Here & Now

MAMA (Murry Art Museum Albury)

25 September - 20 October 2016

Davenport’s exhibition at MAMA, Here & Now, is her twelfth solo show to date. In 2013, Davenport was selected to in the group exhibition, Action/Abstraction,

at the Wangaratta Regional Art Gallery, which also included Aida Tomescu, Sally Gabori, IIdiko Kovacs and Todd Hunter. And it’s easy to see why. Her densely layered, gestural compositions in bright warm colours sat comfortably in this illustrious company.

Looking at her paintings you can sense Davenport savours what she does. “Over the years I have worked in many different mediums: ceramics, sculpture, metal, sewing and embroidery, encaustic, watercolours, printmaking, drawing, charcoal and photography, and loved them all,” she says. “But for me there is an energy in painting large oils on canvas that I find hard to explain.” This passion for the medium invigorates her work; it animates each brushstroke and her canvases seem to almost vibrate with an exuberance and joy.

Davenport says, “Painting for me is about relationships.” This includes internal relationships within the painting itself, such as between the paint and the canvas and between the first mark and subsequent marks. But the primary relationship she engages with is external: the relationship between the artist and the landscape. For although her work is essentially abstract, Davenport’s creative wellspring is her local environment.

“My works are not about memories of a landscape topography. I am not trying to record what is physically there; it’s more about the emotions. My paintings don’t conform to any pre-existing idea of what a landscape should be,” she explains. “Abstraction allows for a layering of meanings that can be experienced in unison. The painting therefore is never static or fixed; it can keep changing, be full of possibilities and have a life of its own. I like to generate energy in the work by keep the painting open and airy. I create windows so the viewer can enter into the work, move through it and experience or understand the landscape as I have done.”

Davenport walks most days near her home in what she describes as “an amazing part of the world.” She lives downstream from Albury in an area called Splitters Creek on the Murray River, very near the Wonga wetlands. “The wetlands are the floodplain of the Murray River. An ecosystem of lagoons and billabongs covering around 80 hectares, the wetlands are a haven for wildlife, especially birds,” the artist says. “There are miles of walking tracks throughout. And this is the origin of many of my works.”

“The Murray River plays an enormous part in life in Albury,” says Davenport, “and MAMA makes an important contribution to the cultural life in our region.” Of her solo show Here & Now, Davenport says she’s honoured to be exhibiting in the regional gallery, “even though there is added ‘pressure in getting it right’ in my home town.”

- 'Here & Now', Art Guide Australia, Tracey Clement, 2016

 © 2020 Jo Davenport