Down to the Line: an exhibition of drawing : In memory of Dick Bett AM

15 February - 3 March 2013

It’s all too easy to forget that, once upon a time, we were all artists. Before we were lulled into communication by words and speech and letters, and well before most of us had an inkling of the strange abstractions of mathematics, we drew. We drew on anything we could find; walls, mum’s freshly ironed skirt, the floor. We drew with anything at hand; our food, our blood if that was handy, dirt, even our poo if that was the most easily available material.


I doubt there are many exceptions to this rule. We were evil little drawing machines, carving out our own arcane hieroglyphs. And almost immediately this flood of creativity was, perhaps understandably, discouraged. Then it was re-encouraged in kindergarten, but only in prescribed time-slots and sanctioned materials. By primary school it was simply tolerated. The times-tables were far more important. From there it’s pretty much all downhill for those happy little drawing machines. Who even doodles while on the phone now? We’re too busy doing…


But there are those miscreants amongst us who more than bend the rules. Who have refused to put down the pencil, the pen, the charcoal, the brush.


At times it is brutal, visceral and downright savage. At others it is delicate, careful and borderline academic and at yet others comparatively carefree, loose and anarchic. Hints of all of these variations run through this show, revealing the infinite variations of the hand and the mind. We range from the aggressive street-art inspired socio-political renderings of Locust Jones to Mary Scott’s investigations into artifice and society; transgression and protocols; pictorialism and its interpretation through technology. Jackson Slattery’s meticulous renderings are infused with reference to popular culture while Lisa Iglesias and Lisa Roet explore animalia and, while sharing an almost scientific curiosity, reveal disparate stylistic approaches. Simon Finn’s approach is an exercise in almost mechanical rendering applied to decay and deterioration. Steve Cox’s descent into Dante’s Inferno becomes a universal plight while Bernhard Sachs obsessive explorations of history and mythology are visceral in the extreme.


For some years now drawing has played second fiddle to new-fangled technologies such as video and digital prints, media that, in all too many ways, belied the actual hand of the artist, relying almost exclusively on either the lens or the trickery of computerisation. There is a ruthless honesty in the nature of drawing. Every mishap is there for the viewer. Every gesture is laid bare. This is where physicality and the imagination come down to the line.


Ashley Crawford