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Poimena Visual Art Residency Australia - Burned Bush project

Press release

From 11 August to 6 September, Poimena Gallery will present works by Mariëlle van den Bergh and Mels Dees, under the title ‘Double Dutch’. Van den Bergh and Dees, from Eindhoven in the Netherlands, are the inaugural recipients of the Poimena Visual Arts Residency 2006, and they have been working at the Launceston Church Grammar School for more than a month. In their installations, which have been created especially for this show, they comment on their experiences during their first visit to Tasmania.

Van den Bergh’s main interest is nature, not so much as a source of raw materials or as a threatened environment, but as a way to provide meaning. In her work she often recreates natural phenomena in a way which allows them to acquire new connotations. In recent projects she frequently uses Chinese rice paper as a medium, saturating it with bookbinder’s glue to create a semitransparent skin for her sculpture. On a trip through the state she collected fibers, such as button grass and reeds, for the frameworks. While travelling, Mariëlle also realized that at home she hardly ever encountered trees which actually died of old age – in an overpopulated country like Holland they would have been chopped down long before. Her installation, entitled ‘Bush’, centers on life and death – by fire, chainsaw or natural causes - of Tasmania’s woods.

Much of Mels Dees’ work deals with nature as well, but it focuses on its relation with man-made reality – the analogies and contradictions between our technological culture and the natural processes we remain part of. His work is not easy to classify and ranges from large-scale installations to fragile paper reliefs, from etchings to computer animations. On arriving in Tasmania, Mels was struck by the anglicized colonial architecture: “Looking at the Grammar School’s church, you could easily imagine yourself on the Isle of Wight – except for the Bunya-Bunya tree looming over it, and the cockatoos...”. To catch the eerie, alienated feeling Tasmania evoked at first, he made a series of black-and-white stereo photographs and built (from junk materials) the viewers to see them. For his ‘Terra Australis’, where “the sun is black, trees grow with their roots in the air and men have their feet on backwards”, Mels used negatives and manipulated photographs taken around Launceston.

The  exhibition ‘Double Dutch’ also features work by Quirijn Dees and some grade 6 LCGS students.
It will be opened by [.....], at 5.30 pm on Friday, 11 August 2006

Poimena Gallery
Button Street, Mowbray
Open Monday - Friday, 9am - 5 pm
Weekends by appointment
Contact Katy Woodroffe (03) 6336 6039


The artists gratefully acknowledge the support of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the Launceston Church Grammar School.