Beings explores connection to animals and nature

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Open until 6 December, a new collaborative exhibition at Fyshwick’s Humble House Gallery, titled Beings, explores human-animal relation in Australia through ceramics, oil paintings and mixed media.

Beings Humble House Fyshwick
Artists Anna-Karina Hermkens (pictured) and Deborah Van Heekeren have completed a collaborative exhibition titled Beings, which is on display at Fyshwick’s Humble House Gallery.

Artist Deborah Van Heekeren told Canberra Weekly the exhibition came about when she and long-time friend and work colleague Anna-Karina Hermkens talked about translating between their respective artistic mediums.

Van Heekeren works in visual arts, primarily oil paintings, while Hermkens is a ceramicist.

“I’m very pleased about how, it’s quite different in a collaborative exhibition to really get the work to come together,” Van Heekeren said.

“When you’re working in ceramics and limited to a single image, that interplay really comes across … You get something very focused, pared down and fundamental,” Van Heekeren said.

The works that comprise the exhibition depict beings born of the interconnection between humans, animals and the earth – which was informed by both Van Heekeren and Hermkens’ academic backgrounds in the field of anthropology.

They approached their works with an awareness of how other cultures relate to their world differently, where the interconnections between beings are “very strongly articulated”.

“Having that experience, you start to reflect on your own life world; for me it gave me a better understanding of the drought we were experiencing a couple of years ago,” she said.

“You understand that, sure, the land is degraded, that farmers are suffering, animals are suffering, but this is all part of a totality … All of these things are in relationship.”

Van Heekeren said another element connecting the works is an interest in gender.

“I’m working against masculinist tradition in Australian art, particularly in landscape painting and the idea that farmers are blokes, that’s an important connection with Anna-Karina’s work.”

Beings by Deborah Van Heekeren and Anna Karina Hermkens is on display at Humble House Gallery, Fyshwick until 6 December; humblehouse.com.au