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Wendy Black



Aspects arising from visual research





This exhibition brings together five artists, Alexis Beckett, Anne Bennett, Kari Henriksen, Carolyn Lewens and Colleen Morris who are currently developing their art within the postgraduate studio research degree programs at Monash and RMIT Universities. Seen away from the privacy of the studio and the realm of the art academes this exhibition affords the viewer a chance to observe the visual workings of the artist/researcher's minds.

Each of the five artists is presenting a number of pieces that have stemmed from their studio and academic preoccupations. This art may prove to constitute only a small aspect within their wider search and should not be construed as definitive of their projects in their entirety. Compelled by their individual passions and quests the artists have developed their distinctive visual ideas arising from sustained searching and processes of artistic exploration.



Alexis Beckett

Alexis Beckett born Melbourne. Studies Dip Art (Graphic Design) RMIT 1975, BA (Fine Art - Printmaking) RMIT Uni and is currently completing MA in the School of Art & Culture, RMIT University. In her early career Alexis worked as a graphic and natural history artist for Gould League of Victoria, Dept. of Natural Resources & Environment (Flora & Fauna Branch, Fisheries Division, Parks Victoria), Cambridge Uni Press, Macmillian, Lothian, Thomas Nelson, Tas. Parks & Wildlife.

I am currently a candidate for a Master of Art (by research) at RMIT University. My focus is the extinction of wild species (particularly birds) and my aim is to make artwork that will memorialise birds as a metaphor for the breakdown of our relationship with the natural world. During my research I found the first bird list for Melbourne. It consists of 157 species and was compiled in the 1840's by pioneer farmer John Cotton during his regular journeys from Port Phillip Bay to his farm via the Moonee Ponds Creek. My own list for this region is 52 species. While none of these bird species is extinct, the presage to extinction is loss and absence.

'Decoy' is a contemporary collection of birds (ornaments found in Melbourne), painted black and displayed on black velvet cushions. It refers to a lost time when wild birds were commonly seen and easily collected for scientific study and domestic display.

Of Australia's 1350 species, 25 are extinct and 263 in danger. (S.Garnett, G.Crowley, 'The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000' Environment Australia 2000) Of the world's 9700 bird species, 103 have gone extinct since the early 1800's and 1189 are now classified as critically endangered. ('Red Data Book of Threatened Species' I.U.C.N. World Conservation Union, 2000 )

Since 1998 Alexis has been exhibiting her fine art prints regularly, appearing in 29 group shows. She has been a finalist in numerous prize exhibitions including Banyule Works on Paper Award, the Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, Siemens Fine Art Scholarships, Shell Fremantle Print Award. Her prints are represented in Geelong Regional Gallery, Office of the Dean of Art & Culture RMIT University, RMIT University Library and in private collections. Recently Alexis exhibited Fleeting: Evidence of Absence at Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale.



Anne Bennett

ANNE BENNETT born Ivanhoe. Vic. Studies include BA RMIT 1983, MFA Uni of Tas 1986 & is currently undertaking a PhD in the Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University. She has held 6 solo exhibitions since 1986 including Centre For The Arts, Hobart. Tolarno Galleries, Pinacotheca, 10m shop-front installation, Mildura Palimpsest #3 & Federation Dreaming which toured ACT, Melb & regional Victoria 2001-2.

These two suites of drawings, In the Serpent's Image: Re-coil and In the Serpent's Image: Sliver amount to the early investigations in a PhD studio research project titled Separation and Division: The Ideology of Good and Evil. The project's genesis draws on the Biblical Genesis and the myth of the Fall. Providing a visually rich trove of symbols, this tale enacts a plot of division and dualities. "A slithery fragment of nature got to work on man's weaker side, illegal fruit was consumed, sex, shame and guilt were discovered, and desires were unleashed."s

The image of the serpent, a paradox of opposites slides out of our primal con­sciousness and into view. The simplicity and elegance of the snake's form belies its complexity and power. An expandable, scaled skin stretched over a seething layer of muscles supported by a network of flexible ribs and spine. Both repellent and fascinating the serpent/snake elicits a sense of awe, never indifference.

These early drawings serve both as observational studies and an exercise in examining the potency of the snake image. Visible in fractured glimpses, coiled compositions of positive and negative and sequential segments probe the possibility or not of diminishing the snake's symbolic creative and destructive potential.

 Anne has participated in over 30 group exhibitions, many at public galleries throughout Australia including NGV & Anhui University, Hefei, China. Awards include Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery Acquisitive Award 2000, Artistcare Award 2000, Walker St Gallery Award 1998. Desiderius Orban Youth Art Award, Australia Council 1987. Her work is represented NGV, Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, Uni of Tas. and private collections in Victoria and Tasmania. Anne recently collaborated with Kari Henriksen, their work, Reconstructed Moments -Tower Hill; January 2004 was a finalist in the 2004 John Leslie Art Prize.



Kari Henriksen

Kari Henriksen has a Fellowship RMIT 1975 & is currently undertaking a MFA (by research) at the Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University. Kari has held 8 solo shows since 1985, including Libby Edwards Galleries, Capricorn Gallery, Melb. & Beaver Galleries ACT. Her work has been in about 20 group exhibitions notably Anhui University, China & Lyall Burton Gallery. Kari has been a finalist in numerous art prize exhibitions: the 2004 John Leslie Art Prize (in conjunction with Anne Bennett).The 2003 R &M McGivern Art Prize, the 1997 Nilimbik, the 1992 Diamond Valley.

