Pat Brassington - Quill
Sometimes it feels like Pat Brassington summons up her artworks rather than creating them. Her cast of characters seems to be a mercurial bunch of shape-shifters with lives and minds of their own. Whether they are animate or inanimate, meeting our gaze or avoiding it, they are spell-binding. Brassington imbues her images with layers and symbols and potential meanings that are unruly and often disturbing, like those of the unconscious mind. Her work exists in that blurry realm between the manifest and latent, thesis and antithesis.
Her latest series Quill comprises a suite of monochromatic images in which these contrary urges rub up against each other, taking shape through symbolic forms of doubling. For instance, a couple of freaky figures wear the same dark dress, two flowers, two hands, a pair of pointed collar ends. Within the images, too, there is a doubling up of responses. In Quicksilver we are brought both intimately close to its subject, and kept at a distance like a naughty child. The face, with determined, stubborn jaw-line and an eye with a thousand mile stare, looms large and uncomfortably close. As their stare won’t meet ours, they seem as slippery as quicksilver itself. In Masterclass, the expert we’d expect to be in charge, as the title would suggest, turns out to be a baby perched atop a bulky body.
Perhaps the series title Quill also gives a clue to the flights of the imagination that take place within. After all, writing with the wing feather of a large bird seems a curious and slightly magical thing to do.
Pat Brassington is one of Australia’s leading artists. Her work is held in numerous public collections including AGNSW, QAG, NGA, TMAG, NGV and ArtBank. She has been featured extensively in national and international exhibitions, including the 2012 Adelaide Biennial Parallel Collisions; a touring survey at the ACCA in 2012 that continued to the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney in 2013; a large solo show in Lönnstrom Art Museum, Finland and the Helsinki Festival, in 2008; the Cambridge Road series at the IMA in 2007; the Biennale of Sydney 2004; and a major retrospective at the Ian Potter Gallery, University of Melbourne 2002.