Batchelor Institute » Students show off art design
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Date:January 21, 2014

Students show off art design

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by Kieran Finnane

The bounty of the bush – closely observed, its creatures, plant forms, patterns, colours distilled by artists who call it home – is the wellspring for the contemporary desert design of Batchelor Institute visual arts students.

Their work is on show at Muk Muk Fine Art under the title The Forkleaf Project, chosen for the grove of corkwood trees, with their fine forked leaves, that grows around the art room at the Desert Knowledge precinct.

The exhibition brings together screen prints and digital prints on fabric and upholstery, as well as ceramics and some beadwork. The printed fabrics steal the show, taken to another level by this year’s student cohort and crafted into furnishings and clothing.

Particularly striking are the upholstery designs, presented as low buttoned ottomans or tall ottomans, finely judged in colour and pattern to make for one-off statements of desert-inspired beauty that would uplift most contemporary rooms.

Motifs of plant forms predominate – flowers, leaves, seedpods, branchlets – but there are also birds and some classical motifs of Aboriginal design, such as concentric circles, u-shapes, footprints. Some artists are working well with negative space, achieving a restrained elegance; others are making their impact with the intricacy of inter-locking overall patterns.

At the show’s opening there was something of a thrill in the air, a sense of a new desert enterprise being born. Artists can’t really make money from one-off designs at the modest prices being asked, but it is hoped the show will seed interest in taking the project to the next level, said visual arts lecturer Brigida Stewart.

The project is hoping to purchase equipment, beginning with a digital printer, that would facilitate production to scale and therefore would welcome any funding interest or ideas.