IS art the cultural elixir that will help us forget about the problems gripping the world right now?
That is the question posed in Panacea, a sprawling exhibition of 150 historical and contemporary artworks from the City of Fremantle art collection.
Featuring four zones – Home, Isolation, Lockdown and Panacea – you are taken on an artistic journey from pre-pandemic life to a post-covid nirvana.
“The experience of the exhibition walkthrough is an important element of the show, taking audiences through a challenging suite of images towards a point of resolution in the panacea room,” says curator André Lipscombe.
“There are a number of works about togetherness and intimacy including The Kiss by Marcus Beilby and photographs by David Dare Parker of dancing couples at Fremantle Leisure Clubs.
“Through Panacea it’s evident how valuable an art collection is to its community, telling interconnecting stories and creating empowering perspectives upon the time in which we live.”
Featuring paintings, drawings, photography, ceramics, prints and video by artists across Australia, the exhibition focuses on everyday life, which has now become slightly alien.
There’s a large contingent of WA artists on show including Marcus Beilby, Penny Bovell and Sharyn Egan.
The Kiss, depicting a couple smooching in the deserted North Fremantle train station at dusk, encapsulates the feeling of loneliness and separation many are feeling right now.
“The Kiss is a strong image chosen for its local resonance and reflection upon public intimacy at this time,” Ms Lipscombe says.
“Beilby is a consummate image maker with a developed craft and keen eye for poignancy expressed in an everyday setting.
“He is one of several artists who have more than one work in the exhibition and whose works span different zones.”
There’s also works by WA photographers Christine Gosfield and Graham Miller, and a series of artist portraits by Brad Rimmer and Tom Gibbons.
Several prize winners from the prestigious Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award are showcased, along with pieces by WA ceramicists Sandra Black, Maria Phillips and Gary Zeck.
“The breadth of artworks showcases the strength in the city collection in representing artists who live and work in Fremantle or connect with Fremantle subjects,” Ms Lipscombe says.
“The exhibition also includes a strong selection of WA Aboriginal art, and numerous examples of domestic pottery displayed in each gallery.”
Panacea opens today (Saturday August 1) at the Fremantle Arts Centre and runs until September 20.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK