Museum quality work in Flinders Lane

By Rhonda Dredge

When you are an artist, it’s not just a case of getting the job done. It’s the thought that goes into the work that counts because you want a viewer to retrace those steps.

In Cassie Leatham’s Echidna Dish the materials include echidna quills, an abalone shell and pipe clay.

It’s unlikely that Cassie just went down to the art shop to pick up a few supplies.

You can imagine her scouting through country where echidnas poke around, looking for a carcass. That might take some time.

The inclusion of an abalone shell suggests the coast but perhaps one not that far from the city where someone might appreciate the amusing idea of using it in a spikey dish for a makeup table. 

The Mornington Peninsula is the meeting place for Cassie and the artists shown in Reflecting Country, Recognising self; an exhibition by Baluk Arts at Flinders Lane Gallery. 

This is a brilliant show for those returning to the city from holidays down the coast and mourning the loss of habitat as they get closer to the man-made corridors of town.

In the city the discourse dominates and it must drive some people crazy. This is the kind of show you expect to see in a regional gallery rather than in a commercial downtown space.

Each object on display has both a purpose and a story. There are beautiful little receptacles made out of bull kelp, dried and glistening with as much poetry as a shark’s egg – Bull Kelp Water Carriers by Nannette Shaw.

A circular healing mat is made out of a native grass called Lomandra, a spiney-head mat-rush native to most of Australia. These mats were made for everyday use by indigenous people and they still seem relevant.

Both tradition and commentary combine in this exhibition and the objects were capturing the appreciation of visitors to the gallery when CBD News visited in early January.

“Echidnas are still quite common in the national park near St Andrews,” said one visitor. “My daughter lives there.” She pointed out the creative use of a remnant ghost net in another sculptural piece.

The prices reflect the value of the intellectual property of this work by indigenous artists. 

Reflecting Country, Recognising Self, Flinders Lane Gallery, until February 1.

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