Chatter: Atmospheric Colour
M16 Artspace, Griffith, ACT, Gallery 3, 16 July – 2 August 2015
Experimenting with everyday craft items such as paint markers, loom bands and wool, Cat Mueller creates works that explode in hypnotic swirls of colour. Her playful use of colour, shape and texture create works which break down the boundaries between ‘fine art’ and ‘craft’. In her first solo exhibition, Chatter at the M16 Artspace Cat explores these elements in an array of synthetic materials using the intense colours of the natural world.
Currently completing her Honours in the Painting Workshop of the ANU School of Art, much of Cat’s work focuses on experimenting with abstract shapes, colours and textures. She is inspired by the richly patterned, highly embellished and brightly coloured textiles of South East Asia, which she saw on her recent travels to Thailand and Malaysia.
The exhibition is hung along the small hallway of Gallery 3, in which her pieces seem to bombard the space with colour in a way that is almost overwhelming. One feels the intense swirls and patterns of colour would have greatly benefitted from a larger space to stand back and contemplate the works. The almost artificially bright colours used captures a sense of joy and playfulness which is integral to her work. It seems much like Mark Rothko, Cat uses colour as a form of emotional expression rather than an aesthetic tool.
Her love of colour can be seen in her pair of paintings Dawn Fairy and Dusk Fairy. Both works combine colours and nature in their purest form. The blue and pink background of Dusk Fairy reflects the sun setting, while the yellow and grey background of Dawn Fairy reflects the sun rising. These soft pastel colours are offset by stripes of multicolour lines which serve to break up the picture and create a harmonious balance. The lines also add movement to the paintings, seeming to dance across the sky. The titles Dawn Fairy and Dusk Fairy seem to evoke the magic of childhood which is reflected by the magical candy coloured lines.
Cat explains that she “does not discriminate between mediums and does not see boundaries. Always working between mediums I explore the art vs. craft debate. I elevate everyday craft items such as plastic cups, stickers and loom bands into large-scale installations. I take tradition/historical craft processes such as crochet and beading and experiment with alternative materials, such as holographic ribbon, satin cord, builder’s line ad rope, in a contemporary free-form way to spark the interest of today’s viewer”.
One such piece is her loom band sculpture entitled LOOM-inous, which hangs at the end of the gallery space. Made of hundreds of rainbow loom bands wrapped around wire, Cat has created a twisting hanging sculpture reminiscent of strands of DNA. She explains that her use of Rainbow Loom Bands immerses her in the contemporary pop culture phenomena of ‘craft crazes’ reminiscent of the Scoobie strings, Pony beads and Hama beads from her youth in the 1990s.
This juxtaposition between craft and art, the natural and the artificial is harmonised by Cat’s use of colour. It is these bright rainbow colours which link the works together and give them their own unique energy. A form of meditation and joy for the artist and the viewer, which leaves one transfixed.