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Unity emerges at short-lived showcase of Coast collage

Five Sunshine Coast artists made every hour count during their two-day pop-up exhibition of collage works at the Rockwood Lodge in Sechelt. 
The artists of Juxtapose (clockwise from upper left): Brian Baxter, Kasia Lambrecht, Eldon Underhill, Christina Symons and Carol LaFave.

Five Sunshine Coast artists made every hour count during their two-day pop-up exhibition of collage works at the Rockwood Lodge in Sechelt. 

“I keep telling people that the installation was like a miracle,” said Christina Symons, whose After Eden series combines Tudor-era portraiture with botanical flourishes set against pages from a 21st-century text about horticultural taxonomy. “We all showed up. We were installed in an hour and a half. There were no tears, no arguing, and it was complete.” 

An opening reception on March 22 filled the gallery to capacity. Only 24 hours later, the scores of works by Symons and fellow exhibitors Kasia Lambrecht, Eldon Underhill, Carol LaFave and Brian Baxter were pried from the walls. 

Thematic cohesion of the ephemeral exhibition was entirely accidental, explained Lambrecht. She organized the show after co-facilitating a collage workshop in mid-2023 alongside artist Nadina Tandy. “It kind of hit the spot for me,” said Lambrecht. She approached the four other artists and invited them to participate. “We came up with such a different approach to collage that this makes this show really vibrant,” she added. 

Many of Lambrecht’s paper-based collages are composed from pre-ripped pieces left over from previous projects. Her works range from arresting composites that reflect pop culture (Focus on the Eyes blends a paint-encrusted face, a serene landscape, a bird mid-flight and text fragments) as well as two-dimensional agglomerations, seen in the geometric medleys of Present Perfect and Past Continuous.  

“My idea about the show was: collage how you feel,” explained Lambrecht. “We don’t critique each other. We don’t tell each other what to do. You just bring to the show what you feel is the collage for you, and it worked perfectly.” 

The demure equipoise of Lambrecht’s pieces is a counterpoint to the industrial assemblage of Brian Baxter. Baxter fuses illustration with found materials, as in The Texture Pageant. The work features paint-flecked wallboard adorned with scraps of plastic, filaments of tarpaulin, and the alabaster splines of a plastic fork. It is surrounded with a russet metal ruff, framing a dystopian portrait of prodigal excess. 

“For me, it [began with] collecting stuff from back lanes,” said Baxter, “things you don’t normally think of as the beautiful Sunshine Coast. Inspiration came from putting them together and realizing there was a story of why they fit with each other and building on that.” 

At first glance, collage works by Carol LaFave present naturalistic cohesion (Softly the Evening Came presents a forest scene teeming with polychromatic flora). Only on close inspection do they reveal the intricately shaped paper fragments that contribute emotional nuance to portraits like A Girl or Beauty and Strength, a high-heeled dancer whose thighs grip a dance pole. (Not coincidentally, the stemmed orbs of Lambrecht’s Forbidden Fruit was displayed nearby.) 

“I like to pick up different techniques and see how people think,” said LaFave. “I’m more illustrative, obviously, so to become more abstract is a kind of a goal I want to try to reach.” 

Meanwhile, large-scale works by multidisciplinary artist Eldon Underhill literally stretched boundaries. The fibrous filagrees of Within Nets are echoed in several of his other pieces, including the crimson-hued triptych Assembly of Circumstances. In Open Tuning and Capturing Features, the net-like pattern of repurposed sandbags becomes a textured substrate for luminous bolts of colour. 

“It was nice to have something that wasn’t a rigid rectangle,” said Underhill, “something that was sort of already an object in itself. And I also tried to add materials to it and keep their material integrity intact in some kind of way.” 

The five artists are considering another collaborative exhibition, with a similarly transitory existence. “Even if you have a month-long show, people still miss it,” explained Baxter. “As a pop-up show, it becomes an event. It becomes a goal to go and see it. This felt like a happening and it’s really awesome to get this kind of support from the circle of creatives on the Coast.” 

Works by all five artists can be viewed via Instagram. Follow, @Eldon_Underhill, @Christina Symons, @lafavecarol and @blloydbstreet.