Connecting With Earth is showing at Watt Space Gallery / by Kian West

Presented at Watt Space Gallery, the student art gallery of the University of Newcastle, ‘Connecting With Earth’ contains a diverse array of works revolving around the concept of relationships with the earth and a sense of belonging to the environment. Coordinated by Sarah Box, this group exhibition will see artists addressing topics such as recycling, urban gardening, air quality and climate change, with an artwork about the contaminated red zone at Williamtown included too. Connecting With Earth is showing at Watt Space Gallery from 23rd February to 12th March 2017, along with three other exhibitions.

With all this in mind, we asked the artists involved a couple of quick questions to set the mood for their show! 

 

AMY HAMILTON -  Insta - @grizzlyamz

What sort of art do you create? A preferred medium? I like to scribble! It's a technique that I promote because it's a form of art that every sort of person already does. I usually do it in the form of coastal landscapes of real locations that appear obscured or dream-like. I like to use materials that I find on location, usually charcoal left from recent campfires, but also ink and graphite.

The theme for this exhibition is ‘Connecting with Earth’ but what does that mean to you? For me it means celebrating the constants of the natural world and how this plays a part in human desires to reconnect or return to the natural world. Especially in this context where people are wired and driven to seek comfort in the opposite- in having more, in living fast, in consuming technology and in being online. 'Connecting with Earth' emphasises our need to imbue ourselves with the many aspect of nature; quietness, stillness, and sometimes, embrace discomfort and risk.

Why do you turn to art? Because it is language that I can use in thinking about the complexities and layers of people and society where words falter. For me it's a remedy for the pains that we face, or more so, a way of finding understanding in our human experiences. It can be incredibly powerful in healing people.

When you aren’t creating art yourself, where do you like to hang out in Newcastle? You'd find me at the beach, most likely!

Which Novocastrian artists should everyone see?  We have so many great emerging artists! And you can discover them at Watt Space and all the independent galleries in Newcastle. We have such a supportive network of artists.  

What are you most looking forward to in 2017? This year I'm really looking forward to collaborating on projects with other artists! 

SHANNON CADMAN - Insta - @shannoncadman

What sort of art do you create? A preferred medium? My works represent the environment, accentuate the texture of the materiality of my chosen mediums and formal qualities such as line, colour and form. My practice exemplifies the understanding of diverse disciplines, working in painting, drawing and ceramics.

The theme for this exhibition is ‘Connecting with Earth’ but what does that mean to you? I understand ‘Connecting with Earth’ as being appreciative of the biodiverse environment of Lake Macquarie and Newcastle. This includes protecting our altering environment.

Why do you turn to art? Art has always been my passion and is a discipline that allows myself to communicate visually.

When you aren’t creating art yourself, where do you like to hang out in Newcastle? Taking advantage of Newcastle’s beautiful environment, by visiting the beaches in Newcastle or the Lake in Lake Macquarie.

Which Novocastrian artists should everyone see? The artists I am exhibiting with in ‘Connecting with Earth’.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017? Exhibiting my works, graduating from my Bachelor of Fine arts, hopefully being accepted in the Bachelor of Fine Art Honours and learning more in terms of my art practice.

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DANIELLE MINETT -   www.danielleminett.com.au

What sort of art do you create? A preferred medium? I create works that provide a talking point for viewers. My research leads me towards creating works which deal with identity, sense of place, memories, and connections to other people and the world in which we live.  I work across different mediums with alternative and traditional photography along with sculpture being my main areas of focus. 

The theme for this exhibition is ‘Connecting with Earth’ but what does that mean to you? As I do look at lot at connections, I am interested in the connections we all feel to our own place and how these places are both man made and exiting in nature. My work for this exhibition 'Nature's Blueprint' depicts a large tree, which dominates the space. Printed in cyanotype, it’s a direct reference to the blue prints of architecture. We feel connected to our homes and our place in the world, but at what cost does that connection come when we are losing nature because of it?  

Why do you turn to art? I turn to art to explore ideas, emotions and feelings which aren't always easily discussed or articulated. We as humans feel connections everyday but aren't always able to discuss these things. We are caught up in a busy world which limits time to really ask ourselves the deeper questions about ourselves. With the works I create, I hope to provide a talking point, a space for conversations and considerations. 

When you aren’t creating art yourself, where do you like to hang out in Newcastle? Always the beach. My daughter and myself love to be out in the sun and the water. 

