In collaboration with ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) London, Warm Ties is a very impressive first public solo exhibition for Australian artist Helen Johnson. The works blend historical and contemporary images to construct friction and reflection in the work. The relationship between Britain and Australia is referenced along with the changing nature of that relationship, from colonisation to now. The legacy of white Australia is brutal, Johnson reveals the ‘imperialist brute’ with honesty and colourful detail.
The exhibition features six canvases in the Artspace studio and these works are immense: they are all over three metres in height and over two metres wide. Johnson’s paintings initially premiered in at the ICA in London, not far from the home of UK Parliament, the starting point from which Australia’s colonisation began, a fact that Johnson was very conscious of. The exhibition’s transition to Woolloomooloo is a natural and sensible fit, and viewing Johnson’s work is a great way to spend a summer afternoon.
Warm Ties is on at the ArtSpace Gallery in Woolloomooloo in Cowper Bay Wharf Road until 20 Feb, for more information see: https://www.artspace.org.au/