Saturday, October 18, 2014

Finding Xanadu | Sue Beyer | TEDxBrisbane

Essay by Michelle Eskola

Compelled by an intriguing combination of painting, roller-skating and motor biking, Sue Beyer’s practice investigates place as a fluid and shifting set of experiences.  Beyer utilises the comfortable, familiar and simple vocabulary of cartography to construct sensitive allegorical reflections on navigation, location and subjectivity within contemporary urban spaces.

Beyer’s creative process allows her to incorporate the language of mapping that traditionally gives structure to vast geographies.  The topographical line work of this media is transcribed over dynamic blocks of colour and abstract forms. This layering process translates the language and universal structure of cartography into hand painted and intuitive expressions. Through this method Beyer decontextualises mapping and personalises the geographical terrain whilst bringing it into focus.

‘Betwixt and Between’ is designed to surround the gallery space and immerse the viewer.  The site-specific arrangement indicates a continuous journey with no departure or arrival point.  Following the meanderings of the Brisbane River, the viewer is invited to identify familiar locations within the work whilst affording a feeling of the location by being situated within it.  We know how it is to comprehend and locate ourselves within this city.  Thus we know how to be acquainted with Beyer’s landscape as a lived and embodied experience.  Through this collection of paintings, Beyer prompts a consideration of where we are and importantly, what it is like to be here.

The map of town planning provides a readymade source of information that becomes the raw material of the work.  The design of the original map evolves during the transfer process to become slightly altered rather than imitative.  This element of alteration is comparable to the continual mapping and remapping of locations within contemporary culture.  Consequently, Beyer’s work renegotiates the traditional process of mapping to incorporate the notion of an active landscape continuously renewed by urban developments.

Similarly, Beyer’s work extends the responsibility of the geographer by acknowledging the personal histories and imaginings that create the feelings and impressions of a place.  Rather than simply re-presenting the collective knowledge and language of geography, ‘Betwixt and Between’ provides an amalgamation of information and illusion.  With particular details such as street names deliberately excluded, the paintings maintain a balance between representation and abstraction.  Whilst the work proposes new functions and meanings for geographical maps it invokes the psychological complexities of our understanding and relationship to place.

We continually orientate ourselves within our environment via our instinctive capacity for cognitive mapping.  All maps, physical or otherwise, depend on the use of the imagination to be experienced.  Beyer draws attention to these fragmentary mental processes by constructing a correlation between mapping and her own imagination and memory.  Subsequently, the works echo an interior and singularly expressive perception of place that is at once charted on earth and yet free from geographical constraint.

A distinct connection to this concept can be identified within the work via the areas of white negative space.  This space fragments the landscape, asking the viewer to recompose the missing information.  This formal element correlates with a gap in the memory system.  We are reminded of how experience is translated into thought, how memories are layered and how dreams jumble reality.  The visual journey across Beyer’s landscape is, in this sense, as shifting as a recollected experience.

Additionally, Beyer’s energetic interplay of line, shape and negative space evokes a formal similarity to military camouflage.  Camouflage is both a fashionable and functional device used as an ambiguous instrument of concealment.  Metaphorically, Beyer’s bold technicolour camouflage corresponds with the notion that our surroundings are imbued with more layers of history and connections to meaning than can ordinarily be seen.  Whilst similarly accentuating the idea that a map has the ability to reveal as well as conceal the history of the land that it claims to represent.

Whilst city development endeavors to define our sense of place by imposing boundaries and parameters, ‘Betwixt and Between’ reinstates the significance of a lived experience of place in shaping our understanding and sense of belonging.  Beyer’s balance of colour combined with shifts in tone constructs a sensation of movement throughout the landscape.  The artist’s intuitive colour composition could be viewed to encapsulate her lived and reminisced experience of skating or biking through Brisbane’s suburbia.  Catching glimpses of sky in between green foliage, the red of a sign interrupting a brief view of the river and interpenetrating the psychology of experience.

