Exhibition Review: Layers by Cindy Durant

Presented by Country Arts SA
Reviewed 8 July 2016

Broken ground, salt flats, wires and sea urchins; the work of Cindy Durant is well and truly connected to outback South Australia.

Durant spent her first, formative 22 years near the Californian border of Mexico, growing as an artist among the sand and sun. Eventually, she settled in the dunes of Penong, an hour from Ceduna, where she now produces glowing, unearthly prints inspired by the landscape.

Durant is the worthy recipient of the 2015 Breaking Ground Professional Development Award, an initiative by Country Arts SA to bring the art of the outback to the city. It helps by giving regional artists networking and support opportunities far beyond their home towns and pushing their work to new levels through mentorships. The meticulously crafted prints on display in Layers bring the ethereal colours, shapes and velveteen foreverness of sea-side Penong to the inner-city gallery.

The process behind Layers is pretty unique. Inspired by Mexican artworks, the sea-side and traditional screen-printing, Durant has experimented by using crushed glass in the printing process instead of ink and paint. Most of her works in this exhibition were composed using Photoshop (a skill that, she admits, took her a little while to master) before being duplicated on glass sheets through the careful addition of layers of glass powder. The works are obviously incredibly difficult to finish as, while walking from studio to kiln, any tilt, any gust of wind, any drop of water, could completely ruin the piece.

The hard-work is all worth it, though. Durant seems to be one with sand, powder and fairy dust. Her pieces are sea-like; waves roll through them even when they are completely still and silent.

The layering of the glass powder gives each piece a mysterious depth that would be difficult to achieve through traditional screen sprinting. The stark, monochrome Wire series and the iridescent Salt series are perhaps the most inspiring pieces in the show. At least, they are the ones that best highlight the amazing effect Durant has achieved.

Some of the more photographic work pales in comparison, however. While the technique is interesting and evocative, the end result often ends up either too blurry and too obviously a result of a Photoshop filter. Durant is a competent photographic storyteller, though. She’s not afraid to dive into history and found images to tell the stories of her “Wild West” existence. Durant merges layers of history, digital layers in photoshop and layers of glass to capture the ephemeral beauty of the Outback.

Durant’s work is described well by her friend, singer-songwriter Jodi Martin. “It’s a journey into the world of infinite layers that she sets into glass: Clouds disappearing to the horizon in strata upon strata of ever changing textures and hues … zoom in … zoom out.”

Reviewed by James Rudd
Your Twitter: @james_wrr

Venue: Artspace Gallery, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Street
Season: 6 July – 14 August


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