Hemlock Grove: Anya Sinclair and Tara Meredith
There is something mercurial in the inky darkness, whose soft edges envelop the imagery
that push and pull against the painting's surface. It is not a passive flat ground that ebbs
and wanes from view, but rather it has a distinctive melancholic constitution that haunts the
blooms that cascade and erupt out from this abstract field. Flowers form, open and close,
distend and wilt, they are barely composed, or are more a record of mark making than
actualization. Application happens at speed, these are momentary glimpses or something
akin to a time-lapse video sequence, whose final registration is allowed to slow down and
sink into place.
The paints very temporal fluidity is an ever-present character in these works, the chance
effects of its excess, dripping, blemishing, commingling and pooling. However, these are not
the vignettes of unencumbered pleasure, the fecundity of flourishing vegetation and
prodigality, there is something more menacing and pathological at play, which comes from
these wells of darkness that taint and afflict these growths.
Sinclair’s gothic arrangements may have been constructed from a very real and tangible
source, but it is in their transmogrification into image where these propagations take on a
fanciful life of their own. Maybe they are offerings or an apparition thrown forth from the
abyss. Perhaps they are cuttings from Hemlock Grove? A place whose location, inhabitants
and period of time is just out of reach, an intangible somewhere beyond the sea, or an
unknown specter at the edge of acuity. Whatever it is, these botanical studies spread out
across the gallery wall morphing, repeating and pulsing with a disarming energy, and in the
process these explorations have a singular presence that is magnetic.
Is this rewilding ushered in from the ether, by the figures who cluster and gather in the
centre of this space? A coven of all seeing fates, gentlefolk, witches, snakes and vermin,
whose dastardly deeds are consumed by this invocation. Or, are we to ponder on these
characters and the associated vessels, as further vestiges from Hemlock Grove? The table is
set, a bounty of possibilities is proffered up to be ruminated on and deciphered. There is
the distinct sense of formality to this arrangement that is reciprocated in the stripped-back
monochromatic and earthy tones of these pieces. This muted palette underscores the
sense of foreboding that besieges this cast of wares. It also should not be overlooked that
these are vessels waiting to be activated by what they store, like a canopic jar awaiting its
organ, an urn its ash or a vase a fresh cutting.
If Sinclair’s works have a tangential and evanescent sensibility, then Meredith’s ceramics
have a stoic and immutable property. Having said this, there is also a raw directness and
idiomatic quality to these objects, which speaks meaningfully back to the surrounding
paintings. This is not the result of a fateful coincidence, but is rather the happy result of a
playful and meaningful dialogue between these two practitioners. So, in this sense Hemlock
Grove is the place where both of them can find solace in each other’s imaginings.
Aaron Kreisler, 2021
"Hemlock Grove", Anya Sinclair and Tara Meredith (Olga Gallery)
Hemlock Grove is a dark place. Menacing blooms loom from the depths of the undergrowth, and strange, earthy figures gather in arcane circles to perform their esoteric acts.
Such, at least, is the ethos of Anya Sinclair and Tara Meredith’s exhibition at Olga Gallery. It is Meredith who provides the sinister figures and Sinclair who cloaks them in dark blooms in the display.
Sinclair’s work consists of four loose unstretched canvases, each showing dull sepulchral flowers against a near-black background.
The images are primitive and painterly, and a million miles from the glowing colours and dripping forms of the artist’s earlier overgrown gardens.
Within these surroundings stand Meredith’s small sculptural forms.
In her debut exhibition, the artist has presented a series of human and animal figures and several accompanying vases and related vessels, all finished with a gritty, sand-like surface.
As such, the pieces seem to be hewn from stone rather than fired clay, giving them both a timelessness and a solidity which might otherwise have been lacking. The odd, mis-shapen vessels (such as The Well) have a memorable distinctness.
Figures such as Olga and Lars are as charming as they are mysterious, and there is a wry humour to the pair of Vermin that accompany them.
James Dignan, Otago Daily Times, 22 07 21