My Country, This Wind
Ce Pays, Ses Vents
An exhibition by
Gérard Timothy Dovey
current till Friday 17 January 2014
Gallery hours: Mon to Thu: 9.30am to 8.30pm. Fri: 9.30am to 6pm. (closed on weekends)
Gerard is a local Victorian artist, born in 1953. He has a background in teaching English, French and the Performing Arts, completing a Master’s degree in mask theatre in the late 90s before retraining in visual arts specializing in print-making and drawing. He has worked extensively in theatre and visual arts. Gerard is also a member of the Alliance Française and a long-time member of the Literature and Writing class.
This exhibition originates in three elements.
Firstly, the works are an illustration of the text of a song by Jacque Brel “Le plat pays”. In this song Brel sings lovingly of his home land of Belgium describing the countryside through the winds that blow over the land. Of the song, Dovey says: “To me, Brel sings defensively, for he lived and worked in France, and felt a need to sing proudly of his Belgian background. Though initially I was possibly relating to the stoicism of the singer in the face of having to justify his Belgian origins, later, I found expression in Brel for the idea that I needed to defend my Australian background in a world environment that did not take the “antipodes” seriously”.
The second influence for this show is some graffiti that can be found on the interior walls of the chapel in the grounds of the Hôpital S. Louis de la Salpetrière. The drawings are of crudely rendered tears that seem to flow down the wall. The repetition and poignancy of the drawings moved Dovey deeply, and the tragic history of the building, including as a place of incarceration, can only heighten for him the deeply felt motives of the unknown artist of the wall-piece.
The third event which lead to Gerard wanting to make the work in this exhibition was a casual conversation he had many years ago with a Yorta Yorta man from north-west Victoria. He says of this encounter: “, I was interested in the way he defined the difference between the south-east corner of this Australian continent and the land mass further north and west. He said that for him, this southern country finds its unique character in the prevailing westerly winds, often cold, that can both caress as well as molest the flat lands. The notion of wind as a definer of landscape, and that wind can symbolise the impermanence of human life in that landscape has stayed with me ever since”.
In the exhibition are mainly one-off works using combinations of relief printing techniques, collage, text and drawing. The aim for the artist is use the text of Brel’s song as a point of departure and as a place of landing in advancing an understanding of our own unique landscape and the ways we use European culture in our attempts to understanding our new-found home in this great south-eastern corner of the Australian continent.
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