NELL > OLD NEW WAVE
Nell’s artistic practice is multifaceted and interdisciplinary - traversing painting, sculpture, performance, installation, video, wearables, collaborations, community projects and public art. Underpinning all her work is an exploration of the thresholds of binary opposites such as the ancient and contemporary, individual and communal, feminine and masculine, sacred and profane. From an antipodean vantage point, she uses the language of art history, popular music and spiritual traditions to amplify the tensions or marry the differences between these binary positions, so that new objects and rituals are born.
Old New Wave brings together works spanning fifteen years exploring Nell’s central conceptual concerns while also responding to place. The title of the exhibition, Old New Wave, plays on the musical tern New Wave and pays homage to St Kilda as one of Australia’s most important musical suburbs; the home of bands such as Hunters and Collectors and The Birthday Party and iconic venues including The Crystal Ballroom, the Espy and Prince of Wales. It reflects on St Kilda’s bayside location and changing history as well as Linden’s building, a site that for over a century has welcomed waves of people as it transformed from a private dwelling to a boutique hotel and now a contemporary art gallery.
On a Withered Tree, Ghosts Bloom, a new work for this exhibition, a large leafless tree rises out of the building’s foundations. It acknowledges the palimpsest of place embedded in this location; a plain populated with trees and vegetation, cared for by First Nations People prior to settlement and a building built by migrants and named after a German lime tree. It is a tree that welcomes us under its canopy and while dormant remains in a state of growth and flux. Ideas of change and time are also evident in the 2008 work, A white bird flies in the mist, a black bird flies in the night, a woman walks, wild and free, she is not afraid to die. A solitary figure walks towards the window, followed by thirty-three ghosts, one for each year of the artist’s life at the time of the work’s creation. The work remains open-ended, encouraging us to interpret the relationship between the multiple aspects of the installation, while also prompting us to see our own ghosts: our histories and transformative experiences. In this exhibition it also asks the artist if they are same person who realised this work fifteen years earlier.
Nell’s practice is informed and begins from the personal; her love of music, knowledge of art history, her Buddhist practice and an ongoing self-reflection. However, it is also universal. It highlights that while everything is unique and special it is also interconnected. It dances between ideas of similarity and difference. It reveals that while birth and death are opposites, life remains eternal.
Visit the exhibition webpage here.