This week I opened Place –Stitched Masterpieces, the latest solo exhibition by Cathy Jack Coupland, at Timeless Textiles Gallery in Newcastle. The exhibition continues until 30 September 2018. Gallery hours: Wed-Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 10am-2pm. Cathy’s artwork reflects her emotional response to the world around her. This exhibition highlights her bond with the riverside suburb of Breakfast Point in Sydney where she lives and creates. It also includes some vignettes from Newcastle where her children reside.
People develop a “sense of place” through experience and knowledge of a particular area. Cathy moved to Breakfast Point eight years ago immersing herself in an increasingly intense creative practice fuelled in part by the discovery and inspiration of her new surroundings.
A sense of place emerges through a complex matrix – knowledge of the history, geography and geology of an area, its flora and fauna, the legends of a place, and a growing sense of the land and its history after living there for a time. Cathy has soaked up her environment and presents us with a vibrant distillation of key elements that help define Breakfast Point.
Light reflecting on the water; the gentle undulations of the tree-lined shore; the colour of the sky at morning and sunset; the distinctive arc of palm trees across a clear sky; the tantalising fragrance of the plants blooming in season; the antics of birds; the grace of butterflies in a light breeze; the burning sensation of searing heat.
In addition to the natural environment, Cathy considers human interaction and intervention – the city skyline in the distance – busy waterways connecting Breakfast Point to the wider world; the spectacle of boats in full sail; the swoosh of rowboats – I almost hear the shouts of the oarsmen bouncing on the water; the closely spaced townhouses of urban renewal and site rehabilitation.
The inherent strength of Cathy’s work is that form supports content and vice versa. The highly reflective properties of the rayon threads create texture and pattern. Circles are a recurrent motif and this time there’s a new spin with bowls and vessels. In the Water bowl, for example, we see small eddys and currents contained by the banks of the river. In another bowl, there is a swirl of autumn leaves. In Sunrise/Sunset, the circular form echoes the infinite cycle of days.
The Wangal clan lived on the Parramatta river for thousands of years before they encountered Captain Hunter taking breakfast there in February 1788. Settlement and industrialisation have undoubtedly impacted the area but constants remain like the ebb and flow of the tide.
Shared experiences and stories help to connect place and people and to transmit feelings of place from generation to generation through time. With her art, Cathy invites you to explore her neighbourhood through her eyes in 2018. It’s a vista that is forever changing and yet there is a timeless quality.
This video shows much of the exhibition and Cathy talking about her work.