Covid just got a little more weird

Dark Swan give a nod to surrealism’s 100th anniversary.

Dark Swan take on lockdown

What could be more surreal than living in these Covid times than a giant seashell floating down Fremantle’s High Street! 

Surrealism art is making a splash in the Fremantle PSA Artspace from 17 October to 14 November with interpretations of what life has been like throughout the crazy existential pandemic. 

The collaboration of five WA professional female artists will be showcasing multidisciplinary artforms in an exhibit called Imaginary Territories.

This extraordinary display invites the viewer to take a journey through the eccentric and dreamlike art, also giving a nod to the 100th year anniversary of the surrealist art movement which began in Europe. 

Grand scale

The Dark Swan production will feature an array of grand scale installations, photography, sculpture and film projection that explore the concepts within surrealist artists inner worlds of thought, emotion, and perception of the outside physical reality. 

Curator and artist Kelsey Ashe says the event will show off images such as her work featuring the giant seashell, which was a response to the atmosphere during the pandemic lockdown. With humans forced to stay inside and the onset of urban peacefulness, nature was able to take centre stage.

The human connection to nature plays a big theme in the exhibition, and what effect lockdown has on many industries and eco systems. 

“In an era of environmental/world crisis and political divisiveness, to conceive new realities has become critically important,” Dr Ashe says.

 “The exhibition explores the concept of a territory as a domain of the inner world, a representation that expresses an internal truth.”

Despite the scarcity for funding for the arts after Covid-19, the Department for Culture and Arts has commissioning four of the surrealist artists to display the new contemporary artworks. 

The artists include Lucille Martin, Jo Darbyshire, Toni Wilkinson, Dr Ashe, and Rebecca Peterson who all have a history of specialising in surrealist modes. 

Until a decade ago women had not received much recognition in the surrealist artform, but Dr Ashe says that there had been many strong female surrealists globally and Australian contemporary artists influenced by surrealism. Having all-female artists is a statement to honour the ones that have not been recognised enough in this artform, she says. 

Lucille Martin specialises in photocollage and will be displaying 18-months worth of work where she has walked through Australia and New Zealand capturing stunning photos of nature’s caves – portals as she calls them.

“I have been working with surrealism for over 30 years and it gives me the freedom to experiment with images of natural landmarks from different places and combine them in one collage.” 

Jo Darbyshire has pursued a community collective approach to her surrealist art when she was creating her Board of Feathers during the lockdown. She asked people to find feathers on their walks and post them to her. 

“I did this piece during Covid lockdown, when travel is out of reach, we have to use our imagination and enjoy nature.” Ms Darbyshire said. 

Surrealism may take you on a trip into the obscure, but the arrangement will spark a curiosity that just makes sense. 

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