Art exhibition an inspiration to others – The Western Weekender

Susan Oxenham inside the Penrith Regional Gallery, with plants in the garden.

Following her long-awaited residency at Penrith Regional Gallery, Emu Plains artist Susan Oxenham has created an exhibition like no other, with sound and texture in mind.

Knowing of Ms Oxenham’s four-decade relationship with the Museum, Director of Visual Arts Toby Chapman became determined to work with her in a more curatorial way, following the launch of its annual calendar last year.

His exhibition not only takes on his own personal style, but draws inspiration from his surroundings.

“We were really committed and interested in working with Susan as an exhibiting artist, and with her existing aesthetic and interests, we thought it would be a really interesting idea if we encouraged Susan to produce a body of work that meets directly to the garden, both in terms of materiality and spatial navigation experiences,” Mr. Chapman said.

Susan Oxenham.

Since Mrs. Oxenham is legally blind, her experience of the heritage garden is different from most, leading her to develop her art for the exhibition.

In addition to her signature cane paintings, Ms. Oxenham’s exhibition focuses on the non-visual ways we can interact with our environment and includes an ambient soundtrack that was produced by detecting slight electrical variations in plants via electrodes placed on the sheets.

It was while creating this music that the name of the exhibition came to him.

“Sitting there with my micro-cassette recorder while scooping up water from the pond with tadpoles in it, I realized that this kind of joy only happens in those quiet times in nature when you soak up and that’s where the title came to me – ‘Dip in the Senses!’, she says.

When working on her pieces for the exhibition, including two fairly large and dynamic works of art up to three meters wide, Ms Oxenham relied on touch to find out if she was happy with the finished product.

“If there’s a gap in the paint and something is wrong, maybe it’s not meant to be that way. As long as you can feel it, you’ve got it!” she says.

“Sometimes you have to keep playing with things until it works and yet it’s so simple.”

Mr Chapman hopes the exhibition will inspire others, to help him achieve his aim of reinvigorating the Penrith Regional Gallery program so that local talent comes to the fore.

“What I really hope is that other artists in the local community can see Susan’s work and read about her experience working with us, and ideally be able to imagine themselves in her shoes,” he said. he declares.

“There’s this saying that you can only do what you can see, and I appreciate the irony for Susan, but I think she was able to exemplify a way for the gallery to collaborate with local artists.”

“Soak up the senses” will be open until Thursday, November 24.

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