The Space Between Us, with Susan St. Lawrence
2021 Ida Carey Gallery, Waikato Museum, Hamilton, NZ.
In the new show at the Ida Carey Gallery, Carole Driver and Susan St Lawrence have put together an exhibition that defies any notion of the white cube masterpiece. The small artworks, paintings, sculpture, Mise en scene and poems float together like thoughts that assemble then disperse. Each piece could indeed be in many combinations and effect a different set of meanings each time.
The artworks were worked upon by both artists, sent back and forth across the Tasman by unpredictable postal services during Covid lockdowns; St Lawrence in New Zealand and Driver in Australia.
Some of these artworks are in response to an action by the other artist, for example the suspended walking-meditation artist book which emerged months after St Lawrence sent a book of poems by Thomas A Clark to Driver. The Blue Women paintings came about when St Lawrence printed the watercolor figures of Driver’s lonely covid-response paintings on to transparent paper and then reworked them into substantial acrylic pieces with completely different meaning.
Other streams of thought developed into patterns of connectivity expressed in symbol or metaphor. External events such as drought, fire and Covid led to recognisable imagery, for example with The Black Mountain where the raven rises like a phoenix out of the burnt hillside and in several of the Mise-en-scenes, where painted backdrops place the dancer in landscapes with haunting horizons. In fact, the Horizon, like the Blue Women, took on deeper significance as it was returned to again and again throughout the work. It mutated into a metaphoric link – Driver on one side and St Lawrence, out of view, on the other. When both women underway major surgery during the year, the horizon took on the look of an ECG heartbeat of connected friendship.
For the artists, the opportunity to work on each other’s pieces was challenging and yet bonding, and in these difficult times of isolation, a great boon.
In a sense this is an immersive space, time must be spent here to experience subtlety; to absorb the links between poetry, painting and sculpture; it is intimate work, work from the heart, and an art of hope and friendship.