Imaginary Territories

Lucille Martin, Jo Darbyshire, Toni Wilkinson, Rebecca Paterson, Kelsey Ashe

Dark Swan Exhibitions Presents: Imaginary Territories
Lucille Martin, Jo Darbyshire, Toni Wilkinson, Rebecca Paterson and Kelsey Ashe
With a collaborative ‘Exquisite Corpse’* installation, birthed in an Opening night performance, accompanied by Classical Solo Harpist Michelle Smith.

Imaginary Territories is a Feminist Surrealist Visual Art Exhibition, an odyssey that travels within, yet is global in outlook, acknowledging the centenary of the emergence of Surrealist modes of artistic inquiry from Europe 100 years ago, which spread worldwide, right to the ends of the earth, into the far-away Antipodes.

The exhibition explores the concept of a ‘territory’ as a domain of the inner world – a representation that expresses an ‘internal truth’. Through this Surrealist lens, the artists’ territories are simultaneously real and imagined, explored into being; a place where both conscious and subconscious realities are envisioned. Imaginary Territories curator and Artist Dr. Kelsey Ashe has asked the artists to consider their “inner topographies” and to question how this can assist in “overcoming the earthbound borders, barriers and displacements we find ourselves in this modern era”.

In circumstances of unprecedented scarcity for funding in the arts, The Department of Culture and the Arts are supporting the commission for Four female WA artists to create significant new contemporary visual artworks. What can be recognised here is that in an era of environmental/world crisis and political divisiveness to conceive new realities has become critically important. Surrealism has been central to some of Australia’s most respected contemporary women artists, including Pat Brassington, Polexini Papapetrou and Petrina Hicks, to name a few. The artists in this exhibition were chosen for their practice related to surrealist enquiry, and also for their interest in the legacy of Feminist Surrealism established by iconic artists such as Dora Maar, Leonora Carrington, Lee Miller, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Fini, Remedios Varo, Kay Sage, Louise Bourgeois and Francesca Woodman.

Surrealism has historically outlined a path back to mythic structures of matriarchy and universal female principles via its innate inward-looking viewpoint that often unites nature/animal/myth with a political/defiant vision and this is evident in all the works presented for this exhibition. Lucille Martin has created a large scale Photo-Media Polyptych Alumalux Work, Jo Darbyshire a grand scale Installation, Toni Wilkinson Print and Photo Media works and Dr. Kelsey Ashe, Sculpture and Film Projection.

Dr. Ashe remarks that the exhibition seeks to celebrate the 100 Year Anniversary of Surrealism. “The movement is a philosophy more so than an aesthetic movement, which many don’t realise. It emerged from Europe in the 1920’s, spreading globally in all artistic mediums and 100 years on its influence and legacy is experiencing unprecedented levels of revisionist attention from, curators, artists and writers, particularly women who have found its strategies for artistic enquiry essential to their practice.“ Dr. Ashe is also the current co-editor for the International Feminist Surrealist Arts Journal ‘The Debutante’ which launched at the National Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh in January 2020 alongside ‘Beyond Realism | Dada and Surrealism’ with well-known works such as Salvador Dali’s Lobster phone, Rene Magritte’s Nudes and Leonora Carrington’s portrait of Max Ernst on display. Issue 02 of ‘The Debutante’ will be released in time to be available at Imaginary Territories, contextualising the WA Artists within a global movement, reversing the usual North to South Hemisphere 'trickle down' theory and placing WA as the focal point of activity.

In Editorial Partnership with: The Debutante; Feminist Surrealist Oddysses (UK) Dr. Kelsey Ashe (Co-Editor).

The Exhibition Imaginary Territories is supported by The Department of Culture and the Arts.

Image courtesy of Kelsey Ashe