Since its establishment in 1984, the Charles Nodrum Gallery’s exhibition program embraces a diversity of media and styles - from painting, sculpture & works on paper to graphics and photography; from figurative, geometric, gestural, surrealist & social comment to installation & conceptually based work.
Kristin Headlam at the Noel Shaw Gallery
— Sunday 17th February 2019
The suite was commissioned in 2012 by the University of Melbourne’s Rare Books Collection, to accompany Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s zany epic poem of the same title.
Wallace-Crabbe, a leading figure in Melbourne’s literary world and Kristin’s partner of many years, composed the poem gradually from 1988 to 2005. It became a rich, global adventure story.
Headlam’s visualisation of the poem, as she notes, doesn't exactly illustrate the text, but illuminates it from a parallel perspective. Within this perspective, she assumes the persona of Milena, the narrator, (“pastoral in location, but not a god”) who can see, but not influence, the actions of the characters. These folk wander in from various bits of history and geography, enacting their different quests.
As Headlam says, “Where my reading of the poem has diverged a little from Chris’s, is that I see it as a metaphor for the life of an artist – she dwells in the mundane, but is free to observe and free to dream. Here the realms of ordinary daily life and the stuff of imagination can be brought together”.
The suite consists of 32 image prints (etchings, with aquatint and hand colouring) and 32 text prints (also etchings). They’re divided into nine chapters, intended for sequential reading, like the text itself. Hence the combined work can be interpreted as an artist’s book, or as a coherent body of work for exhibition.
The Universe Looks Down will be exhibited at the Noel Shaw Gallery in the Baillieu Library at Melbourne University, from August 2018 to February 2019, along with the artist’s sketchbooks and studio material. The display will then tour to the Art Gallery of Ballarat in 2019.
For more information, visit the Baillieu Library website.
The full suite will be exhibited at the Charles Nodrum Gallery from 20 October to 10 November, where individual prints, as well as full sets, will be available for purchase.
The prints are an edition of 6, with 2 sets of Artist’s Proofs and 2 sets of Printers’ Proofs. The image plates were printed by John Loane in Canberra and the text plates by Andrew Gunnell, in Melbourne.
Originally from Launceston, Kristin Headlam lives and works in Melbourne, practising painting, drawing and printmaking. She has held numerous solo exhibitions across Australia since the 1980s, and is represented in all major state and regional collections. A skilled portraitist, she won the Doug Moran Portrait Prize in 2000.