Last week, I took inordinate pleasure in a solitary drive down the coast from Bermagui, through rain spatters into bright sunshine, savouring silence in a way new to me since my birthday retreat. Part of the delight was the fact that nobody knew where I was. I felt relaxed and still, as I headed towards two galleries which exactly match my attention span. I can enjoy about thirty pieces at a time: any more and my gallery stamina is severely challenged.
At Narek Galleries, the artist was Julie Ryder, whose textiles and works on paper were tied to two places, Piallago and Black Mountain, the sources of all her dyes for fabric and thread. As always at Narek, the notes were detailed and provided a satisfying framework for viewing the pieces, explaining how they reflect the way maps and paddocks have been superimposed on the natural landscape. I was taken by the incorporation of embroidery into the textile works, tiny stitches reminding one of the skills of grandmothers and hinting at the artist's autobiography.
This was particularly so in the table installation (Molonglo: domestic blueprint). The tablecloth was one containing memories of many family dinners, and the damask was embroidered with the contours of an early map by Charles Scrivener, the embroidery frame still in place. The edges were deliberately muddied by immersion in Lake Burleigh Griffin and the wonderful naturalistic photo with the surreal presence of the table was taken in Yarramundi Reach.
Peter Tucker uses a very different medium, one familiar to me from my childhood. I didn't deserve to own a set of Derwent pencils: they were wasted on my puny scribblings. In Tucker's hands they performed miracles of depth and detail, and served his fantasy imagination well. I was too preoccupied with my awe at what a coloured pencil can do to take photos. You can see what he achieves in the catalogue of his paintings at
After spending time with three very different artists, I drove back up the coast feeling visually replete.