Thursday, May 3, 2012


Reviewer: Meredith Hinchliffe

Until May 26 at BILK, Palmerston Lane, Manuka.  Autumn opening hours: Wednesdays to Saturdays, 11am to 5pm.

 Glass artist Kirstie Rea is internationally recognised and respected for her works in glass.  For the past 24 years she has been developing her practice and career, exhibiting widely in Australia and overseas. 

 Recently Kirstie spent some time in a residency in Alberta during mid-winter.  The work on exhibit at Bilk was informed by the residency and it sits well in the gallery, which is not spacious.

Kirstie said: Travelling out and about in Alberta, through snow and ice, watching a city function and flow each day as the sky filled gently with snow. … A soft, solid pale blue sky lay persistently behind the snow-laden clouds.  The city and the countryside had a different, softer, weather-beaten feel and look to their surfaces [when compared with] the sun-worn Australian facades.  Kirstie found a slow, pleasing rhythm to the weather, enabling her to make sense of the differences.

The forms and their colours are uncomplicated – pale, washed out blues, greys, a deep, dark red that is almost faded black and occasionally a flash of brighter blue and simple open cylinders, stacked one inside the other.  Some lie on their side while others are upright.  The surfaces are streaked as though with clouds, some preventing any penetration by the colour behind, while others are pale with the light shining through.  The colours from the central cylinders break through the watery blue.

Several groupings of two and three miniature forms are being shown in the shallow showcases on the walls.  Larger groups are exhibited on plinths. Kirstie has captured some of the sense she found in the series titled Rhythm. Rhythm 6 is a larger work – the cylinders are squat, their mouths relatively wide.  Rhythm 2 is taller, the tallest – bright blue – sits inside a slightly lower pale form which sits inside a deep red cylinder.  The red is dark, almost menacing in juxtaposition to the pale, almost washed and faded, blue.  The grey cylinders – and there are only a few – are also threatening and full of foreboding of more snow to come.

 The bases or top edges of several works – both small and larger – are cut away, revealing larger blocks of colour, framing the surface beneath and adding dynamism to the forms.

 First and foremost this exhibition is about the landscape – the sky, the land and the environment in which Kirstie works, although it shows a slightly different direction.  It is a quiet and contemplative, and evocative of the biting cold, windy snow and the hibernation of winter. 
Study 1 and  Rhythm 2