The annual award of the Lofty, to Elliat Rich for high endeavour in the arts, capped off a big year for Watch This Space as it heads towards its 25th anniversary in 2018. 25 years is long enough for a new generation to emerge and so it is at the Space. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Doris Kngwarraye Stuart has been awarded the annual Lofty "for deepening understanding, contributing to and extending the contemporary cultural conversation in Central Australia and beyond.” KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Author Kim Mahood comes into the desert with history and relationships as well as hardiness and skills rooted in her childhood on a cattle station. She renews her relationships with people and place in a context that is utterly changed. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.
A bequest from the late Alice Springs artist and children’s book illustrator Pamela Lofts to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has borne its first fruit: The Yirara Mix Book, launched in an event at the Town Library last week.
A show of “light and dark”, of “quiet and intriguing discoveries”, that “answers questions and poses them”, is how Helen Maxwell OAM, art consultant and valuer, described Groundrush, an exhibition at the Araluen Arts Centre that opened last Friday. It grew out of the work of six artists who took part in a residency at the Groundrush mine in the Tanami Desert in 2007. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Image:Dancing on the Scats by Pamela Lofts and Nic Hempel.
Alice Springs News Online arts writer Kieran Finnane is the recipient of the third annual award of The LOFTY, acknowledging “an individual who has made a significant and longstanding contribution to the creative culture of Alice Springs, by inspiring others, supporting their creative projects and helping to make it all happen in one way or another”.
Pictured: Kieran Finnane accepting her award from Adelaide via a Skype connection. Photo by OLIVER ECLIPSE.
An annual award, The LOFTY, named in honour of the late Pamela Lofts, accomplished artist and founder of Watch This Space (pictured), is the centerpiece of the local Artist Run Initiative’s end of year celebrations on December 6 from 6pm. Work by Lofts is also included in two exhibitions currently on show at Araluen, including a recent acquisition, not previously shown in Alice Springs.
Pamela Lofts (August 9, 1949 – July 4, 2012) left behind important legacies in the fields of visual arts and children's literature. Her ideas and vision reached beyond the Centre but for our readers it is her work in Alice Springs and the desert that is of particular interest and where, apart from her well-loved person, her loss will be greatly felt.
Our archive is not comprehensive but it does trace some of the lines of her legacy – her role as initiator and founding coordinator of Watch This Space (which endures to this day), her achievements as a children's book illustrator and her career as an exhibiting artist (from 1992 held 27 solo shows across Australia, and was represented in almost 70 group exhibitions in Australia and internationally). We reinstate excerpts and images from the archive here in her memory.
Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.
– A. D. Hope
Pamela Lofts, well-loved Alice Springs artist and children's book illustrator, died yesterday. She leaves behind important legacies in both fields.
The desert has been at the heart of her life and art since 1980. She loved its beauty as much as anyone, as evidenced in her work, but more importantly, she saw the desert as "a storied place" and its stories were the matter she worked with. They told not only of what can be found there, but also what cannot; they were full of the haunting presence of lost possibilities – the lost way of life of the original inhabitants, the lost opportunity of another kind of settlement too.
This kind of awareness may have equipped her all too well to address the matter of her own dying in an exhibition held at Watch This Space in Alice Springs in July last year. In a series of drawings of migratory birds who have breathed their last, fully expended at the end of life's long journey, she expressed the sorrow of death at the same time as a profound acceptance of it as a state intimately connected to life, one shared by all living things. The series was remarkable for its meditative beauty (achieved in a sublime display of the artist's drawing skill) as well as for its unflinching courage.
Much more is to be said about Pamela Lofts' contribution to art, to children's literature, to the community – and we will bring a more complete obituary to our readers. Today the Alice Springs News salutes a fine talent and an exemplary spirit who has left this life too soon.
Three friends – two visual artists, one poet – open themselves to the country around them and to one another. What happens there, like life, is partly elusive, but also partly traced in the work on show at Watch This Space, under the title Beyond Conversation.
Through the work, they take us into the country with them.
Here are Pamela Lofts’ small windows (in oil pastel) onto, mostly, great big spaces, evoking their grand rhythms, their many moods under changing skies, the multiplicity of form and colour that gives the lie to the un-nuanced branding of this place as the Red Centre or the Outback, or even those friendlier common namings – the desert, the bush.
Here are Jenny Taylor’s penetrating studies (in oil on board) that build an architecture between land and sky, where sky and cloud give shape to the land beneath, where hills lose their mass and hang like veils one in front of the other, receding into light-filled space, where smoke fills the air and makes us see another country – poignant in its dimness like a remembered place (or perhaps a remembered way of seeing a place).
And here are Sue Fielding’s affecting poems (as wall texts and in a beautifully produced chapbook). While Lofts and Taylor are well-known, for most this is a first encounter with Fielding as poet. She finds with seeming ease the word-pictures that situate us on a quartz hill, on the edge of a chasm, in a car driving back in from the west to town.
Pictured, top: Undoolya, looking west by Jenny Taylor. • Above right, Oil pastel by Pamela Lofts.
This is a version of the talk by KIERAN FINNANE given at the show's opening on March 30.