Collage, colour and the calligraphic mark are the visual language of much of Victoria Howlett’s 2D imagery. Although the works in this exhibition range in size from 17.5 cm to 1.2M, and use materials as diverse as oil on board or paper collage, each work holds a compelling vibrancy. Mostly abstract, the images nevertheless contain narratives - and these narratives and tropes resurface over and over in a circular rotation as they evolve, recede and re-emerge through the years. Hence the title of this exhibition: Recherche – again rediscovered.
With a wide international and national exhibition history, Howlett has a substantial record of arts practice which includes over 5 decades as a professional ceramist, decades of lecturing in art schools and a recent Monash University PhD in painting – In Pursuit of Desirelines: A Woman in the Landscape.
For that Exegesis, Victoria organised women’s bush painting camps which provided the physical structure in which to explores site, gender, narrative and memory, and how these influence the development of a professional aesthetic.
These camp locations, in shared Aboriginal land, where we gave voice to women’s stories and feminist theory around the campfire, ranged from the lushness of ‘Bundanon’ and Broome to the dry plains of Silverton and Noonkanbah in the Kimberleys, to the rich and spiritual gorges of Mutawintji.
Howlett’s work is in many Collections including: Australian National Gallery, National Gallery of Vic, State Galleries of South Australia, Western Australia, Newcastle, Ballarat, Shepparton, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Bathurst, Geelong. Parliament House Canberra, Australian Embassy Iran, Sydney Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Manly Art Gallery, Vic State Craft Collection, Art Bank, Vic Ministry for the Arts, Dept of Agriculture, A.S.E.A.N., Arts Access, Art Bank, Latrobe Valley Arts Centre, State College of Vic (Univ of Melb), Latrobe Univ, Institute of Early Childhood Development, Gippsland Institute of Ad Ed, New England Regional Art Museum, Victorian Ceramic Group collection, Williamstown & Diamond Valley Shire Councils.