The resurgence of nature and beauty is highlighted in a new exhibition showing at The Hive Gallery in Queanbeyan.
Angels and Waratahs is the title of an exhibition of paintings by Majors Creek artist, Jane Ahlquist, and ceramics by Queanbeyan artist, Galia Shy.
At the opening on Friday night, Ahlquist spoke about the waratahs which are endemic to the region and their spiritual significance to the Indigenous people.
With the bushfires of summer still so prevalent in minds and memories, Ahlquist wanted the exhibition to be a celebration of the regeneration of nature and the beauty of the bush.
There are several paintings of waratahs, and the flowers also feature in several of her 'bush witch' paintings: a series featuring quirky female 'witch' figures in wildly kinetic landscapes.
The central painting, Autumn Witch (with dachshund) is reminiscent of Gustav Klimt: a statuesque woman in vibrant autumnal tones with a small dog at her feet. The mood is reflective, the azure summer sky behind the emerging tones of the cooler season.
In Woman in a Straw Hat Puts on the Morning, the longer the viewer looks at the painting, the more creatures emerge in the composition. Ahlquist explained that all the animals, birds, insects and reptiles featured are endangered species. From the corroboree frog to the bilby, the painting is a like a magic puzzle that changes from minute to minute with the woman in the straw hat stretching her protective arms across the emerging tableau.
Bush Witch Rescues an Angel, Burn-off Day, and Firestorm Talisman bring the stark reality of our recent summer experiences to light. Ahlquist's own home was under threat more than once and the memory of those fires is stark and still very real.
Galia Shy's ceramic work complements the paintings perfectly. They are earthy in both form and tone, and many were wood-fired, allowing the ash to create its own forms and patterns on the clay. Again, nature and the memory of a summer of fire come to the fore, but in a way that highlights the beauty and transition of the burnt to the regenerative.
Angels and Waratahs will show at the Hive Gallery, Crawford Street, Queanbeyan, until March 29. Jane Ahlquist will speak about her work each Sunday at the gallery.
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