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A feminist surrealist visual art exhibition opens at PS Art Space
This feminist surrealist exhibition features significant new contemporary works, by five established, female WA artists, commissioned by the Department of Local Government Sports and Cultural Industries. Photo: Daniel Craig Matsu Photogrpahy.

FREMANTLE.- Following its acclaimed 2018 debut Dark Swan Exhibitions takes over Packenham Street’s PS Artspace in Fremantle from 17 October to 14 November, with ‘Imaginary Territories’, delivering its unique, multi-disciplinary exhibition platform of critically engaged WA artists and performers for a WA audience.

This feminist surrealist exhibition features significant new contemporary works, by five established, female WA artists, commissioned by the Department of Local Government Sports and Cultural Industries. The works include film projection, sound, installation, photomedia, and visual art by Jo Darbyshire, Lucille Martin, Rebecca Paterson (33 POETS), Dr Toni Wilkinson, and Dr Kelsey Ashe who is also the curator.

‘Imaginary Territories’ is an odyssey that travels within, yet is global in outlook, acknowledging the centenary of the emergence of Surrealist modes of artistic inquiry from Europe 100 years ago, which spread worldwide, right to the ends of the earth, into the far-away Antipodes.

Explaining the inspiration behind the exhibition Dr Ashe said, “In an era of environmental/world crisis and political divisiveness, to conceive new realities has become critically important. The exhibition explores the concept of a ‘territory’ as a domain of the inner world – a representation that expresses an ‘internal truth’. Through this Surrealist lens, the artists’ territories are simultaneously real and imagined, explored into being; a place where both conscious and subconscious realities are envisioned. The artists are asked to consider their “inner topographies” and to question how this can assist in overcoming the earthbound borders, barriers and displacements we find ourselves in this modern era.”

Dr Ashe says her interest in Surrealism stems from the movement’s aim of striving to reveal the sacred within the mundane. “The exhibition is also timely in that 100 years on from its first emergence in Europe, Surrealism’s influence and legacy is experiencing unprecedented levels of revisionist attention from curators, artists and writers worldwide, particularly for women artists who have found its strategies for artistic enquiry essential to their practice.”

2020 has been a major year for international recognition of Dr Ashe’s work. She returned from the USA in Late January just as the COVID lockdowns began, after placing second in a juried International Women in Surrealism Exhibition; a remake of the notorious ‘31 Women’ exhibition staged by Peggy Guggenheim in 1943. Ashe’s submission, her film ‘Pearls and Blackbirds’, commissioned for the Fremantle Biennale in 2019, was immediately then shown at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and invited into two group shows in New York at the Barrett Art Centre and at Site: Brooklyn Gallery. She was also appointed as the Co-Editor of second issue of ‘The Debutante’, a UK Based Arts Journal devoted to Contemporary Feminist Surrealism. That issue, 'Feminist Surrealist Odysseys' also features her work and will be published in September.

“The work I’ve received recognition for is an important WA story, about the lives of brave and purposeful women of different cultures that came before us. This International interest in my film is personally rewarding, but moreover, it reflects the curiosity that the world has about our part of the world, our stories and complex histories.”

Following on from the success of the first Dark Swan iteration in 2018 ‘Contemporary Tales of the Gothic Antipodes’, Dr Ashe, curator says that support shown for the exhibition reflects both the critically engaged nature of the artists involved and the important and timely themes being investigated by the artists and performers.

“In circumstances of unprecedented scarcity for funding in the arts, I am very grateful to the Department of Local Government Sports and Cultural Industries for supporting the commission and presentation of five female Western Australian artists to create significant new contemporary visual artworks for this exhibition” Dr Ashe said.

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