From this Moment

From This Moment, a mainly water colour exhibition by artists Angela Abbott, Maggie Chiara Cowling, Margaret Cowling and Jennifer Fyfe 19 February to 3 March 2020 –held at the galleries in Victorian Artist Society Melbourne of which they are members.

Opening Speech by Fern Smith “From this Moment” Saturday 22 March 2020

The opportunity to reflect on other artists work is a great privilege and honour.

From this moment – The artists are Angela Abbott, Maggie Chiara Cowling, Margaret Cowling and Jennifer Fyfe. Please note I am reading it as prescribed on the invitation it is in alphabetical order indicating their colleagued nature and deep friendships. Witnessing yesterday how gently they worked together. Now onto the task at hand.

In a gendered world I would naturally go to their first names as friends and fellow artists however renowned artists are referred with their family name such as Streeton, one of the founders of En-Plein (onplenaire) painting in Australia and a former member of the Artists society here in Victoria.

The artists have been trained in, painting what they see, within a few hours – a synch you may say. I wish to paint you a picture of their work born from a long legacy, lengthy training, practice and individualism. 

What Abbott, Cowling, Fyfe and Cowling are presenting to you today are hundreds of hours of observation and deep mediation on the present. The Title suggests this – From this moment – like a deep breath as you gird yourself to undertake an auspicious task with reverence to document what is before you as honestly as possible, without the mind but with the heart.

They have packed their tools of trade, hats, refreshments, maps walking shoes to go to a hollowed location that they deeply respect and transcribe what they have witnessed for us to view to ponder to observe. The location maybe new or a spot that they keep going back to such as Abbotts Orchid Country, Anglesea, a favourite spot of hers. Each rendition is different. From this moment – the wind, the light, the moisture, the sounds, the flora and fauna all are different each time she visits a favoured spot. They go into the landscape with a botanists’ eye and an empty mind. It is a deep respect to the now.

From implementation of the digital age we are losing our focus. We are detaching. We are becoming “flaky”.  Consider their work as the New revolution – to refocus – to consider – to observe. The fact they respect and honour the past by utilizing their training – respecting what is changing and accepting the moment. They are not being distracted they are deeply focused, each artwork here is deeply felt, such as Cowlings ‘Ochre Bank’ it is moody with the use of thick strokes and saturation. 

Abbott Cowling Fyfe and Cowling are mistresses in capturing a length of light and breaking shadows by deftly dancing their loaded brushes that sweep across the surface whether it be in the studio or outside, such as Fyfe’s oil on linen portraits that open the exhibition. Or Chiara Cowling’s bold stance not to paint and leave much of the surface unmarked as in “Light” bringing the Australian glare into full focus. 

From this moment demonstrates they are grand masters of the bleeding – Bleeding is when the pigment disperses on the surface like a blob on ink on blotting paper. To make a mark that bleeds how you want it takes great skill and patience. You hold your brush just so as if hovering over the paper, to control randomness is truly breath taking. Such as Chiara Cowling Nuggety Gully 1 or Noels Lagoon and Cowling by Autumn Lake.

We have the brush precision where each stoke builds the visual scape clearly demonstrated by Fyfe in Borscht – contemplate on the roughness of the earthy beets to the exactness of the silver spoon.

Spring, Korakuen, Okayama, Japan is a culmination of all the training and personal interpretation of spring. The pink blossoms you so often see as individual daubs are rendered under Abbotts eye – the saturation of pink into the landscape the work is both feeling of cool weather and the promise of warmth.

From This Moment a collection of skilful, individual observations by Abbott, Cowling, Fyfe and Cowling can lead the way in demonstrating to us that swift controlled definite strokes that capture an honesty in the scape be it portraits, bowls of fruit, overseas travel or wanderings into our local environment can reflect light back to us.

Please pay homage to the work and closely observe their deft handling of the scape, 

– leave your name in the comments book just near the stairs, nab the artists and ask their stories on their work it is another journey.  I hope you can empty your pockets and purchase an artwork as an encouragement to us all that we belong to “From this moment’  Please put your hands together and make racket