Motherlode (Earth series) 2014 Gelatin silver photograms, acrylic paint, white Chinagraph pencil, colour print material and embossed fern
Motherlode is one piece in photographer, Susan Purdy’s latest show. Above is a pretty poor shot of this work taken with my device – my reflection evident – and yet still it’s possible to see the intricacies of images and medium interacting to form a wonderful whole.
Susan Purdy speaks powerfully in Motherlode of the female form: its bulbous, curvy and encompassing shape containing a necessarily strong, iron rod-like centre. They are combinations intrinsic to the idea, as well as the reality, of a ‘mother lode’. This same contrast of strength and care is seen in the brass egg-and-nipple-like images, and the metal appearance of the central blue fulcrum. The white swan, of course, is about to set sail, and the skeletal rib cage (beautifully rendered in pencil) has a surprising sense of weightiness. It gives the piece depth, texture, and a gentle but nonetheless, powerful grounding.
When collage ‘works’, especially collage made with several forms of medium, enduring curiosity is sparked in the viewer. Motherlode, like the other pieces in this exhibition titled Long Black Veil and currently showing at Latrobe Regional Gallery, in Morwell, Victoria, Oz, until January 25, 2015, shows Susan Purdy’s excellent command over her materials. This piece, in particular, set my thoughts in motion, calmed my sensibilities, and did what all well-executed art should: made me pause and wonder.
Here is a much better image of the photogram Motherlode, sent to me by the artist, and accompanied with a note. Now I know that what I thought was pencil, is in fact an X-ray of a ribcage. Also, interestingly, this particular piece, so excellently named, Motherlode, was the initial work that many others in Susan Purdy’s show, Long Black Veil, sprang from.