Sweltering this summer? Swelter is the show for you


Kenny Pittock’s arresting sculptures of melting icecreams are especially evocative of Australia’s extreme hot weather. With ‘punny’ titles like It’s way too sunny, boy, the realist but slightly off-kilter works might make us think of the instant, but temporary, relief an ice-cold treat can offer. Pittock is not alone: curator Hannah Williamson, who sought out existing works for Swelter, as well as commissioning fresh pieces, says her aim is to canvas experiences of summer from a physiological point of view.

She continues, “It is also about climate change, and about the experience in this region—the way Queenslanders seek respite, and work with their existence in this environment.” Swelter is part of an overarching summer theme in South East Queensland’s Moreton Bay region, alongside Sunburnt in the Suburbs at Pine Rivers Art Gallery and Like Yesterday at Redcliffe Art Gallery, the latter looking at beach culture with a nostalgic lens.

While Pittock has created an activity-based installation about sun hats in one of Caboolture’s three exhibition rooms, Abigail Varney is presenting a series of prints that centre on the intense build-up season in Darwin, when humidity soars before the monsoon hits. Another artist, Amelia Hine, is taking over a second gallery room to have its heating dial turned up. A worker in the mining industry, as well as an artist, Hine’s sound-based piece focuses on research into mining communities— people whose existences are often centred in extreme hot climates. Visitors will get to feel this.

Other new works are more cooling: Katharine Parker’s series of swimming pool paintings; Hailey Atkins’s sculptures of frozen tea-towels (she used to resort to them during her air-conditioning-free childhood); and Salote Tawale’s Pocari Sweat video work, shot in a pool of cool water.

Caboolture Regional Art Gallery
Until 4 March

This article was originally published in the January/February 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Andrew Stephens