard, the forest, the garden and a meadow. This show is ‘Honey Gully’. My intention is to document a psychological space rather than an actual place, playing with metaphor and symbolism to create self-referential pieces.
The title ‘Honey Gully’ is borrowed from a locality spotted on a road trip that followed the beautiful Macleay River between Armidale and Kempsey. This series of work has been greatly inspired by the colours and textures of several recent drives, and a curiosity in the concept of journey that these trips sparked. I like the idea of art as a medium to capture a moment in time, painting to document a creative process.
The composition of my works are dominated by pattern with a focus on surface and mark-making. Pattern has held my interest for some time; the camouflage and decoration in plumage and foliage, the nostalgia of domestic and vintage design, the use of over-whelming pattern in both outsider and psychotic art and also religious imagery. Pattern is used to create ambiguity and even obscurity in my compositions. The paintings reveal the brushstrokes and scribbling of each layer, giving a sense of movement, change and complexity.
My research is a fluid and intuitive process, driven by the on-going development of a personal mythology. The specific birds and trees of Honey Gully were inspired by medieval woodblocks and the vintage bird books in my studio collection. My references are often poetic associations, inspired from life experience and research findings. I aim to create totem-like motifs that explore our relationship to nature, archetypes and spirituality. Traditionally the mythology of winged creatures lends itself to a spiritual sense of ourselves, suggesting we are a part of a greater scheme or awareness. Honey Gully is a collection of birds and their tree homes. A sweet and sticky place, a particular point in my life as a woman and a mother.'
Karlee Rawkins, 2013
Recipients of the Pat Corrigan Artists' Grant
MAITLAND REGIONAL ART GALLERY
9 NOVEMBER - 17 FEBRUARY 2013
For fifteen years more than one thousand artists were awarded with a Pat Corrigan Artists’ Grant. The grant scheme, managed and promoted by NAVA (the National Association for the Visual Arts), assisted artists in the early stages of their artistic careers, subsidising the costs of public presentation of their visual arts, crafts and design work. Many of the grant recipients have gone on to achieve national and international success as artists.
Wild Fox Garden
FLINDERS LANE GALLERY, MELBOURNE
20 MARCH - 14 APRIL 2012
The opportunity to visit a functioning kitchen garden, fertile and full of fruiting plants and scratching fowl, is something of a rarity for most urban dwellers. Small community gardens, run by altruistic green thumbs, provide a means to such an experience. Children run around after animals while adults amble, quietly looking at garden beds in various states of productivity. An hour or so in such an environment serves as a reminder of what life could be like if the garden became a stronger feature of our days – the smell of good soil, the sound of creatures going about their business, the feeling of fresh air against the skin.
The artist Karlee Rawkins has chosen a full time country life, taking in the cycles of seasons and the relationship of garden and gardener that goes with it. Bringing her rural surroundings into alignment with her art practice Rawkins’ paintings attest to an emotive and genuine connectedness with nature. Breeds of poultry and livestock, both showy and rare, exist beside a variety of heirloom plants such as beetroots, artichokes, apples and figs. Indeed, the assortment of foods present here makes one think of hearty cooks like Maggie Beer or perhaps, if we were lucky, our grandmother’s kitchen.
To encounter her paintings is to slip into a joyful observation of the active garden. Through gestural and responsive depictions Rawkins demonstrates a genuine delight in the blooming fecundity of the plants and animals around her. Insightfully capturing the characteristic silhouettes and gestures of wing, beak and snout, her attention to detail is matched by a freedom to include exaggerated and sometimes totally fanciful impressions of leaf, fruit and stem. In contrast to the depiction of garden produce seen within other painting traditions such as Dutch still lives, in which poultry hang freshly slaughtered and abundant vegetables sit in a state of early decay, Rawkins’ playful, accentuated shapes merge with whimsical filigrees, expressing something of the life force observed within her subjects. Her ability in selectively harnessing both an artist’s eye for accuracy and an intuitive, almost naive zeal for colour and texture is central to the charm of these works.
Beyond their delightful aesthetic, however, Rawkins is also attempting to draw attention to the more serious side of our relationship with food and its production. As issues of genetic modification, global food miles and land management emerge as key concerns for a sustainable future, consumers must learn to responsibly determine how food comes to their table. Opting to include an element of self-sufficiency within one’s lifestyle, understanding the seasonal patterns of growth and yield, and valuing the quality of life lead by livestock, are each a way of fostering positive change.
Karlee Rawkins’ bold, colourful images, loaded with decorative patterns and humorous gestures, suggest a bountiful experience of reality. Blending representation with imagination these works offer a sort of antidote to a detachment from nature, and a route toward gentle and observant appreciation.
Phe Luxford 2012
ANTHEA POLSON ART, MAIN BEACH QLD
SEPTEMBER 8 - SEPTEMBER 22, 2012
The mythic and the personal are once again entwined in Karlee Rawkins' new body of work. The paintings are visual demonstrations of how the human, spiritual and natural worlds are intrinsically related. She describes the title Freight Train as a poetic reference to the speed and intensity of her life of late, and her current interest in films and books relating to America's western frontier in the 1800s. "I'm interested in tales that involve man in the wilderness and the subordination, or not, of nature," muses Rawkins. "The big themes of this genre appeal to me too, so much about honour and justice, morality. I consider this to be my 'Wild West' show - a train of totemic animals, strong and heraldic, all following each other. Collectively they build upon the sense of place or atmosphere I'm attempting to create and have the aesthetic of the western movie, desolate, stark, beautiful, with a focus on tactile materials, wide blue skies and dusty ground."
As in the tradition of the native North Americans, Rawkins' fauna and flora subjects are given a metaphorical context. Her ‘train of animals' is an encoding for human emotions or spiritual aspirations. The eagle is a symbol of might, valour and perception. It is the bird that flies highest and is therefore the sky spirit messenger. It represents a rising above the material world and the triumph of light over darkness. Noble and intelligent, the horse in mythic lore is an embodiment of power and vitality. Appaloosa, the show's feature piece, references not only the mottle-coated horses of the American North West but is also a tribute the "fabulous, fat, part-Clydesdale horse" Rawkins rode in her early teens. The caribou is thought to signify fortitude and perseverance. It is known for the tenacity to keep moving forward and to get things accomplished despite difficult situations. The painting Where is the White Caribou may be read in such a context. As its title suggests, the magnificently plumed turkey in the work Thanksgiving celebrates reintegration and the fulfillment of aspirations.
An intuitive investigator of form, Rawkins amplifies symbolic substance through abstraction and distortion. "I wanted to create dynamic, quite stark pieces, sticking to a very painterly loose application of paint." says Rawkins. "My animal characters are intentionally a little awkward with an ambiguity of form and ground and a twisting of correct biology." The romanticism of pattern for camouflage or decorative purposes is something Rawkins delights in. Fragile scraffito-like markings, blocks of filigreed colour and exuberant loops of charcoal define shapes and give compositional accent. Her sources of inspiration are diverse indeed, ranging from religious and psychedelic art to Florence Broadhurst wallpaper designs. Rawkins explains that ‘outsider' art and abstract expressionism have also had an influence on her approach to painting: "I am intensely interested in capturing the raw moments of creativity on the canvas - this is what I find most exciting in art."
The exhibition 'Karlee Rawkins - Freight Train' is showing at Anthea Polson Art, Shop 18-20 Mariners Cove, Seaworld Drive Main Beach QLD 4217 (next to Marina Mirage), from September 8 - September 22, 2012