Overnight sensation - exhibtion review in Brisbane News
By PHIL BROWN
HER MOTH PAINTINGS HAVE CAUSED A FLUTTER BUT ARTIST ALLYSON REYNOLDS IS NO FLY-BY-NIGHTER
When is a moth not a moth? When it's a painting by Allyson Reynolds, the Brisbane artist who is making a name for herself with her exquisite paintings of this member of the order of Lepidoptera. (That includes butterflies as well as moths, of course.) Allyson, whose moth paintings and collages can be seen in the exhibition Nocturnus, now showing at Doggett Street Studios, doesn't do butterflies though. Just moths.
She has been engaging with this subject matter for more than a decade but it wasn't until 1997 that she began to focus on it. Since then she has produced a body of work that uses this exotic insect as a foil for her painterly concerns.
In the meantime, collectors have been snapping up the works here and abroad. In London, her art dealer, Australian expat Rebecca Hossack (of Rebecca Hossack Gallery) has had a steady demand for them.
"I send a crate over every four or five months," says Allyson rather matter-of-factly. Collectors here are similarly taken with them.
It was High Court Judge and Brisbane author Ian Callinan who first alerted me to the work. Justice Callinan is also an art aficionado and is a big fan of Allyson's moths. He urged me to view them at my earliest convenience, and I am both impressed and intrigued.
So what's so engaging about these moths? Even the artist herself can't quite put her finger on it.
"I'm surprised that people have taken to them the way they have," she says. "It is surprising to me that there is such an interest. For me they are about other things as well as the moths. I guess I'm expressing myself through them." And so each moth seems to convey a certain mood. Some are bright, even jaunty, some more sombre while others are dark and mysterious. Most of them seem richly exotic though much less obviously pretty than butterflies would be. Their beauty is more subtle.
The artist started on this strand of subject matter when she and her partner, Scott Whitaker (director of Doggett Street Studio) co-owned a property at Glen Aplin near Stanthorpe.
"One day and there was an influx of these creatures," Allyson says. "I picked them up and looked at them as still-life objects. Something, perhaps their frailty, was fascinating." She first used dead moths as her models but Allyson's moths are now largely fictional creations, each intricately unique. The ink works are tricky to execute because she has to finish each piece while the ink is still wet.
As well as the ink paintings and the collages, she also explores the subject matter on larger canvases, often featuring the surfaces of the moths' wings. She's occasionally approached her subjects through a microscope, and is keen to explore the minutiae of landscape of the moth's body as well.
Despite years of getting up close and personal with moths, she hasn't finished with them yet. They pepper the walls of the gallery - rare, gorgeous creatures of the imagination caught under glass, their fragile beauty protected preserved for our enjoyment.
NOCTURNUS, UNTIL APR 13 AT DOGGETT STREET STUDIO, 85 DOGGETT STREET, NEWSTEAD. OPEN TUE-SAT, 11AM-4PM. PH 3252 9292. WWW.DOGGETT.COM.AU.
Caption: Entomologist's delight ... Allyson Reynolds' moth known as No. 49
Art & Culture
Section: BRISBANE NEWS
Type: Art Review