The long-term personal and professional relationship between Colleen Ahern, Amanda Marburg and Lisa Radford, was the impetus to offer the group a platform to explore and expose the dynamics of their practices.
The 18th-century painter, Thomas Gainsborough, used broccoli in his landscape models, and the three artists have taken this idea as a starting point for interpreting and incorporating broccoli into their artworks. Individually, they each maintain a deep curiosity in the circularity of ideas and are passionate about all art, whether it be old or new, high or low. Consequently, the opportunity for broccoli to encapsulate these concerns while still allowing space for artworks that are stimulated by humour and absurdity appealed to the artists.
Ahern’s paintings engage primarily with visible remnants of the music industry. Her prolific, durational series in which she re-paints album cover art within the listening time of the record, practically has a cult following of its own. For this exhibition, Ahern has expanded her musical suite of references by inserting or rearranging broccoli into a myriad of personal and pop culture imagery.
Marburg is known for her colourful paintings created from photographs featuring plasticine characters in surreal landscapes and the paintings in for you broccoli, undergo a similar methodology. This time, they begin with Marburg (re)making in clay, Staffordshire pottery figurines that feature broccoli amongst other things. Her creative translations amplify the charm and strangeness of the original ornaments. The finished paintings command wonder as the smoothness of the painted surfaces defy the depth and form they portray.
Radford employs a broad range of mediums and methods in her research-based, organisational and collegial practice. Building upon this foundation, she overlays an intuitive, cryptic logic to reveal connections, construct narratives and engender dialogue. In for you broccoli, she has written a play – using ready-made words – based on a trajectory of artists that have used broccoli in their work and subsequently created paintings from this text.
Colleen Ahern was born in Leeton, NSW and lives and works in Melbourne. She completed a Bachelor of Arts, Painting, from the VCA in 1999 and is currently represented by Neon Parc, Melbourne. Ahern’s work is motivated by musical fandom, the portrait and cultural iconography. She has participated in numerous solo and curated group exhibitions, as well as collaborative projects in museums, commercial galleries and ARIs, both locally and interstate.
Amanda Marburg’s paintings are the end-product of an extended process that involves photography and model making. Drawing from film, art history, cultural artefacts and paraphernalia, Marburg constructs technically modest yet endearing plasticine figures before photographing the strange worlds she creates against studio backdrops. Painting from these photographs, a curious tension arises between the intentionally unceremonious handling of her models, mediated through the medium of photography, and the exacting realism with which her subjects are rendered. Melancholic and irreverent in equal measure, Marburg’s paintings enlist and rework canonical tropes to relieve the medium from its own rigidity.
Lisa Radford uses conversation and correspondence as a way of exploring the shared space between images, place and people through writing, editing, exhibition making and education. More often than not she works with others, most recently with Sam George and Yhonnie Scarce but previously with TCB art inc. for some 15 years, and as a member of the collective DAMP. Currently working in the Painting Department at the VCA, she shares thoughts publicly and intermittently in the The Saturday Paper.Amanda Marburg’s profile