Curiouser & Curiouser – Organic Assemblages by Blackwell, Williamson and Vella

14 July – 16 September

James Blackwell, Peter Williamson and Steven Vella transform gathered natural materials into an extraordinary mix of organic and exotic objects that showcase the dynamic relationahip between the physical world and its interpretation and use. Each artist is inspired by nature and uses this motivation to investigate the physical and conceptual identity of ‘the garden’ through ideas of landscape, form and function.

Margo and Gerald Lewers created an artist inspired garden that interwove modernist values with the principles of nature. Margo’s love of colour and light along with Gerald’s exploration of water and movement resulted in a garden of ‘rooms’ punctuated with Gerald’s sculptures. The combination of exotic succulents, unusual natives and cottage garden plants offers a landscape informed by architectural shape, dramatic forms and symmetry.

James Blackwell looks at the garden as a landscape; as a place ‘for reflection and reconnection with the natural environment’. An emphasis on the landscaped garden draws attention to the history of design and the idea that ‘sometimes these calm and quiet spaces arise from an initial grid or a formal geometric layout’. The balance and harmony inherent within Blackwell’s work becomes a partnership between symmetry and rhythm.

Peter Williamson looks at the garden through its association with function and in doing so highlights the garden as ‘being the source of life and driver of a lifestyle’. Consequently, Williamson makes objects that echo and reference the practical and domestic. Williamson’s practice also taps into traditional craftsmanship, allowing the physicality of found natural materials to dictate an object’s form with an emphasis on positive and negative space.

Steven Vella explores the garden through its shape and form and was inspired to collect Agave thorns, Bunya nuts and leaves and the stem section of the flowering inflorescence of the banana plant. Gardens, for Vella, ‘can create bold and remarkable forms and give shape to the local environment.’ In addition, ‘the shape and structure of plants themselves can be used to create moods and express emotions.’ Vella’s fantastical creations evoke a sense of ritualistic performance and grandeur.

Blackwell, Williamson and Vella use imagination and creativity to transform collected natural materials into wondrously compelling works. A respect for the natural world is combined with an inquisitive eye and results in the creation of highly detailed organic assemblages of remarkable beauty. The artists’ works transcend the natural cycle of decay and share a sense of ritual, repetition and meditation.

Born from a fascination with, and an enquiry into, the wonders of the natural world the artworks in Curiouser & Curiouser comment upon the various concepts and states of a garden. Although each of the artists has a distinct art practice and style of execution the works are harmonious through a shared investigation into nature and the properties inherent within the organic materials gathered.

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