Kimberley Arts Council’s visual arts committee chair, Linda Douglas, described the current exhibition in the gallery at Centre 64, Challenge Accepted, as possibly the best exhibition ever displayed there. If imagination and ingenuity, originality and skilled craftsmanship are important criteria by which to judge the quality of an exhibition, then perhaps Linda Douglas is correct. Certainly this truly unusual exhibition by 47 Kimberley area artists is right up there with the most interesting and impressive displays of artworks this reviewer has ever seen at Centre 64.
The challenge that the artists accepted was to create artworks on the theme of ‘keys’. It is a theme the artists rose to magnificently and portrayed in a multitude of ways; keys that unlock doors to human aspirations, keys that open cans to reveal historical vignettes, a key to decode an encrypted message, keys on pianos, keys as sculptural building blocks, and in other ways too difficult to describe. The works are in a wide range of mediums – prints, paintings, collages, sculptures, mobiles, photographs, pottery, fibre arts, mixed media, and two actual doors.
The challenge concept for the exhibition was proposed to the visual arts committee by Kimberley calligrapher and printmaker Tracey Harris whose framed lino-block prints, mobile sculpture, and suitcase full of block prints on wood for sale are prominently displayed. I doubt even Tracey could have expected the fascinating responses the challenge provoked. A number of the artists have not exhibited at Centre 64 previously, indeed some may not have ever exhibited an artwork anywhere before, while others are well established artists in the area, displaying their creativity in new and exciting ways. One such example is a wooden door from which hang about 90 (I didn’t actually count or read them all) hand-written notes, each a statement from the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that has not yet been fulfilled in Canada, with a handful of statements alongside of those that have actually been achieved. The work is by Kimberley writer and fabric artist Lori Craig and surely epitomizes the saying that “when you buy something from an artist……..you are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul… a small piece of someone else’s life”.
This exhibition runs at Centre 64 until January 29 and the gallery is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free and most works are for sale.