WOMEN BY WOMEN: PHOTOGRAPHS, DRAWINGS AND VIDEO
This is perhaps the first exhibition seen in Auckland of work by women, arranged by women, that has not been heavily and self-consciously a WOMEN'S SHOW. At the risk of sounding patronising, women's group shows in the past couple of years have tended to be rather strident in their assertiveness as primarily exhibitions of work by Women, rather than artists.
Women by Women was a very good show - intense, concerned, and personal. It featured drawings and photographs (the video, featuring political work by the Womens Video Group and some Australian work, never really got off the ground, running for only one day).
The drawings by Sally Griffin represented quite a departure from her earlier photographs Picassoesque pizzazz with slashes of colour, amplified in some instances with words from the subjects. . . then they gave me shock treatment. I got well again. Helen Mitchell's drawings - female accoutrements, lipstick, high-heeled shoes, and the 'seventies/'fifties glamour in shiny acrylic - contrasted with the straightforward portraits of Sandra Coney (a new photographer) and Marti Friedlander (not a new photographer). The work by these two women come closest to what I believe is a defineable female quality in work of this type: aware women photographing aware women. Somehow the person being photographed is simply allowed to be herself in front of the camera. Ans Westra, with her comfortable, warm style, works in a similar but more relaxed way.
black / white photograph
by Zusters (Snaps Gallery)
The most interesting and the most disturbing work in the show is by Merilyn Tweedie. She has for some years been experimenting with movement and the camera, and these images represent the most abstract form of her concern to date. Vaguely threatening, dreamlike forms lurk somehow just beneath the surface of her exquisitely fine prints. Any non-metaphoric meaning in the images is obscure to say the least: but the beauty of the 'object' itself is enough. Sally Hollis-McLeod photographs parts of objects in a precise, carefully controlled way, coming close to distilling the essence of the subject in her small, well-printed images. Louise Wilson and Zusters appear to photograph freely, spontaneously. Wilson has photographed her friends, one wearing an incredible surgical bodyplaster, while Zusters uses her camera in a very loose way, exhibiting images that almost seem to continue the movement she has arrested.
Fiona Clark worked with flash and colour among the sad glamour of a transvestite ball and the resulting images, on strange blue mounts, simply show that all is not the best in the best of all possible worlds.
Ideal World I, II and III are the titles Rhondda Bosworth gives to her images. Pale, translucent flesh and flowers inhabit her worlds. And lots of red 'sold' stickers.
Organised by Gillian Chaplin (herself an accomplished photographer) this was a very good show. I'm glad there can be a fine exhibition by women artists that says 'this is what we are' rather than 'this is what we ARE!'