However, Beyer’s indistinct forms could just as likely be employed to confuse diverse structures of mapping.  They could be precipitation forms or storm fronts taken from radar descriptions.  They could be topographical lines representing land formations.  This element of ambiguity within Beyer’s paintings is perpetually compelling and attractive.  The well-known visual language of mapping is contrasted and complimented by an almost familiar and yet decidedly mysterious form of abstraction.

This allows ‘Betwixt and Between’ to be simultaneously abstract and pictorial, fluid and fixed, comforting, familiar, simple and yet multifaceted.  ‘Betwixt and Between’ surrounds us in an approximation of a unified other world in between lived and imagined observation.  Where the finite space of lived experience is distinguished by the infinite space of the imaginary.

Essay by Michelle Eskola, 2014

for more information on my work visit www.suebeyer.com.au

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Review

A review of my latest exhibition at SGAR can be seen on six to eight blog here

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October is happening

Betwixt & Between
My exhibition Betwixt & Between opens tonight at Spiro Grace Art Rooms. I have made a video of the installation.



Grand designs
One of my paintings will be on Grand Designs Australia tonight! The couple who bought the painting built an amazing house made out of containers and it's being featured on the show. An article on the house can be seen here on the courier mail. The painting 'Her spirits rose as they left the ugly city behind' can be seen in the image below.


The lounge area. Picture: Grand Designs Australia. Foxtel. Source: Supplied (News.com.au)



TEDx
My TEDx talk went really well on the weekend. I am hoping the video will be available in the next week. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done but also one of the best!

Photo from TEDx Brisbane


Friday, October 03, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Great article about my work



A great article in Moustache Magazine about my upcoming exhibition at SGAR

http://www.moustachemagazine.com/2014/09/whats-your-topography/

Sunday, September 14, 2014

So much happening!!

I know I keep saying this... It's been such a long time between posts. I used to be so good about posting on my blog but I have been really, really busy... truly... :-)

Some exciting things coming up.

I'm presenting a TEDx talk on October 5 at the Powerhouse in Brisbane. I will be talking about how roller skating and roller derby relate to my art practice. Should be good! I'm a bit nervous. I am practicing my talk over and over so hopefully my mind won't go blank when I go on :-) This the TEDx Brisbane site here.

I am also having a solo exhibition at SGAR > Spiro Grace Art Rooms in October. The exhibition runs from 9th of October to the 26th. This is a sneaky peak at some of the work. I have wanted to make this work for a few years and I am so happy that it will finally be seen. There are 21 panels all together.

Betwixt - part 1

Betwixt - part 2


I am also a finalist in the Redland Art Award. My painting Undergrowth 26 will be at the Redland Art Gallery from 12 October to the 23 of November.


Undergrowth 26
212.5 x 121.5
2013

Saturday, June 07, 2014


Every day while I was at Fowlers Gap, I got up and went for a long walk and took as many photos as possible. Then I would work on painting ideas and some applications that I'm working on. It was a great two weeks! I wasn't sure how I would go being by myself for so long in such a remote place with no internet, iPhone etc. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I had a lot of work to do so I was never bored. It was a good time to quiet my mind and think about where I am headed over the next few years. I'm thinking of doing a PhD.

The landscape is quite green at the moment. I was told that a few months earlier this year it was just red dirt and rocks as far as the eye could see. About 2 days before I left a heap of thunderstorms came through and I wasn't sure if I would be able to get home on the Monday. Fortunately the water on the roads receded and I managed to drive my sedan through 45km of muddy, red dirt roads from Fowlers Gap to Broken Hill. It was pretty hairy! But my fantastic little car got through :-)








Fowlers Gap Research Station photos here


Sunday, May 18, 2014

To Cobar!

Left Narrabri this morning and drove to Cobar. In the photos you can see how the landscape changes. The dirt goes red and the type of trees change. It took about five and a half hours and not too bad. 








Coonabarabran


Coonabarabran












More cotton on the side of the road


Bales of cotton

more bales of cotton






An Australian flag in the middle of nowhere!

Check out the clouds!


Cobar


Cobar