The Port Hedland Courthouse Gallery is currently showing three new exhibitions: BUILDED REMNANTS by Berndnaut Smilde (Netherlands), Konversation by Nicole Leuchter (WA) and Janelle McCaffrey (WA), and Blue Town: The idea of Wittenoom by Craig Rowles. These exhibitions represent startlingly different takes on the rugged yet sublime Pilbara landscape.
Smilde’s practice explores the artificial creation of natural phenomena such as clouds and rainbows, and in BUILDED REMNANTS, he has turned his eye to the Pilbara. The outcomes are the first of his iconic Nimbus series set outdoors, resulting in a surreal take on the Romantic tradition of sublime landscape painting. These photographs are complemented by other works created in industrial sites in Perth and the South West, during Smilde’s first Australian residency in 2016.
Konversation represents the first time two Port Hedland artists, Nicole Leuchter and Janelle McCaffrey, have collaborated in single works. McCaffrey, known for her refined landscapes in ink, and Leuchter, known for her expressive abstract compositions, passed canvases and sheets of paper back and forth until both artists were satisfied that the work had found a harmony. The outcomes are works that marry the broad expressive gestures of Leuchter’s work with the detailed finery of McCaffrey’s landscapes.
Blue Town: The idea of Wittenoom sees accomplished landscape photographer Craig Rowles engaging with one of the most contentious sites in the Pilbara, the former asbestos mining town of Wittenoom, degazetted in 2007. Expecting to find a boarded up and ruined town, Rowles instead found both evidence of a deadly history and a surprising beauty. The photographs that resulted reference this confounding of expectations, putting the viewer in a state of pleasurable undecidability.
These exhibitions exemplify FORM’s commitment to showcasing local talent as well as bringing in international perspectives on the Pilbara. After the opening on the 17th May the exhibitions will show until the 13th July.