Catalogue Essay by Simon Caterson
Partners in life and art who divide their time between Victorian and Tasmania, sculptor Jon Eiseman and photographer Anne Conron recently embarked on extensive travels throughout Central Australia.
The journey was an experience that Eiseman says left them both “overawed with the beauty of the land”. Moreover, it inspired a powerful new suite of work from both artists. While each of the individual works speaks for itself, Eiseman’s bronze sculptures and Conron’s digital photographs are complementary in terms of form and content. The suite combines ancient sculpture technique and timeless themes with the possibilities afforded by latest imaging technology.
Eiseman’s bronzes express facets of a private mythos developed over a long and successful career. This iconography Eiseman has encapsulated as “the lone figure on a journey through dreamlike landscapes, sometimes with strange companions and sometimes in strange situations”.
With this thematic organising principle in mind, the scale of Eiseman’s works takes on a special significant. It is as though through them we are seeing ourselves from above as if we are in the swoon-like state between sleep and wakefulness.
The introduction of ideas for new works inspired by Central Australia added a dimension to the creative process, as Eiseman explains. “The challenges I face are to blend these works into my mainstream ideas which have no identity with a specific time or place and to avoid any cultural and spiritual references of the Indigenous people, as I feel that would be an intrusion.”
For this exhibition, Eiseman has produced a body of work “using the old rusting tank and tank stand as a device to tell my stories.” One piece, AFTER THE RAIN, depicts a man and a woman standing in a tank half full of water with trees growing from the top of their heads, about to embrace. Another, WAITING FOR THE RAIN, shows a gnarled tree growing out of an empty damaged tank with a man gazing up to the sky.
“Both these works,” comments Eiseman, “will I hope be metaphors about love, life and the human condition. Above all, I also hope my work contains elements of spirituality and poetry.”
Eiseman says he sees the exhibition title After the Rain as metaphorical, intimating “that sense of overcoming adversity and hardships which we all face in life.”
As has been the case for a number of years the exhibition of Eiseman’s sculptures is accompanied by Conron’s digital photographs, which convey their own synthetic grace and mystery in complement to the physical reality and narrative appeal of the sculptures.
Conron features Eiseman himself as the model for a solitary figure in recognizable yet subtlety manipulated landscapes, thus emphasising the connection between place and the imagination of the travellers who pass through it.
The unique artistic odyssey undertaken by Jon Eiseman and Anne Conron across Central Australia has yielded work that both reaffirms and extends their remarkable creative partnership.
We are fortunate that they have chosen to share their complex and deeply felt responses in works unified yet multifaceted and distinctive.