Soaking Up the Senses
My relationship with the Lewers Gallery and garden, spans over 40 years. To be invited to undertake a residency program has been a great acknowledgement for me. With enthusiastic assistance from my Art Therapist, Cath Johnston, I immersed myself in multi-sensory panels.
Nature rules. Cicada songs, sulphur crested cockatoos screech, mother possum squeals as baby possum falls, the frogs and tadpoles in the coffee cup, whoops, drink up. Drink it all. Not everyone has a sixth sense, however one can listen to the music of the plants. You can hear the celestial sounds that the Plantwave creates as it is connected to individual plants. All the while, you are experiencing the other sensory elements in the artwork. Immerse yourself and soak up the senses in the senses of the eternal Lewers Garden.
The artist herself is legally blind! Can someone be illegally blind? The terminology of legally blind is a measurement of 6/60 meaning one can see to 6 metres. People who have normal, 20/20 vision can see to 60 metres. Because I struggle with this terminology of being legally blind, I need to educate the viewer for all intent and purposes, that I have no useful vision. Sometimes ‘labels’ are not correct. And yes, I did create these art works.
– Susan Oxenham
Susan Oxenham is a local artist living with disability. Her practice lies within the expanded field of painting, working with experimental processes and materials to produce evocative and dynamic works. With this exhibition, Susan undertook a three-month residency, working on site at Penrith Regional Gallery, and collaborating with the Gallery’s Heritage Gardener to source cuttings of plants as both inspiration and artistic material.
As an artist living with vision impairment, Susan’s exhibition invites audiences to immerse themselves in the rich environment of the Gallery’s garden through sight and sound.
Accompanying these ambitious and detailed works on canvas is a soundscape that was produced by detecting the slight electrical variations in plants via electrodes placed on leaves. The result is an ambient soundtrack that speaks to the sentience of the natural environment, and Susan’s own sensitive response to her surroundings.