First let me briefly introduce myself. I wear a few hats in the art world: I work as a museum preparator, an art collection officer, a freelance curator and, most passionately, an artist, one who loves to paint. It was as a curator that I first met Alison. I was scouring the region looking at artists and artwork to exhibit in Wollongong City Gallery’s 30th Anniversary Exhibition, which opened at the gallery late last year.
As I entered Alison’s studio I immediately felt a sort of affinity with her work. Now, to try and best describe why I felt this connection, and to perhaps give you some sort of context for this exhibition, I’d like to comment on Alison’s work from my perspective as both a curator and an artist.
Curatorially Alison’s work struck a chord with me because she operates very much in a mode that I have a particular interest in, a mode that I like to call ‘the non-grand’. In the global market for contemporary art, ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions, massive prices and megastar artists generate a constant cycle of spectacle and entertainment that is gratuitously devoured and quickly forgotten.
The ‘non-grand’ artist, however, presents us with a counterpoint. A way of making art that moves away from the grandiose scale and the empty sweeping gesture so prevalent in the global art market, and instead explores the artist’s internalised connection with her work.
In both their modest subject matter and thoughtful execution, Alison’s paintings exemplify this approach.
As a painter, it’s a different task to try to articulate why I am drawn to Alison’s work. One does not need to resort to theoretical notions of the sublime or other hackneyed ideas about painting. It is more practical or straightforward than this. What I can see in her brushstrokes is a celebration of the physical act of painting, the sheer joy experienced in the application of paint onto canvas.
Much could be made of Alison’s choice of subject matter (meat, prawns, kitchen sinks and the like) and the feminist reading it could possibly invite. But to me her work is simply about personal space and zones of reflection. It is about the artist in her studio making hand-made images that rely on privacy and poetry for their voice.
I congratulate Alison on the opening of her exhibition, "Everything... and the kitchen sink".