''Gander Moon'', Kushana Bush (Brett McDowell
The Straw Man, by Kushana Bush.
There is a distinct sense of purpose about the characters
depicted in the latest set of work by Kushana Bush on display
at the Brett McDowell Gallery.
The artist has travelled extensively in the past year or so,
allowing her to take in at first hand historical art from a
variety of sources in Europe, Asia and the Americas, and she
has successfully assimilated many of their stylings into her
The influences of medieval European frescoes by the likes of
Giotto and Latin American retablo and mural art now mix with
the long-standing Oriental and South Asian feel of the
artist's work, producing a new hybrid that is at once unique
Bush has also honed her narrative skills in these latest
works, and the current display largely shies away from the
morbid focus of many of Bush's past images. The pieces have
become more focused, the individual paintings now becoming
distinct tableaux rather than a repetition of motifs. In
works such as The pale ceremony, we are left to ponder
the nature of the action taking place. The scenes are
presented plainly against a stark grey background, the action
therefore allowed to dominate the viewer's attention. The
result is clear, strong, and highly effective.
''A Decade On ... '', Kerry Fenton-Johns (Gallery De
Light from above, by Kerry Fenton-Johns.
The twin loves of the outdoor life and painting have
intertwined for Kerry Fenton-Johns. The artist's sense of
wonder for nature, be it in her garden or in the bush, and
her eye for detail combine in these canvases, which speak of
the flora of the places she loves.
The artist has used painting both as catharsis and as
communication, pulling herself from depression through her
art and also evoking and transmitting her sense of
''mindfulness'', the childlike joy at the glory of nature. By
concentrating on the small details of the plants she depicts,
the artist has transformed features of them into something
known yet alien, seen and not seen. A strong sense of the
depth of the foliage is also successfully conveyed.
The acrylic works are lush and strong; they instil a sense of
the vibrancy of the environment that surrounds us. They are
not photographic representations, yet are true to life. The
detail of the flax flowers and nikau seem both realistic and
impressionistic, as by homing in on the fine detail the
recognisable elements become strange in the same way as with
microscope slides; there is both precise rendering and
idealised sweep in these sumptuous plant studies.
''Immersed'', Nicki Gilmore (Dowling Street Project
Current 2, by Nicki Gilmore.
As with Kerry Fenton-Johns, so too is Nicki Gilmore attracted
to the minutiae of nature. Gilmore, however, has taken a far
more impressionistic approach, almost to the point of
abstraction, with her studies of that most elusive subject,
the play of light on the surface of water.
Whereas Fenton-Johns has taken her joy of detail as a
jumping-off point, Gilmore revels in the scintillation of
many-hued reflection. For this artist, realistic portrayal is
as liquid as the surfaces that provide her subject matter.
Gilmore's acrylic works, many of them shaped in ovals and
circles that well suit their free-flowing patterns, seem to
shimmer and float off the canvas. Colour is all, and colour
In a nicely ambiguous line on her artist's statement, Gilmore
says that she is currently working ''with the dynamic energy
of clouds''. This could be a comment on her latest subject
matter, but it could also well describe the shifting nature
of the hypnotically rhythmic strands and hues within her
paintings. There may be little of direct tangible substance
in a painting of reflection, but - as masters of the genre
such as Monet knew - that is irrelevant when you can paint