Superb skills, but an austere exhibition

Jennifer Robertson, “Tectonic Lineations, Foliations.”

Craft / “Coalesce”, Sturt Gallery, Mittagong, NSW, until November 13. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

FOUR artists from Canberra joined with another from Sydney to present an exhibition titled “Coalesce”, which is described as “cultured interior – innovation and excellence in contemporary craft and design”.

Three artists are from the one family.

Jennifer Robertson has an international reputation as a weaver of textiles.

In 2017 she participated in a project with scientific research conducted by emeritus professor Ian Jackson, from the Research School of Earth Sciences. She made a very large work which hangs in the RSES on the ANU campus. Since that time, she has been investigating a broader range of materials including titanium, brass, and copper for weaving. She is also knitting aluminium with a view to anodising 3D knitted forms.

In addition to the metallic 3D woven forms, Robertson is including smaller works titled “Hollow Vessel series” in waxed linen thread. She is a prolific artist with a deep knowledge of the capabilities of her advanced loom and pushing both herself and the loom to achieve more. Given Sturt’s history of the development of weaving since the ’50s it is opportune for this exhibition to include such challenging work.

Christopher Robertson is a furniture designer/maker. He is showing several small, circular tables and a sensuously curved “Sofa”. Jennifer Robertson wove the upholstery fabric.

Timothy Robertson, chair and Christopher Robertson table.

The tables, made from different timbers, have slender stainless steel legs branching off a central rod. Various shaped and timber feet add colour and life to the tables, but to my eye appear a little cumbersome. “Sofa” is most unusual and is light both in colour and appearance. The back follows the curves of the seat and wraps around the sitter.

The third artist who makes up the trio is Timothy Robertson, their son.

He is also exhibiting furniture – two low chairs each using different materials. One has a powder-coated steel frame with oak veneer plywood seat and back. The second chair is in leather with a stainless steel frame. They look comfortable and light to move.

Tom Skeehan Aviso Chair, wool, leather, hand built collaboration with Geordie Ferguson

The fourth Canberra artist is Tom Skeehan from Skeehan Studio, a furniture designer. He is exhibiting upholstered arm chairs and lights, made with the assistance of other Canberra artists. These brightly coloured upholstered chairs are reminiscent of Australian designer Grant Featherston’s radical designs from the early 1950s.

Katherine Mahoney is the fifth artist, and she is exhibiting pale ceramic works in Imperial Porcelain and Stoneware. I find them lifeless, but this is the current fashion.

The exhibition displays superb skills in execution of design. However, for me the exhibition is austere and I wonder about the cultured interior. Jennifer Robertson is definitely the artist to claim innovation in the show.

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Ian Meikle, editor