SHOALHAVEN CITY ARTS CENTRE – A REGIONAL GALLERY OF NSW.
2 April – 21 May 2013. Launch: Saturday 13 April 12–2pm Art lovers on the South Coast of NSW will finally experience for themselves the scope and power of the striking abstracts of Margaret Dredge in a coming exhibition at the Shoalhaven City Arts Centre.
During April and May, Dredge’s paintings and etchings will grace all gallery walls of the Shoalhaven City Arts Centre in Nowra. The exhibition will be on show from 2 April, with the launch taking place on Saturday 13 April.
Well-known artist, teacher and advocate, Ron Robertson-Swann, AO, will be the special guest at the launch event. Robertson-Swann studied sculpture at the Sydney’s National Art School and St Martin’s School of Art in London. He was at one time an assistant to Henry Moore and has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally. A painter during 1965 to 1970, Robertson-Swann’s large, abstract works were exhibited with Margaret Dredge’s abstracts in a Contemporary art Society show in the late 1960s at the Blaxland Gallery at Farmers in Sydney. When Dredge was researching sculptors for Ken Scarlett’s Australian Sculptors published in 1980, she once again met up with Robertson-Swan.
Dredge, who died in 2001, left a legacy of exceptional paintings, etchings and works on paper, some of which have never previously been shown. At the time when her work was enjoying critical acclaim, Dredge withdrew from exhibiting, for a variety of reasons, appearing in only a few group shows from 1980 to 1992. Despite this self-imposed exile, she continued to be a prolific painter and, during her last 22 years, painted more than 60 major works.
Many of this exhibition’s works belong to the MG Dingle and GB Hughes Collection, bequeathed to Shoalhaven in 2008 by artist, collector and curator, Max Dingle and his late partner, Gavin Hughes. They collected abstract works over nearly 50 years and during this time, formed lasting friendships with many of the artists, particularly Margaret Dredge. This exhibition puts into the context the 16 Dredge works featured in the collection, 14 of which will be in this exhibition.
Of Dredge’s work, Dingle said: “Margaret Dredge’s rhythm, forms and mark-making have a style characterised by agitation and controlled chaos. Work that feels like contemporary dance performed to a jazz score that has been choreographed to canvas …”
The reality of Dredge’s paintings is established by the paint itself, applied thickly, by brush, palette knife and hand, forming a sumptuous feast. Her works are best understood when we do not expect a meaning and understand that abstract painting can be its own subject, its own world.
Dredge’s works have been included in previous group exhibitions curated by Max Dingle at the Shoalhaven Arts Centre: Personal Journeys in 2009, Black is the Colour, 2010 and Less is More: More or Less in 2012. “The greatest adventure lies in the impulses of the mind and the struggle to make something live out of it.” Margaret Dredge