the sunlight lies down across everything
Georgina May Young
'the sunlight lies down across everything' brings together textile works by Georgina May Young
and paintings by Rebecca Hasselman. Both artists draw from their surrounding landscapes
and seek to express the sense of being in these places.
Exhibition opens September 15
Runs to October 13
The sunlight lies down across everything
Georgina May Young, Rebecca Hasselman
Olga Gallery, Ōtepoti Dunedin
Viewed by Angela Trolove
The sunlight lies down across everything brings together textiles by Georgina May
Young and paintings by Rebecca Hasselman. Local poet Lynley Edmeades responds
with five beautiful, insightful poems.
More unfocused than abstracted, Hasselman’s landscapes glow. Recalling the style of
the late artist and poet Joanna Margaret Paul, edges are unwanted: a river, shrubs, trees
and clouds are all interiors. Hasselman depicts what is inherent in her subjects. Here are
burrs and scuffs; hue speaks for itself. Lemon, olive, and teal assemble on a cream
ground. Fingers of green leave concentrations of pigment where the brush lands, and
where it lifts off. Applying size only to the back of her stretched linen, acrylic is
absorbed into the fabric, giving these artworks a softness and integrity. But these works
are also powerful.
Ripening expands in a viewer’s face. Like the peripheral eye-burn you can only track
and never catch, these strokes appear to be in constant motion. Brushstrokes direct
outwardly from the centre resulting in an exuberant, scurrying effect. Or again, these
strokes jump like rain thrown aside by windscreen wipers. Hasselman shows a mature
awareness of how colours behave in close quarters. Because her colours are muted,--
every hue restrained, either withdrawn with a touch of white, or anchored, mingled with
blue—it is the direction of strokes, primarily, which effects Ripening’s ripening.
Hasselman creates aliveness by moderating her palette and striking up motion.
I love acrylic’s optimism in these six paintings. Acrylic, as a medium, has zest. Its
versatility allows for fat, wet strokes as readily as for searching gestures that allude to
scudding clouds. Hasselman also paints on hardboard. This particular hardboard has
regular indentations, it resembles pressed gib board or a comforting, dated building
material. Looser (wetted) paint pools in these recesses like ink on skin.
Beside these vibrant, exploratory paintings, Young takes embroidery to a new realm. In
Tōtara Resonance, heather and foxgloves amass over boulders in the foreground of
alpine slopes. A tōtara branch, with the atypical softness of upward not outward-
pointing spikes, levitates over a pool of negative space. Here is an artist skilled in
shading and blending with none other than embroiderer’s cotton. Her channels swirl as
realistically as kelp spun in tidal washes. A viewer tracks these threads like a maze,
flows, then arrives at itchy dead ends, and traces back to surfaces knotted as densely as
moss. This richesse of detail is portal-like; the subjects are decontextualised in madder
dyed, handwoven linen. In another work, lichen packs thickly in achingly harmonious
hues. Recurring, interslotted ‘v’ stitches result in fishtail braids – the branches of a
conifer. So self-contained as to seem collaged: full moon, conifer, and bedrock. This is a
tight, wondrous sci-fi.
In fabulous contrast to Young’s intricate embroideries, rough, thick-ply yarns are tightly
woven in her Sun Maunga. Saturated hues on a ground of browns give a retro vibe to
the piece. Mustard, cinnamon, vermilion, black bear, dehydrated pink and schist
interlock like a colour-by-numbers. This weaving is a good time.
Young’s indigo wall hanging, Woven Landscape, woven with fabric remnants gifted by
friends, presents to me all the ways colours want to be together. Aptly, she emphasises
the junctures, the joins, the holds. Longer than a lifetime, this textile reads as
intergenerational: two meters of surplus artistry pile up on the gallery floor.
This overflow of love and artistry characterises The sunlight lies down across
everything. It carries over into Edmeade’s insightful poems. And between Hasselman’s
fresh, easy, blousy gestures and Young’s lyrical, hyperintricate textiles, colours are just
enjoying being together.