As good as it gets

Rhonda Dredge

The art world surged ahead in the last week of June with a happening opening at ACCA and a thoughtful show at Buxton Contemporary.

Visitors were so pleased to escape the confines of screens they were in no mood to dissect individual exhibits.

With humans involved, however, there were some intriguing attempts to outsmart nature, a pretty difficult task, as we’ve been recently shown.

Nicholas Mangan tried to get into the termite brain at Buxton with some 3D printing, resulting in a cellular, gritty structure made out of ceramic powder and gypsum.

Humans love logic and this punky, little multi-cellular piece asks the question: could human brains be reprogrammed so that we collaborate in our social networks like termites?

The answer is simple: we already do, and if the art world is anything to go by, we don’t really need to label it.

When Lucina Lane began her commission at ACCA in June, she didn’t really have a plan, except to use what was available in terms of ideas and materials at the gallery.

There were some old paint tins, Dulux acrylic, in the storeroom and she used the dregs to paint her wall mural.

Not one to personalise her work by posing in front of it, Lucina was more than happy to talk about her process.

The “violet posy” paint was thick and gluggy from age and even though she applied it in the same way as every other colour the result was quite different.

To an observer, the violet has a sensibility of its own, showing more of the underlying surface in a scumble rather than a definitive coat.

Ah, the metaphors of painting can keep you going for quite a while!

While she was mucking around, someone came up with the name of Frank Hinder, a modernist from the 1930s, as an influence so she used a work of his as a template.

The words around the edge “An oddly sophisticated self-organised world” come from a recent article on garage galleries. She chose an attractive grey because it was close to the original black.

There it is: humans collaborating with each other and their ideas and material without even mentioning it.

Influence spreads through the art world at openings and the chance to chat with others in front of good art is as good as it gets.

Like a Wheel That Turns: The 2022 Macfarlane Commissions, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, until September 4, and Still Life, Buxton Contemporary, until November 6. •


Caption 1:  An oddly sophisticated self-organised world, Lucina Lane.

Caption 2: Termite economies Phase 2#1 2019, Nicholas Mangan.

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