In addition to the much loved furniture mecca dedece, Liverpool Street, East Sydney offers another incentive to tread its footpath this month with the opening of the Peter Sharp exhibition ‘Sticks and Stones’.
Sharp not only provides a potent response to our landscape but also a window into his artistic process and how seemingly abstract works have their genesis in the material world. He exchanges the need to capture an expansive scene for a more intimate connection with the land. This relationship comes in part from an indigenous understanding of land and country. Nature is part of us and we are part of nature.
The desert landscape of Fowler’s Gap has been the most recent source of inspiration. Sharp has been visiting this region, north of Broken Hill, for over 25years taking his students to the University of NSW Research Station. However it was only when he started collecting objects found there and constructing small ‘still life’ sculptures that he worked on a way to adequately interpret this beautiful and yet sometimes unforgiving desert environment.
These constructions of sticks, rocks and twigs bound together with twine become the basis firstly of drawings and finally the larger paintings and sculpture that you will see in this exhibition. The shapes created by the forms; the silhouettes and shadows, are built up in charcoal and partially rubbed away until Sharp is left with a composition that speaks of the place in which the objects originated.
Back in his studio in the Shire, south of Sydney, Sharp relays this information to the paintings where he layers a highly textured white paint with translucent glazes that both sit on the surface and disappear into the linen canvas. He sands the surface to give a sense of the rough and weathered landscape he remembers. There is a true elegance in the compositions and linear qualities that underpin these works. They speak of the landscape and yet with a strong abstract sensibility they allow an open interpretation.
The process comes full circle with the large-scale sculptures, Sharp plays again with found objects and brings them together with handsawn and painted wood to create the whimsy he was drawn to in the smaller assemblages made at Fowler’s Gap. The result is an exhibition that allows the visitor true access to his artistic process and in that his unique relationship with the natural world.
Words by: Katrina Arent
Exhibition: Peter Sharp ‘Sticks and Stones’ runs 4 – 30 May 2013 at the Liverpool Street Gallery, open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 6pm.
Liverpool Street Gallery
243 Liverpool St East Sydney.
(02) 8353 7799
Photography by Michel Brouet
Images courtesy the artist and Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney