Elizabeth Barsham’s pictures depict a world where all may not be what it seems. Is it a Rainforest Theme Park where eco-tourists come to gape at the Last Tree, supported by complex technologies to keep it alive, surrounded by Faithful Recreations of a Real Forest Environment? Is it a world where nature has triumphed, growing over and obscuring the works of man? Or is it something else altogether?
If there is passing similarity between her work and that of some Surrealists, it is not that they have influenced her; rather, we share the same influences – the meticulous and eerie paintings of late mediaeval and Renaissance painters such as Rogier van der Weyden, Dürer, Bosch, Altdorfer, Elsheimer and Filippo Lippi, and later painters like Poussin, Breughel and Rubens.
Elizabeth’s pictures are multi-layered and deliberately ambiguous re-presentations of the world, executed in an illustrative style to avoid distracting the audience with layers of cultural history and artistic mystification. There is no “correct” interpretation; whatever meaning you discover will be right and valid.
The images are frequently disquieting; perhaps a bit frightening, but always intriguing and, she hopes, amusing.
Elizabeth grew up in Lindisfarne, attending Lindisfarne State School and Rose Bay High School, then studied art in Melbourne under Wesley Penberthy and Ming Mackay. Elizabeth has had paintings hung in the Blake Prize and other major exhibitions: they have won many awards and have been acquired by Monash University and by private collectors Australia wide, as well as in Canada, UK, New Zealand, Singapore, France, Germany and Japan. She exhibits regularly and work can frequently be seen in mixed exhibitions at CAST and the Long Gallery in Hobart. You can also see recent work on her website.
Elizabeth has a solo exhibition opening this Friday 13th until the 22nd January (yes it’s deliberate), at the Freehand Gallery in Hobart, 212 Elizabeth Street – right next to the best Turkish restaurant in town. The opening starts at 5.30pm. Please attend if you are a Tasmanian and meet this true Gothic.
If you are also in town for the MO FO Festival, make sure you put this exhibition on your list of must sees!