Stephen Bambury: painter, sculptor, craftsman, archaeologist and alchemist

Stephen Bambury, Lines of Desire
Trish Clark Gallery
Until May 27

Stephen Bambury’s latest exhibition at the Trish Clark gallery combines new work and work going back over 25 years.

The early work in the exhibition derives from the period he spent in France following his period at the Moet and Chandon Residency in 1989.

Throughout these works Bambury seems to be acting as an alchemist seeking to change the physical nature of the materials he works with. His frequent use of gold, gold and copper leaf makes us aware of these changes, the physical manipulation hinting at some metaphysical changes.

He often uses sheet metal and his use of paint, gold and copper and chemical reactions transform the metal so it takes on a new nature, transcending itself. There is a sense of each of the pieces being invested with symbolism, an implication of a deeper meaning apart from the simple physical changes.

The works range in size (and age) from the small 120mm x 180mm: we affirm depth (black) ($5000) of 1991 through to the large 700mm x 3530mm is forever too far ($70,000) completed this year.

In many respects his approach to his art over the past decades has changed very little, with small works such as Siena -XVI ($5000) of 1998 being almost a study for the more recent Condition Report (set 1) Meritatio ($28,000).

Is forever too far is an example of his monumentally scaled works, which are closer to architectural sculpture than painting.

There are also some recent works which refer to ideas of constructivism. These works lack the finesse of most of his work, featuring overlaid aluminium sheet, honeycombed aluminium and card such as Dojo ($11,000). These works and others show the artist displaying some of the attributes of a craftsman or metal worker with pitted metal surfaces and acid-etched surfaces in pieces such as Twice (for Heraclitus) ($75,000).

Some of his works manifest a great deal of subtlety with Necessary Correction ($5600) where the gluteus acrylic forming a cruciform shape is brought to life in the darkened space by the changing light from the curtained windows.

Other works like Condition Report (set 1) Meritatio seem to be infused with light as well as capturing the tones and textures of earth. There are even three works all entitled Sienska (all $9800), which are ceramic tiles where the artist appearing to be like an archaeologist discovering objects, seemingly dug from the earth, which are overlaid with gold, metal leaf, acrylic and wax-like fragments of another civilisation.

This is supplied content and not commissioned or paid for by NBR.