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The Melbourne Drawings

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The Melbourne Drawings

15th Dec 2012 - 24th Feb 2013

This suite of drawings was acquired in the period that the Dunedin Public Art Gallery generated the landmark Jeffrey Harris exhibition.  The Melbourne Drawings were made a number of years earlier, when Harris left Dunedin to take up an artist residency at the Victorian College of Arts.  The residency provided an important opportunity for Harris to recalibrate his art practice and also enculturate himself into a larger social and artistic milieu.  It would be more than a decade before the artist would return to live in Dunedin and reconnect with this community.


Read from left to right (in a clockwise direction), this set of 32 drawings captures the complex interweaving and breaking apart of a relationship.  Love and loss is rendered in a series of intense episodes, in which the key protagonists seemingly wilt under the pressure of the artist’s intense scrutiny and unwavering draftsmanship.  


There is undeniable sense of urgency and pathos to this imagery; it both draws you and simultaneously loads you up, with almost too much information.  It is in this difficult zone between personal and public grief, confessional and proclamation, that Harris builds a story.  While this pictorial narrative provides a rather open-ended set of possible readings, its underlying construction and emotional effects are more determined.  In a state of love everything burns with an uncanny clarity.  Once it has gone, even its very memory is blunted down to a set of ghost-like tracings.

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