MANY galleries are showing strong exhibitions before Christmas takes over.
Susana Enriquez draws vividly on her Mexican heritage at Art Systems Wickham until November 30. In a series of elegant small paintings, she celebrates the love of reds and pinks we recognise from the costumes, toys, chillies and blood of her native land.
These works employ the simplest of abstract stripes, spots and segments, wonderfully complementing traditional papers handmade by indigenous peoples with impressed borders of medallions and unexpected textures.
We are reminded that this Newcastle resident and graduate has a separate life in her native Mexico. She is a very prominent figure in its artistic life, having exhibited her colourful abstract paintings in many national and international exhibitions.
- CATHERINE and Jennifer Strutt are well-known Newcastle artists, but their exhibition at Newcastle Art Space until November 30 is their first in the city for 12 years.
Their joint mixed media collages are instantly recognisable, with the affectionate but always sardonic blend of Scandinavian tourist kitsch and the romance of the Wild West in a patchwork of images and distinctive surfaces, timber off-cuts, moulded metal and painted textures.
Australian suburbia is now making an appearance with a line-up of serious-minded budgerigars, named after everyone's great-grandparents.
A wall-filling work encapsulates diverse images of Australia at war. There are valiant young men and their brave sweethearts keeping the home fires burning, but the underlying message is of the terrible human waste.
Maybe the Strutts will take this further, though their current interest is increasingly into creating individual panels for architectural spaces.
In the smaller gallery are paintings by Toni Amidy, who for the first time is combining a talent for drawing the figure with vigorous experiments in paint.
- ANOTHER rewarding exhibition unites a trio of artists at Back to Back Galleries.
Majestic trees are now second nature for Jane Eleanor Robinson in her evocative freehand machine embroideries, now with hints of colour. A wall of conifers contrasts with the bare winter tracery of deciduous trees. Perhaps the eucalypt is the next challenge, as well as larger portraits of family and friends.
A perfect partner is Nicola Bolton, whose detailed graphic drawings and small atmospheric paintings also commemorate real trees and actual landscapes.
Omni-talented Ros Elkin's range of functional ceramics completes a strong show.
- SUSAN Weaver is no stranger to the Cooks Hill Galleries, where her diffusion of landscape into elemental reds and blues has been a regular event.
Her latest work gives increasing drama to cloud forms, which share incandescence with mysterious islands and soaring flames, an expansion of this visionary artist's territory in her strongest exhibition yet.
Also on view are some historical works relating to Newcastle. Thomas Gleghorn and Shay Docking were seminal explorers of abstracting landscape. Samuel Knaggs, previously unknown to me, was a prodigiously gifted medical practitioner. Alfred Fullwood's 1892 watercolour view of the city from Nobbys is a gem.
- THIS weekend is the final chance to see Dino Consalvo's energetic harbour paintings in the old house on Nobbys, where he has been artist in residence, lucky man.
- CLOSING tomorrow, Watt Space has one of its strongest compilations of exhibitions, including several postgraduate projects.
Ben Kenning's familiar all-over, wall-to-wall subjects have a new discipline in paintings and charcoal drawings. Their vitality is undiminished and the jigsaw of images constantly diverting.
Equally impressive are the extraordinary photographs of Allan Duncan. Both abstract and surreal, their genesis comes from study at the Bauhaus art school in Weimar, Germany.
Alex Parkes reveals personal identity in another impressive photographic exercise, while Ashley Dennis-Rice uses cyanotype for lyrical double images. Simon Clark invents a hybrid art form with sewn patchworks of patterned screenprints.
- THE first crop of TAFE students are graduating with their one-year diploma. It is good that so many intend to continue on to the advanced diploma and maybe then to university.
As their final exhibition brought home, a single year hardly permits even gifted people to discover an artistic identity, in addition to acquiring basic technical competence in a variety of art mediums.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.