A Whisker of Light
Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
3rd February – 29th April, 2018
Maitland Regional Art Gallery
230 High Street, Maitland, NSW
In nature nothing exists alone.
― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
On Saturday the 3rd of February, yoga classes for the year resumed.
On Saturday the 3rd, I read about a lonely gannet named Nigel who died surrounded by a colony of concrete replicas on a predator-free island off the coast of New Zealand. "He was alone."[i] (Following the safety in numbers principle, the concrete colony was placed on Mana Island in the hope of encouraging actual gannets to settle and in doing so help restore the ecosystem of the island, but it was not until 2016, when they were cleaned up, relocated, and their necks repainted an apricot blush that they attracted a gannet. The addition of speakers placed near to the colony emitting gannet calls summoned a further three gannets to the island, but Nigel remained faithful to his concrete partner, where he died, unexpectedly, in a nest he had built for her from seaweed and sticks; where he died, pioneer-poetically, of a broken heart. But I digress, as well as surmise. I never met Nigel, if that was his name, I only know his sad tale, his legacy, online. New colonies depend on the Nigels of the world.[ii])
On the 3rd, I leafed through a spiral-bound book I had made for a school project, which my parents recently discovered. There on the page, in a series of glossy photographic prints, the tragedy of Shakespeare's Macbeth, performed by a cast of my childhood teddy bears, and I remembered the joy of sourcing props and arranging the dagger "with handle toward my hand", their paws. I remember being careful with the sauce-for-blood so as not to get it on their fur. No "out, damned spot! out, I say!" for this cast, circa 1988.
You would be correct in thinking that the only thing linking a yoga class, a gannet, and a book of "charmed life" bears is a date on the calendar and my own personal interest. But I recall their everyday nature because on Saturday the 3rd of February, 2018, Louise and my exhibition, A Whisker of Light, opened at Maitland Regional Art Gallery. Something big! Something far away. Something at the opposite end of the minutiae of everyday life.
And yet also created from it. From our precise floor plan, our attention to sauce placement, and our shared interest in Nigels, A Whisker of Light, comprised of nineteen birds and one butterfly, drawn, two framed Great auks, five artists' books, and four hundred and forty-six postcard collages, exists.
Our artists' books, Louise's drawings, and my postcard collages are on display, on the walls and in the cabinets, at Maitland Regional Art Gallery, NSW, until the 29th of April, 2018.
Seventy columns of postcard collages wrap around two walls in the gallery, including this random selection of twelve, from 2012. From left to right, top to bottom, they are Replicating what I see before me for own small amusement; Your invisible support is valued; With one triumphant swing; Butchart's Garden held a surprise for the unsuspecting; I enjoy your company; Afloat for now; Keeping in line; From thrill to thrill, Verreaux’s Sifaka; Make-believe sat vigilant in the small enclosure; Wet whiskers drying; The Cannes Stomp; and The merriments and sport of the water called.
As it is unlikely we will get to see the exhibition with our own eyes, we'd love to see your #AWhiskerofLight photos, should you make it to the exhibition.
[i] He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and willful and wild-hearted, alone amidst a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the seaharvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight.
― James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
[ii] Nigel arrived on the island of his own accord in 2016. He died February, 2018.
Image credit: Gracia Haby, Simple pleasure by moonlight, 2012, postcard collage