My research topic is called Light, Water, Air: a studio based investigation of the philosophy of the Sublime. The Sublime that I am interested in is a Kantian one, where the viewer projects their own emotions and thoughts about mortality onto the landscape. Through my work, it is my intention to direct the viewer's gaze towards nature where the observed changes in weather and the seasons represent a reminder of our changing cycles of life. My subject matter is the ocean and the sky. It is a deceptively minimalist space, which is subject to constant change. I am particularly intrigued by the observed phenomena of constantly changing light and atmosphere, seasons and weather. The work in this exhibition is made up of images I created in response to a visit to Walkerville South, towards the end of summer this year. The methodology for my research frequently involves travelling to the source, collecting information and then reworking the visual information back in the studio. This exhibition represents the work created after a particular journey to a particular place at a particular time.

Her work is held in City of Matsudo, Japan, Budget corp. RMIT, MLC, CGS, Hogg & Reid,Villagio Sant'Antonio, ACT collections as well as in many private collections throughout Australia & in New York, USA.

In 2003 Kari was awarded the Sardinia Cultural Assoc. Victoria Travelling Scholarship & in 2001 a Great Southland Foundation Award. She is currently undertaking a 6 month residency in a studio near Florence, Italy.



Carolyn Lewens

Carolyn Lewens born Wales, arrived Australia 1974.

Studies include 1970 Cert Ed Uni. Warwick, England, 1980 Dip Art & Design Prahran CAE, 1982 Grad Dip Fine Arts (Photography) VCA, 1997 MA Media Arts, RMIT and is currently enrolled in the PhD program at the Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University. Carolyn has been involved in over 50 exhibitions since 1982, notably her travelling solo show Countenance and her collaborative series with Neil Stanyer, Watermarks : Channels Albury Regional Gallery 2000, Crossings, Geelong Gallery 2000, Confluence, Warrnambool Art Gallery 1999.

Dancing with shadows


These prints are cyanotype photograms, blueprints, made by the touch of an object against a light sensitive emulsion. The objects, caressed by sunlight, leave a shadowy negative trace of its penetration of surfaces and shapes. The touch of the real is literally a point of contact, a meeting place between object and image making. Polarities are reversed, lightness folds into darkness, presence into absence and a life-sized image is formed. Objects become phenomena when the record and the recorded meet.

Long after my mother died I found some of her intimate belongings, undergarments and dresses she had worn when she was a young woman. I realised my play with these garments was a way of dealing with loss.

A mysterious fluidity came to be presented. The garments become containers for the soul, my mother's, and its interconnection with my own. The touch of fabric on paper recalls the intimacy of the fabric clothing the body, a play with what's inside and outside, over and under, empty and full. The ghostly and blurred images became 'indecisive moments'. They capture the contradictory forces of motion and stability suggesting processes of entropy and change. An evocation of intangible materialities and the transitional nature of life itself embedded in the photogram process.

Carolyn has also curated emerging artists shows at Centre for Contemporary Photography and elsewhere and has been Artist in Residence in numerous schools, art centres and communities. Carolyn has won several prizes and received numerous grants for both her individual & collaborative photographic projects, most recently a Regional Arts Fund Grant to complete the next Watermarks exhibition in Sale early next year



Colleen Morris

COLLEEN MORRIS born Mildura. Studied FRMIT 1972, MA  RMIT Uni 1996 & is currently undertaking a PhD in the School of Art & Culture, RMIT University. She has held 11 solo shows between 1970 & 1999 including Gerstman Gallery Melbourne, Mildura Arts Centre, Smyrnios Gallery.

Shoalhaven Series - River Nuances


In 2000 I received a seven-week studio residency at Bundanon, one of the Arthur Boyd Trust properties, situated on the Shoalhaven River in southern New South Wales.

While there I became immersed in the landscape, gaining a feeling and knowledge of this particular place, space, in a sense becoming part of the environment.

I explored river flow, meanders, tidal surface changes, colour variations at different times of day, sounds of the river environment, and its particular location within the river valley. The strongest, most powerful visual impact of this loca­tion was multiple views from the homestead and the studio. My markmaking and the visual formats became progressively more open and simplified, as if translating in visual shorthand the triple horizontals of river flat, river and cliff, and sky. I was very aware that these features reinforced the river as the principal presence in this environment, whether actually seen and heard, or in the knowledge of its flow and location.

Hung at eye level, in a continuous line around the studio/gallery at Bundanon, the resultant art work echoed the physical landscape of the river flats seen through the gallery's window; a 'virtual' landscape viewed within a confined, internal space, located in the external space of the 'real' landscape. Allowing the viewer to become a 'participant', to experience and contemplate an enriched spatial environment, in an outside / inside landscape.


Her work has been seen in over 20 group exhibitions since 1970, including Mildura Palimpsest #2, #3, #4 & #5 National Womens Art Award, Drawings, NGV & Works on Paper by Australian Artists Anhui University, Hefei, China 2003. Represented Artbank, West Australia Art Gallery, Queensland Art Gallery, Victoria Council for the Arts, Mildura Arts Centre and private collections throughout Australia and the UK. Prizes include Perth International Drawing Prize, American Bi. Centennial Painting Prize. In 2000 Colleen completed a residency at Arthur Boyd's former home, Bundanon, N.S.W.