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Bayside Bulletin:
26 Oct, 2009 04:21 PM

Wendy's king-size passion


KING Island - just 35 paces wide and 99 paces long - has inspired re-emerging Brisbane artist Wendy Allen's first solo exhibition since the city's 'Golden Years' of the 1950s and 1960s.

Her forthcoming exhibition, The Island - No Ordinary Obsession, features King Island, off Wellington Point, which serves as a stage-set for human theatre.

The exhibition will be held at Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthyr Road, New Farm from October 28 to November 8, from 11am-6pm daily.

"Initially, I chose the island because it was so small I could focus my concentration without multiple distractions that lure you from the simple to the superfluous ? beware Pandora's box," Wendy said.

"The island was not intended to be the subject of my work, rather, a place from which I could creatively extract new perspectives of the human drama, the fascinating mix of foibles and fears of the sinners and the saints," she explained.

The Island - No Ordinary Obsession is the result of a carefully planned three-stage project that took seven years to bring to fruition.

The first stage was the simple gathering of information - notes and drawings in visual diaries which will be displayed in the exhibition - which began with Wendy visiting King Island over 63 consecutive days, then several times a week, then when necessary.

King Island can only be reached from Wellington Point at low tide by walking one kilometre along a narrow spit of sand and, time being precious, she quickly became aware of the tides, wind, weather and the movements of the wildlife.

Thus the seeds were sown of an obsessive passion for the feel of the island, its fragility and resilience, and its similarities to human experience. Large studies on paper in acrylic and pastel were completed in the studio.

The second stage involved research into the workings of natural phenomena, and Wendy filled drawing books with diagrams of such things as principles of wave movement, maps of channels and sand banks around the island.

Notes were collected on the history of the island, which included a family living there in 'paradise' in the early 1900s, and times people remembered when two horses would gallop from the mainland daily to feed on the marine grasses.

The third stage was the production of the exhibition 'proper', the creative form given to the whole, now obsessive, experience of which there are 10 major large paintings and 20 smaller works, mostly acrylic on canvas.

A strong theme in Wendy's work is the creation and destruction of human relationships and the role-playing that people perform in order to make relationships work, like the jesters that emerge from the mangroves in some of the paintings - "the wise fools, wise because they know they will be accepted no matter what they do, and fools for the same reason".

Wendy states: "An island can get into your blood, mix with the wind and the call of sea birds, and there you are, caught by the in-coming tide up to your neck - magnificent!"

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