Still gothic

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FROM roadkill to life—albeit still—isn’t a quantum leap for artist Marian Drew.

For years the Brisbane-based artist has used dead native animals in her works, to highlight the loss of species from urbanisation.

“It helps people know what’s actually there living with us,” Drew tells the Voice.

But the allure of death, however beautifully posed in domestic settings with linen tablecloths, fine china and fruit and vegetables, has palled so for her latest exhibition Centrepiece, Drew moves into more traditional still-life compositions of 18th century Europe.

It’s a shift not entirely based on the shifting mood of her muse: more, the practical realities of failing freezers.”

After 10 years and having fridges die on me several times, you exhaust the body of work,” she sighs.

“I’m stepping away from death in this exhibition…I’m looking for a little more joie de vivre.”

Drew uses in her works objects found near her central Queensland home, including fruit, hybrid ornaments, shells, coral and plants.

“I’m looking for a little more joie de vivre.”

Despite her desire for joy, the exhibition retains a sense of brooding under a veil of playful innocence and the artist’s use of colour.

“The regenerative image of play provides an instructive alternative to Judeo-Christian guilt,” she says.

“I believe that, through our own imagination and engagement, we have to find sustaining metaphors for living that reflect an understanding of our own folly.”

Drew’s still life images are photographed in a studio using a long exposure and torch light to give them a “painterly” quality.

Her work graces the walls of collections around the world including the JP Getty Museum in the US and the Australian National Gallery, while she’s exhibited solo in France, Germany, the US and Australia.

Centrepiece is on at the Turner Gallery, in conjunction with Rebecca Dagnall’s In Tenebris.

There’s nothing playful about Dagnall’s photographs, a series of dark and eerie bush settings that evoke a sense of Australian Gothic.

“[They] draw on contemporary and familiar imagery of the Australian bush, of dingoes stealing babies and travellers murdered,” Dagnall says.

“Through creating a menacing visual narrative I explore how removing ourselves from our known surroundings can leave us in metaphysical as well as physical darkness.”

Both exhibitions are on until June 28, at Turner Galleries, 470 William Street Northbridge.


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