Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Opening Speech

Here's an extract from the opening speech for ‘On the Farm’ exhibition at Penny's Hill, November 15, 2009 by Leah Grace.


Welcome to Penny’s Hill Winery Complex, Red Dot Gallery and ‘On the Farm featuring Uta Mooney and Phillip Pike.

I’m Leah Grace arts and cultural development officer with Alexandrina Council and coordinator of the South Coast Regional Arts Centre at Goolwa.

May I begin by congratulating Russell Starke director of Greenhill Galleries on bringing together these two artists in what is clearly a fluid confluence of ideas, philosophies and subject matter.

On the surface it is clear how well suited these two bodies of work are but what makes this show tick and tick it does…

On the surface we have the light hearted celebration of bonhomie, chooks and kitchen paraphernalia, charmingly retro kitchen objects that speak of another time but still resonate with something that’s relevant today - what is the subtext?

Uta Mooney places no less import on the value of family, memories and domestic objects. In this body of work household objects are imbued with her own sense of family, personal history and a sense of the sacred in the every day.

Uta migrated with her family from Germany to Australia at the age of four. A trans global move of this magnitude meant that only the most precious and few of belongings could be brought to the new country. Many people would sight jewellery and more obviously valuable objects as the first choice but it is the most seemingly ordinary domestic objects that Uta values and recalls as the way points to home in whichever country she resides. Home is incredibly important to her as a migrant even at the age of four that feeling of displacement never really leaves her.

Paintings of simple poetic objects underlayed literally with text from books speak of a subtext within the work. Layers reminiscent of a lace curtain, a table cloth, a petticoat from another era have a story to tell, metaphor for a shared history and fodder for the urban archaeologist in us all.

‘Recycled table’ cloth is an image of Uta’s mother-in-law’s red checked tablecloth from her generous table. A delightful playfulness in her work shows newsprint between the checks of the cloth as she plays with the idea of recycling.

Uta is part of a lineage of South Australian women artists who elevate the every day bringing it closer to our attention and helping us to understand ourselves and our culture more clearly. She brings with her the richness of her European heritage, her life lived as a South Australian and the universality of the images before us to this beautiful body of work.

Uta attended art school as a mature aged student beginning in ceramics and glass design. In the last few years she began working in two dimension and embraced wholeheartedly the concept and practise of collage.

When asked if she would return to making three dimensional work Uta is emphatic the she has found her medium, has so much more to explore and simply “must paint”. Fortunate for the art loving public I feel, as personally I look forward to watching Uta’s creative evolution and feel she is mining a vein of gold with these works.

In conversation with Uta about her work she talked about the experience of her family’s short history in Australia and that there is not the sense of generations connected to where she now lives - no graves to visit or family objects handed down from one generation to the next which is why a solid feeling of home is incredibly important to her. The objects in her paintings are deliberately magnified to lift their status as objects of importance and affection to her.

Perhaps some of Uta’s artworks become precious family objects, sacred to her clan that will be passed from one generation to another and priceless in their storytelling of this family’s’ journey from Europe to a future in Australia replacing the objects that could not be brought on that first journey to the new country.

In closing I would like to congratulate you Uta and Phillip on this gorgeous exhibition and officially declare ‘On the Farm’ open. Thankyou.

13 comments:

julielea said...

That's beautiful Uta... a very thoughtful piece. Fresh language and meaningful, she has done you credit and seems to have understood your work very well!Thanks for putting that on your blog. :)

Uta said...

Yeah it made me get a bit teary hehehe. Do you have speeches for exhibition openings in the UK???

Chrissie said...

What a heartfelt and sincere tribute - much deserved, of course!

p.s. - 'the Australian' was my very dear neice!

Laura said...

This lady gets you Uta... So happy for you all the way. Savoring it and enjoying and watching with great awe!! well done ...what's Next??? hahahah. (sorry the creative passionate one is asking now)

Doris said...

So happy that you shared such a wonderful tribute! Bravo! Woop Woop! How do I whistle here? Well done!

Elena said...

Oh Uta that is so beautiful. Ooooh and I KNOW the artist! Ok maybe just through blog land but still.

butterfly woman said...

Wow, I got teary eyed reading this. You are a special gal and so deserve all this recognition. It was nice reading this because I got to know more about your artistic philosophy! What a beautiful gallery too. You have taken great strides and it has been a true joy watching your journey!
That's a tribute worth framing, for sure!
Hugs and kisses to you across the miles!
Hope the wine cooled? you off a bit!

Suz said...

...attended art school as a mature aged student...Oh lordie

What a fabulous telling of you, Uta.
We all got to know a bit more about you..and that is a good thing.
What a day, a moment for you.
I particulary liked her remarks about not having graves to visit or objects of the family history...gave me chills
How we take that for granted...you don't have those things..wow
You truly do paint story
I knew it from the first moment I saw your work
This woman paints story...that's why it stays with me
Thanks for sharing this wondeerrful tribute

Uta said...

Chrissie,
You're so funny with 'the Australian' thing. Where does your niece live?

Laura,
Next is an art market on the 5th and 6th of December and then next year I plan to experiment and practice some portraiture so I can hopefully get good enough to enter the huge Archibald art competition with $50,000 first prize. Then I can visit you!!!

Doris,
Loved the woop woop. No need to whistle :)

Elena,
Hehehe, it all sounds good on paper but I'm really nobody in the art world. Hope that changes so my finances allow me to visit all you guys :)

Bev,
I got teary too and that was before I had wine hehehe.

Suz,
Yep a mature age student for sure. I went to uni with my daughter!

Suz said...

What's it like having a fan club?

Uta said...

Well Suz, I gotta tell ya, I like it, I like it a lot hehehe

Laura said...

Missing you lady Morgaine... where you at???

april said...

A beautiful speech, well-deserved. Now I must write you a letter so that maybe you will write me back and I will have a "real" Uta Mooney memorabilia!