Harriet Body, Ally McKay, Monique Tregenza

Woolloongabba Upstairs Art Gallery

10-21 September 2019      


Nuanced, elusive, slight – the presence of subtlety can be difficult to perceive. It's the messenger rather than the message. It's the how but not the why. It’s just out of the corner of your eye, or on the tip of your tongue. It's a lean, or a slight twist. It’s not much, but it’s something.

 To be subtle is to be efficient. To achieve a lot with a little.

 Harriet Body, Ally McKay and Monique Tregenza each employ a form of subtlety within their practices. These three artists share a sensitivity in their varied approaches to materiality, and the way in which they each approach the resolution of their works. Their process driven pieces embrace a parred back logic that finds elegant simplicity in poetic unions of substance and space.

 Ally McKay’s new works continue her persistent enquiry into tension and structure, with a focus on exploring notions of support and connection. Her installations toy with the physicality of these concepts, referencing structures like bridges and ladders. Creating relationships between materials to contemplate notions of weakness and strength, McKay’s works are (very literally) delicate balancing acts that assert the potential of that which is easily underestimated to exceed our expectations.

 Two early works by Harriet Body capture the residue of time-based performative actions. Reflecting on the universally significant themes of birth and death respectively, her works Present and Earth Mark – Circle condense these physically and emotionally intense experiences into symbolic actions with seductively minimal outcomes. The result of experimental acts of endurance, Body’s works each precipitate an intangible process into a physical object in order to allow a viewer to bring their own subjectivity to the piece.

 Monique Tregenza’s Iridescence series are miniature portals to another realm. Created through techniques more aligned with silver-smithing and contemporary jewellery practices, Tregenza’s charming small-scale sculptures employ foam and acrylic sheet alongside minute shards of precious opal. Considering hierarchies of value and beauty, Iridescence series achieves a harmonious balance between assemblage elements. Capturing ephemeral states of matter, each work provides a wonderous glimpse into an evocative space.

Subtle finds commonality in these three artists’ shared motivation to use the vocabulary of materials to communicate the innate complexity present in gestures of subtlety. While each artist deftly navigates their individual conceptual concerns, Subtle aligns their practices through the similarities in approach and outcome. With an emphasis on simplicity of form and minimal aesthetics, the exhibition creates a dialogue between works that speak volumes through a whisper.


Lisa Bryan-Brown