Which Novocastrian artists should everyone see?  There are so many artists within our local area. I would have to say Dylan Smyth is a fantastic Novocastrian artist who is really working within his place in our community. 

What are you most looking forward to in 2017? 2017 holds many exciting things for myself. I will be completing my Fine Art Honours, I am participating in 3 more group shows, and I have my first solo show in June. I am also very excited to keep developing my research and seeing where it takes me.  

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MELISSA BULL -  Insta - @melissleighbull

What sort of art do you create? A preferred medium?  I am a mixed media artist and I utilise a Variety of material however In the last few years I have worked in sculpture most notably in ceramics.    

The theme for this exhibition is ‘Connecting with Earth’ but what does that mean to you? Having spent my childhood on cattle farms in and around the hunter valley and Tamworth area I have always had a strong connection to the Australian bush. This was further realised in my work in horticulture where I worked within propagation and bush regeneration of local native plant species and environments. 

Why do you turn to art? I have always been creative. I spent hours as a child making and drawing. After leaving my job in horticulture to pursue art at university I have found art and creative practice to be a great communicator of ideas and values. For me art gives voice and strength to these beliefs and values. I have been working to give voice to some of our local plant species especially those under threat. It is my hope that with exposure I may be able to encourage people to plant more of our endemic species in their own gardens. 
When you aren’t creating art yourself, where do you like to hang out in Newcastle? Haha!! I'm at university still so I split my time between the art department there, the NAS gallery where I have been Co-Director for the past year and of course my urban farm in Burmingham Gardens!! 
Which Novocastrian artists should everyone see? I'm a big fan of Peter Lankas. His suburban scenes are I feel an interesting documentation of Newcastle. As the city develops more and more I feel that Peters work will capture this change.
What are you most looking forward to in 2017? I'm very exciting for a few new adventures this year most notably developing my functions and decorative ceramics line.

ANDREW STYAN -   www.andrewstyan.com

What sort of art do you create? A preferred medium? My art is a mix of technology, video, interactivity and computer code and often ends up in a gadget or animated device. 

The theme for this exhibition is ‘Connecting with Earth’ but what does that mean to you? Understanding that we aren’t separate from nature - our actions have consequences that ultimately impact the sustainability of the planet and our children's future and well-being.

Why do you turn to art? A way of communicating that suggests ideas without preaching - leaving it to the viewer to form their own opinions. 

When you aren’t creating art yourself, where do you like to hang out in Newcastle? Redhead Beach. I enjoy a quick dip as often as I can to refresh the spirits and re-energise. My regular ‘reconnection with earth’.

Which Novocastrian artists should everyone see?  Dale Collier has a unique and accessible style and is tackling issues of racism and injustice.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017? Reaching a broader audience with my art; beyond the usual gallery goer.

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SARAH BOX -   www.sarahjbox.com

What sort of art do you create? A preferred medium? My art making is predominately painting on canvas using oils…currently exploring abstract aerial patterns of our local region, I also have a passion for ceramic sculptural art and painting with glazes.

The theme for this exhibition is ‘Connecting with Earth’ but what does that mean to you? It means finding a sense of belonging and inspiring people to nurture nature, wherever they live. For example, urban gardening and having your own vegie patch in the ‘burbs’ or even growing plants in pots on balconies if you live in a unit.

I think if more people fell in love with gardening and how amazing plants are then there would be more interest in helping conserve our environment rather than dig it up and mine it, activist art has its place to shock but to be honest it can become confronting and depressing. The state of the world is quite scary at times but instead of doom and gloom I want people feel uplifted and visually inspired when looking at these works so they will also feel their own connectedness and encourage bonding with our planet Earth as well as with soil/earth.

Why do you turn to art? Art has saved me in the past and continues to help me grow. I find creating gives me a safe space to either communicate issues or just get lost in and escape from reality.

When you aren’t creating art yourself, where do you like to hang out in Newcastle? The amazing beaches, and also visiting Blackbutt reserves natural, bush oasis.

Which Novocastrian artists should everyone see? That’s tricky, there are so many, I love using my Instagram feed as an online gallery and enjoy seeing the talented works of local artists like Leah Poi and Ben Kenning.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017? Completing my degree and plenty of creating, along with spending time with my little boy and family. Also admiring our natural surroundings and getting more planting done in our garden.

Dr John Mackenzie, Greens Newcastle, will be opening the exhibition and east end hub will provide catering on the opening night 23rd of February.