Artist’s 216-year voyage into the past

Fran Callen, Dappled Things (detail), 2017, graphite, biro, colour pencil, watercolour, syntheic polymer paint, gesso, gold leaf, olive stain, beetroot stain, pomegranate stain, tea, wine and eucalyptus sap on watercolour canvas, 130 x 112cm, courtesy the artist and BMG Gallery, Adelaide. Photo: Grant Hancock

An exhibition of new artworks is on display at Flinders’ Bedford Park campus as the result of the artist’s six-month exploration of Flinders University Art Museum.

South Australian artist Fran Callen was able to investigate and research Flinders’ art collection as inspiration for her own work as part of a project delivered in partnership between Guildhouse and the University.

The Collections Project provides South Australian artists with behind-the-scenes access to the state’s significant cultural and scientific collections so they can conduct research, develop their practice, and be inspired to create new artworks.

Callen’s research focused on the University’s collection of early 19th century botanical and zoological prints and drawings, including engravings by Austrian artist Ferdinand Bauer who was employed as a botanical draughtsman during Matthew Flinders’ 1801 expedition to Australia.

“I was influenced by Bauer’s use of an elaborate ‘paint-by-numbers’ colour code and his carefully considered compositions”, Callen said.

In producing the works on paper Callen explored the early Renaissance technique known as pouncing, a method for transferring the outline of an image from one surface to another that was used by Leonardo da Vinci in copying botanical drawings.

Callen’s entire suite of new work features alongside the historical pieces that served as her inspiration, forming an artists’ collaboration 216 years in the making.

Flinders University Art Musuem Director Fiona Salmon said the results of The Collections Project are “testament to the merits of the Guildhouse initiative for participating artists and institutions alike.”

The Collections Project: Fran Callen is on display at The Studio, Flinders University, Bedford Park until Friday 3 November 2017.

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