This exhibition brings together a diverse group of three contemporary practitioners invited to show together by Despard Gallery,even though they have never met. However, they are familiar with each other’s practice, working to their own unique style. Through a playful and theatrical aesthetic, Mathew Simms, Marcus Tatton and Grace Garton explore narratives that connect them with place and culture. This includes drawing from traditional techniques, which are uniquely applied through wood, paint and mixed media.
Mathew Simms has been described as Arcadian, his artistry and storytelling reflecting a traditional way of life.His carved wooden dolls, complete with sewn country costumes, represent characters from his folk stories. Mathew also paints wonderful narrative pictures, typically on found wooden panels that feature Mackle Pickle and Annie Stotts, alongside a menagerie of animals.His modest scale paintings are best described as 19thC rural fantasy, with a distinctive colour pallet and gentle brushwork that echoes the charm of French Impressionism, mixed with the rusticity of folk art, each with simplistic titles and handmade frames.
Grace Garton is an artist based in Tasmania. Originally from Sydney she studied art at Liverpool technical college and Sydney City Art Institute. After leaving art school Grace worked in the animation industry for 27 years, travelling from state to state. During this time she relocated to Hobart for work and to further her art studies. In 2006 Grace decided dedicate her time to her art career.
Grass Roots Football, Tasmania – 1817 – 1973
The Grassroots Footballer is a series of art dolls made from fabric that has been machine and hand stitched, painted and distressed, arms and legs manipulated into place and fitted onto stands and seats. The idea grew out of conversations with friends passionate about their football and their concerns about the loss of community based football and the current controversial conversations about Tasmania having their own team in the AFL.
My research led me to vintage photographs of Tasmanian football teams from 1850 to 1973. The ruddy faces of the men appear haunted and strange, their stance and clothing contrast sharply against the romantic stage sets, heavy tapastried curtains, trompe l’oeil archways, columns and parlour palms.The mood has an almost fairytale feel which appeals to my European heritage.
With help from Tasmanian football historian Damien Dillon, I was able to piece together the team colours, names and associations. I love the tactile nature of working with fabric. Once sewn and stuffed I have everything that a painter has but I can also sculpt the parts and create an environment for them to inhabit. Doll making has a rich history often associated with childhood and nostalgia, something I am deeply interested in and from which I can source inspiration.
Marcus Tatton is a public space sculptor taking inspiration from the wild landscape of Tasmania.Sculptures often incorporate natural and industrial waste materials, as well as cast concrete and fabricated steel.His large-scale works explore the relationship between natural and non-natural structures, including how humans interact with nature and the effect we have on the environment. This group of domestic scale sculptures represent Marcus’ first exhibition in the gallery for many years. Recent commissions include the inaugural anniversary celebration of Sculpture at Barangaroo in 2016.Marcus received the Curator’s Sculpture Prize at the Artscape Biennial, Byron Bay and The Andrea Stretton Memorial Invitation Award at Sculpture by the Sea 2010.