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Austin Forum

Augustinian Centre

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© 2013 Austin Forum

Austin Forum is a project of The Order of Saint Augustine, registered charity number 233010


Kaleidoscope eyes

featuring Rose Davey, Donal Moloney,

Gianni Notarianni, Robert Phillips, Estelle Thompson and Sarah Kate Wilson

30 April - 10 May 2015 | Private View: 29 April 2015

Picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. This is the opening line from ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, the Beatles’ song that first appeared on the 1967 album ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. The bizarre lyrics and hypnotic melody that seem to hover suspended in mid-air, illustrate a vivid, and some might say hallucinogenic, realm of yellow and green cellophane flowers and sickly pink marshmallow pies. Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly. A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.


Kaleidoscopes have forever been objects of fascination. Operating on the principle of multiple reflection, the viewer experiences a constantly shifting pattern that can appear to be of infinite range. Gianni Notarianni’s paintings encapsulate this feeling of vastness; the layered surfaces lend a sculptural quality to the indeterminate planes of colour. Similarly, this intimation of depth and surrounding is reflected in the work of Rose Davey, the forms that adorn both the lower region and upper territory of the space. Colours are laboriously hand mixed and attempt to embody shades that evolve from the changing conditions of light, rather than replicate a hue that is cemented in form.


Initially intended as a scientific tool, the kaleidoscope was later copied as a children’s toy. This playful consideration of the object and the science of colour is reflected in Sarah Kate Wilson’s oeuvre. Naive objects that might be found in a magic shop or in the aftermath of a child’s party, such as balloons, plastic balls, and pom-poms are activated in assemblages that challenge the margins of painting. The work ‘Rainbow’ (2015) is described by the artist as a durational painting. During the course of the exhibition the balloons will deflate and shrink, reflecting the ephemerality and fragility of the natural phenomenon the work depicts. Rainbows have always captivated Wilson, appearing as if by magic, an optical effect created by light being refracted through water droplets; akin to the multi-coloured mirage that shifts and surges before your eye as you rotate the barrel of a kaleidoscope.


An optical toy or scientific instrument; this conventional definition of the term ‘kaleidoscope’ can also be expanded upon to refer to a complicated set of circumstances. Donal Moloney’s ‘Shrines’ (2013) presents the viewer with a fantastical and bizarre painting of multifaceted components. The work comprises of all manner of images, compressed and metamorphosing into a homemade kaleidoscopic puzzle. Colours and forms vibrate and come to life as opposing partnerships emerge. Estelle Thompson works meticulously and towards ends that are rarely finite. Applied elements are selectively concealed or worked away, and paint as material, colour and veil, forms complex imaginings through varied mediations and divisions.


Picture yourself on a train in a station with Plasticine porters with looking-glass ties. The sonic textures and words of the Beatles’ celebrated composition evoke a dream-like world, similar to the sequences that materialise through the viewfinder of the kaleidoscope. Robert Phillips’ sculptural offering ‘Untitled (entry)’ (2014) recalls the window motif present in works of artists associated with the Surrealist movement, such as Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte. The aperture creates a spatial framing of reality; as does the eyehole of the kaleidoscope, both serve as physical apparatus through which we can consider an abstracted version of the world around us.

Donal Moloney, Shrines, 2013 | Courtesy the artist