Since its establishment in 1984, the Charles Nodrum Gallery’s exhibition program embraces a diversity of media and styles - from painting, sculpture & works on paper to graphics and photography; from figurative, geometric, gestural, surrealist & social comment to installation & conceptually based work.
— Introduction by Kate Nodrum
Born in Melbourne in 1942, Anne Judell studied design at RMIT University before living and working in the US and Europe and then settling in Sydney in 1977. She has exhibited regularly at various Sydney and Melbourne galleries since then, including at the Charles Nodrum Gallery in 1991. That show included works from her ‘Silence’ series; paintings and works on paper of monolith-like forms, standing upright or floating horizontally, radiating a thick and misty light. In 1992 she relocated to the Southern Highlands of NSW and connection with this gallery faded. She moved back to Melbourne in 2014 and now lives and works in an apartment in St Kilda. So this exhibition is something of a return to Judell’s work for Charles, and an introduction for me.
This show includes large works on paper dating from around the time Anne won the Dobell Prize for drawing in 2011 for an elegant and, in her words, “shy, retiring and meditative”, triptych in which the vessel-like forms in the centre of each panel – much like the monoliths of the ‘Silence’ series, though much more softly - seem to emerge and disappear from view, like rising smoke or a passing cloud. Guy Warren, who judged the prize, described the process of making these works as “as much an art of archaeology as drawing, an excavation… Judell sculpts her paper, revealing hidden layers between charcoal, pastel, gesso and paper.” Indeed, the surface of the Highland and St Kilda works in this exhibition are so textured, so soft and fluffy, you might mistake them for some sort of fabric rather than paper. In the artist’s own words: “I work very lightly with many many layers of pastel until some form asserts itself. This is then refined with graphite and more layers. I’m attempting to reach that very elusive point where they are neither form nor formless.” Her minute and repetitive tearing and scraping is worked up or down the thick Hahnmuhle paper in greater or lesser intensity - in some areas so deep she’s almost torn a hole - creating a gradation of detail which, in some cases, produces what looks like a snowscape receding into the horizon, in others, moss growing on a damp wall, and, as in Void, a cluster of stars in deep space. At the other end of the spectrum, works like Tango have a less concentrated and more open-air quality, with gestural brush strokes dancing down the paper.
Also in this exhibition are a series of Icons made of gold leaf and wood panel, some of which were exhibited in Japan in 2019. Their reception in Kyoto was warm – something I find unsurprising and encouraging: the Japanese, like the Koreans, have an unparalleled eye for finely crafted objects, and for a refined, organic, landscape-inclined abstraction - and that’s just what these icons are. In some I see a cliff face, others a seascape, others the bark of a tree – all with a jewel-like brilliance and intimacy of scale. These works can hang on the wall like paintings or stand on surfaces like sculptures. Anne has continued her use of gold leaf, in a series of works on aluminium board and paper – evocative of a flock of birds in the sky, an aerial landscape of a mountain range or, as the title suggests, an ancient Script. Finally, a series of sculptures made from rock found in Maldon which, despite their small scale, have a sense of monumentality; one is reminded of the apparently impossible balance of Stonehenge – and its ancient, mystical feel.
Kate Nodrum, 2021
Anne Judell is represented in major private and public collections including the Australian National Gallery, the Art Gallery of NSW, The National Gallery of Victoria, Parliament House Collection, Art Bank and regional galleries throughout NSW and VIC.
A survey exhibition of works from 1992-2002 toured regional galleries in NSW and Tasmania from 2002-2005.