I hope you get this: Raquel Ormella
Curated by SAM Director, Dr Rebecca Coates, and SAM Senior Curator Anna Briers, the survey exhibition will feature four significant bodies of work within the artist’s oeuvre, as well as a site-responsive commission. This exhibition was supported by NETS Victoria’s Exhibition Development Fund and will tour nationally through a SAM and NETS Victoria partnership.
Through her use of text and symbols, notably in her intricate embroidery work, Ormella invites audience members to engage with issues of nationalism, political activism and environmental intervention.
The exhibition will be supported by education and public programs that invite engagement and participation with some of Shepparton’s local community groups – from bird-watching groups to local textile artists. The exhibition will appeal to visitors of all ages, extending audiences’ engagement and opportunity to actively participate in some of these key themes and ideas.
Dr Coates described the exhibition as a timely appraisal and recognition of Ormella’s achievements following her previous selection in a number of significant international biennials and major temporary exhibitions, from Sydney to Shanghai and Nagoya, Japan. Bringing earlier works now in the Collections of some of Australia’s major collecting institutions, together with some of her more recent projects and newer commissions, audiences will be able to see the sheer breadth of her practice, and her deep and sustained engagement with themes and ideas of our times.
“Social and environmental activism; human and animal relationships; nationalism and national identity; feminism and political identity are recurrent themes which Ormella consistently explores.
“An integral part of the way Ormella works is to become involved with, or imbedded within, grass-roots organisations and interest groups engaged directly with the issues she is exploring. This has extended from time spent with the Tasmanian Wilderness Society, more recent works made in response to trade union movements and strike actions, or the connections she has forged with birdwatcher groups run by U3A in the Goulburn Valley region over the course of the development of this exhibition.
Ormella’s works aim to stimulate contemplation, connection and engagement with issues of our times, without making her own position necessarily explicit. Very often, the materials she uses are things that we all have at home, or for the hoarders amongst us, in some of our cupboards. The title of this show, ‘I hope you get this’ refers not only to her own position within the works, but also to our reading of these various subjects. She invites visitors to engage, to reflect, and bring their own understanding and experiences to the show at the same time,” Dr Coates said.
This exhibition represents an ongoing commitment by Shepparton Art Museum to present the work of prominent mid-career female artists as a series of solo survey exhibitions. The commitment was first established in the 1970s, through the acquisition of major works by leading Modernist Australian female artists including Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington-Smith, both recently included in Heide’s Making Modernism exhibition (2017). These works are now considered some of the outstanding highlights of Shepparton Art Museum’s Collection. Recent female artists exhibited at SAM have included Chen Qiuilin and Nell.
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RAQUEL ORMELLA BIOGRAPHY:Raquel Ormella (b. Sydney 1969) has a diverse practice that includes video, installation, drawings, and zines. Ormella works at the intersections of art and activism. She investigates the means by which critical reflexivity in contemporary art encourages processes of self-examination regarding political consciousness and social action. Ormellaʼs practice is grounded in exploring the nature of the relationship between humans and the natural environment, with a particular focus on urban expansion and forest activism.
In highlighting the interconnections between the two, Ormella attempts to show that our depictions of the natural world are not representations of true ʻwildernessʼ or a pure state, but rather are informed by human contact and reflective of human values. Ormella has built a practice covering a diverse range of activities such as video, paintings, textiles, installations, drawings, and zines. She is interested in exploring the relation of the audience to the artwork by using multiples. For example, she produced a work for the 2008 Sydney Biennale using electronic whiteboards that printed the drawings made by the artist, so that the audience may take them home.
Her solo exhibitions include Golden Soil, Milani Gallery, 2016; Birds, School of Art Gallery, ANU, Canberra, 2013; New Constellation, Milani Gallery, 2013; Feeders, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, ACT, 2012.
Ormella has participated in various group exhibitions including in the 2015 Artist Making Movement, Asian Art Biennial, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, See you at the barricades, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, More love hours: contemporary artists and craft, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne; Basil Sellers Prize, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, Protest Songs, Artful Actions, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore, Conflict: Contemporary responses to war, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane; 2013 California-Pacific Triennial, Los Angeles, Social networking, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2012, the 1st Aichi Triennial, Art and Cities, Nagoya, Japan, 2010.
Ormella was one of the artists selected for the One Year Studio Artists program at Artspace, Sydney, in 2017. In 2012, Ormella was awarded the prestigious Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, from the Campbelltown Art Centre, NSW, Australia; a New Work Grant from The Australia Council for the Arts and Arts ACT in 2009; Warrnambool Art Gallery’s New Social Commentaries Prize, in 2006; Western Sydney Artist Fellowship from the NSW Ministry for the Arts, 2000; and the Australia Council Studio Residency in Barcelona, Spain in 1999. In 2013 Ormella completed a PhD in Visual Arts at the Australia National University, Canberra where she lectures in the Painting department.
This exhibition has been assisted by the Australian Government's Visions of Australia program as well as receiving development assistance from NETS Victoria’s Exhibition Development Fund, supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.