Untitled, 2007,
Oil, acrylic and light sensitive acrylic
51 x 48cm.

    Take Flight

    Gail Catlin

    13 February - 1 March

    Gail Catlin is an extraordinary artist and one couldeven say alchemist, whose chosen medium is unique. Fascinated by the luminescence of the moon, Catlin searched for a method to replicate the ethereal pallate. It was this quest that led her to Dr Cyril Hilsum. An eccentric and highly charismatic figure who at the time was busy discovering practical applications for the substance - liquid crystal.

    Intrigued by Gail’s predicament, he welcomed her into his inner sanctum and shared his knowledge of the substance with her. They quickly became friends and collaborated as Gail experimented with this new found medium. It was the cholestric liquid crystal material that particularly captured Gails attention. This has the ability to change colour when exposed to different temperatures.

    After receiving a grant and ten years of experimentation, Gail mastered the complex technique of applying liquid crystal to her magnificent paintings. To date, she is the only artist in the world who has perfected this technique. The paintings literally ‘dance’ before you, reacting to body temperature or a passing cloud, the effect as the crystals warm and cool is mesmerising. It refracts the light in different directions akin to a brilliant faceted diamond.

    Her canvass of choice is glass, which enhances the translucent quality of the crystal. Working mainly from the reverse side, Gail builds her mirror image layer by layer with the dexterity and confidence of an accomplished artist who is at one with her medium. Her paintings often contain a mixed palette of vibrant Indian inks, acrylic or clay to create a modern masterpiece.

    Combining the human form and/or the animal study, particularly birds, is a recurring theme in Gail’s work. Aggressive distortions of proportion, anatomy and colour convey that these works are an expressionist statement rather than a naturalistic painting. The juxtaposition of beauty and terror are ever present in her work, the exposed and vulnerable female, the predatory bird or harsh terrain explore the fragility and rhythms of life. Her work becomes a metaphor for the survival instinct in all of us.

    The result is a body of work spanning 25 years that reveals the transcendent beauty of the universe, explores a colour spectrum revealed by the moon and challenges our view of the natural and supernatural.

    Opening reception: Wednesday 13 February at 6pm