Patricia Wilson-Adams

Newcastle Art Gallery’s exhibition ‘Patricia Wilson-Adams: stain me with the intensity of black’ is a comprehensive survey of one of the region's most respected artists – whose work the Gallery has collected since the 1970s. Showcasing traditional etchings, engravings, installations and major sculptural works, the presentation reveals Wilson-Adams’ ongoing engagement with different mark-making techniques and her minimalist approach to image and text.

Wilson-Adams describes herself as an artist who employs materiality, image, text and form to open up spaces for phenomenological meaning. An academic at the University of Newcastle for three decades, she has a deep engagement with the world of ideas, sifting her love of language and literature into her art practice. In the show, the artist references John Donne while the title quotes a love poem by Robert Graves. It also alludes to the artist’s career as a printmaker: ‘I have spent a lifetime with black stains under my fingernails’ she reflects.

The exhibition reveals the nuanced dialogue forged over most of Wilson-Adams’s artistic career, particularly with the art of printmaking. Her analogue practice invokes the hand made and the gestural mark, about which the artist comments, ‘I admire people who can do absolutely amazing things with new print technology but I come out of a totally different time and culture of making and yes mark making is an important conduit. That whole notion that one has within one’s self the capacity to just lay down a mark or put it out there … it’s fresh, it’s direct … I’m quite happy to descend into chaos and try and pull things back.’

Many of Wilson-Adams’ works explore issues concerning the environment, cultural landscapes, land usage and the place of the individual within these spaces. The artist has a strong connection to the Australian landscape; in particular the countryside and flat farmland of the Northern Tablelands where she was grew up. ‘I want to create a sense of being in place and in an environment’ she reflects, ‘also there is a sense of loss’.

Together, the works in ‘stain me with the intensity of black’ reveal the revelatory potential of abstraction, reflecting what Wilson-Adams describes as ‘a process of distillation – a sifting through of the essentials. I think I might qualify as an “eccentric abstractionist” as described by the American art critic Lucy Lippard – a sort of post Post-Minimalist.’

Patricia Wilson-Adams: stain me with the intensity of black
7 July – 26 August
Newcastle Art Gallery


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