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CROSSING THE REEF

“The reef can mean many things. For me it was about going into open waters – it was an epiphany.” Alison Coates, artist, 2011.


Crossing the Reef is the latest exhibition from avant garde florist come contemporary installation artist, Alison Coates. Working with discarded materials, Coates’ industrial assemblages express her heartsick yearning for the land. Crossing the Reef explores the artists longing to be at one with the earth – the eternal inspiration of the landscape.


The exhibition is an artistic tribute to nature, to its spirituality, its power and its beauty. Through her work, Coates invites audiences to embrace the rhythm and movement within her sculptural landscapes, all of which are evocative of different times, places and states of mind. Coates practice is founded on the experimental use of found objects. “Sometimes I feel like an eternal scrap collector,” she admits. The artist works with wood, bones, wire, paper, fibreglass, copper, corrugated iron, slate, electrical cords and scraps of natural material – even visiting horse graveyards and tips for new inspiration. At the epicentre of each work is the idea that meaning derives from the material itself.


Sometimes materials remain dormant in Coates’ studio for years until they speak out to her again, reminding the artist why she was attracted to them in the first place. “I often feel terribly attracted to the material then I think, but what could I actually do with it?” she says. Continuing, Coates explains, “suddenly years later, I have a craving to return to it and it has adopted a matured level of meaning – certain materials become a garden that I can immerse myself in.” And immerse herself she has. Crossing the Reef offers up slightly disturbing medium to large scale installation pieces that speak of the organic – sea kelp, rock pools, bark and the like. It took a long time for Coates to discover that installation was a port for creative expression.


After working as a jillaroo in central West Queensland, training as a registered nurse, working for a conservation group in the inner Hebrides in Scotland, establishing a Florist and lecturing in Floral Sculpture the artist has arrived where she is today. Even as a youngster, Coates was intoxicated by nature, “It was almost like a secret – my passion for nature. It was a personal thing. To escape, for me, meant to be under a tree in dappled light or sitting on top of a boulder,” she says. Her installation work comes together sporadically and intuitively, perhaps a reflection of such a diverse background. “It always comes together at the last minute. That’s where the beauty of it is, it’s in capturing ‘moments.’”

Lisa Omagari, 2011, Arts Writer

 
ALISON COATES
Open Water

 


 

ALISON COATES
Sea Bed

 


 
ALISON COATES
Sea Bed (Detail)

 


 
ALISON COATES
Untitled

 


 
ALISON COATES
Untitled (Detail)

 


 
ALISON COATES
Inland Clouds

 


 
ALISON COATES
Rock Pool II

 


 
ALISON COATES
Untitled