Media Release: Sarah Tomasetti's Traverse 28 October to 22 November 2015
For immediate Release
TRAVERSE BY SARAH TOMASETTI
Exhibition Details: Traverse By Sarah Tomasetti: 28 Oct - 22 Nov, 2015
Opening Sunday 1 November 2pm-4pm
Contact Details: Janet Clayton Director, Janet Clayton Gallery 0401 996 990 firstname.lastname@example.org
Melbourne Artist Sarah Tomasetti is making a statement, subtly and exquisitely. The wilderness and the remote have always drawn her in. In these untouched landscapes, she sees the ambiguity of timeless history on the one hand and, on the other, environmental fragility.
This exhibition brings into play elements of memory and imagination, triggered by records of travels in China by Tomasetti’s mother and grandmother in 1958 and 1936, and mingled with her own yearning for what was, what is lost, and what will be taken away in the future.
Tomasetti’s preferred medium, fresco painting, is in harmony with this sensibility. Her painting recalls ancient fresco walls of past civilizations, where imagery fades into the surface over time and crazed surfaces mirror the weathering of natural forms. Trained in Italy, Tomasetti is one of the few artists in Australia to have mastered this medium.
Traverse includes a series of paintings varying from the large single works to tiny wall clusters and sculpture, using references from the 1890's Victorian adventurer - Isabella Bird - and from the present - the International space station, For the first time, Tomasetti introduces a video piece, complementing aesthetically and conceptually the fresco work.
About the Artist
Sarah Tomasetti holds a Graduate Diploma in Italian Studies from La Trobe University and a Master of Arts in Fine Art from RMIT. Drawn to explore the ancient method of fresco painting, she studied at the Laboratorio per Affresco di Vainello in Italy, where she learned, from a restorer’s perspective, how to create frescoes, obtaining a professional qualification in ‘Tecnica Pittura Murale’.
Tomasetti has held numerous solo exhibitions and has been featured in group exhibitions throughout Australia, Italy and Hong Kong, including the Salon des Refuses at S.H. Ervin Gallery in 2010 and 2011 and ‘Contemporary Australian Drawings at RMIT, also in 2011. Earlier this year, an ambitious project Slow Melt, in collaboration with installation artist Heather Hesterman, was a focal point for The Warming at Australian Galleries, part of the art+climate change 2015 event held in Melbourne across 23 public and private venues. 26 frozen rock forms were hung each day of the exhibition documenting a different waterway or aspect of the cryosphere.
Tomasettihas been a finalist in awards including the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award and the ABN AMRO Emerging Artist Award. Her work is held in public and private collections including Artbank, Macquarie Bank and the Grafton Regional Gallery.
I began the series Traverse in the half-light of memory and imaginings that surrounded my late mother and grandmother’s diaries of their trips to China in 1958 and 1936 respectively. These trips are bound up with my own consciousness of loss and the fictions of memory that build and scatter in the passing of time.
The present day experience and full colour images of my own recent trip to China seemed not to fit my purpose, so I began searching through the scarce documentation of glacial landscapes of the region from early in the 20th century.
I went back to a book I inherited from my mother, by Victorian adventurer Isabella Bird*, and studied the tiny photographs taken of people she encountered along the road whilst travelling. These images brought to life my grandmother’s descriptions and simultaneously evoked something of the surge of displaced peoples the world is seeing now.
And so Traverse became a juxtaposition of, or rather a collision of, past and present. The glacial landscapes that feed the great rivers of the world as seen then, in early photographs, and now, via satellite imagery. The mute faces of people whose stories we will never know negotiating an inhospitable world. The uneasy relationship humankind has to the wilderness on which life depends.
The space is one of incoherence. Early film photographs, snapped in less than
ideal conditions on the sides of dusty roads, with protagonists who often moved at the last minute creating a ghostly blur, seemed to echo the interior place I found myself in. I was trying to extract a narrative from a cross- generational encounter with a profound otherness that continually recedes from view.
Traverse is an attempt to capture that incoherence, to speak broadly of journey, memory and loss and an encounter with what is difficult and strange. The outer journey a metaphor for the shadowy regions of the interior one. This also speaks to separations of all kinds: the separation from familiar country and people, physically through the necessity of migration, and across time through death and displacement.