Arts & Culture

Colonial fantasia at The Bas in Moruya

Alex Rea 20 August 2019

Kangaroos in Gowns by Anna Glynn in the Promiscuous Provenance exhibition. Photo Alex Rea

The current exhibition by Anna Glynn at The Basil Sellars Exhibition Centre in Moruya, reimagines colonial perceptions through the art of early artists such as John Hunter, the Port Jackson Painter, and George Raper.

Titled ‘Promiscuous Provenance’ the exhibition encourages a re-examination of our relationship with our colonial past. The title comes from a quote by Governor John Hunter who was befuddled by the strange fauna he found.

Anna Glynn is an award-winning contemporary Australian artist who draws on a diversified practice that incorporates painting, drawing, moving image, animation, sculpture, installation, writing, music and sound.

Anna Glynn at The Bas. Photo: Alex Rea

Glynn creates a world of fantasia, caught between reality and imagination as she plunders historical archives for inspiration and draws on the historical practice of copying as a way of expanding the reach of her work and seeking scientific learning.

In creating strange natural history tableaux, featuring bizarre reimagined hybrid characters, she encourages the viewer to reflect on the experience of colonisation, and to reawaken a sense of wonder when interacting with our environment.

The exhibition combines watercolour work with sculpture.

Glynn described herself as “not a grown-up watercolourist” but has developed her techniques to produce detailed drawing in the difficult medium. Having worked in China with ink she still uses long hair Chinese brushes.

Watercolour work by Anna Glynn at The Bas. Photo: Alex Rea

There is intentional awkwardness as she collages together her own copies of earlier depiction into landscapes from sandstone of Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions

A black and white vinyl floor mat depicts species with their scientific names – all of which are now extinct. The mat has references to a chess game as well as colonial floor cloths, and it is no accident that it is to be trodden on.

Glynn has researched widely including seeing original works in London at the National History Museum.

The largest piece in the show is a long curtain which has been photoshopped and printed with her images and floats like a tragic Greek tableau above the exhibition.

The life-size kangaroos in gowns capture the striking collision of propriety and the strange fauna and flora of Australia. The heads were 3D printed, again mixing technology with historic techniques. The gowns so obviously inappropriate for colonial Australia are copies of some from the Powerhouse Museum, have delicate graphite drawings on them.

Anna Glynn discusses her work at a well attended floor talk on August 10. Photo: Alex Rea

Promiscuous Provenance has been awarded a major grant from the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program ($75,502), towards the Shoalhaven Regional Gallery’s national tour of the solo exhibition, taking the work to a regional and national audience through to 2021 – 10 galleries across QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC and SA.

Promiscuous Provenance runs until Sunday, September 1 at The Basil Sellers Exhibition Centre, Vulcan Street, Moruya, Opening hours – Tuesday – Sunday 10 am to 4 pm.

The Bas will host a three-course Long table dinner, this Saturday, August 24,  7 pm to 10 pm, that encourages audiences to engage in a new way with the exhibition.

Experienced theatre performer Anne-Louise Rentell will host an exclusive dinner at the gallery that combines theatrical performance, a social meal and the opportunity to view the exhibition with fresh eyes.

Participants are transported to a not-quite colonial world and asked to join in the fun. Anne-Louise will be joined by Eurobodalla Aboriginal Elder Trish Ellis. Tickets $65. Booking can be made through Eventbrite.

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