6 May to 27 May 2017
Darwin based artists Karen Mills and Sarah Pirrie share a research-based focus on intercultural collaborations and an intuitive artistic response to rare environments. They have often collaborated with master practitioners or artists.
Their collaborative exhibition is one of a long-running series of exhibitions about pairs of artists who share independently developed conversations and collegiate exchanges.
Mills and Pirrie were part of a small interdisciplinary team of artists and botanists assembled by Darwin curator and educator Angus Cameron for the exhibition Secret World: Carnivorous plants of the Howard sand sheets at Nomad Art Projects in late 2015. The Howard sand sheets, located on Darwin's doorstep, are threatened by sand mining. The sands host many unique and threatened plant and animal species including rare carnivorous plants (Utricularia species) and the Howard River Toadlet Since then, the artists have continued their dialogue and support for each other's practice and investigations.
Karen Mills was born in Katherine, Northern Territory, in 1960, and grew up in South Australia. After leaving home Mills returned to the Northern Territory to reconnect with family and her Indigenous cultural heritage. She lives and works in Darwin. Her work has been featured in exhibitions nationally and internationally and is currently part of The National at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. She featured in Tarnanthi – Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art (2015), held at the Art Gallery of South Australia, SA. Mills’ paintings and etchings explore concepts about identity, connection and disconnection with culture, geology and Australian history. She creates layered, textured surfaces to depict experiences and memories; of being in different places, journeys across country and observation of the landscape. Mills is a descendant of the Balanggarra people of the Oombulgurri and Forrest River Aboriginal Reserves, near Wyndham, Western Australia. The history and landscape of the East Kimberley is a significant influence on her work.
Sarah Pirrie is a Darwin based artist with an innovative and cross-disciplinary art practice that embraces conceptual, site-responsive and often collaborative projects. Sarah’s artwork has referenced a range of social and environmental issues and is often shaped by local activity and phenomena. Her current research focuses on transformative acts of waste and notions of environmental damage and looks at contemporary notions of environmental aesthetics. In 2014 Sarah Pirrie participated in collaborative exchange and reciprocal residency with internationally renowned Indonesian Arts Collective ‘ruangrupa’ producing bus stop interventions as part of 2014 Darwin Festival project ‘Temporary Territory’.
To Karen Mills for initiating the exhibition.
The National: New Australian Art, is a six-year initiative presenting the latest ideas and forms in contemporary Australian art. It is a collaboration between Sydney contemporary art museums AGNSW, MCA and Carriageworks. Karen Mills features at the Museum of Contemporary Art until 18 June, 2017. A review by art critic Andrew Frost was recently published in The Guardian and can be read here.
The National and Andrew Frost review in The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/mar/31/the-national-review-happy-accidents-shine-in-major-australian-contemporary-art-show
Sarah Pirrie, Marine transgression, 2016. Watercolour & pencil, 28 x 28 cm.
Karen Mills, Untitled (two plate), etching, 2015.
Sarah Pirrie, Lithified detritus, 2016. Watercolour & pencil, 28 x 28 cm.
Sarah Pirrie, Lava, 2016. Watercolour & pencil, 28 x 28 cm.
Karen Mills collaborating with Basil Hall Editions in 2015, Braidwood NSW. Basil Hall describes the works as: “The medium is very painterly and the fact that etching is a layering process also suits Karen’s way of image construction”. Photo Basil Hall.
Sarah Pirrie, Conglomerate (study), 2016. Watercolour and pencil
View current show here: http://crossart.com.au/current-show