http://www.andrew-baker.com/Karla_Dickens_Black_and_Blue.pdf

The two- and three-dimensional works in Black and Blue embody the rawness and daring that Karla’s œuvre has ventilated for more than twenty years. A steady developer, Dickens has hit a rare vein of productivity over recent years, producing many works of poignancy, abounding beauty and brutal honesty.

For example, an elaborate and eye-catching suite of five finely-wrought collages, entitled Sleeping Beauties, were fashioned by the artist from vintage dress- and furnishing-fabrics. Karla incorporated this unusual medium into her practice while still a student at the National Art School in Sydney. She did so (through necessity) because she couldn’t afford conventional materials such as inks, coloured pencils or paints. These painful yet unflinching works are the artist’s reaction to the 2011 death of Lynette Daley, a 33-year-old Indigenous woman who bled to death during a camping trip with two men on a beach near Iluka in northern NSW. This tragic story came to general notice through an ABC TV Four Corners episode entitled Callous Disregard. It echoes similar attacks over recent decades upon Indigenous women from the Northern Rivers region of NSW where the artist now resides.

Over the past three years, significant works by Karla Dickens have been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia, Australian National Maritime Museum, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Artbank, Artspace Mackay and Bendigo Art Gallery.

Karla Dickens is a “found object” virtuoso. The current exhibition features Fight Club, a suite of  “shields” made from used metal dust-bin lids. Onto each of the eight black shields is painted a poem of the artist’s making. These poignant articulations of the artist’s thesis are wide-ranging in style and content. For example, a poem entitled The Black Dog explains the artist’s use of her own depression as fuel for her artworks. This is an eloquent and insightful treatise about a malady which is presumed to affect many artists—and not only visual artists.

Like numerous other works in the exhibition, the six part soft-sculptural suite Bound is made from a mix of old and new materials. It comprises half a dozen strait-jackets which are embroidered and embellished in a variety of ways. Emanating other-worldly spirits, these perplexing compositions articulate some of the reasons why women stay in abusive relationships. These, Dickens maintains, are: “… addiction”, “… beauty myths”, “… children”, “… land”, “… marriage” and “… money”.

Containing photography, sculpture, collage, embroidery and poetry, this exhibition is a wide-ranging exploration of Karla Dickens’ unique view of the world—where the present and past collide in a multi-dimensional kaleidoscope of the her own making.

If you have any questions, or would like higher-resolution images of particular works, please feel free to Andrew Baker Art Gallery
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Bowen Hills Qld 4006

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