Affinity of femininity on display

Eden Menta and Janelle Low - ''Eden and the Gorge'' 2019. Ink-jet print: 50 x 40 cm. Picture: courtesy of the artists. Eden Menta is represented by Arts Project Australia.

A new exhibition on display at Bunjil Place will place female artists and the female identity in the spotlight.

FEM-aFFINITY – an exhibition of female artists from Arts Project Australia (APA) and wider Australia whose work share an affinity of subject matter, technique and process – is now on display at Bunjil Place, in partnership with National Exhibitions Touring Support (NETS) Victoria.

The exhibition’s curator, Associate Professor Catherine Bell from the Australian Catholic University, seeks to uncover related variations of female identity and perspectives on historical feminist concepts by situating these female artists alongside each other.

Drawing upon interdisciplinary approaches, such as painting, printmaking, drawing, performance and photography, the exhibition also considers how artworks are a complex and nuanced way of thinking about embodied knowledge and how it aligns with identity politics explored in contemporary art.

The 14 exhibiting artists are Fulli Andrinopoulos, Jane Trengove, Dorothy Berry, Jill Orr, Wendy Dawson, Helga Groves, Bronwyn Hack, Heather Shimmen, Eden Menta, Janelle Low, Cathy Staughton, Prudence Flint, Lisa Reid, and Yvette Coppersmith.

“I’m a regular visitor to the Arts Project Australia gallery and have a particular interest in the work of the female artists who attend their studio,” says Ass. Prof. Bell.

“I have often considered the uncanny connections their work has with other female contemporary artists.

“I’m interested in highlighting the affinity. Curating a selection of past works by each artist demonstrates a sustained line of enquiry. The opportunity for the artists to collaborate and develop new work for the show celebrates these ongoing themes and connections.”

Claire Watson, director of NETS Victoria, said: “NETS Victoria is delighted to tour FEM-aFFINITY. Through the considered pairings by the curator Associate Professor Catherine Bell, new perspectives of the selected artists’ practices are offered. Importantly, the project has fostered ongoing relationships between the artists involved.”

Exhibiting artists Yvette Coppersmith and Lisa Reid have painted portraits of prominent figures in the arts. Meanwhile, abstract artists Helga Groves and Wendy Dawson share a similar creative process of layering pigment and surface detail; their works in metallic mediums explore abstract patterns.

Heather Shimmen and Bronwyn Hack are inspired by gothic narratives, famous women in history, and the natural world. Their collaboration has produced a series of lino prints that incorporate depictions of the body, flora and fauna.

Other collaborative responses are between artists Jane Trengove and Fulli Andrinopoulos, Janelle Low and Eden Menta, and Prudence Flint and Cathy Staughton. Seminal art works by veteran artist Dorothy Berry, curated from the APA permanent collection, and renowned artist Jill Orr, on loan from institutional collections, are also included. This pairing explores their shared interest in birds as symbolic motifs.

FEM-aFFINITY is an Arts Project Australia exhibition, touring with NETS Victoria. Arts Project Australia is a studio and gallery that supports artists with intellectual disabilities, promoting their work and advocating for inclusion within contemporary art practice.

FEM-aFFINITY is showing at Bunjil Place Gallery from 30 January – 14 March 2021, at 2 Patrick Northeast Drive, Narre Warren.