West End Art Space’s artists explore the forgotten past

West End Art Space’s artists explore the forgotten past
Kaylah Joelle Baker

West End Art Space is gearing up to host artist Carol Batchelor’s latest exhibition Merge from April 13 to 28, with the show’s guest speaker artist and RMIT lecturer Dr Robin Kingston opening the exhibition with her personal insights into the abstract paintings.

Excited to hear from Dr Kingston and for Merge to open, West End’s founding director Anna Prifti and gallery assistant Erica Sait said a “deepened appreciation of [Batchelor’s] technique” was to be expected upon witnessing the work in real-time.

“Visiting Batchelor’s recent work at West End provides a truly intimate experience. Core to her show is the idea of merging the transactions and transience between different qualities on the canvas,” Anna and Erica said.

No stranger to working on pieces over a long time-frame, Batchelor’s work centres around paintings that have been built up over time only to then be stripped back through sanding, revealing layers that have since been forgotten.

Created with no predetermined direction, the finished paintings are a result of layers merging themselves gradually over time.

“When part of the painting is no longer visible, its existence is still actual and felt as it is merged and submerged as an integral part of the fabric of the work and ultimately the unity of the painting,” Batchelor said in an artist’s statement.

While Batchelor was well and truly set to have her work on display before this year, COVID complicated the schedule and resulted in West End having to reschedule the exhibition.

The extended wait and inability to access her studio, while disruptive, surprisingly led Batchelor in a new creative direction with her latest work.

Understanding the way time has escaped from us all during the past couple of years, Anna and Erica said Merge was an opportunity for visitors “to reflect on [their] interactions and experiences that have blurred through time.”

This seamless blend of reflecting on the present and past has become a somewhat recurring theme at the West End with Batchelor’s solo exhibit following on after artist Sarina Lirosi’s exhibit on the relationship between memory, loss and desire late last month.

Focusing her work on abandoned artificial flowers she collected from Melbourne Cemetery, Lirosi’s exhibit Fray revealed stories of the time passing and the memories of the deceased that have passed with those who held those memories.

Reflecting on the excitement of both shows being in-person, Anna and Erica are encouraging everyone to “pop in and say hello”, as the return of visitors has been “so lovely” for the West End Art Space and the artists.

“Our gallery is part of the community at West End precinct, and it has allowed many locals to visit while restricted in lockdown. But on the other hand, we’ve now been lucky to forge new friendships with our neighbours in North and West Melbourne.”

West End Art Space is open from 11am to 4pm from Wednesday through to Saturday, with appointments during non-opened times also accepted if arranged prior.

Still Point of the Turning World, 2021. Solo exhibition Merge. Artist Carol Batchelor •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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