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Curiouser and Curiouser takes that classic of absurdity and perceptual play, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as its starting point. It’s playful and colourful, and it’s going to take up a lot of space. Featuring 18 Australian artists, curator Julian Woods has conjured a fresh show of contemporary Australian art likely to be heavy on visual engagement, humour, and a kind of awry wonder. Themes of time, perception, tactility, and the inexplicable are used to frame works that range across media and genres.

Kimberley Liddle, In a Dream, 2016, plaster, wire, archival photographic paper, glue 20 x 15 x 42.5 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

“There’s optical perception, but also perceptions in terms of material and value, elevating everyday materials and found objects into art. There are size differences as well,” says Woods. Ideas around the tactile range from Troy Emery’s cuddly handicraft creatures and Natalie Ryan’s use of flock to Pia van Gelder’s technological reversals and interventions. Established artists Louise Paramor and Nike Savvas are likely to bring finely honed colour and exuberance. Kate Mitchell’s Fall Stack, 2012, contributes staged slapstick papering over anxiety, and her Hypnotised Into Being, 2016, proposes hypnosis as an authentic creative process.

Although the exhibition includes artists at all career stages, Curiouser and Curiouser skews towards those that are early and mid-career, tending to reflect the curator’s own generation. (In being also predominantly female, Curiouser and Curiouser solidly represents the art world’s gender balance.) Most of the work has been made recently, including a specially commissioned video installation work from Amanda Wolfe that riffs on both camouflage and the famous rose bushes in Alice across two and three dimensions. More flowering shrubs also turn up in Bathurst local Karen Golland’s interactive artificial azalea garden.

Curiouser and Curiouser completely occupies BRAG’s exhibiting spaces over the summer period and it’s clearly designed for general appeal.

“You don’t have to come in with lots of conceptual baggage, or knowledge of art history. It’s a fun and highly accessible show,” says Woods.

There is also a packed program of artists’ talks, guided tours and specialist lectures on the legacy of Alice. There will also be screenings of both the 1951 and 2010 versions of Disney’s animations of Alice. (The Disney connection with Alice apparently goes back a long way, with the animator producing versions of Alice and Through the Looking Glass as far back as 1923.)

With Australians on the move during the summer break visiting family and friends, Curiouser and Curiouser may be the perfect all-ages option for bonding with – or temporarily escaping – your loved ones.

Curiouser and Curiouser
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery
14 December – 10 February 2019
Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Rebecca Shanahan