dappled things, adazzle and dim is an exhibition of paintings of order
and mess, chaos and composure.
Figures dressed for work momentarily lose their poise and reveal their
inner rock-star. Others with cameras attempt to capture stillness from
the swirling morass.
Consider the office Christmas party: an occasion where the hierarchy breaks
down as managers and their subordinates enter the realm of the dance floor
or the karaoke lounge. This zone no longer values power and ambition but
ones ability to relax. Competition, if there is any, is judged on
hitherto unacknowledged talents.
are sourced from old snapshots, remembering a time when it was possible
to be utterly absorbed in something hedonistic.
Theres been a bit of a vogue for miniature-style painting
apparent in galleries around town, some of it inspired by the great Persian
tradition. Penelope Aitkens figures have something of this demanding
technique the faces being hardest to achieve in this tight, flat
style. Aitken is an active exhibitor, and a welcome development with this
show is in the move away from dense black backgrounds to some witty patterns
controlled but offering a looser foil to the narrative moments
acted out by her characters. Its ambitious work.
Penny Webb, The Age, Friday 10 February 2006
A source of inspiration
behind of this body of work is Gerald Manley Hopkins poem, Pied
Beauty, lines from which are in the exhibition's title.
Glory be to God for dappled things -
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecole chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pierced - fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled, (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change.
Gerald Manley Hopkins 1877
While I don't share the poet's religious belief I am attracted
to his pleasure in a god responsible for the creation of strange and illogical
matter alongside that which is conventionally or even breathtakingly beautiful.
Compared with the contemporary theory of Intelligent Design, Hopkins
observation of nature in all its fickle, freckled forms suggests
an appreciation of the random, and in a lack of design.
Penelope Aitken February 2006