REFLECTION/REFRACTION essay and selected preview of work


Light can give you back your history, not only as a thought or memory but as a vital and intense experience…it strongly influences the sentiment with which you experience your reality.


This exhibition Reflection/Refraction brings together three Sydney based artists who enhance our memories of reality with light. As the quote suggests, light can greatly influence our experience of a place or event. Each artist touches on certain events that reflect the environmental changes in our atmosphere, oceans and waterways. Each artist highlights the nature of an everyday experience; a lake, the ocean floor and cloud formations, but they are asking us to question these surrounds from an environmental perspective.

Cade Turner’s black and white photographs of clouds titled Cielo allow the light to enhance form and movement, while his photo series titled Away explores a nostalgic relationship with nature in a soft and hazy light. Peta Dzubiel paints lush oils of lakes titled Arcadia, where the fading light is reflected by the water surface. Peta’s new figurative work harks back to a time when nature was experienced at a distance or as something to conquer. While the detailed ceramics by Karen Stuart engage present concerns for coral bleaching. The light filled coral ceramics are enhanced by a subtle use of colour, the series is titled SEA. Each artist, independent of each other, has explored the variety of light found in each location.

Burke was the first philosopher to argue that the sublime and the beautiful are mutually exclusive. (1756)

Each location has a story that intermingles a Romantic and impressionistic visual language. Historically Romantic Artists were concerned with the power of nature and the sublime experience it provided. Here each artist is providing a sublime experience but one that is not about nature’s power but instead they highlight the beauty and greatness of nature’s liquid paths. The impressionistic light reflected in each artwork reveals a considered observation of a glow or the movement of time and it allows the immersive experience to take hold.

Delicate seaweed and coral evokes memories of the ocean floor. Are these Ceramics of coral that are globally warmed and bleached? Photograph’s of the light bouncing off a cloud quickly establishing a sense of form. Is this our atmosphere, how clean is it and how warm is it? Numerous questions are provoked by these artworks often with an underlying concern for the environment. The figurative work by both Cade and Peta intertwines place and time with a sense of nostalgia. Are these relationships with nature from the past or are they relationships we should be focusing on now? Both artist’s work using two very different mediums, one the camera and the other oil paint and yet the vision they both share reflects one of atmospheric deliberation. In each view you are drawn to colour, movement and the subtle form, but you are left to draw your own conclusions, what is actually going to happen, what has happened or what just is.

In today’s climate eco-criticism is leading the way offering new ways to examine our concerns and relationships with nature, equally art is taking a lead by providing a pedagogical experience to inspire us to engage with nature. Each artist invites us to observe the light and the details that are a reminder of what is and what will hopefully remain. If we all learn something from the experience of viewing these artworks, if we can view nature in a new light and seek a new relationship with nature then these artworks have been prodigious.
Rachel Carroll


Cade Turner:

Karen Stuart:

Peta Dzubiel:


Keeping Company With The Collection at Manly Art Gallery and Museum 8 Nov – 1 Dec 2013

Keeping Company With The Collection is an exhibition of new works by artists from Sydney’s Northern Beaches exhibited alongside a selection of the Manly Art Gallery & Museum collection archives which inspired their work.

Opening Friday 8 November 6-8pm. To be opened by Katherine Roberts Senior Curator MAG&M

Exhibition dates: 8 November – 1 December 2013

Artists in conversation Sunday 24 November, 3-4pm

Recollection, oil on linen on board, 2013

Recollection, oil on linen on board, 55.5 x 61cm, 2013

Abstract by Ralph Balson has been applied to further explore my current work, which looks at the anxiety of the Australian bush through ‘lost children’ narratives. The wonder and intrigue of the Australian bush and landscape lured children to wander further from the safety of their known environment, often to their detriment and peril. The decision to obscure the faces of the children with a broad sweeping brush aims to evoke a sense of loss. Recollection is a direct reaction to the colour palette and gestural marks Balson used to create his painting. I have combined elements of realism and abstraction via Balson’s dynamic paint application and composition to suggest a deeper psychological space.


Ralph Balsen, Abstract, 1958, oil on composition board 61 x 76cm