Beata Dorain Exhibition Opening Friday April 1st 2016, 6pm at G3 Artspace by Hedley Potts
64 Parkers Rd Parkdale.
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen. “Gendobrie!”
I would first acknowledge the Boonoorung People the traditional custodians of this land on which we meet.
Tonight is very much a Kingston Event as you can tell by the title of the exhibition.
For seventeen years Beata has been anxiously and energetically aiming for this situation tonight since arriving in Australia in 1999. We are a nation of migrants whose energy we appreciate as they arrive with a suitcase and a few dollars if they are lucky, and at first pay the rent from any employment available, then eventually struggle to pursue their dreams with creative energy. Most of us here tonight have that family history.
Beata was fortunate to arrive with a skillset from a solid Polish art education. She attended an Arts High School from Year 9 for 5 years, then a further 5 year course at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclav. So initially in Australia she used her graphic design skills to gain employment and get settled. (Considering Beata’s art education I must mention what a mess Australia has made of tertiary education farming out TAFE education to shonky operators and closing down so many art courses, including Holmsglen also part of Beata’s story.)
Only much more recently after frustrating searches and dead ends did Beata discover Melaleuka Kingston Arts at Clarinda. This studio was established by Harry Memmott, an important Australian potter and head of ceramics at Prahran Tech many years ago. I cannot stress too much tonight the vision of the City of Moorabbin which became Kingston initiating and developing an Arts Policy over a long period. This well equipped and maintained access studio at Clarinda enabled Beata first to join in, then to volunteer to sweep the floors and fire the kilns and mix the glazes,. Then finally she could free the artist within, just in the last few years, who had been desperately trying to escape and blossom and fly since arriving in her new homeland in 1999.
From her work at Melaleuca she was able to apply for the City of Kingston Arts Grant which enabled her to rent studio space and purchase materials and build this exhibition. Those who selected Beata for that Arts Grant must be delighted to view the quality of this exhibition tonight.
About 25 years ago Moorleigh High School was closed and derelict. The councillors of the City of Moorabbin had the vision and foresight to purchase that old school. The three buildings are named for three of those councillors. In the Bob Flavell Building there were the beginnings of a pottery studio. Two decades ago I was asked by the Moorabbin Arts Centre to develop that studio into the thriving facility it is today, and did so with the help of another old potter Tony Hutchison. Over the years it has given many artists space and facilities to develop their work. While it now falls within the City of Glen Eira fortunately the Moorabbin/Kingston vision continues.
So that Kingston Arts Grant enabled Beata to afford the studio space and materials and firing in the Flavell Wing at Moorleigh Ceramic Co-Operative where all of this exhibition has been created.
I began by saying this exhibition is about Kingston. Beata has a particular talent for people observation and portrayal as she has looked around Kingston for subjects. I am quite fascinated to watch her work and surprised at how much of each figure she can keep in her head for the long fabrication process of each sculpture.
You see if you are drawing a figure, you first block in a few sketchy lines indicating the direction of the pose, and through the process most of those lines are superfluous, a sort of scaffolding to gradually build the drawing within that structure, then dismantle the scaffolding with an eraser. And you can twist and change shapes and sizes so that all the elements gradually form into a unified and convincing whole. Is the head too big? Erase a bit here, Is the hand too small? Erase and redraw.
But the way that Beata works is to simply begin at the base and coil by coil (sausage by sausage of clay) build up this empty shell which is quite lifelike on the outside of the shell without pushing and carving and reshaping and adding and subtracting. Beata simply begins at the beginning and climbs from base to head “NO GOING BACK” no second guessing. Her method is quite remarkable. And then she articulates the form by ‘shading’ in a most creative manner with tiny holes dotted into the recesses to emphasise the detail. It’s her very own personal method.
What is more important than her method which comes so naturally to her, is her concentration on the emotion which it seems to me she can also hold in her head for the duration of making the work. She has observed an emotion or state of mind at the bus stop, the train station or the supermarket and held that “look” that pose firmly in her mind as the fabrication develops. It’s one thing to learn a skill or technique no matter how complex that technique happens to be. But it’s quite another thing to be able to develop within that technique an emotion or feeling. This is particularly evident in “The Long Journey”. I would encourage you to take a bit of time with each work tonight to explore the emotions leaching out of the clay. An Exhibition Opening isn’t always the best time to do that, so maybe you can return one day and just spend a few quiet moments in front of your favourite pieces to allow them to speak to you.
One other aspect of Beata’s work which interests me and might confuse you tonight is the small sculptures. You could incorrectly imagine those to be maquettes, ie initial models for the large pieces. Not so, Beata works directly on the large sculptures. When I talk about holding ideas in her head – there are usually no drawings, no maquettes just a direct modelling of the figure. That’s quite remarkable – many sculptors would rely on drawings and a marquette. She does make some tiny very rough sketch ‘squeezes’ which don’t bear much relation to the finished sculpture, I think just to remind her of the original idea.
Congratulations on your exhibition Beata. Your colleagues at Moorleigh Ceramic Co-operative are proud of the work you have produced there since joining us. I’m sure the Kingston Arts people are proud of you too. Congratulations also to the City of Kingston for developing policy, arts grants, facilities and opportunities for a thriving arts community, enriching the lives of the population across the spectrum of the creative arts, encouraging latent talent within the city of Kingston to develop and thrive, and allowing the general Kingston populous to enjoy and appreciate the arts within their own neighbourhood.
So it’s a pleasure to officially Open Beata’s exhibition tonight for you all to thoroughly enjoy.
Hedley Potts. 1-4-16