May 2016 feature artist Pauline Ahern
This month at Nimbin Artists Gallery we are focussing on the work of Pauline Ahern, a mixed media artist who has been exhibiting her eclectic works with us for many years. Pauline's art is characterised by her inventiveness forin finding new materials to work with and new methods for utilising the materials, so that she virtually creates a new genre every time she finds some new object of inspiration or a new material.
The variety of media used by Pauline is astonishing. It’s as though she has a restlessness in her which drives her to continually seek new ways of shaping things and of representing things. Thus we see copper wire knitted to produce a variety of sculpted forms, we see rust patterns created on cloth, and in her mobiles and stabiles we see all sorts of shapes and objects created out of wire, especially, following a recent theme she has been exploring, heart shapes.
As well as extending and changing the use of different media, Pauline has an uncanny knack for finding insignificant, forgotten objects, in op shops, at garage sales, or anywhere else, and reconceiving them into some surprisingly original form. For example, while hunting for every possible representation of hearts for her Heart Art display at the recent Autumn Arts Extravaganza, she found an old, sequined, heart-shaped purse. After pondering on it at length, asking what she could do with this odd little accessory, she came up with the idea of separating the two halves, doing some joining up with wire, the mounting it on a small bust like an undersize tailor’s model, and came up with a novel bra made of two hearts. This results in a kind of tongue-in-cheek cuteness, so quirky that you have to chuckle. Decorated with a necklace similarly fashioned out of wire, including an elaborate pendant, and we have a parody of a shop window model.
Another aspect of Pauline’s work involves her lifelong engagement in political protest, against war and for nuclear disarmament, and world peace and justice. She has thus devoted a part of her creative energies to works of a political nature. Several examples of this side of her work can be seen in her feature spot in the Gallery through June. At times, as in her representation of the torrent of rage, lies and threats directed from around the world at Julian Assange, she conveys her deep indignation at the injustice. In one other work, 'Government secrets - Australia's shame', she presents a horrifying picture of two faces, two individuals who are quite featureless but whose mouths are stitched up. The combined effect of the anonymity with the pain suffered suggests the total indifference of those who hold power over these souls - they are not treated as human beings, they are merely objects dealt with in terms of what advantage can be gained from their treatment.
Come in and see Pauline’s display at Nimbin Artists Gallery through June, starting on the 5th.