Cuttings – Elizabeth Gower is the artist’s first comprehensive survey exhibition since the early 2000s, and brings together significant bodies of works from the last two decades including a major new 21 metre collage which will be premiered at the Gallery.
“It has been over two decades since Geelong Gallery hosted a touring exhibition of Elizabeth’s work in 1997, Chance or Design, initiated by the then Ian Potter Gallery at the University of Melbourne,” says Lisa Sullivan, Senior Curator, Geelong Gallery. “This current exhibition brings together an extensive array of works to showcase the artist’s enduring concerns and to highlight the broader social and environmental issues her works explore which continue to have a great currency today.”
Elizabeth Gower emerged in the 1970s as a pioneering feminist artist and her work continues to have an important impact on her peers and younger artists. Gower’s ingenious formal manipulations and transformations of repurposed materials are conditioned by a conceptual rigour that elevates multicultural decorative motifs and traditional techniques and processes (such as quiltmaking, mosaic tiling, knitting and embroidery patterns) into a fine art context.
Gower recycles and collages printed remnants of popular culture to create exquisite optical geometrics that explore ideas of consumerism and consumption. Her work typically involves cutting up and intricately collaging – onto drafting film, canvas, board or paper surfaces – collected printed ephemera, packaging material and magazine pages.
As we become more urgently cognisant of the degradation of our environment and the social impacts of consumerism and global consumption, Gower’s concerns with refuse, redundancy, recycling and new aesthetics gain ever-greater communicative potential and power.
Despite an exhibition history spanning four decades, few comprehensive exhibition catalogues have been published that record the significant bodies of work that Gower has produced. Geelong Gallery’s upcoming publication will include key works created since her 2002 publication (Beyond the everyday: the art of Elizabeth Gower accompanying a Glen Eira City Gallery exhibition) and will include Urban artefacts (2003–05), Prismatics (2006-07), Savings (2010), Rotations (2013-ongoing), Cycles (2015), Delineations (2017) and the new work Monochrome compilation (2018).
“We are delighted to exhibit the work of Elizabeth Gower, one of Australia’s preeminent contemporary artists,” says Jason Smith, Director & CEO, Geelong Gallery. “The exhibition will be presented at Geelong Gallery concurrently with the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ 2018 Archibald Prize and we expect over 40,000 people will have the opportunity to view Gower’s work which represents a major public audience for the artist.”
Elizabeth Gower has been a pioneer of feminist practice throughout a career spanning 40 years. She is represented in the Geelong Gallery collection, and has built a strong and dedicated following at a state and national level.Her engagement with the sector has also extended to a number of curatorial projects in Australia and New York.
As a senior lecturer (and currently Honorary Senior Fellow) at the University of Melbourne/Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, Dr Elizabeth Gower has been influential to the careers of numerous emerging artists, whilst maintaining a strong and active exhibition profile at major institutions, commercial galleries and artist run initiatives nationally and overseas.
Gower has been the recipient of numerous awards, prizes, grants and residencies including support from the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, and City of Melbourne. She has completed public commissions for a number of high profile buildings including the Melbourne World Congress Centre, Southbank, Melbourne Cricket Ground (Southern Stand), and the Sydney Olympics Superdome.
Cuttings – Elizabeth Gower
Geelong Gallery, Little Malop Street, Geelong
Exhibition: 1 September – 25 November 2018
For more information, visit: www.geelonggallery.org.au for details.
Image: Elizabeth Gower, Prismatics 2006-07. paper on canvas – reproduced courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, and Milani Gallery, Brisbane