Andi Neilands first solo exhibition is a powerful melding of pure emotion and technique, writes Candida Baker.
There’s something so enticing about the drive to The Channon. Enveloped by green rolling hills, the small village offers visitors an eclectic offering of outings – from bushwalks up to Protestor Falls in the Hills, to the much-loved Channon market on once a month.
For its size, The Channon punches well above its weight in the art stakes with its beautiful Teahouse gallery in the tiny village, and with a large population of practising artists.
Artist Andi Neilands had a change of direction a few years ago, when she left behind a long career at TAFE teaching IT and 3D modelling and animation to study art. This show, Virtual Shadows, is the result of her advanced diploma with an emphasis on light and shadow to create edges, form and volume.
It’s a cohesive exhibtion – it could perhaps be called humans and horses, since the works are of men, women and horses. But it’s the women who have the relationship with horses, the men are incidental and somewhat exterior to the main body of the work. If a shadow of Neilands former career shows itself, it’s in the precise techniques she’s used to replicate the works in various media, so that a drawing becomes a painting, becomes a bronze. (Many of the works are available as prints or reproductions.)
One small area of the exhibition concentrates on one peson – artist Ken Johnson who acted as a personal mentor to Andi – particularly whilst she was coming to grips with the art of sculpting. Johnson is portrayed in a bust and on paper, and Neilands pays tribute to Johnson’s emotional depths in all three works.
One of two of the most expensive work in the exhibition, a bust of Bucephalus, Alexander the Great’s warhorse, is carved out of white carrara marble from the Michelangelo quarry. It has an almost transluscent quality, and the proud horse’s head takes an easy pride of place. Interestingly its ‘shadow’ are smaller heads printed in plastic by 3D printing. From the most natural, to the most unnatural material on the planet. Both, these days as seemingly durable as the other.
The messages behind the mediums are subtle. Less subtle but interesting to a fellow horsewoman, are the works depicting the sometimes almost erotic, always highly emotional relationship between women and their horses. My personal favourite is a small clay maquette of a horse lying down a woman sitting by its stomach with her head on her lap, and the horse’s head gently turned towards her. The title of the work is RUOK? and for me it’s a reminder of how, although as a human it’s my job to look after my horse, every now and then in my dark days my horses have turned to look after me.
The imperative for an artist behind a work of art is always fascinating. As the viewer what do we see? As the artist, what did the creator intend? Perhaps the most personal of all is a bust of Neilands’ father – My Father, My Hero – drowned at sea in a boating accident in 1957 having saved the lives of Neilands, her sister and her brother. The bust of her father held great emotional signifcance for the numerous descendants of the tribe at the opening – reinforcing the notion that in any form of art it is the story that is contained within it that is the emotional connection to the outside world.
I will be interested to see the expansion of this artist’s work.
Virtual Shadows is showing at The Channon Teahouse & Gallery in Standing Street until December 10.
For more information on her works go to andineilands.com or contact Andi on firstname.lastname@example.org