Helga Groves Looking through an ocean of air

8 September –
8 October 2011

Sutton Gallery is pleased to present Looking through an ocean of air, an exhibition of new work by Helga Groves following her 2010 residency in Finland (her ancestral home), travel to Iceland and Russia. Indicative of Groves’ ongoing fascination with the natural environment, this body of work explores the geophysics of the Arctic regions.

Her series of paintings, Looking through an ocean of air, brings together diverse references, from a ceiling in the Hermitage Museum, to Sami mythology and the geometric explorations of the conceptual artist Sol LeWitt. Through the juxtaposition of concentric constellations, these delicate paintings provide a contemplative look at our infinitely vast and expansive universe.

Groves’ observations of the infinite is also dramatically captured in her Stratosphere paintings. These intriguing images are sourced from photographs taken from her flight on route from St Petersburg to Helsinki. A limited palette of deep dark blues through to crisp whites are at times interrupted by a warm glow, evoking the gentle radiance of nocturnal light as seen in the northern latitudes.

To observe the northern hemisphere from a contrasting vantage point, Turning sky into stone, a photographic sculptural installation, focuses on arctic lichen. Constructions enclosed beneath perspex domes, this scientific presentation, are like specimens on illuminated petri dishes, allude to rarified micro environments unique to the northern region.

Throughout this new body of work there is a consideration of the transformation of natural forms in relation to atmosphere and time. Mutable (Arctic waters), features photographs of wild rivers, lakes and seas, printed onto translucent acetate encased within transparent cylinders. Positioned upright in a long row, this work encapsulates waters flux and endless permutations. Transformation is acutely observed in Groves’ Surface of the earth, a series of drawings and animation of Icelandic lava rocks. These highly textured rocks are analysed from every possible angle, rotated to expose each gnarled and dimpled surface; they are a tangible connection to the earth’s internal structure and the volatility of the specific geological environment.

Helga Groves studied at the Sydney College of the Arts. She completed a Master of Arts (Visual Arts) in 2000 and a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) with Honours, in 1988. She has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and abroad, including regular individual exhibitions with Sutton Gallery since 1999. Selected group exhibitions include The Ron & George Adams Collection, MOP Gallery, Sydney 2011; Australian Art for Berlin, Gitte Weise Gallery, Berlin 2009; Points of Departure, Tobey Fine Arts, New York, USA 2007; P.O.W. (Personal Other World), Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Canberra 2006; Good Vibrations: The Legacy of Op Art in Australia, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne 2002; Phenomena: New Painting in Australia #1, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 2001; Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. 1999 Groves was the recipient of a 2010 Australia Council for the Arts Studio Residency in Helsinki. Other residencies include the Moira Dyring Studio, Cite International des Arts, Paris in 2002 and Moet et Chandon Australian Art Fellowship, France, in 1997, Asialink residency in Vietnam, in 1992. Her work has been acquired by major state institutions, including Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane and UQ Art Museum, Brisbane.

Artist’s profile