20 May 2005

Cafe Adagio

In a town the size of Sunbury, which does not sustain a permanent commercial gallery, a good alternative space for exhibitions can be the walls of cafes and restaurants. Done well, it can be a rewarding experience for the exhibitor and the owners, but too often management can simply see it as an alternative to wallpaper, failing to give the art its proper due. It's common to find dodgy pictures badly lit, making a perfectly good restaurant look tacky and showing the art in the worst possible light.

I'm glad to say that one place in Sunbury which has got it right is Cafe Adagio in Macedon Street. It is a tastefully converted house, whose only fault seems to be that the polished floor boards make the space very noisy when it's busy. The art is mixed in quality, but several objects stand out for me.

It's good to see ceramics on display in formal glass cases. Often this medium is treated like painting's poorer cousin, and it's great to see it shown so well here. My only quibble is that many of the works are anonymous, which I'm sure must be irritating to the artists concerned, because we all like to see our name around the place.

In the entrance hall, Pam Jackson's pots look stunning. Particularly good is her "Wheel-thrown Form" and "Bowl", which follow the trail blazed by Gwynn Hanson Piggott in this country. The forms are irregular, asymmetrical and very minimal, with very subtle colour changes between the outside and the interior, picking up and shifting the light in a mysterious way.

In an adjoining room, there is also a beautiful white crystal glazed bowl, the crystals sitting at the bottom like petals on a pond. This technique can sometimes be pretty gross and excessive in the wrong hands, but here it is beautfully suggestive.

Another nice surprise are the photographs by Andrew Watson. They are exquisitely printed in toned black and white, expressive and moody through controlled under-exposure. A set of three depict scenes of the city, with heavy clouds cutting through the compositions, and buildings in silhouette or shadow. In one, Flinders Street Station is a black silhouette against a dramatic sky, recalling images of the ruined St Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz. One image, of a guitarist in a smoky venue, is a deft handling of a subject done to death by bad photographers the world over. This picture is heavy, tense and expressive.

I hope the exhibition at Adagio evolves so well in the future, as I'll be popping in again. And by the way, the coffee's excellent, which is another artform I might go into another time.

1 comment:

Lisa Roberts said...

Your description of individual artworks is vivid. You use language to bring to life the their texture, use of light, colour, form etc. The register is some nice pace between chatty and informal, and authorative.You have identified yourself as one of the atists, making yours personal response to the situation.

I would read it again, as I'm interested to hear desriptions of artworks that excite people, particularly if they are skilled, as you are, to paint word pictures of them.