Nature Works a meeting of minds

August 14, 2021 BY

Common ideas: Stella Clarke, Jessica de Siso and Deborah Lee Klein’s exhibition is finally hung in Backspace, originally booked in for 2019. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

STELLA Clarke, Jessica de Siso and Deborah Lee Klein use contrasting mediums in their artistic practices, but all are inspired by one theme.

Through their respective landscape paintings, sculptures and cut-paper illustrations, the three creatives have explored the environment throughout their visual art presented within the Art Gallery of Ballarat’s latest Backspace exhibition, Nature works.

Clarke, de Siso and Klein all made separate applications to showcase their works in the space, but the Art Gallery of Ballarat saw parallels, and have decided to bring them together.

“We do have a meeting of minds, connecting with the natural environment in different ways,” Clarke said.

“We all share the sense that it’s time to become more mindful about what’s left of the natural environment, the benefits we can get from being part of it and really observing it properly.

“You can find something inspiring wherever you are. I spend a lot of time sitting out on our bush property by my dam, seeing reflections in water, changing light, light through leaves and trees.”

Picking up rubbish and discarded objects amongst the natural environment is an “obsession” of de Siso, a sculptor who has a love of rust.

“Decarded bits of machinery, things that have been worn down, or twisted by cars, I repurpose them,” she said.

“There are exact beauties in nature, and there are wonderful scenes and scenarios, but we’re part of nature, and the stuff we make has imposed on what we regard as nature. We’re part of nature, too.

“There’s an importance of not imposing our species on the planet. There is so much that’s wasted. Repurpose junk.”

Klein is a dimensional illustrator, making low-relief paper sculptures that usually depict living things of the natural world. Animals, insects and mushrooms feature in Nature works.

“I mimic three-dimensional aspects of the figures… and put together a composition that’s pleasing. They’re just paper and glue,” she said.

“I depict creatures that I respond to. I’ve always been fascinated by the fruit bats of Australia and their silhouettes, hanging in the trees.

“I’ve always loved praying mantis, the look of birds sitting on wires, with the patterns they naturally create.”

Previously showing her “micro landscapes” of Haddon and rural Victoria in other galleries, Clarke is most proud to see her visuals in the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

“This is a lovely building and a beautiful space to show art in. I feel really lucky to show my work here with two other brilliant artists. It’s a great opportunity that I’m grateful for,” she said.

“I’ve loved coming to the Gallery for many years to see the beautiful art on the walls, so to see mine amongst it all is fabulous.

“It’s a great thing the Gallery does through Backspace, helping regional artists.”